LoTRO – Back to Arkenstone

LoTRO has basically been my #1 or #2 game since I started playing. Sure, I’ve wandered off and played other MMOs, but I still would spent time in Middle Earth. I’d take breaks from MMOs entirely, but come back to LoTRO.

However now I have 2 friends playing ESO with me, and a lot of enthusiasm for FF14, LoTRO is getting moved to #3 game in my MMO rotation. Basically I’ll log on every week or so and play a bit, more as a way to add in some variety or do something different for a few hours.

That made me crunch some numbers about which server to concentrate on. My Beorning on Shadowfax is level 21, at roughly 96K total XP according to the character XP table section, with ~8 hours played. My Beorning on Arkenstone is level 41, at 1200K experience, with ~50 hours played. Basically 12.5 times the experience points with 6.25 times as long playing.

Obviously it is difficult to compare due to server rules differences, but it got me thinking… and my gut feeling is that the xp boosts from Shadowfax and the increased landscape difficulty I picked (tier 3: Deadly), are mostly offset by how much longer combat takes.

That is to say: I leveled slower on Shadowfax than Arkenstone, even after a 1.25 (landscape difficulty) X 1.25 (Derudh’s stone) X 1.5 (Shadowfax XP buff) = 2.34 xp multiplier, due to how much longer combat takes. “Longer combat” entails everything – having to pull more carefully, moving for better positioning, picking off one or two mobs at a time; having to heal more; having to run out of the AoE of Eye of Sauron, etc.

The real way to compare would be to start another Beorning on Shadowfax, take the normal difficulty, and play for 8 hours and see where I end up. Without actually spending 8 hours I think I’d be far past the start of Vol 1 Book 2 (where I am with my first Beorning on Shadowfax), or at least have ground out various virtues by doing deeds in the Bree area.

On Arkenstone my char has decently leveled virtues because I spent the time finishing quest deeds, exploration deeds, kill deeds, as well as farmed historian/scholar mats to level crafting.

I have done zero of that on Shadowfax.

One other significant advantage of Arkenstone are skirmish camps. I do have fun playing the skirmishes, but the real perk there is upgrading my gear every 3-4 levels. That’s huge, I don’t have to deal with crafting and the gear is much better than the quest drops. Yes, some quest rewards are great, but your character has 7 jewelry slots, 1 pocket item (taken by the Derudh’s stone, can get ones later with a higher level cap), 7 armor slots, and up to 3 weapons (primary, secondary, or two-handed; ranged) and it’s tough to keep all that reasonably current. Except skirmish camps make it easy.

Skirmishes don’t appear until the server advances to Mines of Moria. The camps are there but the NPCs aren’t functional.

I don’t mean to sound down on Shadowfax, this is more me trying to figure out how to optimize the playtime to advance in the storyline. It’s been a while since I’ve played through Shadows and Angmar and Mines of Moria and I’d like to revisit but also get to the large amount of content after those!

My bear is the one in the foreground (in human form), not the camera shy one on the hill in the distance.

So, I’m planning to resume playing my Beorning on Arkenstone. He is level 41, early in the Vol 1 Book 5 storyline, with virtues in the high teens (max virtue is half your level), on a server with skirmish camps… too many advantages.

ESO – Another Friend Playing

I had elaborate plans to advance in FF14… ok not that fancy, just keep following the MSQ… but on Mon my other friend did indeed buy ESO on the Steam sale, and messaged, asking if I wanted to play. Well heck yes!

We actually played Mon, a little bit Wed, and Thu as well. My friend plays tons of single player games but was leery of trying an MMO due to concerns about forced grouping.


I decided to roll a new character, with the plan to group as early as possible. I already had a named picked out: Amanita Phalloidies, that being the botanical name of the deadly White Cap Mushroom. Unfortunately, some other genius 😉 had the same idea so the name was already taken. I had to spell the name Falloidies instead. I thought this was a great name for an Imperial Necromancer, Imperial because it is Latin, and Necromancer for obvious reasons. I joined the Ebonheart Pact since my friend made a Nord Dragonknight.

We called on discord and started in. I was interested in seeing the new tutorial especially with the finals room of portals to all the various starter zones.

