Most of you already know that I play a game called “Lord of the Rings Online”. If you didn’t, you do now.
In this game, there are seasonal festivals that you can attend. Attending these festivals means that you can receive special festival items (clothing, new mounts, home decor, etc.) by completing festival-specific quests. It is also a time for more in-game parties than you can shake a stick at, which is always fun for socializing with in-game pals, and also for some serious people-watching.
During Halloweentime, the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth gather (mostly) in the Shire, at the Party Tree, for a sho-nuff throwdown called the Harvestmath Festival. Players of all races, classes, and levels are encouraged to come gather around the Party Tree and engage in festivities that include eating and drinking contests, playing tricks on each other, exploring a haunted house for treasure, and other Halloween-y funtimes.
In today’s blogpost, I will show you some screenshots I took this morning of some of the festivities, mostly focusing on “the Haunted Burrow”.
“The Haunted Burrow” is the cellar of Bilbo Baggins’s home in the Shire, a gigantic hole dug into the side of “the Hill” above Hobbiton. Bilbo has departed for god-knows-where for god-knows-how-long and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins has taken up ownership and management of his estate in his absence.
During the Harvest time of year, someone has decorated the ENORMOUS cellar of Mr. Baggins’s home as a haunted house. Lobelia is scared to go down there, but there are treasures down there and, if you are brave enough to find them, you may have them.
This is a photo taken just outside the front door of Bilbo’s home. Standing outside is Lobelia and some other asshole… probably discussing how they’re going to divide up Bilbo’s belongings, the scoundrels. You can go into Bilbo’s hobbit-hole here, but you can’t access the cellar from inside the house proper. At least I don’t think you can. Inside Bilbo’s house is not that interesting, once you get past the excitement of actually being inside Bilbo’s house. There may be a couple chests in here to find and open, but for the most part you just get a nickel-tour of the inside of Bilbo’s abode.
This shot is from outside Bilbo’s front door, looking down at the Party Tree and the general festival area. It’s not very crowded in this shot because I took this picture very early in the morning so I wouldn’t have random players walking around in my shots or trying to make idle conversation. In the distance, you may be able to make out the small village of Hobbiton at the bottom of the Hill.
I couldn’t resist a self-portrait here. I like to think my little hobbit is on vacation here… all by himself. He has asked a stranger, “Pardon me sir, but will you take my picture in front of Bilbo’s house?” He has on his Harvestmath outfit; the “Autumn Nights” tunic and cloak and Pumpkin Festival mask. No shoes, of course.
Here’s a closer view of my hobbit and his Halloween outfit, still in front of Bilbo’s house. I like that the pumpkin mask looks like it was made out of a real pumpkin (like, it’s a hollowed-out gourd instead of a cloth mask) and what looks to be corn stalks sticking out of it.
This is me standing outside the door to the cellar, which is where the Haunted Burrow is located. This door is immediately under the front door to Bilbo’s house, at the bottom of the hill. At this moment, he’s feeling his heart start to beat faster because no mere mortal can resist the evil of the thriller. From the back, you also get a good look at his cloak, which features thorns or dead branches or something else autumn-y.
This is the inside of the Haunted Burrow. It all looks sorta like this, more or less. The Burrow is set up like a maze, so it’s really easy to get lost if it’s your first time in. That painting of a warg on the wall has eyes that move around, Scooby-Doo style. During the festival you can win a painting exactly like it for your home (your in-game home, not your irl home). The vials and glowing bottles and stuff are used for a particular quest, so they are there for a reason.
Occasionally, while exploring the Haunted Burrow, you will encounter all types of tricks to slow you down or scare you. These ghosts will sometimes pop up out of nowhere and scare you so bad that you can’t move for a few seconds. They don’t do any physical damage, but the mental damage is currently unknown. -5 Sanity.
These ghosts hide in chests throughout the maze. You will think that you are about to discover a treasure, but right when you get real close, this ghost will jump out and make you jump so high that your knees hit your computer desk.
Inside the maze that is the Haunted Burrow, in the cellar of Bilbo Baggins’s home, there is a basement. The basement is the worst area of the Burrow because it is filled with this noxious smoke that can sometimes poison you into slowing down, and will definitely make you get lost more than once, since you can’t see where the blazes you are going. Round doorways. Ain’t that just like a hobbit?
Once you are done wasting time in the Haunted Burrow, you have probably worked up a mighty thirst! Now it is time for drinking games! There are numerous tables like this around the Shire, and in other festival areas in Middle-Earth, where you can engage in fun games like: “How Many Beers Can you Drink in 1 Minute?” or “Deliver this Beer to So-and-So” and “Drink Till You Pass Out and Wake Up in Moria Without Your Pants”. Fun times.
This is what the Party Tree looks like after a few swigs of Middle-Earth party liquors. This is actually after only one drink. Some drinks are stronger than others, so you do have to be careful. Plus, the effect is multiplied by how many drinks you take. There are several quests where you drink so much that there is no way you’re going to be able to see straight. Or really, at all. That’s when I usually take a coffee break and wait it out. Just like real life! +200 Charisma!