I finally returned like some prodigal son to Lord of the Rings Online last night. Having a lifetime account is a blessing because entering credit card information to re-up when I am unsure about doing so could have been the unjumpable hurdle between me and Middle Earth. There were a lot of changes in Book 8 that I have to get used to, most of which are positive. I knew there was significant changes to the Scholar profession, which I have mastered. My kinleader was sick of paying for potions in the Auction Hall, and I was happy to oblige. The only problem was that I was clueless as to what the new crafting changes were.
A seasoned MMO player knows that reading patch notes for changes is crucial to skilled gameplay. There are also wiki repositories for information. The forums might have a decent guide or two. Even the /advice channel might come in handy in extreme times. Last night felt like an extreme time.
I really wanted the Potent Athelas Essence Recipe (heal potion), which I knew about only because my kinleader flashed the item across chat and I couldn’t make it. Where could it be? The obvious answer was somewhere in Lothlorien because players cannot induce morale from Potent Athelas Essences unless they are buds with the Galadhrim elves. But, someone in the global grouping channel (one of the many quagmires on the internet) helpfully told me to look in to the Scholar’s Guild in Rivendell. Off I went. The Scholar’s Guild had a few new recipes (like one that made black dye worthless), but they just shrugged their shoulders at the new morale booster I wanted. Dungeons and Dragons Online players had brought down the wiki-like Lorebook, no one had updated the Scholar’s Guide in the forums after Book 8, and the advice channel in the hippy summer land of the elves was silent. I was alone in my quest.
Now, I consider myself an intelligent player, but I could not get this piece of simple knowledge. It wasn’t like I was trying to find some piece of a raid puzzle or an easter egg. I was just trying to find which NPC sold the freakin’ recipe for the potent green goo. If I had trouble catching up after taking a break from one Book update, I can only imagine what a non-blog-reading, non-forum-reading, non-patch-note-reading, small-kin-belonging player would be submitted to when the player wanted to come back from a couple month hiatus.
I think this information should be in game. “Since you’ve been gone, we’ve had some great changes,” my imagined UI window would say. “We see that you are a Captain and a Scholar. Here are a few things you might want to know. We also have a navigable menu below for a complete listing of changes.” I can only dream of having this information at my fingertips… in-game. I would not need anything more than some sort of tagged version of the patch notes.
My night ended well. I finally found the recipe-bearing elf by the docks , of course by the legendary item bartering NPCs and not by the elves that barter other recipes. I gave her a few twigs; she gave me the recipe. I then went into the Black Pit to do two crafting instances to supply my soon-to-be-open Dale Lakeman’s Potion and other Curios business. They were good quick fun, and it reminded me that I really do miss the game and my kinship. Until Borderlands comes out, I think I will be back in Middle Earth.
I can’t know everything, pretend you’re an orphan