Osgiliath-defender

On his helm a host of stars

Osgiliath was of old the chief city of Gondor and the residence of its kings. Athwart the mighty Anduin, the city controlled the river crossing from Ithilien in the east to the town-lands of the Pelennor and Minas Tirith in the west. Because of its strategic location, the city’s history was fraught with strife. The hosts of Mordor took Osgiliath during the Second Age, and the city was only reclaimed when Sauron was defeated by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Later, during the Third Age, the forces of Castamir the Usurper laid siege to the city during Gondor’s civil war, the Kin-strife. The Usurper’s forces sacked and burned the city, forcing King Eldacar to flee to his kin in Rhovanion. The city was again reclaimed in the name of the right king when Eldacar returned and the rebellion was put down, but its population was later decimated by the Great Plague of III 1636. The city began to fall into ruin, and the king relocated to Minas Tirith, making it the chief city of Gondor. When Minas Ithil was captured by Mordor in III 2002, Osgiliath became extremely vulnerably to attack, and many of its people fled west to safer parts of the realm. In III 2475, the forces of Mordor took the city again and the city was finally deserted of all its inhabitants. Nevertheless, the Steward of Gondor would not suffer it to be held by the Enemy, and his forces wrested back control from the occupying Uruk-hai. Osgiliath then became a disputed ruin, the western shore defended by Gondor’s forces and the eastern repeatedly attacked by Mordor’s. Finally, in the summer of III 3018, in the opening offensive of the War of the Ring, Sauron’s forces, led by the Ringwraiths, came forth and took the city. The last bridge across Anduin was thrown down. The Rangers of Ithilien continued to defend the city’s western shore from the Causeway Forts, but the eastern shore was now firmly under the control of Sauron’s forces.

Defying the Shadow in the East

This man is a warrior of Gondor under the command of the Lord Faramir, son of the Steward Denethor. He is arrayed in strong mail and proudly bears the winged helm and shield of Gondor. They have served him well already, for the fighting has been fierce, as evidenced by his tattered cloak. He has come here to Osgiliath’s western shore with his company for, as the seige of Gondor draws near, the Steward has commanded his son to take what forces he may and make the Enemy pay dearly when at last he comes to cross the river. When this defense fails, as it must, Faramir’s forces will fall back to Causeway Forts, there to try against all hope to hold out. But the skies are now permanently darkened by the fumes of Mordor and the shrieks of the Ringwraiths can be heard among the crumbling buildings and shattered monuments of the east shore. Have the Men of Gondor any hope against the Shadow that rises in the East?

Torn and tattered gear of war

I always keep an eye out for cosmetics with a wing motif to use in Gondor-themed outfits, so when I came across the shield recently I was excited to put it to use. Even more so because of the upcoming addition of cosmetic weapons and shields to the game. I’m looking forward to setting up my shield-using characters with coordinating pieces. Are there are shields you’re especially looking forward to equipping cosmetically?

Last defense of the causeway

  • Head: Westernesse Winged Helm of Vigour (looted — world drop), black
  • Shoulders: The Huntsman’s Shoulder Guards (bartered — Ox-clan Merchant Camp Hunter Trainer), default
  • Back: Recovered Cloak of the Nobleman (quest reward — [100] Ashes and Stars, Chapter 7), steel blue
  • Chest: Chainmail Chestpiece of Fate (looted — world drop), black
  • Hands: Lesser Secret of the West Gauntlets (bartered — Harndirion Novice’s Quartermaster/tier 1 difficulty Burglar armour), steel blue
  • Legs: Lesser Ward of the West Leggings (bartered — Harndirion Novice’s Quartermaster/tier 1 difficulty Guardian armour), steel blue
  • Feet: Boots of the Hammerhand (pre-order — Helm’s Deep), default
  • Shield: Shield of Endurance (looted — world drop)
  • Weapon: Polished Gondorian Sword (crafted — weaponsmith T3)

Tips: The shield that I used in this outfit has an equip level of 59 if you trying to find a place to keep an eye out for it to drop. Lothlórien or Mirkwood might be good places to grind mobs looking for it.

