Hello to my mystery reader :)

According to my blog stats, someone is reading all my old LOTRO posts which is lovely to see. Even though I don’t play it anymore (and never will again unless it suddenly becomes a lot less grindy) I had a blast in Middle Earth and really enjoyed the posts I wrote about it, especially Keltorn’s tale which was going to follow my Warden through to the end until I lost heart in the game.

So whoever you are, I hope you are enjoying my scribblings. Leave me a comment or two and say Hi 🙂

LOTRO: Ranhold and the Defiler – This Time It’s Personal!

After yesterday the last few days the last few weeks at work I decided that some stress relief was in order. By which I mean whacking a defiler and not a bit of self-loving. By whacking a defiler I also do not mean debasing myself , I just mean offing an orc, sticking a squealer, nutting a ne’er-do-well. Blimey… who’d have thought that anything with ‘goblin’ in could sound so rude.

Look, all I did was take myself off to my small computer room, lock the door and spend a pleasurable hour or two sat alone in front of my computer, just me and the internet. What is so odd about that?






Look, let me start again. Previous on “Blog de la Burro”, I had been beaten up by an Orc Defiler and his mates in the North Downs, right? Well after (latest) my rough day at work I decided it was payback time. I called my kinship and my mate Valeish kindly answered my call and came over to help me regain some lost honour.

Together we headed into the Troll caves to clear some of the rock-munchers out and remove their small controlling ‘boss’ from his position of power. We did all of this by killing everything that got in our way and as we are both Champions it involved not only rather a lot of *sching* and but also quite a bit of *sching*. Once out of there I suggested we make the short ride to the orc-infested hills of Nan Wathern where I could locate the defiler who had so humiliated me and explain to him the error of his ways by cutting him up into small chunks and feeding them to a pig.

Let me just say that this. Two Champions make one hell of a tough team! With Valeish’s help I am happy to report that my re-match with the defiler went a little more in my favour and a hell of a lot less in his…

And so, with the ringing of victory pumping through our ears, we pressed on deeper into Nan Wathern slaughtering orc scum left right and centre as we went. Nothing could stop us! Nothing could stand in our way! Nothing! Nothing, that is, except this fella:

Frankly I don’t know where he came from or how the bloody hell he came to be hitting me. One minute I was with Valeish wandering into a very gloomy, dark valley deep in the mountain stronghold, the next this bastard was laying into me with what felt suspiciously like a very sharp dumper truck. I fought on as valiantly as I could but he was just too tough for me and within seconds I was on my knees behind the grey screen of defeat. I wasn’t sure what to do – retreating would leave poor Valeish alone with these guys, but reviving here would mean another beating that would result in an automatic retreat to the nearest circle of shame. But I couldn’t leave my kinmate alone, could I? No! I am a Champion dammit and we have a code. Don’t ask me what it is because I don’t have it to hand right now, but I think someone made me sign something on my first day and I seem to remember a photocopied leaflet in the induction pack so I’m sure there is a code and it says something about not leaving men behind. That and not looking at porn on work computers. I had only one option. I revived.

At that exact moment Valeish collapsed to his knees, bested by the tough bastard with the shield. The same tough bastard with a shield who now looked at me in mild surprise and no small measure of amusement and roared.

I hit a health potion and ran. He and his hoppo ran after me taking pot-shots at my departing arse. I hit my sprint skill and ran faster, passing several surprised orcs as I went. Seeing their boss chasing me and bellowing insults, they joined in. What fun. I hit my biggest power potion and then my Dire Need skill to take my health high enough to survive a few hits, but my most pressing concern was my soon-to-expire sprint skill – would it get me to the camp gates in time? I was hoping the orcs would give up the chase there, but I couldn’t be certain. Meanwhile arrows and sword swipes were eating away at my morale as my speed boost began to sloooowww dddooooowwwwnnnnnnnn. This was going to be close.

Like a cork from a bottle I shot out of the gate but I kept running before I dared stop for a quick glance back. As I had gambled, once off their patch they had lost interest in me and turned to head back to their own camp. But what of poor Valeish? I called him on the Fellowship channel. Nothing. I called again. Nothing. A final try before I would have to try the kinship channel and this time he answered.

“What the hell happened there?” he asked, not unreasonably I thought.

“God knows,” I replied, “but it hurt like buggery!”

