If your crafter and your main happen to be the same, be sure to grab every resource within reach while you run missions. If you find a good spot, mark it with a waypoint (ALT+P) for future reference. Scavenging profusely will help keep you from being perpetually broke. If you have a dedicated crafter, don't bother running missions with him; just harvest and craft. He should level slowly but surely by simply harvesting and crafting. Send all of the materials that your other clone(s) harvest if you have the vault space. That covers the basics. The road to self-sufficiency continues after the cut. crafting time, especially your offline time. Always make sure that you have 20 items in the crafting queue when you log off for extended periods of time (to do those silly, pointless things like working and sleeping). It's also a good idea to log off either in a relevant facility if your queue is very time-intensive or near a good scav-field that you have just depleted. When you log back in later, all of the nodes will be ripe for the picking again. In the interest of brevity, I want to focus only on the first 10 levels of a crafter's career, but I will give detailed tips for each individual tradeskill.
Armorcrafting: Many of the easy-to-make items in this skill line are actually just clothing. The cotton and wool used to make them is very cheap, and unless you have a good spot to harvest this stuff, you are better off just buying it. Leather is a little more expensive, but any animal hide can be used as leather. And skinning animals will help you level your Nature skill, not to mention provide you with meat for the Cooking skill. One easy way to level this line is to make t-shirts and then handwraps and belts. These will get you to 15 or 30, which opens up a lot of possibilities. If your Perception and Intelligence are maxed, your skills will be capped at 30 for level 10. The really good armor doesn't start showing itself until skill 45, but that's another story.
Ballistics: You should take advantage of the abundance of copper in the Grand Canyon and just make zip gun ammo. It's fast, easy, and useful. And you can shoot it directly back into the environment (that explains the infinite supply of it, right?). Once you are able to make gunpowder ammunition, you can level this skill line by doing only that. Making gunpowder is a Science skill, and you'll need a skill of 30 in both Ballistics and Science to start making gunpowder-based ammo. Most people strive to get their hands on a (non-airgun) rifle as soon as possible, but the Magnum Rimfire isn't craftable or usable until level 15. It uses heavy rifle ammo, which is prohibitively expensive at that level.
Construction: This line is probably better left until later. It is very time- and materials-intensive. I would only bother with it if the materials were available to do so and the queue is going to be empty otherwise.
Geology: There isn't much to do in this skill line at first. The best way to increase it is to harvest copper and coal from the corresponding nodes until better quality metals become available. Of course, you must purchase a book to be able to mine each type of mineral.
Medicine: Cotton is super cheap, so just make bandages until your skill is high enough to not benefit from it anymore. Then refine antiseptic. You'll have to buy the book, but it is sometimes available as a quest reward. You get three weak antiseptic per weak botanical chemical, so it piles up fast. You can, alternatively, make crude pain killers if you have an excess of weak biological chemical. These are a little more mat-intensive but very useful at the lower levels.
Mutagenics: Don't even mess with this until you are higher level. The mats in this line will put you in the poorhouse, and you won't be able to use any of the good stuff this line has available, or any of the non-alpha mutations, until you hit level 15.
better horse. The Old Nag starter horse is barely adequate and really not much better than walking.
Scavenging: Scavenging is the easiest skill to get and keep maxed out. You are still harvesting every node in sight, right?
Science: Science can be tough at first, but it's a rewarding line. You can make a lot of useful things, like gears, gunpowder, and gasoline. Most of the good stuff starts after your skill hits 30, however. The vehicle (ATV) quests open up at skill level 30, and making vehicle parts is an excellent source of XP. Dyes are a good starting point and can get you to skill 30, but the higher-end kits can get very expensive. If you can afford the books, some of the create/refine recipes are good for that purpose. Create/Refine Fasteners is now available for use at skill level 10, and you can never have too many fasteners.
Weaponry: This line requires a lot of iron. Iron can be hard to find and moderately expensive. Most of the low-end weapons require copper, which is plentiful and cheap, but later weapons will need fasteners and steel. Both are found in large quantities by scavenging cars. Sometimes you can find a group of four or five wrecks to scavenge; traveling the less-traveled roads will almost guarantee you'll find a few per kilometer. If you are able to locate a good source of wood, it might be better to concentrate on wood-intensive weapons, like clubs. Weaponry is a line that should be improved through making weapons that require the materials are inexpensive or that you have on hand.
I spent a few days by the old Depot 66 airport with my crafter and scavenged enough stuff to build a dunebuggy without my ever leaving that area or going to a town. I found everything I needed right there. I would queue up several hours' worth of parts or refining and log off. When I came back, the parts were done and all the nodes were back. It's pretty fulfilling creating something out of nothing. And that's what crafting in Fallen Earth is all about. See you next week.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on the official forums as Casey Royer, or hunt him down in the wastelands as Nufan, Original, Death Incarnate, and Knuckles Mcsquee.