Some random guide i wrote up because the actual info around for grinding is laughable at best outside of like 2 good guides and some newbies might actually think thats correct
This guide assumes you'll be using the skill grinder at https://www.dreamsleeve.org/wurm/grinder/ and have a basic understanding of how to figure out effective skill+tool ql vs difficulty for some parts, and know the basis for skillgain is a roll between 1.01-39.99 (will be reffered to as 1-40 so i dont have to type it out each time). If a skill has its own tab in the grinder, use it.
Types of grinding
Imping - Use high ql tools and imp one item to the sweet spot (skill x .77 +23), this will give double sized ticks when you are imping above it. If you can get someone with higher skill to give you something imped this high OR can create it high ql by default, it's a huge help. If you're imping it by yourself, you'll get about 60% ticks or so double sized when imping at this point, if you have a friend with much higher skill (or a single imbued tool) keep it slightly higher than this point 100% of ticks will be double sized. Do not let timer length go over 15 seconds when sweet spot imping as this will ruin gains.
You either want to imp something you'd like rare/is valuable when rare, or whatever uses the least materials, or whatever you can create high ql without skill for sweet spot imping.
CoC skillgain only effects thing being used, not parent skill. So if like you're doing fine carp vs carp, imping mallet you'd get 100% carp, but imping rope tool you'd get 100% fine carp 100% carp normally, with 100 coc it'd be mallet 200% carp vs rope tools 100% carp 200% fine carp. Sweet spot changes this to 400% vs 100%/400%. It's anywhere from 25-100% more overall skill to grind with the sub-skills than the parent skills, so if you're planning to grind both to a certain point it's more efficient to grind the sub-skill first.
If you cannot make the materials required to sweet spot imp, you want to imp things that are around 15-0 under your skill, depnding on your tool ql. Tool ql equal to skill you'd want 10ql under. Use the grinder to find out the perfect spot.
Creation - You want your create chance to be 75% if possible, 60-80% is fine but as close to 75% create chance as possible will get you the best skillgain. Some skills have CoC tools avaliable, some don't, some might be a little more hidden(for example, coalmaking you can grind with coc kindling+log by spamming unfinished log piles, but if you were making the actual log piles you wouldn't be using coc for the 24 or whatever logs you have to attach). By default these grind much slower than other skills due to the 33% skillgain on creation/continiung. Best skillgain is around 75% attach chance for continuing, same as creation, if you use equal ql mats to what you used to create it then that's the continue chance. Alcohol increases diff but is too much actions for little benefit here imho
Creating houses is fine skillgain for masonry/carp but doesn't come close to sweet spot imping.
Random skills that might not be obvious/don't deserve their own paragraph
Nat subs - the potency of the cover (part 1 x part 2's potency) is the diff of the item.
Coalmaking - CoC kindling + logs is best, making actual piles is worse.
Firemaking - unfinished torches with CoC Tar. (thanks ping)
Milling - Anything till like 70, corn after that
Paving - imp catseye
Prospecting - prospect with 1ql, tap w each time you queue up actions, if you don't you occasionally set off old anti-macro thing that stops skillgain. if you think skillgain stopped walk to another tile coz you might have set it off.
Prayer - Faith gives a bonus to skillgain so want 100 faith.
Exorcism - Low ql altars, a priest to heal you coz you will get wounds that can kill you. Ql of item you have activated is used as the tool.
Ropemaking - imp fish keep net/net trap. fish one is easier to make, both use .5kg string to imp.
Meditating - Start with like a 40ql rug and drop it over time to 1ql at 60 skill, don't meditate on special tiles as they'll mess with skillgain. you can get 11 at least a month before the timer for it if you're meditating 9x a day.
Shipbuilding - small tackles are impable, 6.5kg, fit in inventory and can be bsb'd if you need to save logs, but a rare ship is a valuable thing you can sell for a sleep bonus fund so either are good.
