Shamus Plays LOTRO 15: A Quagmire

By Shamus
on Jun 5, 2016
Filed under:
Shamus Plays

I spent most of yesterday in the reeking swamp of Frogmorton. I did a couple of jobs there but was driven away by the smell and lack of work. After that I continued my general eastward push and found myself a spot by the river where I proceeded to spend the next several hours washing myself, my clothes, and my pie collection in the river. I don’t know that I’ve actually gotten the stench out, but it’s at least mild enough that I’m willing to start breathing on a regular basis again.

HOBBITS GONE WILD!

HOBBITS GONE WILD!

The underwear is really odd in this game. Being set in the super-tame Tolkien universe, they couldn’t very well put the guys in boxers and the ladies in thongs like they do in most fantasy games. So the underwear is actually really elaborate and colorful and not at all revealing. You’ll have to play the game yourself if you want to see it, though. I’ll bet I’m not the only person to strips down in fantasy games just to see how they handled the undergarments.

Once clean, I march eastward some more and find myself in the town of Budgeford, which should be named “Why the Hell Don’t We Build a Bridge”-ville.

On top of the hill is a row of houses, which is where we`re headed. If I turned left I`d be looking out over a vast expanse of swamp. I sure hope I don`t have to go in there!

On top of the hill is a row of houses, which is where we`re headed. If I turned left I`d be looking out over a vast expanse of swamp. I sure hope I don`t have to go in there!

The river is a bit annoying here. It’s mostly ankle or knee deep, but there are a couple of “soft spots” where it jumps to shoulder height for Hobbits. That’s an insta-fail gotcha if you’re delivering mail or pies. Best to hop over the water even if it looks shallow.

And the river? This river is actually named “The Water”. Hobbits have such interesting names for everything else. I think Tolkien was a brilliant world builder, but that one kind of annoys me. Dude! Deepwater? Slowwater? Briskwater? No? Just “Water”? Okay then. Be that way. But if your book ever gets turned into a movie I’m totally going to make fun of it.

I meet Wilimar Bolger.

Wilimar looks frightened. “Look what I found in my front door this morning!”, he says in a shaky voice. He points to an arrow lodged in his front door.

Mouseover text describing the arrow to Bolger`s arrow to Bolger`s arrow to...

Mouseover text describing the arrow to Bolger`s arrow to Bolger`s arrow to...

“It’s an arrow”, I observe after a few quiet moments. “Is that the job or… ?”

“It’s quite strange, though. The head is of Hobbit-make, but very old. However, the shaft looks like the kind the Big People use.”

“It’s an arrow.”, I say again. After a few moments I add, “So what?”

“Who would shoot an arrow into my door?”

“A nearsighted hunter? Who had too much to drink?”

“Please go and find out for me!”

I’m not sure what he’s worried about. His door looks just fine. Maybe after a hundred or so such arrows he might need to think about putting a fresh coat of paint on the thing. Until then, I’m just not seeing a problem. But whatever. His 90 coppers aren’t going to just jump into my pocket. Let’s see what we can find.

I am the best at spotting things.

I am the best at spotting things.

To the north I find a torn journal. Well, I find a lot of things. There’s a bow, which seems sort of incriminating in an arrow-based investigation like this one. There’s also a backpack which could contain any number of clues or (thinking ahead, here) crap I could fence at the nearest shop. But for some reason I leave all that stuff where it is and just take the journal.

If the contents are unreadable, how do we know it`s a journal? It might be a textbook, or a novel, or a bunch of doodles!

If the contents are unreadable, how do we know it`s a journal? It might be a textbook, or a novel, or a bunch of doodles!

I take the journal back to Wilimar.

Yeah. You can’t look in the backpack. You can’t take the bow. The only thing you can do is swipe the torn and completely unreadable book.

Wilimar is encouraged, “Ah! A journal. Perhaps it contains some clues as to who loosed that arrow at my front door!”

I am having a hard time picturing this. If someone was trying to assassinate Wilimar, would they really keep a journal?

Dear Diary,

Today I went to kill my next target, but was foiled on account of him having his front door closed. Should have waited until he opened it. Stupidstupidstupid.

