Thursday, 18 June 2009

Calming the Turtle

Some more random thoughts that hit me recently concerning the upcoming changes to Filikul instance, namely the Nornuan becoming immune to Burglar's Enrage.

To those now familiar with the subject, Filikul is an instance with just one encounter, which is basically a DPS race against time: as you are fighting the giant turtle, a DoT builds up on all members of the raid that deals increasing amounts of (HUGE!) damage. To make matters worse, turtle is quite a flesh-hungry beast and he will snap on your tank's flesh, applying another building-up DoT; the two together are so huge that there is no way for any Healer to outheal them, and to keep everyone else alive.

Burglar's Enrage skill is, on the other hand, a completely legitimate way to make a monster... well... enraged, randomly switching between characters in sight, much like those annoying Grims . I'm putting an emphasis on 'completely legitimate' because that's exactly how devs designed this skill years (two years almost?) ago.

As you can imagine, the skill works almost perfectly in Filikul, as Turtle rarely stays on one character long enough to apply more than one lvl on DoT. It does also have it's drawback, Tier I DoTs apply quite commonly on all players, also those squishies that are not made to take it.

My point here is, I completely don't understand why Devs are determined to grant Nornuan this immunity. That's how they designed the skill and that's how designed the encounter (a very very poor encounter imho, too) - blocking one skill because it's too good? It just seems.. lame... and silly. Totally lazy, totally the easiest way. What's next? In-combat rez works too well in raids, let's disable it? Forced taunts work too well for tanks, let's disable them too?

If you don't like the way the elements you've put into the game first interact - without any exploit on player's part! - change your design, and not use an exploit yourself, because it's your fault in first place that you have came up with a design that doesn't match those elements. In short, you screwed up and if you acknowledge it by trying to fix it, do it properly or don't do it at all.

Actually, same goes to Shield Wall. Please be more aware of your own game's mechanics in future...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Why do they never listen

A little digression from my usual virtual Middle-Earth posts: I was reading The Children of Hurin and i couldn't help but wonder... why do they never listen?

I mean, there is Melian, a Maya gifted with foresight, and a true one as well. Everyone knows that: people from the Hurin's House, because they've always been close to Elves of Doriath, and especially elves of Doriath to whom Melian is a queen.

But hell, no! Everyone always knows better than her. She tells Turin not to leave the Girdle or his course will catch up with him... he does. She urges Morwen to hide from Morgoth into the Girdle, she refuses. Than she asks not to leave the Girdle as it would be Morgoth's design (actually, she confirms Morwen's words that it is Morgoth's design), she still does.

And so on, and so forth.

But those are all stupid mortals, and there is still Beleg, high among the elves of Doriath, Melian's subject who, after all those hundrets of years, should be aware of her powers. And still, she tells Beleg, don't take that sword or it will be your doom, but he literally answers 'I'll take it anyway'!

If I was her, I'd throw a fiery hissy fit at all those annoying losers...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Elf of the First Age

I've always loved artificial women - a strange statement out of mouth of anyone, yet even stranger when it comes from a girl (many of my gamer friends pondered upon my declared inability to play male characters; I truly don't enjoy that at all, don't know why).

Lord of The Rings story lacks outstanding female characters (there's Eowyn and Galadriel, and that's about it; and don't get me started about Arwen!), while The Hobbit has none - apart of course the legendary Luthien. And along with Luthien, other Tales fortunately do mention some outstanding females (Morwen comes to mind), but never warriors. Come to think of it now, this makes Eowyn truly unique, she's the only female (to my knowledge) mentioned by Tolkien that held a blade and fought.

Fortunatelly, Turbine didn't take lack of female warriors in Tolkien's work as a bane on them, but rather as a lack in description, and did introduce some remarkable female characters in their stories. One of them has dominated the story of Shadows of Angmar (Amathriel/Naruhel), the other had a role far less visible, but still of great importance both story- and lore-wise.

Glathriel, female elf warrior whom players meet deep in the Rift of Nurz-Gashu and with whom they try to stop an awakening Balrog, whom she guarded for centuries.
We know little about her, apart from what we can gather from her brief tale: she took part in the War of the Valar at the end of the First Age (Gorrem in his brief description of the design writes: An Elf from the 1st age of Middle-Earth. that means she's REALLY old.), to which she refers at "the breaking of Thangorodrim", when The Mountains of Oppression were destroyed as Ancalagon the Black - a dragon bred by Morgoth to be the greatest and mightiest of all dragons, and the first of the winged 'fire-drakes' - crashed upon them as he died. That's when she first engaged Thaurlach , one of Morgoth's Balrogs - in fight, and followed him east to the lands that would later become Angmar. The Balrog than hid somewhere in the land he turned to wasteland with his fire and Glathriel couldn't find him, but she waited for him to awake.

