Deer do not feature especially prominently in the tales of Middle-earth, but there is some mention of them around the periphery of the main stories. For example, in the tale of the children of Húrin, a callous elf of Thingol’s court mockingly suggests that Túrin’s sister Nienor runs naked through the woods in naught but her hair, like a doe. This later does come to pass, and later still Nienor flings herself to her death over Cabed-en-Aras, the Leap of the Deer. In The Hobbit, Bilbo and the dwarves encounter first a black stag and then a white doe and fawns, prefiguring their enounter with the Elves of Mirkwood. These encounters are strongly reminiscent of those described Celtic mythology (in which deer figured prominently). Deer were seen as a type of faërie-cattle that often presaged encounters with fey spirits, as they indeed did for Bilbo and the dwarves. White deer, and in particular stags, were especially significant in Celtic tales; in LOTRO we see this manifested in the lands of Enedwaith and Dunland, which draw heavily upon Welsh mythology. But deer were important in Germanic mythology too, where they were seen as symbols of kingship. It is interesting that Hrothgar’s hall in Beowulf is called Heorot, the Hall of the Hart; Théoden’s hall, Meduseld, may not depict stags, but it does seem to substitute horses — perhaps a more suitable choice of kingly animal for the Men of Rohan. Finally, deer were dedicated to the Valië Nessa, famed for her skill at dancing and speed at running. Nessa was followed by deer in the wild, but they could never outrun her.
There are no accounts in any of the annals of Middle-earth of Men or Elves riding stags as steeds, but this unusual Elf-maid has done so. Devoted to Nessa, she is a wise lore-master, and has learned the secret speech of deer and thus befriended one of the massive stags of the Trollshaws. This noble beast has agreed to bear her, from time to time, on her journeys. So great is the friendship between stag and Elf that she needs no saddle or reins to ride. She wears comfortable riding clothing in the Elven style, with a cloak embroidered with the likeness of her stag-friend.
The background story concept for this outfit is, of course, completely non-lore-abiding, but I wanted to see if I could get some screenshots that made it look as if an Elf were riding a stag. It seems a very “faërie-like” image to me, and since I’ve been questing in Dunland lately I really wanted to make it happen. Well, in showbiz they (apparently) say you should never work with children or animals. I don’t know about former, but as far as LOTRO outfitting goes I can stronly confirm the latter. I tried every trick in the book to get screens that looked like she was mounting up or riding on the stag. Just when I would get into position, the fool creature would mosey on off or simply turn around 180 degrees. Eventually I was satisified with my screens but I now have a burning desire to personally slay every deer in the Trollshaws. That said, I think it would be pretty cool if one day lore-masters were given a stag pet.
- Head: Ceremonial Hat of the Written Word (bartered — skirmish camp cosmetics quartermaster/Moria cosmetic clothing – light), Ranger green
- Shoulders: Officer’s Shoulder Guards (crafted — metalsmith T6), gold
- Back: Nerth-clog (looted — Isengard instance cluster), white
- Chest: Elven Cotton Shirt (purchased — Rivendell light armour vendor; or looted — world drop/general), white
- Hands: Footman’s Gloves (crafted — tailor T6), gold
- Legs: Elven Traveller’s Leggings (crafted — tailor T3; or purchased — Rivendell light armour vendor; or looted — world drop/general), white
- Feet: Rochwen’s Boots (quest reward — Trollshaws  Some Disease Affects Them), Ranger green
Tips: The circlet used in this outfit has the same appearance as the ones from the other level 60 Mines of Moria instance cluster light armour sets. The reason I used the short-sleeved vendor shirt in this outfit instead of the crafted shirt is that the crafted version’s long sleeves are a soft butter-yellow colour that, while very pretty, is really difficult to match. The short sleeves eliminate this problem. Alternatively, if you’re not fussed about preserving the Elven style of this outfit, you could use the chest and legs from the Cotton Armour set (crafted — tailor T3). When dyed umber these pieces take on almost the exact same colour as the fur of the stag in the pictures. When dye-washed, they take on a beautiful soft colour that reminds me of the spots on a fawn’s coat.