It has come to this. I am about to work for the post office. This is after their incompetence led to the destruction of an entire city and the death of Dirk Mudbrick. (That’s how I see it, anyway.) Then I took a bunch of mail and threw it away. In front of the postmaster. Multiple times. While maintaining eye contact. And humming.
The upshot being, I do not have a warm relationship with the Shire Post. But if I want fancy dresses and expensive dye, then I need money. And if I want money I need a job. And this is the best job around.
Which is a shame, because this is a terrible job.
Note that one of the terms of the job is that I can’t be spotted by any Nosy Hobbits while doing a delivery. This is made somewhat more difficult by the fact that there are armies of the little buggers watching the roads day and night. This means that instead of using the nice open roads I have to wade into swamps, push through bramble bushes, tumble over cliffs, and sprint screaming through wolf dens. By the time I arrive the mail is covered in bite marks and blood, and smells like the ass end of a toad. But nobody saw me delivering it, which seems to be all that the post office cares about.
From Little Delving to Michel Delving to Waymeet to Needlehole to Michel Delving again to Tuckburogh to Hobbiton to Oh god my legs are tired. Overhill to Bywater to I really wish I was killing spiders instead of this. Frogmorten to Woodhall to Stock to The postman will DIE by my hand. to Budgeford to Scary to What the hell kind of town name is “Scary”, anyway? Brockenborings.
Thirteen silver. That’s all I have to show for single-handedly delivering all of the mail in the Shire, a task which hasn’t been accomplished since the Shire Post was founded a thousand years ago and the very first mailmain threw the first load of mail into a ditch. I stagger back into Michel Delving, footsore and ashamed.
And now I need another job.
Maybe I’m going about this all wrong. The people of the Shire seem to be able to afford homes and food without needing to resort to unsavory practices like killing giant spiders, murdering people, or delivering mail. I can’t help but think that maybe they might be onto something. Maybe instead of doing odd jobs I should just settle down and make a career for myself.
How about farming? Farming is a thing people do. Doesn’t look that hard.
It’s just waiting for crops to grow, right? I find someone in town willing to teach me, and I make myself a farmer.
I don’t own land, but there’s some communal land I can use for the growing of crops. I decide to grow pipe-weed. Pipe-weed is always in demand, so that should be fairly profitable.
I may not like my current outfit, but I’d like it even less if it was stained with dirt, tobacco, and manure. So I get some work clothes.
At the fields, I get the supplies I’ll need for making pipe-weed crops. A bucket of water, some seed, and a handful of fertilizer.
Uh… handful? Why do they sell this stuff by the handful? Ok, I’m a big girl and I understand that being a farmer means dealing with animal feces. But is this an appropriate unit of measure? Not pound? Not kilogram? Not barrel, bucket, bushel, cart-load, cusec, dollop, dram, epha, hogshead, ounce, peck, pennyweight, scoop, shovelful, stone, or thirdendeal? I suppose it’s better than measuring the stuff in terms of “mouthfuls”, but still.
I tell the supplier he can measure it out and I’ll just take his word for it.
I stride out into the field and plant my stuff. Now, I’m not a fool. I realize that growing crops takes time. Didn’t expect this would be instant. I wait patiently for thirty seconds until the crops are fully grown and ready to harvest.
I make with the reaping, and put the fresh pipe-weed in my pocket. Then return to the vendor to buy another bucket of water and another fistful of horse splat. I repeat the process a few times, but it’s kind of annoying to keep going back for water and waste every single time I want to grow another crop. So after making sure nobody else is looking, I buy 100 buckets of water and 100 handfuls of ick. I slip them into my pockets with all the other stuff I’m carrying and walk away whistling nonchalantly.
I spend most of the day in back-breaking labor. Plant. Then harvest. Then take the crops out and separate the seeds for the next batch of crops and bundle up the good weed for sale. Rinse, repeat. It’s slow, hot toil in the dirt and sun, but I comfort myself with the thought that my riches will make me the envy of Hobbit-kind.
Finally I take my bounty to market to see how much I’ve brought in. Hopefully I can head to the auction house next.
Let’s see… it was 4 silver for the 100 buckets of water, 4 silver for the seed, and 4 silver for the crap. At the end of the day, I’ve turned all of that into 400 bales of pipe-weed. Which are worth exactly 12 silver. For all of them. So, I did all of that farming in order to break exactly even.
