|Book 10: The City of the Kings, the second major update to The Lord of the Rings™: Shadows of Angmar™, features a massive overhaul to the Ettenmoors keep system. The update boasts over forty new quests, all with major impact on the forces defending or assailing the different keeps available.
When planning for Book 10, we took a look at the feedback we’ve received from the community since launch and compared this with our data. Through this process we discovered that some pretty aggressive changes were needed to make monster play an even more compelling system. I’ll explain the different and new dynamics introduced to the area, along with several other enhancements.
Login and Logout
Monster players can now log directly into their monster player character from the character selection screen! Upon reaching level 10, the "Monster Play" button will become active and players can click it to enter monster play. Logging out of monster play in the Ettenmoors will leave the monster player at that location; no longer will monster characters return to Gramsfoot after logging out.
Quests to call support into Tol Ascarnen, Lugazag, and the Grimwood Lumber Camp have had the number of objects needed to enlist the aid of the assailants reduced to 25% of their previous numbers. In addition, new quests have been added to provide more opportunity for smaller groups of monster players and player characters to assail these locations.
Monster Tribes are the analog for player kinships. You can forge tribes to stalk the Ettenmoors and gain the rudimentary benefits available to player kinships, including tribal chat and the ability to have up to one thousand members in your tribe. Just like a player-created kinship, monster tribes require a charter (available for purchase in Gramsfoot) and must have a minimum of six members to maintain the tribe. They are completely independent of your player’s kinship, and you can belong to only one tribe at a time.
In an effort to assist monsters in their prowling of the Ettenmoors, we’ve updated the functionality of the maps given out as rewards for completing quests for the different take and hold locations. Crude maps still have a thirty-minute inclusive cool down timer and direct monster players to the same location that they always have. Poor maps have a ten-minute cool down timer (shared with any other poor maps you’re carrying) and drop you at new locations near the different take and hold locations. Good maps have five-minute independent cool down timers and deliver you to a third location near the different take and hold locations.
All consumable items used by monster players have had their costs reduced by 50%, and food has been reduced even further. This addresses the problem of needing to cannibalize the different resources used to acquire destiny points to purchase these items, and will help bring these items into more mainstream use. In addition to the reduction in cost, the stack size for these items has been increased to allow monster players to carry more items in less space.
Items used to remove mesmerize, stun, and root effects applied to monster players have had their cooldown timers reduced to one minute. Further, the morale cost for using these items has been reduced by 25%.
Regeneration and Stats
In an effort to bring monster players closer to their player counterparts, we have increased base health, power and damage for all monster players by 5%. In addition, the out-of-combat regeneration rates of all monster players have been increased, and the bonuses of many passive skill ranks have had their bonuses adjusted upward slightly.
The first set of changes to corruptions is introduced in this update to address some of the community’s concerns that have been brought to our attention. Corruptions no longer carry multiple detriments in addition to their enhancement, and the bonuses for some have been increased. Detrimental effects have been reduced, and you can compensate for negative effects by slotting overlapping corruptions.
The corruption Stealth Detection now reduces the stealth ability of the monster player utilizing it, but increases their stealth detection, instead of reducing their movement as it did previously.
In an effort to make the Orc Reaver more of the offensive juggernaut he’s meant to be, we reduced the cool down on his skills Devastating Strike and Disarm to 60 seconds, from 90 and 120 seconds respectively.
We corrected a modifier to the Blackarrow’s Deadly Aim trait to yield the correct ranged critical chance.
We lowered the cooldown timer of Throat Rip to 60 seconds and fixed a bug with the skill trait, reducing the cooldown timer of Sprint from 7 minutes to 5 minutes.
Because of the lack of a true healer and the dual role of the Uruk Warleader, we made some significant changes to the class in the Book 10 update to increase its primary role as healer in the Ettenmoors. Baseline healing for the Warleader was increased by 25%, and the trait Harsh Language now further increases the magnitude of Warleader healing by another 25%. The resurrection trait On Your Feet now revives targets with higher health and power, and the enhancing trait that accompanies it further increases the power and health that revived targets gain upon successfully returning to battle. Finally, we increased the in-combat power regeneration of the Warleader’s Empowering trait.
Player Character Changes
There are far fewer player character changes made to the battle for the Ettenmoors, but we have begun to address some of the major feedback received from the community. Glân Vraig now boasts three different types of chests. The baseline chest, now called the Chest of the Second Marshal, contains the same loot previously offered in the Ettenmoors. The second tier of chest, Chest of the First Marshal, now contains a slight chance to drop epic pieces of loot for players. The third tier chest, Chest of Glân Vraig, now has an increased chance of dropping one or more epic pieces of loot. In addition, new items have been made available from the vendors at Glân Vraig.
The City of the Kings will also see several changes and improvements to the gameplay available in the Ettenmoors; as the area evolves, we intend to continue adding unique and interesting gameplay elements to the zone.
While not the most important of the new additions to the Ettenmoors, one feature is certain to appeal to monster players: new locations, called hot points. Each take and hold location in the Ettenmoors now has a number of points of interest surrounding the main location. Each of these locations enhances the ability of the monster players to assail it individually, and should monster players control all of the related hot points, they are afforded an even better chance. Of course, controlling these locations will take some effort — and holding them will take even more.
Hot points require monster players to control the location for thirty seconds, after which time a small defense force is called to the location and regular players can then attempt to wrest the location from monster player control.
Keeps changing hands from one side of the battle to the other will now face dire straits until reinforcements can be called to the field. For the outlying areas of Lugazag, Tirith Rhaw, the Isendeep Mine and the Grimwood Lumber Camp, word must be returned to Gramsfoot or Glân Vraig in order for the leaders of the forces to acknowledge the need for assistance. Once this is achieved, the outlying defenders will return to the location and take up their posts once again.
