Dev Diary – Update 13 Quest Notes
Dev Diary – Update 13 Quest Notes
By Jeff ‘MadeOfLions’ Libby
It's been a long time coming, but here we are at the end of Volume III: Allies of the King, and in this edition of Quest Notes we'll take a look back at what it's taken to get here before looking forward to Book 14, 'The Waters of Isengard’ and beyond!
Volume III, ‘Allies of the King’ Statistics
I thought it would be fun to compile some statistics for the Volume, so take a look at this (exhaustively-researched) list of interesting tidbits! All statistics are prior to Book 14.
Number of Books: 13
Volume III, Book 1: Oath of the Rangers
Volume III, Book 2: Ride of the Grey Company
Volume III, Book 3: Echoes of the Dead
Volume III, Book 4: Rise of Isengard
Volume III, Book 5: The Prince of Rohan
Volume III, Book 6: Mists of Anduin
Volume III, Book 7: A Fellowship Endangered
Volume III, Book 8: Into the Riddermark
Volume III, Book 9: The Third Marshal
Volume III, Book 10: Snows of Wildermore
Volume III, Book 11: The Golden Hall
Volume III, Book 12: War in the Westemnet
Volume III, Book 13: The Battle of the Hornburg
Number of Chapters: 160
Number of Instances: 45
I didn’t include Interludes in the count for Chapters or Instances, as they’re technically separate, but there are nine Interludes thus far.
Number of Words: 191,210
Interestingly, Book 3 and Book 8 both have the same word-count of 8,747. Just a funny coincidence.
Regions visited: 15 unique regions, with repeat visits to Trollshaws, Lothlorien, Great River, and East Rohan.
Span of Levels: 65-95
Thirty levels is quite a span, second only to the fifty levels of Volume I: Shadows of Angmar.
Time Spent in the Real World: Forty-four months; March 2010 – November 2013
Time Spent in Middle-earth: Eighteen days; February 17, 3019 – March 4, 3019
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the events of Volume III begin, but I’ve selected the arrival at Lorien of Gandalf on February 17th as a pretty good candidate. Galadriel has definitely sent word to Elrond in Book 1 prior to the Fellowship’s arrival in Rohan, but most likely after they have left her land on the 16th.
Number of times a Ranger needs your help: 39 times.
Does this number seem low to you? Just kidding. Poor Rangers!
Number of times someone mentions Wadu: 47 times.
Wadu is only onstage for a handful of chapters during Book 2, but his legacy is felt pretty strongly during the entire Volume.
Number of times Horn is troubled about something: 21 times.
He’s a thoughtful fellow, Horn, and prone to worrying. Given the dangerous world in which he lives and his dual tendencies to speak his mind and follow his heart wherever it leads, such worries might be justified. But it’s still an amusing statistic.
Number of times a character's name is an anagram of Gortheron: 1
Number of times that mattered: 0
This one is a good example of how stories can change and evolve during development. While we were designing Enedwaith and the In Their Absence instance cluster, the original plan had been for Gortheron to serve as the ‘ultimate villain’ for each major piece of content in the area. Until quite late in development, the character of Ergothorn was to be an alias for Gortheron, who was communicating with the Grey Company in order to lead them into a trap. Eventually we decided it was just too “cute” a story thread: why would Gortheron use an alias that contained all the letters of his real name? He’s not Tom Riddle, after all. We removed that whole thread, but we didn’t have time to get a new name approved. Ergothorn remained, but he became a real person, a Soldier of Minas Ithil, soon to run afoul of another character with name troubles: Avair/Gun Ain.
Volume III, Book 14, ‘The Waters of Isengard’
There’s one more Epic Book before we wrap up the story of Volume III, and it involves a return to the Ring of Isengard, though it may look rather different than it did when you visited last! That’s right: while you were defending the fortress of the Hornburg at Helm’s Deep, the plans of Saruman took a surprising turn. Epic Book 14 will cover this turn of events, and you can expect Isengard to be greatly changed.
This does not mean that the original version of Isengard will become inaccessible. Rather than make use of phasing to deliver this world-change experience, the plan all along has been to build several versions of the Ring of Isengard, bringing the total up to three:
Version 1) This is the “pristine” version of Isengard, experienced as part of a flashback during Book 4. This one is green and lovely.
Version 2) This is the version of Isengard contiguous to Dunland, full of Saruman’s war machines and his army, reached by heading north from Grimbold’s camp.
Version 3) This is the version of Isengard contiguous to West Rohan. Saruman’s army is gone, and the Battle of the Hornburg has already happened.
To travel between the two “present day” versions of Isengard, you can use waypoints near the Fords of Isen:
- On the West Rohan side of the Fords, approach the south-ward road near the remains of Grimbold's Camp
- On the Dunland side, approach the gate at the fords.
There are no quest requirements on these waypoints, and if a roving chicken happens to get this far, she should be able to cross into Rohan. Without a mount, that chicken probably won’t get very far…
… hey, I just had an idea!
Nah, that would never work. Or would it?
No, it wouldn’t.
What Lies Ahead for Volume IV?
It’s a little early to talk in much detail about our plans for Volume IV, but I recently wrote a mission statement for the Volume as a whole: a plan to guide the ways in which it will stand apart from ‘Allies of the King’ and feel like a brand new story. I won’t include it here in its entirety, but I will highlight some of its most important points:
- No lunch deliveries – By this point in your development, your character is a hero, and most of the people you encounter will know it. I think there were good reasons to begin ‘Mines of Moria’ with the possibly-infamous ‘lunch deliveries’ to the dwarves of the Iron Garrison, but Volume IV is a different creature and those reasons don’t apply. Heroes only!
- Fewer phasing companions – One of the goals of ‘Allies of the King’ was to give the player a fellowship of NPC companions who would travel from town to town, exploring their relationships and providing a familiar group of characters to interact with at each new region: first the Grey Company, and then later Horn, Nona, Corudan, and Gléowine. I liked the idea of creating a new fellowship for this stretch of the story, but like the capital-letter Fellowship, each individual member now has their own path to walk. In Volume IV, the story will have a new direction and structure.
- A sense of adventure – I want this Volume to return to that feeling from the early days of exploring an unfamiliar territory and experiencing unexpected adventure, with iconic threats and dangers lurking around every corner. The Epic Story will remain soloable, but I hope to add optional challenges and secrets for those who are willing to tackle them.
A Few Teases
Lots of interesting things to look at in Book 14! Let’s check out pictures of a few, without explanation or context!