Crafting serves a number of purposes in the Lord of the Rings Online. Sometimes, it is a way for the player to hand-craft his own gear that is often superior to items from quest rewards or loot dropped from mobs. Other times, it is a fine way to make money, selling crafted items and surplus raw materials on the auction house or in "private" transactions through public channels. For some folks, it is something to do between quests and adventures, a bit of quiet time in a busy world. Whatever your reasons for it, crafting can be a little bit confusing for new players: there are lots of weird ingredients, complex recipes and various other elements that some people will find themselves needing help with.
Never fear! That's what we do. Read on for your guided tour through the Wild, Wonderful World of LotRO Crafting.
WHAT CRAFT SHOULD I PICK?
Ah, that first agonizing decision. You find the crafting area, you talk to the Master/Mistress of Apprentices, and he or she presents you with a great long list of possible professions. Each profession consists of three separate crafting skills, usually two production skills and one resource-gathering skill. The profession you will pick will probably depend on your class, though ultimately it just depends on the kind of stuff you want to make. We'll look at this from two angles: one by profession, one by class.
|Armourer||Metalsmith, Tailor, Prospector||Champion, Captain, Guardian||The ability to forge heavy armor and shields. This profession is good for most classes, as Metalsmith provides the ability to make high-quality crafting tools and Tailor can make clothing, medium armor and cloaks. Will require the assistance of a Forester for Tailoring.|
|Armsman||Weaponsmith, Woodworker, Prospector||Champion, Captain, Burglar||Any melee-based class will benefit from the ability to make their own weapons. Captains can make their own halberds, which are unique to the class. Burglars can craft their own Burglar Tricks. Will require the assistance of a Forester for Woodworking.|
|Explorer||Prospector, Forester, Tailor||Any||The ability to harvest any natural resource. This is a good profession for those who do not want to spend a lot of time on crafting, or for those who just want to use crafting to make money, or for an alt to supply mats to a main. This profession requires no assistance from other crafters.|
|Tinker||Jeweller, Prospector, Cook||Runekeeper, Lore-master, Champion||Any class is good for Tinker, and it is one of the most popular professions. Runekeepers can craft their own rune stones, Lore-masters can craft their own talismans, Champions can craft their own runes. Will require the services of a Farmer for Cooking.|
|Yeoman||Cook, Farmer, Tailor||Any||A largely-overlookd profession because it lacks the glamour of weaponsmithing or metalsmithing. The ability to make crafted food without relying on others for materials is pretty handy. Will require the assistance of a Forester for Tailoring.|
|Woodsman||Woodworker, Forester, Farmer||Hunter, Warden, Lore-master||Hunters can craft bows and crossbows, Wardens can craft spears and javelins and carvings, Lore-masters can craft staves and grow pipeweed. This profession requires no assistance from other crafters, though some Woodworker recipes require metal pieces from Weaponsmiths or Metalsmiths.|
|Historian||Scholar, Weaponsmith, Farmer||Minstrel, Lore-master, Hunter||Can make legendary items for Lore-masters and Minstrels. Many Hunter class items are Scholar recipes. This is a good choice for any class, as it provides the ability to make all manner of potions and cosmetic dyes, as well as weapons, plus a large number of the new class-specific consumables. Weaponsmithing requires the assistance of a Prospector. Scholar and Farmer are both resource-gathering and production crafts and have no dependencies.|
|Burglar||Armsman, Scholar, Yeoman, Explorer||Class items and legendary items come from Tailor (Burglar tools, signals) and Weaponsmith (Burglar tricks, legendary weapons).|
|Captain||Armourer, Armsman, Explorer, Yeoman||Class items come from Tailor (armaments, standards) and weaponsmiths (halberds, usable only by Captains). Legendary emblems are made by Metalsmiths.|
|Champion||Armourer, Armsman, Tinker, Historian||Heavy armor and shields from Armourer, class items from Tinker, weapons galore from Armsman, battle scrolls from Historian.|
|Guardian||Armourer, Tinker, Yeoman, Historian||Heavy armor and shields firom Armorer, buffing food from Tinker and Yeoman, Edhelharn tokens from Tinker, battle scrolls from Historian|
|Hunter||Woodsman, Armsman, Explorer, Historian||Bows and crossbows from Woodsman/Armsman, medium armor from Explorer, most class items from Historian|
|Lore-master||Tinker, Historian, Yeoman, Woodsman||Class items from Jeweller/Scholar, buffing food and pet food from Cook, light armor from Tailor, staves from Woodworker, pipeweed from Farmer|
|Minstrel||Historian, Explorer, Woodsman, Yeoman||Light and medium armor from Tailor, potions, salves and battle scrolls from Scholar, instruments from Woodworker, buffing food and lute strings from Cook|
|Rune-keeper||Tinker, Historian, Explorer, Yeoman||Rune stones from Jeweller, enamels from Scholar, light armor from Tailor, buffing food from Cook; Metalsmith makes chisels and rifflers and Woodworker makes parchments, neither of which is enough to merit picking these over other professions.|
|Warden||Woodsman, Armsman, Armourer, Explorer||Spears, javelins and carvings from Woodworker, Warden shields from Metalsmith, medium armor from Tailor|
As you can see, there are a number of viable options for every class. Ultimately, it's up to you, the player, to decide on what you want, and there are very few really bad class/profession combos.
