Guide by qaccy, please claim from me when you reach Nation.
23th September 2010 - Updated the guide with notes on Arrowheads as an easier way to rank up certain ranks i.e. Rank C.
Yes, the title is based off the book in-game that teaches you the skill. :D Anyway...this guide should help bring this skill to attention because I have a feeling it gets largely ignored by most people.
i.) What is Handicraft?
Handicraft is a skill that's primarily used to make quirky "costumes", house furniture, and various tools used for other life skills. This skill can also be used to make items required for the Generation 3 mainstream quests, but it's not required (NPCs can make the items for you for the same material cost).
ii.) Why get this skill?
While a lot of items produced by this skill have no practical benefit (or they're sold by NPCs which is generally a much easier method to obtain them), Handicraft does have a list of appealing benefits:
a.) The only method to obtain Ghost Swords and Bone Marine Swords, two special weapons with unique qualities. Ghost Swords are used to deal damage to the bosses of Peaca, while the Bone Marine Sword is just a powerful weapon that also has a high injury rate. Both have very low durability though, and can only make a few attacks before breaking.
b.) Making a unique fishing pole/bait, both of which allow higher chances of obtaining items while fishing (if you have the rank to use it...that's another story though)
c.) Life skill tools for your house! While these require very high skill ranks to craft, not only do these tools allow you to use your house as a private weaving room, the spinning wheels for fine/st leather straps also boost the success rate of making those items! Well worth having if you're able to make these.
d.) Dex boost! It may not be much, but Handicraft also doesn't require much AP to rank up and you hardcore archers are always looking for more dex, right? :evilidea:
e.) Peaceful enchant. While not used by many, this enchant provides a 15 str bonus for having Handicraft at rank 9 or higher. It's a rank 8 suffix for metal gloves only, and it's the reward from completing Enchant Collection Vol. 7 found (rarely) from Boss Trial dungeons.
2) Tricks of the Trade
To make your life easier, you might want to invest in a -dex set. While you're all making blinky faces to re-read what I just said, lemme explain real quick. Handicraft, like the beloved Refine skill (you did finish that up before you did any dex boosting, right?), also receives skill points for failures. You might think failing is a waste of time, but later on you'll be making a lot of rather expensive items, and if you're able to milk your failing requirements with the "easy" items that don't require a lot of materials to make, you can reduce the amount of expensive items you need vs. not failing at all. Sounds good, no?
Get a scarecrow enchanted set (or pull out your old one if you're a good boy/girl and had one from refining), that's good for -42~63 dex off your total right there. I wouldn't invest in much more since it's not as important as it is for refining, but a norman prefix on your (metal only) hat is another guaranteed -12 dex for pretty cheap. A good -dex title wouldn't hurt either, just anything to lower your dex is helpful but having 0 isn't really necessary.
3.) Tools of the trade
This section will outline what items you'll be getting very familiar with while training the Handicraft skill.
i.) Handicraft Kit - The basic tool required to use the skill, you'll need this if you want to get anywhere. You can also make these with the skill itself, but in most* situations it's not required.
ii.) Gathering Axe - Good thing these are cheap, you'll be needing a lot of firewood for most Handicraft items and this is how you'll be getting it. Unless you wanna be a lumberjack and use a big hatchet or something...be my guest.
iii.) Firewood - As said before, you'll need a massive pile of this for later skill ranks. Chop trees to get plenty, or if you're more of a casual lifeskiller who'd rather grind, the Red Kobolds in Math Advance also drop a lot for some reason.
iiii.) Large Nail - You'll need about as many of these as you'll need firewood, more/less depending on what you're making. To get these, punch signs or light posts/torches. A lot. Might wanna hold onto any blue/red gems you see fall off too, your choice.
iiiii.) Paper - It's cheap, it stacks very well, you'll be using it liberally for pretty much your entire Handicraft career. General Store NPCs sell it by either 10s or 100s, at giveaway prices.
4.) Get to know your craft
As you're training the Handicraft skill, you'll be primarily making only a handful of items. This section will tell you what they are!
i.) Paper Crane (Items required: Paper x1) - These things are easy and cheap to make, and for the first few ranks are ALL you'll be making to advance your rank. Or all you SHOULD be making, since everything else you can make sucks and takes a lot more work. Just stick with the birds, if you're diligent you might even make 1,000 to send to the other half of your marriage title.
iia.) Handmade Bandage (Items required: Cheap Fabric x1) - This item will only be made for one rank, but it's a good idea to do it because, like our friendly cranes above, they're cheap. It's all about saving money, right?
iib.) Fine Handmade Bandage (Items required: Common Fabric x1) - Not quite as cheap as its younger cousin above, but I consider anything you can "buy" from an NPC faster for skill training than stuff you gotta find the hard way. You won't be making too many of these either, though.
iii.) Wood Board (Items required: Firewood x5, Large Nail x5, Iron Bar x2, Tough String x2) - This is it. The one. The thing that will make you scream out in frustration, cursing the heavens "WHY???????" This abomination will rear its ugly head starting at rank C and will never go away, you'll need to make (a lot of) these for every rank afterward and they're at the core of almost everything you'll be making in the number ranks.
