Lost Ark's engravings are one of many complicated systems the MMO throws at you, and it's easy to miss their significance in its overwhelming blizzard of mechanics. It's worth putting in the effort, though: engravings give you powerful passive bonuses, and choosing between them is an important part of choosing the playstyle you take with you into the endgame.
So, to help you understand this important mechanics, I'm here to explain what they are, how to get Lost Ark engraving recipes, and how to get them from other sources, such as ability stones and accessories.
What are engravings?
What are engravings in Lost Ark?
First, there are two main kinds: class and battle. Battle engravings are general bonuses that can boost your stats, reduce cooldowns, and so on. There are 43 different battle engravings, some of which are balanced by negative side effects. An example is Grudge, which increases the damage you cause to bosses while increasing the amount of damage you take. Don't bother with Grudge unless you really know what you're doing.
Class engravings are rarer. Every advanced class gets two of them, each of which leans into a different way of playing that class. Paladins, for instance, can get the Blessed Aura class engraving, which makes them better healers, and Judgment, which makes them better at dealing damage. That said, you can build up both class engravings rather than leaning fully into one or the other.
Bring up your profile by pressing P and you'll see a tab for engravings to the right of skins and virtues. This lists the level of any engravings you're being affected by (more on how to do that later). Each engraving has a row of 15 nodes, and for every five nodes the engraving's effect increases. If an engraving combines a bonus with a penalty, the penalty won't change as the engraving's effect levels up, however.
For example, the Precise Dagger engraving gives an increased chance of critical hits, but reduces the amount of damage crits cause. At the first level (five nodes) it's a flat +4% crit rate, –12% crit damage. At the second level (10 nodes) that becomes +10% crit rate, but the reduction to crit damage remains –12%. The same is true at the third level (all 15 nodes), where it hits +20% crit rate, but remains only –12% crit damage. If you're landing critical hits that often, you probably don't mind each one isn't hitting as hard.
Note that if only four nodes are lit, an engraving won't have any effect. And if you manage to accumulate enough bonuses to light up more than 15 nodes, the excess has no effect.
There's also a third kind of engraving. These are all downside, and might reduce your attack speed, damage, defense, or movement speed. I'll come back to these jerks later on.
How to unlock Lost Ark engraving recipes
After you complete the West Luterra portion of Lost Ark, two slots on your character profile's gear tab unlock beneath the weapon slot. Each of these can have an engraving equipped in them. You'll find both equippable class engravings and battle (or "combat") engravings in their submenu, which you bring up by pressing alt-I. At first you won't have anything to equip, because you need to learn them by reading recipe books.
The relevant tutorial quest will give you some, and you score heaps of the green satchels that contain engraving recipes as rewards for sidequests in East Luterra, and a few after that in Tortoyk, Annika, and Arthetine. Engraving Recipe Pouches give random recipes, while Engraving Recipe Selection Pouches let you choose what they contain and are best saved for when you've decided on your build. There are separate pouches for class and battle recipes, too. (Sometimes the latter will be called 'combat' recipes, but they're the same as battle recipes.)
Right-click on the books you get from pouches to learn the recipes they contain. If you've got a stack of them, alt-clicking will let you use more than one at a time, as with any other stack of consumables.
Recipes have a rarity, designated by their color and the color of the pouch containing them. The rarities are:
After learning 20 common recipes, you'll get three activation points in that engraving, and after that you'll have to move up to recipes of the next rarity level. Every 20 recipes at each higher rarity gives another three activation points, which means after your final 20 orange legendary recipes you'll have 12 activation points in that engraving.
That doesn't mean you'll automatically have that many nodes lit up in the relevant engraving. You have to equip that engraving first, and you've only got two slots for equipping them. What you may not realize is that you can double-stack them, equipping the same engraving twice for double the effect—something I didn't figure out for a good long while.
Your knowledge of engravings is roster-wide, by the way. Any other characters you make on the same server will have access to the same engravings as your main once they hit level 50. If they're a different class they'll only be able to equip the battle engravings rather than the class engravings, however.
How to get engravings from accessories
After recipes, the second source of engravings is from accessories. In the late-game you'll start finding that magical jewelry—rings, necklaces, and earrings—do more than just improve your core stats. Accessories will drop with random engravings on them. These can be battle engravings or class engravings for the class you're playing when you earn them.
Though you can equip two rings and two earrings, they have to be of different kinds. You can have a Twisted Magick Ring on one hand and a Twisted Elemental Ring on the other, but you can't wear two of either kind at once.
By default, Lost Ark will only compare a highlighted accessory in your inventory with the top one you've got equipped. You'll need to press alt to compare it to the second ring or earring. Make sure you're not upgrading one ear or hand while leaving a lower-level item on the other.
Rare accessories will add a node to one random engraving, while epic and legendary accessories will add nodes to multiple engravings, including one of the negative ones. As with all engravings, having less than five nodes lit up in the negative engravings means they'll have no effect. You'll have to worry more about those with the next source of engravings.
