Let’s Go to Weatherstock!

Well, I did it! I finally got to live the dream and attend Weatherstock! I wasn’t able to be there for all of it, unfortunately, as apparently my internet connection couldn’t handle it, but, truthfully, I wouldn’t have been able to have been there for all of it, anyway, as it ran a lot longer than it was supposed to and I had only really allocated enough time for the original runtime. I need to remember to plan for that for next year.

For those of you who missed my previous post about it, this year was the fifth year of Weatherstock. It’s a ridiculously large concert on the Landroval server of LotRO that takes place on top of Weathertop. (Where else?) Various in-game bands come together to perform and compete for various prizes, and it’s all organized by the amazing Lonely Mountain Band kinship (who actually has several bands under their banner, none of which are eligible for the prizes). It was a lot of a fun and hopefully I’ll be able to make it for next year.

Of course, I had to find Anthyllis’ prettiest dress in her wardrobe first. If she was going out to a concert, she had to look nice, after all.

Anthyllis' best dress

All dressed up and ready to go!

Well, okay, maybe it’s not her prettiest dress, but it’s certainly her favorite.

By the time I managed to log in and get all prettied up, folks were gathering at the Forsaken Inn out in the Lone-lands, so naturally, that had to be my first stop. Well, after I lowered all my graphics settings so nothing would potentially get fried.

If you do decide to attend Weatherstock in the future, that’s the one piece of advice everyone gives you that I will heartily recommend for everyone. Make sure your graphics settings are set as low as humanly possible. Once everyone’s up at the concert area and the initial lag has been combated, then (and only then) should you try to bring your graphics settings back up. Not every graphics card can handle it, and this is definitely not the time to test the limits of your computer.

Trust me on this, guys. This really isn’t the best time to try to test your computer’s limits. Bad things may potentially happen if you do that during this.

Anyway, folks weren’t kidding when they mentioned the epic lag that comes hand in hand with this event. The closer I got to the inn, the more lag I was hit with, and it was all due to the pre-show concert up there. By the time I got there, a sizable crowd of people had already gathered, and it turned out more were on the way. The closer we got to the beginning of the concert proper, the more people there were.

Look at all these people!

And that’s not even everyone, either. There were already folks up on the mountain at this point.

The crowd just kept getting bigger!

Eventually, night fell in-game and it was finally time for all of us to begin the mounted procession up towards Weathertop. This was where the epic lagfest definitely kicked in. Take at least a hundred people on mounts all heading in the same direction, and, really, you can only be hit with lag. Fortunately, Harperella, our procession leader and announcer for most of the event, had a wonderful suggestion for us: put the rider in front of you on follow. Turned out that’s what I had to do in order to move anywhere.

I’ve always thought my computer was fairly decent when it came to certain things. It isn’t exactly a top of the line gaming system, no, but I always thought it handled lag pretty well.

That was up until the mounted procession.

The mounted procession up to Weatherstock!

The mounted procession up to Weatherstock! You can even see Harperella in the front there. She’s in the green.

We all started joking about reduced awareness hitting us all at that point in time, and believe me, it hit all of us. That was seriously the best shot of the procession I could actually get. There were a lot more of us behind the main herd. The only problem is that we just couldn’t see them.

Reduced awareness will do that, sadly.

We finally managed to make it to Weathertop mountain where I slowly discovered following certain people when lag was involved was not the best of plans as the lag caused me to loop a bit and I wound up falling over the edge of the path leading up to the mountain and losing the main pack. I didn’t die, fortunately, as I didn’t fall too far. However, as I understand it, there are a few who might in the climb up. Fortunately, the LMB crew was prepared for that and they offered resurrections to those who might have plummeted to their deaths while trying to follow the pack. They even informed us of the areas where the lag would hit us the worst. Eventually, however, we made it to the top, where there were even more people waiting for us.

Look at all these people!

Look at all these people!

Before I continue, can I just say that I really commend the Lonely Mountain Band kinship for all of this? They had all of this all planned out. They had people offering escorts for lower-level characters to get to the top of Weathertop. They had people willing to ‘port people over if they were running late. They had a crew organized to keep all of us safe from the vicious crebain that surrounded the mountain. They even had vendors going so our characters had food, drinks, and even pipeweed for the event.

