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General Crafting Guide and Tips ~ By Totema1

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This article is only a guide. Information expressed in a guide is usually more opinion than fact and should be taken as such. Guides are written by players, based upon their experiences, successes and mistakes, and are meant to aid other players. However, there may be differing opinions than those expressed in a guide. Information in guides may not work for everyone.


[edit] Intro

This guide is different from almost every crafting guide on FFXIclopedia. You won't find recipes here, and nor will you find any specific advice geared towards any one craft. Instead, you'll find very general information intended to help everyone. I'm writing this because I feel that the general crafter's mindset, whether they are practicing Cooking or Goldsmithing, is very ill-defined and hard to learn without putting personal experience into one's craft, which too frequently leads to misguided crafting projects that turn up as failures. My goal will be to minimize the personal experience needed to develop this mindset, and give beginner crafters a better chance to start and finish projects smarter and with as little pain in the wallet as they can.

As I learned these for myself, I found myself thinking "I wish I knew to do that when I started out!" and then wondered, why couldn't I? I'm writing this so any beginner that wanted to could learn "that" before they start crafting.

Crafting is an activity defined by decisions. I'm going to be frequently giving examples of what a foolish crafter does and compare them to smarter decisions. This way, if you are faced with clear decisions, you will know what to do. But many times you will be faced with tougher and vaguer decisions, In those cases, I'll also give you a set of guidelines that you can use, and hopefully they will lead you to the wisest choice. I'll use an anecdotal writing style to help spell it out for newbies and make it generally very clear why people should do these things.

I am, admittedly, also learning the ropes of crafting. If you have any input, feel free to edit it right in, or leave it in the discussion page. So, let's begin, shall we?

NOTE: I'm not discussing Fishing or Synergy in this guide. They are quite different from ordinary synthesis crafting and require different strategies to perform smartly, though there may be much overlap.

[edit] What is Crafting?

In this section I'm assuming you are a complete neophyte and don't even know what crafting is or anything about it, though I can tell you that it is easy to simply peruse FFXIclopedia's articles about it to learn everything you need. If you know enough to be competent you can skip this section. Let me imagine I am teaching a 3rd Grade class and I will explain everything.

Crafting is a way of using a crystal to turn one group of items into a single product, or single group of the same product. There are eight classes of synthesis crafting; Cooking, Clothcraft, Leathercraft, Woodworking, Bonecraft, Smithing, Goldsmithing, and Alchemy. Each has its own skill, its own recipes, and its own guild.

Guilds have Guild Merchants, which can supply many of your ingredients, Guild Masters, who progress you through your levels of crafting and places you in one of many rankings, and Synthesis Image Support NPCs, who can endow to you a special buff that temporarily raises your relative crafting skill and let you complete more difficult recipes with greater ease. Guilds also have Guildworker's Unions, which, when you join at the rank of Novice (crafting level 30's) will allow you to earn guild points for turning in products that they order, and in turn you can spend the guild points for key items, gear, and furniture than will make your crafting experience easier. As you craft recipes that are higher in level than you are, you will occasionally gain skill, a lot like how one gains weapon skill in combat. At every 10 points of skill, you will cap, and in order to progress you will have to speak with the Guild Master and turn in the test item he/she asks for, much like how Maat makes you perform Limit Break quests.

There are two different types of Synthesis Image Support: one that raises your relative skill by one, lasts for two minutes, and is free, and an "advanced" version that raises your relative skill by three, lasts for eight minutes, and costs a small fee. You can't use the Advanced Synthesis Image Support until you attain the guild rank of Initiate, because the fee is based on your level of ranking (and Amateur is considered "rank 0").

You can freely take any and every craft to level 60. However you have only 40 points of skill to spend on a craft taken beyond 60. Simply put, you can take a craft to 100 but you can't take any other craft beyond 60 if you wanted to. (Or you could take two to 80 and have the same restriction.) If you really have your heart set on levelling another craft to 100, you must speak with your guild master, and if you chose so he will take your crafting level back down to 60 and free up those skill points. Only do this if you are absolutely certain of your decision, because levelling a craft from 60 to 100, no matter what it is, is costly and time-consuming.

