Crafting for Beginners - a different kind of guide
Although this guide could go in the Tradeskills Forum, I'm posting it here in the General Forum in the hopes of reaching beginning players who haven't started crafting -- or even considered crafting. (This is an appeal to not flame me.) Non-crafters don't read the Tradeskills Forum much. Old players are returning for WOTG, and new and returning players all post in the general forum. (Maybe the Administrators could wait a bit before moving it.)
This is a guide that attempts: (1) to encourage new players to start crafting; and (2) to make crafting an accessible option for players just starting the game.
Crafting can be difficult for new players to break into - in part because they have no clue about the uses for the drops filling their inventory. This guide tries to help you figure out what's craftable and what's not.
Obviously you can start crafting at any point in your playing career - but beginners have particular challenges (low funds, danger/delay to travel between cities, limitations on farming drops, etc.). Advanced players who have not yet taken the crafting "plunge" can use this guide when leveling a new subjob. This is a guide to crafting that is developmentally linked with leveling your jobs.
This is a guide to crafting as a kind of "way of life" for beginning players. Following this guide is not the way to get a job to 75 in the shortest time. Nor is it a way to get your crafting skill to 100 in the shortest time. This is not an "expensive" guide to crafting - nor is it a guide to power-leveling crafting.
This IS a guide to leveling your crafting skill while making a profit. Yes, crafting can be profitable! Often the profit will be small, but if you know where to locate ingredients cheaply then you can find synths where you can double or triple your investment. Leveling your crafting skill takes time, rushing it is expensive.
The cost issue
Beginners are routinely advised against crafting, based on a number of "false truths" held as gospel. "Crafting is expensive" is accepted with blind faith in the player community. "Don't start crafting until you have a steady income stream."
I've always been perplexed at these "helpful" suggestions to beginning players since I've crafted from a very early stage in my playing career (I wished I'd started even earlier) - and I've always made all of my gil through crafting. For me, crafting has been profitable - it hasn't been expensive.
Typically players mean one of two things when they say that "crafting is expensive": (1) There are stretches in leveling crafts that involve hefty investments; "expensive" like the mythril ore -> mythril ingot stage; it requires a hefty investment, but you make your money back (and then some) when you sell the ingots; or (2) stretches like the "silk road" where the materials are expensive, and the products don't have enough sales to allow the crafters to sell for a profit.
But, this is a guide for beginning players. Those costly stretches are reached much later, when a player is a very mature crafter.
This guide is a demonstration that crafting is not expensive. As you'll see, there are many, many money-making synths for crafters with little or no crafting skill. My challenge back is "How can you afford to sell your crystals and drops for less than you get by crafting those things into finished products?"
In short, don't do any of these recipes if you lose money in the process -- unless you identified a loss leader to get past a hard stage.
Take your time leveling your job.
Your crafting will benefit from taking the slow path to leveling. For the first 10 to 20 levels you will be soloing. It is to your advantage to level against Easy Prey only. Fighting a mob that checks "even match" will get you 100 experience points - and the drops from only one mob. But, fighting 5 "Easy Prey" mobs also can get you 100 experience points - and the drops from 5 mobs. You want to aim for the easiest Easy Prey mobs - and squeeze out crystals and drops to power your crafting. (Just as an example, from around level 7 to level 12, I'd camp out in the fungar cave in Ghelsba Outpost just run in the big circle of the cave, bats give you wind crystals and wings; the fungars give you dark crystals and sleepshrooms. You need those dark crystals to fuel your leathercraft. You only have 5 levels or so before you're too high to get crystals. Once the mob checks as "too weak to be worthwhile" you'll stop getting crystals and experience points. I like those levels to last as long as possible and come out of that cave with stacks of crystals and items.)
Crafting and jobs
Don't worry about "what class" to be. Regardless of which job you decide to level up to 75, you won't regret having all the starting jobs up to a certain level. In fact, you'll find that you probably want to level all of the beginner jobs to a certain level.
Consider leveling each beginner job up to at least the following levels:
BLM - 18; at level 17 you get warp; level 18 as sub for whm to 37
WHM - 37; at level 36 you can get teleport scrolls for the 3 crags; great sub;
THF - 15; at level 15 you get treasure hunter; sub /THF when farming;
WAR - 37; level to 37 as sub for any of the DD jobs to 75;
MNK - 18; preferred sub for WAR; level to 18 for sub of WAR to 37;
RDM - 37; level to 37 for sub, a situational sub for many main jobs - a great main job;
New players tend to change their job plans as they experience each job's playing style; so don't anguish about your starting job. You can safely level all the beginning jobs to the levels stated above, and you'll find that it was a solid investment.
