Hit crystal, receive item... most of the time...
At the most basic level, FFXI's crafting is known as synthesis -- the act of fusing materials together using magical crystals. Synthesis falls into different categories, such as goldsmithing, woodworking, cooking, alchemy, and many other trades. All you need to do to perform synthesis is go online, find a recipe guide for the category you want to learn, and start finding the components you need.
So, for example, a starting goldsmith would get 4 pieces of copper ore and a fire crystal. They would activate the crystal, insert the 4 pieces of ore into the crystal's menu, watch the animation and hope that the synthesis succeeds. Sometimes, when you do a recipe that's just above your skill, such as doing a level 10 recipe at level 7 of the crafting skill, you'll increase your skill.
"In general, remember these four things -- the moon, the stars, the time, and the weather."
But how does all of this work? How does the game calculate your chances of success and skilling up? What other factors are counted in?Hope you learned your Vana'diel Astrology
There are many, many factors that determine the success of a crafting attempt, the chance that you'll increase your skill, and the chance that you may craft a high quality item (critical success). In general, remember these four things -- the moon, the stars, the time, and the weather. Good crafters take all four of these variables into consideration.
In general, when speaking of crafting, any movement that increases your success of crafting an item also decreases your chance at skilling your crafting up
or creating high quality items. Any movement that makes synthesis harder increases your skill up potential and increases your chance at high quality items. It also makes synthesis harder, which leads to failures and the possible loss of items involved in the synthesis. That's a big deal when synthesis items may cost hundreds of thousands of gil. So the system, reportedly, offers you a choice -- do you want to succeed with ease but not much personal payoff past the item, or do you want a higher chance of failure with an increase chance of payoff?
Some of the theories involved in crafting are as follows:The Moon Phases
-- Ever wonder why people in FFXI
care about moon phases? Now you know! Full moons and waxing phases lead to crafting becoming easier over all. New moon and waning phases lead to crafting becoming harder, but skilling up and high quality items becoming more abundant.