|On the way to Rivendell, the party finds three petrified trolls.|
Lots of plot since the last post. I finished up with Bree and its environs, explored the ruins of Weathertop, made my way to Rivendell, destroyed the Black Riders at the river, attended Elrond's council, and set off again with most of the canonical Fellowship, with numerous encounters, combats, and treasures along the way.
In Bree, I made another loop around town but still never got any satisfaction on the sub-plot of Bill Ferny, the horse thief. Then again, I read about him in the Lord of the Rings wiki, and it appears he's a reasonably significant character in the book, so perhaps the references were just book lore. I also asked everyone about GANDALF and didn't get much, except the blacksmith suggested that Gandalf had told him to help Shirefolk, and he gave me a magic shield when I told him my real name.
At the same blacksmith, I spent most of my wealth on chain mail and shields for my characters. When I returned to the wilds and faced those wargs again, I kicked their asses clear across Eriador. Having Aragorn in the party helped a lot, but the upgraded equipment helped more.
|That's right! How does it feel?|
A few notes from the Bree area:
- South of the city was the Forsaken Inn. It was run by a dwarf named Orin, and some random dwarf on the road from the Shire had told me to seek Orin and tell him Nuri, Borri, and Falin were looking for him. I fed Orin those names and got some stories associated with them. While we were talking, black riders arrived and Orin told me to run to a secret passage under one of the inn's beds.
- There was a reasonably large dungeon under the bed, but little in it except some spider attacks and dwarf sarcophagi that made references to minor characters and battles in Tolkien's books. In one room, a row of green skulls sat on a shelf next to a ghost. I didn't know what to do here, but later I found a green skull for sale in a shop, bought it, returned to the dungeon, used it in the room, and got directions to a treasure that turned out to be "Galadriel's token." There was some note with it that suggested that I would need both it and the Golden Wheel (which I found under Sharkey's Shipping previously) to find Durin's Axe.
- The game's approach to healing is odd. For most of it, I've been regenerating a couple of points at a time by munching on rations and mushrooms. I have a metric ton of athelas, picked up from various places, but I can't seem to actually use it directly. Then, around Bree, I encountered two healers who were happy to heal me to full health for free just from wandering into their shops. One of them complained that his athelas root was old, but he wouldn't take any of the athelas I had. This sudden free and plentiful healing, right when my party got a lot more powerful anyway, made the map much easier.
- Despite this, I still wasn't able to keep my party alive when facing random Nazgul attacks. Five of them attacked me when I reached Weathertop, which technically happened in the book, but I couldn't even successfully flee without at least a couple of my characters dying.
|On the other hand, this didn't happen in the book.|
- Aside from the Nazgul attack, which I ended up just walking around, Weathertop was notable for a very large cavernous dungeon and a set of crypts beneath it. The dungeon was necessary for two reasons that I could see. First, it held a piece of what turned out to be Aragorn's sword, Anduril. Second, I encountered a ghost of heartbroken man named Thaldred, whose lover was slain by the forces of the Witch King. He wanted a token that proved a "maiden's love." The token that Rose gave to Sam did the trick, and he gave me the LUTHIEN word of power for the second time.
|Thanks, ghost friend, but this ground has been pretty well trod by now.|
- In the Weathertop caverns, I encountered my first trolls. They look a bit different than Peter Jackson imagined them.
- There were a lot of encounters with unnamed humans, dwarfs, and hobbits on the road. They all had a little bit of lore to impart.
- This guy makes me feel less guilty about using his name.
|Calm down, man. It's not like the game offers a "knock" command.|
Eventually, I got sick of being attacked by Nazgul and just moved on to the next map even though I hadn't fully explored the Bree area.
|Frodo prepares to reverse-Moses the Nazgul.|
Almost immediately on arrival in the Rivendell environs, I found another cave, again full of trolls, and again found the LUTHIEN word of power. The game really wanted me to have this one. The reason soon became clear when I met up with Glorfindel by the river. He put Frodo on a horse and sent him ahead, but the nine black riders caught up with me. The game showed a cartoon sequence from the film and then gave me one action to bellow LUTHIEN and drown the black riders in the river. In the Jackson films, Arwen is with Frodo and invokes the power; I didn't realize this wasn't canonical.
|I always feel bad for the horses.|
After they were defeated, the game noted that their cloaks had been left behind, snagged on rocks and whatnot. I spent a while wandering around collecting them even though my inventory was nearing its breaking point. Glorfindel had just joined my party, which helped a bit.
At Rivendell, which looked like a small mansion rather than a huge keep, I was allowed to explore freely. I met Bilbo, who went through his quasi-Gollum metamorphosis when I showed him the ring, then gave me Sting and mithril armor (I equipped both to Frodo). He joined my party briefly but left it after the Council. In a library, I read through dozens of pages of text of local lore, most of it having to do with the maps I'd already explored. I guess some players must head right for Rivendell, then backtrack to the Old Forest and Bree?
|Blah, blah, blah. I found the Smith's Ring ages ago.|
There were also--finally!--a number of trainers who offered skills to the various members of the party. The manual outlined the possibility of acquiring or buying new skills, but I hadn't met anyone willing to teach or sell them to me. Then, suddenly, Rivendell produced three of them.
