Making Legendary Legendary
So two of my favorite games are FF XIV and LotRO. They have something in common and it’s something I love and hate about the games. That thing is the legendary / relic weapons. These are weapons that can grow with you (theoretically). These are really iconic systems in both games, and there’s been a lot of words spilled over both systems but hey, I’m all about beating dead horses so grab a club and let’s get to it!
Legendary weapons are unlocked through a level 50 quest that everyone runs at 45. The initial weapon lasts you until about .01 seconds after you turn 51. The weapon you ground so long to get will then be broken up for spare parts. No kidding. Imagine if Bilbo had gotten Sting, then picked up St1ng and Stung or whatever and realized it was .3% better and said SEE YA WEAPON OF LEGEND, broken it into pieces and used a couple of those pieces on the new weapon. Then the rest of the fragments get melted down into more fragments. This is the most EvE like part of the game with level 100 weapon development often involved hours of planning with spreadsheets, tons of bag space, more hours of grinding, and lots of money (real or in-game) and a lot of luck. You can spend a lot of time working on a first age weapon only to get totally hosed by it having only 3 base major legacies. 4 is considered good (or useable) and you can buy one extra for each weapon. I’ve seen one with a base 5 and everyone has HEARD of someone who got 6 majors but I’ve never seen it on any weapon you would want to use (and it’s diminishing returns anyway by that point) but anytime you spend hours and hours raiding or dozens/hundreds more grinding to get items to make a first age only to get screwed by an RNG mechanic…. Fuck that. The system doesn’t feel very legendary and without a lot of planning and work you can go down a road that requires you to redo a lot of the planning on the weapons. There’s also more grinding to upgrade the legacies to make them cheaper to level up so you can level up more legacies and if this doesn’t make much sense… well… that’s why I say it doesn’t feel legendary. It’s a great concept with meh planning and poor implementation leading to a real mess.
Ohhhh Relic Weapons. First you grind. Then you grind A LOT more. Then you grind some more. Then there’s some building of your weapon. Which involves a metric ton of grinding. Then you grind some more. Then you give up and find a group to run final coil and get a better weapon anyway. Let me talk a bit about the grind. Just to get the base (ilvl 80) weapon you need to: Get a broken weapon. Buy/Make and then upgrade/pay someone to upgrade another weapon. Fight a Chimera (one of the more annoying bosses for melee/tanks). Run Amdapor Keep, which used to be a real pain in the neck and is now very fun due to how much damage a group can have. Kill 24 beastmen with a poor version of the weapon you want, kill a Hydra, which is an annoying boss for EVERYBODY. Kill Ifrit (cake). Kill Garuda (pie a la mode). Kill Titan (fuck fuckity fuck fuck this can be a nightmare). Buy some oil (hope you have some soldiery handy) and finally COLLECT YOUR WEAPON. That’s step one. The next step involves grinding soldiery (can be done in an evening) to upgrade to the ilvl 90.
Ok. You’re done with the easy part. Now you have to farm Fates to get Atma. Fates are open world events and Atma are random drops. Supposedly around 15% but at one point they were as low as 2%. This can easily eat a whole weekend just to upgrade one weapon and you will find that, for the item level it has very low stats. There’s a reason for that. Its power hasn’t been unlocked yet! You need to grind more soldiery tokens to get books, then do what the books say to unlock the power. This can take a week or so now, but it could take forever back in the day when there was a weekly cap on soldiery that was less than what you needed to get a book.
Done yet? Nope. Time to grind more Fates, and while you are at it there’s now two levels of RNG hell. First you need Alexandrite to drop, then you use the alexandrite to meld specific stats into a weapon to increase secondary stats that you choose. Great! I get to pick my upgrade path! Only Alexandrites aren’t a guaranteed drop and the melds can fail meaning I need even more of them. Grind-fucking-tastic.
Then you need Light. Light isn’t nearly as random and while it will be another grindtastic hell to get it all done, at least the RNG gods can’t shit all over you for hours on end.
Not done yet though. Now for the Zodiac Brave step. 400k gil (Which I actually have now, miracle of miracles) 80k grand company seals (you should actually have this by now if you’ve been paying attention) 6400 MORE soldiery tomestones. Which you won’t have. Drop from 15 dungeons, which frankly should get you a lot of the way to that 6400 soldiery, crafted mats (hint they ain’t cheap) desythesized mats (even less cheap) and some gathered mats, which are cheapish all things told. Oh and some random other mats that you probably have sitting in your bags anyway.
Now for the kicker. You can get alternate weapons that will be just fine. One of them is frankly an upgrade to my way of looking at things, dropping a useless stat for a useful one. Some of the weapons are truly phenomenal (there’s one for every class) some are a bit meh. They do look amazing and will hopefully lead to better things later on but for now I’m underwhelmed. I completed step 3 today, and will start gathering books this week. I’m looking at about two weeks of this (!) to get my weapon better than the one I already have, and even then I’ve got one stat I just don’t want on it, then on to alexandrite. I don’t feel like I’m working on something legendary, I feel like a hamster on a wheel. A heavily randomized and slow wheel.
Fine Fine Fine What do you Want?
Well that’s the real trick. I love how LotRO gives you access to the system early. I would love to find a 1st Age Weapon in Moria and bring it with me all the way. I want it to really level up with me as I move along. Especially because the Moria weapons look GREAT. I would open them up even earlier. Most games have a point where the leveling process drops off a cliff. I mean really really harsh. For WoW it’s the 30s and 40s and LotRO this is around 25. FF XIV has it in the 30s. You know what would spice this up? Starting on your legendary weapon. It’s one thing to have a grindfest at endgame when it’s grinds on top of grinds, but if you spread it out over levels upon levels, well, it’s not so bad. You can have it undergo a marked increase in power as you reforge it. Especially in a system like FF XIV where each class only uses one weapon type. In a game like WoW or LotRO you might have to invent some deus ex machina stuff to get around people wanting to switch to a different weapon or different type of weapon (1h vs. 2h for example).
So start it earlier, spread out the grind. Now I want control. Primary stats only please. Let me chase down questlines for secondary stats, let me infuse it with power from the blood of my enemies, let me quench it in the nameless depths below the deepest caverns, or temper it in the heat of the hottest volcano. Let the weapon become part of the characters story. Make it an Excalibur, a Sting, an Anduril, an Icingdeath, a Durandal, something of power and mystery. Something that gains the traits the wielder and creator wants, not some arbitrary set.
I want it to feel legendary. The best results should take time, but more importantly, skill. Want the highest, most powerful version? Be ready for challenging content, raid tier and solo content that is demanding and puts you through trials to earn the right to carry the greatest weapon, not just get carried by friends, but mastering your class, playing at a high level and earning the best rewards. Doing normalized content, where the challenge scales with your level and gear so you can’t just overpower it. I want to walk into town with my glowing blade of light and have people KNOW they are dealing with someone who knows what he’s about.
FF could start the quest with the Ifrit trial, granting you a weapon from the otherwise dropless fight. It starts with mediocre stats but as you progress you infuse it with more power, with optional quests to grant you more and more stats and slots for secondary stats. Unlocking the last stats and the highest upgrades should take truly legendary levels of skill, but it shouldn’t require endlessly doing a low return on time invested task.