Continued from Part 1.
One of the key factors that helped me feel more at home in Lord of the Rings Online was that it seemed to attract a more literate form of gamer nerd. Unlike World of Warcraft and similar MMOs, where it’s not hard to find wankers who think it’s clever and original to name their characters “ElfB00bies” or “TurdFurgeson,” I saw characters from fiction like “Polgara” or “Kerbouchard,” as well as from history like “Hamilcar” or “Boudicca.” Made for a refreshing contrast.
Secondly, I feel like LOTRO has a more relaxed environment than other MMOs. My experience has been that players are more respectful of each other all around. Bree-chat conversations have far less name-calling and inane conversation than Barrens-chat in WoW or Fleet-chat in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I roll four female characters and have yet to have some moron come up and start flirting or ask “are you a real girl?” Indeed, I recall more than once my heroines being addressed as “my lady,” and a very polite dwarf Minstrel once made my Burglar a pair of new earrings without me even asking. So, yeah, LOTRO people, you folks friggin’ ROCK!
Anyway, here’s another of my Champion, this time in chain mail. Her steel and leather helm keeps her pretty head safe from Angmarim flails and clubs. That dark-green traveling cloak protects from the weather and billows impressively in a light breeze. The dwarf-steel spaulders provide additional cushioning for her shoulders as well as deflection against enemy arrows. The rest of her armor is made from chain mail or chain mesh with leather padding. Though heavy, the chain should protect her from enemy slashing and bludgeoning. The leather on her hips provides additional protection and arrow deflection, while the padding between her legs prevents abrasion on her horse’s flanks while she’s out riding.
My issue with the chain armor has less to do with the protectiveness so much as the formfittingness. I’ve worn chain mail and seen women wearing the heavy stuff. I’ve seen first hand how women’s boobs get flattened underneath all that steel, and thus these stick out way to far on this shirt. But, like the elf armor from part one, this is probably a result of the 3D models they used, rather than any negligence on Turbine’s part.
Armor grade: A-
I love that LOTRO also offers all-around utilitarian clothing for any adventuress. The coat my Burglar is wearing here is technically a spell-caster’s robe, but I feel it works well as a traveling outfit for pretty much any character. It’s long and durable, offering warmth in the chilly air of the Blue Mountains and dryness in the Blooming Fens of the Trollshaws. Beneath, our heroine wears a simple blouse with a riding skirt.
A Burglar could use the coat’s length and loose sleeves for hiding hand weapons, throwing knives, or ill-gotten gains. A Hunter would find it durable for a long trek through the Forests of Mirkwood. A Rune-Keeper might use it to keep her runes of magic and healing. While a Guardian may simply find it a more comfortable alternative to riding from Bree to Rivendel in half-plate.
Armor grade: A-
Here my Hunter sports a deep-forest stalker/sniper ensemble for hunting unwary servants of the Enemy. The idea was based originally on a set of alpine gear that she used when questing on the snowy peaks of the Misty Mountains or in the frozen wastes of Forochel. But after she moved on to darker places, like the Mines of Moria and southern Mirkwood, the white outfit just seemed out of place.
This current incarnation features a dark hood for hiding our elf’s pretty head, as well as for protection against wind and rain. Black leather spaulders protect her shoulders, while leather armor and black shirt keep her torso safe from goblin knives and arrows. Her dark pants are padded with leather, on the outside against orc blades, on the inside for hard rides through unfriendly territory. Leather gloves keep her arms safe without hindering her bow handling, while soft leather boots help her creep up on unwary Moria orcs.
Armor grade: A
One garment that’s common in LOTRO, but that I’ve rarely seen anywhere else is the padded hauberk. Which seems silly to me, considering hauberks were a very common type of padded armor—easy to make, as well as being decorative and protective. Often these were worn over other armor to layer up a soldier’s protection. And yet, so very few game makers think to include them in their armor selection.
The one my Captain sports here is layered over scale armor, offering the hauberk’s impact absorption with the scale’s absorption and deflection. Not only is it protective, it helps my Captain stand out on the battlefield as she leads her fellowship members to victory. Her matching cloak protects from wind and weather and makes for cool combat poses.
Her shoulders stay safe from disabling blows by two steel spaulders, while steel-plated leather gauntlets protect her hands without hindering her polearm handling in heavy combat. Leather boots help her keep her footing, whether the terrain is rocky, snowy, muddy, or bloody.
Armor grade: A+
Being the melee powerhouse she is, my Champion’s favorite armor is this suit of dwarven half-plate, known as the Armor of the Seven-Fathers. Overall, this looks like armor that has seen a lot of action and taken a lot of punishment, and still has lifetimes of action and punishment left to take.
Heavy, dwarf-steel spaulders shrug off the most determined orc axes. Thick back and breast plates over a chain-mail shirt protect her chest and vitals from bloodthirsty Wargs. And steel-plated leather gauntlets protect her hands in the thick of melee.
Our heroine’s legs are protected by a heavy skirt of steel plates and chain mesh over leather pants. Thick steel-and-leather dwarven boots allow her stable movement over any terrain. Finally, a dark-green, hooded cloak protects her head and armor from Middle Earth’s wind, rain, and snow.
Armor grade: A+
One of the first looks I discovered for my Burglar was sort of a bandit-queen/highwaywoman look, with the cocked hat, white shirt, cloak and mantle. It’s gone through several versions over the years, currently on the one to the left. There’s a dashing, authoritative air that combines “stand and deliver!” with “don’t f*** with me,”—and one that I don’t think any other outfit would encompass.
As well as looking dapper, the cocked hat and navy cloak protect our Burglar’s pretty head and shoulders while traveling. Though ornate, the steel spaulders should keep her arms protected from disabling blows. Her cuirass is a composite leather and chain-mesh vest over a long-sleeve shirt. Her gloves are leather with metal plates for effective protection combined with unhindered knife-work. Pants are dark leather for traveling and adventuring. And her boots are flexible leather for sneaking around or sword-play footwork.
Armor grade: A
I’ve never seen a game that made as serious an effort to consistently keep it’s heroines as well-protected as Lord of the Rings Online. I salute Turbine’s concept artists and costume designers in their attention to smart, non-sexualized adventuring attire for the Heroines and Heroes of Eriador.
Overall grade: A+
As always, thanks so much for reading, folks! Take care and stay awesome!