Cooking/baking/beverages/whatever uses cooking system - you want diff of thing being made to be as close as possible to 10 under your skill. Alcohol increases diff. Best way to grind is to get lots of forges/ovens/whatever, fill hundreds/thousands of items to be made, light them all at once and if using alcohol get yourself to good spot. turn on sleep bonus right as the ticks start flowing in. 30+ diff meals give the biggest skill tick size, anything less than that is smaller ( 1 toast which is 10 diff, has 1/3 the tick size of a 30 diff meal). Meat+veg for HFC, fruit bread for baking, spearmint tea for beverages.
Shield bashing - you have to hit the shield bash for skillgain, if the bash does damage you chance to get another tick that's double sized until 50 skill. Low body control and starving mobs are easier to shield bash (most passive mobs, trolls have really low BC, can combine shield bashing training with pen shield training), so best way to grind in pve would be to pen a troll in a cave and keep it starving but not dead, as are enemy kingdom alts with no armor. PVP has a super bonus to skillgain iirc so bashing alts is the fastest way, but probably frowned upon by pvp purists.
First aid - Bigger wounds - higher diff healing. should be 75% of bandages to actually heal for best skillgain, haven't tested in a while. Wounds on your hands lower your effective first aid skill which means you can use lower diff to grind.
Repairing - Mallet to 50, Ring to 70, Large saddle seat to 85, chain jacket to 100 ( beaut med rugs are better 90+ but dont form piles, chain jackets are much easier to manage but you need a lot more of them). Lava is your best way of damaging to grind, 24 hours on lava gives 96 dmg so its a daily grind thing.
Fishing - you want to balance fish diff vs skill+rod ql+ things on rod. Huge tick for hooking fish, small ticks every few seconds while it's hooked. When you get message that it's hooked, turn on sleep bonus then click to hook it, then turn off sleep bonus after it's caught/swims away. Balance rod ql vs fish caught so that you get around a minute of fighting on the line before it's caught/gets away. If you're catching 100% of them its too easy. Fish nets work until like 40 or so then gains drop off hard. Spear fishing is very good for grinding, but requires you to be watching the game, compared to using a fishing rod which you can set up a wurmassistant notification for when a fish is hooked.
Farming - 1ql rake, potato/cotton/wemp/rye from 1-70, oats/pumpkin/cucumber/reed/barley/carrots 60-100. wheat from 70, cabbage/corn from 85. Garlic with 80+ skill 90+ql rake is good gains too but you need more land to make up for fast rake times. Anything harvested with scythe uses coc/woa for harvesting, all other plants dont coz they use hand to harvest. seed ql+farming skill = plant speed.
Forestry - Harvest is best, pick sprouts if nothing is season
Gardening - imp trellis
Animal taming - (assuming venerable no traits) pig till 40, black bear till 65, cave bug till 75, unicorn till 95, hell horse till 100.
Animal husbandry - shearing sheep is great gains if you have lots of sheep, otherwise groom everything.
Metallurgy - Brass/bronze till 60ish then electrum. Low ql lumps are a necessity.
Jewelry smithing - imp iron bowls, if they go rare you can try for a rare altar vs ball which makes nothing
Plate armor smithing - can imp scale which uses leather, or iron plate.
Lockpicking - lock ql = diff, assuming you're using 80+ql lockpicks lock ql near lockpicking skill will do well for everything past 50, otherwise calc it in the grinder. You can coc/botd the lockpicks but you'll break hundreds of them grinding. Lib basically gets free favor so if you have a good channeling lib botd all the picks
Treb/catapault - Put treb/cata at base of dirtwall, wall on top of dirtwall, shoot 0.1kg lumps, lump lands on dirt wall next to you or inside building, pick it up. Winches is diff for cata, counterweight in treb is diff (25 rock shards = 25 diff)
Thatching - imp thatch roof
Climbing - make a drop shaft in a mine, climb up it until you run out of stam and fall down, climb up again (no fall damage in caves). Chest wounds reduce effective climbing skill which can make it easier to grind.