If what she says is true, she tried to pin him down for the whole Second Age, as - by her account - when Thaurlach has awaken, she defeated him "with the aid of the wizards". She also mentions that this happened when "the Dark Power rose again". This would mean that he stayed in slumber while Saurons rise to power during The Second Age and during his War with Elves, if - naturally - we take the wizards she mentions as the Istari (who arrived in the Middle-Earth in the Third Age when Sauron formed a new army and began to command from Dol Guldur -hill of dark sorcery- in southern Mirkwood). Gandalf seems to confirm that, saying that saying that "two others of my Order, who have since vanished into the East, aided her in imprisoning the Balrog". Those would be the Blue Wizards, vaguely mentioned in Tales. The wizards "deemed Thaurlach should be imprisoned where he could await his judgment at the end of days", but Glathriel feared that the Balrog might sought to escape, and she chose to stay and guard him. Her foresight, as it is revealed when the players find her, was true - they arrive just in time to see Thaurlach break free.

When, after an epic battle, Thaurlach is finally thrown down, Glathriel accompanies players to Rivendell where she meets with Gandalf and Glorfindel. There seems to be one problem here though: Gandal says that the chain the Balrog was chained with, named Angithron, "was forged when this world was young" - well it was not quite young at the beginning of the Third Age... Nor could Thaurlach have awoken "by his master's call", as his master was Morgoth, who was defeated in The War of the Valar. Maybe Gandalf ment Sauron, who - as Morgoth's successor - could potentially become Balrogs' new master? Still, world would not be young when Thaurlach was chained, as it seems to be during the Thrid Age when the Istari came, and his true master's call could never have awakened him, as the master was no more. Unless we assume that the Blue Wizards were sent to Middle-Earth much earlier...

It is there in Rivendell where, I think, Glathriel's origins are revealed - she seems close to Glorfindel, a sword-mate for sure. They couldn't fight together at the Thongorodrim, as Glorfindel died during the Fall of Gondolin, and king Turgon's armier left the Hidden City only once before, and barely interacted with other elves during the brief and Tragic Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Judging by this, and by the fact that her battle-cry is "For Gondolin, for Nargothrond!" I would like to assume that she is from Gondolin as well, one of the House of Golden Flower like Glorfindel, who managed to escape after he perished in his clash with Balrog. And if you look at the original design by Gorrem more closely, you'll see that her armor is decorated with many aquatic ornaments - the shell on her belt, the wave-like design of the plates... Nodlor of Gondolin lived under blessing of Ulmo, King of the Sea and Lord of Waters.

At first Glathriel desires to stay in Middle-Earth and fight on against The Shadow, but Glorfindel tells her that this is no longer the deed of the Eldar, as their time is fading and "the duty of great deeds has fallen to others", she than leaves for the Grey Havens and on to the West, to find her peace.

Transcript of the story of Glathriel as revealed in LotRO I've posted before in this post.

Original image can be found here.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The cuteness that is Nanu

My cute little Nanu.. We found him on our first Turtle attempt few weeks ago, but because he's so special I decided that the screenshots I made back than weren't good enough. Today I finally made my Meleth Nin spare me his computer for a few minutes so that I could catch the cuteness in full grace.

So, here is cute little Nanu, my little dream in LotRO - next time he appears in the Mossy Chest, he is mine. Unfortunately, despite the numerous attempts since the encounter was released, we haven't seen him since... And trust me, restraining myself not to steal this one from Nimminas kin house is a big achievement for me.

As you can see, the small little fella is not quite shy, above you can probably spot that he's trying to nom on Sil's satchel. He probably wants the treats she always brings him ;)

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Just in time

6-maning Balrog is not a great achievement nowdays (as it has been 3-manned back in old good 50 days anyway), but we were down there on business (hunting for Broken Chain Link for a Watcher run). Good fun!

Still, one thing worries me. With b7 (I think, maybe even earlier) they managed to bug that encounter again. The jumps - which used to be really painful - don't do anything anymore. You can even spot that on the movie - there's a missing part of the animation, Balrog doesn't land, he just appears on the ground...
Also the change to LM that came with MoM (the one that makes them unable to remove diseases/wounds outside their fellowship) could be fatal, especially for non-lvl-60 groups: the Balrog casts loads upon loads of nasty diseases that can only be removed by LM due to the amount of the deadly effects that appear and Glathriel gets affected by them as well. Players can not control her, tell her to move or sod away and if she gets them... well... even for her few thousands morale, they are deadly. I hope someone bugs that!

Unfortunately, you can't see much of me in that film, 90% of the time I'm hidden somewhere beyond Cal's left lower corner, but you can spot me on few occasions.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Join me in Death

Silirien and her trusted grumpy bodyguard Rhyaehar the Warden have been visiting Garth Agarwen to see if Sil would fit into Naruhel's dress (she does and she looks awesome, trust me - but because of the fact that the dress comes out a bit torn here and there, it would be a mature content, and not really a sight Rhy is fond of sharing ;) ) and apparently they've spotted Ville Valo among the emo-zombies in there.

Sil, of course, has resisted the call. She prefers more fleshy, manly and lively partners. And better-smelling. And she prefers to stay good-smelling as well.