By Niami DenMother
A small halfling woman slips a pie into the oven, then turns to look you over. "So, you're interested in making things instead of just breaking them, are you? It's hard to do this quickly or briefly, as there's a lot to learn when you're just getting started, but I'll try to keep it short. It can be confuzzling if you try to absorb too many details all at once."
Anyone at all can become an artisan, if they wish, but, like with the various adventuring professions, it takes a goodly amount of work to become skilled at it. Being an artisan is totally separate from being an adventurer, mind you. It will be your decision if you want to be one or the other, or, like me, be both.
If you're learning all this before you finish running amok on the Queen's Colony or the Oupost of the Overlord, I strongly recommend that you speak with the artisan trainer that you will find next to a cellar door behind the tower. (On the Outpost of the Overlord, his name is Trainer Arthur Merrin, for the Queen's Colony, his name is Trainer Gregory Collins). After conversing with him, you will receive an inventory item called Starting a Tradeskill Profession, which is needed for a quest series on the mainland that can guide you through levels 3-9 of artisan. (I really recommend that folks do this quest when they are just starting out, as it gives a very good introduction to the various types of items that you can make, and gives you your basic tradeskill books for free.) After speaking with the trainer, right-click on the cellar basement (it is the entrance to the crafting instance), and zone down into the tradeskill area. Hail the wholesaler behind the counter in order to learn a few recipes for free, and to advance your tradeskill level to level 2.
The first thing you are going to need are recipes. It is a bit hard, after all, to make something if you don't know what ingredients to use to make it!
Things have changed enough that I am going to break this down into two separate parts. The first is for those on the Qeynos/Freeport newbie islands, the second is for folks who have already moved over to the mainland, or for residents of Kelethin.
If you hit "N" at this point, it will call up a list of your known recipes. There's all sorts of fancy stuff that you can do in order to sort by level, recipe name, etc., but when you are just starting out, simply make sure you've got the recipes "unfiltered" and nothing in the search box up at the top of the recipe listing. Later, when you target a piece of tradeskill equipment and look at your recipe list, you'll find that it will only display the items that you know how to make that belong to that specific piece of equipment, so don't panic when your long list of recipes looks a bit shorter when you're crafting.
This one book is the only tradeskill book you can obtain from your stay on the island, so you will be very limited in what you can do until you head for the mainland. It is, however, enough to get you started.
If you are already level 2 or higher artisan, you likely need some recipe books, so you need to delve through your known recipe list (if any), to see what books you need to buy. Hit "N" to look at your recipe book - if it is empty of recipes, you need to buy "Artisan Essentials Volume 2" from the trainer outside the crafting instance, then scribe it. Be very sure at this point that you are buying the "Essentials" book, and not the "Advanced" book. The number of recipe books to choose from can be confusing to a new artisan, so just remember to match the volume number of the book to your current artisan level when deciding what to buy and learn. (As in, when you're a level 3 artisan, you should buy and scribe Artisan Essentials Volume 3. At artisan 4, you can then also scribe Artisan Essentials Volume 4, etc.)
Don't fret too much about the advanced books right away as they are only for processing rare harvests, and you are not likely to want to work with those until you've got your skills a bit more polished. (Hint: if the book has "Essentials" in the name, it is a normal book of your standard recipes. If it has "Advanced" in the name, it is only good for working with rare harvests, and you will want to wait until you've figured out the basics before you fret about those.) More information on recipe books can be found in the article Recipe Books - The Good, the Bad and the Necessary.
Wholesalers in the crafting instances will sell fuels, aerated mineral water (used for recipes that ask for "liquid", and a few other basic baking staples, such as dough. Other than those, however, you will need raw materials.
Raw materials, or resources, are found in many of the same areas where you will find creatures to fight. We generally call them resource "nodes", to have a common name for them, as regional names for them will vary. You'll know you've found a resource node when your mouse cursor turns into a hand icon over the item, and a right-click then gives you a "harvest" option. You can either right-click to harvest, or double-click and try to gather resources from the node. Harvesting skills increase as your skills as an adventurer or artisan increase. (Further details on harvesting can be found here.) Once you've managed to either harvest some of the items needed for the recipes that you wish to make, or purchased them from adventurers, you're ready to try your hand at crafting something. I'd recommend starting with something simple, like some simple black coffee.
