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Gem Transformations and the Tarantia Commons riot event

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

This is a somewhat obscure and largely irrelevant aspect of current AoC crafting, but since I like obscure topics, I figured I’d make a post about it anyway 😛

Why gem transformations?

Before the big itemization revamp in 1.05, gemcutting worked a bit differently than it does now. For each gem color (and there were 8 colors back then, not 6 like now) there were around 5 or so possible stat modifiers which you could obtain by cutting gems of that color. When you actually cut a gem, the modifier was chosen at random from those 5 or so possibilities. The level of the gem did not have any effect on which stats you could get on the cut gem, only on the amount of the stat you’d get (e.g. a hypothetical example: if red gems can give you fire invulnerability, then you can get fire invulnerability from a level 40 red gem just as well as from a level 80 red gem, but you’d get more invulnerability from a level 80 red gem).

This system had various drawbacks: the randomness when cutting gems was annoying (you might have to cut lots before you got the modifier you wanted), weapon/armor parts routinely had 3 gem slots and there were no constraints about which color gem you could put into which slot, so people could get extremely powerful in some particular stat by filling all their gem slots with gems for that particular stat. This caused havoc in PvP and was occasionally used to make some of the raid encounters trivial, so Funcom first nerfed the gems to the point where most of them became completely useless, and later revamped the gemcutting system considerably along with the rest of the system and itemization changes in 1.05.

In the new system, each combination of gem color and level gives you exactly one possible stat modifier (e.g. a level 40 red gem always gives you constitution; a level 60 red gem always gives you combat rating (fire); etc.); however, the amount of this stat that the gem will actually contribute now depends on the level of the item that you put it in (so a level 40 red gem gives you 8 constitution if it’s in a level 40 item, or 16 constitution if it’s in a level 80 item, etc.). See the gems page on aoc.wikia.com for more information about which gems are available.

One of the consequences of this change was the following. In the pre-1.05 gem system, there was little reason for a high-level player to be interested in low-level gems. A level 80 player, wearing level 80 armor, could get the same stat modifiers from level 80 gems as he would from level 40 gems of the same color, except that the level 80 gems would give him more of those stats than he would get from the level 40 gems. The only reason why he might wear lower-level gems is if the higher-level gems of the same color weren’t available or were too expensive for him.

But in the 1.05 system, a lot of useful modifiers are obtained from low-level gems. If a level 80 player wants protection, he has to use a level 60 white gem for it; if he wants constitution, he has to use a level 40 red gem for it; etc. Thus, in the new system there is plenty of reason for high-level players to be interested in low-level gems.

Because of this change, the developers were worried that a shortage of low-level gems might occur. Low-level gems drop from low-level humanoid mobs; if most of the players are level 80, they aren’t killing that many low-level mobs, so there the demand for low-level gems might be excessive compared to the supply. Therefore they introduced gem transformations, which are a mechanism for transmuting gems across levels and colors.

How do gem transformations work?

It is well known that each gem has a color and a level; what is less well known is that each gem also belongs to one gem family. Just like there are 6 gem colors (red, green, blue, yellow, black, white) and 6 gem levels (40, 50, 60, 70, 75, 80), there are also 6 gem families: caystones, hexstones, oxides, lifestones, crystals, chalcedonies. Each family consists of 6 gems; no two gems of the same family have the same color or the same level.

For each gem family, there exists an alchemy recipe to transform them. Let’s use lifestones as an example; the recipe is then called [Alchemy: Transform Lifestones]. It allows you to convert any gem from the lifestone family into a special tradeskill item called Lifestone Solution, and to transform Lifestone Solution into any gem from the lifestone family. Thus, you could transform e.g. a level 80 lifestone (this happens to be a Diamond, the level 80 white gem) into Lifestone Solution and then transform this solution into several level 50 lifestones (this happens to be Azurites, the level 50 blue gems).

The idea was that if there was an excess of high-level gems on the market and a shortage of low-level gems, people could use these recipes to obtain low-level gems from high-level ones. I never had the impression that any particular shortage of low-level gems existed at any point, which means either that the gem-transforming arbitrageurs are doing a good job or (more likely IMO) that the whole concept of gem transformations was more or less unnecessary.

Going back to the lifestone example, here are the concrete crafting operations that you learn from the Transform Lifestones recipe. The ingredients are shown on the left, the outcome on the right; the number of Artistry renown points generated by the operation is in parentheses at the end.

