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|The Lord of the Rings Online:
Mines of Moria
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
|Release||November 18, 2008|
The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria is the first retail expansion pack for the MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online released on November 18, 2008. It was announced on March 14, 2008 at Codemasters Online Connect 2008.
The storyline is set in Moria, an enormous underground complex in north-western Middle-earth. Apart from that, the expansion also adds the region Lórien. The game's level cap has been increased to level 60; and the expansion (also called "Volume II") extends the Epic storyline by six more books, and adds two new classes, the Rune-keeper and the Warden. Other new features include environment aware AI, dynamic lighting, and a new weapon enhancement system.
Unlock the Mines of Moria
The expansion was promoted through playing web-based minigames. Visitors could play three games: King Under the Mountain, Swig & Toss, Eleventy-Seven Morsels at the official site. By performing certain tasks players could complete "deeds", three of which unlocked a "goodie". These included one trailer and three pieces of game art. By applying for a beta invitation, players could also receive a fourth game art.
The expansion adds two new classes to the game: Warden and Rune-keeper. As well as these new classes, current classes that were available with the release of The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar were improved with added skills for the additional levels included in the expansion.
|Rune-keeper||Elf, Dwarf||Light||Rune Stones, (1H Axes with Dwarf Base Passive Skill)||No||DPS / Healer|
|Warden||Man, Elf, Hobbit||Light, Medium||Light, Warden||Daggers, 1H Axes, 1H Clubs, 1H Hammers, 1H Maces, 1H Swords, Spears, Javelins||No||Tank|
Rune-keepers are the closest things to magic-users offered in The Lord of the Rings Online, but they aren't magicians in the traditional sense. Their new Attunement mechanic is represented by a bar with a sliding scale to illustrate whether they're attuned to dealing damage or healing wounds. As a Rune-keeper uses either healing or damaging abilities, the scale slides towards either end of the bar and the Rune-keeper's proficiency in either focus increases. As the Rune-keeper increases focus towards one end of the scale, more of those skills become available in greater power. However, the Rune-keeper will then also lose focus on the other end of the scale, making the skills associated with the opposite end unavailable. Therefore, the Rune-keeper can only effectively maneuver either their healing or damage abilities, but not both. Switching between proficiencies requires time. This release of this class was very controversial, as Turbine claims to have no use of magic in the Lord of the Rings world, as, in the lore, magic was restricted to the Ainur.
Wardens primarily use spears (though they can opt for other small arms) and wear medium armour, making them neither a tank nor a DPS class specifically. Designed to represent the equivalent of a town sheriff, Wardens are protectors that specialize in combination attacks using their Gambit User Interface. The idea is that a Warden will execute their abilities in certain sequences that eventually culminate in a special attack only available after completing the prescribed set of moves. In practice, the Warden's Gambit UI is an array of two to five (depending on character level) squares that slot the abilities as you use them. Once all of the squares have been filled, a new skill will flash at the end of the bar as it becomes available.
The new Legendary Item Advancement System is designed to replicate the kind of connection with individual weapons characteristic of the most famous weapons found in Tolkien lore. Bilbo's short sword Sting, Gandalf's Glamdring and Aragorn's Andúril are renowned as superior implements of battle, and Turbine wanted to give players a similar sense of ownership over their own hardcore hardware. To that end, two new NPCs called Forge Masters and Relic Masters were added to assist in the construction and maintenance of a special new class of customizable weapon. These weapons, denoted by gilded borders on their icons, can be forged and re-forged with a variety of abilities and stat boosts and actually grow in efficacy over time.
While Forge Masters are necessary to identify and reforge the legendary weapons and items a character may come across throughout his or her adventures, Relic Masters provide the raw materials for further modifications and can break down existing weapons into their constituent runes. Basically, players can choose to have a Relic Master destroy some of their legendary equipment for components that they can then infuse into another, while Forge Masters undo these infusions and increase the item's abilities through successive recastings. Players can even name their gear during the reforging process, giving their new gear a specific identity.
Their legendary equipment gains experience and levels alongside their character, so the more they are used, the more powerful the items will become. Special drops known as Heritage runes can be applied to legendary gear that will instantly increase the amount of experience points and artificially level them. Between the increased potency through use and the reforging and slotting of stat-boosting runes and gems, the Legendary Item Advancement System has the intended side benefit of eliminating the "loot malaise" that goes along with scoring new gear that may outshine previous hard-won acquisitions. For instance, if a player likes his axe he needn't vendor them just because he found some new axe with slightly better stats, because he can just break down the new axe and add some of its pieces to his old standby. It's not a straight-across stat trade, but it should give his favourite pieces a bit of extra longevity.
