Wasteland Diaries: So you want to be a crafter?

Fallen Earth has a complex, robust crafting system. The vast majority of the items in the game can be crafted from things you find lying on the ground. I am not exaggerating when I say "vast majority" because it's well over 90%. You can literally level your way to the cap simply by scavenging and crafting. It used to be much easier, but it is still possible. Tradeskills are different from other skills in Fallen Earth in that you raise them through use rather than spending AP on them. The system itself can be quite daunting when you are first starting out, but once you have a basic grasp of how it works, the rest is pretty intuitive.

In this post, I'll touch on the basics of crafting. I'm no expert, but I do have a completely maxed-out social/crafter that has most of the game's recipes in his repertoire. You may know what you are doing, but I think even the most learned of crafters might learn something from this piece. The novice crafter will learn a few simple tricks (tricks that I wished I had known when I was just starting out) that will make his life a little easier out there. It's tough when you just want to make something with your hands and there are legions of bloodthirsty miscreants trying to kill you. So grab your toolkits and click past the cut for more.

First of all, recipes are learned through books, just like abilities. You simply use the book to learn that particular knowledge. The books can either be purchased at any of the "trainer" merchants in towns or gained as quest rewards. They can also be bought on the auction house as a last resort (if you are willing to pay the "convenience fee" that will be added to the list price), but it's usually better to seek out an NPC merchant. Many of the starter towns will have crafting quest lines. These quests will help you get acquainted with crafting and give you recipe books as rewards. An example of a crafting-centric starter town is South Burb. Advanced recipes can be "researched" through special crafting tasks in the product list. The end result will be a book that you use to gain the new knowledge.

You do not put AP into your tradeskills to raise them; they are raised through use. You will also gain XP when you successfully craft an item if it is a challenging task for your level of competency. Tradeskills are capped by the Intelligence and Perception attributes. You should max both of these out as soon as you possibly can. You may want to max out a weapon skill and Armor Use, as combat might get too tough very quickly if you sink all of your AP into Intelligence and Perception. Do not try a dual-weapon build crafter, or else you will be sorry later. Choose one weapon type and stick with it.

All three weapon types are viable with a crafter build. Ranged is good because you are already maximizing Perception, and a melee build will give you the Strength to carry more stuff (very important for the crafter/scavenger). Crafters are not gimped in combat, despite popular opinion. They are even quite viable for PvP and can muster a very potent burst-heal in combat, making them quite difficult to bring down.

Press the L key to see all of your known recipes. You can use the funnel icon to sort through them with several different parameters including a text-based search or whether there will be a skill or XP gain for it. The number by each recipe is the skill level required to craft it. The color indicates the relative difficulty of the task. Red means you can't currently craft it. Gray means you will gain nothing from the task. Green means you will gain a skill level and possibly a small amount of XP. And white means you will gain a skill level and a bit of XP. The longer the task takes (in real time), the more XP you will get.

The time that crafting tasks take to finish is measured in real time, not game time. But the clock keeps ticking even if you move around, engage in combat, or log out. It is only necessary to craft in a crafting facility if you want the 20% crafting speed bonus. It is advisable to log out in one because you will get the speed bonus even while offline. You can queue 20 items at a time, and it's a handy way to store ammo. Just click "complete" whenever you need more. This isn't as much of a problem as it used to be, because you can carry loads of ammo around even with the weakest of clones. Setting up a crafting queue in Fallen Earth takes some planning, because you can't move re-order the queue. You can cancel anything, but if you cancel the current project, you will lose all of the materials.

While you can make a profit through crafting items if you buy all of your materials from NPC merchants, it is much better (at first) to scavenge the materials yourself. Once you have maxed out all of your tradeskills, you can craft high-end items and purchase all of your mats from NPCs. But on the way up, the struggling crafter can't afford to pass up any nodes if he has room in his pack. I wouldn't advise wasting pack space to harvest fruits, vegetables and meats for cooking. These components are so varied and have recently been made so inexpensive that it's much more economical to just purchase them from the vendors. The three scavenging skills are Scavenging, Nature and Geology. These skills will increase when you harvest a non-trivial node, and Nature and Geology also have recipes with which to raise them.

Also, when scavenging, be on the lookout for "counts as" items. Sometimes a quest item or other junk drop counts as something very useful. A good example is the Land deeds in Terance. These count as scrap paper. If you need a stack of paper and are low on chips, sometimes a trip to Terance will solve your problem. Another example is the Union ID Badges that count as scrap plastic. There's nothing like blasting a Union goon with shells made out of his buddies' badges.

Another tip for scavengers is: Don't overlook the PvP zones. They have some of the best scavenging nodes in the game hidden inside their danger-ridden boundries. They also have the best merchants, the ones who carry the best high-end and hard-to-find materials. Ever wonder where you could buy Impure Mutant Genetic Material? Try Park City when the merchants are at tier two. Usually you won't risk much to go scavenging in a PvP zone. They're usually emptier than a Picus Ridge maternity ward. In fact, you really aren't even risking your life... you're a clone. The faction-based nodes (these spawn for the controlling faction) have some of the best loot in the game.

Most basic materials can be refined or salvaged. In other words, a few lesser items can be made into a better item and vice versa. The main exception is the basic chemicals. The biologic, botanical and geologic chemicals can't be refined or scavenged in any way. Scavenging is sometimes a good way to get a lower-level material that you simply do not have access to and don't want to travel to a lower sector to get. Unfortunately, scavenging can't be queued and is interrupted if you are attacked. Some of the refine and scavenge times are as fast as three seconds, so that alleviates some of the problem.

Most of the skill lines are a breeze to level up, but there are a few exceptions. Cooking has to be by far the worst skill to improve. There are so many components and sub-components and sub-sub-components that you'll literally be thrilled once you've maxed it out. But the fun is just beginning, because you will still have to research all of the advanced and improved recipes. Mutagenics is another one that's tough to increase because of the rarity of the components. It involves a lot of genetic material items, but as I stated before, conflict towns are a great source for these. A lot of folks complain about construction, but aside from the lengthy crafting times on the sub-components, it's a cinch.

Well, that about covers the basics of Fallen Earth crafting. So get out there and make some cool stuff. Remember: If you aren't sure about something, don't hesitate to ask in global chat. There are crafters who would love to display their vast knowledge of crafting, even if it interrupts their inane pop-culture discussion. So until next week, be safe out there. And if you see a trash bag on the side of the road, stop and take a peek inside it -- it might be just what you need for that next project.

Ed Marshall has been playing Fallen Earth since beta and leads the KAOS clan. Wasteland Diaries is his weekly column that covers all aspects of Fallen Earth: PvE, RP and PvP. To contact Ed, send an email to edward@massively.com, find him on the official forums as Casey Royer, or hunt him down in the wastelands as Nufan, Original, Death Incarnate, and Knuckles Mcsquee.
This article was originally published on Massively.