A common strategy is to pick a specific production class on the main character and then roll an alt to meet the dependency requirements. Typically, the dependency is some kind of resource-gathering (Prospector or Forester), and this can usually be accomplished by an Explorer. As an example, your main is a Guardian with the Armourer profession. In order to make light or medium armor or cloaks, the Tailor needs leather, which is made by a Forester. You roll up a Hunter Explorer, run around killing wolves and bears for a while, and your Tailor is good to go without having to spend a fortune on materials at the auction house.
NUTS & BOLTS
Let's take a look at the core pieces of crafting. To do this, we will be using a newbie Armsman for demonstration purposes. Meet Hrolfni, your guide.
I'm betting he no
longer takes offense when people call him "moron" as a joke.
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The mechanics for this profession are basically the same as for most other professions; it will require the gathering of resources, the processing of the resources gathered, and finally the use of those processed goods to make a crafted item. The first thing he does is pick up the profession at the trainer.
Once the profession is selected, he is given some weak tools and a helpful guide to crafting, which he will promptly crumple up and toss. The tools are just enough to get started, but he will want better ones before long. In fact, you can buy better ones from any Supplier NPC that are much more durable than the inferior ones you get when you first sign up. He is also given a tracking skill for finding ore nodes on the radar.
Different crafts rely on different resources. Hides can be looted off the bodies of slain creatures of nature, food and dye ingredients can occasionally be found growing in the wild or produced on a farm, but scholar items, wood and metal ores are found in nodes. Ore nodes (and other resource nodes) pop up everywhere, and they respawn after a little while. For ore nodes, there are usually 2 types in a given area: one "precious" ore and one "common" ore. Precious ores are the ones used for crafting jewelry and common ores are for metalsmithing and weaponsmithing. When a node respawns, it has a percent chance to respawn as one type or the other, which introduces a level of sustainable resource management to the game.
Consider: if you run through an area and only mine tin and not copper, there is a chance that the nodes will respawn as copper. If you continue to mine ore in that area, and continue to only collect tin, after a while there will be only copper nodes and no tin at all. This creates problems for anyone else looking for tin, and for you when you need more tin to work on crafting. If you mine every node and not just the juicy ones, the desired ore type will respawn in more acceptable proportions. This is one reason why it is sometimes difficult to find certain ore types in low-level areas: short-sighted, greedy players are collecting only one ore type and ignoring nodes of the other type. Just hit every node, and if you collect too much of one ore type, sell the surplus to a vendor or auction it off. It's actually a really good way to make money.
So what Hrolfni wants to do now is equip his Inferior Prospector Tool, find some ore nodes and start gathering resources. Tier 1 Armsman recipes call for Bronze Ingots, which are composed of equal parts Copper and Tin, so we will need some of each. There may or may not be stiff competition for resource nodes in any given area, particularly for rare or valuable resources. This brings up some points of etiquette:
- Mining rights are determined primarily by who gets there first.
- People who steal resource nodes are called "ninjas." Or worse.
- If you see someone fighting a mob while standing next to or near a resource node, the node belongs to that person. He is defending it so that he may mine it. Pass by.
- If someone gets there first but doesn't harvest the node immediately, pass on by. They may be switching tools or lagging a bit.
- Accept that there are d-bags in the game who don't seem to understand that resource nodes respawn over time and will ninja resources from under you. While you are perfectly within your rights to be irritated or angry with them, it is poor etiquette to cuss them out on regional or other public channels. Keep it limited to private tells.
- Even if you only need tin, take the copper as well, and vice versa. And take all the resources from the node, not just the ores/wood - leaving behind the extra stuff causes the node to not respawn for other players.
