Adventure Rating 278 and Craft Rating 234 is definitely a feat of perserverance. It's not something that comes as easily for all, though it can depending upon your will to see through the grinding and acceptance of certain paths of progression. Istaria is unique compared to other games of today and its fellow generation titles such as EverQuest and Asheron's Call.
This guide will document the mechanics of Istaria, and what you need to prepare for when deciding on undertaking the path to max rating. Even though craft rating has no effect on your experience gains as adventure rating does, you still need to take into account the skill gains. This is what this guide will illustrate. When dealing in a multiclass universe, it is important to know how each school can effect others, and breaking down their individual pros and cons as a current school. This guide will not explain everything to you, just a break down to achieve max rating.
Skills are permanent. This means base skill, not current. Current skill level is displayed in green and can change with abilities and gear, however, these are applied modifiers and not your base skill. Current skill levels take into account all modifiers, including bonus percentages from stats, or flat increases from gear. Each school gives x amount of skill per level. The school listed beside your skill number shows what school is giving you that amount. You can use this to determine skill gains when leveling and whether or not you're already capped.
Grand Master Crafter Rating 234
Achieving GMC emblem or craft rating 234 means all crafting schools are at level 100: BLK, JWL, OUT, SCH, CRP, ENC, FIT, MSN, WVR, ALC, ARM, CNF, FLT, SPL, TLR, TNK, WPN, GTH, MIN. Each school carries a special bonus, such as Miner or Gatherer having the highest skill gains in their respective gathering and refining skills. No other school per level gains as much Gemworking, Mining, Quarrying, Smelting and Stoneworking as the Miner; same for Gatherer with Essence Harvesting, Essence Shaping, Fishing, Foraging, Logging, Lumbering, Preparing, Spinning and Tanning. You can find more information on each schools individual skill gains on the Istaria Reference.
Reiterating the concept of permanent skill base, we look into three crafting schools that will essentially allow you to powerlevel through the remaining sixteen schools. Following this method, obtaining GMC will be barely a two month effort. These schools are MIN, GTH, TNK. MIN and GTH gets you to harvest materials up off the ground without potions, and refine them into craftable materials. You will harvest more per swing due to your current skill (assisted by base). Inevitably when you hit Tier VI, you will need these schools to become optimum. TNK will allow you to take these materials and craft as well as deconstruct them for quick experience, due to the skill gains in Clothworking, Earthencraft, Metalworking, Sculpting and Woodworking. Why is 80 chosen? With the gains you get from MIN, GTH and TNK, at level 80 your skill will be base level of Tier V. Anything higher is unnecessary for leveling and is only used for Tier VI Master forms. Plus, we're trying to minimize the base skill in favor of experience gains.
† Level Order †
The order of leveling comes after getting MIN, GTH, TNK to 80. You will be able to pick up any other school and start immediately on Tier V resources, flying from 1 to 100 within 2 days easily. There is still one question however and that is where to start. Due to various skill gains of the remaining sixteen schools, you may want to break them down by their skill choice of leveling:
- Clothworking: OUT ? WVR ? TLR
- Earthencraft: ALC ? CNF
- Metalworking: BLK ? FIT ? WPN
- Sculpting: SCH ? MSN ? SPL
- Enchanting: ENC
- Woodworking: CRP ? FLT
- ARM can be leveled any time after OUT is 100
- JWL can be leveled any time after MIN is 80
By following the orders above, you are minimizing the particular skills gains. For example, TLR gives you 10 Clothworking per level. Leveling it before WVR and OUT would result in potential experience points loss. With OUT first, you'll be at 800 base Clothworking, then with WVR you WILL NOT INCREASE your base skill even at 100. It's only until you level TLR that you will surpass your 800 base. Experience gained is calculated by your base skill versus formula's optimum skill. Higher the base, the less amount of experience you will get. No tool can modify this.
If your salvaging surpasses your crafting skill and you can no longer auto-deconstruct at creation, you must use a salvage awl and manually right-click deconstruct. It is easier to do so in list view with a shift selection. Be careful to note the name of the tool you use, so that you don't mistakingly deconstruct it as well!
Adventure Rating 278
There isn't a special emblem for achieving rating or "rank" 278. Maybe perhaps it's loitering around Bristugo, who knows. Ultimately having a rating of 278 means you have leveled to 100 in all 28 adventure schools. When you create a new character, you only have access to four base adventure schools: WAR, CLRC, MAGE, and SCT. You can unlock the three hybrid schools DRU, MONK, and SPRT once you've met the prerequisites. From there, you can unlock the remaining 21 prestigious schools by meeting their skill prerequisites. These schools are BTLM, BRSK, BLDM, CHSW, CONJ, CRSB, ELAR, FLMD, GRDN, HLR, ICED, KNOC, PLDN, RNGR, RVR, SHMN, SORC, SPRM, SPRD, STMD and WIZ.
The biggest issue with high rating is the decreased experience from monsters. If a mob is lower than half your rating (rating of 200, mob is 99), you will not receive any experience. Due to the lack of Istaria map monsters, Dralnok's Doom is a favorite for the level/rating 125-17 Noxious Maggots throughout. They are easy to kill and won't burn out on experience until early ~250 ratings (255 rating for level 127 maggots).
What's the big deal? Well, if you want to achieve rating 278, there are paths which will reduce the amount of trophy hunting you will need to do. All paths involve leveling all schools in DD to a minimum amount, a cut off, at which point you would begin trophy hunting.¹ The rationale behind this is that if you notice the trophy brackets, they get ridiculous at lower ranges and the mobs can be a pain in the ass to kill or they have low drop rates. Officially, the "drop rates are the same" but go kill a handful of various mobs and be the judge. By setting a minimum amount to level all schools to, you can bypass worrying about trophies while watching your rating so that you don't end up too high that it's no longer worthwhile time-wise to farm maggots vs trophies.
If you're still interested, there are two tools that may help you directly: a rating calculator and a trophy calculator. These are useful to plot out your path of progression by seeing where your rating lies at various current school levels, what levels you have across the board, and at what point you may find yourself switching over to trophy hunting.
Although the trophy calculator is always being updated, the only thing that varies significantly are the trophies accepted per bracket. The experience and thus the amount of turn ins per bracket remains roughly the same.
† Level Order †
Below is a solid foundation to build upon. This order will give you all the necessary skills you need to survive Tier V and VI monsters easily.
- Level WAR to 100: 10 armor use per level, 20 health per level, and 10 1hc/1hp/1hs/shield/2hc/2hs per level? Can't be beat. Should be leveled together with CLRC.
- Level CLRC to a minimum of 83: this will give you access to Tier V Gifts and heals. Dispirt Foe/Foes is an extremely useful ability. Also, the added bonus of leveling both WAR and CLRC together is that with a 2hc weapon, you can use the same exact gear.
- Level MAGE to 100: this gives you max base flame as well as extremely useful spell abilities that are masterable and sufficient skill to cast utility spells, such as the elemental attacks.
- Optional Level MONK to 100: this will give you max base evasion as well as unarmed skill, both of which are useful.
- Path to 278 Level the remaining schools for masterable abilities and overall baselining. I chose to stop at 71, landing me at rating 211 (when I left Doom permanently and began trophy hunting) finishing up the 28th school.
Finishing this order will give you an awesome base upon which you can level however you wish without "gimping" yourself. One thing to note however, should you choose the mystic schools, you may want to level up SPRT as well. The reason these particular schools are suggested is that no other school can offer the same level of skill gain or useful abilities. They're the archetype schools that all others derive from. Plus, because they are only basic or hybrid schools, they impact your rating the least... that is key to riding the exp gravy train!