Making Money in the Lord of the Rings Online
With Update 2: Echoes of the Dead just around the corner for the Lord of the Rings Online, you're probably going to want to have some extra coin on hand. There will be all sorts of new things to buy - recipes, class skills, you name it - and the new relic system for legendary items is rather coin-intensive, so taking the time now to build up your bankroll is a fine investment.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Gold in LotRO is maybe a bit different from other games. First off, there's the conversion rate:
|1 Copper||1/100 Silver, 1/100,000 Gold|
|1 Silver||100 Copper, 1/1000 Gold|
|1 Gold||1000 Silver, 100,000 Copper|
1 Gold in LotRO represents much more than it does in some other games where gold is the base currency. You can buy a small house for around 1 gold.
Early on in the game, quest rewards are measured in Copper. Vendor trash from mobs is worth a few copper here and there. Eventually, quests reward silver, and vendor trash trophies are worth silver. Gold comes from vendoring lots of trash and completing lots of quests.
F2P accounts start off with a currency limit of 2 gold. Any excess coin the player earns is stored with an escrow broker, and this coin cannot be used, but this cap can be lifted by purchasing an upgrade from the LotRO store. The currency cap upgrade increments the amount of gold a player can carry and use, and several such upgrades must be purchased if the player wishes to carry around large amounts of coin. You likely won't need to buy this upgrade for a while, but later on in the game it will be necessary.
One important thing to realize is that coin is only one of the currencies used in the game. Gold and silver are used to buy mundane things - crafting ingredients, travel from stable-masters, repairs, etc. - and new skills. Exceptional items like raid armor and account upgrades are purchased by other means, like barter tokens, skirmish marks or Turbine Points. Having lots of coin is nice, but you will need to earn these other things also.
LOW LEVELS: TRASH OR TREASURE?
At lower levels, most coin will be earned by killing mobs, selling the junk they drop and turning in quests. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but this is generally the case. Mobs drop junk, junk is worth money.
Weapon, armor and jewelry rewards from low-level quests are often inferior to crafted items for the same level range. Critted gear has an even longer shelf life, and if you are walking around in a full critted set of armor with critted weapons and jewelry, you can usually just pawn all the reward items for quests. When handing the quests in, look for the one with the highest coin value and select that. If the reward is better than what you have, take it and use it instead, but it usually won't be.
Items with the dark purple background and grey border are vendor trash/task trophies. Green background, green border are crafting items. The red-bordered stuff in the bottom row is crap I can't delete from my inventory.
The "trash" trophies, items with a dark purple background (see picture), can often be turned in for tasks. This is kind of a trade-off at low levels - you get XP and (sometimes) reputation for completing tasks from bulletin boards, but no coin, and if you decide to sell them to a vendor instead for coin, you get no XP or rep for them. If you are desperate for coin, avoid doing the tasks and just sell the trash loot. Really, gaining levels is already pretty easy.
And then there's the crafting mats. Any item with a green background (see picture) is useful to someone even if you can't use it yourself. Never sell these items to vendors. Save up piles of them and sell them to other players, either through the Trade chat channel or by posting auctions in the auction house.
Trade channel is available to everyone: type /trade and compose your message. Holding the CTRL key and right-clicking on the item will link it in chat, so you can show what you are selling. Making money by using the Trade channel will involve a bit of market-savvy, knowing what the items you are offering are worth. You can determine the worth of items by inspecting similar sales in the auction house and figuring out a rough average per-item price. And if you're not sure of a decent asking price, say "PST with offer" and keep your fingers crossed.
THE AUCTION HOUSE: PLAYING THE MARKET
The auction house is pretty easy to use for simple things, but there are some subtleties that more advanced players can use to their advantage.
F2P players will need to buy the ability to use the auction house through the LotRO Store. If you're in this game for the long haul, this is definitely something to consider, as you can use the auction house to make absurd amounts of money. But it is probably something you will want to hold off on until later in the game, after you have purchased other necessities like currency cap upgrades, inventory space, virtue slots and quest packs.
Khazad-copper ore generally sells for very high prices at auction. Vendor price is just over 2 silver per unit, but Initial Price would be closer to 10 silver per unit - 500 silver for 51 chunks. Buyout price would be twice that amount - 1 gold. Not bad for an hour of node-farming.