There was a long pause. I thought of him waiting alone back down there and readied myself for what I knew was going to be a futile & suicidal “rescue” attempt. “I’m coming back for you,” I said as I steeled myself and steeped up to the gate.

“RUN!” came the cry. A second later a Valeish shaped blur shot past me with the unmistakable form of our vanquisher charging after him right to where I stood with my mouth flapping like the toe end of a ripped wellie!

I did what any Champion worth his salt would do. I ran like hell.

At the bottom of the hill, as the last of the orcs who’d chased us off were returning home, Valeish turned to me and said “Well, that was… an education.”

I agreed and said “You know what we have to do now though don’t you?”

“What?” he asked.

“Get some of the higher level members of our Kin out here and kill every stinking orc and goblin who saw us running away.”

Oh yes my friends, coming to a small screen near you soon “Ranhold & Nan Wathern 3: No One Laughs At My Arse And Lives!”

LOTRO: When a Champion runs away, do the Angels weep?



The fight was not going well.

Up until the point it had begun to go less than well for me (roughly at the one second into the kerfuffle mark) , I can assure you that events leading up to it had gone very well indeed but now it was going pear-shaped faster than a yo-yo dieter over Xmas.

I had run into Nan Watheren full of vim, vigour and vimto and I had raced through the orcs with consummate ease (after all, they were several levels below me and therefore ‘whited out’ and simply ignored me unless attacked) until I had found the Defiler. True I had paused to consider how wise my plan of action was given that what I was embarking upon in the most cavalier of manners was, in all actuality, classed as a task for a small group of 3 or more warriors, but I chided myself that he too was whited out and I could easily take him down alone, on my own and by myself.


No one told me about his two buddies! No one mentioned their ability to heal each other! I couldn’t burn them down fast enough. Without their constant re-healing I could have taken him and his henchman/orc, hell I may even have just had enough juice left to take the other one I hadn’t seen and who bushwhacked me from behind (and not in a good way, either) but not when they just kept getting better faster than I could kill them!

I hit my biggest heal pot. I hit my biggest power pot. I hit my ohshitohcrapimdead skill of Dire Need but still they remained stubbornly, resolutely, mockingly not dead at my feet. In the end I had but one option left.

I legged it.

I hit my sprint skill, blew the popsicle stand and got the fuck out of Dodge. And fast.

It may have been my imagination, but I’m sure I heard the Angels above weeping at such a sad sight as a brave Champion leaving a yellow streak a mile wide in his wake. They did their best to mask it behind laughter, but I felt their tears man, I really did…

LOTRO: Scenes from Haragmar

Before I start let me explain that the tales of daring do, lucky escapes and painful losses you are about to read are not presented in-character, but rather as a straight (if occasionally dramtically emphasised) retelling of gameplay incidents separated by several days. It’s possible some of the elements contained may well find their way into my in-character entries from Ranhold’s journal, but for now it’s best to see these as the daily ‘rushes’ of a film we are working on together with the eventual editing, condensing & distillation of their content the grand project we shall show acros the silver screens of the Nation to an enthralled and rapt public. What? Aww come on! Leave a man his dream, won’t you?

Anyhoo, east of the ruined refuge of Ost Guruth, the last retreat of the Eglain people besieged and battered by the atacks of orc raiders and corrupted nature in the Lone Lands there lies Haragmar, a strange swamp in a deep, terraced hollow. The waters of this marshy bogland are stained a deep red, it is said by the blood of an ancient & terrible battle, and its inhabitants are wild and fierce. As you rise back out of the hollow on your eastward path, travelling parallel to the Great East Road to your south you find your way blocked by a fallen stronghold, crumpled and ruined and now entirely in the vile hands of lesser Gaunt Lords and their undead thralls. This Nan Dhelu is and you enter only with caution and preferable companions…

Scene 1: A Need of Friends…
My first trip here I knew something was amiss when the steep terraces that led up away from The Circle of Blood were crawling with bloated, rotting wights. I battled a few, but they were tougher than the last ones I had encountered in Bree-Land and I soon found myself staring at the imposing edifice of the ruined fort and wondering how I would make it through alive if these were just the guards! Luckily my prayers were answered as with a cry of challenge and a crack of metal on sheild a warrior came charging up the hillside and began to lay into the walking dead as though possessed! I ran over and lent him my swords and over the crumbling corpses of the slain wights I offered him a Fellowship. Now whether he too had his doubts about pushing on alone, or he just took pity on one a few levels below himself, I do not know but he agreed and offered to help me in my explorations and quests.