The last I knew, there were over 500 players in attendance, and some of them weren’t even from Landroval. Folks from other servers will roll lower-level characters specifically to come to this event. We even have performers from other servers!

All in all, for the almost four hours that I was there, I had a lot of a fun. I got to listen to some awesome in-game music, some of which was actually composed by the bands themselves (so major props to them) and others that were just a whole lot of parodies or lyrically adjusted to fit the setting (“I can’t get no~ catfish action~”). I had a ridiculous amount of fun at this, and I’m definitely hoping I’m going to be able to attend for all of Weatherstock next year.

The Shades performing to a crazily-sized crowd!

The Shades performing to a crazily-sized crowd!

Seriously, if you have the opportunity to go or to attend one of the miniature concerts leading up to the event next year, go. You will definitely not be disappointed.

A Light in the Shadow

It’s been a week since my subscription to WoW lapsed, and while I miss it, I’m trying to do a bit better and not let it impact me too much. To try to combat this, I’ve been playing a lot more LotRO lately, and I’m finally coming to the end of Volume One of the epic quests. I know I don’t need to do them, but I feel like I should completely finish with the Angmar plotline before I even think about looking at Moria, although I am excited to finally see it.

So Anthyllis has finally hit level 50, making her the highest-level character I’ve ever had in LotRO, and she even completed Books 1 – 8. Apparently, once you do that, you get a new title!

Anthyllis proudly rocking her new title

I had no idea this was actually a title I was capable of earning, so when I discovered it, I was beyond excited and immediately switched Anthyllis’ title from “Song Warrior” to “A Light from the Shadow”. I’m proud of my accomplishment.

In other exciting LotRO news, I’m finally going to be able to attend Weatherstock this year! Now, for those of you who don’t know, Weatherstock is an annual in-game concert series on the Landroval server hosted by the Lonely Mountain Band kinship (who are really awesome people). Bands from various other servers come to compete, and it’s generally a good time all around. This year, it takes place next week (July 20th, to be exact) from 1pm to 5pm (EST) on top of Weathertop (hence Weatherstock). There’s even an escort for the characters that are too low-level to safely make it to the top on their own. So if you’re elsewhere and want to check it out, roll a little character on Landroval, get them through their various starting quests, and make the trek to Bree to get prepared.

I’m excited, because in the two (almost three) years that I’ve been playing, I’ve never actually been able to attend. In previous years, I was only able to listen via various livestreams, but I want to be able to see it in person. Expect pictures, guys. :)

Time to Stomp-A-Shrew!

It’s that time again, folks! LotRO’s Spring Festival has begun once again as of yesterday. It’s very exciting.

The Spring Festival is not all that different from years previous. However, we do have some new things. We have new cosmetics, though I warn you right now, dear readers: that new robe is not flattering on anyone. You can actually obtain the Steed of the Jester (last year‘s surprise horse) if you gather enough flowers. But, this year, we also have a brand new horse!

The newest addition to the LotRO stables, the Lissuin Steed

The newest addition to the LotRO stables, the Lissuin Steed

He’s a pretty guy, isn’t he?

The Lissuin Steed will set you back 40 spring leaves, but, not only that, you can also buy his gear for your warsteed! Unfortunately, unlike the Yule Festival, you can’t buy a box that has all the pieces. If you want them for your warsteed, you’ll have to do a bit of shopping. The caparison and leggings can be obtained from the various Spring Festival quartermasters or at Hengstacer Farm, I believe, for 20 spring leaves apiece. The halter and saddle, however, are at the vendor in Bree near the Boar Fountain for 80/80/80 flowers apiece from that flower-picking daily.

As I understand it, the cosmetics can be dyed, but as I write this, I’m not sure how they look when dyed. Unfortunately, Anthyllis is only level 49, so I definitely won’t have the opportunity to try for myself, and I’ve been scouring the internet for a picture. Unfortunately, I’ve so far turned up empty-handed, but I remain hopeful!

Happy 6th Anniversary, LotRO!

