I love The Lord of the Rings Online. I love it for many reasons, greatest of all being that it is a [generally] faithful adaptation of my favorite literary world in an industry plagued by terrible adaptations of said world. Even when it misses the mark, it still does so with heart and an intention to represent the tone of Middle-earth. In many cases it takes this principal and does right by it when filling in the gaps left by the books.
One such gap is the little hamlets surrounding the chief town of Bree, those being Staddle, Combe, and Archet. Each is a fair and comfortable rendering of what probably was – rural villages with rural village problems. And inns. For you see, even small towns in walking distance of the greatest inn of the realm still have to have their own watering holes for when you just don’t want to make the trek.
One such tavern, that of Archet, is the Mad Badger.
Be advised, if you’ve never played LOTRO you’re about to get a big old spoiler in the face.
The Mad Badger is a little inn, but a jolly one. It’s one simple common room with tall, vaulted ceilings, the quintessential hearth, kegs and mugs, tables and chairs, and a bar. Aesthetically it hits all the notes you expect from that of a Bree-land tavern. The wattle-and-daub walls with exposed wooden beams are all the cue we need: this is a rendering of Tolkien’s Bree-land which is, presumably, Tudor England. If the Shire is more Edwardian/Victorian, then by at least one of Newton’s laws Bree-land ought to have a similar vibe.
But what makes the Mad Badger special is its rarity. After the tutorial, the Mad Badger is destroyed. Along with much of the town of Archet it gets burned to the ground by brigands inspired by the evil creatures of Angmar, and so after the introduction the Badger is no more. It appears the sad folk of Archet are dealt yet another blow and must find their drink in the neighboring town of Combe.