Choose my Adventure: Grimbark stole my lunch money

Join me as I brave my way through lands unknown in an adventure dictated entirely by you, the Massively readers! Vote for everything from game played to character creation to ultimate goal and watch it unfold in a series of journals and galleries here on the site. Then, as the ultimate goal is reached, we'll do it all over again in a new game!

It has finally happened. After all of this time, the Massive Hobbits have finally met their match in Garth Agarwen. Underleveled? Perhaps, but enough of it was completed to still get a good story out of it -- even if we were 5-6 levels too low for the instance in the first place.

So what does this week hold for the pint-sized adventurers? Vote on this week's poll, follow along on Gibbi the Hobbit's in-character portrayal and read my impressions of how the game has been going so far -- all after the jump.

After arriving in Ost Guruth, the Massive Hobbits kinship decided to take a day to rest, and catch up on their skipped meals. Branda Rumble makes the best pie this side of Breeland and they weren't about to pass that up.

The previous day, in talking with Candaith the Ranger, they were told of a man with powers equal to those of Gandalf who lived in a large tower within Ost Guruth. Radagast the Brown is his name, and from what they could see, he was powerful indeed! After filling their bellies and refilling their provisions, the group set off with Radagast to save the once-great forest -- and its wildlife inhabitants -- from the evil that was quickly taking over the area northeast of the city.

When that task was completed, Radagast knew he could trust the group to help with more important tasks.

"Come back to me when you've strengthened your mind and your armor." Radagast advised the hobbits, peering down at them from across his large oaken desk.

"With the kindest regards, Mr Radagast sir, we are prepared for whatever task you may have for us," Gibbi boasted. "We are legends in Breeland and the Shire already, and word is spreading quickly of our travels."

With this, the wizard leaned down and squinted his eyes to get a better look at the group standing before him. "Very well. What you lack in size you make up for in bravado." He paused. "Or stupidity."

Radagast went on to describe directions to the area in which he had taken them previously, but this time deeper within. "There are great evils there. The likes of which you have never seen before." The wizard warned.

"Why is everything so red and gloomy?" Cehrah asked, as they approached the area a few moments later.

"I'm not sure, but I don't like it. I don't like it one bit!" Binkylo added.

There were some interesting creatures to battle before actually getting themselves into the area Radagast had drawn on the map. Large swamp creatures surprised them from the shadows, standing tall on their long, thin legs. Small burrowing insects jumped out from the earth to snap at their feet. The group found themselves entangled in these creatures when they heard a yell from nearby.

"Baruk Khazad! Khazad ai-menu!"

"It's a dwarf!" Irked bellowed with excitement. "A dwarf in these lands! And he makes the call of my homeland! We must aid my brother! Quickly!"

Before the rest even knew what happened, the dwarf scampered towards the direction of the battle cry. Rounding a knoll, Gibbi noticed that Irked had already caught up to where the small battle was taking place. He had never seen Irked -- or any dwarf, for that matter -- run so quickly. The entire group descended upon the two dwarves just in time for the last creature to fall at their feet.

"Ay, I thank ye." The exhausted dwarf said between breaths. "Name's Thronori. I had those Bog-lurkers just fine, but I do appreciate the aid of another dwarf." Gibbi looked around at the other hobbits who also realized they were being ignored.

"It's great to see a fellow dwarf in these parts! I'm known as Irked, of the Iron Hills. From where do you hail, friend?"

"I am from the Grey Mountains. I am off to Garth Agarwen, now." Thronori spat. "I was once with a large band of dwarves, but they've all been killed. I buried my family myself, just over those hills. I intend to finish where they left off."

"Great! We're headed there ourselves. Why don't you join us?" Gibbi added, asserting his role as leader, and an unnoticed non-dwarf.

Thronori joined the group on their way to Garth Agarwen, telling tales of his heroism along the way. Apparently, this wasn't his first venture into this land. He had a personal vendetta against a certain living tree, and he aimed to destroy that tree once and for all. He also told them of the Creoth people who inhabited the land, the dark water spirits that rose from the pools of blood and the wights wandering aimlessly everywhere. This was not going to be easy, but they were ready.