LotRO fireworksLadies and gentlemen, my good gentle hobbits, today, we begin two weeks of celebration for Lord of the Rings Online, for this is it’s sixth birthday party. Some might say it’s a bit excessive for a party to last for two weeks, but when you love a game as much as it’s players do, sometimes that just doesn’t matter.

As for me, I’ve only been playing this game for two years, but what a great two years it’s been. In that time, I’ve played with the game’s cosmetic system, and while I’m nowhere near as good as Hymne over at Cosmetic LotRO (my favorite LotRO cosmetics blog), I’m having fun with it nonetheless. I’ve seen so much of the world that means so much to me and I know there’s only more for me to see. I’m so excited about that. I’ve even gotten a chance to go visit Bilbo’s trolls! So what better way to celebrate all of that than with fireworks and beer battles?

This year’s party really hasn’t changed too much since last year. You can still gather invitations that may or may not include ponies in the envelopes (we’re not sure yet; stay tuned). You can still shoot off fireworks, play courier and run gifts all around Middle-Earth, and even knock people around at the beer battle! If you choose to go beer battling, just don’t let your opponents knock you out of the ring or you’ll be disqualified. There are a few differences, such as the anniversary mounts no longer requiring horse race tokens to obtain them (every single anniversary token you earn can be put towards those), and if you want another shot at collecting invitations, you can spend five mithril coins (our newest currency item) as opposed to the tickets of last year to have another go. However, this adds up really fast, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it if you’re saving up for something.

Like cosmetics. I seriously spent a hundred mithril coins yesterday on pretty cosmetic gear sets off of the mannequins in Bree. Don’t judge me.

If you’re looking for a proper guide for the anniversary party, you’ll want to go visit A Casual Stroll to Mordor for that. Their guides are always the best. And now that you’ve been properly armed, maybe I’ll see you in-game for the party!

A Major Milestone

I’ve mentioned in the past just how much I love Middle-Earth. When I created my hobbit minstrel, Anthyllis, I used it as an opportunity to take everything I loved about the world and put it into a character. I decided that, as a hobbit, she had grown up listening to Bilbo’s stories and ventured out into the world to see some of the things he had seen and to possibly happen upon some interesting adventures of her own. After finally hitting level 42 a few weeks back, Anthyllis is now officially my highest level character in LotRO. Being at this level, however, it meant that she got to venture into the Trollshaws, go to Rivendell, and even meet Elrond!

And this isn’t even all of Rivendell. It’s gorgeous, though, isn’t it?

One of the things I personally love about LotRO is the fact that the major lore characters are right there. You can talk to them, you can quest for them, and, sometimes, you can even adventure with them. At the current point Anthyllis is at in the epic quest chain, the Fellowship has yet to leave Imladris, so the entire Fellowship is still right there in the city, and, yes, she’s happily visited them all. She even got to run around a bit with Gimli last night when they ventured out to destroy an evil dwarf.

However, despite this, it wasn’t quite enough, and I found myself incapable of describing why that was. The entire time, I couldn’t help but feel like something major was missing. I had gotten to see quite a few major landmarks so far. I got to see Weathertop earlier, and the Ford of Bruinen where the Ringwraiths were swept away by the river in the Fellowship of the Ring. I had gotten to meet the Fellowship. I had even met Bilbo! So why didn’t it feel like enough? Something was missing, I just wasn’t sure what.

As Anthyllis continued to roam through the Trollshaws, however, she happened upon a man further down the Bruinen river, who informed her that his grandparents lived in a village that had been raided by trolls, and he, for reason, wanted to find out what had become of them all these years later. It turned out their names were Bert, Tom, and Bill. It took me a minute or two before I remembered The Hobbit and why those names were so significant.

The quest-giver was talking about Bilbo’s trolls.

Once I came to this realization, I had Anthyllis mount up and ride for Rivendell, almost frantically trying to remember where Bilbo was in the Last Homely House. If anybody knew where they would be, he would. Fortunately, it didn’t take me very long to do. He quite happily regaled Anthyllis with the tale of the trolls (apparently, it’s her favorite) and even told her where they were. So, enthused, she set out immediately for the clearing where the three trolls were still frozen in stone, and I as the player, couldn’t stop squeeing for at least ten minutes while I took all the pictures ever.

