EQ2 Crafting, Part I: Generalities
Just about any crafting guide in any game is likely to become longer than the tl;dr crowd can stand, and this one is no exception, even with my skill for brevity and conciseitude (©Stylishcorpse, 2009). I’m therefore going to break this one down into parts, and since I’m adding stuff in as I go along, I’m not sure how many parts it will be. At least two, since I guess a crafting guide really should include information on how to actually craft — especially in EQ2, since it’s not a push-button-and-wait kind of crafting.
In this first part, however, I’m going to cover the basics of the crafting professions — what they make and what mostly sells. Harvesting may end up with its own section, and of course the actual “how the hell do I make this?” part will star in its own section too.
One term that’s used all the time in EQ2 is “tiers“ — it applies to adventuring, to harvesting, and to crafting. Opaque as it may sound when you don’t know the term, it’s pretty simpe: Tier 1 is levels 1-9, tier 2 is levels 10-19, tier 3 is levels 20-29, and so on up to tier 8 which is levels 70-79. It applies to crafted items, to harvested resources, and to some extent to the mobs inhabiting various zones (and to the zones themselves, for the most part). As with most MMOs, the idea is that characters will outgrow items as they level and will require replacements when they hit the next tier.
The crafting, harvesting and adventuring “tiers” are all related. For instance, to make a level 20 weapon you’ll need Tier 3 resources, which are harvested in areas with level 20-29 mobs — also known as T3 zones. (Harvesting level/skill requirements are covered elsewhere.) You’ll also have to be at least a Tier 3 weaponsmith, meaning you’re level 20+, in order to have access to the recipes. A Tier 3 item can’t be made using Tier 2 or Tier 4 resources (barring a few exceptions). Tier 5 is right out.
Common resources are what you’ll harvest 99% of the time from a harvesting node. The vast majority of items are made using these common resources. In the last few years the quality of crafted goods has been improved, and common-made items are comparable to most quest rewards or loot drops (WoW’s “green” items). Rare resources are, as you might expect, a rare harvest from a common node, though fortunately they’re now nowhere near as rare as they once used to be. Rares-made items are more expensive and require special crafting recipes to make; these recipes are learned from “Advanced” crafting books which are for the most part obtained through drop loot from level-appropriate mobs. They’re the equivalent of WoW’s “blue” items, for the most part. There’s a heavy demand for rares-made items in EQ2 nowadays, both because of the increased availability of rares, because of the ageing population of the servers (more twinked alts), and because better money-generation (quest rewards, sales of collectibles, etc) means people have the means to afford at least a few rare items every tier.
Items made with rares usually require a slightly higher level to equip than items made with common resources. Thus, a Tier 3 “Steel longsword” (made with the rare ore resource) can only be equipped at adventuring level 22, whereas the common-made “Carbonite longsword” can be equipped at level 20.
Currently, crafted adventuring gear is used throughout a tier, so at adventuring level 20 you have access to ALL Tier 3 common-made armour, weapons, jewellery and so on that your class can equip. At level 22 you have access to all rares-made goods for that tier. Note that crafting level is not used in determining whether you can equip a piece of adventuring gear — if you’re a level 80 crafter and a level 19 adventurer you won’t be able to equip that Tier 3 longsword.
Who Makes What?
There are 9 crafting professions in EQ2, separated into three groups each with three specialised professions: Craftsman (carpenter, provisioner, woodworker), Outfitter (armorer, tailor, weaponsmith), and Scholar (alchemist, jeweler, sage). This subdivision is important with respect to skill points, but doesn’t really come into play outside the higher-end crafting instances. Nontheless, here’s how it works:
Every crafter gets all the basic, level 1-9 artisan (generic crafter) recipes. These cover every profession, so everyone can make level 1-9 armour, weapons, food, combat art upgrades and so on. Artisan recipes nonetheless use specific crafting skills (e.g. artistry (aka cooking), artificing (aka jewellery-making), weaponsmithing and so on), which is used to determine a crafter’s base skill at making the item. This modifies the crafting-round results you get and the arts you have available, but we’ll cover that next time.
At level 9 you can pick a crafting school specialisation from the three groups mentioned above: Craftsman, Outfitter or Scholar. (This also instantly bumps you to level 10, by the way. And if you don’t pick a school at level 9 you’ll have to pick one at level 10 or you can’t progress.) From levels 10-19, then, your recipes include all the ones common to that group — so a Craftsman will get all 10-19 carpenter, provisioner and woodworker recipes.