Currently, each class may acquire and equip two items: a class weapon, and a class item. The weapon may be any of the common types of weapon available to the class, while the item is often a class-specific aid (such as a Minstrel's songbook or a Captain's emblem). These Legendary items range in base power by level (51-60), rarity (Third-, Second-, or First Age), and the random abilities assigned to them. Because of this, it is quite possible for, say, a common Third Age weapon at level 60 to outperform a rare Second Age at level 55. It is even possible, though extremely rare, for the combination of random attributes on the player's first, quest-granted weapon to prove superior to all subsequent combinations. Thus the intended goal, the prevention of 'loot malaise', holds theoretically true, if statistically improbable. It also remains confined to the Legendary system items, at least for now.
The second and wholly unrelated to the first story line, the Epic Quests, continues the player in following the path of the fellowship. Much like the first, it focuses on both new additions, created by the makers of the game, and directly related material from the Lord of the Rings story, though this storyline occasionally conflicts with the lore.
The last part and the epilogue are part of the Siege of Mirkwood expansion.
Volume II: Mines of Moria
Book I - The Walls of Moria
Moria is opened! An expedition of Dwarves sent by King Dain Ironfoot and known as the Iron Garrison begins its attempts to excavate and enter the Hollin Gate, shortly after the Fellowship's passage. Led by Dwarves Bosi and Brogur, sons of Bifur and Bofur, they finally succeed with the player's help, yet when the last rocks are cleared, the Watcher in the Water attacks the assembled Dwarves, claiming the life of Brogur's son Broin. As the Dwarves regroup, they turn their hope to a discovered cache of older weapons, tasking the player with discovering if one such weapon might be endowed with the power to fight off such a foe as the Watcher. After selecting, training with, and reforging such a weapon, the Iron Garrison faces the Watcher again. This time, it is forced from the Black Pool, and the Iron Garrison passes into Moria.
Book II - Echoes in the Dark
Establishing themselves in their new home, the Iron Garrison begins the task of rediscovering the lore and artifacts of their heritage. One such passage of lore speaks of an ancient Dwarf-smith, favored by Durin, who endeavored to create an axe of solid mithril. So large was the task that an entire forge was created specifically for it: The Heart of Fire. After searching the mines for clues to its location, the Heart of Fire is unearthed, yet the axe, Zigilburk, is nowhere to be found. Nevertheless, the Dwarves are heartened by the recovery of one of their greatest forges, and Brogur pushes onward into Moria, establishing a command post in the Twenty-First Hall.
Book III - The Lord of Moria
Brogur sees to the defense of the Twenty-First Hall, only to learn of the presence of the White Hand's minions nearby. Meanwhile, excavation begins in the Chamber of Mazarbul, producing the Book of Mazarbul, a record of the demise of Balin's Company. While Bosi takes on the task of reading the tome in its entirety, his son Bori plans a strike against the White Hand in Broin's honor. While a pair of Dwarves cause a diversion, Bori and the player sneak into the White Hand camp and confront the commander, Ashpar. Before he dies, Ashpar boasts that his is not the major power, and mentions the name of Mazog, son of Azog and brother of Bolg. Brogur rests assured that Ashpar was simply boasting, yet the news weighs heavy on Bosi. Mazog, he reveals, was the Orc commander responsible for the demise of Balin's company at Mazarbul.
Book IV - Fire and Water
The Orcs and Dwarves each prepare for war. Fearing that attacks may be imminent, Brogur and Bori see that the defenses are secured at the Twenty-First Hall, the Chamber of Crossroads, and the Heart of Fire. The player is sent into the rotting Waterworks and Orc-infested Flaming Deeps beneath Moria to both harass the Orcs and gather supplies. In the meantime, Bori sneaks a look at the Book of Mazarbul, finding mention there of a Dwarf named Óin who went off in search of Zigilburk. Bori and the player follow Óin's path, arriving after a time at a flooded treasury, The Hall of Mithril. There they find not only Zigilburk, but also Broin, wounded yet alive, and the Watcher in the Water. The player drives the Watcher from the hall once again, and the Dwarves return in victory. Yet Broin confesses from his sickbed that he feels a dread about Zigilburk, and fears it may be cursed. Bori does not agree with Broin.
