Wings Over Atreia: One, two, craft my shoe

Three, four, scream some more.

Welcome to the world of Aion crafting, where frustration and despair are produced right alongside daggers, hauberks, and frillneck sausage. Where more than one Deava has left the crafting station and flung himself from the Sky Canal in Sanctum to the depths below... wait, maybe that was just me.

Between more attempts at a hot heart of magic craft and scrambling to gather enough material to inch my way up the skill ladder towards mastery, crafting has consumed my hours and thoughts over the past couple of weeks. It has also left me questioning my sanity and losing just about every kinah I had saved up. So why craft?

It is true what they say: Some players live for crafting, while others have crafting forced upon them. Prior to Aion I leaned toward the former, but tales of the cost and woes of failed crafts squelched any desires to craft early on. Then the fates conspired against me and I there I was, pan in hand. Somehow the pain of that experience must have dulled because I started another. Why, oh why?

Love it or hate it but have to do it, if you are considering delving into a crafting profession in Aion, check past the break for a guide to getting started and a glance at the journey ahead.

Choose your crafting

If you have decided to jump on the crafting bandwagon (we'll explore your masochistic tendencies later), the first step is to select which branches of crafting you wish to pursue. That's right, plural: Aion is unlike many games in that choosing one profession does not automatically bar you from learning the others. If you have a hankering to be a jack-of-all-trades on a single toon, you can; the one catch is that only one craft can be mastered by any single character, and one other craft can reach expert level -- all the rest will be capped at 399 skill points. If you want multiple master or expert crafters, you will have to rely on alts.

So which one(s) will it be? There are six different professions to choose from. If you like working with metals, you can become a weaponsmith (metal weapons such as blades, hammers, and polearms) or an armorsmith (chain and plate armor and helms). Perhaps you like the feel of softer materials instead? Tailors work in leather and cloth, making armor, headgear, and belts. Wooden weapons (bows and staffs) are made by handicrafters, along with jewelry and glasses. There is alchemy, supplying all the pot(ion) junkies and crafting spellbooks and orbs for the mages as well as morphing manastones. And finally, cooks, well, cook, concocting food and drinks that provide buffs.

Deciding which profession is influenced by what is wanted out of the experience. For instance, if you want to make something beneficial while leveling, you can focus on your own weapon or armor type (especially useful at master level for master carved items) or lean toward food or potions since every class uses them. If you only grudgingly joined the association of crafters because you had to for the Miragent/Fenris quest lines (like I did), choose an easy and relatively cheap one to level (cooking is the best, although alchemy is also fairly simple). If perhaps you wish to make a profit, you might want to reconsider... let's just say Aion does not really support a healthy player economy for most crafted goods; while there are some exceptions, loot drops and quest rewards can easily eclipse the quality of many crafted items. Once you factor in the cost of leveling and high-end materials, crafting becomes a bit prohibitive. Of course, there are those who are simply crafting junkies and choose this as their main game activity. Whatever the reason, deciding is just the first step.

Getting started

Starting out seems harmless enough -- just head up to the crafting master of your choice in the Protectors Hall in Sanctum or the Temple of Artisans in Pandaemonium, pay 3,568 kinah, and BAM! You have started on the path of crafting goodness. Depending on your choice, you will talk to (Asmodians/Elyos):
  • Weaponsmith -- Logi/Anteros
  • Armorsmith -- Kinterun/Vulcanus
  • Cooking -- Lainita/Hestia
  • Tailor -- Zyakia/Daphnis
  • Handicrafting -- Lanse/Utsida
  • Alchemy -- Honir/Diana
Now that you have selected your torture/profession, you can begin leveling by taking work orders or crafting items. Costs (and evil RNG for procs) aside, crafting in Aion is about as easy as it gets. All you have to do is have all of the necessary ingredients in your cube and click the "craft" button while standing at a station. Want to craft multiple items? Click "craft all." Simple! Would you rather read a book, fix dinner, or harass a family member than watch that little craft bar move? Go right ahead -- there's no good reason to sit at the keyboard watching when you have no control over the progress. Personally, I prefer crafting systems in which your skill and attention actually affect quality (*sighs longingly for a Vanguard-type system*), but I admit there is a certain allure to sleeping while you level!

Leveling up to expert can be relatively painless... compared to later, that is. Each crafting master offers work orders that provide the main component of a recipe (saving you from gathering it yourself or buying it from the broker), so all you need to do is buy the other components from the merchant at the crafting stations. With these orders, you both gain experience and are rewarded with components or even recipes when you turn the finished quest in. The downside is not having anything to sell to either the masses or the merchant to recoup any costs. Another option is to grab a huge pile of some material you can refine and click "craft all" and walk away. This method costs more, but you have usable product when finished and can do it while AFK.

To the pain

Now the true pain begins. Once you reach 399 skill points, you can take the quest to become expert. Actually, sing praises to patch 2.1, which reduced the difficulty of this quest; previous to the patch, passing your expert quest was often a futile and devastating experience, both in kinah and morale. Let's just say that back then, when we walked to our crafting stations uphill in the snow both ways, we had to proc a sub-component and then proc the actual craft! Cooking was the one great exception that required just a single proc on four different recipes.

With easy mode thankfully enabled, the new quest gives you the base item and you can chose one of two recipes: a recipe with a chance at proccing or a recipe that costs a bit more (and has oodles more materials involved) that is guaranteed to proc. Having known Deavas who failed at more than 15 attempts of their expert quest the old way, paying a bit more upfront calculates to much savings in the long run. Finish quest + pay fee = expert!

Leveling further becomes more painful because work orders are not available to expert-level crafters, nor can you receive experience for any recipes below skill level 400. The good news is that you can often refine gathered materials and work your way (AFK!) up to around 450. The bad news is once you can no longer gain experience from refining gathered items, you must move to crafting actual items or refining balic materials, which are quite expensive. Cooking is a blessed exception to this, as cooks just continue making dishes using gathered materials. If you belong to another crafting profession, however, be prepared for a lot of Balaur farming or forking over a great deal of kinah.

After much blood, sweat, and tears -- so many bloods for handicrafters! -- you reach 499 and can take the master quest. Just like the expert quest, the master quest allows you the choice of recipes -- either the possible proc or the costlier guaranteed proc. Once that's completed, you are given an eternal-grade recipe and some spiffy new duds. Finally, pay the requisite fee and voilà! As a master, you can now use a one-time recipe to create a master carved item, which is an upgraded eternal-grade item. One major downside is that once an item is master carved, it cannot be traded, so unless you can personally use it, don't bother.

Why bother?

If this all sounds a bit too painful or dull for you, you aren't alone; plenty of Daevas prefer not to craft at all, and some even brushed off any idea of obtaining Fenris or Miragent armor because of the crafting component. However, crafting is woven into the very fabric of Aion; whether you actually craft, make money supplying materials to crafters, or buy crafted goods, chances are crafting has touched your ascended life. And there are still those who truly enjoy crafting regardless of the cost as well as those who do finally make a profit off of it.

Personally, I would like to know what actually got into me to master a second craft. Yes, I can make myself a nice (secondary) weapon... but after actually reaching the top level, I don't have anywhere near the funds to get either the recipe or the materials for it! And trust me, you can fail the hot heart of magic even at master level!

So what are you, crafter or non? Do you have any crafting stories/nightmares to share? Please feel free to add your thoughts and remarks in the comments below.

Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to mj@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.