This originally appeared as an article/guide written by me on Ringthree's blog.
Critical Break is our crafting and economics column written by Qtipus. Q is an experienced crafter and also well versed in using the Auction House to turn a decent profit. Enough so that he was able to fund his own relic, Gungnir. Every Tuesday you will find Q's rants, raves and good crafting practices here. This week, Q continues his 0-60 series with the fourth installment: Leathercraft.
Leathercraft is a craft that's got a ton of options to skill up with until about 40. It's also a craft you can make a little gil from as you skill since most of the stuff you'll be skilling up on has a purpose in a later synth or a purpose to a higher level crafter you can make some money off of.
This guide will mostly cover the synths that are relatively easy to farm up materials for. Unlike my last guide (Woodworking), the vast majority of these synths I'll be having you rely on farming up your materials.
Don't be too concerned though. Most of the synth materials have excellent drop rates. Become familiar with a favorite location to pick up distilled water and windurstian tea leaves as a lot of synths will require them.
Phase 1: Sheep, Rabbits and Lizards Oh My
Not exactly the fiercest critters in the world of FFXI. Fortunately, all three of these mobs have spots you can just maul them pretty much non-stop.
Sheep leather has so many purposes it's beyond ridiculous. This means that demand and pricing for it are relatively high compared to the amount of work put in to make a stack or two. Definitely cap on these and then some. With so many synths that use this, it's pretty obvious that there will be synths later on in this guide where you'll need it. Due to this (and the sheer amount of "(animal name) leather" synths you will be doing, strongly consider the Tanning key item when you're able to start turning in GP for it.
Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Sheepskin, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves
Cap: Level 2
If you paid attention to my Clothcraft guide, you'll note that around level 30, these become rather handy to skill up with. You don't have to do this synth really, but having clothcraft to a point where you can make your own wool thread will be very handy in coming synths. Skill up on this either way and then either turn it into wool thread or sell it.
Recipe: Wind Crystal, 2x Sheepskin
Cap: Level 4
I put this entry here because I hate rabbits and the less time I'm dealing with them, the better. Since you can make your own sheep leather now, make a stack, then just cap on these and NPC them.
Recipe: Wind Crystal, 1x Sheep Leather
Cap: Level 5
Farm up a few Yagudo necklaces, make a couple stacks of grass thread, then get ready to go spend some serious time with the bunnies. I hate bunnies and needing 5 of their hides for one synth just makes things worse. Good news is that the hides are usually up on the AH in spades and are sold from the guild for relatively cheap if you don't want to fool around with farming. Sell off a few of the mantles on the AH (pretty much only mantle anyone can get prior to the mid-teen levels) to recover your losses and NPC the rest. Also, don't forget to save one to turn in for your first rank up.
Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Grass Thread, 5x Rabbit Hide
Cap: Level 7
I only listed these because they're in virtually every guide out there, with good reason. The synth is easy to farm up mats for and you've actually got a decent gap you can cover level-wise if you choose to cap on it. However, there's a better synth that's come along since a lot of those guides were written. Nab a couple levels off these if you want, NPC the results, then move to the next synth.
Recipe: Wind Crystal, 2x Sheep Leather
Cap: Level 11
Anything with lizard skins in the synth I'm generally going to be a fan of. Why? Because the lizards in Crawler's Nest drop skins like nobody's business. It really isn't uncommon to walk out of that place with 4-6 stacks of skins in about an hour of farming. Should be more than enough to cap on this synth. AH or NPC the results for a little gil and be on your way.
Recipe: Wind Crystal, 2x Lizard Skin
Cap: Level 12
I chose this synth mostly to close the gap between the previous synth and the next one. I also chose it because it doesn't require you to camp the AH for lizard molts and because you can buy leather gloves from an NPC for 200-300gil or so. These also sell decently well on starter city AH's, so you can recover a bit of your loss very easily and then some.
Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Leather Gloves, 1x Lizard Skin
Cap: Level 16
Phase 2: Elvaans and Galkas...er...Dhalmel and Bugards
If you noticed so far, there hasn't really been a large gap for you to just get out and run with your skillups. You pretty much change synths every 2-3 levels. The trend will continue here.
This has a lot of uses just like sheep leather. Not as many, but still enough to be in consistent demand and to actually sell for a bit more at times than sheep leather. You can farm up the hides rather easily in Buburimu Penisula or Tahrongi Canyon. I found Buburimu easier to farm though. Definitely cap on these and AH your results. Turn in a pair of Lizard Cesti once you hit 18.
Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Dhalmel Hide, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves
Cap: Level 21
This is purely a bridge synth. Farm the hides up in Lufaise Meadows or Misareaux Coast. They don't really have much of a use for anyone unless they're making bugard straps (which are decent in their own right), but you can AH the results for a little money. If you make these to cap, you'll cut down the amount of time (or money) you'll be spending on the next synth.
Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Bugard Hide, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves
Cap: Level 24
Remember that sheep wool you made earlier? If you turned it into wool thread, you're going to save yourself a lot of headache and money. Save one for your rank up item. You may have some luck selling a few of these in a starter city, but I woudln't hold my breath.
Recipe: Ice Crystal, 1x Dhalmel Hide, 1x Wool Thread
Cap: Level 27
Phase 3: The Oddities
This is about where it starts getting tough and where it starts spreading the level gaps out a bit.