While the tutorial isn’t a private instance, it wasn’t possible to join up. We grouped and I tried to “travel to player” several times at various points, and always got an error. It was fine, we had discord and I kept asking what point in the tutorial she was up to.

One point she said “oh no, I’m out of inventory space”. There’s a room in the tutorial where you can choose weapons and armor… and my friend apparently took everything. Haha!

When I got to the portal room I found the Bleakrock Isle portal and told my friend that was the one she wanted. I just wanted to make sure we started the correct faction storyline. My other friend that played bought a combo package that included Morrowind, so their starter zone was Vvardenfell. Which is fine, but then had no idea at all what faction they were and wound up doing zone stories in essentially random order.

Once on Bleakrock Isle, she was able to travel to me and we finally could play together. Our other friend soon joined us and we worked on a few quests together.

I pointed out aspects of the game as we went long. Skyshards for example, I explained that discovering 3 skyshards granted 1 skill point. ESO’s tutorials and help popups are pretty good but having somebody answer questions is even better.

As we ran across Bleakrock Isle, I stopped at various harvest nodes (wood, ore, plants, enchanting) and gave a quick description. I showed the slightly different icons of zone quests and side quests; the zone quests tell an extended story while the side quests are shorter and more local. I advised that if given the choice, do the zone quests first since those grant better gear and sometimes skill points, etc.

Some other key tips were wayshrine usage – at a wayshrine, clicking on it lets you travel for free to any other wayshrine already discovered; clicking on a wayshrine from the map costs money to travel.

We wrapped up the first evening still on Bleakrock Isle. With great progress though!

Later, I dug around my setting and passed on some changes to make:

  • options -> nameplates -> nameplates on options -> nameplates -> friendly npcs (show) -> always
  • options -> gameplay -> prevent attacking innocents -> on
  • options -> combat -> (display ability bars, timers, stats, etc)
  • options -> social -> auto-decline duels -> on
  • options -> audio -> (subtitles for NPCs and videos)
  • options -> gameplay -> quick cast ground abilities -> on

I think my friend absorbed everything and said she had fun.


The second session was short as I got on late Wed evening. My friend quested on her own and finished a few more quests on Bleakrock Isle. My only further advice was on spending attribute and skill points. She wants to play a stamina dragonknight (loves wielding dual weapons) but wasn’t sure how to allocate.

Fortunately I got her to spend all points into stamina, explaining that unlike many other RPGs where you try to balance stats a bit, ESO rewards full blown concentration into one stat. Mostly because how damage is calculated.

As far as skill points, she had already spent a few in the skills that the in-game skill advisor suggested. The skills advisor defaults to an “Initiate” build which is magicka-based. I told her how to change that and she selected the Venomous Dragon build, which is stamina-based. Now the game will suggest skills that build towards the playstyle she wants.


My friend crafted my newly-playing friend some gear – a level 10 Hunding’s Rage armor set. Due to level scaling, your armor level being at your character level makes you equivalent to a level 50/CP 160 character, other than skills and champion points. So we’ll try to keep our friend in reasonably current gear.

We exited Bleakrock Isle to Bal Foyen and continued questing. Since Bal Foyen is even smaller than Bleakrock Isle we finished that and moved onto Davon’s Watch in Stonefalls. At this point, we leveled up to 10 and my friend could equip her armor.

In Davon’s Watch we took a break from questing to tour the city a bit. I got us to join the Fighter’s Guild, Mage’s Guild, Undaunted (my friend thought the initiation ceremony was funny). Since finishing the Undaunted initiation quest involved visiting – not finishing, just visiting – a group Dungeon, which in our case was Fungal Grotto, our other friend ported over there so that we could “travel to player” and save the run across Stonefalls. It isn’t much, but both of our lowbie characters have basically zero speed mounts, and no wayshrines along the way, so it would have taken a while, especially with stopping for fights.

Before logging off I pointed out another critical town service – the Outlaws Refuge. We explained this was where to go to sell or launder stolen items, and often sneak out of a city bypassing guards. This was handy because right before, at the bank, there was a safebox (which I managed to steal from when the NPC wandered away!) so I had some stolen loot to launder.

Later I checked and my level ~11 newly-join-Undaunted character is able to get delve dailies from Bolgrul. Excellent!