Anthyllis, however, was finally able to see something she had actually grown up hearing about, and could not have been happier. What could possibly top seeing Mister Bilbo’s trolls?

Anthyllis is so excited to finally see something amazing from Bilbo’s stories

Spring Has Sprung

Spring is in the air at long last in Middle-earth, for the Spring Festival has begun! A celebration of all things bright, flowering, and green! (And also a celebration where you get to stomp upon some shrews, apparently.) Whether you choose to gather beautiful flowers during the entire event, run around (and get lost) in the hedge maze in Bree-land, or just choose to run about and do quests to increase your reputation with the Ale Association or the Inn League, there’s something for everyone!

Of course, we have our lovely festival-themed ponies, which, surprising no one, were the very things I first ran out to check. Unfortunately, ponies from previous years are locked away in the stables still, but Turbine gave us some pretty ones for this year! We can obtain the Springtime Steed (from last year, I believe) and the Simbelmynë Steed, though the latter requires more race tokens and leaves than the former if you’d like to add them both to your stable. The latter horse also takes it’s name from Rohan, which is fitting as we’re entering Rohan with the new expansion content. Simbelmynë (or evermind) is the name of the white flower that grows on the tombs of kings there, and it’s nice to see the white flowers on the horse’s tack in reference to this.

The newest addition to the LotRO stables, the Simbelmynë Steed! (Isn't it pretty?)

To get these lovely mounts, however, you need to get leaves to trade! You can gather leaves through a variety of quests, and several of these quests lead you into the hedge maze out in Bree-land around Bree’s festival grounds. Unfortunately for me, I swiftly discovered that the hedge maze and I do not mix. Although the hedge maze is very pretty, I soon discovered that I felt ridiculously claustrophobic in there, and this is coming from someone who has no prior issues with claustrophobia. I basically had to flee the maze as fast as I realistically could, leaving a deed or two unfinished as a result. So, claustrophobia sufferers, beware. This may happen to you.

How do I get out of here again?

Sweet relief came in the form of a quest called A Fistful of Flowers, in which you basically get to run around the Shire, Ered Luin, and Bree-land, and all you have to do is pick flowers for an hour. It’s quite possibly one of the most relaxing quests I’ve ever done in any MMO. If you’re after one specific flower type, pay attention to where the quest giver tells you the flowers grow. You can pick up any of the three flower types from any flower bed, but I wound up picking a lot more marigolds out in the Shire, for example, where they are many and abundant. Once your hour for the day is up, you can spend some Turbine points to pick up another ticket in the store to grant you another hour of flower picking time, but it isn’t worth it, really. You can gather a ridiculous amount of flowers in one hour, let me tell you. I ended my flower picking a little on the early side, as I didn’t know what happened when time ran out (spoiler: nothing happens; you just complete the quest). However, in about 45 minutes, I wound up with 83 primroses, 56 marigolds, and 41 violets, to give you an idea.

I wasn’t sure what these flowers were for, as I’ve never participated in the Spring Festival before, but I soon found out. Apparently, these flowers are barter items that you can exchange for gift boxes! You can get a variety of different things out of them, but the one thing I was certainly not expecting was the one thing I was the most pleased to get. Apparently, the RNG tables were making up for the fact that Anthyllis never saw a single mount out of the Anniversary festival, because I opened a gift box to reveal a Steed of the Jester within. Her name is Jangles and she makes jingling bell sounds when moving. It’s adorable. This particular pony comes with 250 health and 68% speed, a nice step up from the 62% you get with pretty much every other pony in the game.

Anthyllis upon her Steed of the Jester.

Unfortunately, I tend to fail a bit at guides, and there’s so much more going on for the festival that I haven’t even covered in this post. Never fear, though! A Casual Stroll to Mordor has a fantastic Spring Festival guide out as of today, detailing everything you can do during the festival, and also a nice list of some of the generic things (such as various racial dances you can earn) that occur during every major festival in the game. Do check it out, and perhaps I’ll run into you in Middle-earth!

