Tag Archives: trade skills

Elemental Absurdity

Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-white, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an estimated average concentration of 1 part per billion (ppb), rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth’s crust.

-Opening of Wikipedia article on Rhenium

Over the weekend I was thinking about the strangeness of some MMORPG crafting systems as I was out looking for some Orichalcum ore with my fresh level 50 rogue in Rift.

One of the aspects of the tiered harvesting and crafting systems favored by games like World or Warcraft, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, and Rift is that it really puts a burden on the person in charge of making up names for each new level of raw materials.

For example, in EverQuest II, which adheres to a hard and fast “new stuff every 10 levels” model, here is the list of metals from which you craft armor and weapons:

  • Level 1-9 tin (bronze)
  • Level 10-19 iron (blackened iron)
  • Level 20-29 carbonite (steel)
  • Level 30-39  feyiron (feysteel)
  • Level 40-49 fulginate(ebon)
  • Level 50-59 indium (cobalt)
  • Level 60-69 adamantine (xegonite)
  • Level 70-79 ferrite (incarnadine)
  • Level 80-89 titanium (brellium)
  • Level 90     rhenium (tungsten)

Those are the primary metals, with the rare versions (which make better items) in parens.  The level indicates what level of crafter you need to be in order to use the material and well as the level range of the gear that can be made from it. (Data taken from a great chart at EQ2 Traders Corner.)

This is not an unusual stack of metals.  WoW and Rift do the same.  We seem to get tin, copper, and iron into the mix pretty quickly and then quickly launch into the realm of the very rare or mythical.  LOTRO tries to walk a line between rare and common by coming up with variations on iron ore, as well as some tin and a something called skram.

LOTRO Ore – Most Wanted

So while the thought of armor crafted from adamant of some sort is cool, the whole thing does seem to be get to the point of silliness pretty quickly.

Take, for example, rhenium, whose rarity is attested to at the top of this post.  I haven’t been on EQII for a while, but I would bet that on the market right now, rhenium is cheaper in price and more plentiful in supply than any number of the more common items down the stack.  This used to be a way I made some quick money in EQII, checking to see which mid-tier harvestables were scarce on the market and then run out and collect some.

And, leaving aside the rarity factor and the technology required to fashion rhenium (a furnace, hammer, and anvil aren’t going to cut it), when it comes down to it, some sort of steel alloy is going to make for a better weapon or base for a suit of armor nine times out of ten.

With all that in mind, I would kind of like to see a fantasy MMORPG go down the EVE Online route for crafting materials.  I would like to have some sort of base metal… probably iron… remain useful throughout all tiers of crafting, ala tritanium, which is the common basic building material for most things in EVE online.  And then you could introduce different alloys as the crafter’s skill progressed.

This would also make sense in the economic aspect of the game as even new players could harvest iron… which I would imagine would be seeded as a harvestable throughout the game… and then turn around and sell it on the market because the demand for it would be there.

You would have to increase the amount of iron required as the crafter advanced to keep demand up.  Perhaps ones advanced harvesting skill would be required to extract less common materials needed for alloys, something that would be more likely to appear in higher level zones.

It might even be interesting see a full-out EVE style crafting system in a fantasy environment, where all the base equipment is player created.

Unfortunately, for most games, crafting is a second tier activity, there to serve the “quest/kill/level” aspect that is central to the game.  And that does not promote a sandbox-like crafting environment.

I know that, despite the fact that I pick up some form of crafting/harvesting in every game that allows it, crafting has never been the prime motivator for me.  I probably would not go play an MMO solely for the crafting aspect, so something like A Tale in the Desert is out.  Combat is a requirement for me.

Is anybody doing a hack and slash fantasy MMORPG with crafting like I brought up?

Planning a Division of Labors

With the transition of the instance group to a new game, everybody is in the process of establishing their role in the new order of things in EverQuest II.

We started with our characters, shaking out into the roles of tank, healer, and a variety of not necessarily DPS classes. (Okay, the wizard is totally DPS, but the troubadour and the swashbuckler have more tricks in their portfolio than a Swiss Army knife.)

