Crafting in ESO: Writ Certification Part 1

One of the systems I like most in The Elder Scrolls Online is the crafting. I am not a dedicated crafter in any MMO but I look forward to it as additional gameplay and I want crafting that is deeper than the gather, queue, and wait motif that games like World of Warcraft offer. If you have never played ESO at all or if you did but have not tried crafting on a new character since update five I’ll be dedicating several posts to crafting from the beginner’s perspective over the next few weeks.

2Danel

Danel is kind of a jerk. This is his answer when I asked about the difference between crafting food and beverages. Thank you, Grand Master Obvious.

3Millenith

Millenith on the other hand is quite pleasant, despite the fact that she looks like a possessed elven blacksmith from an unaired episode of Supernatural.

Crafting in The Elder Scrolls Online begins when you discover the fighter’s guild or mage’s guild for the first time in either Davon’s Watch, Daggerfall, or Vulkhel Guard depending on your faction. While the guilds have nothing to do with crafting, each one houses an NPC that starts the certification process for crafting writs. Introduced with update five, writs are crafting dailies for the six crafts in ESO. Each crafting writ can be completed once daily after you hit level 6 and the certification process serves as a tutorial. Millenith is waiting for you at the fighter’s guild and will certify you as a blacksmith, carpenter, and clothier. Danel Telleno will certify you in alchemy, enchanting, and provisioning and can be found at the mage’s guild. Each certification requires a simple quest chain that will walk you through the basics and you can work on one certification per NPC at a time.

4Locating Materials

After initiating the writ certification quest you are directed to an area near the city where you can harvest the relevant materials. Every player can gather all materials and some of them you need to collect are difficult to identify until you’ve seen them at least once. Writ certification gives you an opportunity to see the nodes for the first time when they are marked on your mini map so you know what to expect. Later on if you chose to focus on a particular material to gather you can use a skill point on a passive that will cause a glowing mist to appear over the nodes as you approach them but until then the writ quests will help you identify what you need to gather by its appearance.

Once you’ve collected your materials you will return to the city and meet either Danel or Millenith at the respective crating station for whichever writ you are certifying. For now I am going to focus on Millenith and the fabrication crafts. Whether you chose carpenter, blacksmith, or clothier your first step will be refining the raw materials you’ve gathered. For example, if you begin with the blacksmithing profession you will refine your raw iron into iron ingots. With the refining process complete, Millenith will ask you to craft your first piece of gear.

6Crafting Gear

Crafting in ESO is very different from the system in World of Warcraft and similar games. Here you have several ways of tweaking an item before you create it. Thankfully the UI and accompanying tutorial are more than enough to get you started without problem. First you choose an item to craft by scrolling left or right at the top of your menu to find the weapon or armor piece you want to make. If you have the correct materials you will then have the option to increase the amount used in order to craft a higher level weapon. So a simple dagger for a level one character may only require 2 iron ingots but if you’d like to make it usable to your level 8 Nightblade you can increase the iron amount until the weapon’s level matches your own.

After that you’ll need to select a crafting ingredient specific to your racial style. At first you will have to craft your own race’s gear but from what I understand you will eventually be able to find motifs that allow you to craft in the style of other races or you can purchase them from other players. I’m not sure how rare the drop is but if you are into crafting, collecting these motifs provides a sizeable endgame focus. If you like to adventure you can try and collect them in the open world or you could make money from crafting and use it to buy additional motifs in order to make even more money through crafting. With eight races (in addition to your own) and seven pieces of gear there are a lot of style motifs to collect.

9Researching Traits

Next, traits can be applied to crafted item. However I don’t know much about this aspect of crafting because I have yet to use it on anything I have made. What I do know is that I can take gear and use it to research traits which can eventually be applied to a crafted item of the same type. Each item has nine possible traits to research that can change the effectiveness of enchantments, increase spell resistance, improve the speed at which you level up weapon skills, or a number of other buffs. However researching a trait on one item does not allow the use of that trait on another item. For example with carpentry there are five weapons that can be crafted, each with nine possible traits. That’s forty-five traits you’ll need to research for wooden weapons alone.

