23 Crafting 1
After clearing a few more dungeons, the levels of Rina and co had increased handsomely. It wasn't easy to just jump levels, since the AI always balanced experience gains in every aspect.
After all, it had granted Draco a ton of experience and gave him a way to dump it later.
Now, the fellows sat comfortably at level 7 each. Getting them to climb higher would require either solo play or an increased investment of time. Draco opted to have them perform the former.
Draco himself was sitting at a comfortable 67% of level 13 at the moment. Naturally, vanquishing all those bosses had given him quite a few gains.
Unfortunately, running dungeons with other party members meant that experience was split, so Draco could not gain an abominable amount of experience so easily.
"Alright. You lot seem to have a fair idea of how to piss correctly. For now, I have other things to do, so you can go ahead and scram."
Despite Draco's rude words, the five didn't even react to it. Over these past few hours of playing together with this leader, they had all been awed by his prowess and rendered speechless by his sharp mouth.
They each filed off to seek their own bit of fame and fortune. Draco felt a strange feeling of satisfaction while looking at their retreating backs. In his past life, his relationship with them was strained at best.
They were simply vassals and he was their master, that was all. Here, they bullied others together, joked with each other and generally had fun while adventuring.
Before, each of them would pale at the very idea of even mentioning his full name in a casual manner.
Reincarnation could either be a blessing or curse. For some, the idea of redoing everything seemed long and undesirable. Most would prefer to just re-do small events and leave others as-is.
But some, who had made mistakes at every juncture till it all formed one huge mistake in hindsight, were like Draco who were thankful for being able to do it from scratch.
'Enough messing around and delaying… I should get it done.'
Draco turned towards a certain direction and blinked closer to his destination. It was time to end this small scale skirmish going on in the War of Attrition and to reap his big reward.
Once again taking the form of Drake, Draco entered the Guild Outpost with a small smile playing on his lips. This time around, his aim was to check up on his shop as well as earn big by annihilating the indigenous villages manned by Zaine.
Draco noticed that there was a healthy patronage of his shop, with more than 70% of the outpost's residents browsing through the wares. When the people saw him enter, most greeted him with a smile and a little bit of enthusiasm before becoming engrossed in their perusals.
Draco chuckled at this. Because his blacksmithing, alchemy and enchanting skills were too low, he couldn't create certain specific pieces of equipment and items.
Why was this so? After all, Boundless didn't limit one from making anything at any level.
What a joke!
Certain rarer pieces of equipment and items required specific materials and environments to create. Should one expect Draco to forge the real Excalibur with iron ore?
This was one of the main limitations with Tradeskills. If you knew how, you could create a broken sword that defied all logic. However, you'd have to find the materials as well as the combination that would allow said sword to even exist.
"Is Sasha around?" Draco asked a random shopper with an amiable bearing.
"She went behind to the storage area in order to fetch certain orders a while ago."
Draco acknowledged and approached where Sasha was said to be. There, he saw the dainty and sweet girl struggling to carry some heavy pieces of equipment to the counter.
Immediately, Draco was filled with a strange feeling of warmth. It was similar to how one would look at their child or pet doing something so silly while looking so cute.
"Hello Sasha. I see that you're hard at work. Let me help you with that." Draco offered while forcibly taking the heavy load off her hands without even making a sound.
Sasha, who had been burdened with what seemed like a trillion tons of weight suddenly felt light and free. Coupled with the fact that her prince charming had suddenly appeared to save her from this painful task, she felt so elated that her face flushed.
Because of how pristine and snow white her skin was, such a reaction was obvious and added a certain allure to her that was different from Zaine's but similarly appealing.
"Um... Uh. Lord Drake! I was moving these items for some customers. I'm sorry for not being there to welcome you…" She mumbled with a guilty expression.
Draco simply chuckled and patted her head gently. "Don't worry about it. Rather, I'm worried that such a weight was being borne by someone important to me. I'll go ahead and hire some fellows to help you with this task, what do you say?"