After character classes, we started talking about trade skills.  Trade skills can be very useful in EQ2, and some of them feel almost indispensable to any regular group or guild.

Not all of us will pursue trade skills, given the variability of play time across the group.  But a couple of us will, and with Meclin joining us for the ride and an alt or two in play, we can probably count on covering at least 4 of the crafting trades in game.

But which ones should we go after in a serious way?  Which ones will benefit the team the most?

Which craft to choose?

There are nine major crafts in the game, and a character can learn only one.  So while Potshot muses about harvesting materials for trade skills, I am trying to figure out what we should be trying to make.

This is complicated by the Station Cash (SC) Store, something new in the mix of things in EverQuest II Extended.  Some of the crafts compete directly with the store while others have the market to themselves.

The trade skill choices are divided into three categories for reasons of symmetry I would guess.  A couple seem to overlap and one sticks out as different than the rest, but when you force things into groups you’re always going to end up with one of those “and everything that was left” categories.

The trade skill divisions are:

Craftsmen – Workers of wood, makers of pastries

Carpenter – Makes house decorations, storage boxes, salesman’s racks, and altars

  • Plus – Everybody needs those boxes, the salesman’s racks are essential to any serious seller, and housing decorations sell surprising well on the market.
  • Minus – Nothing you make will kill an NPC directly, even if you drop that dresser on it.  Plus the altar thing makes me think of the first two commandments and that scene in Inferno when Alan Carpentier has to explain away making up religions in his books. Is creating a fake person and having them worship a fake god heresy?

Provisioner – Makes food and drink

  • Plus – No SC Store equivalent, player created food has bonuses far beyond NPC vendor food, has been a money making profession in the past.
  • Minus – A lot of people will just by NPC vendor food, while slot-machine like food harvest nodes have a habit of coming up with three lemons when all you needed were two cherries.  And did you keep your fishing skill up to level?

Woodworker – Makes totems, small shields, bows, arrows, other wooden weapons, and gets confused with the carpenter a lot.

  • Plus – Bows are nice and I have made more money selling arrows on the broker than I have via any other method.  And harvesting tools are appreciated by everyone.
  • Minus – Almost everything you make competes with the SC Store.

Outfitters – Makers of player equipment… unless it is made from wood… or is considered jewelry.

Armorer – Makes chain and plate armor plus shields

  • Plus – Very handy to have about when you need a new suit.  People need a whole suit of 10 pieces every 10 levels or so.
  • Minus – The SC store competes directly, with the demise of the first pristine exp bonus you end up having to make a lot of armor sets to level up.

Tailor – Makes cloth and leather armor, plus bags, quivers, and other ammo pouches for ranged weapons.

  • Plus – Like the armor crafter, people need a new suit of something every 10 levels or so, bags are really handy, and quivers and ammo pouches actually sell pretty well.
  • Minus – The SC store sells the same suits and better bags than you’ll be able to make for a long long time.

Weaponsmith – Makes all metal weapons like swords, daggers, and axes.

  • Plus – Handy to have about, not many people take this route, lots of strange and exotic weapons to be made
  • Minus – People generally just need 1 or 2 weapons every 10 levels so selling can be tough even when you don’t compete with the SC Store, and of course you compete directly with it.

Scholars – Makers of skill upgrades and shiny little things

Alchemist – Makes skill upgrades for fighters along with poisons, buffs, and the closest thing to a healing potion in EQ2, which frankly isn’t that close at all.

  • Plus – Lots and lots of recipes, no SC Store competition
  • Minus – Competition comes from the very, very common Adpet skill drops from NPCs which cut into the sale of journeyman skills while NPC vendors sell lesser versions of some of your potions.

Jeweler – Makes skill upgrades for scouts along with items for all of the non-armor spots including rings, necklaces, earrings, and, oddly enough, belts.

  • Plus – Plenty to make, little SC Store or NPC competition
  • Minus – The whole Adept drop competition plus you end up with so many recipes it can be tough to keep track of them and what they do.

Scribe – Makes skill upgrades for priests and mages

  • Plus – Lots of skills to make, no SC Store competition
  • Minus – Adpet level skill drops from NPCs tend to flood the market which kill off the sales of journeyman skills, and all you make are skills

So that is the list.

