Updated Mon, Nov 08, 2010 by gunky
Much to my dismay, I learned that the Tarnished Whistle, which has a 24-hour duration, continues to count down while the player is logged off. This is not the case with the Writ of Special Passage - a player can log out for days at a stretch and still have all the time left on his counter that he had when he was last online. Slitha's Tarnished Whistle only had a few hours left on it, so I determined to make good use of it while I could.
Virtue slots for sale at the store. If virtue is cheap, is it really virtuous?
Upon reaching level 11, a third Virtue slot becomes available. But it costs points to unlock and use it. The cost is not large, but it will be rare for most new free players to have 95 points by level 11, or to have a wide selection of virtues from which to choose. This is something that can wait until much later in the game, when the player has accumulated enough points to burn on less-important items than content packs.
Slitha's Tarnished Whistle expired while she was riding around the Shire. While she was no longer able to summon a pony, she was not immediately dismounted when the timer counted down, and was able to stay on horseback more or less indefinitely, barring any unforseen incidents. As soon as the whistle vanished from her inventory, she got a letter from Hengstacer Farm in Bree-land encouraging her to visit. So she visited. And accidentally got dismounted by an unanticipated deep, watery dip in the road just south of Budgeford. If I had seen that coming (and I really should have), I could have ridden all the way to the farm and back... but it was not meant to be. Sadface.
Basic riding and a mount can take time to earn. Especially when you hit lag spikes during awesome poses like this one.
The quest at Hengstacer Farms tells you straight-up that free accounts must purchase the riding skill, and only subscribers can learn the skill at level 20 without spending points. Luckily, this is a very affordable skill - 48 points with the current limited-time discout - so Slitha killed a few wolves and slugs and bought it. Now she is saving up for a horse, which costs 500 silver rather than points. Interestingly, only the standard mounts are available for free players - the cheap, slow Bree pony, which is now almost entirely trivial except for its lower cost, is only available to subscribers.
New players will face some stiff competition for low-level deeds, and for quests that require the player to kill mobs with associated deeds. The Wolf-Den north of Waymeet, for example, is prime wolf territory for deeding, and undertaking Dora Brownlock's quests there will require extra time to compensate for the sheer number of people camping the area (and others like it) for the deed. It may be possible to group up with the deeders just long enough to complete the quests, but don't count on player charity. There is a fine line between deeding and griefing, and some players do not recognize the distinction. Some deeds will be nearly impossible to complete during peak hours - Sickle-fly slayer in Bree-land and Bog-lurker slayer in Lone-lands spring immediately to mind. The mobs for these deeds are disappointingly rare, and having more than one or two people farming the mobs for the deeds wipes out the populations faster than the respawn rate can create new ones.
The spiders in the quarry at Scary and the slugs in Rushock Bog are similiarly due for the endagered species list. While attempting the spider cave to complete 2 separate quests, a pair of level 20 guys came in and cleared the place out, tagging creatures that were attacking me that I had not yet tagged myself, thus depriving Slitha of the kill credit but not relieving her of the poison damage. Again, this is the kind of behaviour that crosses the line between deeding and griefing... but in their defense, I had lagged out while in there and when I came back they had already started clearing the place. I lagged out again shortly after, while stealthed in a spider-infested area, and when I got back in, Slitha had experienced her first defeat, 203 XP from level 15. Once again, Sadface. I was gonna get to level 20 without a death.
Upon finally attaining level 15, Slitha received a few more freebies: the painting for the house she does not yet own, 2 more each of Minor Draughts of Power and Healing , and a Gift for an Adept, which is locked until level 20. The painting seems kind of pointless for F2P accounts - since this level of access has a cap of 2 gold and a house costs at least half that, and it costs around 7 gold to buy all the trainable skills, it is unlikely that many F2P people who are determined to play for free will ever own one. It seems more like an incentive on Turbine's part to encourage players to spend money on the microtransactions, buy more points, unlock more of the game.
Crafting is rather more difficult for F2P - or for most new players without kinships, for that matter, and most new F2P players fall into this category as well. Each profession has built-in dependencies, requiring trade with others for necessary materials. Slitha, in her infinite wisdom, elected to go with Historian, with the goal of making battle scrolls and potions, and the ability to craft her own weapons when needed. Scholar is a self-sufficient craft, as that craft is both resource gatherer and production, but Historians cannot mine or process ores, and need to barter or trade for ores to make weapons with the Weaponsmith component. On a subscription account, the solution is simple: roll an Explorer alt, swap mats through shared storage or mail. F2P cannot do this: they do not have access to shared storage until they purchase it for 995 points (for 10 slots, 1295 points for 20 slots). They can swap crafting materials and gear through the mail, but this can get expensive. If the F2P player doesn't make a few friends, his crafting will suffer for it.
By the end of Day 2 Slitha had completed 75 quests and 12 deeds in the Shire, and earned Acquaintance standing with the Mathom Society for a total of around 100 Turbine Points. There are still 6 deeds left in the Shire, plus the racial enmity deeds for spiders and wolves, for another 65 earnable points, and 8 class deeds worth 5 each, though these will take significantly longer to finish.