Harvestmath Guises: Ringwraith

The Ringwraiths, or, in the Black Speech, Nazgûl, were Sauron’s most terrible servants. Once they were Men, each given by Sauron one of the Nine Rings. The rings brought them great power, and they became great kings and warriors and sorcerers. Their lives were unnaturally prolonged, but in time they became ensnared by the power of the rings, and they began to fade, enslaved to Sauron’s will. They became invisible and insubstantial, detectable only in the realm of the Unseen, unless they clothed themselves in black shrouds. They were nine in number, and their captain was of old the Witch-king of Angmar until he fled from that realm, never to return. Three of the Nazgûl were said to be lords of Númenor, and the Witch-king may have been one of these. Of the remaining Ringwraiths, the identity of only one is known: the Lieutenant of Dol Guldur was once Khamûl, a king of the Easterlings. In their unlife, the Ringwraiths wielded Morgul-blades with the power to draw their victims into the realm of the Unseen, as nearly happened to Frodo after he was stabbed upon Weathertop. But the chief weapon of the Ringwraiths was fear: their mere presence caused terror and their Black Breath was poisonous, debilitating, and even fatal. Whether on foot or mounted upon steed of land or sky, the Ringwraiths were a force to be reckoned with.

One of the Nine lurks in a forgotten barrow, perhaps the very crypt that was prepared for him as a king long ago, before his life carried on unnaturally, long past the deaths of the crypt-builders. Given form by a black shroud, he stalks the cold barrow armed with a cruel Morgul-blade. As part of his raiment he wears a crown-like mask, which recalls his now-forgotten former life, wrested from him an Age ago, as a king of mortal Men. But the mask serves only vanity and pride, for only those able to perceive things as they are on the other side, in the realm of the Unseen, might see his terrible face and his true appearance: a pale, gaunt king with groping fingers, clad in cold mail and crowned in iron.

The Ringwraiths are among the most iconic and uniquely original of Tolkien’s creations. The word wraith means “ghost” or “apparition”, and Tolkien felt it was etymologically related to Old English wríðen, “to twist, torture”. Thus “wraith” is also related to our modern English words wrath, wroth, and writhe: words of anger and contortion. It is even related to wreath, which is a band of material twisted round into none other than a ring. Therefore, the very name of the Ringwraiths in and of itself alludes to their twisting by their rings and their domination by the One Ring. I would go so far as say the name wraith shows that each Nazgûl’s entire identity was “Ring”, their past selves eroded until nothing but Sauron’s will remained. Beyond the etymology, rings have symbolic meaning relevant to Tolkien’s mythology. Rings are bands which have been used throughout history to show bonds; bonds to one’s lord and, as is well-known in our own time, the bond between spouses. A ring encloses its wearer’s finger, possessively, but is itself empty inside, as are the Ringwraiths, who without their shrouds lack material substance and who are bound to Sauron by their former wearing of their rings — their wills enclosed, bound by his. For all these reasons, the Ringwraiths make great, iconic villains — and great, iconic villains make for perfect Harvestmath guises!

  • Head: Helm of the Investigator (quest reward — Great River [75] Disturbances in Thinglad), black
  • Shoulders: Shoulders of the Stone-student (bartered — Shadowed Refuge light armour vendor/Lore-master), black
  • Back: Plain Cloak (purchased — any outfit vendor), black
  • Chest: Death-shroud (bartered — skirmish camp classic quartermaster/Halls of Night – rare), black
  • Hands: Malledhrim Gauntlets (crafted — metalsmith T6/Malledhrim reputation), black
  • Feet: Malledhrim Boots (crafted — metalsmith T6/Malledhrim reputation), black
  • Weapon: Steel Sword (crafted — weaponsmith T2; or looted — world drop/general)

Tips: UPDATE: The helm used in this outfit was formerly available as the Helm of the Enforcer, the Helm of the Garrison, or the Helm of the Officer from the level 65 Ettenmoors heavy armour sets. Those sets were removed from the game but fortunately, a helm with this appearance, the one given above in the list of the outfit’s components, is now available as a quest reward from the Great River region. The Shoulders of the Stone-student have the same appearance as the other level 58 Mines of Moria instance cluster light armour sets.