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Shielded Selections

Countless stars of heaven's field mirrored on his silver shield

His sword was long, his lance was keen.
His shining helm afar was seen;
the countless stars of heaven’s field
were mirrored in his silver shield.

— “The Fall of Gil-galad”, The Lord of the Rings 1:XI

This Thursday past it was confirmed that cosmetic weapons and shields are finally being implemented in LOTRO! The system is now being previewed with Update 16.2 on the Bullroarer test server. Gloredh of Wandering Around Arda has also done a really nice preview showing how the new cosmetic slots work. This is something that I’m sure many other cosmetics enthusiasts have been hoping for for a very long time now, and I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised to hear about it! In fact, I’d given up hope that it would ever be added. I’m pleased to be proved wrong. I’m sure there will be some kinks and bugs to work out, but hopefully going forward this will be a great addition to LOTRO’s cosmetic system.

In honour of this new addition to the game, here is a selection of outfits featuring coordinating shields to give you some inspiration before Update 16.2 goes live.

Scaled skirmisher       Durin IV       Fram

The littlest shieldmaiden       Stalwart of Sarn Ford       Shield of the Stiffbeards

Posted in Selections | 4 Comments

Mount-matching: The Fabulous Belladonna Took

The Fabulous Belladonna Took was a brightly-coloured hobbit-outfit inspired by Bilbo’s famous and unusually adventurous mother. When off on her journeys with Gandalf she will need a suitably spirited steed, arrayed in flamboyant tack, if she hopes to keep up with him!

A lovely day for a ride

Simply the best way to see the country

A spirited steed

If her in-laws could just see her now

  • Body: Light Caparison of the Entwash (quest reward — [80] Patching Friendships), purple
  • Head: Light Halter of the Wold (quest reward — [77] Floodwend Besieged), purple
  • Saddle: Champion’s Saddle (purchased — LOTRO Store)
  • Legs: Wintry Yule Leggings (bartered — Yule Festival Horse Trader/The More the Merrier – Tier 3), purple
  • Accessory: Accessory Bins (purchased — LOTRO Store)
  • Hide: Spotted War-steed (purchased — LOTRO Store), bay
  • Tail: Simple Tail (auto-granted), flaxen chestnut
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Tawarwaith Pathfinder

Hers 1

His 1

A reclusive, woodcrafty folk, the Silvan Elves dwelt in the great forests of Mirkwood and Lothlórien. In the Sindarin tongue, they were called Tawarwaith, the Forest-people. The Tawarwaith were descended from a group of Teleri who in the Elder Days had lingered in the Vales of Anduin rather than complete the journey to Aman. They were later joined by some of the westernmost clans of the Avari, the Dark-elves who refused the summons of the Valar, and these became absorbed into the Tawarwaith bringing with them their own culture and customs. The Silvan Elves of both Mirkwood and of Lothlórien had no princes of their own, but came to be ruled in later days by greater Elves fleeing the wreck of Beleriand: Oropher became king of the Mirkwood and Amdír became king of the wood that would later come to be known as Lothlórien. Both were Sindar of Doriath. The ways of their new subjects, the Tawarwaith, were rustic compared to those of the Sindar, and in time, the Grey-elven rulers had adopted many of the Silvan customs, but the Grey-elven tongue became the daily language spoken by the Tawarwaith.

Hers 2

His 2

These two Silvan Elves are pathfinders of Mirkwood. The wood is ever dark and dangerous, and the Elvenking’s scouts toil to keep footpaths clear of overgrowth, fallen trees and branches, and the webs of the great spiders that plague the wood. Though it was once called Greenwood the Great, there is little now that grows green in Mirkwood, and these elves are camouflaged in garb the colour of the leafmould that lies deep on the ground. Their clothing is decorated with a leaf motif inspired by the trees that they love and that they hope against hope one day will be restored to their former beauty and splendour. But until the day the Shadow is lifted from their land, Mirkwood will remain a forest under nightshade.

