Daily Archives: September 14, 2010

What Use, This Feeble Cloak of Mine?

A cloak is a type of loose garment that is worn over indoor clothing and serves the same purpose as an overcoat—it protects the wearer from the cold, rain or wind for example, or it may form part of a fashionable outfit or uniform. Cloaks are as old as human history; there has nearly always been some form of long, unstructured outer garment used to protect people from the weather.



I remember my first cloak in TorilMUD.  Sort of.  It was the Cloak of Forest Shadows from the Faerie Forest.  And I also remember it being a pain to acquire.

At reboot it spawned on one of the nymphs in the Faerie Forest.  But the sprites moved around quite a bit and the cloak was hidden on them.  You had to kill the sprites, which as a low level, under-equipped elf was no small deed, and then search their corpse until you “found” the cloak.

This was back in the days when you were never sure you were done searching.  You could search a room or an item 19 times and be told you found nothing, only to get a hit on the 20th attempt.  Generally you found stuff on the first dozen searches, but you could never be sure.  The sometimes you got it on the first search.

The cloak is still there in the Faerie Forest

And you wanted to be sure because this was one of only two cloaks on the island of Evermeet at that time, and the other was on the shaman in Kobold Village who was a terror compared to the nymphs.  He could cast lightning bolt!  So until you could safely take out the shaman, you wanted this cloak because, in the grand spirit of online games, if you have an empty equipment slot even a low quality piece of equipment is better than nothing at all.

All Slots Filled

If you look at the list of equipment slots there, they will likely seem very familiar.  They haven’t changed on the MUD in 17 years and, aside from the face slot, found their way into EverQuest and most like games since.  And the eye-watering collection of colors might remind you of WoW.

Anyway, there was an empty “about body slot” to fill, so we hunted down that nymph, searched its corpse, looted that cloak, and put it on.  It did have kind of a cool name, even if it was only AC5 and no stat boosts.  And we had an empty equipment slot to fill.

Later, better cloaks would become available.  I remember particularly the blackened-green bodycloak of scales, which had haste as a permanent attribute boost (until it got nerfed, like almost every haste item), the good old cloak of remorhaz scales from Ice Crag Castle with its protection from fire buff, and the various cloaks that were enchanted with the fly buff.  Not that you could really fly in TorilMUD.  Some zones required flight, but for the most part  having that buff just meant that you used up less movement points traveling across the world.

But a cloak has always been a big part of the swords and sorcery mythos.  Every traveler in the land worth his salt has a decent, if perhaps weather stained cloak.  Thorin and company all had their cloaks to keep them from the rain.  Bilbo valued his dwarven cloak beyond measure.

And, as described in the Wikipedia entry at the top of the post, they were cloaks that one could wrap about to keep the weather out and some warmth in.

In TorilMUD as well, the medium being text, you could imagine your cloak being a long and flowing garment suitable for foul weather of doing Dracula “I vant to suck your blood” imitations.

So what happened?  Where did this little strips of cloth that we call “cloaks” in our games come from?  Did we raid some super heroes costume closet and steal all his capes?

Do these look like they would keep the weather off?  And do these strips of cloth justify the stats they endow upon the player?

In World of Warcraft cloaks are little splashes of color on the backs of characters.  Some look like you might have put a wide, 70s tie on backwards.

Little WoW Cloaks

In EverQuest II, cloaks might display guild pride, but they won’t keep the rain off.

Making an EQ2 Guild Ad Cloak

And in Lord of the Rings Online a cloak dedicated to a dwarven realm that doesn’t even had a hood.

The cloak of Moria

The closest thing to a real cloak I’ve seen in a long time is the Harbinger’s cloak that came with the pre-order of the Siege of Mirkwook expansion in LOTRO.

A hooded cloak

It at least has a hood and enough material to it that your might be able to draw it around yourself for a little warmth.

Okay, I know nobody in any of these games is ever really cold and that the rain just obscures vision but never gets you wet.  People want to show off their armor not their overcoat.   Character animations would be a nightmare.  I already have my sword, shield, or spear poking through my demi-cloaks, what would happen if I had a real one?

But every so often I find myself wondering where I can get a real traveler’s cloak.