Basically, be considerate and use common sense. If you wouldn't want someone doing it to you, don't do it to everyone else.
Hrolfni has gathered up some copper and tin now, and it's time to turn it into something useful. First stop is the forge, where he smelts the copper and tin ore into ingots. This is pretty easy - open up the crafting panel (hit T, or simply click on the forge), click on the Prospector tab at the top, find the ore you wish to smelt and make it. Items can be made 1 at a time or in small quantities by selecting the desired amount in the Quantity box (type it in there or use the arrows to increase or decrease the number) and clicking the Make button, or can be made in bulk by clicking the Make All button. This works for smelting ore or making large quantities of crafted ingredients - the game will determine how many of an item can be made according to the amount of appropriate ingredients the player has in his inventory, and then automatically make them all in one go. For processing ore, Make All is usually the way to go - just do it all at once, and you can walk away for a bit while your toon hammers away.
Once the copper and tin ingots are made, he has the option of refining those into bronze ingots, which is the material he will need to make himself a new weapon. First he Smelts, then he Refines.
Now he has several bronze ingots and is ready to forge a mighty new axe, the likes of which have never been seen before. Well, okay, maybe just something that's a bit better than the crap stuff he has now. Looking through his list, he sees he has a recipe for a Bronze Axe, and that it is slightly better than the Honed Axe he got from a quest during the introduction. The Bronze Sword requires one component: a Bronze Blade. Hrolfni looks under the Components section in his list and sees that this component requires 2 Bronze Ingots. No problem, he has lots. He switches to his Inferior Smithing Hammer, hammers out a Bronze Blade, and converts that into a dandy Bronze Axe.
Crafting the component and the finished weapon gave him 10 crafting XP, which filled his meter a tiny bit. In order to make better weapons with higher-quality materials, he is going to have to make a lot of quick stuff and fill the XP bar to advance to the next tier, Journeyman. He starts off by using up the rest of his bronze ingots to make several bronze weapons, which are worth 10 XP each (4 for the blade component, 6 for the finished product). He had enough materials to make 4 weapons, including the mighty Bronze Axe for himself, which gives him a grand total of 40 crafting experience points. He needs to make many more to earn the 200 points he needs to fill the XP bar and advance to the next tier, so he must run around Ered Luin for a while gathering up loads of copper and tin or buy it off the auction house.
Buying crafting materials off the auction house is not advised for people just starting out. The player-driven economy generally favors the players who have a lot of coin to spend, and very new players will seldom have the kind of coin they need to be able to afford the amounts of materials they will need to advance their crafting. For example, at the time of this writing there are a number of auctions for copper ingots, generally running between 20 to 40 silver per ingot. From a "standing start," a player would need to make 60 bronze weapons to gain mastery of the Apprentice tier, and each weapon requires one each of copper and tin ingots. At current auction house pricing, that will run from 1.2 to 2.4 gold just for the copper, which is far beyond what most new players will have at their disposal, and possibly exceeds the gold cap for free-to-play accounts. In fact, with that much money, you could buy a small house instead. Better to put in the time and gather the ores yourself, or try to haggle privately on the Trade channel and hope for a more reasonable price.
ADVANCEMENT AND ADVANCED CRAFTING
When Hrolfni earns 200 crafting XP, his progress bar will fill and he will no longer earn experience for crafting the same items. At that point, he must talk to someone to pick up an advancement quest. For Prospector, he talks to the Supplier and gets a book to read. For Weaponsmith, he talks to the Novice Weaponcrafter and has to travel to Bree-land to do a quest. In this case, it is just a matter of talking to a person, but at higher tiers the quests will be rather more involved. For these more advanced quests, the character is given a unique single-use recipe (which must be read to get added to the crafting list) requiring exotic materials. Once the materials are gathered and the new item crafted, the character can hand in the quest and continue advancing his crafting. These quests are different for each profession, but usually all start with the relevant supplier vending his wares in any crafting hall.
Some folks think
Hrolfni has a crude sense ot humour. They're wrong, it's a Crude
Whetstone, which he uses to sharpen his wit.
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Once this first quest is completed and the gold anvil is opened up, the character has a chance of scoring a critical success when crafting items. A critical success results in a superior version of the same item - compare the Fine Bronze Axe with the non-crit Bronze Axe. When making components, a critical success means you get more components with the same amount of resources - 3 Bronze Blades instead of just 1, for example. Characters have a base chance of 5% to crit on an item, and this chance can be increased by using higher-quality tools, using crafting lore scrolls made by scholars, or by using additional components. These components are listed in the crafting panel on the bottom right - the crit item for the Bronze Axe is Crude Whetstone, which can be found in copper and tin nodes. If you have this item in your inventory, you can tick the box to use it for crafting and have a +45% chance to crit on the item.
