Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Honey, Don't Encourage the Wraiths

LOTRO re-tweeted this pic and I'm a n00b at Twitter, so I have no idea whose photo this is. Sure is funny, though!
Curse those "filty" hobbitses!
Master of Toons

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Padhric Reaches Level 100 at Last

That's Level 100 number nine! Only the Beorning remains...
Padhric Pemberton the Peculiar -- Level 100 Burglar!
Master of Toons

Aaaaaaah! Fresh Air...

The Sunday night Moria-level gang from the Dawnbreakers (a most excellent kinship) finally emerges from the deep dark of Khazad-dum... only to be sent right back into it by Haldir.
Eryndil and Tezraldor the Dwarf look toward the orc-infested heights of Fanduilos.

Sunday night runs start at 7 p.m. Central! You can learn more about the Dawnbreakers at their website: www.thedawnbreakersvilya.guildportal.com.

Master of Toons

A Beautiful View

Dol Amroth at sunset. Makes you wonder if there are any good travel agencies in Calembel.

Master of Toons

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Play That Funky Music, Elf-boy...

If you're like me (Then I pity you. -- Mrs. Pad), you need people telling you how to play LOTRO "better" about as much as you need a particularly virulent foot fungus. Aside from the obvious fact that LOTRO is a game, and aside from the equally obvious fact the developers have made this game easier to walk through than the White House's perimeter defenses, the truth is there are many "right" ways to play. Sure, high-level skraids are challenging and there are still plenty of places where you really need to be on your game or the game will game you (or something), but let's be honest: being level 100 doesn't guarantee anything with regards to understanding of the game mechanics. It pretty much only proves you've had a pulse for a while and were occasionally logged in while you had it. I know this because it worked for me (...and it'll work for you too! For only 18 easy payments of $49.99...).

That being said, the last thing I want is for this blog to be seen as preachy -- the world ill needs another self-proclaimed swashbuckling soothsayer saying "sooth," swinging self-regard around like a slim, slimy scimitar slashing satisfied soldiers by the score (Stop. Just stop. -- Mrs. Pad). One of my purposes (or is it purpii? I never can get those right) here is merely to delve a bit into certain aspects of the game with a goal of possibly helping some folks to better appreciate LOTRO's many intricacies thereby finding new and exciting ways to enjoy it. With that being said (and at a quite unnecessary length), some people might like a closer look at the minstrel's yellow line. This trait set is quite interesting, although it's also about as straightforward as two wrestling pretzels. With some patience, however, you can find yourself bringing some massive benefits to your fellowship.

The mini's yellow trait tree is a buff and support set, not unlike the captain's normal role in a group. Similar to the cappie buffs following Turbine's ill-advised transition to the trait tree, the mini's yellow-line buffs are triggered and maintained by using certain skills, frequently in the right progression to activate the buffs you wish to apply to your fellows (As usual with these entries, I'm writing as if the entire skill tree is unlocked).
Potentially confusing, the minstrel's yellow trait tree requires some reading and memorization to take full advantage of its benefits. The payoffs for the fellowship who has such a player, however, are substantial.

Let's start with the ballads. They damage enemies and allow you to play anthems, right? Yes, but wait! There's more: at higher levels each ballad also places buffs on you, your fellowship, and debuffs your opponents. Each ballad has multiple effects, but generally the major ballad increases outgoing healing, the minor ballad increases outgoing tactical damage, and the perfect ballad decreases power costs. The Strike A Chord trait is the one which applies the negative variation of these effects to your foes while Perfect Performance spreads the love to your group. The important thing to remember is each of these ballads provides a +3% buff/debuff in the areas I just mentioned, so playing the same ballad three times in a row gives you a +9% buff/debuff. Use this to capitalize on your group's makeup -- if you're running with lots of rune-keepers and lore-masters hurling DPS around like some deranged abuser of figurative language, they will certainly appreciate a +9% boost to their tactical damage output! Likewise, using minor ballad when you're surrounded by champions and wardens won't make much of a difference.
Galfi gets jiggy with it in the Three-Farrow Crafting Hall.

Now let's talk anthems. In yellow line, you'll have access to four anthems:War, Prowess, Composure, and Anthem of the Third Age (AOTA). These anthems apply some really nice buffs to your team and, while they do expire after a few seconds (the Extended Anthems trait increases their longevity), you can keep re-applying them until you use a coda or you're out of combat for nine seconds. Also, until you get the Harmonious Anthems trait you will only be able to apply two anthems at a time, so you'll need to decide which ones will benefit your group most under the circumstances. War increases all outgoing damage, Prowess boosts attack speed, armor, and evade ratings, Composure buffs resistances and tactical mitigation, while AOTA decreases the power cost of subsequent anthems by 20%. Pretty straightforward.

Things get a tad complicated when you use codas. The codas will remove all ballad buffs/debuffs and all anthems as well, but they have very beneficial effects which vary depending on which anthems are active when the coda is played. War increases the critical chance of the coda, Prowess causes your next three Herald Strikes to have no cooldown, Composure places a considerable power recovery buff on the minstrel (a favorite of many players), and AOTA keeps the AOTA buff on you (-20% to anthem power cost) in the event the coda crits. Here again, depending on the situation, you need to decide a) which anthems to apply in order to get the desired effects out of your coda and b) the right moment to use the coda since it will take a few seconds to re-apply your ballads and anthems before you can use another coda.

