Every so often, I like taking a look at the search terms that bring people to Pen and Shield. Most of them tend to be very logical leaps. Due to the blog title, for example, many of the lovely people using Google tend to make their way here due to searching for “pen” and “shield” and other variations thereupon. To those of you who are interested in those things, I apologize as I’m pretty sure this blog is not what you were trying to find. However, there was one quite recently that brought someone to this blog that I thought was kind of interesting. The question was as follows:
Why do LotRO hobbits have shoes?
Now, this was a question I actually asked, myself, when I first started playing my hobbit minstrel and didn’t quite understand how the cosmetic system worked. The hobbits we’re all familiar with, after all, don’t seem to wear shoes. In fact, most hobbits don’t. Tolkien himself says a hobbit’s foot possesses a tough leathery sole, thereby eliminating the need to wear shoes in their everyday lives. For that reason, the majority of the hobbits we see as NPCs in the Shire in LotRO do not wear any sort of footwear whatsoever. However, Tolkien also says that they “seldom” wear shoes, which indicates that some hobbits must wear them.
So who are these interesting hobbits? Why wear shoes?
The thing is that shoes, as in any MMO, are pieces of gear. You need that gear for the stats it will give you and you’ll be hurting yourself pretty badly if you don’t have a piece equipped. Fortunately, LotRO has provided us with a cosmetic gear system that allows players to choose what displays on their character and what doesn’t. You get all the stats from the piece, but you don’t have to look like you’re wearing it, which is absolutely wonderful. If you don’t want your hobbit to be wearing shoes all the time, all you have to do is click the appropriate button next to your shoes, and no more shoes visible for your hobbit! (Admittedly, at first, I couldn’t quite understand why this option wasn’t toggled off by default for all hobbits, but that’s neither here nor there.) Some pieces of cosmetic gear (many of the dresses, for example) can be equipped cosmetically and already have the shoes automatically toggled off for your hobbits, so if your hobbit will be wandering about in some sort of finery, you might not have to do any work at all!
Perhaps your character’s nationality might have something to do with whether or not they wear shoes. After all, at character creation, you’re faced with three hobbit nationalities: the Fallowhides, the Stoors, and the Harfoots (Harfeet?). Out of these three nationalities, only one has been known to wear any sort of footwear. Historically, the Stoors wore boots, but they only wore them when the environment called for it. So, if you wanted your hobbit to be a boot-wearing hobbit, a Stoor might be the way to go.
There are, of course, some occasions where shoes might be considered appropriate. If you’re a heavily armored hobbit, maybe you want to make sure everything’s protected, including your wonderful feet. The best solution then would clearly be appropriately matching footwear. If you’re wandering about in the cold, perhaps up in the Misty Mountains, and you don’t want your toes to freeze off, shoes are wonderful things to invest in. Anthyllis’ cold weather “armor” set sports a pair, and she doesn’t particularly care who criticizes her for it.
Writing all this, however, has made me curious. I’m sure I have some people who read this blog who play hobbits in LotRO. Even if you don’t, I’m curious anyway. Is your hobbit a shoe-wearing hobbit? If you don’t play, would your hobbit wear shoes or go without? What might prompt them to wear shoes at all?