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The Light and How to Swing It: Paladin 3.0 - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 18:00:00 EST

It's pretty exciting, isn't it? Patch 3.0 is coming, well, "soon[TM]" according to Blizzard. Considering that our favorite class hasn't gotten a second pass, it might be a bit premature to talk about Paladin changes when the pre-Wrath patch finally hits. That said, it looks like more than a few new talents will make it at least into the PTRs more or less intact. Hopefully and changes we'll see during our second pass will be tweaks to numbers and some mechanics refinements but hopefully no major changes.

Assuming that most of the changes push through, we should expect a completely different Paladin in the coming months. Even without taking the new talents into account, there are baseline changes that should make gameplay technically different. The most significant change, of course, is in the way Judgements work. This is the one change that will take some getting used to. First of all, there are now three Judgements and they activate the GCD. This means no more macros for Seals and Judgements, which is actually fine because of two things: first, Judgements no longer consume Seals; second, Seals now last for a micromanagement-light two minutes.

Continue reading The Light and How to Swing It: Paladin 3.0

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All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a troll - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 17:10:00 EST
This installment of All the World's a Stage is the third in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

Trolls are based on the "wild savages" you've seen in the movies or on TV, from King Kong to Discovery channel. If you've seen people hunting with spears, walking around in the forest without many clothes on, or dancing around in costumes and face paint in some kind of ritual you've never heard of, you've seen the apparent inspiration for trolls in World of Warcraft. The culture of Warcraft trolls are a mishmash of all the different myths and rumors that have grown up about some of the earth's indigenous peoples that live outside modern society: Strange voodoo beliefs and rituals? Check. Bloodthirsty headhunters with a taste for cannibalism? Check. Witch doctors, shrunken heads, human sacrifice, and rampant superstition? Check on all counts.

It's important to note here that troll culture is based on the myths about some indigenous people, not on their reality. Cannibalism, for instance, has been rare among human societies, nearly always viewed as anathema, but among the trolls of Azeroth, it appears to be the rule rather than the exception. Unbiased study of the world's primal religions has shown them to be far more sophisticated than early (and prejudiced) Western explorers ever imagined. Don't listen to the Jamaican accent trolls have in the game and assume that trolls are based on real life Jamaicans. There is nowhere near the correlation here that we might find with the dwarves and the Scotts, or even the draenei and the Romanians that they sound like. Indeed, one could argue that the choice of a Jamaican accent to represent the trolls and their culture reveals a great deal of ignorance we Americans have regarding Caribbean islanders -- but that's a discussion I'll not go into today.

Suffice it to say that as a member of the Darkspear tribe, the only tribe of trolls to join the Horde, your character living in a time of great change for your people. Your tribe is the first to embrace the more modern values promoted by Thrall, to take up the spiritual practices of shamanism, and to integrate itself with other races. Although the Darkspears have officially given up human sacrifice, cannibalism, and now tell you to "stay away from the voodoo," these practices are all elements of religion and superstition that your character would have grown up with, and may find it hard to let go of completely.

Continue reading All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a troll

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Then let them eat cake - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 16:00:00 EST

While it isn't the most exciting, mind-blowing, game-changing addition to Dalaran thus far, I thought the addition of a cupcake vendor was pretty cool, especially now that they've itemized it. The vendor has some mundane found that are still pretty fun like Dalaran Brownies and Carrot Cupcakes, which are charming but not entirely what grabbed my attention.

What did grab my attention? She sells cakes! The Lovely Cake and Chocolate Celebration Cake are sold on this vendor, perhaps a little expensive (about 25g), but they work pretty neat. The cakes are used like Lightwells (Cakewell?), you lay them on the ground with a targeting circle and 5-10 of your friends can grab a slice. Maybe a Mage's food table was a better comparison, but I prefer the idea of a cakewell.

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The new Misery - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 14:00:00 EST

Many Shadow Priests are not feeling very good about the state of the class in LK right now. Yes, buffs to DPS are promised. But a lot of our utility has tanked, from Shadow Weaving not affecting other players, to Vampiric Touch being dialed down and given to other classes, to Misery. It's sad, but amusing that a talent named Misery would get nerfed this hard.