This is super cool. I haven’t had more than 1 real-life friend play the same game as me since… Asheron’s Call. Back then we used to stay late at work, conference call each other, and play for a few hours in the evening. Good times.

I’m glad I rolled a new character to play with my friend through the low levels. That way I can see the quests and objectives too. I could have used my warden or dragonknight since they haven’t done those quests but I figured I’d transition to those characters eventually, might as well try out a new character for a bit.

Speaking of that, I did stamina necro. I have a magicka necro that has terrible sustain problems (runs low on magicka all the time). Maybe I’m doing it wrong or it gets better with various passives, skills, etc. But the stamina necro plays solid right from the start, I like it more.

So I crafted myself a set of Night Mother’s Gaze and Mechanical Acuity gear, in the Daedric style because I have a ton of the materials needed for that motif. For a level 12 character, hehe, what the heck that’s the benefit of having your own crafter.

ESO – Molag Bal Quotes

You can’t be an evil overlord without dramatic quotes. Here are some that Molag Bal says before/after the final encounter at a dolmen.

I decided to collect them, so here is a non-exhaustive list. Also, whoever does the voice acting sounds great!

  • A mortal for you to feast upon, Rhagothan. You may feed now.
  • Destroy the body, and the animus is cast into darkness. But the animus returns.
  • Destroy this anchor, and scores more will take its place!
  • Dogs! Filth! You anger a powerful enemy.
  • Drink in your victory. It won’t last long.
  • Fool! Did you think Molag Bal, the Lord of Domination, would be defeated so easily?
  • I admire your tenacity, mortals.
  • I am patient. But not that patient, fool.
  • I don’t want revenge. I want your submission.
  • I will dominate this world and all others in time. The strong should always command the weak.
  • I will ensure no tales are told of your valor.
  • Kill my minions and you only remove the weaklings from my service.
  • Like all worldly things, you will in time wear and be used up.
  • Man is mortal, and doomed to death and failure and loss.
  • May your soul burn.
  • My minions will gnaw the flesh from your bones.
  • My minions will gnaw the flesh from your corpse.
  • My subjects failed me. They deserve to be destroyed.
  • Nothing you can do will end this.
  • Pointless. Ten anchors drop for each that is destroyed!
  • Sometimes the prey turns and nips us. It’s a small thing.
  • Submit, and become mine! Fight, and be destroyed!
  • The daedra. The anchors. You destroy them in vain.
  • The end of Nirn is at hand. Come forth and destroy!
  • The plan is in place. You are but an inconvenience.
  • The planemeld will go on as planned. You cannot stop it!
  • The skins of those you love will fly as my banners.
  • The soulless one thinks I can be defeated. Not so, fool.
  • These mortals are strong, but not strong enough.
  • They serve by choice. They serve the strong. They serve me.
  • This will not finish me!
  • Thrashing you thoroughly will please me, mortal.
  • Unexpected. I will call forth someone more worthy of your strength.
  • We sometimes admire our prey, and secretly applaud when it cheats our snares.
  • Weakling. Pathetic piece of filth. Leave while yet you can.
  • When Nirn and Coldharbour are one, all will serve my will!
  • When you are destroyed, the flies will pick your bones clean.
  • When you destroy the next, this one will have returned.
  • Wretches! All my servants are wretches! Perhaps these will do the job!
  • Wretched mortals. Worms.
  • Wretched things, mortals. May a storm wash you into Coldharbour.
  • Yes. Sacrifice those servants in my name. Let’s give you something worthy to sacrifice!
  • You are unworthy to kiss my feet! Begone with you!
  • You do not yet know fear? I shall make you afraid!
  • You will now be a gift to my most favored pet, Menta Na.
  • Your death will mean nothing to me. You are but a minor distraction.
  • You’ve done nothing, mortal.
  • You’ve only destroyed my whelps. These minions will not be so easily defeated!
  • Your soul is mine. I own you! Come. Let us play.

FF14 – Blue Mage

Blue Mage is an interesting class – it uses monster skills obtained by defeating a monster that uses them. Guild Wars had a similar mechanic – various elites have skills you can capture with a Signet of Capture. But in Guild Wars you still had your normal class skills. The Blue Mage, outside the handful of spellcaster common skills (Addle, Swiftcast, Lucid Dreaming, Surecast) has nothing but monster skills.