Book V - Drums in the Deep
Broin is still worried about the repercussions of recovering Zigilburk, yet Bori laughs them off and sends the player to Zabadgathol, Mazog's fortress, to defeat some of his bodyguards. Some of these in their dying words speak of an alliance they have obtained, and the player is sent away to collect some of the treasure in Zabadgathol to see if it can shed some light on the issue. It is discovered that Mazog is indeed allied with Dol Guldur. Upon discovery, Bori plans a raid on Zabadgathol to defeat Mazog once and for all. Yet the appearance of Gorothul, Sauron's servant from Dol Guldur, ruins the plan and despite Zigilburk, Bori along with the legendary axe are captured while the player is sent to deliver the news to the Dwarves. After this blow, Bosi has lost hope in the expedition to reclaim Moria, and leaves it up to the player to see to the defenses during a major raid by Mazog's forces, in which the Dwarves succeed for a time.
Book VI - The Shadowy Abyss
Even after the successful defense of several key locations, Bosi's spirits are still low. He sends the player to Lothlórien to seek help from the Elves of the Golden Wood. After proving to Haldir that you are indeed a friend, the player is asked to assist Haldir's brothers in patrolling the borders of the Wood while messengers are sent to Galadriel to relay Bosi's request for aid. By the time the task is done, a company of elves has been sent to the Foundations of Stone, while player is directed to help them. The player learns that the Elves believe Dol Guldur is behind this move of the Orcs, the proof of which is soon discovered. The player is then instructed to find clues of Gandalf's passage through the area, and his fate following the fall from the Bridge of Khazad-Dum begins to unravel. An Elf named Magor has gone missing, and the player is sent to discover his fate. Magor is found captured by Orcs, and the player is able to free him from his captors. Magor then asks for the player's help in defeating the source of the evil that Galadriel sensed beneath Moria. After a hard-fought battle, the player defeats the nameless creature in the depths of the cave. Finally, hearing of the victory the Lady Galadriel summons the player to her garden where many secrets are revealed, including a partial explanation of the fate of Gandalf.
Book VII - Leaves of Lórien
The Fellowship rests in Lórien, while Elves and Dwarves take their first steps toward peace. Bosi is granted an audience with Celeborn and Galadriel, resulting in a contingent of Galadhrim being dispatched to aid the Dwarves in Moria. Among their first joint tasks is to sweep an infestation of the fungus-infested Orcs called the Globsnaga from a recent excavation in Buzun-ghar - a matter that proves especially frustrating to Broin, in the wake of Bori's capture. Instead of working to free their kinsmen, Brogur is pushing ahead with mining efforts, tasking Broin with searching old mining records for notes on potential nodes. Yet such efforts once again prove fruitful, as one record speaks of a secret emergency passage leading from Durin's throne (on which Mazog now sits) to Buzun-ghar. Through its use, and the cooperation of Elf and Dwarf alike, Mazog is captured, yet Bori is nowhere to be found, having been already sent away to Dol Guldur. Celeborn grants the player an audience, commending them while also disagreeing on the notion of sparing Mazog's life. Haldir confesses the time may be drawing near for the Elves to cross the Anduin to confront the evil in Mirkwood directly.
Book VIII - Scourge of Khazad-dûm
Issuriel, Lothlórien history keeper, asks the player to recount the finer points of the escape with Mazog in tow from his throne room. Mazog lets slip a chilling fact: that he's not interested in being a king of Moria because Moria will soon become not fit even for the rule of the Orcs, referring to the rise of ancient nameless creatures from within the depth of Moria. This concerns both the Elves within Foundations of Stone and the Dwarves in the Upper levels. Several relics left by Gorothul before his leave for Dol Guldur are found to attract the nameless creatures, yet the player manages to destroy them.