Currently, in live, Misery gives 1/2/3/4/5% increased spell damage for all players against targets affected by your Shadow Word: Pain, Mind Flay, and Vampiric Touch. Pretty sweet. As of the latest beta version, it's +1/2/3% spell hit for all players against targets affected by the same spells. The reason this is especially bad (besides that the last two ranks of the talent were removed) is that most casters are hit-capped when they raid, which means that additional spell hit doesn't help them at all.

So either players are going to start gearing assuming Misery will be up - which defeats Blizzard's stated goal of making it so no class is truly essential for a raid - or Misery is going to be worthless most of the time (outside of leveling maybe). This seems like a good case of a broken talent, and so I have every hope that it will get addressed during the beta. But as of right now, Misery is pretty miserable indeed.

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Vaneras announces closure of four European servers - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 13:00:00 EST
European CM Vaneras made an interesting announcement just the other day: Four EU realms will be closing entirely with Patch 3.0. The EU realms Molten Core, Shadowmoon, Stonemaul, and Warsong will be closing up shop, and free character transfers will be offered to other, currently unannounced EU realms. The destination options will be announced within the next week.

Don't worry, though. These realm closures have nothing to do with any dips in WoW's popularity. It's actually due to the launch of WoW's Russian localization. A vast majority of the players on those particular realms were Russian players, and they migrated to the new Russian servers when they opened up, leaving most everyone else high and dry. The equipment these four servers run off of will likely just be used elsewhere, since Vaneras stated they'll be prepped for Wrath of the Lich King's launch after being taken down. Most likely they'll need to launch a few more realms when Wrath rolls around, but it was just far easier to fold these four into larger communities at this point.

[ Thanks, Swarfy! ]

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WoW Moviewatch: Divided Soul - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 12:00:00 EST

WeGame's epic machinima contest, that we announced at the beginning of the month, ends today. As of August 29th, they mentioned a whopping 78 entries have been submitted so far. However, since then, there have been a few very talented machinimators that came out of the woodwork to participate.

Martin Falch is one such machinimator, with his story of love and friendship, Divided Soul. When Kareth and Sarlek meet under unusual circumstances, a bond is formed for what seems like a lifetime, but will eventually crumble. Martin takes us on a journey through their lives, leading us to the outcome, which, according to him, will possibly leave you scratching your head. We don't want to give it away, but he suggests looking at the name of the movie for further guidance.

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Ask a Beta Tester: Glyphs and gorlocs - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 11:00:00 EST

Isn't this fella cute? Sooo cute? Adorable!? No? He isn't? Yeah, i don't think so either. We'll get back to these horrible abominations a little later, because Meethan asked...

Is Hunger For Blood, the 51 point Assassination talent, at all useful for solo leveling?

I asked a friend of mine about this since I don't personally play a Rogue, and he says popular opinion is that Hunger for Blood is mostly going to be a PvP talent. Keeping the damage buff up constantly while questing isn't worthwhile, and the debuff clearing it provides will be highly situational while soloing through Northrend. You can take it if you're gung ho about Assassination, but you'd be better served picking up something else until you start PvPing often.

Drewcast asked...

Are there or will there be any Aldor vs. Scryer type factions?

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: Glyphs and gorlocs

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Around Azeroth: The replacement - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 10:00:00 EST

Hello, sir. I'm afraid that Kil'jaeden is not available to take your summon right now. I'm Nidhogg, his official assistant, and I'm filling in for him today. What do you need? A raid slaughtered? A world devoured? The slow corruption of a government? Wait! Please, don't go! I really need this chance. My wife is expecting and I'm looking for a promotion to a position within the Legion that offers health insurance.

Actually, Nidhogg of Frostmourne-EU snapped this photo after a bugged Kael'thas kill. He noticed that he and his group were able to "fly around as they pleased", so he took the opportunity to sneak into a suddenly non-hostile Sunwell for this pic. Thanks for the screenshot, Nidhogg!

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!

Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more sunsets.

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Sunday Morning Funnies: Your lack of faith is disturbing - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 09:00:00 EST
It might be a long weekend, but that's no excuse not to read your funnies! We have some new faces, the return of a beloved comic, a comic/craft hybrid, and more.