Arrow supplies depleted. Retreating to get another one. I’m going to leave my journal, my weapon, and all my supplies here so nobody takes my spot. The other assassins are such jerks. Always hogging the good spots.

Wilimar thumbs through the book and shakes his head, “This isn’t good. Not good at all. Many pages are missing and torn, as if gnawed at by some beast. See the teeth marks on this page? Perhaps this was done by a wolf?”

“I was not aware that wolves ate books.”, I tell him. “I’ll be careful next time I visit the library.”

“If you could, please slay a few of the wolves east of here and see if they have any of the missing pages?”

I blink.

“I seem to be missing about three pages.”

“The wolves just happened to eat the most important three pages in this assassin diary? And you want me to go and recover them?”

They might not have eaten them.”, Wilimar says defensively. “Maybe they… took the pages… to, uh…”, he trails off.

“For what? To line their dens?”, I snort.

“Oh! Good one!”, he says. “Yes! I’ll bet they took them to line their dens.”

I’d put up more of a fuss, but as nuts as this job is I’m really just glad I’m not going to smell like swamp water at the end.

I`m afraid to ask which end I pulled the pages out of.

I`m afraid to ask which end I pulled the pages out of.

Well, perhaps I spoke too soon. Now that I’m out and fighting the wolves I realize that I’m here to “recover” pieces of paper. These wolves aren’t carrying around clipboards for holding all of the crazed assassin diaries they find. They ate them. Which means I need to go in and get them. I’m not sure how much value there is in a lump of chewed, partially digested pages from a madman’s diary, but-

Uh. Pardon me for a second…

Drunkenness, nudity, vomit, and murder? Maybe Lulzy is actually a misplaced Game of Thrones character that hasn`t been killed off yet.

Drunkenness, nudity, vomit, and murder? Maybe Lulzy is actually a misplaced Game of Thrones character that hasn`t been killed off yet.

Where was I? Oh right. The quest. Well, I have three “pages”. Which are actually three wads of ink-stained tree pulp and bile. But if Wilimar wants to pay me 90 coppers for these then that’s his problem. This is still better than working in the swamp.

Unrelated to the current adventure, but while I was turning in the quest two other Hobbits ran up to do the same. Seriously, this was not a staged shot.

This reminds me of the ending to Mass Effect 3.

This reminds me of the ending to Mass Effect 3.

Do you people MIND? I’m trying to roleplay here and you guys just…

Hey. Three colors? We’re just a couple of Hobbits short of being able to make our own Power Rangers team. Either of you two know someone in yellow or red that could join us?

I deliver the handfuls of goo to Wilimar, who… reads them?

“My goodness”, he says as he hands me my pay, “This is both interesting and distressing.”

“You have no idea”, I tell him.

“It seems this was written by a fellow named Callum. Apparently a distant ancestor of mine slew one of his, and he means to revenge himself on me. The arrow he shot into my door is that one that my ancestor used to kill his!”

I glance at the arrow, “Judging from his aim, I’m not sure you’re in all that much danger, even if he manages to get his hands on another arrow.”

“I think I know where to find him. It says here that he set up his camp in the Frogmoors.”

“The what?”

“It’s just west of here.”

So Wilimar sends me to confront his cross-eyed nemesis. Just west of here? Hm. Isn’t that where I-

Sorry, no clever mouseover text. I used up all my swamp jokes in the previous entry.

Sorry, no clever mouseover text. I used up all my swamp jokes in the previous entry.

Oh damn it. He’s sending me into the swamp, isn’t he? Yes he is.

Not just a little ways, either. I trek a good ways west and eventually pass the town of Frogmorton. Callum is actually on the far western edge of the swamp. I’m in the mood to draw some blood by the time I get there, which is unfortunate because Callum is nearly out.

Is your skin naturally purple? If not, then I have some bad news for you...

Is your skin naturally purple? If not, then I have some bad news for you...

“So the rat-man sent you to end my life, did he?”, Callum coughs at me. He doesn’t get up. He’s leaning against a tree and nursing a grievous wound in his side.

I shrug, “He just said to stop you. I think the killing bit was just wishful thinking on my part. But now that I’m here I’m betting you’re going to-

“Let me tell you my tale…”, he begins.

“Yeah. Just so you know, I saw this coming.”

