Monday, 28 September 2015

Goodbye, Gilrain

 Saying our goodbyes

As I am writing, server transfers for my server in Lord of the Rings Online, Gilrain, have opened up. While I'm waiting for the sign of our kinship leader that Asylum has successfully transferred to the Laurelin server, I figured now would be a good time to dig deep into my screenshot archive, coming up with crappy pictures and fond memories of the time behind us.

While server merges in other games did never affected me on an emotional level, it is different for LOTRO. With the playerbase originally being very opposed to merges, all servers since the game's launch in 2007 are still operating. Gilrain was always one of the smaller servers with a tight community that I - and many with me - have become fond of. I don't think anyone disagrees with the server consolidation now since many servers near-deserted, but it will be the end of an era nevertheless.

As Lord of the Rings Online was the first MMO I was involved with, some memories are deeply entwined with the discovery of my love for gaming and my growth as a player. I've selected 10 events for you that represent the most memorable moments of my gaming life on Gilrain, more or less in chronological order. I'm going all out in nostalgia mode, with Instagram-ready ancient screenshots and all, so you've been warned! 

Ravanel using Gust of wind on a worm in Angmar

1) Mastering the lore-master

Before I set my first steps on Gilrain, I was deeply torn between the choice of creating a minstrel, hunter or lore-master. Lore-master being presented as an "advanced" class scared me a bit, but I decided to ignore it and go with it anyway. And that turned out to be a great decision! Mastering how to play a lore-master, and play a character in an MMO in general, took me years and I enjoyed every moment of it. I couldn't have done it alone: through the years the many people I've played with have (consciously or unconsciously) helped me discover what my class could do. It felt as a privilege helping other lore-masters once I became knowledgeable. The community of Gilrain was friendly and welcoming and I believe that has been a major force in my evolution into an avid MMO player.

From left to right: Bogosi, Jkraven, Ravanel, Oridoc, Bog-lurker

2) The Honourary Shirriffs

Initially I was playing all by myself. It all changed when I met minstrel Oridoc and his hunter friend Donkster in Evendim and got welcomed in their newly started kinship, Honourary Shirriffs. It was a typical small casual kinship, yet it changed my virtual world forever.

We had all sorts of silly rules, such as saluting each other and wearing a kinship shirriff outfit: green with the feathery hat, but as it didn't fit my female elf I always cheated and wore my favourite green dress with a flower circlet instead. In those days, most people would play a character of their own gender and there weren't that many female players playing MMOs, so as you can see on the picture it was just the guys and me. Later another girl joined (although that didn't change the screenshots, for she was playing a dwarf  dorf).

Eventually the kinship died out due to its small size and players leaving the game, but they've left a positive mark on me forever. /salute, Shirriffs!

3) The Mirkwood charge

The shore was full of people waiting for the signal to charge to the east. We are speaking of the western shore of the Anduin, the night before the Mirkwood expansion would be released. A player, I believe it was Mikeemoo, had come up with a plan and we had all heard from friends that something was going to happen tonight. Full of anticipation we waited...

That's Ravanel swimming in the middle... and is that Oridoc beside her?

...until the signal went off and there we went, all at once. "For Frodo!" Soon we were not one big cloud of people anymore because some people were experiencing significantly more lag than others. Instead we became little lights in the water. I of course embraced the lag because I wanted to keep my graphic settings high for good-looking pictures!

As we crossed the border with Mirkwood, the water suddenly turned grey. The lag was heavy as I approached the shore. The one-shotters that were supposed to keep us off the forbidden land couldn't keep up with the amount of people to one-shot and everyone was rubberbanding until the lights went out.

Yes, those were the days... there were enough of us to crash the server!

I will never forget the feeling of wonder when my character woke up the next morning at the eastern shores of the Anduin in Mirkwood, looking at Lothlórien from the other side of the river.

 Rune-keeper Ravalinde down in the middle - no idea who all the other people were

4) 21st Hall Goat walk

Then there were those other silly Gilrain moments. Sometimes they emerged out of nowhere. Here someone started a train of goats parading through the 21st Hall. People passing by jumped on their goats and /followed along. I think it went on for an hour or so.

Fighting a GM-controlled troll just west of the 21st Hall

5) Troll invasions

Very rarely, our small server got visited by game masters for special events. I missed out on a lot of these as I never followed the forum that closely, but I do remember the GM-controlled trolls that attacked Mirkwood and Moria, attracting players from all over the server to battle it. The lag was insane!

 From left to right: Ravanel, Lirian, Nenuil, Gilnargie

6) Music performance in the 21st Hall

Lord of the Rings Online has this unique system of players being able to play music in-game with multiple instruments together. Although Gilrain never developed a music culture with recurring bands as other servers have, every now and then a player band popped up somewhere in a major hub. Here I'm playing the flute with some friends from a befriended kinship in the 21st Hall. We had an actual rehearsal in the Exiles of Nargothrond kinship house beforehand to pick out instruments that sounded nice together and making up a set list.