New additions

  1. The Emissary - Act 1. This is the beginning of a new project from Barry T. Smith, a departure from his usual style with InkTank and Angst Technology.
  2. Manic Graffiti is back! Let's start with the Pax Arcana Lich King Special.
  3. This isn't new, but it's a debut for this list. Sluggy Freelance's Years of Yarncraft Papercrafts! There are lots. Here's one.
  4. Check out mmolecule, or "GG" Comics by Ken Harrison. WoW players meet up with the Force.
Comedy with a plot
  1. LFG: No, that's not Legara.
  2. Road to BlizzCon, Sin'dorei Scheming Part 2.
  3. Welcome to Booty Bay!
  1. Extra Life illustrates the difference between respawning and reincarnation.
  2. GU Comics points out that There's a Good Reason.
  3. It's back to school time and Monkey Punchers celebrates. BTS.
  4. NoObz. There's a flaw in the strategy.

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WoW Crossword 08/31/08 - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 08:30:00 EST

Do you like puzzles, of course you do! This week's puzzle focuses on the PvP areas of game -- both Battlegrounds and Arena. You can find the clues for this crossword after the break. Answers to this week's puzzle will appear next Sunday.

Continue reading WoW Crossword 08/31/08

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Breakfast Topic: Your Four Horsemen - Sun, 31 Aug 2008 08:00:00 EST
On this fine Sunday morning, we're going to play a game of 'what if.' As you may or may not know, The Four Horsemen is an encounter in the Naxxramas raid dungeon, loosely based on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In the Scourge, the Four Horsemen are basically the top dog Death Knights, the best they have to offer. We don't know a ton about each of the Horsemen, but we know enough to know that they're pretty hardcore.

What if the Lich King and the Scourge were to win the war in Northrend? What if they totally whooped our butts, and wash over Azeroth unopposed, then moved on to bigger and better things like taking out their adversaries the Burning Legion? With all of the heroes of Azeroth at their disposal to raise as the Undead, who do you think would be the new Four Horsemen? Pick from anybody in Warcraft history, alive or dead. Death is meaningless to the Scourge, after all.

My picks? Highlord Bolvar Fordragon, High Overlord Saurfang, Anduin Lothar, and Tirion Fordring. Obvious choices? Yeah, probably. You gotta admit though, those four riding on the side of the Scourge would be pretty bad news for whoever is on the other side of the battlefield. I considered Uther as well, but personal preference puts the other four on top. So what are your draft picks? Don't worry about lorelol or anything like that. Comedy answers are fine. Picking people just because they're cool is fine, too.

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The Creamy GUI Center Hardware Edition: Ideazon Fang Gamepad - Sat, 30 Aug 2008 22:00:00 EST

Each week Matthew Porter contributes The Creamy GUI Center, a column aimed at helping you enhance your WoW experience by offering an in depth guide to addons, macros and other tools we use to play WoW, along with commentary on issues that affect how we all play.

Welcome addon and interface enthusiasts to this week's The Creamy GUI Center. I hope my American readers are having a relaxing and safe Labor Day weekend. Because of all the positive feedback I received on my review of the Logitech G series gaming keyboard, I decided this week to look at another set of hardware accessories. In the coming weeks I'll be featuring more gamepads such as the Belkin Nostromo series, and Wolf King Warrior gamepad, but this week's showcase is the Ideazon Fang Gamepad and Merc Gaming Keyboard. How do they fair and will they be an asset to your WoW game play? Let's find out!

Continue reading The Creamy GUI Center Hardware Edition: Ideazon Fang Gamepad

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Rogues in 8885: Tricks of the Trade - Sat, 30 Aug 2008 20:00:00 EST

Most of the shiny gifts that were given to Rogues in the latest beta build were previewed last night in an unusually large post by Blizzard, but there is one that they were coy about, and it's the new level 75 skill: Tricks of the Trade. Fortunately, MMO-Champion is resourceful, and has found it out:
  • The current party or raid member becomes the target of your Tricks of the Trade. The threat caused by your next attack and all actions taken for 6 sec afterwards will be transferred to the target. In addition, all damage caused by the target is increased by 15% during this time.