No, wait. I spoke too soon. I forgot to count the 6 silver I spent repairing my equipment. And the 6 silver I spent on the outfit. So, not only did I not make any money, I actually spend all the money I did make earlier by humiliating myself for the Shire Post.
Tobacco gives a good return.
We grow this crop, then make it burn.
Taters and onions are grown a lot.
Must be why they’re worth jack squat.
Rice and wheat, barley and hops.
These are what we call “drinking crops”.
Peas and cabbage? I like to grow them.
But worth so little I’d rather mow them.
Trees give apples red, green and brown.
I don’t know why we chop them down?
From tiny seeds to great big plants.
We grow these things to pay for pants!
Games usually make crafting systems a money sink because the designers don’t want players to be able to trivialize the economy. More importantly, if crafting easily resulted in a net gain then it would strongly encourage people to use automated scripts, and it would basically be rolling out the red carpet for the gold farmers.
Still, remember not to include crafting in your get-rich quick schemes.
The end of a long day. I stop to enjoy the fruits of my labor and reflect on what cheerful, peaceful, and Happy souls Hobbits are, and how I’d punch each and every one of them in the face for some fancy Elf clothes.
Next morning. I need to find another job. Let’s try the tavern. That’s always a good place for adventurers in need of work.
Inside, I slump down at the bar and bartender Carlo Blagrove slides a mug in front of me. I wave him off. I’m suffering from a dreadful thirst, but I can’t afford luxuries like food and drink while I’m saving up for clothes.
“On the house!”, he assures me with a cheerful nod.
Gratefully I tip the mug, take a drink, and then spray it back into his face with much terrified hacking and coughing.
“Not so good, then?”, he asks dejectedly.
“Goblin piss.”, I assure him once I’ve caught my breath.
And then in a complete role-reversal, the bartender begins to tell the weary customer all about his problems. “See, I’ve been entering my ale in the All-Farthing Brewing Moot every year like clockwork for the last fifty years.”
The fumes from the complementary ale are making my eyes water. I slide the mug away from my face. “I take it you… haven’t won?”
“No.”, he admits. “Now, my granddad used to win every year when he ran this place. And the thought comes to me now that maybe he had a recipe written down someplace.
“So, you served bilge water for fifty years before it even occurred to you to look for your grandfather’s secret recipe?”
“If it’s anywhere, it will be in the records room in the Great Smials over in Tuckborough.”
“And you think he hid his top-secret formula… in the library?”
“If you can recover it for me, I’ll give you a glass on the house.”
“You want me to march cross-country and recover the secret of Awesome Ale, and in return you’ll give me… a glass of ale?”
“And ninety coppers!”
On one hand, I’m not keen on helping someone who just poisoned me. On the other hand… eh. I’ve done worse for 90 coppers. I raise my glass, “Sold!” I put the glass down without drinking from it.
I hike over to Tuckborough. I should point out that this is a lot less fun without a satchel of mail to inexplicably speed my footsteps. And I can’t look forward to throwing away any mail when I arrive, either. This really takes the fun out of things.
The Great Smials is a big network of Hobbit-holes. It’s a vast complex of mansions and tunnels. It’s possible that somewhere in this dizzying labyrinth there may or may not be an Ale Recipe, left hidden and untouched since Old Blagrove died and his grandson started making ale from fermented spider juice”Juice” in this case being a euphemism for, “You don’t want to know what they do to the spider to get this stuff unless you’re a lady spider, and even then it’s not exactly something which will sound like the makings of a tasty beverage..
Pausing at the main entrance, I steel myself for the coming hunt. If the recipe has been lost for half century, then it must be well-hidden indeed.
The library is on the left as I go in. The recipe is sitting on top of a bookshelf.
Back at the tavern, I present Carlo with the recipe. I didn’t bother to read it myself, but hopefully near the top it will explain in easy-to-follow terms that you shouldn’t bathe your barnyard animals in the ale and then filter it through a sweat-stained undershirt. I think these are things he needs to know.
Carlos thanks me and presents me with ninety copper and a mug of his current batch of ale.
