Saturday, April 21, 2018

Recollections of the Last Alliance & Happy Anniversary



It's difficult to believe that I tried retiring from cosmetic blogging for LOTRO three years ago. And it's even more difficult to believe, after all that work I'd put into what were supposed to be the final days of my blog, that I would miraculously return seven months later. I haven't regretted coming back. Even though the golden age of the outfitting community has long passed, I've done my best to keep Material Middle-earth running strong and continue creating fresh content. If it weren't for CosmeticLOTRO, The Starry Mantle, and LOTRO Fashion, the original pioneers of this niche community, my blog may have never existed. Speaking of which...

Happy Sixth Anniversary to Material Middle-earth! The official date is April 24th. If you asked me back in 2012 how long I expected to maintain this blog, I wouldn't have been able to guess. But it's been six years. Six years! "Retirement" and a multitude of PC hardware failures hasn't stopped me yet. Here's to another six...hopefully!


This particular outfit was inspired both by the NPCs in LOTRO's High Elf intro and the Battle of Dagorlad, the focal point of the intro's story.  (For those who haven't had the opportunity to play that intro, here are some pictures of those NPCs from my Twitter.) I've always imagined what these Second Age soldiers and commanders would wear into that particular battle. We've seen one interpretation in Jackson's LOTR films. We've seen another in SSG's rendition. And the Silmarillion only says that this host of elves were "fairer and more splendid in arms than any that since been seen in Middle-earth." Given what I had accessible, and there wasn't much to work with, I decided to combine the clue from the Silmarillion with SSG's NPC visuals. Using the gear skins obtained from the High-enchanter vendor in Mordor, I put my own spin on an outfit suitable to the War of the Last Alliance.


Originally, this outfit was prominently dyed evendim blue to match the colors in Círdan, Gil-galad, Harthalin, and Isildur's clothing. At the last minute, before applying the dyes outside of the dressing room, I made some unexpected modifications. When I tried the Cloak of the Summer Sea, I realized that I could create a gradient from the golden shoulders of the chestpiece to the sea blue hem of the cloak, which would tie together multiple pieces. Naturally, that led to a shift from evendim blue to sea blue. Honestly, I think it worked better that way. If you'd like to know the original outfit, I'll add a picture and list the pieces to it at the very end of this post.


Head: Turquoise Summer Circlet (Sea blue, dyeable LOTRO Store version)
Shoulders: Embroidered Mantle of the Last Alliance (Shire peach, High-enchanter ash vendor in Mordor - light armor)
Back: Cloak of the Summer Sea (Shire peach, Summer Festival barter reward)
Chest: Heavy Hauberk of the Last Alliance (Sea blue, High-enchanter vendor in Mordor - medium armor)
Hands:  Strong Gauntlets of the Last Alliance (Default, High-enchanter vendor in Mordor - heavy armor)
Feet: Thick Sabatons of the Last Alliance (Default, High-enchanter vendor in Mordor - heavy armor)

Main-hand weapon: Blade of Unity -- Reward from the Epic quest 2.7.3
Off-hand weapon: Blade of Unity -- Reward from the Epic quest 2.7.3
Ranged weapon: Well-worn Mûmak-rider's Bow, random chest drop from the Osgiliath instance cluster.

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The original outfit:

Head: Turquoise Summer Circlet (Evendim blue, dyeable LOTRO Store version)
Shoulders: Fine Camail of the Last Alliance (Shire peach, High-enchanter ash vendor in Mordor - medium armor)
Back: Autumn Leafmail Cloak (Navy, Fall Festival barter reward)
Chest: Heavy Hauberk of the Last Alliance (Evendim blue, High-enchanter vendor in Mordor - medium armor)
Hands:  Strong Gauntlets of the Last Alliance (Default, High-enchanter vendor in Mordor - heavy armor)
Feet: Thick Sabatons of the Last Alliance (Default, High-enchanter vendor in Mordor - heavy armor)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sword Skins Collection Pt. 1

I sorely miss Darzil's Crafting Guide. Most players at the time went there to see armor skins, usually in full sets, but some went there for weapons. (Using weapons cosmetically back then was strictly for RP purposes.) You could find anything crafted or bartered there up to level 65. By the time Isengard had been released, somewhere around 2012, the person running Darzil's had decided to step down. He had informed the community of his decision and offered to keep the site running, so long as someone else was willing to come forward and actively work on the site. Darzil's remained active for another three years, closing in 2015 because the people who expressed a desire to take over performed no work whatsoever.

It was a significant loss suffered by the cosmetic and crafting community. At the time, the loss of armor visuals were felt far more keenly than the weapons. Several months later, in late 2015/early 2016, cosmetic weapon overlays were introduced, adding salt to the proverbial wound. Myndariel, bless her soul, has been gradually working on a visual crafting guide over the past couple of years. It's still far from finished, but it's the closest the community has gotten to Darzil's.

I will try to do my best. Just like with the staves I recently shared, I'll show you my collection of swords and where I found them, along with other places they appear. Here's the first part!

And as usual, if you know of another weapon shares the same skin and isn't listed below, let me know!

 Amdillang - Unobtainable. Dropped from the Warden in Dungeons of Dol Guldur before the scaling update.
Wyrm Fang - Unobtainable. Grisgart in the Helegrod Drake Wing dropped this only when the caps were 65 and 75.
Blade of Unity -- Reward from the Epic quest 2.7.3

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Anórien Honor-guard



Running my High Elf Captain through Gondor Epic quests for trait points has allowed me to collect some exclusive cosmetic rewards I've foregone on previous alts. Volume 4 Book 4 offers some skins you can't get anywhere else for light, medium, and heavy armor classes. Originally, I thought the Epic rewards would share the same armor skins offered by the reputation vendors on the main level of Minas Tirith. It turned out that their appearances were quite different. Part of me wishes I could endure the reputation grind. The rest of me tells me not to bother. Why? Whenever I've been in that city, I've crashed to the desktop every ten or so minutes. I've only completed the main story on my alts and nothing else.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Whispers of Yávië



Shortly after the Abyss of Mordath released, I decided to pick up my long retired Hunter. For four years, he'd been sitting at level 85, having never crossed the Entwade and into the Westemnet. When the class trait trees first dropped and the time consuming Epic Battles were the only way to obtain top tier jewellery, I was forced to heavily cut back on the number of active alts. Unfortunately, after those four years, I'd forgotten how to play my inactive classes. I was having a terrible time with my Hunter, which had been fundamentally altered by those trees, and decided it'd be easier to roll a new one. The class just wasn't what I remembered it to be.

Anyway, having made a new alt means (and you probably guessed it) having seven new outfit setups. I may or may not have filled all seven before I started Ered Luin quests!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Lore-master's Staff Skin Collection Pt. 2

It brings me great joy to say that the LOTRO community has been absolutely wonderful this past week. It hadn't been my intent to post the second half of my staff collection, but with all the information regarding skins and weapon names coming at me over Twitter, Facebook, my blog's e-mail, and game chat, I figured uploading this sooner than later would be a good thing to do.

Without further ado, I present to you another assortment of staff skins!

Areneth's Staff - Reward from the quest The Keeper Garthamendir 

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