Weatherstock IV: My First Time There

Image credit: Screenshot by Darmok at LOTRO.com

Ever since I was small I have been a Tolkien enthusiast. I also love gaming, and therefore the MMORPG “The Lord of the Rings Online” (LOTRO) is perfect for me. It really helps me to enter a new world and to unwind from the stress I have in my real life. I only started to play because I was invited to co-host a podcast about Tolkien, “SQPN: Secrets of Middle-earth” which is recorded in-game. I had no experience whatsoever with MMORPGs and I picked the server the others were on, Elendilmir. Soon I heard about Weatherstock and Ales and Tales, and realised I signed up to the wrong server. This is how I moved over to Landroval.

The Lord of the Rings Online

Landroval is a role-playing encouraged server, which means people are encouraged to pretend they are really in Middle-earth and they are really their character. I could immediately tell the different atmosphere on the server compared to my old server where people just log in to level, to play instances, raids and player versus player (PvP). In Bree, people walk around instead of run around. The Prancing Pony is always crowded, like it would be in Middle-earth.

The game has a unique music system which allows your character to play an instrument. Every race and class has specific ‘native’ skills, but you can also ask a minstrel to teach you how to play any other instrument. You can play in a band by forming a fellowship and sync your parts up. Because of this unique feature, Middle-earth’s version of Woodstock, Weatherstock, was born. This year is the 4th year and everything is player driven. The Lonely Mountain Band spends lots of time organising this massive event.

Weatherstock!

Weatherstock IV was held yesterday, June 16 2012. It’s a very neat experience if you like music, lore and company. It was also the first time ever I saw the ‘decreased awareness’ icon, the server’s panic reaction to heavy load (and lag). It’s the biggest LOTRO event of the year. At one point 600 players gathered at the top of Weathertop to listen to music and dance. Some of the music is transcribed popular music with new Middle-earth inspired lyrics, other music is entirely self-written. To get an impression of how it looks, I’ll embed a video:

Sometimes the video glitches out a bit, which is caused by the incredible lag caused by lots and lots of people being logged in at the same time who are also in the same area. My new computer had no troubles at all dealing with it on high graphics settings, but I heard how multiple players complained about freezing of their screen or even crashes.

For Weatherstock, it may sound dull to sit there for an hour and listen, but it’s actually great fun. I put the sound over the speakers so I could hear what the bands were playing. I really like the Songburrow Strollers. They are from another server, Laurelin and their lyrics are so funny, their music is very hobbity. There were a lot of bands (and visitors) from other servers, which explains why the Landroval server was stressing out. I can’t wait for the next big event and I may even stay up late to be able to attend an episode of Ales and Tales, which is like standup-comedy Middle-earth style, songs, music and generally a ton of fun on the Landroval server.

Online Cosplaying

I can not think of another game where these kinds of events happen. The social aspect keeps me involved in the game more than the game itself. Were it for the leveling and raiding alone, I would have abandoned it long ago. Events like this make me log in on a regular basis. The bubbling street-life in Bree and the great company of my kin-mates in the Lonely Mountain Band help a lot as well. Some people may think I’m a hardcore gamer, but I am not. But I do like goofing around like this.