Okay, that's enough music lessons: let's take a look at the yellow mini's other great assets. And what better place to start than Tale of Tales (TOT)? Much hay is made about the cappie's In Defense of Middle-earth (IDOME) trait, but TOT is a close second when it comes to these kinds of things. Essentailly, TOT acts just like IDOME -- a permanent buff placed on everyone just for being in the mini's glowing presence -- and, while it's effects aren't quite as awesome as IDOME, they are still more than enough to give Sauron's lackies some major migraines. The base buff is (on my 100 mini, at least) +90 to Will, Fate, and Vitality, +1,212 armor value, and +758 tactical mitigation. TOT is also modified slightly depending on which stance you're in: Dissonance grants +1,243 finesse, Melody decreases power cost by 5%, and Resonance increases incoming healing by 5%. Again, these buffs apply to every member of the fellowship and you don't even have to do anything -- your mere presence is enough!
Padhwe's glowing presence inspires his fellows! Okay, maybe that's the Glorious Beer....

Other helpful buffs come from Call of the Second Age (sizable AOE damage plus 10% run boost and -10% skill inductions to the group), Improved Inspire Fellows (-4% to all incoming damage for the group), and Improved Story of Courage (+4,444 fear resistance in addition to the usual debuff removal). Finally, there are Song of Aid and Call to Greatness, which are the only skills in LOTRO I can think of right now which apply class-specific buffs to a fellowship. They don't last long, but when used at the right times (preferably with a little advance notice to your fellows) they can really make a big difference.

So there you have it: no longer will you cower in the shadows, fearful of ridicule by your mates for misuse of the minstrel's yellow line! Go forth! From the highest mountaintops, shout, "I am MINI! And I am YELLOW!"

All shall flee before you!

Master of Toons

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Another Fun Evening in Lowbie Land

Padhwe runs with some mean Elf-chicks in the Midgewater Marshes. Pictured left to right: Ellobeth, Padhwe, Anacait, and Arelwing, all members of the Dawnbreakers (a most excellent kinship).
The Thursday night low-level group was another harsh lesson in humility for the meanies of Middle-earth. The level 24-ish group of new characters completed quests throughout Bree-land, deeded in the Midgewater Marshes, and finished a skirmish -- all before bedtime!

If you are interested in joining the Dawnbreakers (a most excellent kinship) or just want more information, check out their website at www.thedawnbreakersvilya.guildportal.com!

Master of Toons

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Shortcut to (Fried) Mushrooms

You can find this and other recipes under the Recipes tab.

Enough to send any red-blooded hobbit into a frenzy, this was the first-ever LOTRO-inspired dish I attempted, and boy! Is it tasty!
This LOTRO-inspired side dish makes an excellent compliment to a full Hobbit breakfast.

Eight to 12 oz. of fresh mushrooms (whole or sliced, your preference)
Apprx. 1 tbsp. butter (or substitute olive oil)
Seasonings (your preference)

Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in a skillet on medium-low heat (apprx. 4 out of 10). Add mushrooms. Season to taste. Suggestions: salt and black pepper, sea salt and cracked peppercorn, salt and rubbed sage (my personal favorite), salt and thyme. Sautee until the mushrooms are brown and tender. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

20 Life Lessons I Learned From Playing Video Games

  • Most problems in life can be dealt with by stomping on them.
  • If you see a random pork chop or drumstick lying in the street, you should eat it -- you'll feel better.
  • Ninjas and prize fighters frequently brawled in public streets during the 1980s.
  • When many are joined together, they tend to flicker.
  • Any lunatic could conquer the world if they would just remove one platform.
  • Shouting the right Japanese words lets you throw freakin' fireballs from your hands!
  • There's something about water currents which causes caves to form behind every waterfall.
  • If text scrolls super-slow, it means it's super-important.
  • All alien life-forms reproduce asexually. This explains their apparently limitless supply.
  • Plumbing can double as an excellent mode of public transportation.
  • Racoons can fly. Or something.
  • Corrugated cardboard is an extremely cost-effective way to bypass most security systems.
  • If at first you don't succeed, try blowing the dust off the connectors.
  • If it's not a mutated life form, it's not very high in the enemy's hierarchy.
  • Condiments are a sure-fire way to defend yourself against overly aggressive meat products.
  • The profession of plumbing was originally invented to combat monstrous barrel-tossing gorillas.
  • Most kids under age 15 are possessed. Or at least really creepy.
  • Anyone who wears more than four colors at once is just showing off.
  • Women are far better at personal combat than men. This is clearly evidenced by their apparent lack of need for armor. Or clothing.
  • That @**hole ain't dead 'til the music stops playing.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Chuckie Update

Mr. Chuckie does nap occasionally.
Mr. Chuckie will be nine months old tomorrow and he's been bringing fun and *ahem* adventure to the house since the day after Thanksgiving. In between spurts of puppy rage and a wanton urge to destroy anything he can reach he does take naps, which is the only time he's stationary long enough to get his picture taken.

Lately, his favorite pastime has been harassing me while I'm logged into LOTRO. He likes to play fetch. But it's not quite what you think: rather than the traditional throw-and-catch game all normal puppies enjoy, the slightly deranged Chuckie prefers a somewhat perversely modified version. He will trot over bearing a toy and throw it in your direction, clearly wishing for you to play with him, but it's always slightly out of reach. If you make any move to grab the toy and commence the game of fetch, Chuckie will quickly grab the toy himself and take it just out of your reach again. This process continues until you either move fast enough to grab the toy -- at which point a game of tug-of-war begins -- or Chuckie scampers off with it into another room. Pretty soon he'll return bearing the toy, and you can almost hear him thinking, "Foolish human! Watch me make him dance again!"

