Angmar(Iron home in Sindarin) is the original endgame zone of Lotro. Like other endgame zones in other games, its bleak, dark and unforgiving. With my little hobbit warden standing at level 43(now 44), it was time I tackled the fortress of the enemy.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of this zone to be honest. After reading this post by Syp I was more or less expecting a black rock wall with a level 60 elite troll in front to eat you up. What I did find however wasn’t like that at all… well I did find the said black wall and a few elite trolls but not all in the same place. I’d also like to say that Syp isn’t wrong either and that what he writes is very much true but I guess I experienced it in a different way.
When designing the capital of the Witch-King, Sauron’s own right hand, the developers at Turbine were pretty much screwed from the start in terms of design. While Tolkien works give very little in the way of description of Angmar besides bleak and desolate, Minas Morgul, the Witch-King other city is very well described, documented and illustrated by artists, including Alan Lee who is pretty much the “go to guy” when you want to see Lord of the Rings illustration. If you’ve seen the movies, they got the look pretty much right.
So what do we actually know about Angmar?
-Bleak and desolate look
-Ancient kingdom destroyed by the forces of good in ancient times(expect ruins)
-Ruled over by the Witch-King wich also rules over Minas Morgul(similar looks possible)
-Populated by evil creatures(orcs and the likes), hillmen and the Angmarim, human descendants of the old kingdom and servants to the witch-King.
Limits options as far as design goes but I was curious to see if they could make it work as a believable eco-system.
Journey through the Iron Home
“One does not simply walk into Mordor!… er Angmar!”. In order to get into the home of the enemy some preparations must be made. The old roads are unusable because of the dread watchers, magical stone statues that ward people away, we need to begin our assault by going through the Ram Duath, the mountain passes to the South West of Angmar.
The Ram Duath is a rather nice place all things considered, pines trees, green grass and a massing army of orcs makes for a nice stroll through the ravines. Turbine actually made a nice transition here, going for an in-between, wild zone where the free people are mustering hidden from the view of the enemy and readying themselves for the assault. We head north through the ravines to Aughaire, a friendly hillmen village where the rangers are hiding.
North of Aughaire are rolling hills leading to Carn Dûm, capital of the enemy. The skies are red, the ground is grey with ashes and the debris and ruins of an ancient battle can be seen everywhere. Right here we have the first two elements of the list, the bleak look and the ancient kingdom part. We won’t be pushing north just yet to Carn Dûm but instead we are headed east to Malenhad to join up with other hidden Free people camps.
Malenhad is not something I was expecting to find in Angmar, it’s more or less a giant salt flats with dotted with pools of water and hot springs. Around the springs you will find small orcs encampment with dry-land farms. I believe this region was modelled after Nùrn in Mordor. Nùrn was the most fertile region of Mordor and was used to feed the Dark Lord armies. Likewise, Malenhad is clearly being used to produce food for the armies of Angmar. It’s not the most spectacular looking place but it does make sense.
After visiting the hidden camps of the free people in Malenhad we are headed to the North West of Angmar to Gath Forthnír, an outpost hidden in a cave where the Rangers prepares the war. It’s a small cavern just like the one where Faramir was hiding, complete with an interior waterfall.
On the way there we come Barad Gularan and the surronding area. This is where things get truly evil. The ground becomes black, jagged rock, there are enemies everywhere and not a single trace of vegetation is in sight. And then we come across Barad Gularan itself, wich might be the most impressive piece of fortress I’ve seen in a MMO. Quite simply it’s the Minas Morgul from the movie but replace the green glow with a red one. You know you’re in trouble when a place-name starts with Barad.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of Lotro very own death-zone. I liked it a lot to be honest. Yes, it’s another death-zone but there wasn’t a lot of options available when you consider the existing lore. To Turbine credit they did make a smart Death-zone and tried to make a believable eco-system in there. There was a lot of places I haven’t talked about that add nice touches to make the place believable. I do feel they borrowed heavily from Mordor to make Angmar but my hat’s off to Turbine for taking the time to build something believable and not just throw lava rifts until all over the place.