Crafting is often a major part of any roleplaying game. Sure, you could earn gear by scavenging corpses like some kind of armor-clad hyena, but we all know that real men pick up a hammer and forge their own gear, sweating over a smoking forge or toiling at a tanning rack surrounded by stretched hides cloven from the beasts of forest and dale. Or they hire underlings to do it for them so they can focus on the hack-and-slash.
Professions in Neverwinter use hired artisans to craft gear. This is similar to the crew missions in Star Trek Online, where you have a staff of workers whose only job is to perform menial tasks off-screen. Currently, there are two types of professions available: one type makes class-specific armors, and the other type earns money through mercenary work.
Players get started with Professions quite early on. Each class has some kind of resource-gathering skill - both fighter-types start with Dungeoneering, Trickster Rogues have Thievery, Devoted Clerics have Religion, Control Wizards have Arcana. The fifth resource gathering skill, Nature, requires the use of kits purchased from consumables vendors.
Players can buy kits for any of the gathering skills, and this is highly recommended for anyone wanting to get involved in crafting. The kits don't cost all that much, and you will still end up with far more available materials than you would get otherwise even if you end up breaking a lot of them with a string of unsuccessful gathering attempts. The kits don't allow you to successfully use actual class skills - for example, a Thievery kit does not give a Fighter the ability to disarm traps, and a Dungeoneering kit does not give a Trickster Rogue the ability to reveal a secret doorway hidden behind a bookcase.But they do allow you to build up a huge stockpile of resources for later use.
Nodes spawn all sorts of resources. For example, you are just as likely to find chunks of ore in a Thievery node as you are in a Dungeoneering node. Some of these resources will fetch a good price on the auction house, so if you don't plan on focusing on a particular profession, it is safe to sell the related resources off. If, however, you want to try them all out as a means of making money, or as a means of equipping alts, you can keep and use everything you find. Crafting resources are stored in a different inventory tab than regular loot and gear, so you won't likely have to worry about storage issues for a good long time.
When a character reaches level 10, he is given a quest ("A True Professional") to speak to the professions guys in the market area. The dialogue gives you the basics of Professions if you take the time to read it, probably. Personally, I always skip the walls of text and just do what the quest tracker says, and the system is easy enough to figure out.
By level 10, when you're finally able to start using the Professions system, you should have a good stock of raw materials gathered up from all the resource nodes you've been hitting along the way, but you still need to hire a guy to turn your materials into useful stuff. Hit N to open your Professions window and find the profession that matches your class:
|Mailsmithing||Devoted Cleric, Great Weapon Fighter|
Technically, you can start with whatever profession you like. You are not required to make items for your own character; you can make stuff exclusively to sell on the auction house if you prefer. While you are unlikely to make much money on the low-level stuff, the rare items you can craft later can end up fetching some decent Astral Diamonds.
Your first task will be to hire a guy to make your stuff. This task takes very little time - five seconds, to be exact. Keep your eye on the Overview tab and hit the Collect Reward button when it is completed. And there you have it: your very own hireling.
Now that you have a craftsman in your employ, it's time to set him to task. Typically, your first tasks will mostly be resource-gathering and processing raw materials. If you find that you don't have enough raw materials to process, send your guy out to go gathering. Click on the mission, and select your minion, then on the Start Task button. He'll busy himself for a few minutes while you continue hacking your way through the orcs of the Tower District.
If you want to speed through your training, you can spend Astral Diamonds to instantly finish any active missions. If you're very new to the system and don't have Astral Diamonds just hanging around gathering dust, however, you'll find much better uses for them later (like when you run out of Identify scrolls). Save this for later in the game, when you earn Astral Diamonds by the truckload and you are building up an alt profession from scratch.
If you do have the raw materials, you may find that you are still in need of additional components. For example, Leatherworkers need salt to cure pelts into leather, and Platesmiths need charcoal to work their iron into plates. These additional components are rarely found in resource nodes, but can be purchased with coin from the crafting vendor in the market area. Buy lots - the stuff is cheap, and you end up needing loads of it.
Crafting is a "tiered" process. You start with raw mats, which are then processed into components, which are then assembled into simple items, which are then combined with other materials and crafted into higher-quality armor pieces. For example, a Leatherworker starts out with pelts and salt, which he crafts into leather. He uses the leather to make a Leather Shirt, which he then combines with some Residuum to make a Sturdy Leather Shirt, which has better stats.
The higher-quality recipes are level-gated. You need to be Platesmithing level 3 before you can make an Iron Shield +1, for example. But each task, no matter how menial, rewards some profession experience. And you can only do one task at a time until you hit certain benchmarks. Raising any profession up to Level 3 unlocks a new task slot, and reaching character level 30 unlocks another.
One thing you should do early on is craft yourself a new shirt and pants to replace the common trash you start with. This is the only way to upgrade these items, save buying them on the auction house.
Once you get your first profession to level 3 and unlock an additional slot, you can take a few different paths. You may choose to hire a second minion for your main profession, allowing you to do multiple crafting tasks at once - one guy can be your gatherer, the other can be your craftsman. This allows you to level up your main profession faster, which can keep it in pace with your character level.
Note that if you slack off and don't keep your professions active as you level, they start to lag behind your character level. You'll need to keep running regular missions if you want to be able to craft gear appropriate to your level.
Alternately, you can start working on a second profession, leveling two professions simultaneously. The best second choice for any class is the Leadership profession, which allows you to employ a crew of mercenaries and hire them out for guard work and various odd jobs. In time, you can have your very own version of Bregan D'aerthe.
It is recommended to hire many craftsmen for each profession. Some advanced crafting recipes, and many Leadership tasks, allow the player to send multiple craftsmen at once. Sending more than one guy on a mission decreases the amount of time the mission takes to complete. Some missions also allow for the use of specialized tools to increase the chance of a higher tier of success.
Rare crafting missions show up at random, and stay available on your Professions menu for about an hour. These missions require additional materials of high quality - green, blue or purple, depending on the mission - and often require tool assets in addition to craftsmen. It is possible to run several of these missions simultaneously, provided you have the manpower and the necessary materials. The materials themselves may be tricky to come by - they are rarely found in resource nodes, but can occasionally be found in skirmishes and dungeons, or they may drop from landscape mobs from time to time. Alternately, if you have Zen to burn, you can take a gamble on a booster pack and hope you find one in there. The only guaranteed way to find them when you need them is on the auction house.
Rare crafting missions have tiered chances of success. You always get the base item - in the example pictured above, it's a pair of +1 boots - but there is a chance that the item will come out better than expected, with higher stats. You can improved your odds of higher-tier success by using more tools than only what is required. Each additional tool adds a percentage chance that the item will craft at the higher tier. The mission pictured above had two possible results, but later missions may have three. Getting a tier 3 success on a crafting mission unlocks another mission slot.
It may be possible that future updates will include different kinds of professions - weaponsmithing, for example, or potion-brewing, both of which have a long history in D&D. But for now, at least we don't have to rely solely on loot drops to armor our characters.
Got any Profession tips you'd like to share? Let us know in our comments!