The conclusion of the Epic Volume 2 takes place within the Siege of Mirkwood expansion
Book IX - Fortress of the Nazgul
An full-front assault is launched against Dol Guldur by the Elves of Lothlorien, under the banners of the Golden Host. Meanwhile, a small band of Elves known as the Hidden Guard also crosses the river Anduin in secret, with Mazog as their prisoner, accompanied by the player and the Dwarf Broin. They seek to exchange the life of Mazog for the life of the prisoners, including Dwarf Bori. Yet while the military campaign of the Golden Host goes well, the Hidden Guards faces the risk of disaster since the very start: Raddir, the scout, is found dead before he reveals the planned route and soon Issuriel, the scholar, is poisoned by the deadly spiders alongside Mazog. The stout Elf Achardor becomes furious that his friend has been wounded and threatens Mazog's life if Issuriel falls. Issuriel speaks of a rare antidote that will cure the poison but later refuses to take it, allowing Mazog to take it instead. Achardor is even more outraged with this action taken but just before Issuriel loses her life the Dwarf Broin brings another portion of antidote and the quest to Dol Guldur continues. The Hidden Guard soon arrives at the gates of Dol Guldur where the planned exchange takes place. But Gorothul and Ringwraiths who arrive at the scene refuse to hand over Bori, and Achardor sacrifices himself, allowing the rest to escape, while Mazog goes with Gorothul into Dol Guldur. The mission of the Hidden Guard is a total failure, yet the military campaign of the Golden Host goes extremely well: multiple adversaries are slain, enemy communications are disrupted and the Tower of Dol Guldur itself besieged. The task meant to be secret is accomplished by force and Bori is rescued from the Dungeons of Dol Guldur. He recounts a secret passage into tower, once used by Gandalf to find Thorin's father Thrain. The passage is used to launch a surprise assault and during battle in the tower, Broin slays Mazog, reclaiming the mithril axe Zigilburk.
Epilogue - Of Elves and Dwarves
While the assault was successful, the Elves do not have the strength to break the walls of the fortress. Enemy reinforcements are coming from the East and the Elves prepare to fall back beyond Anduin: the whole campaign was a diversion both to weaken the enemy and allow the Fellowship to safely depart Lothlorien. Both Elves and Dwarves finish the last deeds throughout southern Mirkwood. The axe Zigilburk is buried yet again where the dwarves found it, to never wield its power again. The Elves of Lothlórien also strike several additional blows against the dark fortress, and Gorothul is challenged within his quarters in Sammath Gul, and finally defeated.
Like Shadows of Angmar, Mines of Moria continued to regularly release updates. Updates have been less frequent than Shadows of Angmar.
Book 7: Leaves of Lórien
Book 7 was released on March 17, 2009. This update included: (complete release notes)
- Continuation of the Epic Storyline.
- Expansion of the Lothlórien Area including the reputation gated city of Caras Galadhon and a conflict area north of the Golden Wood.
- A new raid entitled "Strange Happenings" in the Waterworks.
- The new faction of the Galadhrim.
- Crafting instances allows players to gather resources.
- Revised new player experience in Ered Luin for Elves and Dwarves.
Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-dûm
Book 8 was released on June 23, 2009. This update included: (complete release notes)
- Four new raids and instances: Dar Narbugud (a multi-boss, radiance-gated 12-man raid) in The Foundations of Stone, The Halls of Crafting (a 6-man instance), Lumul-nar (3-man instance) in Zirak-Zigil and Nala-dûm (3-man instance) in the Waterworks.
- Revised new player experience in Bree-land.
- The continuation of the storyline with the character returning to Moria.
The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria expanded the world of Middle-earth by adding the area of Moria and Lothlórien:
- Great Delving: Home to many chambers of Dwarvish lore and the Dolven-view, where the Iron-Garrison Expedition has set their first camp. Within this area, the player is introduced to the plans of the expedition and directed to other areas inside Moria.
- Durin's Way: Within this avenue of old, the player may find the Chamber of the Cross-roads and many a goblin camp. Orcs of the White-hand have been seen prowling the roads and bat-like evils rest within its rooms.
- Zirak-zigil: At the highest peak of the Misty Mountains, the player finds a harsh cold climate and as well as a smote evil of old. The Mirror-Halls of Lumul-nar are accessible through here.
- Zelem-melek: This previously hospitable delving is home to the Twenty-first Hall. Within this hall the player finds the main camp of the expedition, as well as the main centre for trade, training and services. The leaders of the expedition rest in the Chamber of Leadership and the Chamber of Mazarbul lies in ruin.
- Silvertine Lodes: One of the latest delvings inside Moria. This area is home to the Forgotten Treasury (6-player instance) as well as many secrets forgotten by time. Goblins have one of their many camps within this mine.
- The Water-works: This deep delving is flooded with water. Wheels creek and Globsnaga Orcs prowl its ways. The player may find the Rotten Cellar, quest hub for the area as well as several lizards, toads and turtles. The Watcher in the Water lies hidden within the Vile Maw and a shelled mystery awaits you.