Also, you will find that when you reach certain stages of crafting, it just calls you to level certain jobs in a corresponding way. At certain stages of my woodworking career I was called to level my Ranger to eat up some of the arrows I was crafting. When I'm at the juice-making stage of cooking, I'm called to level my mages. When I reached level 30s of all my crafts, I could craft all the Ninja tools - and took NIN to lvl 30+.
Result of following this guide:
Job leveling against Easy Preys with little risk + maximize "drops" (obtain materials for crafting) + craft items useful for leveling your jobs + level up your crafting skill = win
Don't wait to start crafting. The game is set up to have job-leveling and craft-leveling go hand-in-hand. Many of the synths which beginner crafters can make are for use by low level players. You can sustain part of your crafting by using what you make. Feed, clothe and arm yourself. A player with a level 7 character can craft almost everything they need using drops that are already filling their inventory. You're crafting abilities will be even more useful for leveling your sub-jobs.
Start crafting on Day 2 (Use Day 1 to check out the town, and battle some mobs and start to fill your inventory with crystals and other drops.) Many of the drops that low level players get, are materials which low level crafters use for synths. Instead of selling your drops on the AH (which will be bought by crafters) -- use them yourself. My general rule is: try not to sell raw materials. Sell things that have been through at least one round of crafting. And in the process, start to level up your crafting skills.
I recommend you copy the first page of recipes of synths for each of the eight crafting guilds. Staple those eight pages together and carry it with you, read it on the bus, keep it near your toilet, be "one" with it. As your crafting skill rises, your "book" will grow by a factor of eight. The number of different items you can craft increases exponentially. Diversifying your products is the best defense for a tough economy.
Craft in every guild. You can (and should) join every guild. By developing crafting skill in every guild you'll be able to do synths that require skills in multiple crafts. One advantage you'll have over crafters who level only one craft is that you'll be able to craft the items you need as ingredients (brass ingots, cotton cloth, arrow and bolt heads, etc.) Plus, you'll discover the many ways that crafting in one guild -> feeds into another. You can take all crafts to level 60 - after which you have 40 levels to use for any one, or all guilds (i.e., you can take one craft to 100, 2 crafts to 80, or level 4 crafts to 70, etc. The exception here is fishing - which you can take to 100 independent of what you do with your other crafting levels.)
Always craft using the same character. There is a distinct advantage to being able to craft "in the field." Juices for mages don't stack, but a player with cooking skill can make 12 melon juices using ingredients that take up only 3 inventory slots. Items like leather hides and logs don't stack. Being able to craft those items into stackable products makes farming much more profitable and productive.
Also, there is a crafting advantage for one character to have crafting skills in all the guilds. Lots of synths have sub-craft requirements. Those synths with sub-craft requirements tend to be the most profitable synths. Why? Because fewer crafters have all the necessary sub-craft abilities. Your competition with these products is lighter; and the profit margin tends to be higher.
This is a "guide." The game is ever-evolving, each server and even each city has a unique economy. There is no substitute to researching and studying your economy for profitable synths.
This is a guide for beginners. You won't need any handholding after you get over the initial stages.
The choice of city will have an impact on the ease of finding materials for crafting. Leather will be easiest in San d'Oria because the Tanning Guild is there. Crafting cloth will be easier in Windurst, because the Weaving Guild is there, etc.
My strong advice is to create "mules" in the other 2 cities. A "mule" is an additional character which is mostly used for storage, AH access and NPC access in other cities. SE charges $1.00 per extra character. Ultimately you'll want 4 mules (one for Sandy, Windy, Bastok and Jueno). $4.00 extra per month is within most player's discretionary spending for a day.
Since most beginning players will not have 2 or more mules, I've organized the guide to the three starting cities. You'll want to consider basing your character at another city for a critical phase of crafting.
Beginner crafters should start by focusing on the crystals you get as drops. Each crystal has a profitable synthesis recipe that can be made by beginner crafters. My guide uses the crystals as the starting point of your synths.