As many people have mentioned by now, this is basically an amped-up Misdirection for Rogues. The damage increase gives it some utility in PvP, where threat is meaningless, and of course it doesn't hurt in PvE. Rogues don't usually have problems with threat, but we do have problems occasionally with not bringing much to the group besides DPS. This will certainly help change that; we can now help cement aggro onto the tank whenever needed (the word is that the cooldown on this is 30 seconds). And the way it's shaping up these days, pretty much every class brings something special; why not rogues? Even if, in true Rogue fashion, we've stolen that "something special" from the Hunters -- I love it.

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[UPDATED] New titles for Wrath - Sat, 30 Aug 2008 19:30:00 EST

Blizzard promised us more titles and boy, it looks like they're going to deliver. WotLK Information Wiki and MMO Champion have dug up some information on what appears to be a plethora of new titles. Unfortunately, most of the them are Feats of Strength that can only be obtained by one person ever per server. Daunting? Most certainly. But what are titles if they aren't special?

First off, though, there are a handful of titles available to more than just one person. 'Arena Master' is obtained by everyone who completes the Arena Achievements. It's not quite a Feat of Strength, but there aren't too many players who will obtain a Rating of 2200 in all three brackets. Of all the Achievements required to unlock the title, those three are about the toughest ones and if you're capable of hitting 2200 in all three brackets, the rest should be cake.

One title that sounds pretty cool is 'The Hallowed', which is obtained by completing all 18 Hallow's End Achievements, the hardest of which might just be obtaining the rare Sinister Squashling. Then there's 'The Diplomat', which many players will already receive at the launch of Beta -- it simply requires getting to Exalted with Timbermaw Hold, Sporeggar, and the Kurenai or Mag'har. Obsessive questers will eventually achieve 'The Seeker' after completing a whopping 3000 quests.

Finally, there's the odd and quirky 'Salty' which can be obtained by completing all the Fishing Achievements. This is a pretty tough one that has some difficult feats like getting Mr. Pinchy, fishing up Gah'zranka in Zul'Gurub and The Lurker Below in Serpenshrine Cavern, and winning the Fishing extravaganza in Stranglethorn Vale. Pretty tough feats just to be called Salty! After the jump, we'll take a look at all the titles that only one person can get.

[UPDATE] Tigole supposedly confirms the existence of an Ambassador <Name> title for players who achieve Exalted reputation with all 5 racial factions of the Horde and Alliance. It's a nice little nod to old school players out there.

Continue reading [UPDATED] New titles for Wrath

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8885 is not entirely kind to Priests - Sat, 30 Aug 2008 19:00:00 EST

My favorite class was certainly not left out of the party when it came to this beta build. The most interesting changes to me:

  • Inner Fire works on spell power now, not just healing spell power as was the case in previous builds. This only makes sense, given that spell power is unified now.
  • Penance has been buffed for all ranks, but I need to see proper numbers before I can make any conclusions. MMO-Champion is noting that it now ticks twice instead of thrice; I'm hoping that's a bug related to lowering the channel time to 2 sec.
  • The new Disc talent Grace got the stuffing nerfed out of it. It now reads as follows: Your Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and Penance spells have a 50/100% chance to bless the target with Grace, reducing damage done to the target by 1%. This effect will stack up to 3 times. Effect lasts 8 sec. Yikes. It was a very strong talent, but I'm not sure it deserved to be hit quite this hard.
  • Focused Power reworked to increase your total spell damage and healing by 2/4%, and reduce the cast time of Mass Dispel by 0.5 sec. Anything that makes you 2% more Priest per talent point is practically a must-have talent.
  • New Disc talent: Renewed Hope (Tier 8): Increases the critical effect chance of your Flash Heal, Greater Heal and Penance spells by 3% on targets afflicted by the Weakened Soul effect.
Our Shadow brethren were not left out either, though perhaps they will wish they had been (this is all stuff that had been previewed in the big "raid stacking" post).
  • Vampiric Touch changed to implement the new mana battery model ("cause up to 10 party or raid members to gain 0.5% of their maximum mana per second while you are dealing shadow damage").
  • Misery changed to 3 ranks, now gives 1/2/3% spell hit.
  • Shadow Weaving changed to 3 ranks, and now only increases the shadow damage you deal.