Now, seeing as how the ale is actually worth less than negative ninety copper, this entire errand has ended in a net loss for me. I fix this by dumping the ale outside and chucking the tainted mug into the bushes where hopefully it won’t do any further harm.
I look around to see if anyone else needs my particular brand of help. There are several people standing near the mayor.
Rollo Newbuck. He wants to pay me to play hide and seek with children. I need money, but I have far too much self respect to degrade myself like that.
Just kidding. I’ve actually forgotten what self respect feels like by this point. I tell Rollo I’ll do whatever he wants as soon as the word “coppers” crosses his lips.
Next Time: Easy as pie!
 ”Juice” in this case being a euphemism for, “You don’t want to know what they do to the spider to get this stuff unless you’re a lady spider, and even then it’s not exactly something which will sound like the makings of a tasty beverage.
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28 thoughts on “Lord of the Rings Online #10: Gold Farming”
In The Old Republic it was trivial to make huge amounts of money through crafting and selling to players (Like I could make enough profit on one lightsaber to break the money cap for F2P players).
That never made any sense to me, to this day I still don’t understand why people would spend hundreds of thousands on items that like 1/6th of the playerbase could produce for themselves (at a 2,000% markup) and would be irrelevant in a couple of levels time. It made me wonder if everyone else in the game was super rich and just buying overpriced items in the auction house for the lulz.
For SWTOR, it might either be that people are willing to spend the money on an alt that is trivial for their main character, which is entirely logical. If I can grind enough money to buy a lowbie lightsaber in a matter of seconds on my main, it is more efficient to do that than spend ten minutes gathering mats and crafting it for my alt. That’s one good source of income.
It might also be that people want a large quantity of items for reverse engineering to learn more advanced schematics, although *why* they want more advanced schematics for low level items is anyone’s guess.
In WoW you could make good money selling stuff for twinks. PvP was level bracketed (I don’t know if it still is), e.g. 10-19, 20-29, 30-30 etc. Some people enjoyed making alts, getting them to level 29, and buying the very best gear possible for a level 29 to be unstoppable in PvP. (I vaguely remember that twinks are no longer a thing, due to it no longer being possible to reliably stick at level 29 and not advance, but I might be wrong).
Also in WoW you could sell low level crafting stuff for people levelling enchanting, since they needed huge quantities of items to disenchant into dusts and essences for enchanting materials. So they needed to buy lots of items (it was a real money sink).
The best way to make money in the crafing economy is to sell raw materials though, in the vast majority of MMOs. In WoW this was particularly true after the expansions mounted up and the amount of money inflated exponentially. In vanilla, you had to be very careful to get enough money for a mount at level 40. By the 2nd or 3rd expansion you could make that much by level 10 without trying just selling a few stacks of copper on the auction house, because it was absoltely no money at all to a level 80-90 character who wanted to switch crafting professions (and from their point of view, they could buy all the copper they needed for a trivial amount of money that they could earn in one quest, or spend a few hours mining it themselves. Which would you do?)
Crafting, aggregated over the whole population, is actually a big source of money into the economy (raw materials are generated out of thin air and can be sold for money, and the few ingredients you have to buy from vendors don’t generally outweight that), but you have to think a bit to make sure that that money is going to you in aggregate, rather than other people. But for low level characters, the amount of money you put in or take out is miniscule compared to what higher levels are doing, so it is generally easy to leverage the laziness of high level characters in some way to get rich – by the standards of your level – very quickly.
+1 to the resources thing.
I was playing Runescape back in the day, killing chickens as a low level character for food, and someone was asking for feathers (These dropped when the bird died, as well as the food item). I had a few, and offered them for sale. Turned out they wanted millions of feathers for crafting, and were willing to pay quite a bit for them.
At the drop rate, I worked out it would have taken a couple of weeks of solid work to get that number of feathers.
I seriously don’t know people would do that without making multiple trades to accumulate that quantity.
I read some ‘get rich in Runescape’ type guides, and it boiled down to doing some basic stuff to get a load of money together, then mess about with trades getting bigger amounts of money by trading larger quantities.
Yes, they killed twinking by making battlegrounds give experience. They had an option to turn off experience gain on a character to let twinks stick around, but… taking that option also placed you in a twink-specific queue for BGs to keep matching fair. The number of twinks wasn’t too small, but I suspect a lot of them got into it for the stomping (rather than the interesting play of facing other twinks) and so it pretty quickly died off. At least, I never heard of or saw twinking in the time following that change.
