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World of Warcraft uses tradeskills to facilitate the creation and enhancement of gear. Tradeskills are broken into three categories: Gathering, Crafting, and what are called "Secondary" skills. A player can learn two tradeskills at a time, in addition to the three "Secondary" skills of First Aid, Fishing, and Cooking. Depending on the tradeskills the player selects, they can gather items to sell, create items to wear, modify existing items, or all of the above.
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There are three gathering skills in World of Warcraft. Gathing involves venturing out into the open world and finding items that you can use to create other things. You can only have two professions trained at any given time, but they can both be gathering skills should you so choose.
Herbalism allows you to gather specific herbs, plants, and flowers found out in the world. You can locate gatherable items using the Find Herbs ability that you gain when you train the skill. Different herbs require different skill levels to gather. Herbalists can also gather herbs off of certain dead elementals. The herbs gathered can be used to make potions by the Alchemy tradeskill, or turned into inks for the Inscription tradeskill. They also fetch a high price on the auction house.
Skinning allows the player to skin deceased beasts and dragonkin. The mob must be fully looted in order to be skinned, but the skinner does not have to be the player that killed it. The hides and leather gathered from skinning are primarily used in the Leatherworking profession, though occasionally are used in certain Engineering and Tailoring recipes. Certain hides and leathers sell very well on the auction house.
Having the mining skill enables a player to locate ore nodes in the open world and extract ore, stones, and precious gems from them. Nodes are located using the Find Minerals skill that you learn when you first train in mining. The materials gathered from mining are used in the Blacksmithing, Engineering, and Jewelcrafting professions. Most ore and gems can make a lot gold for the gatherer when sold on the auction house.
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There are 8 crafting tradeskills that are used to create items that can either be worn or used to enhance your character in some other way. Nearly all of these directly benefit from a specific gathering tradeskill, but not all. You may have two crafting professions learned at any given time should you so choose.
The Alchemy tradeskill is used to create potions, elixirs, and flasks, as well as to transmute certain high level items into other items. Herbs are the most common ingredient in Alchemy recipes, so Alchemy benefits most from being coupled with the Herbalism gathering skill.
The Inscription tradeskill was recently added in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Scribes can create glyphs that a person can "inscribe" or attach to their spellbook in order to enhance specific spells or abilities. They can also create Inscriptions that enchant shoulder slot items, create magical cards, and create off-hand frills that benefit spellcasters. Scribes create ink out of herbs to use in their Inscriptions, so the Inscription profession benefits most from being coupled with Herbalism.
The Leatherworking tradeskill allows a player to create leather and mail armor as well as drums that grant temporary buffs to the leatherworker's group. They can also craft armor kits that any player can apply to certain armor slots to grant bonuses. Leatherworking logically uses a lot of leather, and therefore benefits most from being coupled with the Skinning gathering skill.
The Blacksmithing tradeskill is used to craft mail and plate armor, as well as weapons. Metal bars are the primary material used in Blacksmithing, so it logically benefits most from the mining gathering skill.
Engineers are masters of technology, gadgets, and explosives. The engineering tradeskill is used to create fun items, trinkets, pets, mounts, head gear, and more! There are a lot of neat tricks that an engineer can learn and an endless amount of gadgets are at their disposal. Most things an engineer creates are made out of metal, so mining is the gathering skill most commonly associated with it.
Jewelcrafting was the new profession introduced in The Burning Crusade expansion pack. Jewelcrafters can craft rings, necklaces, and trinkets, as well as a few fun limited use items. They can also cut gems, imbuing them with special powers depending on their color and cut. These gems are used to enhance gear items that contain sockets. Gems are found while mining and when the jewelcrafter prospects ore, so the most logical gathering pairing is the Mining tradeskill.
The tailoring tradeskill is different in that the materials needed for it are not found with a gathering tradeskill. Varying types of cloth drops of mobs in the open world, no matter who picks them up. Tailors can use this cloth to craft cloth armor, cloaks, bags, and magical spellthreads that are embroidered onto armor to give it bonuses. Because tailoring produces a lot of magical items and doesn't require a gathering skill, it is often combined with Enchanting.
Enchanting, much like tailoring, isn't associated with a gathering skill. Rather, the materials needed for enchanting are gathered by using the Disenchant skill associated with the trade. Magical items, ie: Uncommon, Rare, or Epic quality items with bonuses, can be disenchanted into materials, destroying the item. Those materials can then be used to add bonuses to other armor or weapons. Because Enchanting uses a lot of magical items and doesn't require a gathering skill, it is often combined with Tailoring.
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The three secondary skills in World of Warcraft are First Aid, Fishing, and Cooking. Anyone can learn all three of these, in addition to their two main tradeskills.
First Aid is used to create bandages, which can be used once per minute to heal damage. It is also used to create Anti-Venom which cures poisons.
Cooking allows the player to take basic meat, eggs, and other items and cook it into consumables that heal damage, restore mana, and grant bonuses.
By far the hardest secondary skill the level, and one of the most useful, fishing allows you to catch fish using a fishing pole and lures or bait. While trying to catch fish you will often fish up items, crates, and other materials that can be sold or used for a variety of things.