His destructive tendencies continue to reach new heights. We managed to stop him from gnawing a hole in the clothes hamper (which is wooden) with some anti-chew spray, but we were less successful with his little bed. This is ... er ... was a typical bed for a small dog, complete with a little cushion and stuffed with foam. He's been chewing at it for a while, but with little outward signs of damage. Yesterday, however, we walked into a room where it appeared a foam volcano had erupted, spewing squishy foamy chunks across the floor. The cleanup process was made all the more difficult as Chuckie regarded each and every piece as a toy to be taken from your hand as you tried to place it into the trashcan.

His harassment of poor old Goober has abated some, but alas, it has yet to cease. Apparently the old dog's tail just looks too much like one of those toy ropes for Chuckie to ignore and spraying Goober's tail with anti-chew spray didn't seem like a plausible solution. Anyway, he's eats like a St. Bernard and likes to impersonate The Flash quite often, so it's clear he's in good health.

Now, if only I can come up with some way to beat him at fetch...

Master of Toons

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fun With LOTRO Pics

Embedded image permalink
Oops! Sorry, Theoden -- I really need to be more careful about where I point my staff. On the upside, let me tell you about the Tooth Hobbit...

Android vs. Blackberry vs. iPhone

I'm not sure how widespread this cartoon is... I thought it was hilarious!
C-Section Comics, copyright 2010.

Padhric is a Blackberry devotee, in case you were wondering.

Master of Toons

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Top 10 Reasons LOTRO is the One MMO to Rule Them All

Disclaimer: This is a non-scientific and completely un-serious list. Any resemblance of this list to any serious list, living or dead, is strictly coincidental. Anyone who thinks this list was meant to be taken seriously should not be taken seriously and flogged with a wet noodle for good measure.

10)  You don't need a scientific calculator and a minor in trigonometry to figure out how the stat system works.

9)  Pie! I know of no other MMO which features pie. I don't know how they do it.

8)  We have hobbits! They're great for a laugh, getting into trouble, baking pie, and doubling as footballs.

7)  Festivals! Because nothing says "The world is in danger of ending and we're all about to become the unwilling slaves of a giant fiery eyeball" like gathering a bouquet of marigolds.

6)  No Kung Fu pandas. Seriously, people. Were-bears? That's totally different.

5)  Turbine Points. Name for me anywhere else you could say, "Hey, I just used the last of my TP," or "I'm swimming in TP," or "Boy, am I excited! I'm about to buy a bunch of TP!" and be taken seriously.

4)  We have an Academy Award-winning movie series on our side (Does anyone even remember the Dungeons and Dragons movie? Let's hope not.). Bonus: our lead actors didn't receive Razzies, either.

3)  Our story doesn't rely on memory-wiping to resolve any horrendous inconsistencies in the plotline. I know it sounds like I'm referring to The Young and the Restless there, but I'm not.

2)  Space travel may not be our strong suit, but we still know parsecs measure distance, not time.

1)  No rifts to alternate dimensions popping up and spewing evil-doers all over the place in the LOTRO universe. The cosmic fabric of our space-time continuum is perfectly fine, thank you very much. Now, get off my lawn!

Master of Toons

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Dragon and the George

Quick post today with a wonderful book recommendation. If you haven't already read it, Gordon Dickson's The Dragon and the George is a delightful and quick read. The story follows a college adjunct and his fiancee who suddenly find themselves in a Medieval world full of dragons, knights, talking wolves, and Dark Powers. They both learn a great deal about themselves and each other as they struggle to return to the normal world.
Book cover art for Gordon Dickson's The Dragon and the George.

Fun fact: although Peter Dickinson's The Flight of Dragons is often thought to be the genesis of the 1980s animated TV movie by the same name (starring John Ritter, Henry Morgan, and James Earl Jones among others), the plotline actually follows The Dragon and the George story very closely. If you loved the old cartoon, you'll absolutely love this book.

Happy Reading!

Master of Toons

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

If You Don't Have Anything Useful to Say...

...Say something useless!

And no one is better at that than I -- Padhric, Grand Mufti of the Mundane, Prince of Puffery, Sultan of the Superfluous, and Baron of Bloviation (...and @**hole of Alliteration. Get on with it. -- Mrs. Pad).

Ever wonder where my characters' names came from? Of course you didn't! I'd be very concerned about you if you did. But, now that I have your attention and also because, for the life of me, I can't seem to think of anything worthwhile to write here today (Par for the course, in other words. -- Mrs. Pad), here's the story behind each one.

Benford Billingsworth -- I was reminded one day of the tool brand "Binford" from Tim Allen's 90s sitcom Home Improvement, and I replaced a vowel to make it sound like a plausible name. I'll never forget this joke from the TV show: "Remember, if your tools say 'Binford' -- GET OUTTA THE HOUSE: TOOLS AREN"T SUPPOSED TO TALK TO YOU!!!"

Bennard Billingsworth -- I wanted a hobbit guardian and I thought it would be fun to have two characters be related to each other as part of their backstories. The surname was a knock-off of Dr. Evil's cat, Mr. Bigglesworth.