As you progress in skill you may notice that, if you try a low-level recipe, you might either produce a similar but better item or more of the item than usual. This is called HQing, because you performed a high quality synthesis. Even with a full 100 skill in a craft you can't ever have more than a 50% chance to HQ. HQing is often the key to earning a bank with crafting; a recipe might require 2000 gil worth of items only to normally produce an item work 900 gil, but if you HQ and make three of the item instead, you're looking at a 700 gil profit right there. This is just a generalized example; the reality frequently produces jaw-dropping results. (See: Beeswax, Meat Mithkabob, Worm Lure)

You might also need more than one craft for a single recipe. This is not unheard of in crafts such as Goldsmithing and Clothcraft, in which you may need a variety of subcrafts to progress. This really only means what it is: you need skill in the main craft as well as the subcraft. Making the recipe may also raise skill in both, but HQs are dictated by your skill in the main craft.

That's pretty much it. If you want to start learning how to think like a crafter, read on!

[edit] How can I get started?

The hardest step to beginning a craft is that itself. Beginning. Going from non-crafter to crafter is a huge step, and can be overwhelming if you aren't properly prepared.

  • Cost

The first thing you need to consider is your personal wealth. If you are very new to crafting, chances are you don't have a lot of it! {/laugh}

Here's a list of crafts, sorted by their general cost from least to greatest:


What you should be thinking is that the range is Cooking, which requires really no more than 50,000 gil to get from nothing to the mid-level 30s, and Goldsmithing, which can require at least that much to get from level 20 to level 30. Mind you, that's cost, not profitability. Every craft (except the one that doesn't make anything that people will use, which is to say, none of them) has a degree of profitability, but I find that the best are Cooking, Alchemy, and Goldsmithing. There is no craft that is cheap the entire way. Cooking comes rather close but some ingredients for >90 recipes are very eyebrow raising. If you are very skilled or patient you can perform even the most expensive crafts on a shoestring budget, at least to an extent. But note that you can earn a lot of money even with an incomplete craft.

  • Accessibility

The next thing to consider is how easily you can get to different areas in the game. Really you only need access to the three main nations and Jeuno for most situations, but some recipes require you to visit vendors in Aht Urhgan Whitegate, Kazham, and even the Tavnazian Safehold. The main point of this is how easily you can travel. Time spent is as good as money spent (a point I'll get to later) so if you are taking 20 or more minutes on a Chocobo to travel from San d'Oria to Windurst just to get to the Cooking guild, you are being very inefficient and making your project that much harder.

If you are lucky enough to have Outpost Warps available in Ronfaure, Gustaburg, and Sarutabaruta (Yes, once every blue moon a different nation will have ownership of those regions) then you are pretty much set for the three nations. The airship is also a good method, especially if you do not have the option of OP warping, and though it can take quite a while sometimes there is very little effort involved. What's more, it also goes through Jeuno, which may be a regular stop for you if you are reliant on the Auction House for supplies. As for getting to Jeuno from the three nations, usually the fastest way is to warp to Whitegate for the fee of 300 gil and then either using the "pay Taru" to get warped directly to Jeuno for the toll of a single Imperial Silver Piece (100 CP, chump change for a Besieged regular) or using the "free Taru" in Al Zahbi who will transport you to the general vicinity of Jeuno (one of the surrounding zones, or if you are lucky directly in Ru'Lude Gardens) for no cost. Kaduru is also the best way to get from Jeuno back to your home nation, provided that's useful for your craft, but he won't teleport you if it's within a game day of you using his brother Shihu's services. If you don't have access to the Near East (you should if you were worth your weight as an adventurer) you can, again, take the underrated and reliable airship. And for any miscellaneous areas, use your common sense to determine the fastest and safest way to and from.

As a side note, the Warp spell (or Scroll of Instant Warp if you don't like black magic) can be of utmost usefulness in terms of getting back to an area that is long or difficult to access otherwise. Just make sure you remember to set your Home Point there.

All that said, the most popular first choice for crafts is Cooking. It's quite nicely cheap, there is a lot of ingredient supply for most levels, and you can start making a profit pretty early into it.

