This is an April Fools joke!
Since I started writing for CSTM, I’ve gotten literally hundreds of emails asking me various things, some about LOTRO and some about life in general.1 Today, I’m going to start a new feature, called “A Q&A With Vraeden”. If you have a question for me, about MMOs, Lord of the Rings Online, or any other subject you wish to raise, please drop me a line. As always, these are actual emails from fake people.
How did you get started writing for CSTM?
-Joel K., St. Louis, MO
Last June, I submitted a story called “The Long Road Home” for the Lost Texts fan fiction section of CSTM. A little while after that, I heard on the podcast a question from a listener about tips for a new healer. I sent an email to Goldenstar and Merric telling them about a post I had written for my kinship’s forums and asked if they’d reprint it at CSTM.2 To my surprise, they offered to let me become a contributor and I’ve been writing for CSTM ever since. I think GS and Merric only keep me around because they haven’t figured out how to revoke my login. (Editor’s note: We actually do know how to revoke his login, but we keep Vraeden around because his mother is paying us. Don’t tell him, though. Shhhhh!)
I’m a new player and I was wondering what the best class would be to start off with. I don’t have much experience with MMOs.
-Kelli J., Follansbee, WV
The last thing I should be doing is giving advice on what classes people should play. LOTRO is a game, and you should find a class which you find fun. Do you like healing? Do you like beating the snot out of people? Do you prefer melee classes or ranged classes? “Magic” classes or stealth?
To me, the beauty of LOTRO is that there’s a little bit of something for everyone. It may take some trial and error, but I’m sure you’ll find a class you settle on as your “main”.
If you are new to MMOs, I suggest that you start with a class that’s low on the “class difficulty” scale, such as a champion or guardian. I’d avoid the warden as your first character. However, that’s not to say that you won’t find the warden to be a great class to play. It’s just that all of the gambits make my brain hurt.
Should I take one character at a time straight to the level cap, or should I go through each zone and level all of my toons at the same time?
-Callanon S., Vilya
That’s a tough call and will be determined by your own personal play style. Even though I have a bunch of alts I play regularly, I tend to run them up to the level cap one at a time. You just have to decide how you want to handle that.
I just got back from Vegas, where I hooked up with a hot girl at the Venetian. This never happens to me! My problem is that now it burns when I pee. What should I do?
-Erick M., White River Junction, VT
Check your wallet and make sure that you have all of your cash and credit cards. Then go to a doctor. I am not a medical professional, but I suspect that you’re going to get to take some penicillin for a couple of weeks.
I’m wantin’ to present me gal to me family, but they’re nae gonna take it well. She’s a pretty elf lass n’ me father thinks they’re all snooty tree-singin’ hippies. Me Dad’s sayin’ I should find me a good dwarven gal with a strong back, a full beard, n’ wide, child-bearin’ hips. I can nae keep me love for me elf a secret much longer!
-Thâug G., Belegost
Let me start by saying this: Love is never wrong. Love knows not boundaries nor limits nor species.
Having said that, a dwarf-elf relationship comes with its own set of challenges. First of all, your beloved is going to outlive you. You’re mortal; she is going to the undying lands. Second, the only documented inter-species breeding I know of is elf-human, so if you want kids, that’s probably not in the cards. Finally, both of your families will probably look at you sideways for the rest of your days.
If you’re both okay with that, I say you should carpe the diem, swap vows in Khuzdul and Sindarin, and hope she doesn’t hide the credit card bills on the top shelf.
What do you think of this year’s American Idol class? I like a few of them, but some are just pitchy as hell and I wonder how they got through to the voting rounds. I could have done a better job than this years’ judges.
-Paula A., Orange County, CA
I haven’t thought very much of the show for several years. It seems like they’ve been phoning it in for a while and I’m about to break up with Idol. The Voice is a much better platform; it’s actually about singing and isn’t just a popularity contest to see who is liked by the most 12 year old girls with unlimited text messaging plans.
Just as an aside, there is no such thing as “pitchy”. Intonation that is out of tune can be sharp or flat. The only people who use the word “pitchy” are either too damn lazy to actually use a proper musical term or they’re high.
I’m having a bad day. What makes you laugh?
-Amelia P., Leadworth, England
- Home video of people falling down or taking shots to the crotch
- Watching someone pick their nose when they’re driving
- Airline flight schedules
Why do you hate hunters?
