|Through the wonders of Archeology, I can actually make my gnome smaller (as well as trapped in the block of Amber for 5 minutes, or until I click off the buff).|
Archeology is an odd gathering profession where very little of what you gather can actually be sold to anyone - you will sometimes harvest tradeable "keystones" that allow you to spend fewer of your soulbound fragments on soulbound (or sometimes account bound) items. For the most part, though, it's a crafting profession without either the crafting (there are no choices, your fragments can only turn into the next item the RNG offers you) or the profession (due to the lack of stuff to sell).
|Today, I get to use my fragments on a "rare" item. Note the option to use up to three keystones to remove the need for 12 fragments (1-2 harvests, with three harvests per node) each.|
Overall, my LOTRO character is looking much smarter. Allarond has been an avid crafter, mining various metals, placing them on the auction house, and turning the resulting gold into a wider variety of items than he could possibly craft for himself. There are some games where at least we see quest storylines that can be solved via crafting - EQ2 and maybe Vanguard probably take the top honors in this genre. SWTOR has tried to spice it up a bit by outsourcing your crafitng labor to your NPC companions, which I suppose at least puts some story behind the endeavor.
As is, I suppose the modern crafting system is something of a form of alternate advancement, whether actually tied to stats (as in WoW), content (as in EQ2), ways to counter the random number generator (as in DDO), or acquiring achievements/deeds/etc (all of the above). Sometimes (again, as in EQ2) a game will physically force players to seek out crafter intervention in the course of obtaining an item, but this just gives the crafter a cut of the economy, which has little to nothing to do with the actual crafting of stuff.
Overall, it feels like MMO crafting systems could stand to craft themselves a better role in their games.