Desert Oasis: A guide to getting started with Black Desert’s lifeskill system


For pretty much all of my MMO-gaming career, I avoided anything involving crafting, gathering, and cooking. If the problem can’t be solved with a weapon in hand, I stay out of it. But ever since I started taking Black Desert Online seriously, I soon found myself diving into the lifeskilling system. Beyond the grinding and PvP, Black Desert’s got a robust lifeskilling system that’s easy to get into, but it’s also deep enough for the hardcore crafter types.

Black Desert’s lifeskilling system boils down to making extra money while either grinding monsters or while the player’s AFK. But there’s more to it than that; it’s also a competition. There’s a leaderboard that keeps track of a player’s current lifeskill levels. Since there’s no cap on lifeskill levels, it’s a pretty cool feature. At this point, I’m not sure how anyone can really break into the scene, though; the top players have really high levels. But I’m pretty sure with just a little elbow grease, players will find themselves at least competing with the best of them.

Lifeskillers will be seeing this menu often!

Any of the lifeskills are easy to start. It’s as simple as buying the needed tool, animal, or vehicle, and starting up. A good place to start is fishing, which I’ve gone into great detail with in the past. That’s because it’s relatively cheap to begin fishing and a great way to earn some passive income. But if you’re in the mood to do something more active, there are always activities like gathering, and there are many different things to gather. From wood to blood to stones, this game has no shortage of materials to gather.

Making that cash

As in many other MMOs, the economy is player-driven. Supply levels are completely player-driven, so in demand items will be not only low in supply but high in price. Keep an eye on the marketboard, as the data provided can help players decided on what to gather next. Materials for boats have always had a healthy demand, and gathering the building materials is a great choice if you’re into making a whole bunch of money.

Because of the recent boss event armor event running until June, the demand for the special olive seeds have gone up, and the marketboard adjusts for it. Players who keep an eye on the trends will always have the materials on hand whenever they’re in demand.

The shai class is a great character to begin lifeskilling with, she starts the game with a higher gathering level.

Best practice is to make a separate character for life-skilling purposes. Your main character will most likely be out in the field grinding mobs, and time is money. Since teleportation canonically kills people in this game, the only other option is to walk or ride back to town. Time spent running is time spent not gathering or crafting. With that in mind, it’s also good to pick a home city. I personally keep my life-skiller in Velia; I like the scenery. Some players also really like Grana because of how close important NPCs are to each other. There’s really no way to go wrong with this choice; just pick one you enjoy the most.

I’ve been told a very profitable method is through the imperial delivery system. You take the role of a producer and create a box full of food or other materials that you submit to an NPC. Depending on players’ lifeskill level, they’ll have different boxes they can create. There’s a limit on what could be submitted, but it’s a great way to guarantee a daily income without even setting foot outside of town.

Mastery levels

Late in 2019, the NA servers received the lifeskill mastery update. These mastery levels give special bonuses to those who take the time to level them up. For example, the fishing mastery will increase the chances of catching orange-grade fish. These fish sell for quite a bit of cash, so there’s a natural increase of income. This pretty much goes for any mastery level.

The alchemy mastery increases your chances of creating an extra item of whatever you’re crafting at the moment. Imagine the extra money when this stat procs. One of the more important ones is the gathering and processing masteries. Gathering allows you to get more per gathering node while processing lets you mass produce items. Anyone with an eye for money and saving time can already see the value in improving these stats!

Dressing for success

There’s a single equipment slot for the gathering tools. Gathering without the tools will result in your character obtaining weeds or other unneeded materials, but depending on the quality of the tool, you’ll get better items. The best advice is to just start small by collecting materials for items you want to craft and then going from there.

I’ve been spending a lot of time cooking indoors!

There’s a variety of tools to use when you’re lifeskilling. There are axes to chop wood, butcher knives to harvest meat from animals, hoes for gathering from plants, fluid collectors for blood, and pickaxes to mine for minerals, to just name a few.

These items vary in rarity and quality. Those who are super serious about crafting will want to check out Manos gear. These items are meant to make players more powerful gatherers and crafters as they’re endgame items that add mastery points. When players get to the highest levels of crafting, these items are one of the only ways to earn enough experience to level up lifeskills in a reasonable time. These aren’t just single tools, either; these Manos items include a set of accessories and clothing as well. And they can also be enchanted! Just like combat gear, they’re leveled up through enchantment. They use special black gems instead of black stones, but it’s just the same thing with a different item. They can get expensive, but with these items, players will see a return almost immediately.

MMOs always benefit from a powerful crafting system. In the past year, Black Desert’s crafting system in particular has seen significant improvement. While I’m still not the type who enjoys chopping wood all day, money talks. If you’re tired of killing monsters all day, sometimes spending the day picking flowers can be just as profitable!

The Great Valencian Black Desert is a dangerous place, but thankfully there’s always a chance for respite. Join Massively OP’s Carlo Lacsina every other week for just that in Desert Oasis, our Black Desert column! And don’t worry; he promises he won’t PK you. Got questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to send a message!


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“Since teleportation canonically kills people in this game”

hmm, what you mean? curious


Couple of adjuncts to crafting – some of the stuff you can get can be gathered by workers for you while you’re out playing the game. There’s a whole ‘nother set of gameplay around managing your node and worker empire, which you can leverage for both lifeskills, and crafting things like weapons/boats/wagons/armor/furniture/costumes for fun and/or profit.

Some resources have to be gathered in person, but there’s a ton of stuff you can have gathered for you, and then use or sell.

There’s also some synergies between some of the lifeskills. Trading and horse-raising, for example. If you’re travelling the lands selling trade-goods (which your workers can be making for you), the horses pulling your wagon will be getting XP, and can be leveling up while you trade. Likewise, selling your fish is “trading”, and gives you some trade XP.

