tl;dr: I'm not your chump, chump.
I caught the crafting bug early. As in...open beta early. I enjoy the crafting system. I wish to **** and back that SE would stop tweaking and stealth nerfing it, but I would imagine they're just fine tuning everything right now so I'm trying to roll with the punches. But this isn't a rant about a game system, and hopefully it doesn't come off as much of a rant at all. It's just a story, and there's a lesson involved and that's why I'm sharing.
My first MMO was FFXI. I learned over my time in that game that any MMO is a lot more enjoyable and a lot less frustrating if you attend to business while you're attending to the business of monster slaying. That means taking advantage of the gathering systems the game has in place. It means taking advantage of the crafting systems the game has to multiply your profits. And if a person can manage that, they start earning more game currency than they need to spend and if the game is tuned properly, they even wind up spending less than Joe Average player because a crafter can often make their own goodies.
In no other game is that approach shaping up to be more beneficial than in FFXIV. I can make my own armor now, with bronze bits available to me to last my gladiator into his late 30s. I can make most tier 2 tools and I'll soon be shifting my attention to blacksmithing so that I can make some delicious whacker sticks for my gladiator. (In the meantime, I'm farming on my Thaumaturge and getting some tasty shield skillups in the process).
One thing that I appreciate that SE has done is that they haven't been at all stingy with the drops. It makes managing inventory a bit of a chore right now with the one retainer limitation, but I'm working with it as best I can. What this has meant is that from day one I've always had a surplus of most materials.
A couple of days after CE launched, I joined an LS. Zerg recruitment has never worked out well for me but I had nothing to lose and decided it would be nice to have folks to chat with between crafting binges...I had no intention of seriously pursuing a combat class until I had gotten myself situation for gear and gil. Through the process of getting to know one another, it became known that my focus was on crafting and it just went downhill from there.
It started with some foolish numpty who decided that more than anything else, he wanted a new weapon for his Lancer. I knew I had the goldsmithing skill (if only barely) to make the head and everything else would have been no problem. He kept bugging me for a price. I had no idea what to charge him, and I was in the middle of happily grinding away on one form of rat or another. I quickly tried to recall what I had seen the various different mats selling for,intent on passing along a shiny new Harpoon to him at mat cost. At this time, I hadn't really considered the economy of shards so those didn't even factor into the equation. After a quick search,I also determined that I would need fish glue for the head synthesis, and after he wouldn't leave me alone I finally told him 30k and 3 fish glue (I had mats for 3 heads and wanted a buffer against failures).
At that time, a Harpoon on my server was selling for 60-80k. And with good reason...Soiled Femurs are rare results from mining and if they drop from other things, they aren't a common drop from those either. I had seen them selling for anywhere from 10-15k gil each. The head synthesis required 2. Then there was the matter of the other components that went into the final synth, so again not counting shard value and comparing what i was asking with what I could have earned selling the mats individually, I was taking a loss. And of course, having been saving my gil instead of spending it on mountains of stupid ****, I was looking at the 300-400k I had on hand at the time and thinking 30k would be no big deal.
He agreed to my price and asked where we could meet so that I could make it for him. He was in Ul'dah...I was grinding outside LL. I told him I wouldn't be over that way for at least an hour, at which point he commented that he might as well go farm the rest of the gil he needed to pay for it. That bothered me. What if I had ported directly to him and made it? Was he going to try and convince me to hand it over without full payment? What kind of jackass does that to a complete stranger? I wound up buying the fish glue myself and made 3 harpoons with the other mats I had on hand. When I traded one of the finished ones to him, I took the 30k and the fish glue he had bought. Normally I would have told him to keep the glue, or adjusted the gil amount down to account for it, but I decided to make him suffer a bit for being so presumptuous. I find out after the fact that he went around whining to anyone who would listen that I had overcharged him for something that would have cost him a good amount more (not to mention the time to find someone selling a Harpoon in the first place.)
And it just got worse. Instead of people being intelligent and taking the time to learn about their own class and what gear was suited to it and creating a plan of some sort for how they wanted to gear up, all of a sudden I was getting flooded with daily requests for "pugilist weapons" or "thaumaturge legs" or "archer shoes" and all manner of other **** that suggested very strongly to me that I had cast myself in with a bunch of slack-jawed yokels that wanted nothing more than to grind grind grind their combat class ranks and let someone else do the thinking for them. I eventually started taking a firm line and telling people that if they don't know exactly what they want to go out and determine exactly what they want before they ask me if I can make it.