I was finally able to get rid of a ton of inventory items. The game suggested I give a nice gem or piece of jewelry as a gift to Arwen. I did, and she rewarded me with her token (she told me to show it to Galadriel) but also an increase in "luck" points. I gave her a few more gems and the luck points continued to go up even though I didn't get any more tokens.
|Is she prettier than Liv Tyler? Discuss.|
I had been carrying the signet ring of the slain ranger Hawkeye since the Shire. In Elrond's house, I met his girlfriend, who asked me to bury it in the tombs beneath Rivendell, which I did happily. Some spirit spoke up and suggested that in "the city of the dead," I should ask the former king of his past.
|There was a decent role-playing choice here. I didn't explore what happened if I said "no."|
Later, the smith took two parts of Aragorn's sword that I'd been carrying since the Shire and forged Anduril. (In the book, aren't all of the pieces already at Rivendell? And is it reforged this early in the story?) I finally sucked it up and dropped the excess shovels, torches, and other equipment I'd been carrying, too. I hope none of it is needed later.
|Aragorn can be a bit of a pretentious douche, can't he?|
Much like LUTHIEN, the game really wanted me to learn the word for "friend," presumably because it's needed to get into Moria. There were two places that I learned it in Rivendell, and all my party members got it, meaning I can now invoke it more than a dozen times. Anyway, it turns out that the word is MELLON. Really? I always thought Gandalf was saying something like "BELL-OCK" in the film. This is definitely not a word you want to mix up with English, lest the elves launch a campaign against Gallagher for smashing so many friends with a sledgehammer.
|Dare I hope that GOURD means "enemy"?|
I found Gimli and his father, Gloin, hanging out in some caverns beneath Rivendell and got Gimli to join me. Gloin had a lot to say about Moria, which I assume is about to occupy a big part of my life.
|A bit of Gloin's intel, which lasted for several paragraphs.|
I had everyone else, but it took me forever to find Gandalf. He turned out to be hanging around some rocks in the northeast corner of the map, and the moment I met him, he didn't even squeak a hello before announcing it was time for the Council.
|Nice to see you, too.|
Back in Rivendell, Boromir showed up and the meeting commenced, highlighted by a three-minute clip from the animated film. It was interesting to see how differently it proceeded from the Jackson film, with the discussion much more civil, Boromir not antagonistic at all to Aragorn, and Frodo rather calmly announcing that he'll take the ring to Mordor. In the latter point, I thought the Jackson film was much more dramatic and moving.
|The council meets in the Bakshi film insert.|
When it was over, Gandalf automatically joined the party. Elrond wanted proof that the black riders were gone, which is where their cloaks came in handy. He then gave me some more athelas; honestly, what am I supposed to do with this stuff? Boromir was hanging around, but I'd finally reached 10 companions and the game wouldn't let me add any more. Reluctantly, I dismissed the pony in favor of another fighter. Boromir came with the Horn of Gondor, which I assume we'll have to use at some point.
It wasn't until I departed Rivendell that I realized I never found Legolas anywhere. I thought maybe his presence in Rivendell was another Jackson modification, but I looked at the wiki and, no, he should have been at the council. Maybe his place in this game is usurped by Glorfindel.
A few other miscellaneous notes:
- Even though I'm not overly attached to the source material, I've had a difficult time keeping anyone but Frodo in the lead. You can designate anyone as the "leader," and that person usually ends up in the thick of combat, so it would make more sense to make it Aragorn or Druin. You can also make any character the ring-bearer, but I've also had difficulty using anyone but Frodo for that. It just seems wrong.
- While it's satisfying to have my party of 10 pound on enemies, I'm left lukewarm by the game's approach to combat overall. There are very few tactics associated with it except movement and attacking. Perhaps that will change now that I have some spells.
- Much as Sting glows blue when orcs are near, Sam's "spider sword" hums when spiders are near.
|Of course, the fact that the room is full of spider webs was also a bit of a warning.|
- Speaking of spells, Gandalf came with "Illuminate," "Unlock," "Firefinger," "Animalspeak," and "Countermagic." Glorfindel came with just "Countermagic."
- In terms of Words of Power, between my party members, I have 5 HELP HELPs, 4 BOMBADILs, 2 ELBERETHs (Aragorn came with one), 1 ANGMAR, 15 LUTHIENs, 1 BEREN, and 17 MELLONs. I assume at least one MELLON is needed to enter Moria, but I have no idea what BEREN or ANGMAR does, nor whether HELP HELP, BOMBADIL, or LUTHIEN ever serve any purpose again.
- Gimli's portrait shows him wearing a hat that makes him look like a total doofus.
|Howdy, pilgrim. 1620 was quite a year, wasn't it?|
- Every once in a while, my party seems to get an extra round in combat. I'm not sure why.
- My list of notes and hints has grown huge. I keep solving areas and then realizing I had some hint that would have let me solve it faster.
- Okay, read this and tell me once and for all, are orcs and goblins the same thing? Then why does Gandalf say that Saruman has been "breeding orcs with goblin-men"?
In related news: I give in. I have a couple of airplane trips next week, and I'm going to force myself to read the book. It's silly to keep having to ask all of you to fill in the plot points, and I'm often confused by the wiki.
I find myself wondering how long the game will last. I assume it goes at least to Lothlorien, because I've received several hints as to what to do there. I also wonder what the sequel looks like, with (presumably) the Fellowship broken up. We'll find out eventually. On to Moria!