“When the rat-man found the arrow in his door he raised the alarm. I was afraid of being found out before I was ready…”

“Why were you shooting arrows before you were ready?”, I ask him. I can’t believe I’m giving this advice. Poor Callum must be new to killing. I found it takes a while to get the hang of it, although I was never foolish enough to attack someone in a populated area when they were inside a building and I wasn’t ready for a fight. It’s a rookie mistake of legendary proportions. Assassins for years will be telling the story of the guy who left his weapon and ran away after he attacked a door with his only arrow.

Callum coughs up a little more blood and continues, “I retreated from the town, but in my flight I startled a boar, and it gored me.”

I guess I should point out that there are a lot of dangerous creatures around here. Wolves. Marsh flies. Rabid hops-crazed toads. Crazy quest-giving Hobbits. But no boars.

Callum sticks out his lower lip, “I guess I’m not going to get my revenge now. I’ll probably succumb to my wound soon.”

Is he giving me the puppy dog eyes? Creepy.

“Well, at least you had the good sense to come here and soak your wound in the bog water.”, I observe.

“I cannot defend myself so… do whatever you will.”

Sure, it LOOKS pretty, but be glad you can`t smell it.

Sure, it LOOKS pretty, but be glad you can`t smell it.

Well, I might be dead inside from all of my murder, greed, and my insatiable appetite for silk clothing, but even I don’t have the heart to just off this guy. I guess I’m going to have to walk all the way back to Budgeford. Through the swamp. Again.

“It’s a sad tale”, Wilimar observes when I give him the news.

“I don’t want to rush you or anything”, I tell him, “But it’s probably safe for you to pull the arrow out of your front door now. I know you’re busy and all, but you might want to put that on your to-do list.”

I`m kind of freaked out by the outline of my shadow. How is my plumed hat casting that shape?

I`m kind of freaked out by the outline of my shadow. How is my plumed hat casting that shape?

“I’m of the mind to help the man, if you’re willing.”, Wilimar says.

Wilimar wants to make some sort of salve for the man’s wounds, but (and I hope you can see this coming) he’s fresh out of ingredients. He needs prickly broom leaves. That doesn’t sound like anything I would want near an open wound, but what do I know? I’m just a lute for hire.

I have to find a prickly broom bush. Like, an entire bush. A bush this size:

I never realized there was so much overlap between medicine and landscaping.

I never realized there was so much overlap between medicine and landscaping.

Wilimar wants four of these things. I guess he’s trying to make enough medicine to submerge Callum entirely?

I return to Wilimar with enough greenery for him to construct his own hedge maze. In return he uses it to whip up some nasty, smelly stuff to rub on the wound. He gives me some bandages and sends me back across the swamp. Again again.

Callum is humbled by this small gesture, and pledges to leave Wilimar alone.

Try reading this one to the tune of Age of Aggression from Skyrim. It fits pretty well.

Try reading this one to the tune of Age of Aggression from Skyrim. It fits pretty well.

Callum you’re down
’cause Wil’s dad killed your sire.
So you came to this town
with one arrow to fire.

Tried to even the score,
but sadly you missed.
Then were gored by a boar
that doesn’t exist.

So I’ve come along.
I’ve got just what you need.
A satirical song,
and some prickly weed.

So now I head back to Budgeford. Across the swamp. For the fourth time today. I will never be clean again.

I let Wilimar know that Callum no longer wants him dead, but now I do. So it’s kind of a wash for him, really.

Well, let’s walk around town and see who else needs what and for how much.

If your dog was a little bigger, you could probably ride it.

If your dog was a little bigger, you could probably ride it.

“Hullo”, Odovacar Bolger greets me. “I’m having some real trouble.”

“Given that I haven’t killed a single spider in almost three days, I’m going to bet it’s a spider problem.”

“My farm hands have reported seeing a black-cloaked rider on my lands.”

“Cripes. You actually do have a problem. Like, a real one.”

Odo leans in and sniffs at me, “Ugh. What’s that horrible smell?”

Next Time: Return of the Black Riders?

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20201Feeling chatty? There are 41 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. RCN says:

    Speaking of Lord of the Rings: Did you see this?

    https://youtu.be/ek2O6bVAIQQ?t=195

    If you didn’t… maybe you’ll get a nerdgasm into being referenced as MrBtongue’s favorite video game critics. Congrats, old man Shamus!

