Lord of the Rings Online #9: Going Postal

By Shamus
on Apr 24, 2016
Filed under:
Shamus Plays

I’m back in the Shire, and in the town of Michel Delving. The postman – my mortal enemy – is asking me to deliver the mail.

They should have Kevin Costner voice this character. Except they also really really shouldn`t.

They should have Kevin Costner voice this character. Except they also really really shouldn`t.

Mail delivery quests. It’s actually not possible to describe them using any sort of in-character point of view because they employ the kind of logic you get when you mix bourbon and peyote.

The mail sits there, with nobody in a hurry to make it go anywhere. Then a package is handed to you, and suddenly the clock is running. If time runs out, the package vanishes and you fail.

You run faster (20%, I think) when carrying mail, which means that you can use the postal service as a sort of ersatz transport system. As long as you never actually finish any of the deliveries you’ll have a speed-boosting package available in every town. Just take the package and head off to your destination. Drop the quest when you get to wherever you’re going. Given the distances you need to hike in the Shire, this is actually a really attractive option.

But! Before you grab that satchel and run off, you need to be aware that if you get too close to a “Nosy Hobbit” then the package will vanish and you’ll fail the quest. Their chat indicates that they’re trying to stop you for a bit of gossip, although I would really question the prowess of their gossip vs. my knife and my will to complete this quest.

Let’s assume that the postman managed to explain all of this to Lulzy without her head exploding. We now rejoin her trip to Michel Delving.

A 20% speed boost doesn`t feel like much when you pick up the package. But when you drop it again you`ll feel like you`re moving at half speed.

A 20% speed boost doesn`t feel like much when you pick up the package. But when you drop it again you`ll feel like you`re moving at half speed.

I breeze along the path, the satchel waving in the air behind me. I’ve never felt so… fast. In just a minute or so I’ve covered the entire distance to Michel Delving. This whole mail delivery business is strangely liberating. But… do I really care if the mail gets where it’s going? I don’t really. Now that I’m in town I don’t want to bother tracking down the postman. Actually delivering mail pays 90 coppers, but I just don’t need money that badly. I’ve got over fifty silver, which is more money than I’ve ever had in my life. Besides, if I delivered all the mail then there wouldn’t be any left for me to throw away.

I toss the satchel into the bushes and hunt for the mayor.

Glancing back at the bushes, I suddenly realize what’s been wrong with the post office all this time.

I HAVE FAILED TO GIVE A RAT`S ASS ABOUT FAILING TO DELIVER THE SATCHEL.

I HAVE FAILED TO GIVE A RAT`S ASS ABOUT FAILING TO DELIVER THE SATCHEL.

This must be why nobody ever gets their mail. Carriers are likely just random people who take mail because they’re in a hurry, and then throw it into the nearest ditch because, hey… it’s not my mail, right? This explains so much.

Ah well. As long as I don’t need to send any letters I should be fine.

My efforts to grief the Shire Post aside, I’m actually here on business. First up, I joined the Bounders and am entitled to a new hat. Let’s check it out:

This does make my head more aerodynamic. But... no.

This does make my head more aerodynamic. But... no.

Uh… no. Well, it’s worth 75 coppers.

The second bit of business here in town is that I need to deliver a note from Mundo Sackville-Baggins to the Mayor. Mundo (hilariously) thinks that the Mayor should reimburse Mundo on account of Mundo being kidnapped and stupid. The Mayor doesn’t take it well.

 I don’t want to seem rude, but… is the deputy mayor available?

I don’t want to seem rude, but… is the deputy mayor available?

The Mayor starts rambling on about a letter he wants taken to someone else.

“You want me to deliver a letter for you?”, I ask, raising an eyebrow. The postman is standing about five steps away from us, staring into space. So, the mayor himself would rather give his correspondence to a complete stranger than entrust it to the hands of his own post office. Clearly he knows that his entire mail system is a sham, a system of running fast by littering.

He knows! And he’s not doing anything about it! That’s as good as having his permission!

The Mayor lowers his voice to a conspiratorial tone, “I don’t like to say this to too many people. But the truth is that the Shire Post can sometimes be a little… unreliable.”

“Oh how dreadful.”, I observe. Yes, he knows the system is a sham. I know it’s a sham. But does he know that I know that it’s a sham?

He nods, “It’s true, I swear. Anyway, I’d like for you to deliver this note to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in Hobbiton.” He offers me a slip of paper.

On one hand, hiking to Hobbiton is usually a pain. On the other hand, I have the speed-boosting aid of the Shire Post on my side. And it’s always good to do favors for the Mayor. I take the paper, ignoring the strange, cock-eyed look I’m getting from the postman.

