Shamus Plays LOTRO #17: Along Came a Spider

By Shamus Posted Sunday Jun 19, 2016

Filed under: Shamus Plays 8 comments

This post originally ran during the 3rd anniversary of Lord of the Rings Online. At the time, there was a bash going on in-game. (The “festival of dipshits” splash image at the top of this post is made from the celebratory splash screen they used during that event.) To give you a sense of how old this series is: The game just turned 9 this past April.

Anyway, this is a good time to remind you that I really love Turbine and I’m really grateful they put so much love into this game. They worked hard to make WoW gameplay gel with LOTR. I know I make fun of the game here, but they’ve got a robust game with a healthy and friendly userbase. They’re a talented bunch, even if they do have some disturbing anti-bear aggression issues they need to work out.

You have a spider problem? What a coincidence! I also have a spider problem! MY PROBLEM IS THAT EVERYONE KEEPS ASKING ME TO SOLVE THEIR SPIDER PROBLEMS!
You have a spider problem? What a coincidence! I also have a spider problem! MY PROBLEM IS THAT EVERYONE KEEPS ASKING ME TO SOLVE THEIR SPIDER PROBLEMS!

Otho Broadbelt has a spider problem. He was delivering a cart of mushrooms when his cart was suddenly “boiling over with spiders” from out of his bags. He figures he must have accidentally picked up some spider eggs along with the mushrooms. He ran away from the cart, leaving his goods behind. He wants me to recover them.

He warns me that there are likely spiders all over the place, and that I should be careful.

Clearly I should not take this job. He’s even warning me up front that I’m going to have to fight a lot of spiders. The last guy promised one bear and I got twenty. If I do this I’ll probably find the cart is guarded by infinity spiders.

But! The cart itself is on the way to the next town. It wont hurt to just look for it on the way. Off I go.

There are Goblins prowling around the woods here. I avoided them earlier today when I was murdering bears, but as I cut through the woods I run into one that is sort of in my way. He’s just a bit too close to the cart and I don’t want him jumping me when the spiders start pouring out of the woodwork. I stride over and poke holes in him until he stops being a problem.


After that, I head the rest of the way down the hill and arrive at Otho’s cart. I don’t see any spiders.

Things are quiet. TOO quiet.
Things are quiet. TOO quiet.

I have some pies here that are invigorating and can give you extra energy and courage to get through a fight. I scarf one down before I get any closer. Finally I take a deep breath and take a few steps towards the cart.

*holds breath*
*holds breath*

I brace myself for the spider ambush, but no ambush is forthcoming. Hm. Maybe they won’t attack until I get next to it. This is going to be bad.

*closes eyes*
*closes eyes*

I have a few potions in my pack to help me resist injury and poison. I down a couple of those and take a few more steps forward.

Wait, what's IN this bag, anyway?
Wait, what's IN this bag, anyway?

Still nothing? They must be waiting for me to grab the bag. Okay, I can do this. Gathering my courage, I draw my sword and aim it in the general direction of the woods. I set my other hand on the bag. Nothing happens. I close the hand. I wait a few seconds. Still no spiders. I glance upward. Maybe they’re in the treetops, lowering themselves onto my head while I scan the woods in vain? No? Okay then. I gently tug on the bag. Then I grab it and sprint away.


Hmph. I’m actually kind of disappointed now.

I return to Otho.

Hey Otho, what's the deal? You promised me spiders!
Hey Otho, what's the deal? You promised me spiders!

He decides that the spiders have escaped and must be tracked down before they become a danger and spiders overrun the Shire. Now, I’m tempted to point out that there are already spiders throughout the Shire, but Otho is offering to pay me to go and tell the Shirriff about the problem. Which is a pretty good deal.

The nearest Shirriff is in Hobbiton to the South. I’m not crazy about going there since the whole pie debacle, but this should be quick.

I jog southward over the hill into the center of Hobbiton, making sure I avoid Holly Hornblower and her Pastry Shop of Suffering and Anguish.

Hm. I don’t see the Shirriff about town. There’s no watch office. The post office maybe? No. I don’t see where…

Shirriff ought to be at Holly's, since that's the closest we have to a donut shop in this time period.
Shirriff ought to be at Holly's, since that's the closest we have to a donut shop in this time period.


I find Shirriff Robin Smallburrow bravely protecting the inside of the Ivy Bush Inn. He’s got a nice little clutch of empty mugs by his side, and he’s working on another while he gossips with the barkeep.

I feel that, based on our hats, I should be in charge here.
I feel that, based on our hats, I should be in charge here.

I get his unsteady attention and explain the problem.