    • Hubakka says:

      “Ugh, another acclaimed critic who praises my work? [FILMCRITHULK!]. What do they all eat, anyway?”

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Dang. Beat me to it. Wanted to congratulate you as well.

      I mean, Hugo nomination? Blech.

      MrBTongue name drop, now thats where its at. He’d tell you that himself.

    • hborrgg says:

      Sheesh, if a hack n slash game got the spirit of Tolkien wrong I’d hate to see him try the Total War mod.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Wasnt that already a game of its own?War of the ring,or something like that?

        • hborrgg says:

          If there was I assume the total war mod was much better.

          But in particular the mod makers decided to try and include a story-mode campaign. And since a couple of people wandering around alone in the woods doesn’t translate into a Total War game, Frodo, Sam, Pipin, and Mary each command a 100-man hobbit militia which helps them fight armies of orcs.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            HA!

            But wouldnt it make more sense to turn all the hobits into spies(or other special units),while the fighters become generals that get to lead armies?

            • hborrgg says:

              Huh, come to think of it I think maybe Mary was your spy and Pipin was your diplomat or something like that. It’s been ages since I played.

              Playing the sandbox campaign as the dwarves was awesome though. The battle to retake Moria was probably the most epic thing I’ve ever seen in a Total war game.

          • The Total War mod is called Third Age: Total War or something like that. I’ve only played a bit but it seems pretty good. At least for creating battles between huge armies, which even Battle for Middle-Earth couldn’t really manage.

        • Supah Ewok says:

          There are two LotR RTS’s that I know of: War of the Ring, and Battle for Middle Earth. War of the Ring was pretty Warcraft style, and Battle was… similar, but simplified, and you spawned battalions of units rather than individuals. Neither were Total War style at all.

          • Matt Downie says:

            My favorite is “The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king”.
            I never played it. I just like that they gave it such a ridiculously cumbersome name.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Still sounds better than thi4f.

            • MichaelGC says:

              Everyone just called it ‘Tlotrtbfme two trotwk’.

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              Frodo is back!

              And this time, he must throw away the One Necklace.

              Legolas turns of the Nazgul’s Fellbeasts into a hang-glider.

              Gimli gets tossed repeatedly by trolls.

              Aragorn discovers he’s also the long lost heir of Rohan.

              Gandalf doesn’t return but is replaced by Boromir the White. Who dies.

              Merry and Pippin get mixed up in the business of a civilization of cantankerous hedge bushes. One night they stumble across a wardrobe Lady Galadhriel left behind. Drunken antics ensue.

              Sam stays home with his wife because he’s tired of everyone heckling him about him and Frodo. They have like ten kids by the time the trilogy is done.

              And the new Dark Lord gets his ass kicked by Tom Bombadil by accident.

              Another one of Elrond’s daughters wants to marry Aragorn.

              • Supah Ewok says:

                If you really want to know, Battle for Middle Earth 2 actually covers the War in the North. BfME 1 had only the rights to make a game based on the movie, whereas BfME2 had the rights for the books, including the appendices, where Tolkien left some notes for how the War of the Ring was fought in other “theatres” of Middle Earth. It was fairly interesting, even if they didn’t 1:1 follow the appendices.

                The expansion, Rise of the Witch King, was about how the Witch King rose up in Angmar and brought the Northern Realms of Man to ruin (Aragorn’s ancestors). That one had less to go on and felt a lot more fan-ficky, and the campaign had some mechanical issues, but it was still pretty fun.

                I do like your version though.

          • krellen says:

            There is also the much older War In Middle Earth, released by Melbourne House in 1988. It actually does allow you to follow the path of the books, marching Frodo and Company to Mt. Doom to destroy the ring.

            Or you could rally all the Free Peoples somewhere outside Minas Tirith, send the Ents and Huorns down there to liberate the city, and destroy Sauron with all the armies of light, which is how I always did it because that’s more fun.

    • Steve C says:

      Aww. That’s sweet. Now they have to kiss.
      (Careful of any tongue. He might bite it.)

  2. Soylent Dave says:

    And the river? This river is actually named “The Water”. Hobbits have such interesting names for everything else. I think Tolkien was a brilliant world builder, but that one kind of annoys me.