Sasha's face flushed even deeper when Draco affirmed that she was important to him. While beaming happily, she replied, "En."
"Let's walk together while we talk. Who ordered for these items?" Draco asked while returning to the shop front with Sasha in tow.
"It was my brother. He ordered some heavy equipment so that he could create and train a heavy legion. He also order for some of the best spears as well as medium armor for a special shock troop platoon to act as the vanguard," She replied with a smile.
Hearing her firing off military terms made Draco feel a bit surreal. Seems like she wasn't part of the planning council just due to her familial relation to Anguis.
'Still, Anguis wants to create skilled troops in his army huh? I'm starting to think that choosing this outpost was a really good idea.'
Despite the fellow's bluntness, Draco felt Anguis was a friend worth making. Such a person who could think outside the box despite his youth and could put up a respectable resistance despite being outmatched was definitely destined for great things.
Draco assisted Sasha with the distribution of the equipment. His strength stat easily allowed him to do such a simple task without breaking a sweat.
Afterwards, he chose some young fellows with admirable musculature to become her helpers in the shop. He also chose one other fellow as her direct assistant to manage the more miscellaneous tasks for her.
Strangely enough the person Draco chose was Tony, who took up the employment with unparalleled enthusiasm. After all, while Draco had positive feelings towards Sasha, it was more like a big brother than a lover.
Seeing that the Tony fellow was smitten with her, he decided to help the fellow out a bit, to which Tony secretly kowtowed to Draco in thanks. Draco simply shooed him away with a casual smile.
Ever since he'd began training his generals and getting closer to them as a friend more than a tyrannical boss, his demeanor and outlook had slowly changed.
He was less vindictive and petty, becoming more amiable and calm. Of course, that was assuming that you showed him the required respect. Also, this had nothing to do with his goals.
At heart, he was still an evil bloke. If he was required to annihilate this very outpost to fulfill his objectives, he'd at most sigh in regret while slaughtering them as if he were a stranger.
More than 10 years of evil and callousness couldn't be so easily changed.
After sorting all that out, he directly blinked to his abode in the mountains. This place had an already set up sleeping, bathing and crafting area. It also had a living area for receiving guests, but Draco had no plans for anything like that.
When he was in Cario City, Draco had chosen to purchase reagents, materials and soul gems to craft some new items. The ones he had put up in the store last time were pretty basic overall.
This time, his aim was to make something more… unique.
Now to narrate his process, one must first understand how the crafting in Boundless worked.
The AI made crafting laughably easy, simplifying the process into three segments: preparation, action and completion.
The preparation stage was the act of selecting the right tools and components as well as making them ready for the action stage. This included smelting, heating and filtering.
The action stage was where the actual work took place, or the large majority of it. This included the shaping, sharpening and cooling.
The completion stage was the easiest. It was essentially a system menu with three options: enchant, augment and re-forge.
Enchanting was the process where the careful usage of special magical knowledge fueled with soul energy, granted an item a boost that did not change its physical makeup in entirety. This was an artificial growth, through external means.
Augmenting was essentially folding, but at the end of the smithing process. In other words, one could add certain components to organically increase stats, but this changed the physical makeup of the item. One could add a steel coat over a bronze sword to make it harder, but this would end up making it heavier as a consequence.
Re-forging was self-explanatory. At the cost of extra components, one could break down what was made and attempt it all over again for a better result. This was the exact reason why despite starting out with only being able to make poor quality items, most crafters didn't have a single one to show.
Who would dare to try and sell a trash tier item? No one who had any self-respect would.
Draco began by taking out some Orichalcum ore from his inventory and placing it into the smelting furnace.
One would ask: why bother having levels in Tradeskills if anyone could make anything? There was no demarcation zone for ability, so what was even the point?
The answer: it was vital.