Posting an auction is simple enough. Open the auction house panel at the auctioneer, select the Post tab, drag the item you wish to sell, set the price and the duration, hit Post Auction. There are a few different options for this process, but that's the basics. When you post an auction, you are charged a small fee for the posting, the amont depending on the duration of the posting. When the auction sells, the auction house claims 10% of the final bid for a "delivery fee" and the money is sent to your mailbox.
Before you post, though, you will want to know what your item is selling for currently. To determine this, you'll want to look for other auctions of the same item. Drag your item to the search box and hit the Search button, and you will see all the other entries for that item. You can look through these auctions, figure out a mean average price for the amount you are selling and determine whether or not that amount is acceptable.
When you post an auction, there are 2 fields for the asking price: Initial Price and Buyout Price. The Initial Price is the lowest amount you will accept for the item, and interested buyers will increment this price with each consecutive bid. You will want to set the initial price at at least the vendor value, plus the posting fee, plus 10 - 15% to cover the "delivery fee". If you set it lower than this amount, you will make more money by just pawning the item to vendors, so the auction is a net loss. For particularly desirable items, you can set the initial price much higher. Setting the initial price low can lead to bidding wars, which can be kind of fun to watch. People will literally wait by the auctioneer, monitoring their auctions, for hours, countering bids as they happen. For some auctions, there will be no apparent interest until the last few hours, at which point there may be a bidding war.
The Buyout field is optional, but you can sometimes stand to make more money quicker by setting a high Buyout price because some people (like me) are impatient and don't want to bother with a bidding war or wait until the auction ends to win (or lose) the bid. The Buyout option allows people to buy the item right away. For the Buyout field, set the highest price you think you can reasonably get for the the item according to current market value. Generally, this is 5 - 10% lower than the lowest current buyout of the same item, but there are exceptions.
For big auction house profits, timing is crucial. Big-ticket, sure-sale items can be posted for shorter durations (which reduces the posting cost). For other items, keeping the auction alive for longer may be necessary to ensure sale, and you may want to wait until the weekend to post them. Weekends typically see more players online, which means more people looking for particular items than you might see on, say, a Wednesday morning. When more players are buying, prices can be set higher. Weekend = big money.
Smart auctioneers can play the market like a Middle-Earth broker. Once you learn what items typically sell for, you can watch for bargain-priced auctions, snap them up (or bid on them and keep your bid on track with the Bids tab) and repost them at a markup. For example, if someone posts several stacks of black dye for under 100 silver a stack buyout, you can buy them up and repost them for 200 silver, selling in smaller quantities over an extended period of time so you don't flood the market and encourage undercutting. This tactic requires a good deal of patience and market-savvy, and is more of a long-term thing than a way to make quick-and-easy cash, but shrewd players can make it pay off.
CRAFTING: HIT OR MISS
Selling crafted items and crafted components through the auction house can earn some pretty big bucks, but it can also be disappointing if you go in blind.
Raw materials almost always sell, and they usually command very respectable prices. Explorers have an advantage here, because they can harvest everything: wood, ores, gems and crit items from nodes, hides from beasts, Scholar mats from humanoid mobs, plants for food and dye recipes. Spend a couple hours gathering a stack or two of basically anything and you can convert it to cash. But keep an eye on the market if you plan on doing this; you don't want to waste time collecting Ancient Iron for three hours only to find that the auction house is flooded with the stuff and nobody is buying.
One guy is selling 30 ore (15 ingots) for 550 silver. The next guy is selling 20 ingots (40 ore) for 333 silver. Guy 1 is making much more money than guy 2... provided his auction sells.
Whether or not you want to sell processed materials is up to you. For example, with Ancient Iron, you can smelt it into Ancient Iron Ingots, Westernesse Steel Ingots or Elven Steel Ingots, or you can just sell the Ancient Iron Ore. Some professions can't process their own raw materials and require processed materials for secondary crafts (for example, Historians have Weaponsmith, but not Prospector, so they can't smelt their own ores into ingots). Selling processed materials can be kind of a trade-off, though, because processed stuff doesn't always sell for twice as much as unprocessed. A stack of Barrow-iron Ore makes half a stack of Barrow-iron Ingots, but the half-stack of ingots does not sell for the same price as a full stack of ore. Selling raw will generally net higher profits than selling processed.
