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Getting FFXIV Recipes the Old Fashioned Way
At this point, there are several good online databases of FFXIV recipes - more on this later. All of those recipes had to come from somewhere, however, and it probably wasn't from experimentation. Most of the recipes in FFXIV are far too complicated for that.
In game, recipes come from completing local levequests. Along with the material rewards that go along with completion of the quest (normally raw materials appropriate to the type of crafting used), the quest giver will also tell the adventurer what materials are necessary for one recipe. This prints out in the chat window, and can be easy to miss because it's in normal purple text.These recipes are (to my knowledge) of an appropriate level for the adventurer's crafting skills, though there's a little uncertainty there.
The recipe reads as "You obtain the recipe for _______," and then a list of materials follows.
Of course, doing a local levequest also means using the recipe for whatever item the questgiver wants. This allows a certain amount of double dipping. The recipe isn't printed in the quest data; rather, it can be noted from the requested materials during crafting.
The biggest point to remember is that even if a quest giver recites a recipe as a reward, it doesn't get written down anywhere in game! There is, as of right now, no recipe book. Many recipes are now getting recorded in online databases, but those are still incomplete. It's a good idea to save recipes that come from local levequests in a file (or simply write them down) in case it's a new recipe that no one has in a database yet.
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Online Databases of FFXIV Recipes
Sites built on datamining: These sites are extremely useful since they have a large database of recipes already. One caution: the recipes have not been verified, so it's possible to find duds. The recipe lists are also not complete. Most of these sites have a feedback form for verifying old recipes or adding new ones.
The database that I personally use most often is Yellow Gremlin FFXIV Online Database. It's a WoWhead-style site that's got a lot more than just FFXIV recipes on it.
ZAM: Final Fantasy FFXIV has a good (and detailed) search utility that allows for direct searches on recipes that use certain raw materials.
Final Fantasy XIV Archives has a similar interface to Yellow Gremlin. It only allows logged-in users to add recipes, however.
Wiki Sites: These may not have as many recipes, but the recipes are also more trustworthy since they come directly from users who have presumably already tried them out.
Of the Wiki sites, FFXIVCore is my favorite. The forums over at FFXIVCore are also extremely active and full of a lot of good information on many topics.
Eorzeapedia is another Wiki with a fairly extensive recipe listing.