And believe me when I say I needed all the help I could get! The wights are packed in tight so attacking one usually draws the attention of one or two others . The archers stay back and pick off your armour and health with cruel, hard shots. The spewers belch out clouds of rotting gasses in a great, monstrous roar to leave you weakened and susceptible to further poisons. The bloated ones, as they approach their final moments on the end of your sword, buckle backwards and from their distended bellies explodes an enormous curled multi-legged worm-like insect that immediately bites and stings. In a tight spot, with poor planning and bad luck, you can easily find yourself facing five enemies at once and those odds can be hard to beat.

Still, together my companion and I made it through my first run at the fort with no loss of life (well, on our side at least – we sent plenty of wights on their way let me tell you!) and soon we parted, he back to the Great East Road and I back to nearby Ost Guruth to repair my gear, sell my loot and carry on with my quests. Little did I know how soon I would have to return to the confined horrors of Nan Dehlu…

Scene 2: A Rear Guard Assault…
The tasks seemed simple enough – enter Nan Dehlu, kill x-number of wights, y-number of Gaunt Lords and retrieve z-number of various items. I was by now a couple of levels higher so this should be easy, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. I had been sent into the ruins by a lonely Eglain guerilla Northrim from his holdout in Dol Vaeg on a series of quests. As I skirted the edge of the ruins, attempting to work out my best point of entry I heard the unmistakable sounds of battle nearby. I rounded a corner and found a young woman, a captain of her people it seemed, battling undead wights with her bannerman. I leapt in and helped dispatch her enemies and asked if she would consider joining me. I was mightily relieved when she said yes and we pressed on together retreading the frantic path I had taken before… except this time I pushed on further than before and with every step deeper into the fortress we drew more enemies towards us. The battles were many and fierce, my companion had her work cut out healing me fast enough to allow me to cut the wights and Gaunt Men down, but in the end we were victorious and our time had come to leave… and that is when our woes began.

I knew a short cut out, one the captain may not have been aware of but one I had used a few times before. I leapt down one wall, skirted a roving wight and leapt down onto a raised mound of earth at the edge of the inner court below – from there it was a simple run through the gaps in the ruined walls and we would be out. Except this time two wights had found their way to this normally quiet spot and launched themselves at me! Still, two wights were no match for my swords and I dispatched them relatively quickly, a sudden green glow of light around me telling me the captain had found me and was working hard to heal me as I fought them. I turned to say thanks and was horrified to see, charging over the mound towards us having been alerted by the captain’s carelessly wandering banner bearer, 3 wights and a gaunt man!

The fight that ensued was hard, bitter, dirty and nasty. A bile wight poisoned us badly, the two rotting wights loosed crawlers at our feet, the gaunt man sent in his skeletal warrior and raised a badly decomposing wight corpse to attack us. I did everything in my power, I used every combat skill I’d ever learnt and sent my fingers dancing across keys as though they were on fire, but alas it was not enough and the the banner man fell. He was closely followed by the brave captain and suddenly I was alone. My power was low, my health failing but I fought like a man possessed! I didn’t put a skill wrong as I used every AoE trick in the book to burn down the foul undead around me until I was left facing just the Gaunt Man. By this point it was hard to say who was in the worse condition, both our morale/health was dipping low and our power was all but burnt out, but I had three things he did not, the Second Wind skill, one remaining power pot and the “Oh Crap!” button otherwise know as Dire Need.

As the last of the wights fell I hit Second Wind and the pot in rapid succession and watched my blue bar rise back up to just over 50%, not much but it would have to do. Next I hit the Dire Need button, my power vanished and my morale/health rose by the corresponding amount. If the previous rise in my power had been less than large, this morale boost was worryingly small but it was all I had left and would have to do.

I began to lay into the snarling Gaunt Man with everything I had left. I doubt more than thirty seconds could have passed, but they felt like thirty minutes as I watched our respective health bars hold their morbid race to the bottom. At 1% of my remaining health, a mere 90 points at the time, the Gaunt Man yielded to one last final blow from my swords and as he collapsed into a pile of leathery bones I sat back unable to quite believe my luck. I never saw my brave captain friend again, but let her defeat serve as a warning that if you venture too far east in the Lone Lands you will do well to take some friends with you.

And if you think Nan Delhu is tough, it’s a walk to the shops when compared to Garth Argarwen