8Improving Gear

Later you will also have the option to upgrade the quality of your crafted gear to uncommon, rare, epic, etc. This is not necessary for certification but it is helpful to know for later on when you want to make something for your character to use. The upgrade is applied after the item is made and each tier requires a unique ingredient. For every single use of the required ingredient you gain a 20% chance to upgrade the item. If you want a guaranteed upgrade you will need 5 of the upgrade ingredients. You will not receive enough early on to craft a full set of green quality gear, but you will have plenty to craft one or two items to fill any holes in your gear set.

Once you have crafted your first item, return to Millenith. She will inspect what you’ve made and then ask you to deconstruct it, a process by which you take the gear you no longer need or cannot use and turn it into materials for crafting. I love it when games add this to the crafting system, it gives you a meaningful use for all the gear that would otherwise be vendor trash. When you deconstruct an item you have a chance of getting the base material, racial style ingredients, or even the materials required for upgrading gear. However inventory management is a problem in this game so I destroy all of the racial ingredients that do not match my own, knowing I can purchase them from a crafting vendor later when I get the required motifs.

7Deconstructing Gear

Don’t cry Fahd’ali Azim, you can always make another one!

Once you’ve deconstructed your first piece of gear you will be able to complete the quest chain with Millenith and participate in the daily crafting writs. I have found that by casually gathering while I level I do not come across enough basic materials to do the writs every day but enough to do them a few times a week. After completing your first certification, Millenith will ask if you would like to begin another. All of the fabrication professions work as I have just described, so it simply requires repeating the process but with different materials. By the time you have completed all three you will feel very comfortable with crafting gear in ESO.

I’ll stop there for this week, but hopefully you can already see that whether you are serious about crafting or only want to participate casually the system has a lot of potential. You can keep it simple and still be able to provide yourself with the gear you need as you level or you can make crafting a focus for your gameplay and there will be enough choices while making gear to keep it interesting and enough traits to research and motifs to gather to keep you occupied. Between the user-friendly UI and the approachable tutorial getting into crafting in ESO is simple even if the process is not. Next time I’ll take a look at crafting consumables—alchemy, enchanting and provisioning. Each one is a little different so I’ll try to walk through how each one works as much as I can.

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State of the Rez: I’m Not Good at Making Decisions

This week has been a productive one for me in both Final Fantasy XIV and The Elder Scrolls Online. I renewed my subscription to Final Fantasy XIV last week and since then I’ve managed to level the Rogue class up from 10 to 32, Pugilist up to 15, and then I also completed the introductory quest line for Ninja. That puts me at three Jobs in the thirties: Black Mage (39), Warrior (31), and now Ninja (32) with the Arcanist class close behind at level 27. However despite all that time spent leveling in FFXIV, the Black Mage is my highest level Job at 39. I have yet to reach 50 because I continue to change focus.

This happens to me in an MMO after I take a break from the game for a few months and then come back. That’s not the only reason though, it can also happen when I get bored with the class I’m playing or I convince myself that all the classes I’m NOT playing would be a better fit. Nevertheless, I’m really enjoying the Rogue and Ninja playstyle and I’ve got a good feeling about making it all the way to 50 this time. My only level 100 in World of Warcraft at the moment is a Rogue so it seems to be my class archetype of choice right now.

Because I’ve already played the story quest line up to level 34, I’ve had to work on the Rogue/ Ninja via fates, levequests, and dungeons. I enjoy the kind of focused grind this presents, but at this point I’m dangerously close to burnout which is why I’ve been toggling back and forth between Final Fantasy and The Elder Scrolls Online. And FFXIV is not the only game in which I’ve been indecisive on class choice lately either. I started a Sorcerer in ESO this week. There is a multi-game guild that I have played with in Rift and Final Fantasy XIV that has an ESO chapter which I recently joined. However my Argonian dragonknight is in the Ebonheart Pact and this guild is mostly in the Daggerfall Covenant so I decided to try out a new character that would allow me to group up with my guild more often.

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While I am enjoying the Sorcerer— possibly more than the Dragonknight— I have not been terribly impressed with the guild. There tends to be anywhere from four to seven people on at any given time and I have yet to see any conversation in guild chat. Granted I have not spoken up either but I expect more socialization than that in a guild and I think that existing members should provide opportunities to socialize for newer members, not the other way around. Thankfully ESO allows you to be a part of several guilds, though I must confess I have no idea how that works or what the limitations are. In theory this should allow me to continue associating with my present guild in the event that the situation gets better while also providing me the opportunity to find a more active guild environment.