Roleplaying Flags and How to Love Them

To a roleplayer in any MMO, many people might find the character model they’re using a bit limiting. In SWTOR, we don’t really have this problem. We have the option of giving our characters cybernetics, various skin textures, tattoos, or even certain scarring. We can even adjust the weight of the character. We have the body type option in LotRO, also the option for minimal facial customization, but if we want our characters to have anything past that, we’re out of luck. The same goes for WoW in that we only have minimal customization options for our characters.

So what if the image of the character we have in our heads doesn’t match what our characters actually look like? What are we as roleplayers supposed to do then? And, for that matter, how are we supposed to let other roleplayers know we’re roleplaying at all? For some, walking through a major city is a good enough indicator, as is talking to various NPCs. For others, however, this might not be enough. This is where flagging yourself as a roleplayer can be incredibly handy.

Turbine: Supplying Helpful Tools for the Roleplaying Community

In LotRO, this is very easy to do. By default, the names and various sundry things that display over our heads appears in yellow or greenish-yellow text. If we type /rp on into the chat panel, however, the text over our head changes to white, indicating that we’re roleplayers. You can type /rp into the chat panel to see if you’re flagged or not if you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve set it.

Engeled demonstrating how nameplates look with "/rp off" (left) and "/rp on" (right).

Turbine also decided to be wonderful and give us a biography screen. In this screen, you can show off your parentage/children (providing you’ve been adopted by another player or have adopted one, yourself), and you even have a spot to detail your character’s personal history. While many roleplayers in LotRO use it for it’s intended purpose, others still tend to take advantage of the space and write out a detailed description of their character’s physical appearance. I have yet to figure out how I want to take advantage of the space, so, for right now, it’s left blank on both of my characters.

Warcraft, Addons, and You

However, while Turbine was wonderful and built these tools directly into the game for us, Blizzard has not. If we as roleplayers in Azeroth want a similar tool, we have to utilize addons. At first, I didn’t know addons like this existed, but I downloaded one, it opened up a whole new aspect of roleplaying for me. I fell in love with them, and if you’re a roleplayer in WoW, having an addon like this is kind of a godsend, especially if you’re on a server where non-RPers coexist with the rest of the roleplaying community. If you don’t have one already, I highly recommend that you download one and play with it.

If this is your first time looking into one of these addons, I’d recommend starting off with either MyRoleplay or FlagRSP2/FlagRSP Cataclysm, if only because these tend to be the most commonly used roleplaying addons in the Warcraft community. There are other addons you could use, as well, but as I have no experience with them, I’m going to keep myself from talking about them. When it comes to choosing an addon for these purposes, however, I can’t really recommend using one over all the others out there as I’ve found that it’s really a matter of personal preference. Most of the flag generating addons are able to “talk” to each other, so you should be able to read all the flags you come across regardless of the addon you choose. Take your time, investigate the various RP addons, and choose whichever one you like the best.

After you’ve made your choice, install them as you would any other addon you use in WoW. Then, the next time you boot up the game and get ready to have fun in Azeroth, you’ll be ready to roll and you can start filling things in! However, you don’t have to fill out all those blank areas right away. Personally, I like to take some time to make sure my description for the character is solid before I fill in anything. Therefore, the first thing I tend to do is fill in the character’s surname if the character has one (or given name as the case may be) and set my flags, and I’d recommend you do this, too. After all, you can put in a description at any given time, but letting people know if you’re in character or not is one of the first steps to initiating random RP.

Your Character’s Description

So you have your options on how to input your character’s physical description. The question now is how do you go about writing it?

You could do something as basic as “what you see is what you get”, implying that your character looks exactly as s/he is on the screen or you could go wild and crazy. Some even choose to put in their character’s backstory into their description, but I’d personally caution you against doing that. After all, your character doesn’t have their history written on their clothing (or do they?). Remember that no one would know your character’s entire life story just from looking at them. However, MyRoleplay does have a “Background” field that you can choose to put your character’s history into if you were so inclined. (I never do.) You can get away with this in the space Turbine provided for us, as well, but I would not recommend doing this outside of the designated areas unless you want to have other roleplayers look at your flag with some confusion.

