On April twenty-fourth, the one-year anniversary of the Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine unleashed the Book Thirteen: Doom of the Last King content update. Book Thirteen is now the fifth (of six) such updates for which players didn’t pay anything beyond their monthly dues to get. The new expansion introduced players to the new region of Forochel, added the hobby of fishing to the game and added the Defiler class to players as a new healer for the monster (Creep) side in Player-verses-Monster Player content. (You can see the full release notes in the LotRO Lorebook).
The first thing I did was get my Hobbit butt out to Michel Delving to snag the new fishing skill. On the way out of the housing area I got lost as they have modified the housing area entry way. There is now a little access road and a small pond where before there was nothing. Once I got all switched around again, I got to MD, located the hobby trainer in the Bird and Baby Inn and got my hobby set up along with my first fishing pole. Turns out, fishing poles are available to crafters as well and a friend of mine in the kinship made me a really sweet one with +5 fishing skill.
After asking around, I found out there is a bait shop in Straddle so I could use bait with my fishing to increase my odds of catching something. So off to Straddle I went. Straddle is a ways outside Bree so it’s a bit out of the way. Conveniently, however, there is a small pond right next to the bait seller. I equipped my pole, which removes both on- and off-hand weapons, right-clicked the bait in my bag to get the buff and started fishing.
Fishing in LotRO is similar to WoW: you click the fishing icon and your character will cast a line into the water and wait. When you see the signs of a struggle in the water, you click the fishing skill icon again which will attempt to reel in whatever it is on the line. After ten minutes, I had little more than some junk fish, kelp and a couple rusty daggers. Later on, while exploring in Breeland, I managed to catch two large gold fish trophy taxidermy items which I handed in. One now hangs in my home.
Due to the content expansion, all of Evendim and a couple of other places such as Nen Harn (sp?) lake in Breeland appeared undiscovered to everyone. I’m not sure if it’s due to the amount of water in those zones (due to fishing) or geography changes. There are other areas in the game with large bodies of water (The Shire, Ered Luin) which were unaffected so I suspect it’s the geography changes.
The new zone of Forochel is awesome! First of all, the topography is varied and interesting. Beginning with an icy forest area, the zone rapidly gives way to some glacial crevasses to navigate with occasional paths on the sides to get up to other areas. Once out of the cavernous pathway, the road opens to tundra and hills. Then there’s the giant lake in the zone. Unlike Evendim’s lake, you cannot swim in the large lake here for long before you’ll die of the cold. While the lake’s position in the top-middle section of the zone could pose some travel problems, the roadways in Forochel were for the most part clear of mobs. Getting around on horseback won’t be half as bad as Evendim. One note of warning – swimming in the lake will kill you and you can receive damage by walking on the ice flow at the lowest point of the zone near the lake. The damage I got was about two-hundred points per tick – not significant but a pain if you’re trying to walk stealthed through the area.
I took time to visit several of the camps in the new zone and chatted with some of the quest-givers. There is a new reputation faction available – the Lossoth. I haven’t had time to check out the rep rewards yet, but there’s rumored to be a shaggy new pony and horse available. I’m still happy with my current pony so I’ll probably pass. I did complete a couple of quests, one of which resulted in some hip-waders I’ll be using while fishing!
One thing I found out today: if you stand next to one of the steam vents for a time, you will get a cold-resistance buff which lasts thirty minutes. It doesn't seem to work next to fires though, only the steam vents. I'm not sure how long you have to stand there. The last time I got the buff it felt like thirty seconds or so.
Other improvements in the update included some animation changes (when my hobbit jumps he balls his fists and moves his arms in front of him now instead of to the sides) and some added sound effects. Summoning a horse results in both - instead of silently reaching for the sky to get your horse, you’ll whistle a couple times and look around. Some players were annoyed by the whistling sound. I don’t care for it but not to the point where I’d disable my sound over it. Standing in a town where there’s a group mounting up to move out sounds like a group of NY road workers with a convention of supermodels walking by but I just ignore it.
Overall, I’m very happy. I played about three hours last night and still have a large part of the new zone undiscovered. The stuff I have been through, I went through quickly. Looking forward to more sneaking, exploring and fishing! And a new Book quest!
For the anniversary, there are tokens which drop from mobs around Middle-earth. Get a number of these tokens and you can turn them into specific vendors (I spotted one in Bree and another in Rivendell) for gift boxes in the game.