One of the most interesting things about Pathfinder Online is the fact that the items your character uses are crafted by players. In so many other MMOs, the gear that players crave is the result of killing off specific boss monsters. Sure, PFO's boss monsters drop nice spells and other maneuvers, and killing NPCs is a great way to get the recipes folks need to make all the stuff in the world... but those items still need to be created. Raw components need to be gathered or bought from other players, and a crafter needs to have a specific recipe and must dedicate time to crafting the item.
PFO also has no NPC stores selling gear. The auction houses in the game are stocked entirely by other players, who set their own prices for each item. This leads to an interesting economy where items that are in demand command a much higher price than items that are more niche.
Every week, I travel around the map, checking out all the player-run auction houses. The quality of each auction house depends a lot on the local groups and the players who are taking the time to stock the auction houses. If the local population is sparse, then the auction house tends to be fairly bare, with items listed either being insanely cheap or outrageously expensive. On the other hand, in areas with a higher population, the auction houses are vibrant, with goods changing hands all the time and prices moving toward what the market will bear.
The exception to this rule is settlements which are run with a "commune" philosophy, where everyone contributes everything they have to their central bank, which in turn provides them with all the gear they could want for free. It's a great way to play the game if you don't want to worry about money and gear, but it tanks the local economy for folks who have a more capitalistic bent. These settlements have some of the highest populations... but some of the weakest auction houses.
I have been running a merchant business out of Thornkeep for the past six weeks. My main goal has been to provide new players with upgrades over the starter gear they get when they start the game. It only takes around a week of play before a new player will be ready for better gear, so keeping my supply pipeline full is a hard job. But it is also very profitable. And the money I make has allowed me to start purchasing raw materials from gatherers or refiners rather than having to gather it all myself. This has allowed me to ramp up production of goods to keep up with the ever-increasing new player demand.
Another facet of the economy is that creating finished goods usually involves a web of people. For instance, to make a +2 Steel Longsword, a weaponsmith needs Steel Ingots +2, which are made by a smelter using 22 iron ore, 22 coal, and an ordered essence. Iron ore and coal are gathered by miners, while the ordered essence comes from a dowser. That longsword also needs Basic Strips +2, which a tanner makes using 10 Beast Hides, gathered by a scavenger, and 4 weak acidic items and 1 weak deadly item. Acidic items include smoke peppers and foxfire, while deadly items include belladonna and blood nettle; all of these are gathered by foresters. So it's hard—but not impossible—to make things all by yourself. To make that sword without involving anyone else, you'd need levels in Dowser, Forester, Miner, and Scavenger to gather the raw materials. Then, to refine them, you'd need levels in Smelter and Tanner. And you'd need levels in Weaponsmith to make the finished sword.
Also, some raw materials are localized. For instance, coal is more common on the west side of the map, which is pretty far away from the Thornkeep area. I've had to go out there and gather some coal, augmenting what I find with purchases from local gatherers in the auction houses, and then I haul it back to Thornkeep using the new mule system. Soon, there will be a Buy Order system where I will be able to tell gatherers that I am willing to pay a specific amount for each piece of coal ore they bring me. This way, I won't have to worry about going places to get coal, and the gatherers will know they have a ready source of cash for the stuff they find. This is going to be a huge boost to the player-created economy because players will know there's a particular amount of money being offered for a particular item, and it will help set pricing norms.
So there are already a lot of interesting facets to the economy in PFO. Once the enchanting system is added to the mix, crafters will have a myriad of ways to differentiate their wares (other than price). The economy in PFO has risen from its infancy and is now entering its awkward teenage years. It will be exciting to see how it grows and develops!
Player Profile: Drake and Kachara, Gatherer and Armorer from Keeper's Pass
I first met the person who plays both Drake and Kachara when a large contingent of folks from Keeper's Pass showed up at PaizoCon this year. Keeper's Pass has focused their in-game efforts on gathering, refining and crafting, providing gear for their compatriots in the large EBA alliance. Kachara created a special set of Ornate Steel Plate +3 for my character Laurethoron to wear on special occasions.