 Nargai (with pitchfork) and Smartbean (with shield)

7) Crazy Ettenmoors nights

This nostalgic post was desperately missing a sepia picture, so here you go! I was a good girl that didn't usually stay up until the early hours (even while I was still in my teens), so the one Ettenmoors night that I did still stands out to me. As the hours crept by and less creeps were around it was time for some silly duels. A warg came by and sat peacefully next to us to observe.

Since there was no way of communicating to each other via chat, the proper etiquette between creeps and freeps (as both sides were called in popular in-game language) was to jump twice or more in front of a potential 1v1 candidate. If the other jumped back, the duel was accepted and had started.

Unlike in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I was never really good at PvP (or PMvP) in Lord of the Rings Online, but I did enjoy it every now and then and reached a reasonable rank. I fondly remember the large open world raids under the command of one of the many capable leaders the server counted. The nights spent with my friends from Dances With Wargs deserve a special mention. Their leader Mistaran was a natural talent who led brilliant field strategies while casually entertaining the raid on the go.

Ravanel (left) and Fingolwë (right)

8) Meeting Fingolwë

There is no space in this post to include all the wonderful friends that I've gotten to know during the eight years I've played this game, but I would be crazy not to mention that one player that came to mean so much to me, far beyond the world of gaming. When I first met Conrad's champion Fingolwë, I was super annoyed at him for role-playing a chimp* and making it a sport to break all my crowd-control. It was in Halls of Crafting and he was literally going out of his way to Shing-shing that one goblin that was dazed by Blinding Flash at the back of the room all the time. I remember begging my tanking friend not to bring that annoying chimp along when I was setting up a group for some more Moria instances the next day, but he insisted that he would only tank for us if his friend could come too!

I had no idea that that particular run was the start of many roleplay sessions that caused us to become good friends and, eventually, more. For the romantic readers there's a really cheesy in-character post about this "lotromance" written by Conrad.

Gathering at our newly acquired Gortheron trophy, oh those days... *pinks away tear*

9) Gortheron T2 Challenge mode

Then of course there are heroic stories to tell. One of my most-cherished achievements is that day we defeated Gortheron T2 Challenge mode. We were banging our heads against the walls for over a month on this last boss of the Ost Dunhoth raid. Conrad had an idea on how to beat it, but it was dismissed. This caused tension. After a few more frustrating weeks of trying a tactic that didn't work we decided to pack our bags and leave for Asylum, the kinship we are still playing with today. I was sad, because it was the first time I had to decide to leave a kinship and I had left good friends behind. But better days proved to be lying ahead as in Asylum new approaches were welcomed and put to the test. With the new strategy deployed we were soon making progress and managed to beat Gortheron challenge mode as the first of our server within a few weeks. Never before had a victory felt this good!

As we had too many lore-masters I had to take my captain, Ravenwyn, on the day of the kill - you can see her sitting at the front of the picture (above). In hindsight this was fortunate, because the one-time title (bestowed on the first group on the server to down it) fitted the captain class better. Ravenwyn still wears the "Challenger of Gortheron" title with pride.

From left to right: Ravenwyn, Oridoc, Wurin, Kahlsidra, Meljrian, Thaleth

10) Poison-wing T2 Challenge mode 6-man

I could bore you to death with many more heroic tales, but I'll stick to this last one: completing the Poison wing in Ost Dunhoth, a raid designed for 12 people, on-level with just six characters. Of course it was Conrad that had read somewhere on the forum that it could be done and understood the out-of-the-box strategy needed to pull it off.

Even the process of getting to the boss room with just six people was painstakingly hard. If you remember, there were all these trolls that hit like a truck. I had to go on my rune-keeper because that class had the highest healing output at the time, and I can't remember any occasion where I had to heal that much. It was very close, but we made it.

Then we were at the boss room, but the burglar that had promised to come didn't report in! There was some panic, as skilled burglars were hard to come by. Luckily we found a friend who had a burglar alt that was willing to help out at the last moment. For the strategy, the minstrel, captain (me) and two hunters each had their own platform that they couldn't leave. The guardian (Conrad) was tanking the boss, shield-walling the burglar behind the boss. I had the most boring job, spamming Words of Courage on Conrad most of the time, while occasionally swapping blade-brother for shield-brother on him for Strength of Will or dispatching of an add coming to my platform. The hunters had to deal insane numbers of DPS, killing the adds all by themselves before they could do any harm. Meanwhile the minstrel was kept on his toes by Conrad receiving occasional hits taking away 95% of his health (I'm not even exaggerating), while still keeping up all the group buffs.