Besil -- In Khuzdul, besek means "promise." I felt the meaning was very appropriate for a rune-keeper, but when I went to type in the name during character creation I accidentally fat-fingered it and typed Besel. From there it was a quick corruption to Besil. It's the name I'm most proud of.

Brendyn -- This is one of Mrs. Pad's favorite baby names, albeit spelled differently.

Derrik Danderfluff -- I had the name Derek in my mind for a character, but it took a few tries before I found a spelling that wasn't taken. The surname was actually what an online hobbit random name generator spat back at me when I typed in my dog's name, Goober.

Edgerin -- I have no idea where this one came from... out of the clear blue sky, from what I recall.

Eryndil -- This one is my second favorite because a) it is Sindarin for "Lover of Trees," and b) I couldn't believe no one had taken it before. Go me!

Faruk Fellhammer -- This was one of the older names from 2008. I was having a rough time thinking of a respectable name for a Dwarf, and actually settled on a weird spelling of the old pro-wrestler Farooq, since it's pronounced the same way (fah-ROOK). It wasn't until later I realized it's also the first word of the Dwarven battle-cry (Baruk Khazad!), except with an f, so it's no wonder it sounded natural. The surname comes from his favored weapon, the war mattock.

Freoi -- This name was based on the Icelandic word for "singer," which is freaoi. Unfortunately, that's a few too many vowels in a row and LOTRO had a slight stroke when I tried to enter it as a character name. So I had to remove the a, but I still like it.

Galfi -- Funny story: once again I was having the worst trouble coming up with a decent Dwarf name when suddenly this one hit me like a bolt of thunder. Brilliance! Genius! The perfect name! It wasn't until weeks later I discovered there is a Dwarf NPC named Galfi at Gondamon. And he's even a minstrel trainer, if you can believe it. To this day I don't know if I really invented the name or my subconscious was screwing me over...

Grimlur -- Another one I'm fond of. I would swear on my mother's grave (which doesn't exist yet, but if it did I would totally swear on it. Probably in permanent marker.) that I encountered a mob named "Grimlar" or something similar in Moria once upon a time because that's where I got the idea for the name. Odd thing is, I've taken more than 20 characters through Moria, and I've never encountered that mob ever again.

Guthinwe -- He's the second oldest toon and, as such, I had a really hard time thinking of a name for him. I finally settled on a re-arrangement of the letters in the name of Eomer's sword (Guthwine) to get Guthinwe. It's pronounced GOO-theen-weh in my own mind, but I'm not so sure it's very lore-appropriate, a fact I consciously choose to ignore. Once that was done, I started messing around with the letters of other actual LOTR characters to produce the names for his herald (Frealof instead of Felarof) and his skirmish soldier (Galruf instead of Gulraf). I'm a silly person.

Mallacai -- He's a seer, so a modified spelling of the Biblical prophet seemed fitting.

Malloren -- The original spelling was Maloren, and he was the very first character from back in 2007. The name simply came from putting a prefix and a suffix from the list of suggestions you get during character creation together (the fact it wasn't taken gives you an idea of how early on this was), but it had a nice ring to it. After a few years I was forced to delete poor Maloren due to some world transfer problems with Turbine, so I eventually created Malloren in his stead.

Padegar -- I wanted another Pad. And who wouldn't?? (Let's have a vote. -- Mrs. Pad) The character generation screen says -egar is an acceptable hobbity suffix, so the rest was easy enough.

Padhric Pemberton -- While you're traveling through Waymeet, you may see a passing hobbit-lass mention her difficulties outfitting herself so that "Padric sees me at my best." I liked the name, but I had to fiddle with the spelling to get one that wasn't taken. Eventually I ended up with Padrikk, which was not at all to my liking, but after quite some time I had the idea to add the h, and there you have it. You can still see the name Padrikk listed as one of the top contributors to the Bounders' Bounty competition on the Vilya server. Right under Kay, leader of the Dawnbreakers (a most excellent kinship), coincidentally enough.

Curious about the surname? Well, it's an odd (but true) story: in Real Life, I had to deal with a salesman from Virginia by the name of Rolf Pemberton. The name was so funny that every time we talked about the guy around the office we felt compelled to deliver his name in dramatic fashion: "ROLF ... PEM-M-M-BERTON!" Like that. Anyway, when I created Padhric it seemed like a perfect fit for a character I never meant to take seriously in the first place.

Saxolf -- Dang those Dwarves, it's so hard to come up with names for them! By this time I was so tired of racking my brains in search of Dwarf names I was prepared to give up and call him "Gufi," only to discover there actually is a Gufi in Anazarmekhem! Geez... So, I figured, if I can't come up with a name LOTRO hasn't already taken, I'll just blatantly steal one. But at least it should be somewhat respectable. Saxolf is the Relic-master in the Crafting Bunker of the Twenty-first Hall.

Typps -- He was originally Tipps due to the fact he fights with a spear and javelin. I later had to change the spelling when migrating him over from the Landroval server.

Uthi -- He was originally Uthi the Hobbit minstrel because the character creation screen says hobbit names are often Gothic, and this amusing name popped into my mind. After a while I got bored of playing minstrel (this was way back when minis were squishier than rotten calamari), and the name sounded too cool for a hobbit anyway. Uthi the Dwarf Champion was born.

Padhwe -- I needed another Pad for kinship play purposes and I was having a hard time working that prefix into an Elven name (and I'm not so sure I succeeded in the end). In any case, he now sounds suspiciously like a certain Nubian senator from a galaxy far, far away.

