When I recently ranted about the problems that mismatching armour would do to a fashion-conscious character, reader Longasc reminded me that Lord of the Rings Online actually had a great system to customize every toons’ appearance, Outfitting.
Of course, me being my usual slow-witted self, I needed some serious twitter coaching by the same Longasc to finally get it. And now I’m totally taken by the system.
When the game first introduces you to Outfits, you get a free cosmetic circlet with the gift pack every new adventurer obtains at the end of their Intro. And I tried that one out immediately, of course.
How does that work? Besides your normal character equipment screen, you also get currently two tabs for outfits, a series of duplicate slots that will accept cosmetic items – gear that is purely decorative in nature and has no stats.
After receiving my first gifted circlet, I promptly equipped it in one of those outfit tabs… and noticed that it would remain in my inventory. As bag space tends to be at a premium (isn’t it always), I promptly banked the thing, and dismissed the whole system as more or less useless.
Say it ain’t so.
And indeed, it isn’t. The system is way better than that.
What I finally understood was that cosmetic items remain in your inventory because they act like templates: drag them onto your character’s outfit panel, and a copy gets created that dresses your toon accordingly. Then you can send the same cosmetic item to another of your toons and equip it. Which is nice. But it doesn’t stop there.
To really get the full grasp of what Turbine has done here, one needs to spend some TP and get at least one shared wardrobe expansion of the Lotro store. And BTW, they’re on sale this week, which makes it a good time to grab them if you got any Turbine Points to spare.
Shared Wardrobes come in 10 slot increments and are, as the name states, shared among all your characters on the same server. They work the same way as your character’s outfit panel, in the sense that you will copy an outfit into the wardrobe while the original remains in your inventory (and you could for instance resell those after you copied them to the wardrobe).
From there, you can again simply drag and drop a cosmetic item from wardrobe to character panel and create a new copy. Fair enough. But where the system starts to shine is when you add the various dyes available in the mix.
If you apply a dye to an outfit in your inventory, it takes on the new colour scheme while losing the previous one. Straightforward. However, if instead you apply the dye to an outfit in the shared wardrobe, it will get added to the selection of colour schemes for the same outfit.
From there, you simply select what colour version you want for an outfit and drag it into your character panel and voilà, you have a wardrobe with up to almost two dozen different colour choices for every single piece of outfit available (and every piece still only uses up one space – my wife’s dream come true if this was possible in Real Life).
Of course, Turbine also thought of the people who would apply dyes to the cosmetic item in your inventory instead of the wardrobe, and if you do that, dragging the outfit with the new colour onto the wardrobe adds the new colour to the existing schemes. What’s not to like?
As the picture comparison above shows, I’d rather have my little hobbit warden looking the part instead of a stocky shire farmerwoman who just fell off the haystack. Only remaining concern: I need to find cosmetic pants, shoulderpieces and gloves.