EQ2 rolled out another one of its traditional holiday weekend bonus exp-fests. As I have done in the past, I was able to turn that weekend into a ton of tradeskill exp - an aggregate of 51 levels (!). The damage:
+4 levels of Tailor (cloth and leather armor, plus bags and charms for all, now 54)
+6 levels of Sage (makes spells for mages and priests, now 42)
+19 levels of Alchemist (makes spells for fighters and potions, now 28)
+22 levels of a brand new Weaponsmith (makes weapons, now 22, the new alt also gained 17 levels of Shadow Knight and 7 AA).
A few misc comments:
Valuing Alt Trades
I had originally planned making the baby Shadow Knight into an Armorer. Your armor occupies seven slots, compared to no more than three weapons per 10-level tier. The thing is, my current and planned alts don't really wear heavy armor. Lyriana does, but I'm not planning on advancing the new kid fast enough to be useful to her. As a result, I'd only be using that character's trade for her own gear, where all of my other professions are useful to at least two alts.
By contrast, everyone needs a weapon, and the sheer variety of stats and swing speeds available makes it handy to be able to browse from my own custom shop. As of the weekend, I can make spells for any character up to 26. I'm also on the track to being able to fully gear up my caster alts in-house.
(Technically, I don't "need" any trades anymore, since I could get whatever I need through some combination of guildmates and the broker. That said, it's nice to be able to impulse buy, and I like having access to the tradeskill content.)
Preview or Power Loss?
EQ2 allows all characters to make everything for levels 1-9. From levels 10-19, characters can make items from their trade archetype (spell upgrades, gear, or miscellany). It's a clever system, but the irony is that you end up feeling like you're actually losing power as you go.
For instance, I thought my tailor would be able to make fistwraps for monks because those appeared at the tailoring station at level 19. It turns out that those are weapons and therefore are crafted by weaponsmiths, even though my weaponsmith doesn't use the tailoring workstation for anything else.
Ironically, I leveled the weaponsmith by making tailored armor for my last planned alt, a monk to visit the new starting area in the expansion. I will never be able to craft more advanced tailored armor on that character again. (Fortunately, I have an actual tailor for that.)
Ramping Up the Exp Curve
On a focused weekend session like this, I tend to spend most of the time in front of a guild hall crafting station. The result is greatly added attention to how quickly the levels accumulate. It isn't coincidence that I gained massive numbers of levels on my lower level professions - you actually get level 10 and 20 for free as you pick your specialty, levels 11-19 are insanely fast with vitality and bonus exp, and even levels 21-30 move moderately quickly. It's only once you hit your 30's that things start to get substantially slower.
In some ways, this ramp up mirrors the pace of leveling your adventuring profession, which is also very fast at low levels and somewhat fast at mid-levels. However, it does feel like there's a bit more variety in the PVE adventuring path than in the crafting - there are crafting quests, but these make a fraction of your total experience in the game's middle levels (especially the 40's and 50's).
Ysh and Foolsage argue that this kind of accelerated progress defeats the purpose of actually playing the game. In fairness, all of the numbers are arbitrary - compared to myself, it's always bonus weekend for Stargrace thanks to all of her level-capped characters. If I had her numbers, I'd probably think that the grind kicks in at 40 instead of 30.
That said, I think there is some value to the occasional speed boost. At the end of the day, crafting is something that I do primarily for the end reward - being able to make stuff. My adventuring levels can sometimes creep up on my unsuspecting crafters, and then I find myself less interested in adventuring. A little chance to let the crafter sneak in a headstart every once in a while is just what I need to hold my interest.