Map of Outland
This information is preliminary, based on publically released information for the new expansion and reports from the closed beta. Information may change prior to the expansion release.
Skinning is directly related to leatherworking, but the leather and hides produced are also needed by blacksmiths, engineers, and tailors for various projects. With a trusty Skinning Knife in hand, a skinner can retrieve leather and hides from many beasts through Azeroth. Skinning Knives can be found from Trade Suppliers and some Leatherworking Suppliers. You do not need to equip the Skinning Knife, just have it with you (NB, Skinning Knives have no durability, so they make a good fallback dagger in the event your main weapon goes red).
To skin, just kill a beast and loot it. You can't skin an unlooted mob. You can even skin someone else's kill, as long as they've looted it. When you mouse over the body, if it says "Skinnable" in the tooltip, you're set. To protect your skins from being accidentally looted by someone else, wait until all combat is complete to loot the mob, then skin each mob immediately after looting.
Skinning is the easiest of the gathering professions to level, since the resource nodes come to you (and you get xp from killing them and making them harvestable). Many of the skinnable items - especially scales - can also drop from the kill, but the drop rate is significantly lower. As a general rule, you need to have a minimum Skinning skill around (mob level x 5) to be able to skin it.
Skinning also makes certain gathering quests easier (in particular, the yeti hide quests in Feralas and Winterspring). There's a chance to get the quest item off the skinning as well as the drop, so this gives you a second chance. You can even get the quest skin off both, doubling your rate of progress.
Note that to skin The Beast, Skinning skill of 310 or better is required. Usually, this is accomplished by obtaining Finkle's Skinner (conveniently dropped by The Beast on Blackrock Spire). Since this is a dagger, paladins will be unable to equip it; paladins thus cannot use this to become an über skinner. By convention, paladins (and others without 300 Skinning) should always roll Greed for this weapon, as only a 300 Skinner who can equip the dagger will be able to skin The Beast and make his hide available to the party. The other option is to obtain the Zulian Slicer, a rare drop from High Priest Thekal in Zul'Gurub. This is a Rare quality 1H Sword (and thus the only way for paladins to reach 310 Skinning). Either the Skinner or Slicer functions also functions as a Skinning Knife, so the skinner will no longer need to carry one separately.
To skin Core Leather from the Corehounds of Molten Core, you need the Skinner or Slicer and the glove enchant.
As with all gathering professions, when grouped with other skinners, you need to agree on the loot rules for skins in advance. This is especially important for Molten Core runs, since Core Leather is a very rare commodity. Also, since you can skin kills from other players, you should make sure that the skinnable body you find is really abandoned.
There are skinning trainers in all the capital cities as well as some of the starting zones. Ask a city guard for directions to the nearest skinning trainer. All skinning trainers are able to train up to Artisan level.
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