I’m also torn about whether to continue playing the Sorcerer which I prefer or the Dragonknight which I have progressed further. Considering the success I’ve had lately with Rogue archetypes, perhaps I should give the Nightblade a try. The problem is that I’ve already lost some momentum by switching classes and I can tell my interest in the game is waning. It’s not the game itself though, that I still really enjoy. Knowing that I have a good week or two ahead of me before I’m at the same point of progress with my Sorcerer as I am with my Dragonknight is what discourages me from logging in or playing for more than an hour. I have temporarily abandoned games before because I have rerolled too much early on and I do not want that to happen here.

Regardless of what I decide long term, I do plan on staying with the Sorcerer until I’ve completed the introductory quests for some of the crafting professions so that I can get some screenshots and take notes for an upcoming post on ESO crafting. Perhaps I’ll dig a little deeper into FFXIV crafting as well so that I can compare and contrast what I think are both wonderful crafting systems.

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As for other future posts, I’m considering doing a series inspired by the conversations I’ve seen on women and sexual objectification in video games. What I would like to write is a series of posts exploring biblical womanhood. There is a lot of rich content in the bible on the subject and while I am aware of some of it I have never taken the opportunity to study it all first hand and in depth. So rather than voice an opinion on the MMO gaming industry and the treatment of female players and NPCs in video games I will hopefully be offering a broader picture of what it means theologically to be a woman. Since I am a man this should be interesting so get your popcorn ready. To avoid looking completely foolish I would like to have my wife proofread before I post. As my editor she will be provided with a red pen and when necessary, a large foam baseball bat.

At least I hope it will be made of foam.

For this weekend I should either have an initial post ready for the series on biblical womanhood or a post on an introduction to crafting in ESO. I also plan on gaining those last two levels in FFXIV so that I can jump back into the main storyline. Hopefully I will have made a choice on which class to pursue in ESO as well before I completely stall in an MMO that has otherwise been tremendously fun for me. In fact, if anyone has any insight in choosing a class for the Elder Scrolls or general advice on overcoming my chronic indecision I’m open to suggestions.

Or maybe I’m not. I don’t know.

Why I’m Enjoying The Elder Scrolls Online (But Renewed My Sub to Final Fantasy XIV Anyway)

When I was first invited to the Elder Scrolls Beta last year I was excited to try something new. I had never played an Elder Scrolls game before (unless you count the time I purchased Morrowind in college but did not have a PC capable of running it) and I was curious. However after ten minutes into the first person gameplay and the stiff NPCs I logged off and uninstalled the game and did not give it a second thought.

Later I did learn that third person gameplay was an option (oops) however it was not until the announcement of ESO going buy-to-play that I decided to purchase a copy and give it a second try. So far I’ve been surprisingly charmed by the world of Tamriel and the gameplay mechanics that are a refreshing change for someone familiar with MMOs but not the Elder Scrolls franchise. However despite the many virtues there is still something missing in my play sessions and as such I have renewed my subscription to Final Fantasy XIV in order to supplement what is lacking.

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Probably the biggest draw to the Elder Scrolls MMO for me is the immersive world of Tamriel. From the landscape itself to the people who inhabit it, ESO has submerged me into the people and places I’m surrounded by like few other MMOs have. Historically I’ve never been one to take screenshots, generally I forget about them but with the Elder Scrolls I’ve been filling my screenshot folder with pictures of torch-lit caverns, ethereal NPC spirits, and towering stone sculptures. The lighting in this game is brilliant, most of my outdoor photos are taken at dawn when the Michael Bay lens glare is at its best.

However I don’t think the only reason I am taking more screenshots is because the scenery is beautiful. That’s true of several other games I’ve played as well. The Elder Scrolls has encouraged me to really look at my surroundings more than other titles because the stock UI is so unobtrusive that I’m not caught up staring at the window instead of the landscape on the other side. In fact, the UI is so minimalistic that I have on several occasions taken my screenshots only later to realize I forgot to hide the UI, a mistake I would never make in a game crowded with action bars, mini maps, chat logs, and other forms of dashboard clutter.