We made the challenge 30 seconds before enrage, the fastest group world wide as far as we know. Not that that really mattered, we were all pumped for managing to do it!

Saying goodbye

It isn't possible to do all facets of Gilrain justice in just this post, but I hope you've enjoyed my personal selection. I want to thank every person that I've played with for making Gilrain the friendly and crazy place it is - yes, every single one of you! Some of you have long since left the game, some will chose a different path transferring to Evernight, others will hop along to Laurelin. Whatever it will be, the game will never be the same.

Are you also leaving your home server? I'd love to read your memories in a post (feel free to link it below) or as a comment.

Farewell, Gilrain!

* a popular in-game invective for the stereotype of the mindless champion, playing with complete disregard of everything but the enemy, typically running in in a red haze, mowing everything down with AoE - and quite often wiping the group in the process.


  1. As far as nostalgia posts go, I like this one. Being a former Middle-earthling, I can relate to at least some of these, though I never quite had the community relations or epic moments that you did. Thank you for sharing these, and may your time in Laurelin be fruitful! Perhaps we will see each other wandering around some hub or other one of these days.


    "A warg came by and sat peacefully next to us to observe."

    That one sentence radiated so much cute, I dissolved.

    1. I would love that! /Wave if you see lore-master Ravanel run by (or any character starting with "Rav-", really).

      One of the positive things about these merges is that there's the potential to meet up with acquaintances from other servers. How epic would it be to have a blogger meetup? (Then again, I guess that a lot of bloggers play on American servers.)

      And yes, that warg was damn cute.

  2. I never played LOTRO but this post still gave me the feels. Oh, the days when we were noobs, our MMOs were young and every day was magical...

  3. /holds up a lighter

    Catch you on the flip side.

  4. Good luck on Laurelin to you both, sweetie. Will miss seeing you around xxx

    1. There are many good things about the server changes, but losing you to the other server simply sucks.

      Aa' menealle nauva calen ar' malta / May your ways be green and golden.


  5. Ah, I haven't played LOTRO in years. I only really played casually, but it was always so much fun!

  6. Like Shintar, I never played LOTRO, but I have been a part of some really tight communities in other MMOs that I have the occasional bouts of Nostalgia with. Fun post! Memories made in an MMO community are often what makes it such an attractive form of gaming.

    1. I have great respect for you two, reading through that whole ordeal about a game you don't even play! I totally agree, though, the temporariness of MMOs make those moments extra valuable and memorable.

  7. Lovely post. I'll be joining you on Laurelin when it's Withywindle's turn to close (at least I think I will; this business with Ardbeg's name is giving me second thoughts). If you see a noble Elf Lord or Lady of Gondor falling of a bridge it will probably be me, so wave and say hi.

    1. Welcome to the blog and that sounds great! I personally didn't have any problems with names, but the tiresome discussions on world chat that first night was saddening. To be fair, some Gilrain people were trolling as well, loudly checking in with a ridiculous name and taunting people, so there were two sides of the coin.

  8. Wow, that brought back some memories! My LoTRO's updating now -- I haven't played in a while, but I saw the link to this post on Massively and was shocked -- Gilrain is/was my home server since Day One. Thanks for the memories Rava, and also the heads-up! :D

    1. Sorry to be the cause of your shock! I have also been playing on the server since day one and it saddens me. A positive side of this, though, is that a lot of players are blowing the dust off LotRO and are reinstalling it, like you. All of a sudden, I see kinnies login that haven't been on for years.

      I hope you'll find a new server you feel at home at. When it comes to European English-speaking servers, Evernight and Laurelin [RP] are your options. Good luck!

  9. That was a really nice post. Thanks, Rav. I felt some pretty strong nostalgia for my LotRO high points--level-cap 75 and U9--yesterday, and I read forums and such for hours about the current state of the game. I still feel it. Life is as good or better now for me, but I'd trade a board-game or college football night for some more hours of challenging raiding with my kin on Brandywine.

    1. Iaksones! It's good to see you're still around and well. I miss my days of raiding in LOTRO as well, but I guess all good things must come to pass. The fact that MMOs are temporary might be why we cherish those moments as we do in the first place. I'm still logging in every now and then - I'm doing "Moria nostalgia nights" with some friends (all on level 60 characters or lower) and my lore-master is level 100 and travels around in Gondor.

  10. Awww I loved this post. I myself am not a LotRO player but it's always amazing to hear the stories and memories made and forged with friends and SO's. Do you still play the MMO?

    1. I still hop into LOTRO every now and then, more to smell the roses than that I feel very committed to the game. These kind of memories are the ones that keep me coming back, that and the opportunity to enjoy the 3D environment of Middle-earth. They still do an amazing job of those landscapes.

      Thanks for dropping by!


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