There, wasn't that fascinating???

Don't answer that.

Master of Toons

Monday, April 13, 2015

Roads Go Ever, Ever On...

Saxolf provides a little roadside entertainment at Waymeet.
Since Turbine recently revamped the LOTRO music system, I thought I would take the occasion to gift everyone who subjects themselves to ... er ... "reads" my blog with this little gem. I searched everywhere for the ABC file to Roads Go Ever On (as composed by Maury Laws and Jules Bass and performed by Glenn Yarbrough from the 1977 animated film The Hobbit) so I could perform it in-game, but to no avail. Finally, about 18 months ago, I took it upon myself to transcribe it into a LOTRO-friendly format. Therefore, for anyone else who has searched desperately for this beautiful piece of music, here is my rendition as my way of saying "Thank You" for indulging and following me.

Master of Toons

Note: You will need to copy and paste the code into a Notepad file in the source folder for your LOTRO music pieces. Simply follow the normal rules for playing ABC files in-game from there.

T:Roads Go Ever, Ever On (Yarbrough; transcribed by Padhric of Vilya; 1:50)
Z:Pahdric the Peculiar 9/24/2013


D,A,F,D,DA,F,A, | G,DBG,GDB,D | D,A,F,D,DA,F,A, | D,2 |

dfgfed | [fD,]A,F,D,DA,F,A, | [D,F,][fA,][fF,][gD,][aD][fA,][eF,][fA,] | [gD]BG,GDB,DG, |

[G,E][eB][eG,][aG][gD][fB,][eD][dG,] | [A,e]ECA,AECE | [A,E][eE][eC][aA,][gA][fE][eC][dE] | [dD,]A,F,D,DA,F,A,D2 |

dagfed | [bG,]DBG,GDB,D | [G,B][bD][bB][cG,][dG][dD][cB,][aD][fG] | [b,B,]_DF_DB,BF_D | [dB,][dF][a_D][gB,][fD][eD][dB,][b_D] |

G,DBG,GDB,D | [G,e][eD][aB][gG,][fG][eD][dB] | [dD,]A,F,D,DA,F,A,D2 |

dfgfed | [fD,]A,F,D,DA,F,A, | [D,F,][fA,][fF,][gD,][aD][fA,][eF,][fA,] | [gD]BG,GDB,DG, |

[G,E][eB][eG,][aG][gD][fB,][eD][dG,] | [A,e]ECA,AECE | [A,E][eE][eC][aA,][gA][fE][eC][dE] | [dD,]A,F,D,DA,F,A,D2 |

dagfed | [bG,]DBG,GDB,D | [G,B][bD][bB][cG,][dG][dD][cB,][aD][fG] | B,_DF_DB,BF_D | [dB,][dF][f_D][aB,][dD][fD][aB,][b_D] |

G,DBG,GDB,D | [G,b][bD][cB][dG,][dG][cD][bB] | [aD,]A,F,D,DA,F,A,D2 |

dfgfed | [fD,]A,F,D,DA,F,A, | [D,F,][fA,][fF,][gD,][aD][fA,][eF,][fA,] | [gD]BG,GDB,DG, |

[G,E][eB][eG,][aG][gD][fB,][eD][dG,] | [A,e]ECA,AECE | [A,E][eE][eC][aA,][gA][fE][eC][dE] |

[dD,]A,F,D,DA,F,A, | G,DBG,GDB,D | D,A,F,D,DA,F,A, | A,ECA,AECE |

D,A,F,D,DA,F,A, | G,DBG,GDB,D | D,A,F,D,DA,F,A, | d2f2g2f2e2d2 |


Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Hobbity Cookbook

If you're like me (Then you have my sympathies. -- Mrs. Pad), playing LOTRO on an empty stomach is a dangerous proposition. Tolkien was a lover of food, and the variety of foods one finds in The Lord of the Rings Online is enough to set any tummy growling. Many's the time I sat down to do some in-game cooking and quickly found myself doing some Real Life cooking instead. If you encounter the same problem, my Recipes Page is the solution!

On the navigation menu, you'll find the new Recipes tab. Click there to find an ever-expanding list of recipes I've created or borrowed, inspired by dishes from LOTRO! Of course, contributions from you are most welcome also! Leave them in comments section or send me an e-mail (pahdricthepeculiar@gmail.com). I promise you will get the credit for your submissions (assuming you want credit, of course).

Master of Toons

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Th'ufferin' Th'uccota'th! How'th That Th'uppoth'ed to Th'ound?!

I certainly hope I don't get pummeled by smelly produce for doing this (Hey, it wouldn't be the first time --Mrs. Pad), but I thought some folks might be genuinely interested in how to pronounce certain words found in Middle-earth. Let me begin by saying there are plenty of guides out there if you're into that sort of thing. However, if you're a normal human being and don't particularly care what a labio-velar is, perhaps my little post here will be a tad more accessible.

You can find my brief but growing list of pronunciations under the "Phonetics Project" page, found on the navigation menu at the top of this blog.

P.S. I was curious, and discovered succotash is a North American invention consisting of boiled corn and beans to make a sort of ... um ... slop. Or casserole. No doubt it is tasty and nutritious!

Master of Toons

A Great LOTRO Dynamic Map

Here's a link to an excellent online LOTRO map:


Master of Toons

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Padhric Gets Sociable!

Padhric has joined social media! Follow me on Twitter: @PadhricP.