  • 1 Uncut Diamond + 1 Unstable Flux = 24 Lifestone Solution (504 renown)
  • 2 Uncut Canary Diamond + 2 Unstable Flux = 24 Lifestone Solution (810 renown)
  • 3 Uncut Jet + 3 Unstable Flux = 24 Lifestone Solution (945 renown)
  • 6 Uncut Blood Amber + 4 Unstable Flux = 24 Lifestone Solution (864 renown)
  • 12 Uncut Azurite + 5 Unstable Flux = 24 Lifestone Solution (675 renown)
  • 24 Uncut Malachite + 6 Unstable Flux = 24 Lifestone Solution (432 renown)
  • 24 Lifestone Solution + 6 Unstable Flux = 1 Uncut Diamond (288 renown)
  • 12 Lifestone Solution + 5 Unstable Flux = 1 Uncut Canary Diamond (216 renown)
  • 8 Lifestone Solution + 4 Unstable Flux = 1 Uncut Jet (192 renown)
  • 4 Lifestone Solution + 3 Unstable Flux = 1 Uncut Blood Amber (120 renown)
  • 2 Lifestone Solution + 2 Unstable Flux = 1 Uncut Azurite (72 renown)
  • 1 Lifestone Solution + 1 Unstable Flux = 1 Uncut Malachite (42 renown)

Unstable Flux is a green tradeskill resource that you can purchase from the usual NPC vendors that sell tradeskill resources; there’s one in each village in the resource-gathering zones (e.g. in Caenna Village in Poitain), one in your guild city’s Alchemy Workshop, and one in your Tradepost (if you have a sufficient renown level). One Unstable Flux costs 25 copper.

The recipes for the other gem families work exactly the same, involve the same amounts of everything etc., only the gems and solutions are different. Deconstructing a level 80 gem always yields 24 units of solution, etc.

Renown farming

You can see from the above recipes that the amount of gems is conserved across transformations. You can start with 24 Uncut Malachites, convert them into 24 Lifestone Solution, and then convert these 24 units of Solution (one by one) into 24 Uncut Malachites again. Each of these steps also generates a small amount of Artistry guild renown points. The only thing that is consumed in the process is Unstable Flux, and you can buy as much of it as you like from the NPC vendors, as long as you have the money for it. Thus we see that given enough money and time, an alchemist with the gem transformation recipe can generate an unlimited amount of Artistry points.

This can be used with great profit by guilds that wish to speed up their progress through the guild renown levels. You could do as we described in the previous paragraph, start with 24 level 40 gems, convert them into 24 units of solution (this is one crafting operation), then convert the solution back into 24 level 40 gems (this would be 24 crafting operations). Each of these crafting operations takes 5 seconds, so this process would take you at least 125 seconds (if we ignore the time to select the recipes in your tradeskill book, etc.), generate 1440 renown points, and consume 30 Unstable Flux.

But it’s much better to use higher-level gems, because they will give you much more renown for your money, and also take much less time. You could transform two level 75 gems into 24 units of solution (one crafting operation) and then back (two more crafting operations), thereby generating 1242 renown points in 15 seconds and consuming 12 Unstable Flux. Or you could transform one level 80 gem into 24 units of solution and back; that’s 792 renown points in 10 seconds, while consuming 7 Unstable Flux. So you can see that using level 75 gems gives you 82.8 renown per second and 103.5 renown per Flux (or 41400 renown per 1 gold), while using level 80 gems gives you 79.2 renown per second and 113.1 renown per Flux (or 45257 renown per 1 gold). Thus, although working with level 75 gems is slightly more time-effective, most people work with level 80 gems, which are the most cost-effective. Lower-level gems (level 70 and below) are less effective both in terms of time and in terms of cost.

In the idealized scenario for level 80 gems — where it takes you 10 seconds and 7 Unstable Flux (costing 1.75 silver) to generate 792 artistry points — it would take you 7 hours and 44.12 gold to generate 2 million artistry points. This is the weekly cap for an individual character; anything you’d generate past that point wouldn’t contribute to your guild’s progress through the renown levels (though it would still affect its weekly renown ranking), so it would be a waste of money. But the guild-wide weekly cap is 25 million artistry points, so you could have 13 characters in the guild doing this sort of renown farming; the guild would have to spend 552 gold per week to reach the artistry cap that way. In the current state of the economy it might be difficult to come up with that sort of money, but in the heyday of renown farming, in the first half of 2010, it wasn’t too difficult to come quite close to it by crafting Ibis swords for sale.

Note that, depending on the prices of various resources on your server, there may well be other recipes that give you a better renown-to-gold ratio (e.g. Fine Steelsilk Hood), not to mention a vastly better renown-to-time ratio; but you can’t scale them up without disrupting the economy. If you wanted to reach 25 million artistry points each week by crafting Fine Steelsilk Hoods, you’d need 32500 Ironsilk, and there simply isn’t that much Ironsilk coming into the economy (since it drops from high-level humanoid mobs and people simply don’t kill that many of them); in fact buying Ironsilk at that scale would drive up prices quite quickly and make the Fine Steelsilk Hood recipe unattractive for renown farming. Gem transformations on the other hand only consume Unstable Flux, which you can buy in unlimited amounts from NPC vendors where the price never changes.