Remember all that sheep leather you made earlier? Time to use it. If you can catch gold dust on the AH (or make your own since it's a level 47 goldsmithing synth), this sells pretty decently and for a profit. It's used the SCH job quest and the Retrace quest. Rolanberries can be bought from a couple Jeuno NPCs and the cooking guild for 120ish ea.
Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Gold Dust, 1x Sheep Leather, 1x Rolanberry
Cap: Level 31
If you don't want to mess with the gold dust (or can't), this is pretty much the exact same synth. Along with a few quests, it's also used in various recipes whereas Vellum is not. I'd recommend going with this over Vellum unless you want to try to make a little more money off your products.
Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Sheep Leather, 1x Rolanberry
Cap: Level 31
This is here for a pure money-making synth. If you get your wolf hides from the guild or the AH for < 700 ea., you can NPC the mantle for around ~1.1-1.2k. The hides sell for as low as 480ish gil from Guild. If you farm up the hides (which aren't entirely difficult to do, but definitely not as easy as sheep or dhalmel), that's even more money for you. This is also another synth where I'm gonna tell you "I told you so" in regards to the wool thread. Definitely make these to cap.
Recipe: Ice Crystal, 1x Wolf Hide, 1x Wool thread
Cap: Level 33
This is a bit of an oddball synth. This will be the only time I instruct you to use the willow log recipe. I normally hate using the log recipe due to the fact that the logs aren't stackable like the tea leaves, but since you'll be using the leather in a later synth, take advantage of it and keep going.
Farming the ram skins up is relatively easy since the rams in the highlands and plateau area drop between 0-6 at a time (go go TH), but for some odd reason, SE figured it'd be good to cap one ram leather recipe at 35 and another at 36.
Recipe 1: Dark Crystal, 1x Ram Skin, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves
Cap: Level 35
Recipe 2: Dark Crystal, 1x Ram Skin, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Willow Log
Cap: Level 36
Catch the wolf hides cheap on the AH or through the guild, make some cotton thread, cap on these and NPC the results. If you catch the price of the hides at 500gil or less and you made your own cotton thread, you'll break even. Turn in a magic belt when you hit 38.
Recipe: Earth Crystal, 1x Cotton Thread, 1x Wolf Hide
Cap: Level 39
Hopefully you made enough ram leather to get you through this part. Easy enough synth, has little to no value anywhere else other than to NPC. They do NPC for anywhere from 1.7-2.5k though, so you will make some decent money off it. Just be careful how much you pay for ram skins if you elect not to go out farming the rest of what you need to cap here. Definitely do cap here, you'll need every cheap level you can get.
Recipe: Wind Crystal, 2x Ram Leather, 1x Grass Thread
Cap: Level 43
This is the last synth you'll have that's "easy". The mantles NPC for around 1k. If you farmed up your skins and your thread, you're in good shape, but you're going to need A LOT of them. A six level gap is painful to say the least with this synth, but at least you're not going to be losing tons of gil. Again, cap your skill on these. Turn in a Cuir Bouilli for your final test item in this guide when you hit 48.
Recipe: Ice Crystal, 1x Ram Skin, 1x Wool Thread
Cap: Level 49
Phase 4: The Slow March Home
You've got a choice here. You can go straight to tiger leather or you can bridge the gap a bit. Tiger leather actually caps at 61. The hides are usually cheap and the tigers are easy enough to farm, but for this guide's purposes, an 11 level gap means slow skillups and lots of breaks. Ultimately, you will make money off the tiger leather, but it will be a slow and painful process.
Most guides I've seen list a raptor mantle here instead of the strap. This is due to the fact that the strap wasn't around when those guides were written. If you're going to use 2 raptor skins in the mantle synth anyway, you may as well eliminate the whole grass thread portion of it and just deal with the skins. Cap on these if you choose. It's not easy to farm the skins and the skins aren't super cheap off the AH in comparison to how much the results sell for on the AH or to NPC.
Recipe: Wind Crystal, 2x Raptor Skin
Cap: Level 53
Get ready to hate tigers. Most places that have them usually don't have them together in bunches like lizards or sheep. Glacier or Jugner tend to offer up the easiest farming opportunities and you can even mix it up by killing off Smilodon from the WotG areas. Regardless of where you choose to farm, try to avoid buying hides off the AH or from the guild until you're around 55-56. It's at this point where you won't have as many breaks and losses. Fortunately, tiger leather has a ton of purposes and sells for a pretty good chunk of gil. This will ultimately be your main money maker as you skill this craft up, but it will also be the longest 7-11 levels you've encountered so far in any craft.
Recipe: Dark Crystal, 1x Tiger/Smilodon Hide, 1x Distilled Water, 1x Windurstian Tea Leaves
Cap: Level 61, but level 60 for this guide's purposes.
Congrats! Your leathercraft is now 60 and a completely useful sub. It's one of the more common subcrafts that are used among all the crafts. I found this to be rather easy to skill up except for the final stretch. The variety of synths available early on make this appealing to a lot of beginning crafters as there really aren't any synths that are ridiculously hard to farm the materials up for. The variety also helps out in the entertainment arena as it gets completely boring to just sit on one synth for levels on end.
The good thing about leathercraft though is that once you get the tanning key item, running out to farm up enough skins for a few stacks of leather becomes a decent money maker. It's definitely one of the few crafts that don't entirely rely on your ability to HQ it's "consumables" for money.
Next week: I haven't decided. Only Smithing, Goldsmithing, Cooking and Alchemy left at this point in the series. :)