Not much has been written about Dale in comparison with some other lands in Middle-earth. As is often the case with things Tolkien, we can turn to the language of the Men of Dale for inspiration in depicting their culture. The language of Dale was represented in Tolkien’s writings by Old Norse, in the same way that the the language of Rohan was represented by Old English. This was to show the relationship of the two languages to each other as well as to establish their relationship to Westron, the Common Tongue (represented by Modern English). Thus, in the same way that depictions of the Rohirrim take some cues from Anglo-Saxon culture, we can reasonably take some cues from Norse culture in depicting the Men of Dale.
This man is a housecarl, a voluntary military servant of the King of Dale. He bears the arms and armour typically afforded to one of his station: a mail shirt (with a boiled leather cuirass and softer fur-trimmed leather tunic overtop), a peaked nasal helm, and a great hafted long-axe. He also wears a cloak decorated with the skin and tusks of a boar, an important animal in the traditions of his people. He is a highly trained, elite warrior in the bodyguard of King Brand, unflinching in his loyalty and terrible in his ferocity should his lord’s life be threatened. As the War of the Ring escalates, great battles lie in the future for the Men of Dale, and their king and his housecarls will be sorely tested.
As we move into the southern lands of Men in LOTRO it’s interesting to see how our cosmetic options are changing. The designers seem to be favouring what I call “onesies”, that is, chest pieces that also cover the legs. Some of the new cosmetics are less fanciful than those we have seen in the past, when our adventures carried us through the lands of Elves, Dwarves, and the fallen realms of the Númenóreans in the north. Some of the new cosmetics even strongly suggest real-world historical equipment, such as the peaked helm used in this outfit. It’s an interesting new direction, but I hope a balance is struck between the old and the new. I actually find the older pieces easier to combine because they dye with a greater range of colour saturation and have a greater variety of undyeable sections to create secondary colours in an outfit. I also don’t like “onesies” very much since I feel they can limit opportunities for creativity in outfitting by eliminating the leg slot. Nevertheless, some very attractive looks can be put together using the new pieces, especially when older pieces are blended in–as I hope I’ve managed to show with today’s outfit!
- Head: Helmet of the Rider (crafted — metalsmith T7/Théodred’s Riders reputation), umber
- Shoulders: Chainmail Shoulder Guards (purchased — Bree-town heavy armour vendor; or looted — world drop/general), grey
- Back: Cloak of the Boar (bartered — Harvestmath fall festival trader/cosmetic clothing), default
- Chest: Nos-crus (looted — Fangorn’s Edge/tier 2 chest), Ranger green
- Hands: Gauntlets of Fém (quest reward — Angmar  Crannog’s Second Challenge), Ranger green
- Feet: Boots of the Westfold (pre-order — Rise of Isengard), default
Tips: Shoulders with the same appearance as the ones used in this outfit can be purchased at the Bree-town heavy armour vendors. Note that they come in two variations: a new-looking one, like the one used here, and a more distressed, battle-worn looking version. Nos-crus has the same appearance as several other Dunland quest rewards. The gauntlets in this outfit have the same appearance as the Gauntlets of the North-drake (looted — world drop/level 49).