Leatherworking/Skinning Combo: Falling Victim to Current Content and Speed of Leveling

February 9, 2011 at 2:30 am (Leatherworking, Professions)

Over the weekend I was leveling up a hunter on a separate server than my main – one that some friends share.  What I discovered was, with the reduced XP requirements for leveling, along with guild bonuses, meant that I was out leveling my ability to skin and LW to make appropriate gear.  In fact, I was forced to go back and kill and skin beasts that were gray to me, just to get into the next level of leather.  For the purposes of this column, please assume that when I speak of a leatherworker, it is a skinning & leatherworking combination – those who skin for auction house purposes only need not apply, as it is easy to skin the roughly 5 beasts per level required.

I want to start by stating that this problem will affect all skill trades, but skinning and leatherworking may prove to be especially hard hit.  Of the primary trades, only skinning (leatherworking by association) and tailoring require direct drops from mobs.  Mining and herbalism are both affected by the new speed of leveling, and the addition of awarding experience to these two gathering professions.  However, both of these skills award multiple units per node; skinning almost never drops more than a single piece of leather.  Given that leatherworking recipes contain roughly the same volume of materials as alchemy/ironworking/etc, you generally need to mine and herb fewer nodes than creatures that need to be killed for a given piece of gear.

Regarding tailoring, the pre-Wrath situation seems to have reversed and is easier in the early levels compared to skinning.  It seems to me that the changes to the questing in Cataclysm have made more of the quests against humanoid targets, and fewer “kill 20 boars and come back.”  With more humanoid targets, the rate of potential drops of cloth has risen and the creatures available to skin as a part of our questing process have dropped.

Currently, leatherworkers are forced to engage additional creatures outside of the “normal” questing process to gain enough materials to raise their skills at the nominal rate of 5 points per level.  However, each additional creature killed (unless you’re so far behind you are killing grey creatures) adds additional XP, which in turn works towards raising your character’s level.  This is an example of a positive feedback system (for the engineers in the crowd), and the result will eventually be either grinding low level mobs to make up for a deficiency, or stopping questing and grinding appropriate level mobs.  Add things like guild bonuses and heirloom gear, and the situation will quickly be out of balance.

The only other option is to find a zone where there are several quests that involve the wholesale killing of beasts for skinning, i.e. the Nessingwary questlines.  While this does mitigate the problem somewhat, it essentially limits what zones a skinner/leatherworker may operate in.  For example, I prefer leveling in the Stonealton Mountians, particularly since I’m leveling a Night Elf Hunter.  From a lore and (gasp) RP standpoint, it makes sense as a guardian of the forest to level and combat the Horde’s intrusion in that area.  Instead, I’m nearly required to travel to Northern Stranglethorn and join the ranks of big-game hunters seeking to depopulate species.  While my Dwarf hunter had no such reservations, it seems to me that any Night Elf in that camp would find their picture posted on the wall of Tendrassil’s Post Office, courtesy of D.E.T.A.

As things currently stand, leatherworkers who do their own gathering are going to find themselves behind the curve at several points in the game.  The linear nature of the 80-85 quests, along with the 4.0.6 patch, has mitigated this in the end-game content to a certain extent.  Those who are leveling a new character on a particular server are in some sense better off, they should know the zones and be able to pick and chose those with quests allowing more opportunities for skinning.  Those who are leveling alts may find it easier to buy leather in the auction house, rather than continue to grind time skinning for their leatherworking skills.  But, sad to say, it is the new player, who has joined a large guild but has no practical experience, will find themselves too short of cash to play the AH for materials, and will grind far longer than necessary.

The issue can be fixed – the “people here are starving” type quests that give you a chance to pick up leather (and, possibly, cooking mats as well) might be added to the occasional quest hub around the area.  With the changes in Cataclysm, hunger and need could easily be written into the script of an area.  This isn’t so much for the established player, but the player without resources to bank on.



  1. koalabear21 said,

    Having finally gotten my leatherworker to 525 I can completely sympathize with this problem.

    The sheer amount of raw materials needed to level this profession is insane. People complain about Blacksmithing being a pain to level have never leveled Leatherworking. >.>

    For those that are still trying to level this profession the crocs in Tol Barad are WONDERFUL to farm leather on. If you want dragonscale go to the drakes in Twilight Highlands or the small breeding ground in Hyjal.

    ALSO! If you want to skin the bosses in dungeons you will need 530 skinning. I had to make special “skinng” gloves to be able to skin these guys. To make matters worse they don’t even drop a hide! 😦

    Sorry for the rant!

  2. rustbeard said,

    Rants are welcome! I well understand, leveling from the 500-525 the grind was akin to repeatedly driving one’s head into a spike mounted on a rough brick wall. The crocs also drop some great meat for tank food – being able to pass out free food really helps the guildmates.

    • koalabear21 said,

      We have so much strength food in the food tab. >.<

      I even made the Au Gratin version because we had so much of the strength food.

  3. Flibbletalos said,

    Just the sheer amount of leather required to level the profession is insane and to top it all off you must have even more leather to buy your patterns. So to those that dont have the experience of the game to know where to go or the gold to buy the mats, hang in there and keep grinding it will be a sweet pay out at the end.

    Good luck and happy Hunting all

    Rusty’s Achievement Whore Rival

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