  • What about getting a crafting mule?

This is a challenging question, because there are certain downsides to using a crafting mule, but they are pretty relative to the player that considers using one. The first is the cost. An extra Content ID on FFXI means an extra dollar you need to pay every month for the subscription. At this point I already don't think it's worth it, but someone else might. Then there's the other concerns that don't immediately come up. Mules are difficult to travel with, because they are like Twinkies: soft and fluffy on the outside, and mushy on the inside. Getting to Jeuno not only means having to go on foot, but also spending the money on Prism Powders and Silent Oils, or being very crafty without them. At the very least it's a lot of time spent, and could also be a lot of money spent. And to get an airship pass without earning it the right and proper way also means a lot of money spent. So unless you don't mind using the delivery system enough to drive the calmest person totally batsh*t crazy, using a mule might not be worth it. Finally, the most overlooked issue of all: space. Many players who start crafting don't even think about this. If you use a mule instead of using your main character, you will have the bare minimum amount of space in your inventory. Many times this won't even be a problem, but on occasion (particularly when your recipe yields more products than needs ingredients) you're going to have a big problem, and your project will be halted until you can free up some room. With the introduction of Mog Satchels this isn't such a huge issue, but it still means you're going to spend a lot of time transferring your inventory.

Of course, there are a lot of upsides to using mules too. The biggest is the antithesis to the second downside I brought up: you can essentially be in two (or more) places at once. If your craft has two places of importance, you can put your main character in one and your mule in the other. Then, for all intents and purposes, your travel time to and from one place and the other will be just over thirty seconds. To a lot of players this outweighs the restriction of having to use the delivery system. Another benefit is that, humorously enough, you essentially have more inventory space than if you have only your main character. Funny how that works, right? You can buy up more ingredients than you are ordinarily able to carry and simply have them delivered as you need. Some recipes don't work this way but it is handy for a majority of them.

If you don't mind eating the cost, then really the upsides and downsides cancel each other out. In other words, you decide for yourself if getting a mule is worth it. Think about the places you will have to go for your craft, how you will unload your finished projects, and how you will use it for money, and if the downsides aren't a concern, then go right ahead and buy that Content ID. Of course, for those of us who already have an extra character and want to convert them to a mule, then so much the better.

[edit] Getting it done

What a long beginning section! I promise, this is where the meat of the guide is. In fact, I'm splitting it into sub-sections so you know I'm keeping my word.

[edit] Being Money-Wise

Time = Money, Effort = Money. If you spend too much time and/or effort performing a task for your project (procuring ingredients, traveling, etc.) you are spending money you don't have, or yet have, to put it simply. Extra time and effort that would otherwise be spent doing something else could be spent making extra profit and either earning extra craft skill or extra dough. Sometimes both. A dumb crafter would travel to the ends of Vana'diel just to get the right ingredients for a single recipe, while a smart crafter would instead find a comparable recipe, in the same craft, around the same level, and if needed earning the same profit, in which all the ingredients are readily available in the city he/she's in. Here's what you can do when you're starting a project: don't just know the ingredients you need, know how to get them at the lowest cost and with the least time and effort. Your options will be general merchant NPCs (Raimbroy's is a favorite for chefs and alchemists), regional merchant NPCs, guild merchant NPCs, numerous Auction Houses, and if you are quite lucky, bazaars. Find what has the stuff cheapest and where you need to go. Usually (but not always!) if you can get the ingredients from an NPC, it will be cheaper than at the Auction House, if it's even there at the Auction House. Get familiar with where Regional Merchant NPCs hang out, they have a lot of specialty ingredients you can't find at Raimbroy's or the guild, and they are usually on the cheaper end of the scale and they won't run out (unless your nation neglects that region, in which case, curse everyone on your server). Also, pay attention to the guild's stock and prices; if they have been refreshed and untouched, you will probably get some really cheap supplies for a while, or at least until they jack the price up. Or get the bloody stuff yourself the old fashioned way, if every other choice is unreasonable.