    ‘The Water’ runs through the middle of The Shire, so Tolkien probably nicked (er, was inspired by) the River (Great) Ouse, that runs through central England.

    (it translates as ‘The Water’, and is just one of several English rivers with that name)

    The really big rivers in England do tend to have pretty boring names (because the names are old, and people in the past were obviously less imaginative…): ‘Thames’ = ‘dark’, ‘Trent’ = ‘floods a lot’, ‘Wye’ = ‘windy’ etc.

    • Matt Downie says:

      Wikipedia’s List of Tautological Place Names gives numerous examples of rivers named after an old word meaning ‘river’, and things like Torpenhow hill (“hill-hill-hill hill”).

    • krellen says:

      Everyone is unimaginative – we just don’t realise how much because we don’t speak all the languages. “The Water” is a distressingly common name for a river. I live next to the “Great River” – sometimes called the Great River River because people don’t speak Spanish. A very large portion of names in the world are things like “Place By The Hill” or even, as Matt Downie expresses above, “Hill Hill Hill Hill”.

      (And most of the ones that aren’t named that are named “Person’s Thing” in some form.)

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        My city used to be called “round fort” back when it was founded.Yet when you say singidun,it sounds so exotic and interesting.Even its current (anglicized) name of belgrade sounds interesting,until you realize that it just means “white city”.And the major river flowing through the city has “river” as its root.

      • Felblood says:

        I don’t think it’s a question of imagination, but rather usability.

        Names that stick tend to be simple, descriptive and free of unnecessary adornment.

        Why does every town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountians have a South Hill? Because we tend to build our towns on the shady North side of large hills, and even if you don’t know the names of all the hills in the area, when someone tells you the gas station is on the South Hill, you know where to look for it. Even if the city council got together and decided to name said hill after some local hero, people would still call it the South Hill, just because it exactly evokes the place in the simplest way possible.

        I live near a river that is named for a tribe that used to live nearby, but in most contexts, I can safely refer to it as simply “The River,” and everyone knows what I’m talking about.

      • Nixitur says:

        I dunno, the name of the main river near where I grew up basically means “The Holy”. And the town where I currently live comes from a word meaning “lovely”.
        Then again, the next biggest city’s name comes from a word meaning “forest castle”, so you’re not too far off.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        My favorite was the main street in Salamanca, Spain. Rua Calle. That’s Portuguese/Galician and Spanish for “Street Street.” The only way it could be better is if there were a Rue Calle Street in the US (closest I can find is Rue Calle Drive, Paris, Texas).

      • Philadelphus says:

        South Point on the island of Hawaiʻi is the southernmost point in the island chain and also in any U.S. state. It’s probably near the spot where the colonizing Polynesians coming from the south first made landfall, so its name in Hawaiian, Ka Lae, is likely one of the oldest names in the islands. And it pretty much literally translates as “the point.”

        Similarly, the two tallest volcanoes on the island of Hawaiʻi (probably the first land sighted by voyagers) have the names Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, which translate as “White Mountain” (due to the snow in the winter) and “Long Mountain” (due to its very shallow slope, and how far it stretches across the horizon from certain vantage points). Yet the third tallest volcano in the islands, just a bit north on Maui, has the much more poetic name Haleakalā, which means “house of the sun.”

    • MichaelGC says:

      There’s a street in London called ‘London Street’.

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      And then there’s Australia.

      Although, to be fair, the city of Melbourne was once going to be called Batmania, after its founder, John Batman. “Wagga Wagga” seems pretty tame compared to that.

  3. Sunshine says:

    This was a good article, but it should have been more like Dark Souls.

  4. Corpital says:

    That tune fits the song really well, but it’s called the Age of Oppression, thankyouverymuch…..hrmpf, imperial sympathisers…

  5. Fists says:

    Sooo, was a shrubbery joke/reference considered when you wrote this article? Did you consider one for the mouse over text?

  6. tremor3258 says:

    So if you chose the destroy the wolf option, were the other two taming the wolves and becoming wolf-hobbits?

    • Sunshine says:

      Choosing “destroy” kills all the wolves, or you can control the wolves and become their king. The third option turns everyone into wolf/hobbit hybrids.

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