Is that a Fine Bronze
Axe in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Oh.. it's a Fine
Bronze Axe. :(
Click Image for Larger View
Each craft uses a different crit item type - weaponsmiths use whetstones, armorers use brimstone, woodworkers use resin, scholars use candles, tailors use flax fibres, cooks use different herbs and jewelers use rock salts. These items are mostly found in resource nodes (whetstones, brimstone and rock salt in ore nodes, fibres and resin in wood nodes, candles in scholar nodes, herbs in fields planted by farmers) or occasionally looted from humanoid corpses. In dire emergencies, these items can sometimes be found for sale on the auction house, but be prepared to pay dearly for them.
Once the bronze progress bar is filled and the gold bar is opened up, Hrolfni can begin working on Journeyman crafting, and can even advance to mastery of Journeyman and unlock Expert tier. But he will want to finish mastery of Apprentice tier at some point in order to open up mastery of later tiers. Personally, I like to finish mastery of each tier before moving on to the next one, but individual preference may vary.
Journeyman tier works the same way as Apprentice tier: gather resources, process resources, craft components, assemble into usable items. But instead of bronze, Hrolfni will need Barrow-iron, which is rare in Ered Luin. To gether Barrow-iron, he will have to find nodes in higher-level areas. Also, the higher-tier items have higher level requirements - a basic Iron Axe has a level requirement of 14.
At higher tiers, the crafter can find and use rare single-use recipes to make outstanding items of high quality. These typically have higher resource requirements than standard recipes and often call for other rare items like gem shards. Most production crafts have such recipes, except for Cooks.
In the image at left, you can see a single-use Journeyman-tier recipe for a Forged Steel Axe (this is not Hrolfni, who is still struggling through Apprentice tier, but a level-capped Historian who has maxed out his Weaponsmithing). It requires 2 crafted components plus a sapphire shard, which can be obtained as a quest reward, from the Crafting vendor at a skirmish camp, or by killing rare elite mobs in low-level areas. The crit item is a Master Journeyman Weaponsmith's Journal, which can be crafted by a Scholar (and also comes from a single-use recipe and requires a sapphire shard). These journals give a smaller increase to the crit chance - 35% instead of 45% - but the critted items are about the best a character can get at that level. The non-crit items are pretty darn good on their own, but the critted ones are markedly superior.
Another unique thing about that Forged Steel Axe is that it is a multiple-output recipe. There are several recipes for different crafts that have mutiple options selectable by the crafter. Most of them are for higher tiers, but there are a few lower-tier ones as well. The Forged Steel Axe can be made into a Forged Steel Axe of Combat (with melee bonuses that a melee class would want) or a Forged Steel Axe of Tactics (with tactical bonuses such as a Minstrel might want). The crafter can pick which variation he wants to make by clicking through the available options at the top of the right-hand pane.
Recipes like this one are random drops from humanoid mobs. The things drop everywhere, from goblins in the Shire to Draig-Luth raiders in Enedwaith, and from some boss encounters. Some recipes can also be bought from vendors in crafting halls, or bought or bartered from reputation vendors throughout Middle-Earth. And some recipes are more valuable than others - single-use recipes generally sell for more money than multiple-use recipes, but not always. Keep your eyes open for them, particularly in the days immedately after a big update when they are particularly valuable. After the November update, new dye recipes were selling for 10 gold or more each. If you're one of the lucky few that finds a juicy new Tier 6 scholar recipe during the first few hours of an update launch, you can more or less set your own price and someone will probably pay it. And then re-sell it for 50% more.