While knowledge was not limited to levels, application was. Even if Draco knew how to smelt ore like Hephaestus himself, he could only follow of the rules of Boundless.
And the rules were simple. The higher your Tradeskill level, the easier the process of crafting. For example, a person with only 3 levels in Blacksmithing would fail 100% of his refinement of rarer ores like Adamantium or Mithril whereas someone with over 80 levels would have a 30% success rate.
Similarly, the higher your level, the easier the refinement of more common ores. Once one reached higher levels than the 100% requirement for certain ores, the refinement became less costly.
If one needed 5 iron ores to smelt an iron ingot at blacksmithing level 20 with a 100% success rate, one would need only 4 at level 30, 3 at level 40 and so on. It would reach a point where one could save more on materials while making more money.
Such a system was surprisingly realistic too, as it was a fact that more expertise or familiarity in a field saw a person become more efficient in it.
Draco was only at Blacksmithing level 4, so he had a 25% success rate when refining common ores. However, Orichalcum was a rare ore that had a much more stringent refinement rate. His current rate was barely 1%.
That was not including the benefits of the Fire of War. He currently had a permanent boost to his forging success rate by 20% due to the passive granted by the Fire of War: Forging Efficiency.
Still, Draco went through quite a few failures before succeeding once. This burned through not only his supplies but his time too. After all, refinement wasn't an instant action. Each batch required nearly 15 minutes, meaning that he had been at it for hours on end.
The single successful set was put aside while he continued to go at it. Draco had a single-minded focus on his work that alienated everything else from his scope of attention.
This was an ability everyone who grasped the Void of Perfection could easily emulate, as it was a foundational requirement to be able to even start comprehending the skill.
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Likewise, his blacksmithing level also rose steadily. This also bled into his player experience but at a much slower rate. After all, how were Tradeskill players supposed to progress in the game aside from combat?
They earned experience at a slower rate because combat involved life and death, to which death had a severe penalty. Since these sitting sport crafters didn't have to risk anything except their wallets and want to earn same as those brave fellows?
More than 10 hours passed as Draco refined batch after batch, which only 10 batches of the ores managed to become ingots. Each set of ores for Orichalcum cost 30 silver, which was a heart rending amount.
Clearly, no one would waste such money to buy such an expensive ore at such a low level. After all, with low refinement success rates, a lot of that money would be sent down the drain!
Even various NPC factions would hesitate to do so unless the crafter had a significant chance of becoming a Master.
Amateur, Elite, Expert, Master and Grandmaster. These were the five demarcation zones for any Tradeskill. Each classification was separate into 20 levels. So level 1 - 20 was Amateur, level 21- 40 was Elite and so on.
A Master class player would have a significantly high success rate and efficiency, meaning more equipment sets for less materials. So investing in promising talents by throwing money was easily made back in the future!
The level demarcation zones also had other limitation and benefits, but those were for later in the Crafting session. Draco was too focused to run through these basics while refining.
Of course, the law of 'higher to lower' in RPG games applied here. Essentially, doing something that was above your level would grant more benefits experience/loot wise in most games and the same held in Boundless, especially looking at how Draco got his Battle Maniac title.
This was why Draco chose to use almost all the gold Anguis paid him to buy rare materials for Blacksmithing, Alchemy and Enchanting. This would see him gain levels in his Blacksmithing skill rapidly while making money by crafting slightly more valuable sets to be sold in his shop.
One should be aware that the prices Draco penned down for items in the shop were 50% higher than in the towns and cities. The reason he could do this and get away with it was simply because the fellows at the Guild Outpost were unable to return to the cities for supplies.
The Adventurer's Guild was a well-respected and noble establishment not for its benevolence, but its incomparable might! They were able to suppress kingdoms, continents and other guilds due to this very fact!
Organizations did not become strong by coddling its members. Each forward outpost was given objectives to fulfill and equal supplies at the start, but management by the individuals sent would see differing outcomes in their battles.