My temptation is to try and get people to cover all of the scholar professions to cover the making of player skills and spells.  It is easy to forget, coming from WoW, that skills have various quality levels.  The skill tiers have been renamed since I last crafted heavily in EQ2 (and what hasn’t been renamed or reworked heavily in EQ2 by now?), but they are now ranked:

  • Master (rare drop from named mobs)
  • Expert (crafted)
  • Adept (random, but common, drop)
  • Journeyman (crafted)
  • Apprentice (free)

The apprentice skill is what you get for free as you level up.  You don’t even have to visit a guild master or anything.  However, life starts getting tough with only apprentice skills somewhere in the mid-20s and I hear that beyond 70 or so life with such skills becomes near impossible.

So keeping the group out of the apprentice doldrums has an appeal.  On the other hand, I’ve been down the skill creation path before and the free flowing adept skills can crush you if you are not careful.

Still, having those skills upgrades on hand would be good.

At this point I have sent Campell down the path as a jeweler.  That will keep him and Cerredwyn good on skills as well as having all the jewelry slots covered.

Cerredwyn has expressed a desire to try carpentry, so we may have housing decor and boxes.

But what other trade skills should we try to pursue as a group?

I am also tempted to copy over one of my characters from Crushbone.  I have an alchemist and a woodworker that are both up in the 70s skill wise.  And with SOE having dropped the price of a copy by $10 and that half-price Station Cash I just bought, the price of copying one character seems fairly reasonable.

First though, we need to figure out what we want  to do and what we really need.

The Allure of a Booming Marketplace

I have the crafting bug.

In every MMO I play, I usually at least try to craft.

I couldn’t tell you why, but it is just something I have to do.  I have more than a few alts that were started not because I wanted to play yet another class, but because I was accumulating resources for a crafting profession I did not yet have a character plying.

This is why I have a Rune Keeper in LOTRO.  I had all these scholar items.  And since he was also a farmer, and because I was accumulating gems as well, I then rolled up a Champion in order to take up the jeweler/cook crafting combo.  That I had the Champion around when the instance group needed him was an accident.

And I generally get into crafting in pursuit of the twin delusions of wealth and self-sufficiency.

My mileage has varied on those two.

In EverQuest, for example, I became an armor smith early, a vocation that cost a lot of money and which produced items that nobody wanted.  I essentially became the vendor that sells the white named armor in WoW.  I couldn’t afford to do any other crafting after that.

In LOTRO I have had alts following several crafting paths and have obtained a certain level of self-sufficiency for myself and our kinship.  As for wealth though, that I could have had if I had just not crafted and sold all my raw materials at the auction house.  It was an either/or proposition.

In WoW things have ebbed and flowed.  I struggled to get Vikund to 450 engineering, a profession which comes with lots of fun toys, but almost no money making potential.  My characters who have tried inscription have made some money, and being able to make enchanting scrolls made my enchanter a money maker at last.  But the money flow was really dependent on the server and faction with which I was working.  In the end I could make money, if I cared to, but I could make as much just about as much just selling raws.  And self-sufficiency didn’t really enter into it, as you really have to go out and work for equipment drops to get anything decent.

Then there was EverQuest II, where I eventually came the closest to my dual goals.  My woodworker made piles of gold selling arrows and my provisioner made pretty good money making food.  And a lot of the time, I was much better off creating finished goods, since if people were harvesting a lot, and in EQII you can harvest everything independent of your trade craft, the market prices would become seriously depressed.  It was common to see dozens of stacks of some commodities selling for 1 copper per unit.  I don’t know why people even bothered to sell at that price, but it often worked to my advantage.

Self-sufficiency I also obtained, to a certain extent, though you need so many trade skills to cover all your needs (skills, armor, weapons, jewelry, food, bags, storage boxes) that you can go nuts trying to follow that path.

With that background, it was no surprise that I started harvesting right away when I hit EverQuest II Extended.  Yes, there is a trade skill quest there at the starting point in the Frostfang Sea, but that only gets you a tiny step into the process.

Self-sufficiency was what I had in mind.  I thought I was going to be playing at the bronze level, where the broker is off-limits.