Crafted goods, on the other hand, are a different beast. Particularly desirable crafted goods can sell for much, much more than the sum of their components. But the crafter will need to know what is desirable and what is not. For example, Metalsmiths may have a hard time selling armors in the level 40 range because that's around the time players can get the Fem set in Angmar. And there's another gap at high levels, 60+, because that's when people are wearing the raid sets from Moria and beyond. Weaponsmiths will similarly have a hard time selling crafted main-hand weapons past level 50 or so, because why use a crafted, static weapon when you can use a legendary item that is way better?
The crafted goods that sell the best are the ones that people use most often: food, tokens, scrolls and other consumable items. Cranking out massive volumes of consumables and posting them a few at a time is a great way to earn a steady income. Historians and Tinkers have the market pretty much cornered in this respect; these vocations are money factories.
But while consumables can provide a long-term, steady income stream, other vocations can make one-shot, big-ticket items that sell for large amounts. Metalsmiths can make tools and shields, Tailors can make cloaks, and guild-kindred crafters of all vocations can make legendary items or crafted relics. Guild kindred is a good goal for those looking to make money with their professions.
SKIRMISHES, INSTANCES & DEEDING: THE LITTLE THINGS COUNT
By the time you get to level cap, making money becomes much, much easier.
Skirmishes make OK money from the bounties that occasionally drop from lieutenants. You won't get rich running skirmishes, but you will usually make enough from vendoring the bounties to cover your repairs plus some extra. Plus you'll be getting loads of skirmish marks, which can be traded for items that sell well on the auction house. The Symbol of Celebrimbor currently sells for around 20 gold, and that can be earned in a day by running 5 instances. If you're lucky, you'll get more than 1.
Instances tend to have a bigger payout than skirmishes, because mobs in instances drop coin and other loot. A full-clear of Grand Stairs can earn you around 2 gold just from that. You can also auction the relics from boss chests. Running a lot of endgame group content will typically earn you a lot of money.
Occasionally, people will organize "gold runs" on later-game raids. The leader will set a price for specific loot pieces, and anyone who wants that specific piece pays into the pot to be guaranteed that loot. At the end of the raid, all the money is divided among the participants. This kind of run carries its own risks, but if you are raid-ready, hurting for coin and willing to risk wasting a few hours with a bunch of clueless noobs, go nuts.
These drop from the worms in Angmar. Grinding that deed from start to finish will net you about 1 gold from vendor trash alone.
Deed grinding is another way to earn decent coin. Humanoid mobs tend to drop coin and other loot, and beasts and such drop loads and loads of vendor trash. Killing hundreds of worms in Angmar means hundreds of scales, skins, eyes and what have you - these all add up. Obviously, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it is profitable over time.
GOLD-SELLERS: DO NOT WANT
Gold-sellers are perhaps not as common in LotRO as they are in some other games, but they do exist, and they should be avoided for a number of reasons.
For starters, gold-selling is basically organized crime. Theft and fraud are illegal everywhere, and these people set up their sleazy little online franchises to commit these crimes. These guys are the reason people are getting their accounts hacked and all their stuff stolen.
Gold-sellers are violating the End-User License Agreement (EULA) by selling in-game currency for real-life money, you are violating the EULA by buying it, and they earn the money they are selling by means of theft and fraud. Gold-sellers are scum-sucking bottom-feeders and criminals, and should not be supported. The bottom line is, this practice is unethical and wrong, and you don't need LotRO gold that badly.
The wise player knows how to adapt to change, and to anticipate how said changes can earn the mad bank. When an update is on the horizon, that usually means big new stuff that everyone will want. For example, with Update 2: Echoes of the Dead, there will be some new Hunter books, which will be made by Scholars. Supreme Scholars can start rounding up the mats now and prepare to meet the market demand head-on when the new recipes become available. Additional outfit slots means more cosmetic hauberks for Tailors to slap together, and more dyes for Scholars to brew. A new raid coming up means a need for food, curatives, tokens and other consumables. Start stockpiling now, and be ready to take advantage of super-inflated auction house prices while they last.