-Angry as Hell with a Bow, Silverlode
I don’t hate hunters. No one at CSTM hates hunters (except maybe Merric).3 Some of my best friends are hunters. In fact, the first toon I rolled for LOTRO was a hunter.
When I was teaching high school, a student said to me one day, “I’ll bet you hate all of my stupid questions.”
In a similar vein, there are no bad hunters. Only bad people who play hunters.
If hunters could do simple things like stay on target (this is what Skill Target Forwarding is for) and not consciously try to steal aggro from the tank, then raid leaders wouldn’t be kicking hunters out of groups all the time. (For the record, Merric doesn’t hate hunters, but there are a couple who should hope that they never meet up with him in a dark alley. –Editor)
Have you ever considered attending a Pentecostal, snake-handling church?
-Evangelical in El Paso
I need a new computer, what should I get?
-Rick B., Tupelo, MS
What is your budget? What else are you going to do on this computer besides play LOTRO?
You should buy the best computer you can afford, but don’t overspend. Set your price first, and then work backwards from there and purchase whatever will give you the most bang for your buck.
My boyfriend’s parents are coming over for dinner and I don’t know what to make. What will impress them?
-Mary Beth T., Surfside, SC
I’d go with something simple, yet tasty. I see that you’re from the south, which makes things easy. I grew up in southern Lothlórien (where we eat grits and say “Mae govannen, ya’ll!”), and although I’m not much of a cook myself, I can tell you that southern cuisine revolves around three basic things: cheese, bacon and deep frying.
So much so, in fact, that I challenge you to name one thing that cannot be made better by adding some combination of those three things. For instance, a steak is nice, but it’s not as nice as a bacon-wrapped filet. Ice cream? Deep-fried ice cream. Bread? Get two slices, throw some cheese between them and drop your sandwich on a skillet until it’s golden brown. Cereal? That should be part of a balanced breakfast which always includes bacon.
That leads me to the perfect food: bacon-cheese fries. That should score you lots of points with them unless they’re lactose-intolerant, Jain, Jewish or Muslim. If that’s the case, you’re screwed.
Why do Canadians generally seem to be happier and more cheerful than Americans?
-Chad H., Lake George, NY
It’s because they’re not uptight about sex and they all have free health care. Plus, their heathen money makes them smile; seriously, say “loonie” and “toonie” about ten times each and I guarantee that it will brighten your day.
What would you recommend if I wanted to prepare for the zombiepocalypse?
-Kellen R., Cairo (pronounced KAY-row), GA
You ask a complex question, which will require a complex answer. This is going to boil down to the nature of the zombies.
If the zombies are the result of a virus or infection (ie-as in Resident Evil or Zombieland, and including the Romero-style zombies which are re-animated corpses that are the result of a biological agent or pathogen), then you will want to have a stockade that is easy to defend but can also be self-sufficient so you can grow your own food and has a source of fresh water. Make sure your stockade is equipped with a solar power collection system because even generators needs gas, and that will eventually run out after the zombies appear. You might also think about getting a plug-in electric vehicle that you could run off the photovoltaic cells on your roof.
You’ll want to have a variety of firearms, but I suggest at a minimum that you have a shotgun, large caliber automatic weapon and a heavy pistol. As zombies feel no pain, you want to focus on stopping power and the ability to immobilise the target and render the zombie unable to ambulate. The .45 ACP or .30-06 would be my ideal cartridges of choice.
You probably also want to have a machete, aluminum6 baseball bat and maybe a chainsaw within easy reach at all times, too. I recommend that you also keep a hold-out weapon on your person at all times and be sure to save one round for yourself in case the zombies corner you in a position where you cannot escape. Better to die than become one of them.
If the zombies are actual undead and are rising from the grave, then you’ve got a couple of choices: 1) get right with God/Allah/Yahweh/Yondalla/Shiva/The Phoenix Force/Hades/Osiris/Rao/Cthulu and hope they punch your ticket without turning you into a zombie, or 2) side with the Gods of Light, stock up on holy water and start kicking some zombie butt.
My favourite team got assassinated by a squad who shouldn’t have even made the NCAA tournament, and we got bounced in the first round. How can we control our destiny better next year?
-Mike K., Durham, NC
If you could control it, they wouldn’t call it “destiny”.
To answer the spirit of your question: develop your low post game and don’t become dependent on the 3-point shot.
Some kinmates and I can’t get past the Twins in BG. Do you have any advice?
-Maureen G., Jacksonville, FL
There are lots of helpful guides out on the interweb which will walk you through the fight.
