Guilds are tradesman’s organizations built around specific synthesis skills. Joining a guild allows access to its various services, which are helpful in several ways. First, going to the guild and training is required to raise the level of an associated skill. Guilds also offer more direct assistance in certain tasks. When attempting a difficult item synthesis, you can go to the guild and get help from an expert, which increases the chances of success. Finally, guilds also maintain shops that sell items they make, or raw materials for making those items yourself.
Crystals are crystalline objects that contain the life force of the world. Control of the Crystals amounts to control of corresponding bits of the world, and since all three major nations have expansion on their minds, the adventurers of each nation are roaming far and wide in search of Crystals to expand the power and territory of their homelands. Crystals can be found in the monster-filled wild lands of each country. Areas where adventurers travel are ringed by border guards installed by the government of the nation that lays claim to that territory in order to aid their countrymen. From the border guards, you receive a “signet,” which is an enchantment that makes it easier to find crystals or pick them up from fallen bad guys. The enchantment wears off after a little while, though, so it’s wise to get those crystals while the getting is good. You can learn more about crystals in the Crystals section of the Final Fantasy XI guide.
The key to creating magical weapons, armor, and other objects is unlocking the different energies contained within the crystals. Gaining levels in item synthesis accords a character more impressive titles in their chosen trade, and more importantly, it reduces the chance of costly failure in item synthesis. That’s important, because the crystals and other raw materials necessary to make powerful items may take a fair amount of effort. The actual business of synthesis is relatively simple – once all the items are collected, all you need is a place to cook. Mix the materials together, add the appropriate crystal as a catalyst, and if luck is with you, presto! A new magical or otherwise useful item. Maybe you can keep it for yourself, but one of the main reasons to specialize in a trade, naturally, is to use your products to engage in commerce with others.