It's time to find the equipment that you will use to actually make something, so it is back to the crafting instance for you. On the islands, this is the cellar entrance behind the mage tower. On the mainland, there will be one per main village area, and you can find a list of societies by zone here. Wander around in the instance to get familiar with the types and locations of the crafting equipment. (Note that some will be behind closed doors.)
Once you have scribed your recipe book and gathered the ingredients (including buying the proper fuel from the merchant), find the proper piece of tradeskill equipment. If you're unsure which equipment to use, call up your recipe book with 'N' and examine the recipe that you want to make by right-clicking on the recipe name and selecting the examine option. It will tell you which equipment to use, and how much of which fuel you will need.
Double-click (or right-click and select create) on the stove and keg, for example, in order to make that coffee I mentioned before. (Examining the recipe will also show that you need at least 2 black coffee beans, some aerated mineral water for liquid, and one walnut kindling.)
Select the Simple Black Coffee recipe from the list, and click Begin. Your basic goal is to make the highest quality item possible, so you're hoping that the blue progress bar grows across the screen at a faster rate than the green durability bar shrinks. Sounds simple ... right?
However, as you craft, various events will happen that simulate real-world crafting. Metal can be overheated or underheated, threads and fabrics can snag, and so on. How you respond to the various events that pop up at the bottom of your crafting screen will have a large effect on the finished product. Be aware that NOT responding to the events can harm the progress and durability of the item and/or harm your health or power, so it's a "good thing" to respond to them as they occur. (Further details on the importance of item quality can be found here.
In the tradeskills section of your Knowledge Book ("K"), you will find a lot of what we call "reaction arts", that you're going to want to use. There's all sorts of rigamarole about setting up hotbars, and sorting them by category, so you can respond quickly, but I'll cut to the chase. While making coffee, you will need to find the three "artistry" reaction arts that are in your knowledge book (mouse over them to find out which category they are in" and drag those three arts down to a hotbar. While there's really a LOT more to it than this, the bare basics of what you need to know is that you're going to play match-the-icon.
Once you start the crafting process, and the progress bars start moving, you will find that once in a while, on the bottom left of the crafting window, a picture with a name will show up. Find the matching picture in the three reaction arts you moved down to your hotbar and press it. You will only have a few seconds to respond, so try not to daydream too much while you're learning how to craft - on some pieces of equipment, not only the quality of the item will be damaged if you daydream, but you can also take health and power damage!
It may sound confusing and overwhelming, especially when you're first starting out, but once you start working with things, you'll find that there will be three sets of basic events per item that you're making (metal shaping for metal armor, artificing for jewelry, etc.), and thus, three basic responses that you will need to keep handy when making that item. I find that it works a lot better if I set up one hotkey bank with my smithing and tailoring responses, for example, another for woodworking and cooking, etc. to make things go more smoothly.
As you become more used to the crafting process, and to reacting to crafting events as they occur, you can then start to experiment with using the reaction arts as "buffs". This means a lot more research and knowledge on your part to know when to use a +progress art, vs a +durability art, and so forth to help push your crafting progress in the manner desired, to either finish it faster, or to make it more durable and increase your chances at getting a pristine item. For now, just be aware that every 10 crafting levels, you will receive a new set of reaction arts that will have different effects and costs than the ones in the tier before them.
I can see that your eyes are ready to glaze over right about now, but just as someone can tell you how to perform all the actions for becoming an adventurer (weapons, armor, spells, skills, heroic opportunities, mob cons, etc.) the best teacher will be some basic information like the above, then going out and trying some things for yourself. Once you've tried it, and decided if you want to continue with it then you can learn the fancier stuff, and decide which crafting class and sub-class you wish to be later in your career.
If you decide you want further information, check out the other articles in this "Tradeskill Guides" section of the site, as well as the message boards.
Now, shoo! Get out there and get your hands dirty playing with things, and see what you can make!