Anguis' outpost was one of the brutally mismanaged ones. Naturally, Anguis wasn't the leader sent by the Guild. He was, after all, just a Rank 1 Runemaker. He was probably just a miscellaneous helper at the time.
Now however, due to the pressure, the fellow has displayed excellent tactical acumen and this was what the Guild wanted to see. Carbon didn't sprout up from the ground shouting 'Hahaha, Your Father, I, am precious! Come mine me if you dare!'… It required intense pressure to be refined into diamond.
After a total of 15 hours, Draco stopped his rampant refinement and threw away the myriad ruined batches into the trash heap. Out of almost 60 batches, only 15 came out successful.
A refinement rate of 25% wasn't too abysmal objectively, but when considering the price of the material used, it became horrifyingly unacceptable.
Without the help from his Forging Efficiency passive, Draco would be lucky to get even a 5% success rate.
Still, almost 18 gold was burned in less than a day. For scale, that was the equivalent of $540,000! Who could spend that money without thinking three times beforehand? Even billionaires will stop to ponder whether such a sum was worth it.
However, Draco, this bastard, was able to do so without blinking. After all, this fellow got a whopping 3000 gold from vanquishing Ratchet. He should've gotten more from doing that survival dungeon but the AI was extremely unwilling, so it gave him rewards of equal value.
Now that Draco was done with refinement, he proceeded to arrange his tools and heat up the forge. Since Orichalcum was a rare ore, it didn't require any extra work in the preparation phase aside from refinement. It didn't require filtration because it was a magic ore, unlike common ores like copper or iron.
Draco began the arduous forging process.
Melting the ingots, shaping them with his hammer through incessant pounding at regulated intervals and then reheating again to keep it malleable.
This type of metal had magical properties, meaning it was more receptive to enchantments, but the downside was that it was hard to heat and even harder to shape.
Unfortunately for the rebellious Orichalcum, Draco was a seasoned forger who had reached Master rank in his past life. His forging technique had been named 'Three Pound Origin' by himself.
It focused on using his powers of Control to hammer the metal to perfection. His Void of Perfection enabled him to inspect the metal down to its very atoms while his Body of Godliness allowed him to use the optimal force in the optimal position while shaping the weapon.
He timed his hammer strikes into three bursts, hence the naming of the technique. Honestly, anyone who had grasped Control could utilize his technique, but then again how many people grasped Control?
In his past life, after 15 years and majority of the 7 billion humans in the world playing Boundless, there were less than 10,000 Control masters. This number included those who had grasped only the Void of Perfection or Body of Godliness without the other technique.
Nothing needs to be said of this timeline where Control was relatively new. There were probably less than 20 Control masters in the world, while majority were old farts with one step into the grave.
Draco's Three Pound Origin technique had one advantage and that was its efficiency. It was quick as well as unparalleled in quality of work. In less than half an hour, he had managed to work the unruly Orichalcum into a blade shape, one that was of refined looking bastard sword.
He took the piping hot metal and brought it near the grinder while letting it run. The sharpening process had to be done while the blade was still hot for maximum effectiveness. That was precisely why a fresh sword was better than a used sword that had been recently sharpened.
This stage was also monitored by his Control abilities. Having the blade sharpened too strictly would yield it easy to chipping during sword fights. With a satisfied nod, Draco brought the sharpened blade up with his tongs and placed it in a vat of water. Steam rose and billowed about the room due to the sheer heat of the blade.
Draco soon pulled out the cooled blade and placed it on his workbench. The sword was a bright reddish brown color, slightly similar to copper or bronze. He smiled slightly before moving on to the next blade.
In a matter of hours, he had produced 15 blades of the same color and quality. However, their shapes were a bit unique with a sharper point and thinner widths. One might even look and assume they had low density, but upon wielding the swords, they'd realize that they were much more formidable than they looked.