What a beautiful town. Full of imbeciles.

What a beautiful town. Full of imbeciles.

There are lots of other people standing around the town hall looking for help, but none of them are the mayor so none of them matter. Being a polite little Hobbit, I don’t use my elbow when I shove them out of my way.

Walking over to the mail table, I scoop up a satchel of mail and give the postman a wink as I trot off. I hear the postman shouting something about where the satchel is supposed to go, but I don’t really see how that’s relevant to me.

Thank you, whoever labeled the table and the mailbox in-game. I`m sure I`d never have figured that out on my own.

Thank you, whoever labeled the table and the mailbox in-game. I`m sure I`d never have figured that out on my own.

A few minutes later I breeze through the town of Waymeet. The postman waves at me as I pass, “Hoy! Mail!”

These tooltips are important to help newbies understand the difference between mailboxes and chickens.

These tooltips are important to help newbies understand the difference between mailboxes and chickens.

“I have some already, thanks!”, I say as I run past.

I’m well out of town before I realize he was probably asking for the mail I’m carrying. I guess this satchel is addressed to Waymeet? Whatever. It’s not like I’m about to waste my magic bag of speed boost mail by delivering it.

A few minutes later I arrive in Hobbiton. I pull open the mail satchel and empty the contents into the town fountain. Postman Grubb is just a few feet away, giving me the stink-eye.

He`s standing by the mail doing nothing, and I`m throwing it away. We all have our own way of not delivering the mail.

He`s standing by the mail doing nothing, and I`m throwing it away. We all have our own way of not delivering the mail.

I toss him the empty satchel and head up the hill to see Lobelia. She is not glad to see me. She’s not happy that the mayor isn’t willing to pay her nephew for being useless.

I wonder: Did Lobelia re-name this place to Sackville-Bag-End? I bet she didn`t.

I wonder: Did Lobelia re-name this place to Sackville-Bag-End? I bet she didn`t.

Lore time, children:

If you remember the book The Hobbit, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins here is the same one who moved into Bilbo’s house when he was out on his adventure, and who was then kicked out again when Bilbo showed up at the end of the book. She’s not a villain per se. The Sackville-Baggins family occupies roughly the same thematic space as the Dursley family in Harry Potter. Jerks, basically.

And no, you don’t get a spoiler warning for a 73 year old children’s book. Read it, sparky.

In Lord of the Rings (the books, not the movies) Frodo sold her the house before he left on his adventure. The game takes place during the books, which means that Lobelia here is standing on the front stoop of Bag End, Bilbo’s old home. You can go inside and poke around if you like. We don’t have space here to give you the tour, but if you find yourself in the game it’s worth stopping in just to have a look around and know that you visited Bag End.

Nephew Mundo is actually an add-on for the game. As far as I am aware, he is not present or mentioned in any of the books. Lotho in the pictures above in Lobelia’s only son. He’s also the douche that was selling shire pipe-weed to the evil Saruman in the books. (Things ended badly for him.)

Okay. I’m done with the lore notes for now. I just thought I’d give you a little dose of LOTRO trivia.

Lobelia assumes I’m a bounder, (which, okay, I did join, but only so I could get and subsequently sell a free hat) and says that if I’m not willing to help her nephew then I should go do something about the goblins on the edge of the Shire. I’m tempted to say something rude, but her son looks like he’s about to waylay me and leave me in a ditch where I’ll be crushed to death under an avalanche of discarded mail.

Right. Now what? I suppose I could take a well-earned rest. Except, something has been bothering me during my travels. See, I keep running into these fancy-pants types with gorgeous clothes. And not just nicely shaped clothes, but clothes that match. I’m becoming increasingly ashamed of the state of my own outfit. (Although I’m still really fond of the hat.)

ODDJOB looks ready for Christmas.

ODDJOB looks ready for Christmas.

On the road I bump into an Elf woman with a satin dress in burgundy with gold accents. I stop her and demand to know where she obtained such grand regalia.

She informs me of two things:

  1. I can obtain dye and fancy clothes at the auction house, and
  2. Calling her a “Tree Nerd” is racially insensitive.

She starts saying some other stuff about clothing types and crafted items but she ends up talking to herself as I dash off. This fifty silver is burning a hole in my pocket. The auction house is right back in Michel Delving, and I refuse to spend any more of my time dressed like a colorblind vagabond.

So, off to Mike Delving then.