Personally, my character descriptions tend to be a bit on the briefer side, a paragraph or two at most, and are limited to my character’s physical description only. Think about what others would see, smell, or hear when they come upon your character. If your character is one of the Forsaken, does his/her bones creak when they walk? Perhaps the character smells of the earth or like mold or your character wears various things in their hair that clack or jingle when they move. These are the things you’d definitely want to include, as descriptions like these are used to engage another RPer in your character prior to actually initiating conversation. In real life, a person’s opinion of you is set in their minds just from that first glance, so make it count!

A look at the MyRoleplay interface (which blends nicely into WoW's existing interface) and Adaret's description.

Now, are there things to avoid? Certainly. I already suggested not putting your character’s history into their description, so I won’t touch on that again. However, there are other things. For example, you can see that Adaret’s description above has some extraneous descriptors that I could take out and lose absolutely nothing. This is a milder example of purple prose, or very extravagant and flowery writing, and isn’t exactly something a lot of people would want to try to slog through. Nor, for that matter, is thesaurus abuse. Examples of this would be writing “orbs” in place of eyes or something like “puce” in place of “green”. You don’t want to have to make someone break out a dictionary just to be able to understand what you’re trying to say. To see an example of this all put together, please take a look at this wonderful example crafted by one of my friends on Thorium Brotherhood of her character, Dariahn (please note that this is a parody and is no way reflective of Dariahn’s actual flag).

Another common thing I see people doing when it comes to their flags is saying how the other person reading your flag is supposed to feel when they look at your character. This is godmodding (which I will touch upon in another post) and is generally frowned upon. No one likes being told how their character is supposed to act or how they will react to certain things. Without going into a godmodding rant, however, I will simply leave you with this: Do not do it.

Keep in mind, however, that all of this is just a suggestion. I’m not saying that you absolutely need to have an addon to roleplay, that you have to flag yourself as a roleplayer, or that you need to write your description a certain way. However, these tools do make finding other roleplayers infinitely easier, and if you’re stuck for inspiration when it comes to writing your own description, you can hunt down other examples very easily just running around one of the major RP servers out there and seeing what other players have come up with. Ultimately, though, your character’s description is entirely up to you, so remember to have fun with it.

Shoe-Wearing Hobbits

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.

Anthyllis decides to try wearing boots for herself.

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?

The Melee Experiment

This year is the fifth anniversary of Lord of the Rings Online! Hooray! Admittedly, I’ve only been playing for a year, but it’s still exciting! None of my other MMOs celebrate their birthdays quite like LotRO does, complete with beer battles, fireworks at night (with a show you can actually participate in), shiny new cosmetic gear that you may or may not be interested in, and several other surprises you might not expect. (For example, the other night, I discovered a horse in an envelope while gathering lost festival invitations around Bree.) And, while I don’t know if this is common during the anniversary festivals or not since this is still my first year playing, Turbine has even offered us double the experience points beginning on April 24th and going into the 30th, although I’m unsure if it extends until the new end of the festival (May 9th) as the festivities have been extended. Regardless, this makes it perfect if you have a character that’s been a bit more difficult to level than others. You can level up, go on all the festival quests, and even earn some tokens as you do which you can exchange for gift boxes and even marks which you can put towards pretty much anything.

This being me, however, I was ignoring the marks and the gift boxes and all the other fun things. I instead looked at the double experience bonus and saw it as an opportunity to create a new alt and to see how far I could take her while the bonus was in place. With this in mind, I decided to revisit my original LotRO character (who has gone under multiple class changes while I attempted to figure out who she was): Engeled of Rohan. After looking over every single class that Men could be, I eventually decided I wanted to try something she could be that no other race could. I decided she would be a captain.

I did waffle over the choice quite a bit, though, since, as I’ve stated before, I have issues with melee combat. To me, it isn’t all that fun. However, I was in love with the look of the Captain class. If you were to spend enough time in Bree, you see a handful of them running around at any given time, and all the ones I’ve seen have looked absolutely amazing. Sometimes certain things just look so amazing that you kind of want to have one, regardless of how you feel about the type of class in general. Then again, maybe that’s just me. In any case, I realized this would make an interesting experiment. Was I still completely out of love with melee or could I put that aside for a class I loved? (Well, providing I fell in love with the class at all.)

