The latest Warhammer Online video podcast is out, and it talks about a subject dear to my heart: crafting. So how does crafting in WAR work? Glad you asked. :) In the video podcast Mark Jacobs, in spite of not being quite the showman that Paul Barnett is, explains the basic principle very well: Crafting in WAR is not based on recipes. Instead it is simply based on ingredients and skill. Thus if you have the ingredients for example for a healing potion, and the skill to make one, you can make that healing potion without having to go to a trainer or find a rare drop with a healing potion recipe. I find that a big improvement over the WoW system, where for example my mage has his enchanting skill maxed, but still can't make many useful enchantments, because the recipes are all rare drops from places nobody goes to anymore.
Mark presents only 2 crafting skills in that video, plus 4 gathering skills. The two crafting skills are talisman making and apothecary (alchemy), which work in a very similar way: you take one container, one main ingredient, and three other ingredients and mix them. The type of main ingredient determines what exactly you are making, whether it is a healing potion or a potion that gives some stat bonus. The other ingredients either increase your chance to succeed, or they modify the recipe, for example making a healing potion that heals more points, or a stat buff potion that lasts longer. There is also a chance to get critical successes and making unusual potions or talismans. Talismans apparently work like gems in WoW, some items have slots into which you can add them.
The four gathering skills are unusual insofar as none of them involves searching for resource nodes. There are two skills that work like skinning in WoW, that is you get something from dead mobs: Scavenging for humanoid mobs, butchering for animals. One skill works like disenchanting in WoW, you take a magical item and extract a magic essence from it. Mark stresses the point that unlike WoW the essence you extract is related to the bonus the item you disenchant has. So if you disenchant an item with a strength bonus, you'll get an essence which would confer a strength bonus to a talisman you made with it. The last gathering skill is called cultivation and apparently works a bit like growing plants in Final Fantasy XI: You put together a seed, soil, water, and nutrients, and some plant or fungus grows out of it, which can then be used as apothecary ingredient.
The system looks quite interesting, but I'd sure hope that there will be more crafting skills in the final game than just two. It should be possible to design a system to craft weapons or armor with the same principle of mixing ingredients instead of using recipes.
Disclaimer: The above information is all based on publicly available information in the video I linked to, and does thus not fall under the NDA. As much as I would like to respond to some commenters spreading false negative rumors supposedly "leaked" from the WAR beta, I'm under a legal obligation to stick to publicly available information, and can not confirm or deny any rumors. I'd just ask you to treat the WAR beta leaks like the WotLK alpha leaks and not put too much credence into them until at least an open beta is available.