What about HELM? It's up to you if you want to get your ingredients this way, but don't fool yourself and think you are saving money by using it. If anything, you're losing money. Think about it. Let's say you need Adaman Ore for your Smithing craft, which run about 10,000 gil on the Jeuno Auction House. You will need a buttload of pickaxes because these things are rare to find. You take the trip to Mount Zhayolm and find a good cycle of Mining Points, and after about, let's say an hour you finally get the ore. Hooray, you saved 10,000 gil! No, not really because you just acquired an item worth 10,000 gil. By using it for Smithing you spend 10,000 gil that you could have got instead by selling it. Plus there's the cost of the pickaxes, and the time and effort you spent getting to Mount Zhayolm and mining the damn thing out of the ground. I say HELM is only worth it if there are severe supply issues and there's really no other way to get that ingredient. Or, you could simply pick a different recipe that you can do instead, as I said so above.

What about when you're done with your project? A foolish crafter, at the end of a powercrafting binge, sells everything he or she made to a standard merchant NPC without thinking. A smart crafter, on the other hand, checks to see if his or her guild will buy it before selling. Guild merchants almost always buy items for a much higher price than standard merchants. You're also benefitting anyone who might want to buy the item you just sold from the guild. Your guild won't always buy the products of your craft, though, so if not, tough luck and just sell it to a standard merchant, or get rid of it a different way, such as with your bazaar or the Auction House. Or if it's better on the Auction House anyway, you hit yourself for even considering selling to an NPC, and go ahead and put it on the Auction House.

Crystals are funny things. No matter what you are doing (except if it's fishing or synergy-ing-ing) you will need them. You will need a lot of them and as you move through your craft you will need a lot of different types of them. (The second one, usually, but not always) One is always used for every synthesis, no two ways about it. What's more, you cannot buy them from NPCs, so the obvious way to get them doesn't work. What then? It's more obvious than you think: now you only have two options, the Auction House or getting your own. (Or bazaars, but you usually won't find crystals in bazaars, and if you do it won't be at a nice price) For some crystals, usually Dark and Light, it might be more worth it to try to get your own. Go look for elementals or garden them if you have the time. For most others, just buy them. It's usually cheaper to buy them from the AHs in the three nations, they're usually about half the price as in the Jeuno AH.

[edit] Being Craft-Smart

This is all about moving through your craft and your projects as smoothly as possible. First of all, YOU WILL BREAK SYNTHS. I am not a psychic but that is a prediction of the future. Say you want to make beeswax, and for any particular reason, you need exactly four stacks of it (without HQs). A dumb crafter would only get enough ingredients to make four stacks, which is to say, four stacks of fire crystals, four stacks of distilled water, and twelve stacks of beehive chips. Then, at any time period during the project, he/she finds that he breaks. And again, and again, and again, when finally at the end of his pile of crystals, he/she finds that he only has three stacks, and a few of his remaining ingredients too. A smart crafter always gets ingredients in surplus, especially if it for a recipe above his/her crafting level. Crystals, those funny things, are what you'll need the most of. When a synthesis breaks, only one thing is absolutely guaranteed to be lost, and that is the crystal. You will probably lose other ingredients too, which is why you need a surplus of those too. On a related note, there's always a recipe somewhere where one of the ingredients is something very valuable and/or hard to acquire. (This holy grail could be Dragon Meat, Royal Jelly, the weapon you are trying to alchemically upgrade, etc.) For one thing, if you want to do this recipe and you are below its level, please change your mind. Do something else or at least raise your level before you try it, because by some providence if you break you will lose that single precious item and you will drive yourself mad trying to get it back. I know you are theoretically supposed to have a random chance of losing it versus something else, but it always happens anyway. (This phenomenon adds to my suspicion that RPGs are not only smart but also evil.)