Holy Hoards of Hopping Hungry Hobbits!

This has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen in-game: a cavalcade of hobbit minstrels, all identically dressed, and hopping around like mad.
They bounded about the landscape for a while, then vanished over the horizon, never to be seen again (not by me, anyway).

Master of Toons

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Hairy Situation

This actually happened...

MRS. PAD: "Hey, I got these freebies from my stay at the hospital. Do you want this comb?"

(We've been married 11 years. I've been bald for the last seven of those years.)

ME: (Blank stare)

MRS. PAD: "Oh."

Master of Toons

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tossing My Cookies Around

It occurred to me folks might not know why I sometimes throw out the phrase, "Where are my cookies?" (Ya think? -- Mrs. Pad) This cryptic question has a long but murky history with me so, as Mark Sanford undoubtedly said to his wife at some point, "Allow me to explain."

Maury Yeston's Phantom is based on the same source material as the much more popular The Phantom of the Opera.
I've been a thespian for much of my life. The Air Force wanted to discharge me when that fact became known but, after several weeks of taxpayer-funded research, they finally concluded the word simply means "actor." Fifteen years ago in the beautiful countryside of central New Hampshire, I was fortunate enough to appear in Maury Yeston's Phantom alongside an actor who played the title character. I don't have permission to use this individual's name, so I won't, but he's had a good measure of success with his career since then. Anyway (as I recall the story), he was having some difficulty remembering one of his cues so the stage manager promised to bake him some homemade cookies if he managed to get it right. The next night out he did get the cue right, but the cookies were not forthcoming. It is standard procedure before each performance for the stage manager to conduct a mic check for the lead actors. During the sound check, this person would sing or speak a few snatches of the script to test the microphone levels before suddenly bellowing, "WHERE ARE MY COOKIES?!" This ritual was performed without fail before every show until the cookies finally materialized.

You can see how the phrase evolved into a sort of byword -- an expression whenever someone has performed a deed for which they are owed recompense but have yet to receive payment. I hope this was entertaining, or at least solves the mystery.

Master of Toons

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Red Line Cappie -- Or: "Who's Making all that RACKET?!"

Captain Guthinwe, my main character, has been shouting foes down (literally) for nearly eight years. Therefore, I can say that -- through no fault of my own -- I know a few things about the class. Everyone loves a cappie, but while their healing and tanking capabilities are well-known throughout LOTRO, perhaps their red line capabilities are less well understood. A big part of the reason for this is many of the cappie's skills/effects don't have an animation so, much like a perfectly serviceable lasagna can be overlooked when next to another much larger lasagna (with meatballs) by a fat Italian guy like me, the cappie can easily get overlooked in the heat of battle. Even if you aren't playing the cappie yourself, I'm about to tell you why you should be happy to have one o' them holla'ing fools along with you, especially if they know how to take full advantage of their abilities. So, as Pippin said to himself at Aragorn's coronation feast, "Here's a little something to chew on."
The captain's red line focuses on enhancing the combat effectiveness of the entire fellowship rather than the captain's alone. Some players discourage spending points on the Restraint and Heightened Allies traits.

The key to playing a cappie effectively in red line is to understand how each skill plays off the next. Rather similar to the way minstrels need to satisfy certain criteria in order to maximize their high-end abilities' powers, or (maybe more aptly), the way warden gambits increase in power when used after playing the predecessor in their families, the red line cappie's success depends upon playing skills in the proper order and using them in conjunction with other abilities to boost their effects. (I'm speaking to cappies with their entire tree open to illustrate the point).

As an example: Cutting Edge opens a bleed on your target. Simple enough. But the Lacerate skill (set bonus) causes that bleed to become applied to other enemies in the captain's immediate vicinity as well as increases all cappie bleed damage by 25%. Moreover, the Grievous Wounds trait causes Grave Wound to debuff the enemy's incoming healing while also increasing the skill's damage output by 10%. Combine these with the Make Them Bleed trait for another 20% bleed damage plus Telling Mark for 5% more damage from all sources (as well as various traits to increase critical magnitude of regular blows and bleeds) and you have some nasty damage being served up.

In another example, Shadow's Lament can be more than just a second way to get into the Battle-readied stance. It does additional light damage when used on an enemy targeted with Telling Mark, gains 20% damage when used after Blade of Elendil, and also benefits from having the Standard of War nearby with the Master of War trait unlocked.

But, as everyone knows, the cappie's real strength lies in buffing his allies. Of course Rallying Cry is more effective when used after felling an opponent, but in red line Routing Cry used after a defeat event not only damages surrounding enemies but also buffs the fellowship for up to 15% faster attack duration. For serious fights, whip out the Standard of War (damages enemies while adding 30% outgoing damage to the party from all sources) with the Master of War trait (crit buffs), Blade Brother's Call (increases damage output of the captain and marked party member -- champs are great targets!), To Arms (+25% damage output for your blade brother), and Oathbreaker's Shame (target takes +35% damage from all sources), and your team will lay down some serious hurt.

I had better be careful lest people start thinking this blog was meant to be useful all along. Now where are my cookies?!

Master of Toons

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

The sun rises over Casa de Pad.
Wishing you a Blessed and Wonderful Easter Sunday.

