Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Playing a hobbit yeoman

I'm still in the Lord of the Rings Online beta. But as I have already decided to buy the game, I don't play the beta very much, because I want to save the fun for the real version. But I'm always interested in tradeskills, and so I thought I'd better find out early what combination of professions I want to take in the real game. LotRO has 7 sets of professions, and you can't chose tradeskills individually. They are:The disadvantage of having to choose a set is that often two tradeskills work together, and the third isn't really fitting with the rest. There are several combinations where you don't have all the necessary gathering skills, or have a gathering skill for which you don't have a crafting skill. You need Prospector for all sorts of smithing, and Forester (for hides) for tailoring and woodworking. You can also use farmer if you want to be a cook.

So having already tried Explorer, where I could gather hides and tailor them into armor for me, but also could gather wood and ore for which I didn't have any use, I wanted to try something else. So this time I went for Yeoman, keeping tailoring (even if I now need a forester to cure the hides for me), and being able to farm not gold, but pipe weed and vegetables, which I can then cook into tasty meals.

Playing a Farmer turned out to be more fun than I would have thought. I spent quite a while growing pipe weed, and ended up making a good amount of money in the process, after getting past the first stage. There are different kinds of pipe weed, of different skill levels, from apprentice, over journeyman, to expert and beyond. You can smoke pipe weed, which gives a fun animation and smoke rings, but there is no in-game advantage to it. But you can sure sell the pipe weed you grow.

There are severat steps to growing pipeweed. First you need to buy 6 seeds, 1 water, and 2 fertilizer. Then you need to go to a pipe weed field, which is usually quite close to the vendor selling the materials. There you sow the seeds, which takes a few seconds, and a pipe weed field grows. You click on that to harvest it (and no, you can't click on somebody else's field to harvest) and get a random amount of poor and fair pipe weed plants. The poor plants you can process at a workbench (again quite close) to seeds, the fair plants you transform into pipe weed. Sell the pipe weed, buy more water and fertilizer and start over.

With the first recipe at the start you still might lose money, getting not enough seeds and pipe weed to cover the cost of the materials. But every step gives you some skill points, until you are "proficient" at the apprentice level, and can start with the recipes of the journeyman level. But you can also keep doing the apprentice level recipe until you are "master" of that level. Once you are master you have the option to add 3 soil to the pipe weed planting recipe. This raises you "crit" chance of getting more yield from 5% to 100%, which is more profitable. And the journeyman recipes are more profitable than the apprentice ones, because while the seeds cost more, the pipe weed also sells for more, and the cost for water and fertilizer remain the same.

Of course pipe weed is not the only thing you can grow, there are a variety of vegetables and grain, which are grown in a similar fashion. And the vegetables can then be used in various cooking recipes. The farm stuff vendor also has various other recipes for sale, but not the seeds for them. Apparently some seeds are drops from mobs, and you need to find the seeds, buy the recipes to grow the field and process the materials, and can then produce more seeds. There will probably also be some trade in the rarer seeds.

There were some minor glitches: The animation of working at the workbench is the same as for sowing seeds, which looks silly. And when your farming tool breaks down it costs more to repair than to buy a new one (Hint: sell it when its down to 10 durability and you still get money for it, then buy a new one). But this being just the beta, and the bugs not being serious at all, I didn't really mind.

The whole farming thing is strangely relaxing, a very different way to play from killing monsters. I like it, and I think I'll make a hobbit yeoman minstrel in the release version. Named Tobold, if that name isn't reserved. As Tobold Hornblower is a pipe weed growing hobbit in the LotR lore, that would be strangely fitting. But I guess the names from the books will be reserved, and I'll have to go for another name. Nevertheless the idea of becoming a peaceful hobbit farmer, part-time between adventuring, appeals to me.
How about Tobold Blogspot?
Its funny but Saylah from Mystic Worlds was just talking about how fun Harvest Moon would be in MMO format. I guess farming would be a nice change of pace from the standard tradeskills.

Now that I think about it, it would be kinda nice if you could farm your own herbs that could be used in potions ala World of Warcraft style.
I vote for T0b01d. You can have your name and annoy everybody around you at the same time!
"The poor plants you can process at a workbench (again quite close) to seeds, the fair plants you transform into pipe weed."

Now why do I have the impression somebody at Turbine doesn't know much about farming? :)
Since you said you'd be playing LotRO when it's released, would you consider something like the $199 lifetime offer for founders or are you sticking to monthly?

Honestly, if Blizzard had done the same for WoW, I would still be playing it.
I'm seriously considering the lifetime option. I paid more than $199 for WoW. And having the lifetime option means I don't need to cancel my account when I want to play something else for a while. Even playing two games becomes feasible.
I was just about to mention Harvest Moon, but someone beat me to it!
This whole seeding / harvesting minigame reminds me of "A Tale in the desert" which is an MMOG without any combat whatsoever and solely built around peaceful manufacturing activities (although it looks quite dates nowadays).
I think the farming option is great, and will be welcomed by the LOTRO community. How cool would it be to be fishing in WOW, while tending crops over a bowl of pipe weed?

On a side note, I wonder if the censorship lunatics are going to boycott this game for it's subtle drug references.
I think James Ford said it best..."dubba dubba dubbaa....WA WHAT!?"

I like the farming aspect, but it sounds like the plant grows instantly, yielding right after growth.

In Ultima Online you had to water the plant and keep it alive for days before it would yield anything, and you always had the option of turning the plant into a permanent decorative mode. The decorative mode stopped all watering requirements, and caused the plant to yield nothing, in a sense becoming a house decoration.

Anyways, I for one am looking forward to being able to farm since SoE ruined my dreams of being a moisture farmer on tatooine!!!

Oh... and I still grow plants in Ultima Online ^^
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