For me, the mechanics of a boss fight (even the more choreographed ones) are less important than your mentality going in. When I start a raid, I recall the wisdom of the ancients and those who have gone before and ask myself, “W.W.J.B.D?”
The answer that provides the most resolve and encouragement goes something like this:
Just remember what ol’ Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol’ storm right square in the eye and he says, “Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.”
And when I’m in a group and we’re getting our rear ends handed to us on a stainless steel platter along with a double-helping of poop-on-a-stick; if I know the repair bill is going to be steep; if the guardian is about to throw in the towel because the hunters are driving him/her nuts; I meditate on the words of that very same Prophet:
When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: “Have ya paid your dues, Jack? Yes, sir, the check is in the mail.”
Success in LOTRO is part skill, part gear, part planning and 100% sheer willpower.
Good day! Have you ever had occasion to visit Lord Hereford’s Knob in the south-east of Wales?
-Glyn D., Montgomeryshire, Wales
I can safely say that I have never had occasion to go near Lord Hereford’s Knob, although I believe Lady Hereford was quoted in the Guardian as saying it was quite lovely.
A follow-up question, if I may: Were you to visit Lord Hereford’s Knob, you would find that my constituents there are talking about an inflammatory incident which occurred last week in Dol Guldur. Apparently, one of our local adventurers, a hunter of no small repute, was in a fellowship along with yourself and several of our esteemed and gallant comrades. After the first boss in Sammath Gûl, our hunter was dropped from the fellowship, with neither apology nor explanation. Would you care to elaborate on the circumstances of this outrageous event?
-Glyn D., Montgomeryshire, Wales
I refer the Right Honourable Gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago.
Why can’t our government balance the federal budget?
-Jimmy O., South Willard, UT
For an elected official, there is nothing easier than cutting taxes and raising entitlements. This is how they get re-elected. Politicians from both parties have been doing this for years. Unfortunately, the side effect is that paying off all the debt that is acquired is pushed off on to the next election cycle and the next election cycle and so on. In effect, our parents’ generation pawned their debt off on to us and we are going to saddle our children with even more.
Fortunately, when the Grand Galactic Invasion Timetable established by His Royal Eminence High Lord Zorkhan the Great dictates, I will decloak my network of orbital battlestations and unleash an army of clones on your world. A brief resistance will ensue, but eventually, you and the inhabitants of your planet will submit to my firm, but benevolent, rule. In addition to balancing the budget, I will lead the inhabitants of Terra into a golden age in which we will cure cancer, replace the BCS with a proper playoff system, restore the original theatrical release of Star War Original Trilogy and prepare this quadrant of the galaxy to repel the combined forces of the Mechanoids and the Invid.
Someone told me that the next LOTRO store free code would be for pie. Do you know if this is true? If so, do you know what the code is?
-Kathy S., Karunda, Queensland
There is no pie. There is only Zuul.
What do the Jets need to do to put the brakes on Tebowmania?
-Mark “Dirty” S., New York, NY
People who don’t like Tebow make baby Jesus cry.
I think I’m being stalked by a crazy dwarf. He follows me around all the time like a lost puppy. He’s a very sweet fellow, but I’m an elf and beards aren’t my thing. I just don’t see things working out between the two of us. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but our fellowship is starting to get awkward.
Um . . . I’d get on the next boat to Valinor if I were you. Like, today.
Got a question for Vraeden?
Send me a Vrae-mail at any time, on the topic of your choice and I’ll answer it to the best of my ability. If I can’t come up with a suitable answer, I’ll just make something up.
- Actually, that’s not true, but in my world, it is. I think I’ve received one email through my CSTM email that wasn’t from Merric or Goldenstar telling me to stop making jokes about one-legged Bolivian midgets, and that was from my mother who just wanted to make me feel special. ↩
- This became my Guide to Lousy Healing. ↩
- I hear Andang loves hunters, but I think it’s more in the “with a white wine sauce over linguine with a side of stuffed hobbit fritters” way than the “I’d like to be a hunter’s friend” way. ↩
- Not her real name. ↩
- That’s not entirely true. There is exactly ONE stupid question. I will give the first person to identify the one stupid question in the comments below an unspecified prize of indeterminate value at a later date. ↩
- That’s ah-LOO-min-um, not al-you-MIN-ee-um, just like it’s pronounced lev-ee-OH-sah, not lev-ee-oh-SAAAAAAHHHHHHH. ↩