Let's hear from Drake and Kachara about how this all came about:
Drake "the Mule" heard the calling of Desna and convinced his twin sister Kachara to follow him wandering the world in search of new things. That led them to the River Kingdoms where they met other wanderers and helped found the settlement of Keeper's Pass. While his sister settled down quickly and found work as a master armorsmith, Drake preferred to get out and explore the land. In his exploration he was always finding valuable gems and ores which seemed to find their way into his pack, apparently not even slowing him down. When he would return to town he would dump out his pack and people would be astonished how much he was carrying. Unfazed, he would shove the haul into the hands of the town crafters—all but the most choice bits of iron and other metals, which he would smelt himself to present to his sister before leaving town to see what else he could find.
Kachara, twin sister of Drake, having no strong ties to anyone else in her home village and no available apprenticeships to the local smithy, decided to follow her brother in his wanderings. Her decision proved the right path for her as it led her to the River Kingdoms where she received training in the crafting of the armors that are in high demand by the adventurers flooding the area. She set herself up with a group of friendly individuals in the mountains a fair ways south of Thornkeep where they founded the settlement of Keeper's Pass. She always has work orders coming in, and the constant stream of work only causes her to improve her craft further. Her brother always returned from his wanderings bearing gifts of iron of the highest quality, which she uses to forge armor for her friends and new family here in the River Kingdoms.
Player Profile: Stache, The Merchant Prince of Kreuz Bernstein
One of the more exciting things that has happened in the game since the launch of Early Enrollment is the revitalization of the settlement of Kreuz Bernstein by Stache. In the early days, Kreuz was practically a ghost town, but Stache and his army of gatherers and crafters have turned it into a thriving hub of commerce. It has the widest selection of Tier 2 gear, which the more advanced players make use of, and the prices for most things are among the most reasonable in the entire Echo Wood. From what I hear, Stache is about to become the first millionaire merchant in the game.
Let's hear from Stache himself about how this all came about:
Who is Stache? The Merchant Prince, the man behind the Mustache, the guy who gets it done. The Stache even talks in third person. Stache and his twin ZomoZ (brother from another mother) do a stiff business in virtually everything craftable. Stache has an army of dedicated refiners for every refining job, and tons of crafters pumping out quality goods for the masses. ZomoZ is the strong arm of the law, enforcing trades and defending the infrastructure that his twin has built.
Stache has worked his way up from being a citizen of the Empire of Xeilias (EoX), to being one of the leaders. Yes, that's right, Stache is the mustache behind the curtain, and while he runs his own company, it is almost a one-man company.
Kreuz Bernstein, the home for Stache and many more, has widely been recognized as the best auction house for Tier 2, with a steady supply required for the Empire's war efforts. Stache is an equal opportunity merchant. Large orders have been purchased from virtually every corner of the map, including the monster hunters at Talonguard, the dwarves of Forgeholm, and the students and staff of the one and only Pathfinder University. Shady intermediaries from down south who would rather their names remain anonymous also buy my wares when they are running low. Conservative rumor has it that Stache has crafted a third of all goods consumed by the Empire, with other crafted goods going anywhere there is coin.
The pleasure from profits gained is only exceeded by his pride in his name, his brand, and his very fine Mustache. No person can doubt a deal or trade made, as Stache's word is as good as gold. Stache's company, Stache's Mustache, has also seen the limelight from reclaiming towers for the ability to craft high-tier gear, and for the betterment of the market as a whole.
Are you interested in crafting with someone who has connections to every type of refiner in game, so you do not have to wait for seven people to log in over a week's time to get one thing crafted? Stache has logged in and crafted every day for over half a year strong and there is no stopping this crafting machine! Consider joining Stache's Mustache, Kreuz Bernstein's pride and joy. Search "Stache" in game in the company finder—it's the one and only! There are profits to be made, and war to be had when bored!