Robin’s glassy eyes slide over in my direction. “Well! Otho is right to be concerned!” He surprises himself with a near-flammable belch before continuing, “I have reports of a spider nest-”

“Wait. You knew about this already?”, I ask, looking at the field of empty mugs.

“Oh yes. I have a very reliable report of a quite large spider nest-“

“Are you talking about the giant web city?”, I ask. I’m thinking back to when I ran into the huge spider nest a few days ago. “Yeah. I know about that too. I was there getting a barrel of supplies for the bartender at the Green Dragon. Who I assume is the source of your ‘reliable report’? Like, I told him, and he told you?”

“Well, it can’t hurt to double-check.”, he says sleepily.

“You’re asking me to go confirm my own eyewitness report!”

“Off you go! Come back after you’ve scouted the place out.”

“Not without someone getting paid I’m not!”, I growl.

Robin shakes his head and hiccups, “Oh nonsense. I can pay my own way, thank you very much.”

The look I’m getting from the barman seems to indicate that this isn’t really true. In any case, it looks like I came all this way so that the Shirriff could tell me to take care of the problem for him. For free.

“Big spiders are probably dangerous! Be careful.”, he shouts after me as I leave.


So, back up to Overhill. I manage to get jumped by a goblin on the way.

Oh. You again.
Oh. You again.

I return to where I was a few days ago and sure enough, there it is. Just like I said it was. A big old spider nest. I’ll have to remember to congratulate myself later for giving such reliable reports.

I stomp a few spiders but I can’t explore deeper into the nest due to two important factors:

1) There is a huge impassable wall of webbing blocking the way.
2) I am not an idiot.

Possibly the source of all spiders, everywhere.
Possibly the source of all spiders, everywhere.

So, I have discovered the source of the spiders in the Bindbole wood. Again.

I fill my bug-killing quota and then march all the way back to Hobbiton. I tell Shirriff Smallburrow about the nest we both knew was there, and he actually drops 90 coppers on me.

What's the wine gobblet for? You're not mixing ale and wine are you? That would be bad.
What's the wine gobblet for? You're not mixing ale and wine are you? That would be bad.

“Weeeell.”, he says putting down his ale, “That nest has got to go. Go talk to Gammer Boffin about some sort of concoction to get through those webs.”

“Sure thing!”, I lie. “I’m going to go there right now and toil away so you can keep drinking.”

“That’s a good lass.”, he says, raising his glass to me.

Right. So I’m going to let the whole spider problem go. I feel bad for them eventually being overrun by spiders, but not bad enough to assault a spider nest for 90cp while the Shirriff converts the entire ale supply of Hobbiton into Hobbit piss. I make a note to avoid Overhill in my future travels.

Before I go, I reward the Shirriff with a merry song:

The circle around his feet shows that he's the selected NPC. But for some reason that circle ends up projected onto the bar? Odd.
The circle around his feet shows that he's the selected NPC. But for some reason that circle ends up projected onto the bar? Odd.

I see your mugs
and bar-tab go up.
While I fight bugs,
and sometimes throw up.

It must be hard
to watch this town.
Appoint me guard,
and I’d burn it down.

Want my advice?
Get the spider nest!
I found it twice.
You do the rest.

I know you’re sloshed,
But I’ll tell ya honey:
You want bugs squashed?
Cough up more money.

Skip this bit if you don’t actually care about the details of this quest and we can get on with the story. But if not knowing how this quest turns out will haunt you forever, then:

This is an odd quest line. It’s actually a chain of a few quests. After talking to the Shirriff, the next step is to go to the town herbalist and have her whip up some hocus-pocus juju stuff to dissolve the web walls so that you can enter the heart of the spider lair. (Apparently the webs are too tough to cut, and one of the Hobbits points out that burning through would most likely cause a forest fire.) You have to do a little side-quest and kill some stuff to get the ingredients for the magic Web-B-Gone, and then you can – if you’re crazy – assault the nest. I don’t think it’s a group quest, but I remember it being a bit of a challenge to solo at the proper level.

You hack your way through a bunch of spiders and eventually find a walking tree (not an Ent, this looks like a regular tree except that it can uproot and walk as needed) that has been caught in the webs. The real goal of the quest is to free this tree and escort it to safety.

It’s not a bad quest, although it feels like it loses the plot in this last step. You ostensibly came here to stop a spider invasion, but you leave after rescuing a tree and the quest line ends? Hmm.

I skulk out of town and head through the woods to the town of Brockenborings.

On one hand, we're lacking the required weather to create that rainbow. On the other hand, this game sure is pretty for 2007.
On one hand, we're lacking the required weather to create that rainbow. On the other hand, this game sure is pretty for 2007.