Fun trivia: In the original run of this series, I’d called this place Michael Delving instead of the proper Michel Delving. I have read the Fellowship of the Ring many, many times, and I’d never noticed this. Like Tolkien, I’m using this re-publishing as a chance to fix old error amd intraduce new ones.

I run down the hill to Postman Grubb and grab one of his satchels.

Somewhat alarmed, he begins to explain, “That one goes to-“

“Yep. I’ll have it there in no time!”, I say as I dash off.

“But you’re going the wrong way!”

“DON’T TELL ME HOW TO DO MY JOB!” I shout back as I am carried along by the Shire’s mail-powered propulsion system. When I arrive, Postmaster Proudfoot stamps his foot indignantly as I chuck the now-useless mail into a planter.

Damn. There`s like, six months of mail in here already. Probably from all my alts that have been pulling this same trick.

Damn. There`s like, six months of mail in here already. Probably from all my alts that have been pulling this same trick.

“Don’t sweat it”, I tell him. “That mail was addressed to the other end of the Shire.” This does not seem to cheer him up.

I head for the auction house. I’m going to show the rest of the Shire the meaning of the word style. I want some of those fancy elven duds, and a few of bottles of green dye. Or maybe black, if that’s available.

These windows make no sense. What would that look like on the inside, and how would you manipulate them?

These windows make no sense. What would that look like on the inside, and how would you manipulate them?

Unrelated, but I took this image when gathering these screenshots.

Fifteen minutes later I’m back outside. I am still dressed like a colorblind vagabond. I have not bought anything. This is not going to change soon.

It turns out I’m a little short for the sort of gear I want to buy. It turns out I need something in the neighborhood of all of my money times ten to make this sort of purchase. Are these clothes woven from the eyelashes of virgin albino elven princesses? Is green dye squeezed from Dragon gonads or something? Why is this stuff so expensive?

Of course, this stuff costs this much because it can only be crafted by high-level players. Like anything else in an MMO, if it’s worth having you have to work for it. And by “work” I mean “hours and hours of killing an endless procession of boars, bears, and brigands.

So I need a lot of money. The average job pays about 90 coppers, which is just short of 1 silver. And I need a lot of silver. Which means I need to do a lot of jobs. Who is it around here that has a lot of work available?

Wouldn’t that be…

It is useless to resist. It is your... destiny.

It is useless to resist. It is your... destiny.

Noooooooooooooooooo!

Next time: Gold farming!

Oh? This week’s song? Yeah. About that.

I mailed it to you.

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1818 comments. (18 is the only non-zero number that equals twice the sum of its decimal digits.)

From the Archives:

  1. Bubble181 says:

    Man, no comments this morning and STILL no comments this evening?!
    I admit, I don’t have much to add either, having already read this back when it was first posted and never having played LOTRO, but whew, this is the slowest past in *years* on here.

    Shamus, please do keep posting these even if they don’t get a lot of attention from commenters!

  2. Dreadjaws says:

    I’m starting to suspect my country’s mail system is similar to Middle-Earth’s.

  3. Moridin says:

    The other comments must’ve been mailed to Shamus.

  4. Mephane says:

    You should be glad dye only costs a lot of ingame coin in LotRO. In Black Desert, which I am currently playing, you get them only with real cash, and in the form of, for example, “a random red dye”. Have fun trying to get several bottles of identical red.

  5. Mikeski says:

    Given how the mail is delivered, you should be looking for this article’s comments under other articles.

  6. The Specktre says:

    See, if I had to worry about picking between the Quarians and the Geth (I’ve always had my imported ME2 save), I’d choose the Quarians–and not just because of Tali–because…

    Aw shoot.

  7. SKD says:

    The only thing that made me laugh more today than this article was the comment section on this article

    Lulzy riding Gandalf riding Shadowfax riding Wormtongue….

  8. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    Shaders being unavailable until you hit Vanilla’s max level in Destiny seemed insane to me. Then when I kept playing for like 10x as long as it took to hit max level AFTER I hit max level, I uh… stopped worrying about it.

  9. Aerik says:

    Yeah, I want to say that I’m also really enjoying this series, and I’m going to be sad when it comes to its sudden but inevitable conclusion.

    I also LOVE the little nuggets of LOTR lore. And the “adding new errors” joke made me laugh aloud.

    Anyway, thanks, Shamus. Good series. :)

  10. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    Only ten times all your money? That’s cheap. Most auction houses items in MMOs need about a thousand times what you’d make going from level 1 to 99 (or whatever’s the maximum).

  11. Amirit says:

    Oh, the nostalgia! You made me want to get back to LotRO :)

    Seriously, though, great writing!

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