Archaeology - diff depends on how many disbanded deeds are in the area, you'll need to test it out yourself, you want average frag ql of a stack of 100 to be around 25 or so for best skillgain. Around a 40ql brush at 90 skill was good for me, but that might not be good for you if you have more/less disbanded deeds in area than me. lowish ql chisel to do restoration afterwards
each time you get a message in the middle of an investigate action that gives a chance for skill same as finding a fragment so much faster to skill up on disbanded deeds
Weapon skills - Weapon skill is based on damage dealt, and is capped at around 50% of the enemies health dealt in a single blow, so tanky mobs that you glance a lot against aren't good for skillgain whereas squishy mobs are. You want to avoid fighting trolls scorps anacondas etc *unless* you have a venom weapon and are reasonably strong *or* they're the only thing in the area, but they won't be good skill. Venom is the superior grinding enchant as it removes glance entirely means you hit more often which means more skill more characteristics more affinity chances. BT increases damage+skillgain but often takes you well over the 50% cap on skillgain, FB/FA do not increase skillgain and their damage takes away possible skillgain you could have gotten, RT increases skillgain but also increases damage dealt to the weapon itself so not good for skilling, ED is just bad and people make fun of you for having ED. LT is a contender for best skilling weapon if you're not that strong or there is a lot of mobs in the area that your natural health regeneration can not keep up with. A good skiller would be WoA (nimb if it's a 3 second swing weapon) - Venom/LT - CoC - MS. Good ql armor and weapons, a fast horse+geared up and high Web armor casts on your armor are all massive boosts to how much skill/hour you can get hunting, if anyone tells you WA doesn't work in pve or that you should use aosp in any form inside wurm online thats not a horse barding /ignore them.
Shield skills - Shield skill gained is based on damage blocked, so blocking stronger mobs = more skill. Pen training you're limited to 15 minutes per mob until skillgain stops, this resets after 4 hours of not fighting the mob. Your CR vs theirs is chance for skill tick, so there's lots of variables so you'll have to play around with it yourself to find the best way. Ideally you want something you can tank for the full 15 minutes without healing, and if you're pen training, catch some angry/greenish trolls or hell scorps for high level. Use around a 80ql shield starting out, and once you get to 90ish skill drop it down to 40ql. For grinding mobs, you want things with strong slow attacks, as you can only get shield skill ticks so often. Ideally you want to just get to 60-70ish by hunting in normal fighting and not worry about shield training until you can tank trolls/scorps for extended periods.
If you get in a fight and target something else you won't attack but you can still shield bash, you can also repair your shield and cotton yourself, as long as you don't queue actions, if you do you have to leave combat to fix it.
Make sure you're not in the influence of your god, this will absolutely trash the skillgain calculations by putting your shield blocking difficulties into the negatives, build another gods altar at your shield training pit if needed.
Sindusk goes into depth about shield blocking if you want to calculate gains properly https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DcmhFgG98O6H2tteBtDehhRcn9cdWAD0lQvIdFA69iU/edit#heading=h.rhkeoj4xtjhx
Make sure you're half a tile away from the mob, if you're too close you won't get skill for blocking. You have to face the mob to block. If you need to drop your CR you can either ride a horse and have the horse face away from the mob but you face it (cr uses horses rotation, blocking uses yours) or make a nice dropshaft into the ocean to sit in.
Gathering skills - using a 1ql
Mining - rock(can flatten cave roof for up to 100 mines per click if you have stamina)/iron to 70, copper/slate/lead from 60- 100. you can start with silver at 80, gold at 90, sandstone 99, lower if you use above 1ql pick but since grinding mining at this point is so slow you might need to take a few pickaxes in the mine with you to keep your idea ql level, easier to just use 1ql the whole way. You'll most likely be balancing around your characteristics instead of your mining level anyway.
Digging - Digging is special in the fact that 5 slope - 1 diff so you can grind to 100 digging on moss clay even dirt if you're digging at the base of dirtwalls but for this we'll assume it's flat ground coz its easier. Leveling is 33% skillgain compared to digging, dig to pile if you're dropping it into a bsb after can trigger an old anti-macro thing that stops skillgain so i'd recommend digging to inventory. Dirt/sand/moss from 1-70, clay from 50-100, tar from 85-100. Again you'll most likely be balancing around characteristics not digging and can make dirtwalls to change diff.