There’s also a fair number of lifeskill missions available, if you show them in the mission settings. Some of them are intros to various professions (how to make a boat), but some are daily, and award some skill XP and/or contribution point XP to help build your empire. If you’re out gathering anyway, tracking those down is an easy bonus.

One last note – if you’re feeling paranoid, you can use a character who’s never done the level 50 advancement thingy as your lifeskill character. They can’t be PvPed, even outside safe zones, so they’re safer. It’s never been an issue for me, but if it removes some stress from the game, it’s certainly an option.


Quick cash guide: start cooking vinegar (fruits can be purchased from NPC in Calpheon) till you’ll be able to create honey wine imperial packages (20 minutes), then buy the wine off market and pack it to turn in for 10M+ daily. Get to professional level, start making pickled vegetables (paprika can be purchased off the same NPC in Calpheon) and imperial-pack it till guru (6 months?) for 10-50M profit daily.

Once you’ll get 1B cash – buy an Epheria sailboat, start bartering. Sell T5 materials for 5M cash each. The activity is irritating / frustrating (ship stuck everywhere, pathfinding is atrocious) but it’s a hundred (or two) millions cash daily and it’s much less boring than mobs grind. You’ll be able to upgrade the ship to caravel couple weeks later and then you can make from 200M to 800M daily which mean nearly maxed-out character equipment in a month or two – but you don’t really need that PvE equipment so you better buy out $$$ costumes off exchange as an investment, because their prices double every few months.


The crafting system in BDO is absolutely nuts compared to any other game out there that I’ve seen. It’s fully viable to play entirely via lifeskilling in this game. I pretty much only lifeskill these days in BDO.

While you certainly kill mobs to gather from them, I wouldn’t really consider it grinding. Many of the things you gather from are very easy to kill and the grinding aspect is kinda non-existent. Killing level 35 trolls to get their blood on a 60+ character isn’t exactly effective and they all die without any gear on it.

I wouldn’t really stress chasing the leader boards, but going after maximum XP with the lifeskill mastery system is top notch. Each level gives around 5 mastery till Guru 20 when it then switches to 10 per level. The upper Guru levels take a super long time and at 39 Guru processing it takes me months of workers gathering materials to get another rank but every 5 ranks is another bracket boost for mastery.

The challenge with talking about lifeskills and profitability is things get rather complex when you start to make things. Like if you go out and gather meat/materials then go cook then make what you cook into imperial boxes it isn’t just a simple matter of seeing what your profit is at the end. The time you spent gathering you could have just sold that meat directly and made a profit with no further investment. Then there’s the time it takes to cook, and the cost of the cooking stations, which again you could have just sold that on the market. Finally you have the boxing time to take what you cooked and box it up. So really you have gathering time + cooking time + boxing time subtracted by opportunity cost of each what you could have been doing. In the end gathering meat for 60m/hr then cooking it for an additional 10m/hr and then boxing it for only another 5m/hr means you were better off just gathering more and selling than gathering and then cooking/boxing it up.

You have to run the numbers, and that’s something a lot of people just won’t do. I tell people if you don’t like math, don’t get into active lifeskilling.

Honestly I love this aspect to the game and it’s pretty much the only reason why I play the game anymore. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.

Kickstarter Donor

I have been playing the game since it was released, I quite like the math and have spent ages doing alchemy (I was even in ranked in the top 30 before I took a break). However, I just haven’t found a good way of making silver from it or my worker empire (I have mostly artisan workers). My question for you, would be “what would you recommend?”


Whoops I missed this. Hopefully you get email notifications.

The main money from Alchemy these days primarily comes from Imperial trading. You have to break down the value of the materials you get vs the cost of making a pack. This usually requires breaking down each of the imperial packages and the potions there in and breaking down their value cost vs the imperial package cost. This is very timely and math oriented so a lot of people won’t do this. Don’t discount the value of the imperial seals either as you can make Manos with their trade ins. Generally speaking the margins are much better for Cooking for money purposes especially if you’re willing to go out and spend time gathering. However again no one is going to tell you what exactly is the best because the more people are into something the more difficult it can be to get things.

Worker money primarily comes from uncommon goods that are now used for bartering. For example there’s a lot of basic Valencia materials such as figs, nutmeg, etc etc etc that are all reasonably high value because people doing bartering need them for basic bartering. So items that were previously bottomed out are now higher. You can also process/sell materials as well for other common materials but generally unless you plan to go super deep with trading (IE: aiming for Master 20+) trading itself generally isn’t worth it at this time. Artisan workers aren’t inherently good as much as they should now mostly all be Goblins unless you check your computer once a day kinda thing.

As always in a Sandbox you need to pick your own goals and then look best ways to go about them. Like last I was super focused on Alchemy I was trying to get my skill up to Guru Alchemy which meant I was really focused on items that gave the most XP via combines rather than money so I could push my skill the highest.

Kickstarter Donor

I appreciate you taking time to reply. I do have notifications on, but obviously am in a different timezone. I spent quite a bit of time spreadsheeting and running the numbers on all the imperial alchemy options, sadly nothing came out particularly profitable, almost always it was more profitable to sell one of the raw materials on the market. It was also hampered by availability. Cooking was however quite profitable, and didn’t suffer from the same availability issues. I looked into @3dom’s advice above, and for a few simple suggestions, both honey-wine and pickled vegetables are where the profit is. I started bartering as well, having used my workers to build me an epheria sailboat (not recommended for a casual player – it took over 1000 days), but discovered that this is not something that suits my “few hours a night” playstyle.