For clarification, this beast requires iron BARS (not INGOTS), which are a rank 9 blacksmithing recipe. If you don't have at least rB smithing, find a friend to make these for you. Tough string is also a very high weaving craft, but a much easier method (IMO) to obtain these is through Rafting in Courcle. 31+ stars nets you 3 of them at the turn-in.
5.) Skill Training Guide
This is the main section, so it's split into its own seperate post. This guide will try to detail how to go through each rank in an orderly fashion, with precedence given to time over money (though I try to stay low on both).
Ignore the Rank D requirements, you should make nothing but Paper Cranes for this rank and you'll pass it quickly. Odds are you'll get enough fails to make up the 10 points you'll need outside of successes, if not just keep making cranes until you get there.
Same as F, just keep making those Cranes. If you get bored, slap yourself because this is the EASY part.
As before, make more Cranes...wait! That's not good enough anymore! Max out both success/fail with your Cranes, then make a bunch of Handmade Bandages to satisfy the rank E requirements. Max out both success/fail here too, then finish up making Handicraft Kits (told you we'd get back to this later!). They're a lot slower to make than the easy bandages/cranes, but you'll get there eventually. Don't worry about fails, focus on success here.
The first hell rank, and Handicraft was initially capped here when it first released. A lot of people who were around then are probably still at this rank, too! The dreaded wood boards start to come into play here, you'll need to make at least 8 of them to pass on to B.
Max out your Crane success/fails first off, after that focus on the tricky middle requirement. You wanna max out both of these too, if you've been gathering nails early and/or you have a lot of blue/red/silver gems handy, use them with base herbs to make Magic Powder. Fishing Rods are an alternative, but require thin thread to make and have a fairly low success rate. Whatever you make, max out success/fail here as well, then slowly churn out those boards until you're able to rank.
* Yogurt's note: Rank C is now easier. You can make Finest Handmade Arrow to clear this rank, arrowheads are sold at certain NPCs. Best to get from Meles (Filia weapon store NPC). Gilmore in Bangor sells the manuals. Thanks to Kaeporo and Iyasenu for this information.
First off, congrats on passing rank C! This rank's slightly better, but it doesn't really get any easier from here on out.
As usual, take care of your Cranes right off the bat. Afterwards, move on to your new toy, Fine Handmade Bandages. Common Fabric costs 1,000g each to buy from NPCs, but it's better than making boards, right? If possible milk the fails here, but I didn't want to bother because these have a really high success rate. If you want, you could try making potion/handicraft kits for fails but I wouldn't recommend it. Regardless, once you finish up you'll still have to make 15-25 boards to make it to the next rank.
* Yogurt's note: You can also make Bone Marine Swords for this rank if you have a healthy stock from fishing at Iria Fishing Boat. Sunfishes are plentiful during certain fishing events.
You're getting quite skilled now! From here on out, it's no longer required that you make boards to rank up. However, you do still need a LOT of boards to make other things so unless you're getting them from somewhere else you'll be making them regardless (at least you still get points!). If you do buy enough boards for each rank, just replace "boards" below with "Fine Bandages".
Cranes will give you the same amount of points as last rank, be sure to soak 'em up. Make 120 boards (wtf lol?), more than you need to fill the B requirement but just enough to satisfy the rank 8+ requirement. Once you've got your boards, use 'em (plus a bit of paper) to make Nao Costume Kits until you're able to rank.
As before, if you're buying boards make bandages instead where applicable.
Yadda yadda cranes yadda yadda, you'll only need 100 boards this time which conveniently enough is how many you'll be making for the A requirement. Use these to make Thicket Costume Kits, you'll be rankable in no time.
Bandages can't be used anymore :( Now it gets tricky. If you've got a massive supplier of boards somewhere or you're just taking your sweet time building up slowly, you can make rock kits instead of boards below.
Same story with the cranes, you won't get many points this time around though. You'll be needing 180 boards to make Tree Costume Kits for the 6+ requirement, if you made them yourself you should be ready to rank by the time you're done. If you didn't make boards yourself, you can either make some anyway to finish up or make Rock Costume Kits instead until you're rankable.
* Yogurt's note: Rank 8 is now potentially easier. You can make Finest Handmade Bolt (Rank 8 and only available to make at Rank 8) to clear this rank, arrowheads are sold at certain NPCs. Best to get from Meles (Filia weapon store NPC). Gilmore in Bangor sells the manuals. Thanks to Kaeporo and Iyasenu for this information.
This is it! Since Handicraft is capped at 6 currently this is the final rank. But of course, it's also the hardest one. Wood boards don't give you any good points anymore, meaning this rank will probably take a LONG time.
Start off with your cranes as usual, cry a little because they're the last ones you'll be making. :tear: You'll need 160 boards for Sun Costume Kits here, the big negative though is that boards fit in the same requirement as cranes for this rank so you're not gonna be getting any points if you make your own boards. Once you finish with the Sun, you'll still need a whopping 372 boards to spend on Thicket Costume Kits. If you somehow manage to pull that off, welcome to rank 6 and the end of your grind. :D Be sure to send your crane bundle off to someone special (and won't think you're a freak for spending so much time making them, lol)!
So ends my (first) guide. I hope it helps someone out, or if nothing else lets people see how time consuming this commonly overlooked skill really is if you get into it. XD
Also open to any suggestions on improvement, including the (lame) formatting of the guide. >>;