I was, no surprise, a bit surly about this lack of broker access.  What bunk!  I was going to be denied access to markets.

Then I found out that, with Station Access, I had gold level access to the game.

And my tune changed a bit.

You see, when you are a Gold or Platinum player, the market is there to enrich you.  All those silver players, they can buy things, but to sell they have to purchase broker credits, which essentially means they need to spend 15 cents to sell a single item.  (Unless, of course, they scam the system, fill up a bag in their inventory, then stick it in the broker slot.  You can apparently bypass the restriction that way according to the wisdom of the auction channel.)

And the poor bronze players, they can’t even buy stuff.  (I made a bronze account to see what it was like.)

They only get this message when they try.

But I can buy as silver, right?

So I went to work selling last weekend and made quite a bit of money.

sales were brisk

Okay, two and a half plat isn’t all that much, at least not in EQII Live.  But I remember how long it took me to make that first platinum coin back when EQII launched.  And I have three characters in EQIIX now, and all of them have passed the two plat mark.

In fact, I wonder where all the money is coming from.  You cannot bring any coinage over if you copy your character from EQII Live, and EQII used to be pretty stingy about handing out cash for anything in an attempt to keep the economy from going the way of EverQuest, where it some times seems that they might as well do away with all coins less than 1 platinum.

Still, the market is pretty hot.  There must be money flowing in from somewhere.  And a some of it was flowing my way.

Enough, in fact, that I am a bit worried about the end of my Station Access subscription, which is set to run out in a little over a week.  When that happens, my characters will drop to Bronze level access and I will only be able to have 5 gold per level on a character.

To haul around more than 2 plat I need to pass level 40…. on three characters… who are all around level 20.

That’s not going to happen, but I don’t want to have SOE just take my excess cash.

Somebody on the Auction channel (again) suggested investing in trade skill fuels.  It is the one thing that you can vendor back at the same price you paid for it.

I might have to start a fuel hedge fund.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem at all if I could buy the Silver level option for my account before my Station Access ran out.

And then, of course, I’ll be on the “full broker access for silver!” side of the fence again.

Crafting Again in Middle-earth

I swore when I rolled Terntia over on Firefoot that I was NOT going to get involved with crafting.

No, no, no, it was not going to happen.  I was not going to be distracted by it.

Not that crafting in Lord of the Rings Online is bad.  In fact, it is enticingly good to start with.  You can, almost immediately, begin to craft useful items, items that are upgrades to the kit with which you start out.

That is how they suck you in to crafting.  Once you can make something useful, you want to do it again.

And you’ll have to do it again… and again… and again.  That is because to advance to the second tier of crafting, you first must make enough items to achieve a basic proficiency in the first tier.  Then to get to the third tier, you must gain a master proficiency in the first tier, plus basic proficiency in the second.

And if you have one of the skills that makes finished products, like armor or weapons, to move past basic proficiency at each tier you have to do a quest, some of which used to be hella hard at level.

I was just going to say no all of that.  I would gather resources, sell them at the auction house, and then just buy what I needed.

So Terentia chose the explorer trade class, which mines ore, harvests wood, and can tailor light (cloth) and medium (leather) armor. (All of this LOTRO trade skill stuff is detailed nicely on the crafting page over at LOTRO-Wiki.)  I was determined just to sell resources.

And how did that work out.  Well, here is how Terentia stands at the moment.

Terntia Titles

As an expert (and master expert) Forester and expert Prospector, she now has access to the fourth (of six) trade skill tier for these professions.   They are the harvesting professions, and so would naturally progress as part of my initial plan.

Then there is the expert Tailor title.

It turned out to be not as bad as it once was to level up a profession that makes finished products, something illustrated by Silinus’ progress. (And I wasn’t going to make any alts either, so you see what a tower of Jell-0 I can be on these sorts of decisions.)

Silinus Titles

Silinus has prospector up to master expert level, but also has access to the fourth tier of woodworking and weaponsmithing.

So what changed my mind on this subject.  A few things, actually.