WHERE TO FIND RESOURCES
Some newer people have a hard time finding the appropriate materials for their crafting tier. This is understandable - the game is non-linear and the locations of resources can be confusing. In general, resources can be found in areas where quests and mobs are on-level for that crafting tier. For example, Dwarf-iron, which is used to make items for the level 35 - 45 range, can be found in areas with level 35 - 45 quests and mobs: northwest Evendim, Trollshaws, Misty Mountains, southern Angmar. These resources also produce the crit items for their respective tiers. Instead of expecting every reader to automagically know these areas offhand, here's a handy reference chart.
|Resources||Where to Find|
|Nodes in Ered Luin, the Shire, southeast Bree-land|
|Light Hides||Wolves, bears, cave-claws and other furry critters in Ered Luin, the Shire, southeast Bree-land|
|Tier 1 Scholar||Rare nodes in ruins in Ered Luin, the Shire, southeast Bree-land; also dropped by undead, goblins, Dourhand dwarves and humans in these areas. Yarrow roots for gold dye can be found in Bree-land and the Shire and near Duillond in Ered Luin. Sienna for dyes can be found in tin nodes. Lily-of-the-Valley leaves for Pea-green Wall Paint are a rare drop from critted Lily-of-the-Valley fields.|
|Nodes in north and west Bree-land, Greenfields in the Shire, Haudh Lin in Ered Luin, southeast North Downs, southeast Lone-lands|
|Medium Hides||Fur-bearing animals in those same areas. Occasionally found on boars, but less often.|
|Tier 2 Scholar||Nodes in ruins in north and west Bree-land, southwest North Downs and southwest Lone-lands. Also occasionally drop from undead, goblins, orcs and humans in these areas. Copper salts for olive dye can be found in copper ore nodes, umber for umber dye can be found in Barrow-iron nodes, iris roots for grey dye are rare drops from critted iris fields.|
|Rich iron, Gold
|Nodes in north and east North Downs, east half of Lone-lands, south Evendim|
|Sturdy Hides||Wargs, wolves, bears and aurochs in these areas. The aurochs around Esteldin often drop 2 at a time.|
|Tier 3 Scholar||Nodes in Nain Enidh, Minas Eriol and Iorvinas in Lone-lands. Also dropped by orcs, goblins, undead and humanoids. Woad for navy dye grows wild in North Downs and Lone-lands. Juicy Blackberry and Bluebottle petals for violet and turquoise dye are rare drops from farmer fields.|
|Nodes in Trollshaws, southwest Angmar, northwest Evendim, southwest Misty Mountains. Get lots of Dwarf-iron, it is needed for a few Tier 5 recipes.|
|Pristine Hides||Wargs, wolves, bears and such in the same areas.|
|Tier 4 Scholar||Nodes in ruins in these areas. Tier 4 Scholar mats can also be found in Garth Agarwen and are dropped by the same mob types that drop lower-tier stuff. Indigo plants for Indigo and Evendim Blue dyes grow in Trollshaws and Eregion. Amaranth petals, onion skins, bluebottle petals and lily-of-the-valley leaves are all rare drops from farmed fields.|
|Ancient Iron, Ancient Silver
|Nodes in east Angmar, east Misty Mountains, Forochel, and most of Eregion. Ores can be mined in Sarnur in Ered Luin.|
|Exceptional Hides||Furry mobs in the same areas. Higher-level mobs in Angmar and southern Eregion will drop Magnificent Hides instead.|
|Tier 5 Scholar||Nodes in ruins in these areas. There are also many nodes in Haudh Iarchith in southern Barrow Downs, and all of them drop Master-tier Scholar supplies. Bloodwort root, juicy strawberry, onion skin, juicy elderberry and bluebottle petals are all rare drops from farmed fields. Piles of ancient iron oxides are found in ancient iron nodes.|
|Southeast Eregion and the western depths of Moria. There is a mine in Redhorn Lodes near Orc-watch with a healthy supply of Khazad-copper, and another one in Zelem-Melek with loads of Ilex. Khazad-copper is one of the most rare commodities and prices on the auction house reflect this. Khazad-tin is essentially junk.|
|Western spaces in Moria, Lothlorien, Mirkwood and Enedwaith. There is a cave beside each of the ones mentioned above for these materials.|
|Magnificent Hides||Wargs and wolves around Echad Dunnan in Eregion, cave-claws and cave-diggers in western Moria. A good "farming" spot is Katub-Zahar, the big library northeast of Dolven-view that's filled with quick-respawning cave-diggers.|
|Extraordinary Hides||Cave-diggers and cave-claws in eastern Moria, and any of the furry critters in Lothlorien. Mirkwood and Enedwaith.|
|Tier 6 Scholar||All throughout Moria, Lothlorien, Mirkwood and ruins in Enedwaith.Chunks of Lime for white dye can be found in Tier 6 ore nodes.|
Farmer and Cook materials work a bit differently. Farmers can buy everything they need from teh Expert Farmhand in the field just north of Hobbiton in the Shire. Cooks can buy many of their ingredients from the Expert Cook in the crafting area near Michel Delving, and that which cannot be purchased from a vendor can be farmed by a Farmer (or bartered from one).