Earlier I tried it out and got to level 15 before hitting a roadblock. Essentially… no healing. The skills I captured were fun and different, but it was getting very difficult to win fights and stay alive. So I went back to the regular classes/jobs and didn’t plan to continue on Blue Mage.

But, a conversation in the Newbie channel caught my eye. Someone asked where they could get the “1000 Needles” skill because they were a Blue Mage and heard it was really good. They got several responses and several players commented on how great that skill is, how it’s the bread and butter attack for a Blue Mage until level 50, etc.

Intrigued, I did some research and found out where to get the skill (outside Little Ala Mhigo). I made my way there and pondered how to pull this off. After all, I was level 15 on Blue Mage and the mob I had to defeat was Level 26.

I tried attacking but eventually ran away – each of my attacks was doing maybe 5% damage, if they hit, yet I was taking ~25% damage.

So I stood there thinking how I might ask someone to help, when a FATE popped up, literally right across the path from where the Sabotender Bailor I needed to beat was standing.

I kept watching, seeing level 20 NPC guards run out to attack the level 22-23 monsters. I threw a few attacks in, figuring why not, but being so much lower level I wasn’t doing much besides getting aggro and running in circles. Eventually I lost aggro and stood around again.

Then a player showed up, and another, and they started fighting to complete the FATE. A plan formed in my mind… what if I pulled the Sabotender Bailor to the FATE… maybe they’ll help me kill it?!

So that’s what I did. After tagging the Sabotender and positioning him right in the middle of several FATE mobs, the other two players (and NPC guards) starting attacking as well. I threw out a few monster skills but the others did 80% of the work.

And seconds later, the Sabotender was defeated. I got the game message that I just learned “1000 Needles”. Woohoo!!

I immediately tried it out during levequests from Aleport. And yes, 1000 Needles is fantastic. It’s only weakness is the 6 second cast time. O_o. But for 1000 damage it is still worth it. At level 18 I get Swiftcast so I’ll be able to cast 1000 Needles twice, when Swiftcast is available. Two in a row should shred most regular monsters I’ll be fighting!

OK, I forgot to take screenshots while all this happened. Afterwards I went back to take one. You can see the Sabotender Bailor, and the question mark in the mini-map is a quest giver in Little Ala Mhigo. The Sabotender is just outside, literally seconds from the Aetheryte Crystal.

ESO – Birth of a Tank

I reached level 50 on my tank, a health Dragonknight. This is great timing because another friend of mine, also a mutual friend with my friend that currently plays, is joining the game!

They are interested in the Dragonknight as far as melee DPS. My friend that plays currently is also a DPS Dragonknight (stamina build). With my tank Dragonknight we’ll make an unconventional group of 3 Dragonknights! Haha.

My first order of business was to equip all the level 50/cp 160 gear I had saved away for my tank. That consists of Ebon gear, Tormentor gear, Radiant Bastion gear, with a smattering of miscellaneous pieces. I mostly wore Ebon and Radiant Bastion gear, and got the red swirlies from the Ebon set bonus.

But then I did some research, late I know, but better than never. And I’m going to re-equip with the “beginning tank” gear recommended by the ESO Tank Club. That means obtaining Armor of the Seducer and Akaviri Dragonguard equipment.

Good thing is Armor of the Seducer is a crafted set. So, easy to get, right? After all, I have a crafter…

Let this be a lesson to everyone else, I screwed up crafting this 2 times before getting it right. So the 3rd set I finally made it without basic errors.

First error was leaving off the Sturdy trait. I took Mayzib, my crafter, to the crafting location in Deshaan, selected CP 160 gear, sturdy trait, went to craft… and got a warning message along the lines of “warning: you are crafting Rubedite armor which won’t have the set bonus available at this crafting station”.

Basically, there are extra tabs for a crafting location set, and you need to be on the correct tab. So I shifted over to the set tab and cranked out 5 pieces, upgraded them all to epic (purple).

It was then I noticed, mistake #1, the study trait was missing. What happened was when I moved from the regular set tab to the location set tab, the default moved back to “no trait”.

Argh! Oh well, deconstruct all the stuff to recover some materials, and try again.