Access to trade skill materials:  Harvesting got an upgrade from the day one “one node, one resource drop” model quite a while back, but other things seem to be more readily available as well.  Recipes, especially, seemed to drop more often as well as special ingredients.  And then there are some special quests focused on giving trade skill related rewards that open up more recipe and rare item access.

More reasonable trade skill quests:  As mentioned above, to advance a tier in a trade skill that produces finished goods, you have to go complete a quest.  The initial quests for tier 2 and tier 3 used to be heinously difficult to c0mplete at level in anything short of a full fellowship.  A couple involved sneaking into a zone way over your level and taking out an elite mob also way over your level.

That has been dialed back some.  You still have to sneak into a dangerous zone, but now the elite mob is level appropriate and you can solo it with some care.

Oddly, at higher tiers, the quests seem to get considerably easier.  For example, to get access to artisan woodworking, the tier past expert, Silinus just had to collect some special wood and then help repair a bridge.

Now that is craftsmanship! Totally artisan level work!

Then there were the vagueries of the auction house:  The auction house in LOTRO is not totally dead, but neither is it a supermarket of choices.  I quickly found that I could not depend on it for all of my equipment upgrade needs.  Quests do a pretty good job of that, but you can go for long stretches before you get, say, a new spear.

So I started making medium armor with Terentia, then got Silinus on woodworking and weaponsmithing, which together seemed to cover most of their armor and weapon needs.

Finally, there was the matter of money:  Part of the initial harvest and sell plan for trade skills was based on my initial wave of characters being dirt poor.  In the early days of the game the weight of repair bills and the stingy rewards from quests did not leave your average adventurer with much in the way of savings.  From my first wave of characters on Windfola, I have three at or around level 30, and they might have a gold between them.  Buying that level 35 mount was going to be a rough road.

Now, however, with my latest characters on Firefoot, both also in the level 30 range, money does not seem so tight.  They have about five gold a piece and still have some time before they need to buy a mount.  And this was without selling resources at the auction house.

And, as a bonus point, the shared storage space that came with the explorer’s kit was a big help to a combined harvesting/crafting effort.  Having 20 slots to exchange raw materials and finished goods between Silinus and Terentia made things a lot more manageable (and less expensive) than having to send everything by mail.

I was thus able to indulge my crafting desires… because I feel that need in every MMO I play… and actually benefit from it over time.

Now I just have to do something with all those gems I have in the bank or I’ll end up rolling another alt just to have a jeweler.

I could go the Tinker route though… that would give me jeweler, prospector, and cook… good food is very important and way too short lived in Middle-earth.  Hrmm.

Ten Million Skill Points

I have hit a new level of achievement in EVE Online for my main character, Wilhelm Arcturus.  He has finally crossed the 10 million skill point barrier.

His 10 million skill points are divided, in descending order, into the following categories:

Spaceship Command   2,561,307 
Learning:           1,454,787 
Industry            1,151,142 
Electronics           998,658 
Missile Launcher Ops  923,820 
Gunnery               713,651 
Engineering           546,644 
Science               409,185 
Navigation            383,195 
Social                325,785 
Trade                 298,699 
Mechanic              177,988 
Drones                 44,182 
Leadership              8,000 
Corporation Management  2,957    

Total              10,000,000

As is probably pretty common, spaceship command is number one on the list.  All of the skills that allow somebody to fly a given class of ship, like Caldari frigates for example, fall under this.

I also have a heavy investment in learning skills, which speed up training.  I buckled down and got all of the learning skills up to at least Level 4 this Summer, which has sped things up in the long run.  I am doing the same thing now with my miner.

And then, of course, there is industry, which I have been doing a lot of work in of late, as all of my ore processing and much of the production related skills.  Industry is nice because it uses Wilhelm’s two highest attributes, memory and intelligence, so he grinds through industry skills at 1815 skill points per hour.

Electronics is something of a left over from my desire to try covert ops.  There are a number of electronics precursors to that skill.  I never finished going down that path, but it has helped me with CPU usage on my ships, something I am told is a nagging problem for Caldari vessels. 

Missile launcher operations has been largely driven my desire to stop losing Caracals by becoming more effective at missile warfare.  I have generally fallen in the “kill things faster, take less damage” school of fighting.

