I am not someone who hates the Legendary Item system in LOTRO, nor do I want it taken out of the game. However, like instant replay in sports, it’s not perfect, but a couple of things about it could be fixed relatively easily.
In this article, I’d like to address one issue in particular:
Who else is tired of blowing up their LIs every 10 levels?
Did Bilbo break down Sting and make a new LI when the company got out of Mirkwood and entered Lake-town? Did Thorin and Gandalf reduce Orcrist and Glamding to inventory filler when they out-leveled a zone?
Of course not. Part of the background story behind LIs is that they are weapons or artifacts of a bygone age that have their own history and bring with them their own gravitas and power to their current wielder.
At the same time, I fully understand that the LOTRO devs need to pay attention to things that have no place in the novels or the movies, namely arbitrary level caps, MMO mechanics and game balance.
Generally speaking, I am not a sentimental person. However, when LOTRO was a level 65 game, like a lot of players, I spent a lot of time, energy and (fake) money in getting my set of LIs just right. Remember, this was before you could move legacies from one LI to another, so it might take several (dozen) tries to get your LIs set up exactly the way you wanted.
When Rise of Isengard came out, I leveled up and started grinding up a new set of level 75 LIs. Since you only have a limited amount of LI slots, it soon came time to blow up my old level 65 LIs, and I actually felt kind of bad deconstructing the weapons and class items that had served me so well for so long.
Then, when they raised the level cap from 75 to 85 and again from 85 to 95, I’ve done the exact same thing to my LIs.
If the item is truly “legendary”, then why do I need to deconstruct them into fragments every 10 levels and start over?
The cynic in me responds that Turbine has a vested interest in making players blow up their LIs every 10 levels. After all, how many relic removal and legacy scrolls do you think they sell through the store?
Also, by making players grind up a new set of LIs, they get people to run the raids and buy Scrolls of Delving and Empowerment, either with some sort of in-game currency (marks/medallions/seals) or real currency (Turbine Points or Mithril Coins).
At the same time, isn’t it in the spirit of the lore in the game for truly legendary items to last longer than the time it takes to advance from a lower-level zone to a higher-level one?
So how would I fix it?
If I were dev for a day, I’d implement a system like this:
Any class can upgrade their LI by taking it to a Forge-Master along with the ___ Symbol of _____ that is appropriate to the next LI level break and some other crafting materials. This way, you don’t have to have a weaponsmith/woodworker/jeweler/tailor/scholar make you a new sword/bow/rune-stone/satchel/songbook, and you can’t give someone else an item that is bound to you.
The Forge-Master takes your existing LI, the components you need to increase the level of the item, does some Forge-Masterish mumbo-jumbo and imbues your existing LI with greater power.
So I’ve go my level 65 Second Age minstrel songbook. When I get to the next major LI break, level 75, I take my songbook to the Forge-Master along with a Worn Symbol of Celebrimbor, 4 Tomes of Wisdom, a Cracked Rhi Helvarch Sigil and some arbitrary amount of money. Anyone wanting to upgrade a Third Age LI would just need a stack of Legendary Fragments and the appropriate crafting materials.
The Forge-Master upgrades my songbook to a level 75 minstrel’s songbook, resets the LI points, and leaves my legacies, titles and relics intact. Star-Lit crystals remain, but Small Star-Lit crystals have lesser effect than Star-Lit Crystals, which are less powerful than Riddermark Star-Lit Crystals and so on.
The same thing would happen as I level up to level 85, 95 and beyond. Each LI would require crafting mats that are appropriate, so swords would require high-quality ingots, bows would need reinforced wood boards, etc.
This way, I get to preserve my tried and true LIs without having to turn over a whole new set.
Similarly, if I have a level 60 First Age LI I bartered with Bright Emblems of Nimrodel from the Moria vendors, in order to level it up to a level 65 LI, I need to a Symbol of the Elder King to upgrade it. Then, to upgrade it again, I would need a Worn Symbol of the Elder King to get it to level 75, and a Tarnished Symbol of the Elder King for it to have level 85 DPS/tactical healing/et al.
To keep people from ranking up level 60 LIs that drop in Turtle or other raids straight to the new level cap, you’d have to progress through each stage to get to level 95 (or whatever the new level cap is). Or if you got a higher level Symbol to drop in a raid and you have the necessary craft materials, the appropriate crafters could still make a Crafted/Reforged/Reshaped LI from scratch at level 75, 85, 95 or whatever.
Another issue of game balance is that you could increase the tier of each legacy at low levels, when Scrolls of Empowerment are cheap, and then when you got your LI up to level 95, you’d have all tier 6 legacies. To keep this from being too much of an issue, I’d say that each time you reforged an item to imbue it with a higher level’s power, either all of your legacy tiers are randomly scrambled, or they all reset to tier 3. Then the player would still have to spend some resources and effort to max out their legacies again. If you wanted to swap out legacies (maybe because they changed nearly every one in the most recent update . . . ::cough:: captain ::cough::), then you’d have to use legacy scrolls that are appropriate to the current level of the LI.
If Turbine wants to (unnecessarily) add another layer of complexity to this system (which they are wont to do), introduce new layers of legendary fragments to the game. Just as Legendary Fragments drop when you decon an LI, you will get these randomly, with the added twist that you only get Second Age fragments from deconning Second Age LIs and First Age fragments from deconning First Age LIs.
This way, in order to increase a Third Age LI from a level 75 to 85 LI, you’d need to have 10 Legendary Fragments. In order to increase a Second Age LI, you’d need to have 15 Shiney Legendary Fragments, and to increase First Age LI, you’d have to have 20 Mithril Legendary Fragments. This would keep people grinding up LIs for their next reforge (and keep people buying all of those extra LI slots from the LOTRO Store).
I think a lore-based precedent for a process like this is where Narsil was reforged (“reshaped” in LOTRO terms, since Narsil was forged during the First Age) into Andúril. Although an imperfect analogy (because Narsil was shattered by Sauron, not a Forge-Master), this is an example where one item was re-made into a more powerful incarnation without having to break it down into generic “legendary fragments” and then make a completely new weapon.
I’m just thinking out loud, and this certainly isn’t a perfect solution, but I’m just tired of getting attached to the sword/rune-stone/axe that got me through Moria, only to blow it up when I get to Dol Guldur, then melt that one down on the steps of Isengard, then break another one down in Snowbourn, only to turn my LIs over again at the Hornburg, thinking that in another year, I’m going to start this whole process over again again when the next expansion opens.