The three resources
As a material producer (rather than a finished goods producer), you have two major resources. The first resource is one common to any MMO: time. The amount of time it takes you to do anything in Age of Wushu is important. Your logged-in time is precious, and you'd probably rather spend time fighting, socializing, or doing PvE instances than harvesting. The #1 farmer, Xun, has this said about him by many of his friends: "I don't know how he does it; farming silk is so mind-numbingly boring." Always factor time into anything you do.
Vigor is the second-most important resource to a harvester. For many gathering professions, you can simply put a price on your vigor and it will roughly equate to the amount of time you spent, which is nice. Vigor regenerates up to a cap that resets at midnight; spend all of your vigor every day if possible. To get more maximum vigor, you need to raise the level of your production life skill. Try to keep this leveled up as high as possible. Another easy way to get more vigor is to join a guild. A level 3 guild (no guild at the time of this writing is level 4) gives all of its members 90 bonus vigor. Most of these guilds have open recruitment too, so there should be no problem joining one even if you're a non-VIP lowbie.
The last resource that limits moneymaking is NPC coins. It's mainly important for crafters and not for harvesters, but if you're using your production crafting skill to make upgrade materials, you will spend a lot of NPC coins. You are limited to spending 360L NPC coins per day, and 50-100L (depending on double XP events) of this is typically used on daily martial practice. Be mindful of this limit and don't run out of coins.
Getting started with Herbalism and Poison Making
Before we go into which skill does what, push the M key and bring up your map. At the bottom, there's a check box for collection materials. Check that box and every resource your character can harvest will appear on the map. If you want, you can also use the dropdown to show or hide specific resources you don't want to see. I hide fishing and farming nodes on my map for instance, as I do neither of those things.
You also want to make sure you have a harvesting manual. These last for 30 days and cost either $3 USD worth of gold or 100L in tradable silver. Try to only have a couple of manuals active at once; two or three at most. You can easily make 100L silver from harvesting in a single day, and these manuals double your output. You start with a few three-day ones when you first get each gathering skill. Use these to make your start-up cash and don't be afraid to spend 100L to get more. Again, the manual pays for itself in a day worth of harvesting.
Herbalists and poison makers are special because they have a unique gathering skill. Herbalists can pick medicinal herbs such as mint and wormwood, while poison makers can pick poisonous herbs like gaultheria and heartbroken flowers. If you're looking for easy money, choose one of these professions. Poison makers tend to be poorer than herbalists in my experience, so I would recommend herbalism overall.
The big sellers in both are the picked herbs. Mint and gaultheria both sell incredibly well. You can sell the medicines and poisons you make too, but that's not necessary. Just sell the picked herbs. If you are really hardcore and gather a lot of mint or gaultheria, turn some of it into medicine cloth or poisonous stones and sell those too. Medicine cloth and poisonous stones sell for less than the materials used to make them, so you should use it only as an alternative market to move more mint/gaultheria faster. I would recommend hitting some other market such as ore first, though.
The highest-demand resources
Ore is in high demand by two different crafting professions. In addition, materials made from mining are also used in other professions; lead and silver are turned into hasps used by tailors, even though tailors don't use ore normally.
For a low-level character, iron is the best source of income. It respawns quickly, costs small amounts of vigor, and sells pretty well. If you're a blacksmith, you can turn iron into pupil ingots (make training blades and disassemble them) to hit both the iron and pupil ingot markets simultaneously. Craftsmen can also make pearl essence from trainer rings, but it sells poorly. As a craftsman, I generally sell pearl essence only if I'm desperate since the NPC silver cost is kind of high.
Lead and silver also sell fairly well. They cost much more vigor and are harder to mine. More importantly, lead mining is hotly contested. If you mine lead for more than 30 minutes in a stretch, you will probably have someone try to kill you. People do not seem to care that you are a high-level character or a skilled PvPer, either. On the other hand, if you like the risk of getting ganked, lead mining can be fun. I am always
in PK mode when I am mining, and I find the random attempts at my life to be an exciting twist to an otherwise mundane activity. If you're the kind of person who doesn't mind getting ganked (the penalty is fairly low anyway), mining lead and silver is fairly lucrative. Iron gives the best returns for the vigor and time, but diversifying your market is the best way to be successful in the marketplace.
Only mine copper if you are desperate for money, can't mine lead or pick flowers, don't like farming, and
have tons of iron in your inventory. Copper prices frequently drop below iron; it respawns more slowly and costs more vigor. Not good!
Yes, you can grow hemp in this game
Farming is the second-best gathering profession after mining. If you're a tailor, you absolutely must be a farmer. If you're a chef, delete it and pick herbalist. If you are really stubborn and want to stay a chef, you'll also need to be a farmer.
The best farming markets are cotton and silk. Find a good spot out of the way to farm silk; if you see other players wandering near your spot, consider moving once you've finished your current rotation. Silk spots are hotly contested, and even a ganker that can't kill you can cause your worms to die from neglect. The best silk to farm is newly hatched silk, though clam worm silk is also not too bad.
Normal crops are easier to farm, easier to tend, and more resistant to ganks. Individual crops also hurt less if they do die. If you get jumped and allies show up, the worst that can happen is you lose a plant or two to bugs. Farming space isn't contested either, so the only people who gank farmers are griefers.
The best normal crops are probably hemp, ramie, and yams. The profit margins on most other crops is fairly mediocre, though you can ask friends what crops they need.
Other gathering skills?
Hunting is an incredibly diverse skill. It is a bit tricky to make a lot of money on it, but there are tons of things to hunt. Rough goat fur, dog skin, ox bones, thin monkey skin, and various meats such as bison sinew can generate some money. Hunting also produces a lot of products that can be vendored for NPC coins. There are too many useful hunting products for me to list here, but it isn't the greatest source of income.
Fishing kind of sucks. It is mainly useful for generating vendor trash items, but there are a few fish products that people will buy. Fish scales made from breaking down two-vigor fish such as herring (right-click on the fish) sell reasonably well. Some other fish sell for pennies to chefs.
Woodcutting is used only for weapon handles and guild bases, and as such it is largely worthless. A guild that has a member tax can easily provide the wood requirements for its base, and virtually all craftsmen are woodcutters, making it hard to sell to them. Don't cut wood except for these reasons, as wood sells poorly.
Sell, sell, sell!
Selling is the tricky part for non-VIP
players since you can stall for only one hour. My advice is simple: Stall for one hour as often as possible, and stall in Chengdu where you have the most visibility. If you have VIP offline stalling you can stall in Suzhou, and buying world stalls in starter cities or less-frequented cities like Luoyang can pay off. If you're a poor, starving, non-VIP newbie, though, balance your time. Watch TV, reset your stall, cook dinner, reset your stall, eat dinner, and then play the game.
If you follow these basic strategies, you won't go hungry. 100L/day should be easy even if you're lazy, and 200-250L/day should be reachable by anyone. 500L/day is possible with higher vigor totals, savvy marketing, and possibly some market flipping. For 1D/day, you need to either flip a lot of goods or use a crafting profession. Next time, we'll talk about that.
Age of Wushu is a wonderous place, full of hidden secrets, incredible vistas and fearsome martial arts. Join Patrick as he journeys through China, revealing the many secrets of this ancient land. The Ming Dynasty may be a tumultuous time, but studying The Art of Wushu will give you the techniques you need to prevail.