Gaming recap and the dangers of a character concept

Not a lot of gaming going on, but what there was is worth a comment or two.
My MMO time has been entirely Lord of the Rings Online time lately. Wrath of the Lich King is out, but I haven’t picked it up largely because I don’t really have anyone to play with and any urges I might have to hit the new level cap are curiously absent (or redirected to LotRO). Likewise, I haven’t been playing WAR very much (or at all, since November 2nd), after a fiasco during a server transfer left me without my highest level Destruction character. Lee’s in his mid-30s now and my highest is level 8, so there’s not a lot of draw there. One or the other of those two games is going to stop getting my monthly subscription for awhile, I think.
But I’ve been having a great time in LotRO. With the Mines of Moria expansion (as a new expeditionary force of Durin’s Folk reenters Khazad-dum to learn what happened to Balin… and perhaps mask and muddle the passage of the Fellowship) a raised level cap, new classes, and new epic battles (a new Raid instance that pits you and 11 of your kin against the Watcher that was driven into the deeps below the 21st Hall)… well, I’m a happy dwarf, cruising toward level 60 (57 right now) at an exTREMEly leisurely and enjoyable pace.
One of the best things they’ve added to the game have been at least a dozen small-group dungeons designed either for solo play or 3-person groups, and in both cases able to be completed in less than an hour, and sometimes in as little as 15 minutes. Gone are the days when you need at least five other people and five hours of play to work through a massive instance filled with crowds of “trash” monsters to get to the good fights — LotRO’s largely dumped those designs in favor of smaller areas with less trash that you and two (and in some cases only one) of your friends can tear through in 30 minutes for great rewards (and 3 or 4 boss fights). All I can say is “Kudos” and “Where do I sign up?”
I’m also working on getting my Captain leveled up into the range of the expansion, but most of my non-Geiri time has been chewed up on an quixotic series of character re-rolls I suckered myself into.
See, one of our friends got started on LotRO, so I thought I’m make up an alt to play along with him. I’m interested in both of the new classes in the expansion (the agility+medium armor warden and Words-Have-Power Runekeeper), but as he was already playing a warden, I opted for the Runekeeper. Only the elder races (elves and dwarves) really understand the power that words can have in Middle-earth, and given those two choices, I’m obviously going to make a dwarf. While poking around in the starting area and chuckling over the names of the Runekeeper abilities (“shocking words”, “fiery rhetoric” or the threat-reducing “Master of Allusion”), I got to thinking about writers, writer-archetypes, dwarven stereotypes (drunk scotsmen) and bucking dwarven stereotypes (drunk RUSSIANS!) and found it very amusing to model the concept for the character off of a drunk, russian author I like. The name field wouldn’t accept Bûkoskè, so I settled on another name.
And then some stupid part of my head whispered “you should try to get the “Undying” title.”
“Pff,” I said.
“A drunken, undying writer who can only create when he’s sober and can only bear the horrors of battle when he’s drunk?” It suggested.
“Whoa…” I was intrigued.
I was also distracted, and got my guy killed in the process.
So I deleted him, recreated the same guy again, and started over.
You see, to get the Undying title, you have to make it to level 20 without being defeated. At all. The best I’ve ever done is 13.
A week went by, with me cursing at bad luck, worse luck, and (to be fair) a couple really bone-headed moves on my part that got Attempts #1 through #6 killed, usually somewhere around level 13. In a way, it was a microcosm of the entire MMO experience: the joy of creation, the thrill of play, the disappointment when your plan and vision didn’t pan out, the abandonment of the character, and wondering why I’d just wasted the last two days. It got to be a vicious circle; if I made a different guy, or gave up, then not only would I not get the title, but all the time I’d spent on the damned project was wasted as well. (Seriously: the average of my six attempts totaled six level 11.8 characters in about one week. In that same amount of time, our friend had got his warden to level 16.) This is the danger of having a character concept. 😛
I rerolled one last time, declared (read: promised Kate) that This Was The Last Guy, No Matter What.
And I got to level 14. (Emyl the Undefeated)
And I got to level 17. (Emyl the Unscathed)
And, playing on a crappy wireless broadband connection in South Dakota, I got to level 20. (Emyl the Undying, Honourary Sheriff, Member of the Inn League, and (far more relevant) Sage of Fine Spirits)
A day or so later, I promptly pulled about a half-dozen goblins down on my head. BUT I GOT MY TITLE, DAMN IT.
Strange as it seems, I got a little tabletop gaming in while off in South Dakota. I sat down with my niece and nephew and played some Shadows. Malik (9) and Jadyn (5) were sleeping in the upstairs of their great-grandmother’s house (where we’d all just spent a day having both Christmas lunch and dinner) when they were woken by a strange noise. Investigating, they discovered a goblin was stealing the pies from the sideboard down in the basement and tossing them through a small, green-glowing doorway under the stairs to a waiting partner. Malik grabbed a skillet and smacked the thief on the head and tossed him in the fireplace, while his sister threatened the other with a plastic pie knife (“childhood, red in tooth and claw”). Then it was time for lunch, so we didn’t have time to crawl through that door-under-stair and see what was on the other side.
Best exchange?
Malik: “I have a pan, so you should grab a knife.”
Jadyn: “Okay, I’m going to get one like that green one that momma has at home.”
Malik: “That’s PLASTIC!”
Jadyn: “Yeah, but it’s the only one I’m allowed to use.”
Malik: “Oh. Right. That’s good.”
Priceless. I’m looking forward to getting some other gaming going soon.


  1. Exellent stories! Sadly, I don’t have my Lotro setup up here with me, so you undying char has passed me!

  2. No worries. I’m given Emyl a break and working on other LotROish things in the meanwhile.

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