- Flaming Deeps: This previously habitable area in the deeps of Moria is now flaming with fire. The great Forges of Khazad-dûm can be found as well as the Orc keep of Fil-gashan and the Halls of Crating. This is one of the hardest areas for most classes. The player is challenged by fiery spirits of old and fire-orcs have established camps around its halls.
- Redhorn Lodes: Within one of the oldest delvings of the Dwarves, the White-hand Orcs have been seen infesting the mines. They have guarded themselves inside the Grand Stair and the player must clean the area and expel the orcs out of Moria. Two of the newest mines found by the expedition can be accessed by the player in the form of a Crafting Instance.
- Foundations of Stone: The Dwarves delved too greedily and too deep and they woke an ancient evil of earlier ages. Being the most difficult area inside Moria, the player fights off a dreadful infestation while clearing the chasm of Skumfil and the rune-caves of the Dark Delving.
- Nud-Melek: The entrance to Moria from the East, this area is home to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm and to the First and Second Hall. The Throne of Durin lies in its wastes and the 16th Hall is infested with Globsnaga Orcs.
- Dimrill Dale: The East Doors of Moria and the Mirrormere are to be found. The player gets to help the Elves of Lothlórien to drive back the orcs into Moria and defend the borders of Lothlórien. Once inside the Golden Wood, the player has access to both pacific and war-like quests; while proving their worth in the Battle of Lórien (6-player battlefield instance).
- Caras Galadhon: The city in the Golden Wood, founded by Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel.
Inside Moria there are seven important 6-player instances: Fil-gashan (FG), Forges of Khazad-dûm (Forges), Grand Stair (GS), Halls of Crafting (HoC), Skumfil (Skum), 16th Hall (16th), and Dark Delvings (DD). Each of them has different loot rewards and involving quests. These instances may be completed in two modes, Normal and Hard mode. Hard mode will reward the group with even more Medallions of Moria, coins that can be bartered for one sole piece of a class-specific gear set. For example, completing Grand Stairs in hard mode will reward each player with a total of 7 Medallions which can be accumulated and then bartered by any class for a piece of the class-specific gear set of their choice.
Also, two new three-mans have been added with Book 8. The Mirror-Halls of Lumul-nar(HoM), where bats and evil merrevail have occupied them. The merrevail seek to forever extinguish the light of the dwarf-mirrors and bring darkness once more to Moria. Nâla-dûm (The Water-Wheels), among it were the great Water-works which funneled water from the mountains into the halls of Moria. The chief engine of this process lay within the chambers known as Nâla-dûm.
Aside from those, there are currently three raids that can be completed with a 12-player group. Harazgund, where the Watcher in the Water is found; Dâr Narbugud, where the Mistress of Pestilence seeks to bring her plague to the world of light; and Filikul, where a giant turtle dwells.
There are also over ten instances which may be completed by players. They involve part of the Epic story or may be quest related.
There are several instances that can only be completed by one person. Some are a new addition in Book 7 which are commonly called Crafting Instances. These instances reward the player with several resources used in crafting and with barter tokens that may be exchanged for several goods.
There are also several solo instances which involve part of the epic story or may be quest related.
At a Mines of Moria presentation, Turbine's Jeffrey Steefel revealed plans to add a new "volume" each year. The expansion The Mines of Moria and subsequent content updates (patches) will signal the end of Tolkien's first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, and set the tone for the second, The Two Towers, which will allow players to visit Rohan, the Dead Marshes, and more. Turbine plans to gradually include the entirety of north-western Middle-earth in more expansions. Lately, game developers have stated that the next expansion will come before the end of the year 2009 together with the introduction of level-adjustable instances and new explorable areas. On September 4, 2009, it was announced that the next expansion would be Siege of Mirkwood.
Mines of Moria has been praised for its attention to detail, with GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd stating, "The bowels of Middle-earth have no right to be this interesting to investigate..." WarCry.com went so far as to call it "[t]he best fantasy MMORPG yet created". Gaming Trend claimed it beat World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (released at roughly the same time) as an expansion, citing its replay value and gameplay quality. The review also praised Turbine for making a complete expansion, rather than simply cashing in on the license in their possession. EuroGamer observed the story as one of the high points, stating that frequently this is a weakness of many MMOs. Rather, LotRO was said to be faithful to Tolkien's original narrative, and thus provided a very good storyline.
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