I did all that stuff, crafted 5 pieces, upgraded to epic, and then recalled to Rimmen to craft glyphs. The recommended glyphs for the Seducer pieces are 2 stamina, and 3 magicka. So I made epic glyphs, and applied them to the armor…

That was mistake #2. See, applying glyphs binds the armor to the character.



Deconstruct all the stuff to recover some materials… grrr.

On attempt 3, I made the armor with the trait, made the glyphs and didn’t apply them, and then stuck them all into the bank for Wayness (my tank) to collect and perform final assembly on.

That was a painful lesson in crafting. Fortunately it was for myself, if somebody had paid me to craft for them (or supplied the materials) I’d have lost 2x the raw materials and felt pretty dumb. Wait, the feeling dumb part still happened.

The other armor set, Akaviri Dragonguard, is an overland set from Eastmarch, so I’ll be questing along there as well as doing delves and dolmens looking for weapons and jewelry. Until I get the pieces, I’ll wear Ebon armor in those slots.

Soon I’ll try queuing for normal dungeons and trying my hand at tanking. And of course tanking for my friends. We had great success 2-manning several dungeons, 3-manning may let us work through DLC dungeons and the ones that were problematic for duos.

FF14 – Stormblood

I finally made it to Stormblood! The significance here includes the usual: continuing the storyline, new zones, gear upgrades, new dungeons, new class/job quests… but let’s rewind slightly.

It was only a few quests from where I left off to the final quest in the Dragonsong War sequence (The Far Edge of Fate), with the mandatory dungeon Baelsar’s Wall on the way.

No problem, I prepped by watching MTQCapture’s excellent video. These videos are short and to the point, and allow me to have some idea of what to expect. All things being equal, I’d rather not go into anything blind, especially playing a healer.

And it helped! Well, I can’t really run an experiment where I compare results of me going in blind versus me going in after watching MTQCapture’s videos, but we made it through without any problems.

Onward into Gyr Abania!

Completing The Far Edge of Fate should let me start the next round of job quests, which for me are Summoner, Scholar, Astrologian, Dancer and Ninja… all my jobs that are high enough level to have job quests unlocked by finishing Far Edge of Fate. I’ll peck away after I remember where to go and who to talk to.

I quested to Rhalgar’s Reach, literally the 2nd quest into the Stormblood MSQ, and did some light exploring and questing around. Got reacquainted with my aether-compass because I want to unlock flying in these zones… eventually.

ESO – Housing

Housing in ESO is very functional. For one, each house is a free recall point. So the more houses you buy the more locations around the game you can freely recall to. You can build up a secondary portal network for yourself. And yes, that’s expensive. But a few houses here and there are cheap and extremely handy.


First would be Mara’s Kiss Public House in Auridon. This house is the absolute closest to a Wayshrine of any (affordable) house I’ve seen. Just recall outside the house, which puts you steps from the inn door, which is steps from the wayshrine.

Another handy house is Snugpod in Grahtwood. This house is already outside, so if you recall outside the house, you are good to go. The Undaunted Enclave is just up the road, guild traders nearby, all sorts of stuff in Elden Root. Even if it is annoying to navigate that city.

Up there in usefulness is Flaming Nix Deluxe Garret, in Mournhold, because Mournhold offers an Undaunted Enclave, Fighter’s and Mage’s guilds, Master Writ turn ins, and the usual other stuff.

My friend is more familiar with Wayrest, but there isn’t a cheap house for sale there – the one in the city is Gardner House for a cool 1 million gold. The other capital with nice services is Elden Root and the zoning around is annoying. So all my chars visit Mournhold for Undaunted/Fighter/Mage stuff. Well OK, Elden Root is fine if all I need to do is Undaunted. 😉

Saint Delyn Penthouse in Vivec City is nice to have also, because Vivec has a fantastic crafting/writ layout. All the stations are in a circle around 2 banks!

For a larger home, I recommend doing the Northern Elsweyr zone quests in order to get the Hall of the Lunar Champion, plus the first wing. No cost, gigantic, and Rimmen is a good city for to base out of as well.


OK, this is essentially expected. A housing system that doesn’t let you decorate? The playerbase would just ignore the entire system.

Decorations come from many sources: crafting, dungeon trophies, the antiquities system, purchases.