At level 19, you pick a final profession specialisation which has to be one of the three in the group you picked at level 9 (or 10). Again, you’ll be automagically bumped to 20 — and again, if you don’t pick one at 19 you’ll have to pick one at 20 or you won’t be able to progress. From level 20 onwards, then, the only recipes you’ll get are the ones specific to your specialised profession — so a carpenter will get only 20+ carpentry recipes, a provisioner will get provisioning recipes, and so on. You can obtain other recipes through quests and by other means, but those will either be profession-specific OR they’ll be artisan-level recipes, meaning anyone can learn and make them. (Note that it is possible to change crafting professions, but you’ll lose all levels you’ve accrued in your current one and will have to start from scratch.)
This isn’t as artificial a restriction as it may seem. Crafting is based on an underlying skill point system which is derived from your level: profession skill = crafting level x 5. However, the skills in those professions you left behind, so to speak, will never be as high. For the two crafting groups you opted out of at level 9 or 10, your skill will cap at 49 (not counting item and other mods) — I know, this isn’t actually (level 9 x 5) skill points, but let’s not quibble. For the two professions in your skill group that aren’t the one you specialised in, your skill will cap at 99. This means that if you’re an alchemist and you need to craft a weaponsmith-skill item later on (as happens in the crafting instances), your weaponsmithing skill is at 49 regardless of what your actual crafting level is. If that same alchemist needs to make a sage item, their scribing skill would be at 99.
In other words, it’s hard to make stuff that isn’t your specialisation, assuming you even have access to the recipe.
Okay, But Who Makes What??
Now on to what each profession actually produces:
- Carpenters make furniture and storage boxes. They don’t have much of a consumables market, though every new character made *will* need boxes for their bank and possibly their inventory slots (if they’re strong enough), as well as for their house vault slot if they have a house (which most people do). Nobody else can make furniture, either, and housing is quite a big thing in EQ2. Still, for the most part I’d make a carpenter out of love and not out of a rabid desire for quick money.
- Provisioners make food and drink — in comparison to the carpenter, they’re nothing but consumables. Provisions provide out of combat health (food) and power (drink) regeneration, and player-crafted provisions are much better than stuff you can buy from NPC vendors or the occasional quest rewards. It’s the sort of thing you only notice when you run out, but they’re quite essential. Also, provisions now provide various different stat bonuses depending on the recipe.
Provisioning is a steady if cut-throat and heavily competitive market. Each tier of recipes includes short-duration and long-duration items, and as you might expect the market for the short-duration stuff is almost nil — why bother even making it if, for almost the same resource/fuel requirement, you can make longer-lasting items? (You might argue that for cooks, shorter-duration stuff ensures more business, but the plain fact is, nobody buys it.) Lower level stuff does sell, but slowly. Since a level 80 (max) drink can be used by a level 1 character, there’s almost no point other than the associated cost in buying something lower. Food and drink auto-adjusts to the consumer’s level.
- Woodworkers make a variety of wooden weapons (staves, clubs, wands) and all bows and arrows, as well as thrown weapons, smaller wooden shields (priests, scouts), totems (consumables for various uses like faster travel, better health/power regen, water breathing, stealth, etc.) and harvesting tools. Excellent consumables market, though the profit margin on individual items tends to be smallish, so you do better if you sell in bulk. Arrows are an obvious example of this.
- Armorers make metal armour (sorry: armor for you US folks) and fighter-class shields. This includes several types of chain mail (with varying stat bonuses) for the scout classes and a couple of priest classes, as well as a selection of plate mail for fighters and other priest classes. Since armour is replaced every 10 levels, like most other adventuring gear, there’s a fairly steady market. There are 7 armor body-slots on a character, not counting the shield which not all classes can equip.
- Tailors make the rest of the armour: leathers and cloth. Again, these come in several different types to suit varying classes, so for instance you’ll find a “woven” leather that’s heavy on the wisdom bonuses (aimed at priests) and a dextrous leather that is, as you might expect, aimed at scouts and light fighters. Tailors also make backpacks. This is a somewhat smaller market than carpenter boxes (because most people start carrying boxes on their characters as soon as they’re strong enough, since boxes are about 3x the size of a similar-tier bag), but it’s a market nonetheless.
- Weaponsmiths make … weapons. Pointy stabby things, bashy things, whirly bladey things (ok, that last is a lie). About the same level of demand there as there is for armour and while people only need at most a couple of weapons per tier, there is a huge demand for rare weapons, much more so than for armour (which, at 7 pieces, requires a lot more rares and so is more of an investment).