I actually did a bit of it once with some friends, though only at the 19 bracket… and there were so many other twinks there it was usually pretty even anyways. Kind-of fun, actually.
It was an important and long overdue measure. And the aftermath of the change showed clearly: most of the level 19, level 29 etc. twinks were in it solely for stomping players of lower level and weaker equipment. Good riddance.
The problem WoW has now is that there are far too many players participating in the auction house to really get a good idea of what is or isn’t profitable.
Selling raw materials might be profitable, but when the economy is saturated, it’s only barely so. For a lot of materials, if you can sell a stack of (say) copper ore for 10 silver, then most people are selling it on the auction house for 11 silver. You can net a profit, but you have to move tremendous volume just to do anything reasonable.
Oh, people still hit the gold cap in WoW, and often on multiple characters. The thing is, doing so frequently means spending a lot of time working the auction house, using outside programs to do so. It generally means tracking patterns in purchasing and price fluctuations. It practically becomes a job in itself, which is why I never did more than supplement my questing income by selling stuff on the auction house. I just didn’t care enough to spend my precious gaming time tracking numbers like that.
Yepp. After having experienced this system (Rift has it, for example, too), I have made it one of my rules regarding MMORPGs: if I can’t choose my looks independently of whatever gives me stats (it is not always the armor – see The Secret World), I’ll just give the game a pass. After years of WoW, oscillating between Hilariously Mismatched Clown Suite and Brown Rags Of Brownness (seriously, who the hell thought it was a good idea to make all regular armor you get while levelling in Northrend exactly the shade of brown as mud and shit?), only to end up at max level in the Unwieldy Armor Of Extra Spikes That Still Looks Like Paper Maché – have all the nopes. Give me separate style slots or some way to override the the looks of my armour, or shut up and get none of my money.
What, you’re not a fan of the rainbow pimp gear?
I’ll never fort the tragedy of my statue in cloud ruler temple; hood, dagger (not my axe), heavy armor chest, no pants (I wanted the stature to have my enchanted fishing waiters, but nooo)…
Okay, so it was partly my fault.
WoW has it too, now, with transmoging. It was seriously my favorite change ever at the time.
Heck, it’s hard for me to think of an MMO I’ve experience which doesn’t have something along those lines. It’s that important.
Lotro still has the best outfit system of all the MMOs I’ve ever played. And it’s not that it’s perfect. It can be a bit clumsy, but the freedom you can have with it makes it worth it. Guild Wars 2 could be close if they actually let you make your own custom outfits for the effectively similar outfit slot (which currently only takes these “full suit” outfits that you can only get with a special currency, which you can only get with real money or obscene amounts of gold) and/or just let you change the appearance of your actual gear at will, instead of having to rely on a relatively-hard-to-earn in-game item/currency.
The Secret World is also decent, but your options are kinda limited and more often than not you gotta spend some real money if you want the cool stuff.
Secret World had stats and visuals separated right from the start because stats come from talismans and trinkets that don’t show on the character, clothes and armor are inherently only cosmetic. But yeah, the selection of clothes available without going to the cash shop was rather limited, but the worst part were the sales tactics within the cash shop. Not long after release they began to retire select items each week and add new ones in their stead, in order to pressure anyone who might be interested in a particular piece to buy now or miss out on it forever.
I utterly despise these kind of tactics of artificial scarcity in a digital environment. These items aren’t physical goods that must be produced and can run out of stock, they are just a line in a database. And anyway, all these items are still there, they have to be for the game client to show them, they are only no longer sold in the shop.
I feel that, at this point, I should give praise to Dark Souls’ in-world explanation for wildly mismatched outfits. Not only does it allow the player to wear a combination of gear that makes it look like they got dressed by rolling through a wardrobe, it simulates this by allowing them to actually roll through a bunch of wardrobes, approximately every ten yards.
I can make most of it fit with a military cadence. More or less.
Now I can only read it to The Ballad Of The Green Berets.
Actually shortly after launch, farming was a fairly large gold sink (says the woman who accidentally bankrupted herself and couldn’t avoid training for a bit just by doing it). It’d been quite profitable in beta, and they adjusted the numbers a bit too far the other way.