It’s a nice town. Hobbits usually build in the sides of hills, but this lot has dug into the face of a cliff. A large windmill groans sleepily from atop a hill overlooking the town. Beside the windmill is a huge statue carved from the remains of a once-immense tree, which depicts a Hobbit gleefully knocking the head off of a Goblin. Beyond the windmill and the statue is a sea of rolling green grass. It’s quite pretty here.

Bodo, your name is false advertising.
Bodo, your name is false advertising.

“Hi! You’re an adventurer, right?”, Bodo Goodbody greets me. He’s spotted me looking out over the grasslands and struck up a conversation.

“Sure am!”, I say with enthusiastic sarcasm that sails right over his head.

“Wonderful! You see, out on the Greenfields we have this problem and I really need someone to kill ten bear- OW!” He pulls back, rubbing his left ear. “You hit me!”

“Sorry, I thought you said you wanted me to hit you.”, I reply.

He frowns, “No. I didn’t say anything that even sounded as such. I asked you to help with a bear- OW!” His ear is ruby red this time. He looks at me furiously. “What did you do that for?”

“You asked me to.”, I reply calmly.

“I did not. I only said I wanted help with b-“, he stops himself short as he sees me raise my hand again.

“Help with what?”, I prompt him. “You were saying something?”

“No.”, he says meekly.

“You sure?”, I say helpfully. “You didn’t say you had some sort of ursine problem you wanted me to solve?”

“No! Nothing! Thank you, but I’m fine”, he says rubbing his ear gingerly.

“Good day then”, I say. He flinches as I wave goodbye.

This exchange has earned me a few dirty looks, but it saved me from killing more bears. I’m starting to suspect that all of this ill treatment is leaving me slightly twisted. Maybe? It’s hard to tell.

I head a bit further to the east and find myself in the town of Scary. The two towns are so close that calling them “two towns” seems like a bit of a stretch. If it had been my job to name the places I would have called them, “Brockenborings” and “the part of Brockenbornings that some daft Hobbit built a bit too far from the tavern.”

Go ahead, mention bears. I DARE YOU.
Go ahead, mention bears. I DARE YOU.

As I arrive, I am greeted by Wilcome Tunnelly. “Hullo then! It’s about time you showed up!” Wilcome looks tired and annoyed.

“About time?”, I say, cocking my head to one side.

“My aunt Lobeilia sent you along days ago, didn’t she?”

Whoops. I do seem to remember her saying something about going to Scary.

“I apologize for showing up late like this”, I explain, “It was my intention to never show up at all.”

“Oh.”, he says, slightly put out.


“I see.” There is a long awkward pause before he tries again, “Since you’re here, maybe you could have a talk with my sister anyway? She’s got it in her head she’s seen a goblin. A goblin! In the Shire! Can you imagine? ”

I consider telling him that I killed a goblin just an hour ago, but if he’s willing to pay me to talk to his own sister, then he deserves to lose some coin. To me.

How about that. We’ve returned to the main quest line. We could have done this seven entries ago, but then we would have missed out on all the… fun?

Next Time: Tall Tales from Short People!


From The Archives:

8 thoughts on “Shamus Plays LOTRO #17: Along Came a Spider

  1. Lee says:

    Not sure if you care, but there’s a typo here:

    >while the Shirriff coverts the

    should be

    >while the Shirriff converts the

    1. Rodyle says:

      Well, the movies were shot in New Zealand….

  2. Bespectacled Gentleman says:

    Those are some impressive muttonchops on the top right guy in the splash. Has Cuftbert infiltrated LOTRO as well?

    1. Wouldn’t put it past him, especially during the holidays where you can get drunk for free and do pub crawls round the ‘Shire. Can’t see him picking flowers, but hitting people out of the ring in Thorin’s Halls sounds like something he’d enjoy, and he might like the shrew thing too (or that might be too much like honest work and might also involve elf stink).

      1. Bespectacled Gentleman says:

        Well, R. Catbert at least wasn’t averse to a wee bit of herbalism. I would love to see how the hobbits would react to him taking a puff of pipe-weed, giving them an angry and/or incredulous look, and doing a fuck-ton of jet/skooma/death sticks right in front of them. Also, I could totally see him saying that “welcome to the festival of dipshits” line.

  3. Galad says:

    Gotta love the ‘hit ‘im when he says the B word’ tactic

  4. Volvagia says:

    Otho Broadbelt…make sure not to give him The Handbook for the Recently Deceased.

  5. Nimrandir says:

    It’s for the best that Lulzy didn’t follow that quest line. The poor thing would be so confused when she finally heads to Buckland and gets asked to kill the trees.

    “Why can’t I go get Oakley to . . . but I . . . but . . .”

    Then we get a Holly Hornblower-level meltdown.

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