Then there is gunnery, which was probably really useful when I had a Cormorant with 6 75mm rail guns and a pair of missile launchers.  Now that I have gone all missiles, they just boost my total.

And then, blah blah blah, down to the end.  Drones sounded neat, but were only so-so.  Leadership was a prerequisite for another skill.  I have shown nothing that resembles leadership in-game otherwise.  And I learned just enough corporation management to create a corp, manipulate containers, and invite a Minmatar to our Caldari formed corp.

Out of that 10 million, Wilhelm has a total of 122 known skills, which are spread out as follows:

Level 1:  25 Skills 
Level 2:  11 Skills 
Level 3:  28 Skills 
Level 4:  47 Skills 
Level 5:  11 Skills

Generally, any skill worth knowing is worth knowing to level 4.  Beyond that, the effort is pretty high.  Almost all of the skills I have brought up to level 5, which takes significantly longer than levels 1 through 4 combined, have been prerequisites for other skills.

My level 5 skills are:

Caldari Cruiser 
Caldari Frigate 
Spaceship Command 
Instant Recall 
Learning 
Industry 
Refining 
Electronics 
Electronics Upgrades 
Missile Launcher Operations 
Science

In that list, only learning and instant recall were not required to get to another skill.

So now I need to figure out where I want to be when I get to 20 million skill points.

Thorium Shuffle

In which the author runs around for 2 hours and accomplishes very little.

Last Saturday I was in World of Warcraft with my hunter, Tistann.  I was in the auction house looking at equipment upgrades.

When I got to guns, I saw a Thorium Rifle for sale. 

An upgrade yes, but I realized that I did not need to buy one.  Vikund, who is an engineer, can make Thorium Rifles.  Well, he had the recipe and the right skill level.

In fact, I had even started collecting the parts to make one for Tistann.  Vik was only short some thorium to make a couple of parts.

So I bought a stack of 20 thorium ore with Tistann, sent it to Vikund, and logged in with Vik fully expecting to finish up the rifle right then and there.

Vikund was up at Nijel’s Point in Desolace.  I picked up the thorium from the mail, then realized he did not have his tools with him.

So I got on the griffon and flew to Ratchet to use the bank.

He got his tools out, brought up his smelting skill, and realized that he did not have the skill to smelt thorium ore.  His skill was 245.  You need a skill of 250 to smelt thorium ore into thorium bars.

So I flew down to Gadgetzen in Tanaris to go mine mithril ore for a while to get his skill up.

I ran around Tanaris, mining mithril ore until I finally hit a skill level of 250, which took me just about a full circuit around the zone.

I ran back to Gadgetzen to get the thorium smelting skill.  Only there is no mining trainer in Gadgetzen.

So I used my hearth stone and recalled to Ironforge, ran him over to the trainer, got the skill, ran to the forge, and made 20 thorium bars.

The end was in sight!

I went to make the rifle and realized he left the previously made parts in the bank.

One round trip to the bank later he stood again at the anvil, ready to proceed.

But there was one more thing he needed to make.  Each rifle requires two thorium widgets.

So I found the thorium widget recipe.  Each thorium widget requires three thorium bars and one runcloth.

Runecloth?  Crap, I did not have any runecloth.

So a run to the auction house, which was where I started more than 90 minutes past, to find some runecloth.

It was Saturday afternoon and there was not a stitch to be found.

There are lots of things made from runecloth available, but not one auction open for it.

And nobody on the trade channel had any either.

So I put things back in the bank, got on the griffon, flew out to the boat, sailed to Theramore, flew back to Desolace, and logged off, my plans thwarted.

I wish I could say that this running around routine was unique in my MMO experience, but it isn’t.  

 I recall an all day effort for nothing back in EverQuest when I was trying to become an armor smith.  I think I ran from Qeynos to Highhold Pass three times that day, and then through it again to get to Freeport.

Nothing impresses upon you the size of the world than the need to run around it to just get “one more thing” so you can accomplish a task.

Fortunately, the next day, I was able to find ample runecloth at the auction house, so I was finally able to finish the rifle.  I even had enough thorium to make an extra for Earl. 

But on Saturday, that rifle just didn’t want to get made.