That is the question. The imbuement system has been out for more than a month now and while it may seem like a no-brainer to imbue all the legendary items, there may be certain cases in which you might decide against imbuing. Instead of forcing this system on everyone, Turbine gives players the option whether to imbue your items although if you don’t imbue, you better be prepared to explain why you haven’t to your group members and kinmates as imbuement aims to put the legendary in legendary items.
First off, if you’ve been living in a cave (or haven’t been living in a cave playing LOTRO), imbuement is an add-on to the legendary item system which permanently transforms level 100 LIs into a more accumulative experience system. You lose the ability to allocate a set amount of points and instead, all legacies gain experience and level up simultaneously. The resulting items are more powerful in terms of DPS, damage and healing ratings and legacies.
For example, a level 100 third age Rune-keeper’s stone may max out at 181 Tactical Damage Rating in the traditional system, but can grow to 222 Tactical Damage Rating with imbuement. Similarly, a level 100 first age Hunter’s bow will have 255.2 DPS to begin with the old system and grow to a maximum of 275.2 DPS with imbuement.
Before imbuement, when an item earns item experience, it gains levels and for each level, gains a certain amount of points which were available to distribute across legacies. You were forced to choose which legacies you would strengthen and which legacies were left by the wayside. With imbuement, each legacy gets stronger directly through leveling up with item experience meaning that you don’t have unused legacies on your item anymore. All legacies can be maxed out at the end. However, upon imbuement, your legacies might start at a lower level than what you might have had before imbuing.
But here’s where the LOTRO store monetization comes in. Your unenhanced imbued legendary items will still become more powerful than legendary items under the old system, but in order to reach their maximum potential, you have to turn to enhancement scrolls. Empowerment, delving, star-lit crystals and replacement scrolls are all needed to increase the maximum levels of your legacies.
Luckily, Turbine makes it easy to bypass the grind allowing players to purchase enhancements with Mithril Coins which are, in turn, purchased with Turbine Points, the LOTRO store currency. There are several calculations out there that attempt to connect skipping this grind with a real world money equivalent, but let’s just say it’d be more expensive than a stable full of Turbine-brand hobby horses.
But the only reason that I might decide not to imbue an item is because certain legacies change when imbued. For example, by imbuing a Hunter off-hand weapon, you lose access to “Low Cut Bleed Chance”, and instead receive “Bubble Potency”. Bubble Potency may be good for survivability, but Low Cut Bleed Chance is good for a yellow-line Hunter that takes advantage of bleed damage. You can find trade-offs such as these across all classes.
Turbine made these changes to comply with the imbuement system replacing values such as chance, cooldown and countdown with ones that have more potential to grow. You can find which legacies get replaced from the old system to imbuement present in many different ways.
In the end, the choice is yours. Choose to maintain the tried and true course or dare to take an initial hit in strength in order to reach a higher potential by way of grinding or spending in-game currency. I am interested to hear your own personal justification for imbuing or not imbuing.