If we want to show that our female dwarf is indeed female, should we outfit her or dress up in a certain way? We already know (via Tolkien’s lore) that dwarf women dressed as men when they were travelling abroad, but can a specific dwarf girl make up her mind differently?
There are two source of arguments here: coming form the personal story (quenta) of the character and coming from the gamer’s point of view.
The first one can boil down to “…and then I saw that beautiful dress on the stall and decided to try it on”, and the second is often mentioned by LOTRO outfit bloggers saying that the cut of LOTRO dresses ‘damages the body type’ for dwarves.
In this post we will address the first type of argument – personal story of the character. The Outfit Problem will be explored in later posts.
Caution: make sure you have a paper handkerchief with you, or we are not liable for any tears ruining your keyboard 🙂
Let me introduce you to lovely dwarven ladies from Russian LOTRO server Fornost: Nisi and Hildra.
They both wear dresses from time to time and both have very good reasons to do so.
Let’s start with Nisi – a dwarf you can see on the header of this blog. The early concept of her heavily relied on the fact that she was a striking beauty among her people: emerald eyes, shiny red beard – long and soft, thicker than beards of even most of male dwarves in her home mountain. Additionally, she was not only among rare dwarven women, she was the only daughter of her loving father. You can guess that she was pretty much spoiled.
She was training as a rune-keeper, and a powerful magician with an attitude of a spoiled little girl is not the best thing to have under your mountain. The Council of the Mountain did not exactly decide to exile her, but chose to put it into terms of getting more experience in the outer world to broaden the tunnels of her mind, so to speak.
Her first impressions outside were rather harsh. In a moment, she turned from a highly praised beauty into a subject of mockery. As a rune-keeper she was well-aware how powerful and damaging mocking words can be. To avoid mockery, she began to dress as a male dwarf, act as a male dwarf, and her only hint to her true gender was the nickname she adopted – ‘nis’ means ‘woman’ in Quenya, therefore – Nisi. Compare this to Dis – the name of Thorin Oakenshield’s sister, from Sindarin root for a woman – ‘di’.
So, this way she would keep being yet another male dwarf, but she met a nosy and curious hobbit named Drimo. They became close friends, she shared a lot of secrets with him except telling about her gender, but Nisi often mentioned how ‘he’ missed ‘his’ mother, how important it is for ‘him’ to match his mother’s expectations – which, eventually, led to Drimo venturing a guess that his dwarven friend Nisi is indeed female him-… well, HERself. First he was stricken when this revelation proved true, but his hobbit-ish down-to-earthiness (or even down-to-hillness) soon took over and he told her off about hiding her identity while dwarves are usually so proud of who they are.
This argument stroke the right tune. The next day Nisi bought a dress matching her eyes and beard, and an exquisite circlet.
She is now an out-and-proud female dwarf – though we cannot say that sometimes she doesn’t suffer from it. But she is as sturdy and strong-willed as any dwarf, and doesn’t let troubles take her down.
Our next heroine is Hildra – an old dwarven minstrel. Unlike Nisi, she had a very short and thin beard, and considered herself to be rather unattractive. In her youth she paid little attention to her looks and never wore dresses. Even now she mostly wears her mourning black outfit (she is a widow) rather than her only dress, and she believed that her husband simply took pity on her by proposing a marriage. But in fact her husband thought her beautiful exactly because of the shortness of her neat little beard: he was a very famous travelling minstrel, and spent a lot of time among elven, hobbit and human beauties who are entirely beardless.
He brought Hildra that very dress – blue, to match the colour of her eyes – in a hope that she will see how beautiful she is to him. Alas, she begins to understand it only now after leaving the mountain herself, when her husband, who was much older than her, has long returned back to stone.
But how she came to travel under the sky? Having raised their children into maturity long ago, she feels herself no longer needed at home. When her late husband was on his travels, she was substituting him as a minstrel at home and learned a lot about music. However, she always played only the songs written by him, not attempting to make her own. Now, when her hair and beard are grey, she wants to see for herself the things which her husband sang about.