Woodcutting - Chopping down diff is based on tree age, cutting up is based on tree type. Most common tree types are 2-10 diff, walnut 15 willow 18 oak 20, so 1-80 you can either cut down+chop up everything with a 1ql hatchet, or cut down with a high ql hatchet, load like 60 felled trees into a wagon/have dedicated storage boats for felled trees, turn on sleep bonus and go to town with a 1ql hatchet and crates nearby to chuck all the low ql logs into for coalmaking grinds or fuel or whatever. After 80 You either want to grow a huge walnut forest (takes irl months to grow to overaged) or have a fo priest wild growth oaks trees (if you're wild growth-ing you can have them all packed together, they only kill nearby trees when they age up naturally), takes like 15 casts or so to take an area to overgrown trees, chop em all down, chuck into a wagon, turn on sleep bonus and go to town with 1ql hatchet. I'd recommend getting yourself a nice wound to grind with, as getting trees to grind with is pretty hard at this point. You can also go around deforesting everything still, but skillgain for WC drops hard after 80 skill if you're cutting down birch/pine/whatever.
Best way to grind at high levels is to give yourself a neck bruise wound and freeze it with a 6 healing cover, easy to get in a spar. neck wound lowers your effective channelling so you can grind with lower difficulty spells indefinitely, just get a 50-60 wound (each 7.6 damage reduces effective channeling by 10%, so a 50 wound is 65% skill reduction) frozen on neck and cast light token/opulence/morning fog until you hit your desired skill. If you're using this way you need to either sacc on a link or only sacc 49 favor at a time because saccing 50+ favor full heals you. If you don't want to grind with the wound the normal way is in the spoiler.
For butchering the animal, diff for meat is parts already butchered x 3, so the first one butchered is 0 diff, the next is 3 diff, one after that 6 diff, and so forth. Around a 15 diff mark is where you'd want to balance your knife ql for. Use CoC+WoA/BOTD and be full health+stam as the butcher/filet time does not effect skillgain, only how many things you butcher. For fileting, diff = damage, so ideally you want to lava the meat to high damage and counter that with a high ql knife for really fast butcher actions. From 1-60 kill+butcher+filet everything with your lowish ql knife, past 60, butcher with a high ql rare+ knife to get the most meat, gather up thousands of it, lava it all at the same time then when you get the right diff turn on sleep bonus and go to town fileting. Pre-fsb meat can be 0.6-1.2kg whereas fsb'd meat is 0.3kg so you'll get way more use out of your time fileting meat before you fsb it ( a 1.2kg meat gives 4 butchering tick chances, a 0.3kg meat gives 1).
Characteristics work similar to channeling, you want the diff to be 10-25 under your characteristics, say you were mining rock (2 diff), you had 90 str, 50 mind logic, 20 stamina. You'd get a str tick on 1.55% of mines, a mind logic on 34% of mines, and a stamina on 53% of mines. Each characteristic does its check seperately so having super high str won't impact your stamina gain for example, but if they were that far apart you wouldn't be able to grind both at the same time effectively. For imping, the diff is equal to the ql of the thing being imped ( imping 90ql tool = 90 diff = no characteristic gain for pretty much anyone). For Melee weapons, its equal to the weapon skill (90 huge axe skill = 90 diff str check = barely any characteristic gain again). CoC does not effect characteristics, i dont care if you heard in ca help that it does because it doesn't.
