Very early on, I decided I wanted my first character to craft, supply my alts and just work on being a rich dude. Playing through several betas gave me a chance to see how it would all play out: would I gimp myself by putting a lot of points into crafting? The short answer is no; with a few points spent strategically in other combat skills you can take on multiple enemies of higher level than you if you play smart. Good kiting skills can make the difference too, and I do try to remember to use provisions even when just out gathering in the world.
Decide your specialization, with play style in mind
Want some sticker shock? Many NPC vendors have crafted, improved and/or enchanted armor & weapons for sale, but it tends to cost 2-3x the average quest reward in a starting area to buy 1 piece! I went lean & mean; I bought nothing, just got some drops as I quested, and collected everything I could find. When I got back to town, I crafted everything I could, disassembled items I found and made and generally repeated this until the resource ran out. I got all crafts to at least 10, and Alchemy to 47 before I left the starter province for Ebonheart (Stonefalls).
Perhaps I will save some of you some time: I would have gotten even further had I truly realized I liked the Light Armor the best (Clothing), Destruction Staves for my Sorcerer (Woodworking), had no use for metal weapons or armor, and wanted to master both Alchemy and Enchanting. Now I mostly sell metal armor/items/ingots and such, and only put points into the two I’m going to master, but do work on leveling the other two (mainly for the utility of crafting my own armor & such). Think about what abilities you want to have at max level, and don’t spend points yet if you’re not sure! A re-spec costs money, dying only a soul gem. If undecided whether to put that point into crafting, ask yourself if you will soon be taking on higher level enemies than what you faced recently.
Speed of levelling different crafts
Each craft has a different speed of leveling, based on mats gathering time and how good your visual acuity/Keen Eye skills are. I found Provisioning to be the easiest; most ingredients are in old barrels and such. I got that one to 24 before I left Stonefalls, and it is worth it: I always have something on me to increase the max level of a stat or the recovery rate of it. This is very helpful, because regenerating in the middle of a fight makes a huge difference, though I prefer the one for Magicka regen if in a group (with tanks and healers backing me, I just want more spells and explodey time). Woodworking and Clothing I found to be similar in time spent leveling, although Cloth, like Metalworking has many more items than Woodworking. Many different armor and weapon types means more time spent researching and unlocking traits from weapons you’ve discovered; while they may all level similarly, acquiring the different recipes is a lengthy process. My 2 favorites, from ESO back to the days of Morrowind and Oblivion, were always Alchemy & Enchanting. My name’s IntrinsicJim, and there’s no better way than to be intrinsic than to provide high-level consumable AND permanent buff-type items to players! I ran around gathering this stuff a LOT, and found out that runestones just don’t spawn as often as herbs or most other resources. ALWAYS break down your glyphs, to help you level, unless you’re equipping one. If you find a good price on Potency stones, buy them: they are the linchpin runestone, and less common.
Alchemy is great, but if you’re in an area far from water sources, you’re gonna (eventually) have a bad time if you don’t have any for potions! Try to remember these spots; the general rule is if you’re gathering one water for every 2 herbs you get you’ll always have enough. I start by combining the herbs I have the most quantity of and then move down. Eventually you can start making some cool hybrid potions that heal both magicka and health, for example.
***BIG hint for Enchanters & Alchemists (Ebonheart Pact)!
I’m in Deshaan now, and don’t use this spot anymore, but…there is a VERY high resource area in the NW corner of the map! Get to Zabamat Dolmen, and keep it on your right. Keep going N/NW, you’ll hit a little valley, with a river running through it that goes through an underpass of a bridge. There’s 2 runestone spawn spots past the bridge, 2-3 before it, and lots of herbs. Even better, I get 6-9 waters per loop, so grinding for mats here is worth it and necessary if focusing on crafting! Full Crafting Guides
No, I do NOT feel guilty giving this info out. You are appreciated, just for reading this, and anyone who makes use of the above will be doing it to craft (and hopefully be a resource to others). Folks who want to do a little of everything and focus on pvp, max-levelling and combat won’t have the patience anyway. Somebody’s gotta make them their stuff, right? 🙂