Speaking of breaks, there's also the little things that influence your success, as well as your chance of getting a skill-up. A dumb crafter crafts on any day, during any moon phase, facing any direction. This is HORRIBLE practice because all three of these minute factors are proven to influence what happens when you craft. As a rule of thumb, your synthesis will be easier on the same day of your crystal and also Lightsday, and harder on the day that is strong against your crystal and also Darksday. It will be easier the closer the moon is to full, and harder the closer it is to empty. Finally, the direction you face determines the difficulty. I can tell you that:

North is Dark, Northeast is Light, East is Ice, Southeast is Wind, South is Earth, Southwest is Lightning, West is Water, and Northwest is Fire

...But if you prefer seeing it visually you can always look at our very own Crafting compass. Facing the same direction as your crystal makes it easier, facing the direction of the element that is strong against your crystal makes it harder. Finally, easier synths have a higher chance of success and harder synths give a higher chance of skilling up or getting HQs. Do yourself a favor and use lokyst's FFXI Crafting Timer for most of this nonsense, it will calculate everything for you. When skilling up I like to linger at a difficulty rating around 3, and usually no less than 2, for the best chances of both success and skillup. There are a lot of rumors floating around about other things you can do to influence your chances, such as crafting closer to midnight in game time, using Bar- and En- spells, and crafting in a particular city, and while those might have some influence it isn't confirmed. Do them if it makes you feel more comfortable, but know that you might just be performing useless rituals.

Finally, don't get rid of your products so hastily! You may have a need for them in the future to turn them into newer, more valuable items. That's a widely used technique to turn a profit with crafting: take some relatively cheap items, turn them into something more valuable, then take what you made and repeat the process until you have something really special. A fine, simple example of this is the Jack-o'-Lantern recipe: Beehive chips are about 2000 gil per stack. You can take three stacks of them (6000 gil) and turn them into a stack of beeswax, which is worth about 8000 gil. You could sell that for about 33% profit, or you can take that beeswax and turn it into Jack-o'-Lanterns, which are worth a cool 2000 gil each! What you just did is spend about 8000 gil (at best) to generate 24,000 gil's worth of items! That's 200% profit, and that, my friends, is beautiful. It's even more beautiful - downright sexy even - if you can HQ one of the ingredients and get even more for your money's worth. (In this particular example, say you're a high-level Alchemist and by some miracle you get HQ3 on every beeswax synthesis, and then you turn every beeswax into a Jack-o'-Lantern. In a perfect world that would mean making 90,000 gil with 6000 gil of supplies, and earning a fever-inducing 1400% profit. Now can you see the allure of crafting??)

[edit] Attitude

This is the moral section of the guide. Like almost every other activity in FFXI, crafting can either be a nightmare or a dream depending on your outlook. This will be a simple list of things to look out for to make crafting as enjoyable as possible for you.

  1. It will get boring at times. Make every successful synthesis a small success and every skillup a bigger success. Also, don't give yourself a massive workload and expect to finish it. If you are working on a powercrafting project, take a break when you are getting bored and do something else worthwhile.
  2. It will also get frustrating at times. If you plan properly you can avoid many situations where things would go bad, but sometimes Altana herself is bound and determined to make you fail. Anticipate failure and stick with your plan, and things won't look as bad as they might seem.
  3. Other crafters don't have to be your enemies. They could even be your friends; remember, they are people too. Ask a more experienced crafter for some help and they would most likely be more than willing to oblige. After all, crafting is a little like a cult, and everyone's happy to see someone doing the same thing they are and going through the same struggles they used to. There's so many crafters out there now that giving away a few tips won't compromise a monopoly. You might even end up joining a clique of crafters who engage in projects together. It doesn't have to be a solitary activity.
  4. Along the same lines, get to know your friends even closer, because as you progress you will find that you will be exploiting them a lot. Need to grab a rare item for a project? Ask your linkshell and sucker them into helping you. Offer a cut of the profits (but not too much) to make it even sweeter for them. If any of your friends are into HELM, ask them if you could have a little of what they find. It makes HELM a little more worth it, for you at least. Gardening and farm-happy friends are also ripe for begging.

[edit] The End

My guide is, at the moment, complete. If you have anything to say, bring it up on the talk page or my message box. Or, if you want to make an edit, go right ahead. Thanks for reading!

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This article uses material from the "General Crafting Guide and Tips ~ By Totema1" article on FFXIclopedia and is licensed under the CC-BY-SA License.
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