Best way to grind each characteristic, other ways are almost always slower/require too much input
Body Strength - Woodcutting to 40(will give 2x strength 1x stam ticks when using a hatchet, but hard to use this effectively past 40), mining/digging from there
Body Stamina - mining/digging always, woodcutting is equal with them up to 40
Body Control - Archery or Longsword+shield shield training in pen(requires your attention but great gains), Archaeology(afkable)
Mind logic - Panfilling, Mining/digging
Mind speed - Shield training, Hunting
Soul strength - Mining
Soul Depth - Panfilling, Farming
You can freeze wounds so that they never improve/worsen might have to examine wound if you dont have high first aid
its around 6-10 depending on fat layers to freeze a bad or severe (fo's passive makes severe unbandaged wounds stable and anything below heals, with no fat layers bad wounds should be frozen), depending on your fat layers and if you're fo or not you might have to do some trial and error. Frozen wound = stamina doesn't go up past that point = longer timers = less materials used, good for things like restoration, metallurgy or anything really if you're a path of power boi. Lava gives pretty consistent wounds as does jumping off a dirt wall, so they're a good place to start one. when you're finished and want the wound gone just sacc a rare/like 50 favor worth of things and the wound will instantly heal.
Wounds in certain spots reduce your effective skill, so for example, if you're 70 body strength, and have a 60 wound on your lower back you can mine rock/cut down trees for great body strength/hour. Lower back or top of back = body strength, crotch = body control, face = mind speed
Make sure to only use non-cuts for grinding wounds as cut wounds have a rudimentary infection system where wounds will occasionally increase in worsening rate, unfreezing your wounds.
Rare spamming/Imping rare
Note: Rare creation was changed without patch notes for the NFI launch, effecting all servers, that massively drops the rarity window chance when making tools, weapons or tool/weapon heads. Other forms of rare windows, such as creating bulk resources, resource gathering etc are unaffected and use the old values. Leaving this section for anyone that wants to test, but anecdotal evidence points to extreme diminishing returns in windows after making a rare to the point that imping low quality items is often better.
For rare spamming, you want as many alts as you can handle, ideally premium to get supremes as well (Premium has 0 effect on rare rolls but 4x as likely to get a supreme roll *I don't know if this is still how it is but it's how it was in the past, untested*). Personally when i did it i'd run 9, as 9 64kg lumps fit in a size runed forge. Mine heaps of ore, smelt and combine it and chuck the 64kg lumps into a wagon so you can just drop new combined lumps into the forge as you use them instead of having to mess around with backpacks etc. Once you've got that set up, light your forge and heat up the lumps, while they're heating up set up your accounts in an organised fashion so you don't have to mess around with alt tabbing or anything like that to see the create button in the craft window. Set up a Wurmassistant notification for "Action Queue" With a 25 second notification delay on your first account in the lineup, with a 30 second rare window (20s default, sacrifice 5 valrei items or a bunch of decent ql cordage to get +10 on village bonus) this will make sure you hit the majority of windows while not being wasteful with materials once you factor in the craft timer. During the craft, try not to mess around ingame with your inventory, right clicking things etc as that can use rare windows, https://forum.wurmonline.com/index.php?/topic/183756-rarity-windows-get-consumed-by-actions-that-dont-go-through
You can expect about 1 rare per 2 hours, and 1 supreme per 24 hours, per account, assuming you have 100% create chance (takes about 30-35 skill with a 90ql tool for most tools you'd want to spam). 9 Accounts would get about 4.5 rares an hour and a supreme every 3 hours on average, for example.
For imping rare, put a tin vyn rune on it and imp with super high ql tools every 25 seconds, same wurmassistant thing as before. Because the imp needs to be successful, lower skill will make this easier (imping 20ql with 20 skill 90ql tool is like 75-80% success rate depending on parent skills etc, 90 for all is 51% chance). If you only want a rare and don't care about supreme, a non-premium account is best for this due to them being capped at 20 skill, therefore never leaving the perfect spot for imping rare. Otherwise, on an alt, give them high ql no enchant tools, freeze a wound at like 60 dmg for longer timers and imp away. On a successful imp with a rare window, it's 1/5 chance to go rare and 1/25 chance to go supreme (so for a 50% successful imp rate, would be 1/10 and 1/50 for example), compared to creations 100% for rare and 1/12 for supreme. Again, don't mess around with the client while imping or before imping as per that post above.
if you comment below just to argue rethink life