I’ve devoted one corner to the boss trophies from doing dungeons with my friend. Outside houses the larger items, mostly antiquities. It’s fun to display these items.


So ESO housing offers lots of decorating possibilities, and a free travel network with locations sprinkled all around the world. But what elevates ESO housing above other games I’ve played, as far as housing usefulness, are services furnishings.

Disclaimer: I’m not rich enough in FF14 to try out what is available there. But I get the idea items are mostly along the decorating and visual appearance side of things.

Services Furnishings are things like:

  • Mundus Stones – those buffs available from rock pillars on the landscape. Got a few you switch between? Install them in your home and don’t spend time riding out to them.
  • Crafting stations – are you a hardcore crafter and get tired of someone’s pet blocking the crafting station? Install one in your house!
  • Training dummies – want to test your DPS? Practice a new combat rotation? Get a damage sponge that doesn’t fight back, pair with an Aetherial Well to recover faster in between bouts.
  • Storage chest – keep things here to separate them from appearing at crafting stations.
  • Assistants – you can have your own merchant, banker, and fence for convenience!

I don’t have any of this stuff, other than the merchant and banker, and I’m very close to unlocking the fence. Some of these items (training dummies, perhaps a key mundus stone or two) are almost expected for a guild house.

Speaking of guild housing… I don’t think there is any specially designated guild house. It’s just a house that a guild member owns where they have set the permissions to allow visitors. Typically that would be the guild leader, but I don’t think it has to be. If you want to visit, find that player in the roster and “travel to house”.

In LoTRO, if the kinship has a kin house, you get a special recall ability to it. In FF14, your Free Company Estate House will appear in your teleport menu.

EDIT: as Sylow notes in the comments, ESO’s housing system allows a guild to split various functions between multiple homes. I had not thought of this advantage!

LoTRO – Housing

Unlike FF14, housing in LoTRO never seemed to be a gathering place. I bet that has a lot to do with the design that lets Free Company members buy an apartment inside the Estate House. So it is natural to visit in the Estate in order to then visit your room, decorate it or whatever, and then hang out and chat with people.

LoTRO housing does provide two free milestones – one for your house, and one for your kinship house (if you are in a kinship that has a house). There are a handful of vendors around, and it has been a while since I’ve investigated, but not too much else in the housing neighborhood instance.

My original house was a hobbit house because I liked the aesthetics. I had decorated a little, mostly food and library themed, plus whatever artwork and/or trophies various quests and milestones in the epic storyline gave.

Crafted rug, bookshelf, songbird, storage chest, and Portrait of Narmaleth (Vol 1 quest reward)

But, this original housing, required an upkeep fee. You could pay in advance, it wasn’t really that much, but when premium housing rolled out, that didn’t require monthly upkeep for VIP players, I switched to that.

Luxurious house in the Cape of Belfelas district.

My 2nd house is quite a bit larger than the hobbit home, with several rooms, an outdoor space, lots of hooks for furniture, etc. I had enough room to put all my stuff out and even then several rooms and walls are empty.

Posing next to my Seer’s Orb. Which looks a lot like a palantir…

This is all on Landroval… so not really the server I actively play on anymore. The house is still there and I log in and check kinship/friends lists for a bit before logging off again.

Decorating the house was fun but also not something I felt like doing repeatedly (i.e. rearranging stuff). So after the initial work I didn’t do much with it except use it as a free milestone, but even then I didn’t need the extra recall to the Shire that often.

Thus, on Arkenstone and also on Shadowfax, I am not in any kind of a hurry to get a house.

FF14 – Free Company

I was blind invited to a guild while running around Limsa Lominsa. The recruiter was polite, messaging if I’d consider joining a Free Company (guild), and after a few seconds I responded sure! And moments after that, I received an invite which I accepted.

I was invited to visit the FC house… and I had to ask how to do that, which another FC member answered quickly. (Pull up the teleport menu and Mist – Estate Hall is the first entry once you join). Then I got a ~30 minute tour, which involved visiting some common areas and private quarters which had been decorated to be 3D puzzle rooms, a disco, art display area featuring a motorcycle-dragon hybrid sculpture, near total sci-fi rethemes, casinos, etc. It was a testament to the creativity of players and what the housing system supports.

