Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Fond Farewell

(Blog comments and the Contact Me page have been disabled as of 10/31/21 to prevent bot, spam, and phishing abuse.)

It's with a heavy heart that, tonight, I've decided to announce the closing of Material Middle-earth. It's been a wonderful nine and a half years creating content for the LOTRO community, at least in the form of outfits. The journey, despite all of the ups and downs, has been remarkable. I wish I could find the proper words to express my regret for leaving and my gratitude for the near decade of kindness and motivation. As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end." I was hoping it wouldn't be so after six months away from LOTRO, but that wasn't the case. Given the choice to go back in time knowing how and when it would end, I would do it all over again.

Although I don't need to, I would like to tell you why. 

My feelings, largely, haven't changed since my previous blog entry. The drive to remain cosmetically creative has disappeared entirely. I completely skipped collecting the Anniversary Festival, Summer Festival, and Farmers Faire rewards and feel neither shame nor remorse. Those were major signs that my time blogging and outfitting were likely coming to an end. Just last week, I started bartering for and crafting as many old legendary items as I possibly could, since U30.3 was essentially removing them from the game. I figured they'd come in handy for future outfits, on the chance that I'd continue here. However, I would find myself staring at the screen unmotivated while shuffling through several dozen of them. That was the moment I realized it was time to hang up those outfitter's robes.

That being said, I've been playing LOTRO lately. I just finished prepping my new Legendary Items. I also used the very generous LOTROQUESTS2021, which is still good through November 30, 2021, a few weeks ago to collect my missing quest packs for The Mists of Wilderland, The Wildwood, and The Blood of Azog. To be honest, I've also had great difficulty enjoying the new Dwarven storyline. It feels  very much a stretch of the lore that SSG can legally access. I also felt that LOTRO's story, having played since the game's open beta in 2007, came full circle with Minas Morgul's conclusion. Loose ends with Mordor, Isildur and the One Ring, and Mordirith were tied up after all these years. I felt satisfied. It's for these reasons that I'm hesitant to purchase Fate of Gundabad, the upcoming expansion.

It may also be time to leave LOTRO as well, to set foot, like many of the elves, on one  ships departing Mithlond for Valinor. The thoughts have weighed heavy upon me. As much as I've loved my time in Middle-earth and as much as I'd love to stay, that voice beckoning me away grows stronger by the day. I've told myself to wait until December, when there's a much better look into Gundabad's story and content, but it's unlikely I'll even need that much time to decide.

Whatever happens, my time here has been well spent. I wish the cosmetic community a fond farewell. And, as a heads up, I'll be giving everyone a two week grace period to make their final comments or send their last messages before I disable those as well.

If you're still looking for fresh cosmetic inspiration, please turn your gaze towards the last remaining bastions of Cosmetic LOTROWandering Around ArdaLaurel's LOTRO Den, Valkyrique's LOTRO à la Mode and the cosmetics thread on the official LOTRO Forums. And if you're a Twitter user, follow the #LOTROCosmetics hashtag too!

With all my heart,


Saturday, July 17, 2021

Blog Update

Greetings everybody! It's been a few months since my last upload. It's also been several months since I've put any serious work into my content. There are two reasons. 

The first being, where I live, most COVID-19 restrictions and *most* people have been vaccinated. Life has almost returned to normal and my precious free time is in incredibly short supply. My job demands my presence roughly 60 hours a week, at least until more employees are hired. Throw in my non-work and non-gaming daily tasks and I'm exhausted, opting to sleep versus game.

Second, I'm also burnt out regarding LOTRO. Frustrated. Annoyed. Angry. A mixed bag of feelings, really. It's not just about the endless dailies and weeklies. I'm tired of a game that's so focused on endgame grind (virtues, LI scrolls, level cap gear, essences). It's too much work to maintain more than two alts, unlike the pre-Mordor years. I haven't felt joy in recent months. My creative drive for outfits has crashed entirely and I feel like I'm endlessly reusing the same gear combinations or rehashing blog content several years old. Even the latest cosmetics don't reignite that drive. What I loved has now become a job or an endless list of chores. For far too long have I kept these feelings/concerns bottled up...and I can't any longer.

I haven't felt this way since Helm's Deep, the expansion that nearly killed my love for this game. I actually left LOTRO for nearly a full year. Often I find myself enamored, by far, with the simpler LOTRO of old than I do with the modern one. Suffice it to say, my list of grievances has grown longer than the list of things I love and I've come to face the realization that I may be approaching my final days with LOTRO.

Much of my future here is highly dependent on Gundabad and what it brings. I'm not so much concerned about the story, the Brawler or endgame as I am with LIs. The LI system needs to be revamped entirely and turned into a much simpler, alt-friendly system. For two years the community's been told it's coming. It's already been scrapped once, according to Severlin. It's promised to come with Gundabad. If the new system isn't to my liking, I'll be leaving LOTRO. If it gets delayed again, I'll be leaving LOTRO. This will be the sole factor that determines whether I stay or leave. One of my main classes was severely nerfed this past year and the other isn't wanted in non-raid endgame groups. The system, as it currently is, prevents me from leveling other classes without dumping excessive funds into the store (another major grievance).