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Stories are the other reason why I’m so engrossed with ESO. I’ve never been able to keep up with game lore, even when I really want to engage with lore and read everything as I quest in order to capture it all. Twenty four hours later I’ve usually already forgotten the main theme of the zone. Thankfully, ESO remedies this by keeping a steady focus throughout the zones and by providing the occasional recap. Quest chains can be quite long but several times throughout an NPC will remind you what you’re doing and why. It may seem a little forced at times but I don’t care, I need the reminders!

It helps that the stories are also interesting enough to remember. At some point I’d like to write summaries of a few of these adventures but so far I’ve confronted a military leader from my own faction when he grew mad with grief over the death of his son and as a result nearly collapsed our own offensive strategy, I’ve wrestled with the moral dilemma of whether to help or hinder slaves who have released terrible spirits to enact revenge against their wicked masters, and I’ve investigated a mysterious cult which conveniently appeared with a cure after a deadly disease plagued the people of Deshaan. These are all details I remember because the stories were so compelling and well developed.

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In addition to the world of ESO, the gameplay has also captured my attention. If you’ve played Skyrim (or possibly some of the other Elder Scrolls games) you may not be as impressed, but as someone new to the franchise this particular execution of action combat and class building is refreshing. Combat utilizes both the mouse and the keyboard with the mouse controlling basic offensive and defensive maneuvers while the keyboard controls swappable weapon sets that include abilities from class and weapon skill trees. This brings me to the most exciting aspect of ESO class building: the inexhaustible possibilities for character customization. ESO uses a single pool of skill points to improve your character’s class, weapon, armor, crafting, and other skill sets. The end result (at least in theory as a level 18 DragonKnight) is a myriad of choices with appropriate consequences. You can max out all of the crafting professions if you want, but it will probably hinder your combat. You could become a weapons master but at the expense of being unable to wear multiple armor types or use a greater range of class skills and so on.

And there is a whole lot more I could add to my list of why I like this game. I could talk about the crafting system, the voice acting, the in game menus, and the open world dungeons to name a few. But instead I’d like to point out what has been missing from my gameplay experience (not necessarily the game itself), and why I have renewed my subscription to Final Fantasy XIV. The short version? I’m missing out on the small group instanced dungeons. And that’s a big problem for me because I love dungeons, they are one of my favorite types of content in MMOs.

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Despite having picked up a quest for the first instanced dungeon, I haven’t even attempted to find a group because I’m not sure if my build is any good. Ironically, the very skill tree system that I find so enjoyable while solo leveling is also the reason why I have not had the pleasure of experiencing ESO’s dungeons. It is one thing for me to play around with different weapons and skills with little concern for effectiveness while I’m out in the world questing. If I’m not crafting a viable build the only person affected is me, no big deal. If corpse running were in the Olympics I’d be a serious competitor. However once I step into a dungeon and I’m given a specific role there are certain expectations and I have no way of knowing whether I will be able to meet them or not until it is too late to make corrections.

In a game like this with so many options but little in-game direction for how to craft a tanking or healing build, I will shy away from group content until I feel more certain. Sure, I could go online and look up the “correct” builds and eventually I probably will but for now I don’t want to lose the opportunity to be playful and experiment with class concepts so unless I find a guild or a group of people who won’t mind a few mistakes due to a potentially weaker build I will continue to avoid instanced dungeons and strictly solo as a bow wielding, plate wearing, fire breathing Argonian.

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Instead, I renewed my subscription to FFXIV. It is classic MMO combat, class building, and group content and I’m okay with that. These are the systems that attracted me to the genre in the first place. Even though I’ve never progressed very far in the game and I’m still learning the specific dungeons I can nevertheless be confident that when I queue as a tank I will have the correct abilities and gear because they are given to me in a neat, satisfyingly predictable package. Familiarity is a comforting thing when braving new territory, it is secure. I need that from time to time. So while I’m exploring new prospects in ESO (and really enjoying it!) I will also take a step into Eorzea here and there to run some dungeons in a familiar setting and hopefully make some progress there as well.