Daily Archives: March 21, 2007

The Alchemist’s Lot

Way, way back, in the fall of 2004, the group of us that started playing EverQuest II together decided to split up the trade skills that were available.  I picked alchemy.

This turned out to be quite a good choice.  Alchemists, along with provisioners, were the only trade skill classes that did not depend on other trade skill classes for their supplies.  Both could make final products with harvested raw material alone.  The rest of the classes all required supplies processed by other classes.

For example Gaff, the armorer in our circle, needed chemicals from an alchemist, leather harnesses and padding from a tailor, and further items like metal rings from a weaponsmith, in order to make a piece of armor.  When I picked up wood working next, my wood worker needed chemicals from an alchemist and processed metal from an armorer or weaponsmith.

The idea, according to SOE, was to ferment an active economy.  What resulted was chaos, hysteria, price gouging, complaints, alt creation (when 4 character slots were all you got!), and popularity for alchemists.  Somebody always thrives in any situation, and everybody needed the chemicals that alchemists could make.

Not that I got rich at that point.

My friends all needed the chemicals and were happy enough to provide the raws to make them.  So I gained levels and did not have to do a lot of running around gathering.  Temper, resin, wash, oil and ink, I cranked out chemicals by the stack… though stacks were only 20 high back in those days.

Soon enough though SOE wised up and tried to fix the situation.  They added in some new trade skills that anybody could learn that would allow you to be able to make all the refined raws you would need for you trade skill.  Soon any carpenter with a little patience and a stack of raws could learn apothecary (apostatery if you ask me!) and make their own chemicals. 

Still, that was a whole new skill to grind, and if you were already at tier 4 in you skill and needed to get apothecary up to match, you might think that buying chemicals was a good deal.  The market had settled down some.  Chemicals were no longer too over priced.

And ink was still a good deal for alchemists. 

I wrote previously about my ink revenues.  SOE made more advanced chemicals, such as ink, require double fuel for those of the apothecartic bent, thus preserving the market for alchemists.  So ink I made.

And I worked hard to protect that cash flow.  To paraphrase Mark Twain, never start a price war with somebody who makes ink by the barrel.  I would choose a tier without much competition, flood the market at a low price, buy out any small competitor who undercut me, and generally made my money in quantity.  Sages and jewelers loved me.

But since LU24, there is no ink.  There are only final, finished product that spring straight from raws.  In the name of simplification, I applaud this.  As an alchemist looking for steady revenue though, it is a bust.

As an alchemist, all you have left are skills, poisons, and potions.

Poisons and potions are expendable items.  That is an upside.  Things that get used up are a good revenue model.  A lot of provisioners have made money because people have to eat and drink.  But the competition to sell poisons and potions is pretty fierce.  Margins are tiny. 

And potions barely sell at all.  In fact, I would wager that most people do not even know that potions exist.  And those that do know ignore them mostly because the naming scheme is bad.  If EQ2 had WoW-like healing potions, there would be a market.  Instead we have things like Exceptional Arcane Reprieve.  Can you tell me what that does just by the name?

And then there are skill upgrades. 

Alchemists make skills upgrades for the warrior classes; berserkers, guardians, paladins, and shadowknights.  Skill upgrades come in different flavors.  In ascending order of desirability and effectiveness there is:

  • Apprentice I – the base level for any skill you get when you level
  • Apprentice II – an upgrade you can buy from a vendor or an alchemist who really screwed up
  • Apprentice III – an upgrade you can buy from an alchemist who only screwed up a little
  • Apprentice IV – an upgrade you can buy from a competent alchemist
  • Adept I – an upgrade that drops in chests
  • Adept III – an upgrade an alchemist can make you with a rare raw, screw up mostly unpossible
  • Master I – an upgrade that drops in chests from some named mobs
  • Master II – Something you get to choose every tier for one of your skills

An alchemist levels up by making every damn App IV skill at least once.  That gets all the first pristine bonus experience possible.  And then the alchemist, if he is smart, sells all those skills back to the vendor.

Why?

Because there is no market for App IV skills.  People who know they need skill upgrades will seek out Adept I skills on the broker.  When I left EQ2 at the beginning of 2006, Adept I skills were selling for less than the cost to make App IV skills. 

Since I have come back, Adept I skills have been in the 5-20g range. 

As I needed to make some poison for Blintz, I decided to crank out some warrior skills as well to see if I could get a level for Nomu, my alchemist.  Since LU24 reset all the recipes, he can get that first pristine bonus all over again.

He made level (61 alchemist now) and I shifted his output to Vikund who does all my selling.  He checked the market and found that prices for tier 5 App IV skills ranged from nearly cost to wildly optimistic.  I gritted my teeth, matched the lowest price using my 3 year reward salesmans case, which gave me a price advantage because it cuts the broker fee in half, and put them up for sale.  36 level 47 to 49 skill upgrades at about 1 gold each.

And I have not sold a single one in a week.

I sell every Adept I drop I can get for 5-10g, but not a single App IV.

Such is the alchemist’s lot.  I could make some money if I hung around with the LFW flag up.  People with lots of cash always want Adept III skills.  But I hate to waste my play time waiting for work.  I usually do my trade skill work when I am on conference calls for the office.  It is easy to grind that way, but hard to negotiate and do custom work.

Still, I have most of that ink money hidden away for a rainy day.