In the earliest job levels, your Easy Prey mobs will be dropping mostly wind and earth crystals. You'll get an occasional lightning and water crystal beginning around level 3. Around level 5 you can start killing mobs that drop fire crystals. Around level 7 you start to get dark crystals. You won't be farming ice or light crystals until past level 20 - so I'm not mentioning those crystals much.
Take your crystals and add some of the items clogging your safe, or sitting on the AH, and some cheaply available from an NPC = crafting win. To help, I've tried to differentiate drops useful for crafting - and drops with no crafting use.
Ask yourself: 1. How can I use these wind, earth, water and fire crystals to make - my food, - armor, and - weapons? 2. How can I turn these crystals into something more valuable than what I'm getting for them on the AH?
Below are suggestions for what you can craft with your crystals. As you craft things, you'll get "skill-ups" in that craft (you'll receive a message saying: "Your goldsmithing skill increase 0.1") Below I've noted the level where the synthesis stops giving you skill-ups (note - you'll only receive skill-ups occasionally, don't expect them every synth). Try not to synthesize something that caps more than 5 levels from your current level. Once you've reached the level cap for the item, either move on to a harder synthesis, or choose that synthesis only for profit-making.
You can get many of the items below from fighting things (worms drop flint stones, hares drop hare meat, etc.) On the left of this pages you'll see a "Search" box - this is your friend. When you see an item like "wijnruit" which you need to make antidotes, just plug that into the search box, and you see where you can score that item. So here are the items you can craft with zero skill in crafting:
Wooden arrows - wind + arrowwood lumber + flint stone + 2 chocobo feathers (woodworking-4)  Sheep wool - wind + 2 sheepskins (leathercraft-4)  Peeled crayfish - wind + crayfish (cooking-3) (Peeled crayfish is bait for fishing. Using this bait, you can fish up "items" in easy areas with this bait, but see if you can sell on AH for profit. You can fish up tons of crayfish.)
Grilled hare - fire + hare meat + dried marjoram (cooking-6) score the dried marjoram for @ 43 gil from either Benaige F-7 Southern San d'Oria or Phamelise K-9 Southern San d'Oria (neither NPC has this stocked all the time)
Sheep leather - dark + sheepskin + distilled water + windurstian tea leaves (rarely available from NPC in Sandy, check Auction House) (or use willow log in place of tea leaves) (leathercraft-2) This is a key synth for leathercraft, smithing and bonecraft -- make tons of these, sell some for profit and keep the rest for crafting.
Again, assuming you are in San d'Oria, I would take Smithing to level 3, leather to level 5, and woodworking to level 6 -- and then I would move operations to another city (you'll have better access to necessary items and things. Consider moving to the following city when your crafting reaches the following levels: Smithing - 3 (resume in Bastok) Leather - 5 (resume in Bastok) Wood - 6 (resume in Windy) When you get your highest job over level 10, you can do the supplies delivery quest for the Zulkheim Region when your city controls that region. Don't do the delivery quest empty handed. Strip down to the bare essentials; take 4 stacks of earth crystals; and fill the rest of your inventory with millioncorn or La Theine Cabbages for the "Only the Best" quest in Selbina. After you deliver the supplies to the Valkurm Dunes NPC, trot to Selbina and deliver the millioncorn or cabbages in a painfully slow fashion to the sheep pervert Melyon. Make sure you do this on an Earthsday -- the cloth guild has an outpost in Selbina. The cloth guild is closed on Firesday, so Earthsday tends to have the lowest prices.
Take those earth crystals and turn them into grass cloth by synthing 3 grass threads at a time. Take back to town the 3+ stacks of grass cloth (you'll have a few breaks); 4 stacks of grass thread; and a stack of cotton thread and cotton cloth. You can use these items for vagabond boots and gloves mentioned above, and they can start you leveling your clothcraft.
Bastok is critical to getting your goldsmithing skill high enough to make brass ingots without image support.
Smithing Goldsmithing Alchemy
Smithing -3 (resume in Bastok) Leather – 5 (resume in Bastok) Wood – 6 (resume in Windy)
Gold 10 – 18 / Smithing 4 – 11 Smithing 11 – 15 / Leather 6 – 9 Wood 15/ Smithing 14 – bronze bolts / heads Smithing / Cloth at 19 – bronze beds Cooking 29/ Leather 21/ Bone 18 -Dhalmels Leather 20/ Cloth 24/ Bone 29