How to get engravings from ability stones
If you're anything like me, you completed the Road to Faceting tutorial quest to learn about ability stones as soon as it became available, then promptly put them right out of your mind. Learn from my mistake: ability stones matter.
A slot for equipping one of these ugly purple rocks appears beneath the slots for rings, but you can't add just any ability stone you find off the ground. First you have to take them to the local ability stone cutter. Each city hub has one—in Luterra Castle that's Brite, who you'll find in Prosperity Plaza.
Each ability stone can provide nodes in three randomly chosen engravings: two battle engravings, and one penalty engraving. (Ability stones never have class engravings.) Before they're of any use, the cutter will have to facet them. This costs silver, the amount increasing with the rarity of the ability stone.
Under each of the three engravings on an ability stone is a row of diamonds, the amount again varying by rarity. The top two rows are for the battle engravings, and the more of those diamonds become successful facets rather than grayed-out pips, the more nodes you'll get. The bottom engraving is the negative one, and the diamonds beneath it can become cracks, increasing its nodes and the strength of its penalty, or preferably the grayed-out pips that indicate no effect either way.
The thing is, you have to complete all three rows before an ability stone becomes equippable. The odds of each attempt adding a facet, which is what it's called when battle engravings successfully activate a node, or a crack, which is what it's called when a negative engraving adds a node, are shown underneath the cost. Those odds go up after each failure to activate and down after each success. When the odds are high (in the 65-75 percent range), try to facet the engraving that's most important to you. When they drop down to 25 or 35 percent, try the negative engraving and hope it doesn't develop too many cracks. In-between, try the engraving that's less useful for you.
This may sound like a lot of hassle and potential for downsides offsetting the bonuses, but ability stones do more than just alter your engravings. Each one gives a huge boost to your vitality, and that boost goes up the more successful facets any ability stone has. If you don't have an ability stone equipped, you'll be short on hit points for endgame activities.
How to get recipes
Where to get engraving recipes, accessories, and ability stones
Engraving recipes and accessories drop in endgame activities: Chaos Dungeons, Chaos Gates, Abyssal Dungeons, the Tower, the Cube, and Guardian Raids. Guardian Raids only drop class engraving recipes, while most others reward you with battle engraving recipes, though Abyssal Dungeons contain both kinds.
Chaos Gates can also drop Secret Maps that reveal hidden dungeons on the continents, and these can have engraving recipes in them as well. As mentioned above, sidequests in East Luterra in particular will give you plenty of Engraving Recipe Pouches, and you can get some as login rewards, too.
Ability stones drop from many of the same activities, like Chaos Dungeons and Guardian Raids, as well as Field Bosses and the Ghost Ship. You get five of them just for completing the Road to Faceting guide quest. You'll have more of them than you know what to do with soon enough.
How to choose the best Lost Ark engravings
The number one choice should usually be a class engraving that emphasizes your playstyle. The Sorceress, for example, can choose between Igniter to improve the usefulness of her identity skill, or Reflux, which disables one of her identity skill's benefits—Arcane Rupture—in return for increased damage and reduced cooldown for every other skill. If you like your identity skill, go with Igniter, and if you forget to use it most of the time, go with Reflux.
After that, pick one or two battle engravings that likewise fit the way you play. If you're a support class and you often play in groups, Expert gives a solid boost to your shield and healing, which gets better when party members are below half-health. If you get a lot of use out of your Awakening skill, the Awakening engraving reduces its cooldown and increases the number of times you're allowed to use it in any given raid or dungeon (which starts at three).
Otherwise, the best engravings are those that synergize with whatever kinds of attack you lean on most. Check your skill list and see what your favorites have in common—there's probably an engraving to enhance them. Master of Ambush for those who specialize in back attacks (like deathblades), Hit Master if you don't do a lot of either back or frontal attacks (like artillerists or shadowhunters who spend a lot of time in demon form), Precise Dagger for those with hard-hitting crits (like sorceresses), or Barricade for anyone who likes to hunker down behind a shield (like gunlancers or some artillerists depending on your build).
Situational engravings like Raid Captain, which adds damage based on your movement speed bonus, benefit hypermobile types (like wardancers), while Master's Tenacity, which adds damage when you're under half-health, suits those who live on the edge (Berserkers, I'm looking at you). Again, it's all about paying attention to what you do the most of, then finding an engraving that makes you better at it.
If you're all about making big numbers pop out of bad guys, Grudge and Cursed Doll will seem like sweet deals, since the first boosts your damage against bosses and the second your attack power. And they are sweet deals, once you've maxed-out the effects by hitting 15 nodes. The downsides to each of them (+20% incoming damage for Grudge and –25% healing for Cursed Doll) are too significant to make them useful before that point. Don't take Grudge at its first level off effect for the pitiful +4% to damage versus bosses, it's not worth it. Wait until you're a tier 3 beast who has memorized every Guardian's attack pattern before equipping either of these.