Until that time, only the forces immediately necessary for the defense of the Tyrant or Captain-General and all quest bestowers for the location will appear at the hold location. For Tirith Rhaw and Lugazag this means that the top floor and guards at the entrance will arrive immediately after the locations are recovered. For the Isendeep Mine and Grimwood Lumber camp, only the area immediately surrounding the leaders – inside the barricade for the Grimwood and in the final alcove of the cavern for the Isendeep – will appear for the defense.
Monsters and players controlling Tol Ascarnen, Lugazag or Tirith Rhaw can now complete quests to build and fuel cauldrons of boiling oil on the parapets overlooking the main entrance to the towers or keep. Controlling one of these cauldrons will provide a major benefit to the defending side and will last until the keep falls to the control of the attackers. Once a location falls, the cauldron must be built anew. Cauldrons will spill their fiery death once every thirty seconds and the fires will burn at the entrance for nearly as long.
Like the addition of boiling oil, murder holes are another new addition that can be added to Tol Ascarnen. As with boiling oil, a series of quests must be completed to access the murder holes. Once they are unlocked they’ll stay at the first tunnel until the keep is taken by an opposing force. Every five seconds, murder holes will fire upon enemies attempting to take Tol Ascarnen; they are a powerful defensive boon to whomever controls the keep.
Players and monster can also acquire a horn within the bounds of Tol Ascarnen. To obtain the Horn of Tol Ascarnen, players or monster players must complete a third set of quests at the location. Completion provides a horn manned by a single defender. This defender will blow the horn in response to seeing attackers within the bounds of the keep, initiating a powerful patrol, which sweeps through the keep in an effort to drive out attackers.
The outlying camps to the west and south of Tol Ascarnen also get a small boon in the form of new support units and quests available to assist in retaking the keep. Monster players can gain the support of a small force that will attack alongside their number in an attempt to retake the keep; player characters can enlist the aid of a First Marshal to assault the keep.
Players and monster players can add reinforcements to the mines by escorting their respective miners into the mines. To alleviate the issues concerning quest target miners not being present within the mines, two small camps of miners – one goblin and one dwarf – have been added to the eastern and western edges of the mine.
Lastly, the forces of good and evil alike can turn the powerful drakes patrolling the mine into a force to assail their enemy. By completing quests, players or monster players can draw the drakes in the mine into direct conflict with the opposition’s leaders.
Grimwood Lumber Camp
Players and monster players alike can now increase the number of defenders in the area of the Grimwood Lumber Camp by escorting spiders or Little Folk to it. These new additions will go about their business collecting wood from the nearby trees, and will assist the defenders against an enemy attack when called upon.
Finally, other enemies in the immediate area of the Lumber Camp can be called to battle the current controllers by completing a small set of quests. These assistants will aid those that call them to the fight, but could as easily turn against them.
Troll vs. Ranger!
Now, the bit for which you’ve all been patiently reading: Trolls and Rangers! Along with all of the above-mentioned changes, we’re also adding the ability for monster players and player characters to call powerful allies to the field of conflict.
Taking on the control of a Troll or Ranger requires that a player expend a number of destiny points and leave their character or monster character behind. While in the guise of a Troll or Ranger, players will become potent adversaries on the battlefield, with skills far exceeding those of their normal counterparts. Players can only undertake these quests once every few days but their benefits are without question in regards to the battle. Each session lasts for an hour. There are several deeds that players can complete to recover and perhaps even regain the destiny points expended in accepting the role of Troll or Ranger.
To ensure that this mechanism remains fair and equal, the greatest beneficiary from the Troll and Ranger characters will be the side which is currently losing. Each side can have a maximum of seven and a minimum of two elite troops at any one time.
For the Creeps!
After all that information, I’m certain that you’re just begging for more, right? Okay then! This is the roadmap to the future; certainly not the distant future, but the nearer future, extending to our next major updates and touching on some of the possibilities available thereafter. Bear in mind that some of these are subject to change as time and resources allow, but these are some changes we are hoping to implement.
We are planning on adding another tier of corruptions for monster players. These corruptions will further enable players to mitigate damage, increase resistances and add new levels of enhancement to their monster characters.
We’re also planning on creating a larger array of consumables, some with less severe restrictions and detriments to use. These consumables will cover the full array of morale enhancement, power enhancement, and removal/immunities.
Monster player legendary traits! Cheer! Shout for joy! The mechanism is still under development, but we’re planning on adding monster player legendary traits. We’re also considering expanding the number of racial traits available to monster players. More details on when these will be added as we get closer to releasing them.
And some for the Freeps!
More rewards are inbound for players! These rewards will include new set items (for weapons and jewellery), new consumables, new craft rewards, alternative methods to obtain raid armor, and much more.
Update #3 – The Meaning of Keeps
One of the questions we’ve been seeing more often is: What purpose is there to holding the keeps?
Players and monsters will compete for this location, within which they can find materials that will allow them to obtain the new rewards. Our hope is to make this the first of several improvements available as incentives for controlling the different areas of the Ettenmoors.
In our third major update, we hope to answer that question by creating an area of the world that is only accessible to players who control the majority of keeps. New trophies will drop inside of this area, enabling players and monster players to purchase new items and corruptions.
But Wait, There’s More…
It’s a little soon to go into true particulars, but we’re already thinking ahead, and the front-runner is the addition of at least one new monster play class: the Orc Shaman. The Shaman is slated to fill the role of primary healer for the monster players, providing an analog to the player Minstrel.
We hope you like the new changes in monster play, and we’ll continue to improve it over the next few updates. Good luck out there and remember that Sauron is watching.