Hers 3

His 3

This “his and hers” look was inspired by the two hoods used in the outfits. I wanted to combine these interesting pieces with various Golden Host and Malledhrim pieces, with their leaf-motif, and complete the look with shoulders with strong and unique silhouettes. I didn’t include a cloak on her outfit, because most cloaks look pretty strange with the large sail-like shoulder-piece, especially those with cast-back hoods like the the one in his outfit. However, if you wanted to put something else in the back slot for this outfit, some good options are the Elven Prospector’s Pack (crafted — tailor T3; or purchased — LOTRO Store) or the Sage’s Pack (purchased — LOTRO Store). Both options look good dyed Ranger Green.

Hers 4

His 4

Hers

  • Head: Golden Host Helmet (crafted — tailor T6/Malledhrim reputation), gold
  • Shoulders: Lore-keeper’s Shoulders (bartered — skirmish camp classic quartermaster/Barad Guldur level 65 light), rust
  • Chest: Tawarwaith Robe (crafted — tailor T6/Malledhrim reputation), gold
  • Hands: Golden Host Gauntlets (crafted — tailor T6/Malledhrim reputation), gold
  • Feet: Tawarwaith Shoes (crafted — tailor T6/Malledhrim reputation), gold
  • Satchel: Rune-keeper’s Rune-satchel of the Third Age (quest reward — Volume II Book 1 Chapter 14: Khazad-dûm at Last!), default

Tips: The Lore-keeper’s shoulders can also be obtained from the Lore-master trader in Ost Galadh by bartering a Dark Emblem of Heart looted from the Lieutenant of Barad Guldur. The first legendary Rune-keeper’s rune-satchel awarded via the epic quest line is useful to keep because when equipped cosmetically it is invisible. Thus, if you want your Rune-keeper to be able to have no satchel visible when displaying cosmetic outfits while keeping your regular satchel equipped, make sure to keep the rune-satchel from “Khazad-dûm at Last” (or keep a cosmetic copy in your Wardrobe).

His

  • Head: Noriel’s Leather Helm (quest reward — [75] Disturbances in Thinglad), gold
  • Shoulders: Shoulders of the Deathstorm (bartered — skirmish camp classic quartermaster/Barad Guldur level 65 heavy), gold
  • Back: Cloak of the Fallen Leaves (purchased — LOTRO Store), Ranger green
  • Chest: Golden Host Coat (crafted — tailor T6/Malledhrim reputation), Ranger green
  • Hands: Gauntlets of the Hidden Paths (quest reward — [70] A Reasonable Request), Ranger green
  • Legs: Tawarwaith Leggings (crafted — tailor T6/Malledhrim reputation), Ranger green
  • Feet: Malledhrim Boots (crafted — metalsmith T6/Malledhrim reputation), Ranger green

Tips: The helm used in this outfit was formerly part of the level 65 medium Ettenmoors armour set. Likewise, the gloves were formerly part of the level 65 heavy Ettenmoors armour set.

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Warden of the Woodland Realm

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Fellowship of the Ring: Meriadoc, Esquire of Rohan

For love of Théoden King

The Fellowship of the Ring was the company chosen by Elrond Halfelven to protect and guide the Ring-bearer on his quest to destroy the One Ring in the fire of Mount Doom. The company was composed of nine, and all of the Free Peoples were represented: Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin for the Hobbits; Legolas for the Elves; Gimli for the Dwarves; Aragorn and Boromir for Men; and Gandalf.

The tale of  the company was reduced to eight when Gandalf fell in Moria. Then the company’s Fellowship was broken upon the shores of Nen Hithoel when Boromir attempted to take the Ring from Frodo by force. At the same time, the company was attacked by Uruk-hai. Boromir was slain, Merry and Pippin were captured, and Frodo and Sam escaped by boat to the far shore of the lake. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli resolved to let the Ringbearer go and instead to pursue the Uruks. Thus the company was scattered.