They found Thronori's stories to be true, and the Creoth men were indeed strong foes, but the hobbits and dwarves were still able to defeat any who crossed their path. In fact, Gibbi was beginning to think that Radagast had been mistaken, and this was not so difficult after all. These Creoth had just not faced the likes of the Massive Hobbits before, that's all.

Deeper into Garth Agarwen, Thronori began to pick up his pace. He was slicing wights in half with one swipe while keeping up his stride. "We're almost there! He's around this corner!"

The rest of the group knew he was speaking of the great evil tree, and were excited to help the dwarf avenge his family. At the same time, they had to admit their fear at facing something that could wipe out an entire band of mighty dwarves.

Rounding a large grove of trees, and sprinting to keep up with the anxious dwarf, Gibbi and the Massive Hobbits stopped firmly when they followed Thronori's gaze to the east. Standing amidst a clearing was the largest, most sinister tree that Gibbi had ever seen. It reached higher than Radagast's tower and wider than a Shire farm. It was covered in creeping branches and great hives of bees. On the ground surrounding the tree was spikes of roots wiggling and swaying continuously.

"Grimbark!" Capeo whispered through a gulp. "That's Grimbark. I was afraid to say something before, but I think that's him. I know it's him! I've read stories. He's.... he's enormous!"

Before Gibbi could even collect a thought or a plan of action, Thronori awakened the creature of nature with a shout, "I've brought more this time! Prepare to be chopped down and burned for kindling!"

"No! We can't-" Capeo began, but it was too late. Fueled by rage, Thronori charged Grimbark, swinging his large axe at every root in his way. The charge didn't last long though, as the massive tree let out an ungodly noise that brought the dwarf immediately to his knees. Not willing to let his fellow dwarf go down so easily, Irked charged to his aid. Grimbark brought the second dwarf down just as easily, as swarms of bees added the final touches to finishing off the helpless dwarves.

"We've got to help them!" Cehrah cried.

Without an actual plan, the rest of the group ran forward to recover their fallen allies. Of course, this proved to be a mistake as each hobbit was brought down just as easily as the dwarves. Despite heavy armor, songs of morale or protective words, the Massive Hobbits had finally met their match. Luckily though, Binkylo was in a bit better shape than the rest as was able to carry his fellows into the forest, out of the demonic tree's line of sight. He found an excellent patch of cover behind a crumbled wall, and it was there that the group was able to finally escape Grimbark, his wooden minions and certain death.

Although Thronori was still seething with bitter anger, he was thankful to Binkylo for saving them all. Capeo recovered quickly enough to provide more helpful aid to the most badly-injured, while Binkylo stood watch, bow poised to defend. After a day of rest, the group emerged from their hiding place and traveled back to Ost Guruth to fully recover. This was their first retreat, and almost their first defeat. That idea didn't bode well with Gibbi at all, and he had some thinking to do on the matter. As the team's leader, he made a promise to himself to never put his friends into that type of danger again. He will swallow his pride and listen to the wise words of Radagast and others like him.

But despite this softened attitude towards taking on larger foes, Gibbi had to admit one thing: He'll be back for Grimbark one day.


This week was fun, and since we had our first big party wipe, I was actually excited about writing this story. It can't always be victories, can it? Even though Gibbi's thoughts don't reflect my own (I'm always up for a good challenge!), we may plan a bit better next time. We were way under the recommended level on this one (everything was orange or red for me!), but we may revisit GA another day.

It's also important to note that we completed all of Book 2 during this, as well. Hopefully we can lick our wounds, gain a few more levels and prepare for whatever challenge you can throw at us this week. So vote away!

- Retry Garth Agarwen. After a few more levels, we can get back in there and chop down that overgrown pile of firewood.
- Finish Book 3. It's about that time to get the next book started, and we could easily get through the first few chapters, at least. Finishing it will be a challenge, but we're up for it. Right guys? Guys?
- Head up to Esteldin. Forget the Lone-lands. The North Downs is where it's at! With this, we would head straight to Esteldin and do quests in the eastern North Downs, including those leading into Angmar and Dol Dinen.%Poll-34750%
This article was originally published on Massively.