It was a busy offline weekend (all of them are these days), but I was able to harness the power of EQ2's bonus exp weekend to significant effect. My various characters picked up over 30 crafting levels, and there were other members of my guild who were trying even harder - the guild gained a level from all the crafting activity.
- Lyriana was finally able to hit level 80 Jeweler, starting from level 72. (Thank you shout out to Ysh for reminding me that some of the veteran reward exp potion packs include tradeskill bonuses.)
What did I do to celebrate? I ran out and did three more tradeskill writs. Ironically, the last few levels were unusually quick due to an abundance of new recipes (spells that get one last upgrade before the level cap). I ended up hitting level 80 with a number of first pristine combines bonuses remaining, and three writs shy of 40,000 rep with my city's tradeskill faction.
I finished filling up the rep bar to claim the "Master Liason" title, and the ability to craft my own AA mirror (EQ2's version of dual specs). The mirror can be comissioned from another crafter, but I felt strongly about making my own, since it was obvious that I was going to pick up most of the required reputation during the course of leveling.
- Kreejak, my Sarnak Warden, jumped from crafting level 10 (fresh out of the tutorial) to level 28, having chosen to specialize as a Tailor. Here was where the combination of vitality, first pristine bonuses, and the bonus weekend became slightly absurd - I think I averaged about 2 combines per level for the entire 10-20 range. Crafting takes slightly longer at lower levels (your abilities add more progress at higher levels, while the total progress required to complete an item remains constant), but this was still insanely quick. I suppose it has to be, since players level past that level range so quickly, but I was pretty shocked.
It seems like the most beneficial profession choices if you're not in it for the money are the jobs that craft either your character's spells or their armor. (Weapons are a major performance upgrade, but you only need 1-2 of them every 10 levels.) I'd just done spells on Lyriana, so I decided to go the other route on the Warden.
Tailoring seems like a great deal - though their overall market is smaller (more than half of the classes wear mail or plate, which is crafted by armorers), tailors get to make a variety of non-armor goodies. These include hex dolls (the EQ2 equivalent of crafted trinkets), backpacks, throwing weapon sacks, and even fistwrap weapons for the unarmed Bruiser and Monk classes.
- Speaking of my little Ratonga Bruiser (who I intend to turn into a good-aligned Monk someday, if I ever actually get around to playing her), I dusted her off as well and launched into the tradeskill tutorial. I went from level 2-8 in a handful of combines, significantly ahead of the pace that the tutorial is intended to run at. I would have pressed onwards if I had any idea what I wanted to do with the character. I guess she'd become an alchemist by default, since Lyriana and Kreejak have literally all of her gear covered.
- I also dusted off my provisioner for a single level (27->28) before deciding that I was right to drop that character the first time. EQ2's provisioners are limited to cooking two servings at a time as a stopgap measure to keep already-flooded markets from getting even worse. Unfortunately, the status quo means that you're going to spend 10 minutes to cook a stack of food. I'm prepared to live with crafted goods being worth less than the materials I used to make them, but I'm not prepared to spend 10 minutes of crafting time on the project.
(In fairness, a single serving of food in EQ2 generally lasts for about an hour, so you'll outlevel that stack of food before you finish eating it. The problem is that you're still going to have to cook SOMETHING to gain the experience levels needed to have better food available when you hit the next tier.)
At this point, I'm strongly tempted to give up on the profession outright and hit the reset button (which would revert the budding chef to level 9 and let him pick a new profession). The main hesitations are deciding what profession to replace it with, and, indeed, if I want to just delete the character outright. EQ2 currently offers a mere seven character slots for the standard monthly fee, and most of mine are spoken for by current or planned characters. I'm not sure that it makes sense to tie up one of those slots on a character that I'm unsure that I'll want to play in the non-crafting game.
Though I have hit the tradeskill level cap, there is a lot of tradeskill content remaining in EQ2. I have not started on the various tradeskill reputation grinds of the most recent expansion, one of which leads to an epic tradeskill item. That said, it might make more sense to tackle some of this content on alts who still need tradeskill exp (or to wait for the higher level cap in the next expansion), especially since some of the rewards are account-bound.
Either way, Lyriana now has a crate full of spell upgrades and is free to move on all the way to the level cap without worrying about where her next upgrade is coming from. That's not a bad way to celebrate Independence Day, all considered.
Lyriana, looking into her new AA dual spec mirror. For those who are curious, EQ2 mirrors can display very sharp reflections, this particular one is intentionally murky.