The horn of Rohan

Merry wielded his Barrow-blade fiercely against the Uruks before they managed to capture him, and he “cut off several of their arms and hands”. Nevertheless, he and Pippin were captured and borne many miles over the fields of Rohan. They managed to escape when the Uruks were attacked by a troop of Horselords, and to flee into the depths of Fangorn Forest. There they met Treebeard the Ent and were reunited with Gandalf. Later, in Rohan, Merry laid his sword across the lap of Théoden King, pledging his fealty. “You shall be like a father to me,” said Merry, but Théoden replied, “For a while.” Merry was given a shaggy grey pony, Stybba, and at the request of Aragorn was armed for war with a small helm, a jerkin of leather, and a round shield bearing the device of a white horse. Although Merry wished to join the muster of the Rohirrim and ride to the aid of Gondor, he was forbidden by Théoden, who said that great though Merry’s heart may be, he could not ride a horse, and Stybba could not keep up with the great steeds of the Horselords. Nevertheless, Merry was carried to the battle in secret by the warrior Dernhelm, and took part in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields before the gate of Minas Tirith. Here he did his greatest deed of valour when the warrior Dernhelm faced the Captain of the Ringwraiths and was revealed to be the Lady Éowyn in disguise. To aid her, Merry stabbed his Barrow-blade into the wraith’s leg from behind, and the sword, wound with spells by the Men of Westernesse for the bane of Mordor, unraveled the ties binding the wraith’s spirit to Middle-earth. In that hour, Théoden King passed from the circles of the world, and Merry sat with him in his final moments, and he wept, for now never in happier times would they speak together of the herb-lore of the Shire, as they had planned.

Stybba the pony

For his heroism and great service to the kingdom of Rohan, Merry was named Holdwine, “Loyal Friend”, by Éomer King and given a war-horn from the hoard of the dragon Scatha. Upon returning home to the Shire, Merry winded the horn during the Battle of Bywater, rousing the local hobbitry against the ruffians that had occupied the country. That battle, of course, was won, and the Shire was scoured of villainy. Every year thereafter, the Horn of the Mark was blown on the second day of November, on the anniversary of the battle. Merry was called Meriadoc the Magnificent, and he became the Master of Buckland and wed Estella Bolger. He was made a Councillor of the North-kingdom, and wrote books on the herb-lore and nomenclature of the Shire. Many years later, after the death of King Elessar, their old friend Strider, he and Pippin travelled to Gondor and lived there for a time. At last Merry’s time in Middle-earth drew to an end, and his body was laid to rest for ever alongside that of King Elessar.

He too wished to ride to war

Quite some time ago, I completed my collection based on the Fellowship of the Ring with a composite portrait of the entire company and hinted that I had further plans for the collection. The present portrait of Merry in the later stages of the story is the extremely belated beginning of the those plans! Here also is the first portrait of Merry, a look at the character upon leaving the Shire for the first journey to Rivendell. Merry is a great heroic character, the most intelligent and resourceful of Frodo’s three hobbit-companions, and this is underlined by his deeds of valour after the scattering of the Company. Indeed, the description of his defense against the Uruks before being captured by them is very reminiscent of the last stand of Húrin, said to be the greatest warrior of Men in the First Age. Húrin stood alone during the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, surrounded by Morgoth’s trolls, and hewed off their arms with his axe, crying with each stroke, “Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!”. Seventy times did his cry ring out, but like Merry, he too was captured in the end.

Holdwine

Meriadoc, Esquire of Rohan

  • Head: Plate Helm of Trum Dreng (quest reward — [66] Finding an Old Friend), crimson
  • Shoulders: Dwarf Leather Shoulder Guards of Might (looted — world drop/general), olive
  • Back: Shield of the Hammerhand (pre-order — Helm’s Deep), default
  • Chest: Cuirass of Manipulation (quest reward — epic [86] Volume III, Book 11, Chapter 5: Chamber of the Worm), burgundy
  • Hands: Westernesse Protector’s Gloves (crafted — tailor T5), olive
  • Legs: Ceremonial Town-saver’s Leggings (bartered — skirmish camp cosmetics quartermaster/Rift cosmetic clothing – medium), burgundy
  • Feet: Westemnet Campaign Shoes (crafted — tailor T9), olive

Stybba

  • Body: Burglar’s Caparison (purchased — LOTRO Store), olive
  • Saddle: Rune-keeper’s Saddle (purchased — LOTRO Store), default
  • Legs: Minstrel’s Leggings (purchased — LOTRO Store), olive
  • Hide: Shaggy Roan Steed (purchased — LOTRO Store), steel grey
  • Tail: Simple Tail (auto-granted), steel grey

Tips: The helm used in this outfit shares an appearance with several other Dunland quest rewards. If you can’t find the shoulders used, you can craft a similar pair, Dwarf-make Outrider’s Shoulder Guards (crafted — tailor T3); they dye the same, but have a slightly different shape. The chest piece shares an appearance with other Helm’s Deep light armour quest rewards.