- Alchemists make potions (cures, heals, buffs), poisons (for certain classes) and all fighter-archetype combat art upgrades. The market for poisons is relatively steady but seems very competitive. The market for combat art upgrades is similar.
- Jewelers make jewellery (sorry, jewelry), offhand items and scout archetype combat art upgrades. Everyone uses jewellery so it’s a reasonable market, and the upgrade market is similar to that of alchemists.
- Sages make priest- and mage-archetype spell upgrades, and now they can also make empty books for players to write in. This may seem like a small selection, but considering that they cater to 12 different classes (half the classes in the game), they’re usually pretty busy. The upgrades market is similar to that of the other scholar professions.
As a side note, since it’s not vital to starting crafters, as mentioned above the overall “crafting” profession that everyone starts out as is known as “Artisan.” There are now high-level recipes obtained from chest rewards in the daily crafting instances that are used to make “shard armour,” and these are classed as artisan recipes which means anyone can make them. You’ll often see people asking for an armorer or a jeweler to make their shardy bits, but this is in fact unnecessary. Basically, in EQ2, if you can learn a recipe, you can make that recipe. How well you can make it is another matter.
Will My Stuff Sell?
Levelling a crafter in EQ2 is similar to other games: you make a ton of items to obtain crafting xp and gain crafting levels. Each level, you buy a new book of recipes with stuff you can make. This means that in many cases the broker (EQ2′s non-auctionny auction house) is saturated with stuff, and the competition is pretty heavy. All crafted items have a base value if you were to sell it to an NPC merchant, which is what it costs to make (based on the fuel cost, since fuel is an NPC-bought resource), and you’ll often see stuff being brokered under vendor cost. Personally I find this daft, because as a crafter that’s like shooting myself in the foot, so I never sell stuff under vendor price on the broker. You could argue it’s done for altruistic, buyer-helpful reasons, and maybe very occasionally it is — but most of the time I suspect people just want to shift the stuff they made and undercut the competition. I could go on about rampant undercutting (and its evil twin, rampant gouging), but I won’t.
What does sell is anything made with rare resources. Each weapon, piece of armour, jewellery and spell or combat art upgrade has a rare version, and there’s rares-made furniture and even boxes and bags. Provisioning is the only profession that doesn’t get to make much of anything with rares, which is a shame, but at least they make nothing but consumables so there’s almost always a market for provisioner-made goods.
As with many resource-based and mass-production-to-level-based games, however, EQ2 is experiencing the usual trend where resources can cost more than the finished product. This was very evident in SWG back in the holocron-grinding days, but it’s present in any MMO that uses similar craft-levelling methods — the one thing people are guaranteed to always need are raw materials. Thus, in many cases (especially at lower and middle levels) it can actually be more profitable to sell resources, and particularly rares, than to make finished products and try to sell those. Irksome as this may be to people wanting to level a crafter without doing their own harvesting, it’s a viable revenue stream for those who have raws to sell.
Note — EQ2′s broker is more of a storefront than an auction house. Goods go up for a fixed price which doesn’t change unless the seller alters it. There is no bidding. Since I’m not a fan of auction houses I think this is a good thing, but it may put people off or seem weird if you’re used to WoW-style auctioning. It’s still entirely possible to buy low and sell high, and even on my relatively lightly-populated Lucan D’Lere server, broker trade is usually quite brisk (for the right goods).
Does That Mean I Should Be A Harvester Too?
Being the harvesting junkie I am, I can’t give an unbiased answer to this. Even without that, though, it’s evident that any intensive crafting effort (levelling more than one crafter, for instance, or intending to produce a lot of goods) is going to be more cost-effective if the raw materials aren’t bought. You’d have to figure out how valuable your non-harvesting time is compared to the time spent harvesting; note that harvesting takes quite a lot of time if you’re doing it in quantity, though it’s entirely possible to hop somewhere and grab a few resources. Since these resources are “contested,” i.e. available to anyone with the skill to harvest them, what you get depends on how busy your selected harvesting area is. If you can, avoid harvesting at busy times like weekends.
Harvesting itself will be covered in its own section. You’d be surprised how many tips and tricks are involved in harvesting, if you intend to do it seriously or for gain.
Till Next Time
Thanks for reading all the way down here, if you did. To those who don’t craft in EQ2 but would like to, I welcome comments or questions and I’ll be happy to clarify. To those who already craft in EQ2 (or have done so in the past), I’d definitely like amendments, additions, and other tips, tricks or trade seekrits you can think of.