Engeled pondering her next move.

Once I settled on a design I liked (close enough to her original design where I would feel comfortable), I dove in, and it wasn’t until I was running around Archet after it’s destruction, happily slaughtering a giant spider that a NPC had asked me to kill around level 9 or so at the time that I realized something.

I was still having fun.

In a moment where Engeled was about to die, I quickly switched targets to kill something else just to trigger a defeat response so I could heal her just a bit and land the last few blows on the signature-portrait spider, I realized it was just as challenging as ranged DPS was to me. Sure, it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t like the fact that things could wail on me the second I started wailing on it, but somehow, none of that mattered. Besides which, Engeled could heal! If she lasted long enough and I was brave enough to venture into dungeons, I could heal them! (Paladin healing is still very much a love of mine and I’m always eager to see if I can find something else close to it.)

So far, Engeled has reached Level 16 and has only just gotten through the prologue of the epic storyline. And I’m still having fun. I hear that captains really start getting amazing around level 30 or so, and, as of right now, I’m planning on sticking it out until then, at least. I really haven’t had this much fun with a class in a long time.

Cosmetically Equipped: Concerning Hobbits

One of the things I love about Lord of the Rings Online is the cosmetic gear system. Let’s face it, guys. In any MMO, you pick up gear as you go along in the world and, unfortunately, some bits look better than others. However, it’s all the same. In the end, we’re usually stuck wearing gear that makes us look like clowns. Fortunately, LotRO gives us a way to combat the clown gear by giving us access to dyes, but then we have a new problem. Some parts of whatever we might choose to fall in love with just do not take dye, and if they do, they can sometimes look worse than before if you like using a specific dye color with your character and said dye color clashes with the bits that can’t be dyed. For these troubling moments, I am eternally grateful that we can have another set of gear overlayed on top of our questing gear while still getting the stats from it.

For the curious, yes, dear readers, you are now witnessing my secret love: cosmetic gear.  It’s no secret that I like my characters to look good. Even if I wasn’t a roleplayer, I’d still happily use a system like this. I feel like every character has an outfit for anything they do, even if it’s just hanging around with guild/kinmates. You don’t have to look like a hodgepodge of different armor styles all the time, after all. There’s a reason why addons like Outfitter, back in the earlier days of WoW, were so popular, as these allowed us to easily switch between our questing/PvP gear and that pretty dress we got during the last holiday or the matching armor set that was gathering dust in our bank. I jumped for joy when WoW came out with transmogging, but I still think it pales in comparison to LotRO’s cosmetic system.

I’m still new to the ways of cosmetic gearing, as the majority of my outfits tend to be simple things. I’m also still somewhat in the “EVERYTHING I PUT ON MUST MATCH” phase. Once I began to figure out how the cosmetic gear system worked and I had options apart from the cosmetics that came with the Rise of Isengard expansion, I realized I needed something for Anthyllis to wear when she returned to the safer areas and she wasn’t out and about questing. She needed what I decided to call a Hobbit About Town look, something she could live in. After messing around a bit, taking into account what Tolkien himself said hobbits favored for colors, and going through the mish-mash of a wardrobe that I had, I finally came up with something I loved.

Admittedly, yes, it’s a very simple cosmetic outfit as I didn’t have to worry about footgear (what self-respecting hobbit would wear shoes, I ask you?) or gloves. Despite that, I cannot think of a better look for her. Anthyllis is very attached to this hat, and it’s part of every single outfit I piece together for her whether you can see it or not (the exception to this being her questing set as the scrolls from the Map-Maker’s Travelling Pack clip through the brim). I even got a compliment on it the other night when I was loitering around Oatbarton! The pieces, in case you’re wondering, are as follows:

Head: Plumed Hat, dyed Umber (Quest Reward: Into the Shadow / Medicine of the Elves)
Chest: Robe of Leisure, dyed Ranger Green (LotRO store)

In this entire process, though, I realized something very important: I need to clean out the wardrobe. There’s so much stuff in there and I think I just started throwing things in there without knowing if I really wanted them in there or not…