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21 Responses to Harvestmath Guises: Ringwraith

  1. Wow very impressive and really scary! Excellent sword for the outfit too, very well done!

    • Thanks Hymne! Haha, I had fun taking the screenshots in one of the little Haudh Iarchith barrows and folks questing though would come around the corner, see me, pause, and then go on their way probably laughing crazy person emoting like mad in some barrow. 😛

      • Wha ha ha I can relate to that! I have a level 3 bank-alt that I created long before the starter instance was forced on you and you could just run out into the open world after creation. I sometimes use him for outfits. People see him running around and start sending me /tells. They just can’t figure out how a level 3 ever made it to the Misty Mountains, and why he’s there jumping up and down a slope throwing tantrums and telling people to charge. 🙂

  2. The shoulder’s with that helm completely change the look of both in the first picture; Well done! I loved your thoughts about the etymology, it’s something interesting to think about. I agree with Hymne, the sword was well chosen for the character.

    • Thanks Leeann! I had never really thought about the word wraith before until I read Tom Shippey’s discussion about it and it blew my mind. I think it’s one of the neatest etymological tricks that Tolkien executed. 🙂

  3. Devonna says:

    Very scary outfit Starry. I am looking forward to your “in guise” outfits this month. Also thanks for the update about the ettenmoors armour. I guess I better get the things I want before it’s too late.

  4. Iaksones says:

    Yeah I got mad when they said they’d remove all the old moors armor from the barter guys. There’s plenty of clutter in this game, why crack down on the stuff with unique cosmetics?

    As a master of lore, how did you feel when in Mirkwood Turbine named 2 more of the Nazgul? I forget what they were dubbed.

    • I think one was called “the Black Blade of Lebennin” but I had to look up the other one: “the Gloom of Nurn”. I actually don’t mind them because as titles they’re pretty non-specific. I think the Gloom of Nurn is the better of the two because it makes complete sense (to me anyway) that one of the wraiths would at some point in history have been hanging out in the land of Nurn. Lebennin though implies some connection to Gondor, either that the wraith was from the fief of Lebennin or attacked it at some point, both of which are getting a bit too specific in their implications for my tastes. But overall, I think they’re pretty good ways to individualise two of the wraiths. Certainly better than giving them personal names!

  5. Firestorm953 says:

    I always loved the ringwraiths because they looked so cool. So I’m glad you did one on them. 🙂

  6. Adrian Tan says:

    Amazing work with the outfit, definitely catches the Ringwraith aurora. Love it!

  7. Nathrien says:

    Another fantastic lore-centric outfit. You’ve defintely managed to capture the ‘spirit’ of the Nazgûl! this gives me an idea for a Halloween costume contest : )

    It’s also a shame to hear that the old Moors pieces are getting nixed…I was hoping to go VIP again soon so I could grab a few more pieces, especially those mini shoulders similar to the Mighty Verse ones!

    • Thanks Nathrien! And yes, those mini shoulders are well worth grabbing before it’s (possibly) too late!

      You should totally do a Hallowe’en costume contest, it would be so fun to see what people would come up with. 🙂

  8. Laenlis says:

    Ohh, this is fantastic. Chilling and tragic.

  9. Roxette Rose says:

    Hello,

    I am told this was available on the mannequins last month. Will it became a regular part of their rotation and how often do they change now?

    You also mentioned that the helm can be a quest reward in great winter. Will it be heavy armor only?

    • Hi Roxette, thanks for your question and welcome to the blog! 🙂

      This outfit did feature on the in-game mannequins in October. The mannequins seem to change on the first of each month. So far, no outfit has been repeated and I’m not sure if that’s part of Turbine’s plan. Maybe at some point they may offer past mannequins again, or in the LOTRO, but I don’t know.

      The helm is indeed a quest reward in the Great River region. It is called the Helm of the Investigator, and it’s a reward from the quest “Disturbances in Thinglad”. You can get the quest from the NPC Noriel at 19.0S, 62.9W.

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