A foray into ‘practical roleplaying’

RP continues to be rare as white crows on TESO, so, on a whim, I thought I’d dip my toes back into LoTRO roleplay. But given the still-thick coat of rust on my MMO RP skills (that Bree-lander I rolled a while back didn’t get far), I thought of getting into the spirit of it by practicing alone first.

A weird thought struck me then: if I’m RPing by myself, why not be of practical use to somebody while I’m at it?

I slowed, and let the idea blossom. I’d have to pick a place low-level characters quest in, and I’d have to… oh, snap. Be a healer.

As a rule of thumb, I play only DPS classes in MMOs. Not since I stopped playing LoTRO proper (some years ago now) have I had the time to invest in tank classes, with their attendant responsibilities and learning curves. And I shun healers. My first Great Barrow run as a Minstrel was enough to convince me that scrutinizing health bars like a Wall Street trader is not my ideal way to play a game.

Which is why, apart from said Minstrel, I have only one other character in my LoTRO menagerie that can heal: a Captain, who I originally rolled to do righteous DPS.

But, serendipitously, I had also conceived him as an itinerant Gondorian scholar with a keen interest in the ruins of the northern Dúnedain. There he was on my menu – all decked out in the Snow-Dusted Traveling set I had painstakingly earned for him during 2012’s Yule Festival. So it was off to the Midgewater Marshes with him and a hotbar slotted with heals only.

A traveller from an antique land

The Marshwater Fort was the ideal spot, I thought. Lowbies were bound to pass through on the Epic Quest, and face the spider queen, who they might need help with. (Come on, doesn’t everybody want their Undying title?)

So I explored the ruins at a leisurely walk, often stopping to study the Dúnedain altar outside, awaiting beneficiaries in a vaguely hilarious predatory inversion.

Rivaldir Arthion in the Marshwater Fort

They came soon enough. Sporting their often unintelligible names and mishmash raiment, questing with the Aspergerish focus of veterans’ alts. Time to make myself useful.

I strode after the first one, a Lore-master, clicked on him, and stood by as he and his bird engaged the spider queen. My finger hovered over the key for Words of Courage. I would hit it as soon as he hit 50%, I decided.

Except he didn’t. The damned thing was no match for him at all. 75% was probably the lowest his health bar fell to before he finished up and sped through the nearby door to continue the Epic Quest. I could not follow, of course, so it was back to the altar. Next time, I thought.

Only there was no next time. The others blew past like so much tumbleweed – some were even overleveled and facerolling the spiders for deeds.

I sighed. So this is what the game’s become: so damned easy that nobody needs a heal around these parts anymore. Maybe I should set myself up at Baugarch, I thought – and that brought another scary canine boss to mind, which brought Haudh Iarchith to mind.

These lifeless things

Surely someone would set out to dare the place more or less on-level? And it was, with some stretching of the imagination, still within my Captain’s roleplaying ambit.

Off I went, and since there is no reasonable way to RP studying in a fetid pool swarming with walking dead, I perched most conspicuously atop the barrow’s entrance instead, listening to the crickets chirp.

Rivaldir Arthion outside Haudh Iarchith

And along came the tumbleweeds. One brought a high-level friend to power him through. Another went in and stood just inside the entrance, and when I offered assistance, simply ignored me and recalled out.

That was all. Wandering the Southern Barrow-downs didn’t help either. The one low-level character I saw, a Hunter taking on the corrupted Huorns in the southern forest, inexplicably stopped in the middle of nowhere and logged out upon noticing I was following and providing heals.

I had to chuckle at that. Had I just been taken for a creepy stalker? That’s a first.

The lone and level sands

I can take a hint when I want to. My Captain is back in the stable – and secure in the knowledge that his realm will be spared the Great Turbine Sunset. A stay of execution, as it probably is.

But when I reflected on this experience, limited as it was, I realized I had only one conclusion to draw: nothing’s changed. The very first time I reached out to another player in the open world, back in 2010, I got silence. The very first time I ran an instance without my friends, I was tripping over myself to catch up with the robots spearheading the charge.

Business as usual. And the joke’s on me, I guess.

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