It's an uncertain time for me. As such, this blog will be on hiatus until Gunabad's release. And at that time, I'll closely monitoring the forums, Bullroarer, and global channels for a few weeks before making my decision.


Saturday, June 5, 2021

A Retroactive Entry - Unreleased Outfits

(UPLOADED 5/12/23) At the request of multiple LOTRO players months ago, I was asked to retroactively add a multitude of outfits shared on my Twitter. Someone had kindly reminded me recently, as I'd forgotten entirely. Ten total appearances have been uploaded in this backdated blog post. 

The first six outfits consisted of outfits were either unfinished or never uploaded when I retired Material Middle-earth. I recall mentioning at some point that I'd use some of the story-based cloaks exclusive to the Legendary Servers, so I like to think I've finally made good on that promise. Three of the four outfits containing those special cloaks used cosmetics appropriate to the expansion in which they were awarded.

The last four were made a result of boredom. While waiting for a kinship event to begin, after being delayed several times, I took the opportunity to keep myself busy. These contained more recent cosmetics, some of which came from supporter packs. Also, these were the last four outfits I made before retiring entirely from LOTRO itself in January 2023.

Shoulders: Rider's Shoulder-guards (Dark clay, reward from Executioner of Isengard)
Back: Hooded Repurposed Cloak of the White Hand (Dark clay, reward from completing Volume III, Book 4 through Volume III, Book 6: Mists of Anduin on the Legendary Servers)
Chest: Giard-crus (Black, drops from T2 Dargnákh Unleashed)
Hands: Hill-man's Cracked Leather Gauntlets (Dark clay, reward from Throw the Yoke)
Feet: Dunbog Watcher's Studded Boots (Dark clay, reward from Back to Lhan Rhos)

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Springtime Symphony

Another year has come and go in LOTRO. Not only does the Spring Festival herald the return of warm weather and fragrant flowers, it also heralds the coming of both LOTRO's fourteenth and Material Middle-earth's ninth anniversaries. It's hard to believe both this game and blog has been running for that long. Time is incredibly short this month, and odds are I won't have my usual anniversary post. In lieu of that, I've put together three outfits, each of which use at least one bartered piece obtained from the Spring Festival. Some of the pieces seen here, like the Naruhel cosmetics, are new while others, like the Simbelmynë cosmetics, are nearly a decade old.

This first outfit used the newest addition to the Spring Festival vendors. Not only does it use the aforementioned Naruhel cosmetics, specifically the vines covering the arms and shoulders, it also uses a dress worn by Goldberry and the various River-maidens encountered throughout the story. Though not the most original skins in the game, in a sense because they're pre-existing assets, it's amazing that we've been seeing NPC clothing converted into player clothing (my fingers are crossed for Glathlírel's armor)! I hope the trend continues. Anyway, between the dress and vines, it was possible to create a nature-centric outfit combining the essences of earth and water. And the Groom's Myrtle Circlet was thrown in for good measure.

Head: Groom's Myrtle Circlet (Autumn leaf, Midsummer Festival barter reward)
Shoulders: Naruhel's Shawl (Default, Spring Festival Festivity Token barter reward)
Back: Cloak of the Autumn Traveler (Rohan green, Fall Festival barter reward)
Chest: Short-sleeved Dress of the Spring Maid (Rohan green, Spring Festival barter reward)
Hands: Vines of Naruhel (Default, Spring Festival Festivity Token barter reward)

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Silvered Feather


After nearly eleven years of playing LOTRO, there are still many cosmetics I haven't collected. Most of them, unfortunately, are from raids like Throne of Dread Terror, Amdan Dammul, and Remmorchant or faction rewards that require high reputation. And then there are some that I've had my eye on for years, like the Faramir-themed sets. Back in January, I collected my final Morgul Crest from a Roving Threat in the North Downs, later spending all twenty on the Robe of Faramir's Faithful. Thanks to the wonderful Gracelenrose and Narufind of Gladden and their weekly RT and Scourge runs, collecting this robe was possible. I wish these crests had a better drop rate from RTs. because those Faramir sets are gorgeous! The only other way to earn these crests is by trading Ithil-coins earned from Throne of Dread Terror, which is rarely run nowadays.

(Just a quick and shameless plug: if you are on Gladden, Grace and Nar scout a scheduled set of RTs or Scourges every Tuesday and publicly share the coords on the RT Discord server. Every Saturday night at 7 PM EST is the live RT/Scourge group, which is pre-scouted. These are scheduled in advance and will either fall into one of three categories: Eriador, Gondor and The Wastes, or Scourges and the Nine. If you'd like in on these groups, watch for advertisements or PM Gracelenrose for the server info.)

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