LOTRO Legendarium: The bold life of a player chicken

Bawk? Bawk cluck ba-bawk!

    
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When you get a little bored of the normal questing flow or dungeon hopping in Lord of the Rings Online, there are plenty of side activities for you to enjoy. You can engage in some roleplay with the community, go on a crafting spree, play freeze tag in the Bree-land ruins, explore the excellent Bingo Boffin storyline, give your house an interior makeover, fish to your heart’s content, grind out a few deeds, and see if you can unlock some of the more interesting titles and emotes in the game.

Or you could become a chicken.

LOTRO’s chicken play sessions have delighted and fascinated the game’s community ever since their inclusion. By thrusting players into the shoes (er, talons) of a defenseless chicken and giving them a goal to navigate the world, Middle-earth transforms into a completely different place indeed. So how do you go on a poultry journey and survive to tell the tale? And why is chicken play so addictive? I’m here to help you strange folk out.

Getting started with chicken play

LOTRO doesn’t exactly make a big deal out of chicken play, but chances are that if you’ve quested in the Shire, you’ve stumbled across the start of your rooster road trip at Sanderson’s Farm. Initially, it seems like this is a pretty normal farm-related quest, but before long the game shifts into chicken play sessions during which players are asked to run farther and farther distances without dying.

With very low health, no attack, and few defenses of which to speak, a chicken might feel completely exposed to the hostile world around it. And while this is true to a degree, there are some tools to help players survive to make the next leg of their journey without becoming a tasty snack. The few skills at one’s disposal include a 30-second speed boost, a “possum impersonation” ability to play dead, stealth detection, and a “bob-and-weave” skill to evade ranged attacks.

The first few road trips are relatively short, with adventures to Bree-land and Ered Luin. But before you know it, you’ll be trying to do a suicidal chicken run all the way to North Downs, Trollshaws, and Minas Tirith. By completing the initial series of quests, players will get a chicken-themed cape, while the Minas Tirith run gives a highly exclusive title that only a handful of players will ever be seen sporting. Make no mistake: These are very long, very tough journeys where one death means game over, man, game over!

Feeling as if all of this isn’t enough of a challenge, some members of the LOTRO community have devised the ultimate challenge: The Mordor Chicken Run. It’s a chicken run from the Shire to the slopes of Mt. Doom, where the finish line is jumping right into the boiling lava of Sauron’s former home. Too hardcore for my blood, but it amuses me to no end that others have made the trip.

Tips for life as a chicken

To be up front with you, I’ve only gone through about half of these quests in my LOTRO career. I don’t know if I have the patience for most of them, but what I do know is that to really make it as a chicken, I’ll need some pals.

Most successful player chicken runs happen in groups, usually with a bunch of flapping player poultry and one or two “escorts” that accompany the group and act as bodyguards. Classes with instant-fire ranged abilities, such as Hunters or Minstrels, are especially desirable for these escort positions. And why not go with a group anyway? The whole event becomes much more festive and fun!

Obviously, keeping out of aggro range of enemy mobs is highly important in any chicken run. Patience, planning, and sometimes sheer luck is needed to get a run done without a single death. Knowing which skill to use in a given situation can literally be the lifesaving move. Remember that paths aren’t always mob free, especially when you’re a level 1 chicken broadcasting a giant aggro beacon to any enemies in range. When in doubt, play dead and then wait for the cooldown to reset.

There are also a small handful of teleporting chicken nests to give you instant travel between Nen Harn and Malenhad, Trestlebridge and Duillond, and Oatbarton and High Moors.

A perspective shift

So really, what’s the point? While there are some nifty cosmetics, titles, and even a couple of Zeal points to earn with these quests, I think most people would say that there’s an inherent fun to the challenge and experience of being a lowly chicken in this world.

I am always a huge advocate of whenever developers or players come up with ways to encourage the rest of us to develop a different experience and view the game world in a new way. Sometimes we are so focused on getting from Point A to B for our quests that we start to develop tunnel vision and ignore all of the sights, details, and general sense of world all around you.

As weird as it might seem, stripping players of their natural defenses and weapons has that effect in LOTRO. Forcing chickens to play defensively is a completely different experience, one that’s sort of like a taste of permadeath with breading and special dipping sauce.

Many guilds routinely schedule chicken runs on their calendar, so if you’re interested in getting that cloak and learning what it is to be covered with feathers and fear, then sign up for one of these and go into them completely expecting to die!

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.

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Paragon Lost

Sometimes it’s just fun to do something because it’s a challenge and fun. :)

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I did this once, with the help of two kinmates, to receive the Cloak of Cluck. One needs to have steel nerves and fast reflexes, even with help, to get past the hiding spiders and wolves. And although I’m happy to have done it for the, ahem, feather in my cap, once is enough.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

chicken ala mordor.gif
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Hikari Kenzaki

One Wing to rule them all.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

perfect:)

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Sorenthaz

Man I remember trying to run to Rivendell. Was such a long journey and ended up dying at a pretty bad chokepoint where there’s little/no room for error.

That’s what I loved about LotRO initially was all the little things they added in like that. But then the F2P shenanigans steadily turned me off, and it doesn’t help that the game hasn’t aged too well either at this point. Basically cursed with similar issues that RIFT has where the player models are god awful and the realistic-ish graphics don’t look so good as they get older.

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zoward

It definitely brings new meaning to the words “Survival MMO”. I don’t have the patience for some of the longer runs, though.

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Anstalt

Used to really love this.

Only ever made a couple of attempts at the “Crosser of Roads” title, but each time my attention would start wandering around the 3 hour mark and I’d die a stupid death.

One of the easter festivals, they actually opened up the Ettenmoors to chickens, think you got the title “fool” for partaking. Sadly, due to performance issues the quest had been turned off by the time I got home from work, but it looked like a lot of fun.

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Paragon Lost

Yep, never was able to pull of getting “Crosser of Roads” title but I did try a few times. lol “Master of Stupid Deaths” is a title I’d like.

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Hirku

I’m saving the Chicken Play quests for the egggame.