(Incidentally, when guild renown was first introduced in 1.06, the gem transformation recipes generated about three times as much renown as they do now; they were nerfed to their present levels a few months later in 1.07, and the renown values have been unchanged since then.)

Tarantia Common District riot event

But, you might ask, where can I get the gem transformation recipes? Well, they drop from the Riot Leader and Watch Captain, two group bosses in Tarantia Common District. Perhaps you remember the City Watch and/or Daughters quest lines that you get in Tarantia Commons after you finish the Crows/Rats quest lines and do the Crows’ Nest quests; the Watch / Daughters quest lines culminate in a quest to spawn and kill the Riot Leader / Watch Captain, respectively, with a pretty decent choice of blue rings as a reward, so many people do those quests. These two bosses also have a pretty decent chance of dropping the gem transformation recipe (my guesstimate is that the chance of getting a recipe is around 10-20%), so if you farm them long enough you’re sure to get one or more recipes.

There are 5 clickable doors in Tarantia Commons, and mobs called Troublemakers spawn from these doors occasionally. The troublemakers walk to one of the central squares in the upper part of the playfield and start assembling there; you are alerted to this by on-screen messages such as “unrest is growing in the district”. You can speed up this process by clicking on the doors (you can click each door once a minute and it spawns another troublemaker). A potential problem at this point is that other players can disrupt your efforts by killing the troublemakers.

Anyway, once there are enough troublemakers, they start walking as a group downstairs towards the granary (system message: “an angry mob is gathering”). A number of city watchmen will spawn on the way towards the granary and fight with the troublemakers. It makes sense for you to kill these watchmen, so that the troublemakers will reach the granary faster and in greater numbers. Once they get there, you will see an on-screen message saying that a riot has broken out.

Two types of mobs will now appear, Rioters and Watchmen. You should now pick a side and kill those mobs to help the other side win. Once you have killed enough of them, their boss will spawn near the granary. If you kill Rioters, you will eventually spawn the Riot Leader; if you kill Watchmen, you will eventually spawn the Watch Captain. (Note that some of the mobs you’ll want to kill will also be upstairs, not just down by the granary). Once your boss is up, just kill him and he will have a chance of dropping one of the gem transformation recipes. (The recipe is bind-on-pickup but you can relog to an alt to pick it up.)

It doesn’t matter which of the two bosses you aim for, as the results are the same (unless of course you have a quest to kill a specific one of them). After you’ve killed the boss, troublemakers will again start spawning from doors, you can go back to clicking them and thus repeat the whole process as long as you like.

(Note: when the boss spawns, he might initially be aggroed by mobs of the opposing side; e.g. the Riot Leader might be fighting some of the watchmen. If this happens, wait until he kills them and resets completely; only then should you attack him and kill him. Otherwise there is a risk that he won’t drop any loot.)

The Troublemaker Paymaster and the level 80 gem recipes

This is a rare group boss that can be spawned in Tarantia Commons and has a chance of dropping level 80 gem recipes. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been involved in farming him, so I’m fairly hazy on the details, and you might want look for more information in old forum threads (which, by the way, also provide an entertaining chronicle of the epic efforts through which some people went in mid-2009 to discover the ridiculously abstruse mechanism of spawning this boss): link 1, link 2.

Basically, the idea is to wait for the “unrest is growing in the district” message to appear, then kill a few troublemakers to prevent a riot from breaking out. After a while, enough new troublemakers will spawn that you will get the “unrest is growing in the district” message again; kill a few troublemakers again, and so on. After 23 or so of these messages, you should get a new message (“unrest is growing fiercer in the district”) and the Paymaster will appear. If you get the “angry mob is gathering” message at any point, this means you allowed too many troublemakers to gather up and you must start from the beginning again.

Thus it can easily take an hour or so before the Paymaster spawns. You will also be preventing other players from using your instance of the playfield to spawn/kill the Riot Leader and Watch Captain, which some of them might need for their quests; if you want to avoid this sort of conflicts, you can go to the epic instance instead, but then it’s better to have more than 6 people in your team.

Most of the level 80 gems aren’t that great and it’s hardly worth the trouble farming for these recipes now. Note also that the Paymaster isn’t guaranteed to drop a recipe (though he has a decently high chance of doing so).

Attilius Mansion and the level 70/75 gem recipes

Attilius, the last boss in Attilius Mansion, a solo dungeon in Tarantia Commons, has a chance of dropping level 70 and 75 gemcutter recipes: Sanguine Radiant Sapphire, Marquise Pushparagam, Marquise Jet. They aren’t bind-on-pickup and can often be bought quite cheaply on the tradepost.

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Categories: Age of Conan, Crafting