I was on the Blue Mage job at the time, so in the mid teens level-wise. My new FC-mate told me that I could buy a private chamber in the house after reaching level 50, 2nd Lieutenant in my Grand Company, and spending 300K gil. They probably thought it was an aspirational goal… except I already meet those requirements, even if I didn’t look like I did at the time. Haha!!

I figured what the heck and bought a room. This resulted in several “hey congrats!” in FC chat.

Night view of the beach from the gazebo in front of the SOS Estate Hall.

The FC is SOS, Spawn of Shadows, and the in-game info panel says they/we are “LGBTQ+ Allies, All inclusive – Laidback FC for both RP and content fun! Laugh, live, wipe, clear, and repeat!”

Sounds fine, I’m just there to enjoy the game with other players.

Every time I visit the Estate Hall there are a handful of guildies… I mean Free Company um… yeah I’m just going to go with guildies, hanging around the front lawn.

Poking around the FC discord shows these folks are really into RP events. There is a weekly schedule which looks coordinated with other FCs on other servers. How does that work? Anyway, there are also a large number of pictures of players showing of their outfits and various events, and notices for upcoming dance/music/RP events. I’m kinda curious what goes on so I might try to show up and observe and maybe participate…?

As far as housing, my private chamber is pretty sad looking. I placed a desk, pile of books, room divider, and futon. I need some plants and something on the walls!

There is a #fashion-reporter channel in the FC discord, which links to weekly Twitter updates and appears to be related to some kind of mini-game available at the Golden Saucer. What the… I’ve never seen this kind of content in an MMO.

Well I’m worried now! The biggest risk to my continued membership might be my bland wardrobe. Currently all my gear is Shire armor/weapons for all jobs/classes high enough level to wear it, so they may kick me out for violating a minimum standard dress code. 😉


I’ve been pretty lucky with guilds in various games. I’ve never researched or pursued one, I either respond in chat to a general recruitment pitch, or accept a blind invite, or actually know somebody in real life and they add me to their guild (this is the preferred method but obviously is not always available). And it has worked out well.

In LoTRO on Anor, one of the earlier Legendary Servers, I saw a guild recruiting in world chat and joined up. I am embarrassed but I can’t remember the name of the guild, I think it was Council of the North, but I didn’t wind up playing on Anor much and I have been since kicked out. Which is fair, guilds need active players, not ghosts.

Way back in Guild Wars, I was blind invited to a guild named The Helpful Guild (THG). Maybe not the most threatening sounding guild, but the players were indeed chatty and helpful. Recruitment went well and we had a core of half a dozen who were frequently on (including me) and loved to run the missions. Over time the leader of THG got busy with real life and stepped back but it was fine because by then we had an allied guild, Sacred Forge Knights (SFK), that was double our size so as I remember it, we basically were absorbed. And continued in the same vein except with twice as many players. Good times until GW2 released and we sort of dissolved with players split between the games and so forth.

In WoW Retail around the Warlords of Draenor time, four coworkers played (!!) so I subbed and joined their guild, The Honor Guard, which was funny because it also had the initials THG. The playerbase may have hated WoD but it was the high point for me in WoW because I played a healer (mistweaver monk) and had a raid spot. It was a ton of fun because the guild was chilled out, we weren’t pursuing world firsts or any of that stuff, just having fun trying to beat the content and having decent success. Good times but unfortunately, real life conflicts cropped up and I had to stop raiding.

In LoTRO in the 2007-2009 era, the heydey I suppose, I joined the Keepers of Ayrshire. I had a friend I knew from Guild Wars and she joined Keepers of Aryshire, and then suggested I joined. We played together in GW but were never in the same guild until Keepers of Aryshire, which we found amusing. This was great, lots of groups to try out dungeons, guild events (I wrote a quiz where the answers were taken from the deed log), raiding. After 2010 the guild started to thin out mostly because players wanted to try out some different games. And in that era of 2010-2012 there was stuff coming out constantly or already launched. I remember players talking about Age of Conan, Secret World, Rift, Guild Wars 2, etc. Nobody’s fault but I think we were a good example of the recruitment adage: if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.

So when I see guilds constantly recruiting… I understand. You have to in order to stay healthy, active, viable.