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Mount-matching: Scaled Skirmisher

Riding far afield at the behest of Elrond the Halfelven

Scaled Skirmisher was an outfit for a warrior-scout sent forth from Rivendell by Elrond while Frodo and his companions were resting there in preparation for their quest. The scouts roamed far into the north, east, and, like this scout, south into the wilds of Eregion. How better to cover these great distances swiftly than on a prized steed from the stables of Elrond himself?

Prized steed of Rivendell

Grooming at day's end

The grace of the Elves extended to their skill on horseback

Steed: Prized Rivendell Steed (purchased — Elves of Rivendell reputation vendor)

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Shield of the Stiffbeards

His helm was crested with an eagle of the mountain peaks

The Dwarves of Middle-earth were divided into seven lineages, each descended from one of the original Dwarves given physical shape by the smith-Vala Aulë, and given life by Eru Ilúvatar. These seven Fathers of the Dwarves were set to slumber in separate locations around Middle-earth until the Elves should awaken, for Eru would not suffer his adopted children to come before his intended Firstborn. When it came time for the Race of Dwarves to enter the history of Arda, each of the seven Fathers awoke in their respective places deep beneath the earth, and awakening alongside each dwarf-sire was a dwarf-dam; except for the eldest, Durin, who woke alone. Durin founded the line of the Longbeards, and two other lines arose in the Blue Mountains, the Broadbeams and the Firebeards. The other four lines arose far to the east of the known lands of Middle-earth and do not come into the tales recounted in the Red Book of Westmarch.

Signal-flashing

This dwarf is one of the eastern Dwarves, of the house of the Stiffbeards. Dwelling in the mountains of Rhûn, his folk remain enigmatic to the peoples of the West. He is clad in a coat of lames, polished to a gleaming white finish and cinched around the waist with a silken sash. His helm is crested with the form of an eagle of the mountains, and his beard is braided into two stark forks, the hallmark of the Stiffbeards. His most important possession, however, is his great shield, forged in the shape of a sunburst. Not only does it serve him well in battle, for the Dwarves of all the houses have ever had their share of foes, but by holding it aloft so that its burnished surface catches the rays of the sun, it can also be used to signal his kinfolk from across mountain valleys or chasms.

Mountains of the East

Tolkien never did explain why the Stiffbeards were so named, nor did he explain the names of any of the houses of the Dwarves. Another mystery is just how Durin founded the Longbeards when he alone of the Dwarf-fathers did not awaken with a spouse! In addition to the Stiffbeards, the other mysterious eastern houses were the Blacklocks, the Stonefoots, and the Ironfists. They are only obliquely mentioned in the histories of Middle-earth; warriors from all seven houses took part in the attempt to reclaim Khazad-dûm from the Orcs. I was inspired to put together an outfit for an eastern dwarf by the chest piece that I used in this outfit. Something about it, perhaps the lamellar design, seems vaguely eastern to me. The protruding rear neck-guard of the helm (a little difficult to see on a stout dwarf-model) gives a similar impression.

Coat of lames

  • Head: Himhar (quest reward — epic [4o] Volume 1, Book 4, Chapter 8: The Unmarked Trail), umber
  • Shoulders: Leather Shoulder Guards of Vigour (looted — world drop general; or purchased — Esteldín medium armour vendor), washed
  • Chest: Wildermore Armour (crafted — metalsmith T8/Survivors of Wildermore reputation), umber
  • Hands: Skirmish Gauntlets of the Westfold (crafted — tailor T9/Helmingas reputation), white
  • Feet: Skirmish Boots of the Westfold (crafted — tailor T9/Helmingas reputation), white
  • Shield: Noble’s Heavy Shield (crafted — metalsmith T6)

Tips: A ceremonial version of Himhar is available for purchase from the LOTRO Store.

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