Master of Toons

The Dawnbreakers (A Most Excellent Kinship) Part 2

One thing I failed to mention in my previous post gushing about the Dawnbreakers: they are a great kinship for getting to know the game better.
Thane Guthinwe salutes the Heavens with fellow kinmates before riding off into adventure!
Aside from the obvious -- talking folks through instance runs or providing advice about LIs, etc. -- the Dawnbreakers have a regular portion of their Friday night meetings called Did You Know? Each week, this segment focuses on a different aspect of the game which helps players understand the interface more thoroughly, become better informed about LOTRO's mechanics, or even provides third-party sources for extra knowledge. One of the recent DYKs talked about the Plugin system, and it was very helpful to have much of that game aspect laid out (in plain English) and all in one place. As a bonus, all kin meetings, including the DYKs, are quickly posted to the kin website following the meetings.

In summary, the Dawnbreakers are an excellent organization for seasoned veterans and newcomers alike. You'll find them on the Vilya server (for now, anyway -- no one's quite sure what Turbine's plans are for server consolidation) or look them up at www.thedawnbreakersvilya.guildportal.com!

Master of Toons

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Dawnbreakers (A Most Excellent Kinship)

From everything I hear, the Vilya server is about as heavily populated as Rosie O'Donnell's little black book, but that doesn't mean there aren't some quality kinships and players out there. I heartily recommend the Dawnbreakers (a most excellent kinship) to anyone seeking a casual, mature, and friendly gaming environment.
The Dawnbreakers hold Kinship meetings weekly on Friday nights.

I've been with them nearly two years and the officer corps is very available, helpful, and truly interested in helping members enjoy the game more thoroughly. One of my favorite regular events is their "low-level night," during which participants have created new characters and they run through all the old content on-level. This includes skirmishes, instances, deeds, grinds, and of course lots of questing. It's a great way to experience the game from the beginning again without all the maddening solo play.

The Dawnbreakers are recruiting as of this posting. They have an interview process you will need to satisfy as well as some minor prerequisites with the officers prior to admission. You can contact any Dawnbreaker you run across in-game as there is nearly always an officer online. Check out their website: www.thedawnbreakersvilya.guildportal.com for more information.

Master of Toons

Friday, April 3, 2015

"This is a Roster as Long as Years..."

There is some great and exciting news for everyone out there suffering from acute boughts of insomnia: I have begun posting the photos and biographies of each and every one of my LOTRO characters!
Captain Guthinwe braves the Grand Stair (again).
Please try to contain your excitement. Yes, I have added menu tabs across the top of this blog site by which you can access the personal story of each Padhric-spawned character I currently have active. As Joe Biden said when he was introduced to Silly Putty, "This is a big f***in' deal!"

It will take me some time to collect my notes and post them, one by one, but the photos and placeholders are already positioned. If you can possibly manage to not black out from sheer joy while this is accomplished, I promise you will eventually get to read them all.

You have my sympathies.


Master of Toons

Travails of a Random Blogger

Training my hands to write about something interesting and make it an entertaining read is a difficult job, like cosmology or spamming reputation items. Many's the time I've decided to write something only to sit down in front of the computer and have my hands realize they've naught to say (If only your mouth would realize the same thing now and then. -- Mrs. Pad). In such situations, I often decide the best thing to do is write about something I know my audience likes: LOTRO!
Padhric observes some inclement weather atop Amon Hen.

And so, some pointless musings: I find it quite ironic the name by which I'm best known in game is that of a Burglar since I've always hated the class. It would be like Bill Cosby dying from acute Jell-O poisoning. The changes which came with the release of Riders of Rohan have made me hate it less, but my relationship with the Burglar is still similar to how the world feels about Velveeta -- you love the creamy goodness, but reading the ingredient list makes you nauseous. Or something like that.

Anyway, I've warmed to the Burglar some, but only in group play. Watching all of those critical hits pile up like bad checks from M.C. Hammer is quite gratifying and the crowd control capabilities are more important than ever since the lore-masters have had their CC abilities largely limited to the yellow line. Overall, I think the Burglar is one of the few classes which saw marked improvement from the switch to the trait tree, but that's a discussion for another time. As Mrs. Pad said to me when I asked if she'd like a crock pot for her birthday, "We'll talk about this later."

Master of Toons

A Harrowing Tale of Gall and Bile (Part 3)

I've only mentioned snippets thus far, but the full tale has been told to none and so I will recount it here.

Nearly two weeks ago, Mrs. Pad began suffering from gastric pains of an unusual nature. I was busily saving the world from my super-secret Dr. Super Guy headquarters in Washington, D.C., but Mrs. Pad's parents came down to keep her company while I was away. Her father took her to a 24-hour emergency clinic which initially diagnosed her with a Uniary Tract Infection (UTI) and prescribed her some antibiotics. The symptoms did not abate, however, even by the time I had returned to San Antonio, so we went back to the same doctor. This time he asked a few more questions and began to suspect gallbladder issues. He prescribed some gut muscle relaxers, but urged us to accomplish a sonogram.

Immediately upon our return home from this second visit, Mrs. Pad began vomiting frequently. We decided to give it a bit of time to see if the new medication would help with this, but in the wee hours of the morning of Mar. 23 it became clear she was steadily getting worse. We headed to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

After many hours of waiting, she received a sonogram and was officially diagnosed with severe cholecystitis due, in part, to a gallstone blocking the cystic duct. Even I could see the massed stones collected in the lower lip of the gallbladder on the sonogram screen. She was scheduled for a cholecystectomy on the morning of Mar. 24. 