And then we had one guy...an officer, no less...who had made a small fortune playing the shard market. He'd buy low and sell high in vast quantities and within the first 7-10 days of service, he had amassed over 1 million gil. When he reached about the 1.5 million gil mark, he went on a spending spree. Excluding the 400k he spent on a sword from an NPC vendor, he spent 800k on bronze armor for his gladiator. Armor that most people weren't anywhere near being able to make yet. The fabled Bronce Haubergeon, a Bronze Celeta, etc. etc. 800k. Over 100k per piece, buying at a time when only a small handful of people were making the gear and hundreds of people wanting to get their hands on it. And the whole time he was talking about each piece he was about to buy, I was trying to tell him that i had the mats on hand to skill up to the point where I could make those items and if he wanted to funnel some shards my way from his vast inventory, I could save him a small fortune.
Nope. He had to have it, and he had to have it NOW.
A few days later (last night, in fact), buyer's remorse kicked in. He decided to do his homework after he spent all the gil and found out that no, those items didn't cost anywhere near what he paid for them to make. And so it was that he went on a ranting tirade, decreeing that henceforth, all LS crafters would provide their services at mat cost and be grateful to have someone pay for the materials they use to skill up on. I believe his words were along the lines of, "be thankful for the free xp." This bothered me. I don't like other people dictating to me what I should be charging. My mats, my shards, my time, my choice.
By this time I had already taken to trading shards for gear instead of gil. It just seemed to work out better that way but what I didn't realize was that people who don't craft have no sodding clue what is involved in the process. So when I ask for 200 earth shards and 100 wind shards for a suit of bronze chainmail or sentinel's chainmail, people get uptight. They assume I'm gouging them. Nevermind that it takes 90 shards to go from bronze wire -> bronze vest and sleeves for one suit of armor. Nevermind that in the case of the bronze chain/sentinel's chain, I have to make an entire tabard with weaving that takes another several dozen shards and numerous other materials. All they see is one shiny piece of armor and assume they must be getting hosed.
Last night I made my first bronze haubergeon. I wound up making three of them, actually (out of 4 attempts). I put them in my bazaar at a very reasonable price relative to current market value and when I checked today, they had all sold. I had mentioned in LS chat last night that I had made some because I was excited. It was fun. Took a long time, though. And hundreds of shards.
So I log in today after work and it wasn't long before someone asked me if I had any haubergeons left. I told them no, and that for the time being they were not for sale to LS people. My rationale was simple. There was already too much whining over the cost of this and the cost of that and "oh I'm so broke" and I just couldn't imagine handing over rank 27 gear to rank 16-22 people and having to listen to them ***** about the repair cost. I told them that I would have some available in time, but not right now. Someone asked me what they'd cost, and before i had a chance to answer, the bitter officer from the night before pops up and says (paraphrased), "pffft you shouldn't be charging more than 20k. The mats only cost about 15k and that leaves you 5k profit."
Uhhh...pardon? From base materials to finished product, each piece of armor takes me in the neighborhood of 20-30 minutes to make. Shard cost is not as bad as the lower chain pieces because the haubergeon doesn't require the tabard from weaving as a base material. Regardless, over 100 shards + 1 earth crystal for the final combine on a server where common price of shards is 200g each, that's over 20k in shards right there. So right off the top I've got an officer in the LS telling everyone not to pay me more than it would cost to replace the shards. Thank you, *******, for a) being ignorant b) being a dictatorial prick and c) using your ignorance as cause to make me look like a profiteering jerk. Truth be told, if I were to sell for gil I'd be asking 40-50k from LS mates, or probably 150 earth shards and 50-75 wind shards. That's it. That recovers shard cost and compensates me for some of the materials relative to current prices. I don't mind taking a loss on mats because I have so many, but that doesn't mean I'm going to hand them out to every numpty who decides they want to be uber now now now.
And so I made my position clear and left. I'll find a group of people that wants to do things right and fairly compensate people for their time. i don't need their help. They've got nothing I want, and I've got a whole lot to offer.
The moral of the story is this: as crafting progresses through the ranks, a lot of the synths become very involved. It takes in the neighborhood of 30 individual synths to make one suit of bronze haubergeon. It takes even more than that for bronze chainmail/sentinel's chainmail. Not everything is two clicks from completion, and not everyone is going to invest the time necessary to produce the goodies you want. If you do find someone who is offering the next best shiny, inform yourself before you take a look at what they're asking and make a scene. If you're expecting something for nothing, you're very likely to walk away with what you're offering.