I made a good chunk of gold farming with low level toons. Hang out in Bree, grow ridiculous amounts of whatever that corresponding level of cooking requires the most of for ingredients, put on AH, occasionally ding from all the farming. Except for not being able to plant more than 5 fields at a time without losing crops, it was a quite relaxing way to spend a bit of a day, plus Bree’s generally got toons running by so you can people-watch too!
I’m reminded of the anime Log Horizon, which had the premise of people being trapped in an MMO as their characters, but then went deep into the politics and economics of such a world. In particular, the NPCs were really freaked out when the player characters started actually interacting with them like people; the NPCs knew that player characters were immortal creatures that loved violence, but before the players themselves were trapped in the game the NPCs knew they could get PCs to do whatever they wanted by offering a trivial amount of money.
This LOTRO series is great! I played around 5 years ago and this does bring back a lot of souvenirs. And it is pretty funny to read.
It got me to actually reinstall the game to check on current status, last week, and … they are celebrating the 9th anniversary until may 08. You can participate in activities that give tokens that you can exchange for some goods, and one of them is really great in my opinion: a beautiful black goat!
It is usually not trivial to get a goat in the game, and they are useful for when you venture in Moria, where you cannot use horses or ponies. So, I got a goat for each of my characters, just in case…
I got a goat for every toon pretty easily by picking up a Moria box off Amazon for 15 bucks a few years ago(for the fancy collector’s ed, no less, so I now have a One Ring too). Not suggesting avoiding the Anniversary event (it’s one of my favs, especially the fireworks!), but that might be another option worth looking into if you can find a physical box w/ an unused code cheap.
That’s an interesting option. Everytime I tried to find something like this, in the past, it was met with failure, and so I just stopped thinking about the possibility.
I love that at least three bags of Lulzy’s inventory are devoted to shoes.
Ha! Well spotted!; like it.
I remember the Champions Online crafting system being something like that. A time sink that would net you items barely better than what you had and much worse than what you could have gotten by simply playing the game. You could craft bags, though, that was pretty nice. But it probably wasn’t worth it to craft them to sell. Again, you’d get more money from spending that time actually playing.
And now that system has been revamped into something… I can’t honestly say if it’s more useless or not, but it really can’t be called crafting anymore.
Ever picked apples? Trust me; if you could grow a new tree in 30 seconds, _everyone_ would cut the blasted things down to get the apples.
Some MMOs being released now lack proper outfit options. One of my favourites – in concept – was in DC Universe Online, an otherwise lackluster game. When you made a character you selected costume bits for your body, arms, legs, etc. Then when you equipped new armour, you’d unlock its appearance in your costume choices. Dying and whatnot was all free as well, I believe.
It lacked actually nice-looking choices, unfortunately, but I liked the system.
I’m still playing Guild Wars 2 now and again with a few friends and one of them was grinding gold like a madman, just so each content patch he could have all the new stuff in a few days by buying everything for ridiculous prices in the auction house.
Not that there still is something with a sensible price tag, even normally useless copper ore got expensive when people started magicing it into iron en masse. Bah. Humbug.
Long-time listener, first-time caller.
This series has been a hoot, and it inspired me to give LOTRO a shot (I didn’t have a PC capable of much beyond NetHack when the game launched). Other than bumbling into a warg that mauled me pretty early on, I’ve had fun with the game so far.
As far as the crafting system goes, did I just luck out when I decided to focus on prospecting and weaponsmithing? I mean, I’m not going to break the game’s economy or anything, but I haven’t noticed my money totals decreasing.
Farming is unique in that you don’t need to leave the farm field to level it and that you buy most of your ingredients from the vendor. With prospecting, most of what you’re spending is time gathering ore and then smelting them into ingots. Though it is possible to skip the first part and just buy the ore from the Auction House, but that’s gonna be a lot more expensive than a Farmer buying his stuff from the vendor.
Ah, that’s an excellent point. The stuff I’ve had for prospecting is really a side effect of my compulsive tendency to click on all of the things. It hadn’t occurred to me that seeds and fertilizer weren’t just out in the environment to be collected.
Doggone it — now I can’t help but imagine Jurassic Park-style piles of poo all over Eriador waiting to be harvested by aspiring farmers.
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