This is the next in a series of game guides I’ll be writing for Crew Skills, discussing various systems of game mechanics to help everyone get up to speed nice and fast. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
This post has been prepared based on my experiences in the beta, and relies on information from the various SWTOR beta tests. It’s based on the crafting system present in the big all-hands beta weekend, and the smaller final weekend test afterwards. I’ll keep the post updated as much as possible. Some of this material has also been revamped from my older posts, now that we have a better idea of how the system works.
And now, at last we get to the meat and drink: the crafting system and its mechanics! Please note that the crafting skills changed quite a lot before the big all-hands beta weekend at the end of November, and many guides on other sites present a much more complex crafting system. At some point in the last couple of months, that crafting system was simplified into what you see here.
Crew Skills And What They Do
“Crew Skills” is the collective term for the various crafting skills in SWTOR, and the other tradeskills that support them. Crew Skills are divided into three types: Gathering Skills (collecting raw materials), Crafting Skills (turning raw materials into useful items), and Mission Skills (performing ‘activities’ that give you gear and other rewards).
You can have a total of three Crew Skills, only one of which can be a Crafting skill (although it doesn’t have to be). Your companions will perform many of the tasks of the crew skills system for you; they use your skills to do this, rather than each having their own skills.
These are the skills that actually involve turning raw materials into finished products – armor, weapons, or other gear, depending on which skill you select. They’re performed by your companions back on your ship, and can be completed by the companion while you’re offline. Crafting generally takes at least a minute per item; complex, advanced, high-level recipes may take hours to complete. To mitigate that somewhat, you can have more than one companion crafting items simultaneously, provided they’re not busy with another mission or accompanying you. You can also queue up to five crafting projects to be completed before your companion returns.
Armormech constructs armor pieces for non-Force users. This uses raw materials from Scavenging, and rare materials from Underworld Trading.
Armstech constructs blaster weapons, melee weapons and blaster mods for non-Force users. This uses raw materials from Scavenging, and rare materials from Investigation.
Cybertech makes droid upgrades, offhand items for non-Force-users, grenades, and armor and weapon mods, and Earpiece equipment. It can apparently also craft some vehicles and ship upgrades. It uses raw materials from Scavenging, and rare materials from Underworld Trading. (Note: the offhand items may have been moved to Artifice – I’ll update when I know more!)
Synthweaving makes armor for Force users. This uses raw materials from Archaeology, and rare materials from Underworld Trading.
Artifice makes offhand items, armor mods and weapon mods for Force users. At high levels there are also craftable lightsabers. This uses raw materials from Archaeology, and rare materials from Treasure Hunting.
Biochem makes consumables (medpacks and stat-buffing booster items) and Implant equipment. It uses raw materials from Bioanalysis, and rare materials from Diplomacy.
This category is fairly straightforward. It involves collecting raw materials, which can then be used in crafting professions or sold for profit.
These skills can be performed by the player character or their active companion while adventuring out in the world. You can also send your companion out on a mission to gather resources without you; this costs credits and time, and they may fail, but it’s a good way of getting resources that you don’t want to (or can’t) hunt down yourself.
Archaeology – this involves acquiring “imbued items like lightsaber crystals and ancient artifacts”. It provides raw materials for Synthweaving and Artificing.
Bioanalysis – this allows collection of “genetic material from creatures and plants”. It supplies materials for Biochem. You can also Bioanalyse dead animals of Strong or greater difficulty.
Scavenging – this involves “recovering useful materials and parts from old or damaged technology”. It provides raw materials for Armormech, Armstech, and Cybertech crafting skills. You can also Scavenge dead droids of Strong or greater difficulty.
Slicing – this skill lets you and your companion hack into computers and other electronic devices. It doesn’t give any crafting materials directly – instead, it mostly gives credits, with the chance to acquire Cybertech schematics, Augment item modifications, and special unlockable high-yield missions for other crew skills.
If you take a Mission Skill as one of your three Crew Skills, you can send one of your companions off to another location in the galaxy to carry out a mission for you. These missions cost credits, but can reap big rewards. Mostly the missions are drawn from a pool of randomly-generated choices, but sometimes your actions can unlock special/rare missions with big rewards. Slicing can also open up special missions.
Diplomacy can provide companion gifts, rare materials for Biochem, and can affect your Light & Dark Side points for morality alignment.
Investigation can provide companion gifts, rare materials for Armstech, and schematics for all Crafting Skills.
Treasure Hunting can provide companion gifts, rare materials for Artifice, and the same lockboxes as Slicing (which contain credits and sometimes gear).
Underworld Trading can provide companion gifts, and rare materials for Armormech, Cybertech and Synthweaving.
The system of resources, who gathers them, and who uses them, used to be fairly complex and interlinked, and there have been guides floating around the net with complicated diagrams about how all the different skills interrelate.
BioWare has done away with all that (unfortunately, in my opinion), and now your skill choices are pretty simplistic. There are very obvious sets of three skills that go together, with no real variety in what’s a useful choice (unless you’re going to be purely a gatherer to make money or support crafters).
With that said, let’s look at some of the skill combinations:
- Armor: Synthweaving, Archaeology, Underworld Trading.
- Weapons/Misc: Artifice, Archaeology, Treasure Hunting. Note that this doesn’t allow you to craft Lightsabers until the endgame, but you can make lightsaber mods and offhand items at all levels.
- Armor: Armormech, Scavenging, Underworld Trading.
- Weapons: Armstech, Scavenging, Investigation.
- Consumables: Biochem, Bioanalysis, Diplomacy.
- Mods and Other Stuff: Cybertech, Scavenging, Underworld Trading. (You could substitute Slicing in for Underworld Trading.) (Note that Cybertech makes offhands for non-Force-users, but everything else is suitable for anyone.)
- Gathering to support other characters: Archaeology, Bioanalysis, Scavenging.
- Moneymaking: Bioanalysis, Scavenging, Slicing. (I suggest Slicing rather than Archaeology here because there are no enemies whose corpses you can Archaeologise the way you can Bioanalyse dead animals and Scavenge dead droids, and it’s worth taking Slicing for the credit rewards.)
Some have suggested just taking three gathering skills while you level, and then switching to a crafting skill when you’re near the skill cap. If you’re actually interested in crafting I’d advise against this, because unlike some other MMOs, crafted gear is extremely competitive with quest and flashpoint rewards as you level, and there are enough schematics that you can upgrade your gear every few levels. If you’re going to put in the effort to level your crafting skill, it’d be a waste not to make use of what you create.
With thanks to commenters Shikao, Agathorn, Matt and Stop for their input!
Coming in the next post: a guide to the crafting interface and mechanics, aka “how it all actually works”.