I was told the procedure would only take about an hour once she entered the operating room. This was proved quite true: right after she was wheeled into the OR, I went in search of a salad at the hospital cafeteria, ate that, and returned to the waiting room. In less than five minutes the surgeon came looking for me and said everything went very smoothly and she would almost certainly be discharged that same evening.

Since returning home, I've been caring for her and trying to keep our two dogs under control. She is still in some pain in her shoulder due to all the gas they pump into the abdomen during these kinds of procedures, but other than that she's doing quite well and is already up and about though her physical activity is still somewhat limited. If anyone from LOTRO has read this, we appreciate your thoughts and well wishes during this time. She may feel well enough soon to join us back in the game before long.


Master of Toons

Found: Skyrim's Main Theme

Album Cover for a Pretty Cool Soundtrack.
I may be the last person to have found this, but I finally came across a music album featuring the awesome main theme ("Dragonborn") from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. On Amazon, the album is called Video Games Live: Level 3, and the quality of the recording is very good. Other tracks include pieces from Final Fantasy, ChronoCross, Tetris, The Legend of Zelda, World of Warcraft, Silent Hill, and many others. 

I can also recommend The Greatest Video Game Music Vol. I (but I don't recommend Vol. II), performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This album includes music from Halo, Angry Birds, Grand Theft Auto IV, Uncharted, The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Metal Gear, and lots more. Good stuff if you care for that sort of thing.
Album Cover for another Pretty Cool Soundtrack.

Full Disclosure: TGVGM Vol. I was a Christmas gift to me from Mrs. Pad two years ago, so I owe this recommendation to her excellent taste in gift-giving.

Master of Toons

A Harrowing Tale of Gall and Bile (Part 2)

I am happy to report that Mrs. Pad is home from the hospital following the extraction of her infected gallbladder. She is tired and sore, but doing well on the whole. Perhaps she'll feel well enough to join us back in game sometime soon.

Thanks for your well wishes, thoughts, and prayers during this difficult time.

Master of Toons

A Harrowing Tale of Gall and Bile (Part 1)

About one week ago, as I was gallantly gallavanting about our nation's capitol, the lovely Mrs. Pad took ill with severe abdominal pains. After a week of these symptoms, it became clear she had an inflamed gallbladder due to the presence of gallstones. As I write this, she has been wheeled into the operating room while I sit outside in patient expectation.

The removal of a gallbladder is a pretty standard operation and the likelihood something will go wrong is low. Still, if you happened to read this blog, your prayers are actively solicited by me at this time. 


Master of Toons

Padegar the Stunted Warden

I know each and every person reading this blog -- both of you -- have been eagerly searching the LOTRO landscape for Padhwe, my newest character and general Elven bad-ass-tress (That's a female bad-ass, for the uninitiated). However, as they said to David Letterman when he had his braces removed, "We've got some bad news for you."

I know opinions on this issue vary more widely than Tiger Woods' ability to play golf on any given day, but there's something about playing a chick that feels wrong to me. Maybe it's the odd looks Mrs. Pad keeps giving me when she thinks I'm not looking (Oh, trust me: I know you're looking. -- Mrs. Pad), but Padhwe is no more.

Derrik Danderfluff, Eriador Cartographile and Renowned Lush of the Third Age.

In her place is Padegar, a sturdy (I think that's a dog-whistle for "short") hobbit Warden who now runs with Mrs. Pad's newest vertically challenged minstrel, Kathleniel. Together, the two are serving as a willing diversion under the protection of the Rangers to pose as the Ring-bearer and his faithful servant, and so they are hunted throughout the breadth of Eriador by the minions of Angmar.

Actually, at the moment anyway, their chief concern is retrieving those rancid pies in the Shire. All that derring-do stuff will come later. I hope we run into you sometime!

Master of Toons

Grand Vistas

Some four years ago, I bought myself a new monitor for Christmas. It was a nice 21.5-inch Dell LCD and, as Dell monitors typically are, it was a good piece of equipment. Unfortunately, it was also a refurbished piece of equipment, and perhaps this is what led to its untimely demise. Last night, after spending a while pondering what a "timely demise" might be, I decided, on a whim, to try hooking up a certain 32-inch LED TV I had lying around. That's me: born whim-y. This particular TV set simply stopped working about three months ago, but I thought I would give it one last chance. To my surprise, it works as well as if it were new out of the box, which has me wondering what on earth went wrong a few months ago. I quickly thought, as Bill Clinton said after discovering his Secret Service detail was actively soliciting Columbian hookers behind his back, "There's an opportunity here somewhere."

I proceeded to connect the TV to my computer faster than a blizzard turning up to spoil an Al Gore speaking engagement. Imagine my ecstasy when Middle-earth opened before my eyes in full 32-inch, 1080p glory! I was more excited than Harry Potter learning Chu was opening a massage parlor at Hogwarts. My jubilation was short-lived, however, as I quickly discovered this particular piece of technology came with a trade-off. Namely, text is rather difficult to read due to excessive pixelation. I've tried tinkering with the settings, but to no avail: like Internet Explorer in the 21st century, it just wasn't meant to function in this environment.
A beautiful view of Dol Amroth by night.

And so, as Paris Hilton was told after she failed to acquire her GED for the 19th time, "We'll just have to find another use for you." This also means I'll have to pony up the cash for a new monitor, but I also get an extra TV out of the deal, in a manner of speaking. See you back in game shortly!

Master of Toons