The Great River, the region south of Lothlórien, was indeed more interesting to look at than Dunland.
I reached level 74½ here, never wishing to return to Dunland again. It was more of the Lothlórien look in the north, big human towns among tall hills, a camp next to two enormous human statues, one tall castle, an atmospheric marshland in the south, and The Brown Lands to the south.
Mobs in north were bears, badgers/wolverines and bucks/does, centrally it was hounds, goats and spiders, and in the marshlands there were lots of big turtles, avancs and grodbogs.
And orcs were almost everywhere to be found.
The northern part had a few interesting quests where I had to hide and whistle to scare a poacher into giving up his camp. The area also had a camp with the human Wynmar, who fell in love with the feisty elf Noriel. He was completely smitten by her. It didn’t end well.
I later returned to the north again where I found an enormous eagle worried about its missing mate. After a few quests I found its mate hanging in a spider web inside a spider cave. One fight with a big spider boss and the mate was free. Seeing those two big ass eagles side by side was a sight to behold.
The main human city of Stangard had quite a few quests centered around the tension between one commander Stanric reluctantly abiding Théoden King’s evil envoy, Sithric. The use of food and resources were tight and I had to patch it up by gathering more outside. Eventually Stanric decided he refused to cooperate with Sithric, but was then murdered while I was away.
And that’s about as far as I got with that quest line.
The quest developers had this cute idea that I had to sneak into Sithric’s house to find evidence, but I was not to be discovered by a patrolling guard. Unfortunately it was quite easy getting spotted by him, and to make matters worse, my quest was downright cancelled and I had to go back and get it from the quest giver again to give it another shot. Really bad design.
But all right, I thought – lets do this right then. I turned on my racial sneak ability and carefully tried to keep my distance from the guard. Sadly the game completely ignored my sneak ability and immediately threw the fail condition in my face as I got anywhere remotely close.
Fine. If that’s how you want it. Buh bye, quest line – and level 75 before Rohan. Never mind. I’ll live.
I wasn’t really that fond of the settlement anyway. That meandering road up and behind a hill, and most of the special vendors were placed inside small but annoyingly instanced houses.
Instead, I ventured south – past city ruins swarming with ghosts, and into marshlands. Reeds and branches were everywhere making it difficult to see, but it also made the place quite atmospheric. I found a small camp that didn’t require a connection quest and got into killing turtles, avancs and grodbogs.
And man, those grodbogs.
I hated fighting those annoying slugs. They looked like small pushovers but were anything but. They could throw stuff at me with the speed of a machine gun, they frequently pushed me backwards interrupting my channeling spell, and at one point I was even intensively gang-banged by half a dozen and I was actually starting to worry about dying. They were probably the worst mob in the entire region.
It’s funny how tiny animals often get disproportionate powers in MMORPG. Remember those ravens in the Thundering Steppes in EverQuest II? I was always impressed how such a light animal could literally kick me on my ass in that game. It’s like those small and abnormally angry carpet urinating dogs.
The Brown Lands in the far east were uninspiring brown hills, but it also had great visibility – a nice contrast to the marshlands I had just left behind. Mobs here were cats, humans and big trolls.
Technically, you could argue that the trolls were worse enemies than the grodbogs, but even though they were indeed signature mobs and sometimes smacked me backwards too, I didn’t mind it as much here.
They were big. They were strong. I expected those trolls to be able to do such things.
In this area I also found an ent with quests about killing trolls in a cave. Here I found a trashed second age weapon that I had to bring to Elrond in Rivendell. Unfortunately the weapon was FUBAR, but at least I got a tier 7 relic out of deconstructing it. Too bad I couldn’t get a nifty weapon upgrade there.