Of course, there's always Plan B. In the case of crafting, Plan B involved buying ingredient packs from the LotRO Store. Notice the big button on the screenshots that says "Get Ingredients" - clicking that button will take you to the appropriate item in the LotRO Store, where you can purchase all the mats for a single item (minus the crit items) for 25 points. Ingredient packs are pretty simple - they are arranged according to tier, and will work for any craft, but you only get the goods to make one item. They are practically useless for making consumable items like potions, which are most often made in large batches at a time. You can buy ingredient packs in bulk for a discount, but even then, that's burning a lot of points that could be spent on necessities like quest packs or skirmishes, and it can take a fairly long time to rebuild points spent on something impermanent. Furthermore, items made with ingredient packs are bound to the crafter's account. They can't be sold on the auction house or traded to other players. But when you find that one "Oh wow!" recipe and you absolutely, positively need it right now and can't be bothered to gather the materials, ingredient packs are just fine.
Players can also buy recipes from the LotRO Store. While not every recipe in the game is available this way, a player can round out his crafting lineup with some store-bought supplemental recipes and fill a few gaps here and there. Also notice in the screenshots that there is a button at the bottom of the crafting panel that says "Increase Crafting XP" - clicking this button also opens up the store and takes you to the Tome of Crafting XP Acceleration page. Using these books for crafting earns the character more points per crafted item, much the same way as deed acceleration tomes increase kill-counts for deeds for a limited time. This can be handy for powering through the tiers fast, but it can also be expensive if you are f2p and on a limited Turbine Point budget.
JOINING A GUILD
After you've worked your way up to Expert tier in any production craft, you can join a crafting guild. There are 6 crafting guilds you can join: Metalsmiths or Weaponsmiths in Thorin's Hall, Cooks in Michel Delving, Tailors, Jewellers or Woodworkers in Esteldin, or Scholars in Rivendell. Joining a crafting guild provides the crafter with several benefits, but it takes a bit of work to earn them.
Firstly, once the crafter has earned enough guild reputation, he can make large batches of things with fewer materials. For example, a guild Tailor can make several leather bindings at once with fewer pieces of leather, or Scholars can make a batch of 5 dyes with only the materials required for 1. This is a much more economical way to craft and can save hours of grinding for rare mats.
Secondly, the crafter can buy "auto-crit" recipes. These recipes are the exact same as the crits of single-use recipes but do not require the crafting journal component and have an automatic critical success. These recipes have a long cooldown (one per week) and require an additional rep item component, which also has a cooldown (1 - 7 days, depending on which component is needed).
Thirdly, when the character reaches Supreme tier and earns Kindred standing with his guild, he can fashion legendary items and crafted relics for legendary items. All guild-kindred crafters can make crafted relics, and all but cooks can make some kind of legendary item. Cooks, for their part, can make special teas that grant the drinker accelerated item experience - like "blue bar" for your LI.
Lastly, high standing in the guild opens doors later on. Special recipes from Lothlorien and Mirkwood rep vendors allow you to craft awesome stuff that's way better than the stuff non-guilded crafters can make.
Joining a guild is easy - just talk to the guild representative in any crafting hall, pick the profession, and you're signed up. Advancing within the guild takes a bit of work.
The first thing you will want to do when joining a guild is to visit the guild HQ and pick up the rep item recipes. These crafted rep items have fairly stiff material requirements but typically grant loads of crafting XP when made. Expert and Artisan tiers have Small and Medium rep items, and Master and Supreme have those two plus Large. These are all worth varying amounts of reputation with the guild, and you will need to make loads of them to reach Kindred standing. While you are working towards Kindred standing, it's generally a good idea to just turn in all the rep items you make rather than using them for auto-crits because the recipes have long cooldowns. Small rep items can be made daily, Mediums can be made every 3 days, and Large can be made but once a week. They are also bind-on-aquire and cannot be sold or traded to other characters. You can't just buy them when you want to power-level your rep like you can with many other reputation-based factions.
Once you reach Kindred standing, it won't hurt to keep making these things. You need them for the guild recipes.
So there you have it. Crafting is really not all that complicated once you get started, and for some players it is one of the more rewarding aspects of the game. It is certainly a very detailed system, but it's fairly straightforward and easy to learn once you get your hands dirty and start figuring out how it works.
By the way, if you want to be able to do every craft, all you need is 4 characters: one Woodsman, one Historian, one Armourer, one Tinker. That's all you need to be entirely self-sufficient.