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Author Topic: ‘In Their Absence’  (Read 1819 times)
Mrbloodworth
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Posts: 15148


on: March 17, 2011, 11:47:25 AM

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Volume III Book 3 Quest Notes

By Jeff ‘MadeOfLions’ Libby

Quest Notes!

Welcome once again to Quest Notes, the place to go for up-to-the-minute news on the latest and greatest in LOTRO questing! We’ve been busy whipping up a wide variety of content for the next update, and now it’s time to talk about some of what lies ahead. But first, a look back at the latest addition to Middle-earth: the mysterious relics that recently appeared throughout Eriador, causing quite a stir among heroes and villagers alike.

What is the meaning of this mysterious relic?

New Deed: ‘Mysterious Relics’

In the middle of the night on January 11th, Eastern Standard Time, mysterious relics appeared at certain locations throughout Eriador. One of them appeared right in the middle of Bungo Grubb’s pipe-weed field, and you can read the unhappy farmer’s reaction right here. The event has been in the works for several months, hidden in the game data, and when the time was right, it activated, bringing with it NPCs, quest items, and a deed to reward a new title: "Calm Before the Storm."

Bungo Grubb’s letter was scheduled to be posted on the website at 11 AM, and we intended for it to be the clue that would lead players to the relic in the Shire. I logged onto one of the live worlds shortly after the event turned on in the middle of the night, travelled to the Shire, and… there were a handful of players already examining the relic! The excitement-level was palpable. Forum posts on both sides of the Atlantic were discussing the event and searching for the remaining relics mentioned in the deed. All of the relics were tracked down even before Bungo Grubb’s letter was posted, which I think is a testament to our players’ enthusiasm, critical thinking, and eagerness to explore!

But it’s not all roses and sunshine in Middle-earth! You may be “Calm Before the Storm,” but make no mistake, there *is* a storm coming and these relics are its harbingers.

New Instance Cluster: ‘In Their Absence’

The lands of Eriador were long kept safe through the efforts of the Rangers, but now the Dúnedain have another charge: to ride to the aid of their chieftain, Aragorn, in the wide lands to the south. Indeed, they have already departed and you played a key role on the first leg of their journey. But now, in their absence, a new threat has risen…

As was hypothesized during discussions following the mysterious relics' unveiling, they are indeed connected with an upcoming instance cluster. This cluster consists of two Small Fellowship instances for three adventurers, two Fellowship instances for six, and a Raid instance intended for twelve brave souls. You’ll find them in disparate regions of Middle-earth; indeed, if you tracked down all the mysterious relics, you’ll know in which regions these instances will be found.

This raises an interesting problem from a design perspective. Our previous instance clusters were located within single regions, such as within Moria or within Mirkwood alone. The instances of this new cluster are not geographically close to each other; how can we make them a unified cluster without it feeling arbitrary? What is it that can tie these instances together?

Bounder Boffin makes his triumphant return!

The answer: a brand-new quest arc that runs through all five instances, tying them together into a single story-line much like the Books of the Epic Story. From this solution was born "In Their Absence," a fifteen-chapter quest arc that will begin with Barliman Butterbur in the Prancing Pony and then proceed in linear fashion through all five of the new instances.

The initial design goal for "In Their Absence" was to make a quest arc for the instance cluster that feels like a complete Book of the Epic Story, but it’s important to note a few ways in which the design deviates from the way we make the Epic line:

1)"In Their Absence" is not intended to be soloable, and you will need to group in order to complete this long quest arc.

2)The required group size increases as you proceed into later chapters. "In Their Absence" begins as Small Fellowship content, but it eventually becomes Full Fellowship, and the last chapters require a 12-man Raid.

3)None of the instances that form the cluster require you to play "In Their Absence." Therefore you can do the instances in any order--without having to be on the correct stage of the quest line. Of course, as the Story Guy, I hope you will want to experience them in order by completing "In Their Absence" the first time, but I’ll understand if you can’t wait. Perhaps I can entice you with the promise of additional barter tokens for the cluster as rewards throughout the quest chain?

Read more about the new instance clusters!

Epic Book 3: ‘Echoes of the Dead’

At the conclusion of Volume III, Book 2: "Ride of the Grey Company," a great deal of intrigue surrounded the dwarf Nár: what compelled him to speak of the Paths of the Dead when he seems oblivious to everything else? The Rangers have decided to investigate the library at Zudrugund before continuing their journey south, and that’s where we pick up the story in Volume III, Book 3: "Echoes of the Dead."

The road of the Grey Company gets even more dangerous

As with the other Epic Books of Volume III, "Echoes of the Dead" is a Level 65 quest arc and is completely soloable. However, with a single exception (that we’ll get into in a moment), you can also complete this entire quest arc in a group if you like. Thanks to your feedback, we’ve mostly done away with the ‘forced solo’ quest instances for "Echoes of the Dead." That’s not to say that you won’t see them make their return in a future Epic Book (because you certainly will, in some cases). However, we’ll try and allow for groups as a first option, and only proceed to the ‘solo only’ option if it is truly necessary for story or gameplay reasons.

You’ll therefore receive Inspired Greatness for most of the instances in "Echoes of the Dead" if you enter with less than a Full Fellowship, just as you do for most of Volume I (and, coming up, in Volume II). This should allow for you to experience the storyline the way you prefer, either by yourself or with friends, and not have to drop group if you are trying to follow the storyline with your friends.

I mentioned a single exception to the ‘forced solo’ instances in Epic Book 3, and that’s because there’s a new Session Play instance at the beginning of the Book. You’ll need to do this one solo, but I think you’ll forgive us this one exception in Book 3. We’re going to Gondor, and we’re going there in the Second Age of Middle-earth.

New Session Play: ‘At the Stone of Erech’

Those of you familiar with The Lord of the Rings already know the story of the Oath-breakers and the Paths of the Dead. In Middle-earth the legend is, while perhaps not widely-known, certainly known to the Wise and those conversant with history. At the end of Volume III, Book 2, the legend becomes quite relevant to the Rangers of the Grey Company, so early on in Book 3 resident lore-monkey Candaith agrees to tell you the story.

‘Hello, my name is Isildur. I’m kind of a big deal.’

This telling takes similar form to the ‘House of Isildur’ Session Play from the previous Book, but in this one the events depicted take place at the Stone of Erech, in Gondor, during the closing years of the Second Age. This is the chronologically most-distant event that we have yet depicted, but the events shown within are crucial to the course of the Grey Company, and to the fate of Aragorn.

Conclusion

And that brings us to the end of another edition of Quest Notes! There’s a lot of exciting content on the way for the next update, and some surprises too. I hope you’re as excited as we are!

Link

Today's How-To: Scrambling a Thread to the Point of Incoherence in Only One Post with MrBloodworth . - schild
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Yegolev
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Reply #1 on: March 18, 2011, 09:44:17 AM

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We’re going to Gondor, and we’re going there in the Second Age of Middle-earth.

Sweet.

Why am I homeless?  Why do all you motherfuckers need homes is the real question.
They called it The Prayer, its answer was law
Mommy come back 'cause the water's all gone
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