Definitely a bittersweet moment in the Priest development cycle. I really hope Shadow gets some major buffs soon.

[via MMO-Champion]

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Faction Champion in 8885 - Sat, 30 Aug 2008 18:30:00 EST
From the 2008 Worldwide Invitational, we learned of a new way that we'll all be grinding faction reputation come the expansion. Namely, you will be able to become a faction's Champion.

This is not a permanent change, and you are not stuck with only one faction, Instead, you simply put on the tabard and la! You are the new Champion.

We were told that if you run a Coilfang dungeon wearing a Lower City tabard, you will gain the usual reputation for the Cenarion Expedition from the dungeon, as well as Lower City reputation. Supposedly, the tabards, usually acquired at exalted, will be moved to friendly or honored.

While this makes me and my hard-earned tabard collection a bit sore, the prospect of earning reputation for any faction that I need, without running their dungeons over and over, is quite appealing. Here are the Champions we know of so far:

  1. Argent Champion
  2. Ebon Champion
  3. Champion of the Kirin Tor
  4. Wyrmrest Champion
The descriptions are all the same. For example, "You champion the cause of the Argent Crusade. All reputation gains while in level 80 dungeons will be applied to your standing with them."

To me, this seems to call the original quotation into question, as the current description makes it sound as though, instead of gaining reputation from the dungeon, and from the tabard, your dungeon reputation will simply count toward whichever faction's tabard you are wearing.

Of course, that is still mightily handy. We'll be able to run the dungeons that contain the gear we need, while acquiring the reputation we desire.

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Arcane Brilliance: Mages in the beta - Sat, 30 Aug 2008 18:00:00 EST

Each week, Arcane Brilliance conjured up a sizable serving of delicious Mage cookies for everyone to enjoy. This week, special thanks goes out to a very generous reader who wishes to remain anonymous, but was selfless enough to donate his beta key to Arcane Brilliance, for the the benefit of all who read it. To that wonderful reader, I say thank you, thank you, and every time I kill something, I will kill it in your name. When I Cannibalize the corpse, though, that's all for me.

Let me begin by saying the beta is awesome.

After six hours of downloading and installing, several more hours of patching, and approximately seventy-three different server crashes and shutdowns, I've been able to spend a solid four hours on the beta so far. In those four hours, I've respecced no less than 8 times. I've cast Living Bomb on rabbits on multiple occasions. I've gotten a whole two bars of the way to level 71. I've been impressed with or disappointed with but always amazed by almost everything I've seen and done. There's such an overwhelming sense of newness that pervades the entire experience, it's difficult to adequately describe.

Four hours may not be long enough to do a lot of things (I swear it took me like a half-hour to navigate from the top of the zeppelin platform at Vengeance Landing to the bottom), but in experimenting with the new talents I've had plenty of time to formulate some strong opinions. There are things I like, and thing I don't, but in both cases I'm almost embarrassingly excited.

Join me after the break for the all the highs and lows four hours can deliver, and I promise not to spoil any plot points. If you don't wish to find out which talents seem to work well and which don't then stay away, but otherwise you're safe.

Continue reading Arcane Brilliance: Mages in the beta

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Paladin changes in Beta build 8885 - Sat, 30 Aug 2008 17:30:00 EST

Three major changes were implemented for Paladins that affect all three specs in the latest Wrath Beta build. Beacon of Light was reworked, Blessing of Sanctuary was buffed, and Retribution was nerfed through changes to Blessing of Might and Judgements of the Wise. The nerfs aside, the two other changes make a significant difference in gameplay, particularly the change to Beacon of Light.

Beacon of Light
The target becomes a Beacon of Light to all targets within a 40 yard radius. Any heals you cast on those targets will also heal the Beacon for 100% of the amount healed.
The promised rework of Beacon of Light is finally here and it's absolutely amazing. It fits better with the Paladin's kit, which is -- still -- cast heals vs. HoTs and single target healing. Paladins are the best single target healers in the game and the new Beacon of Light capitalizes on that by adding a secondary target to the primary heal. It's not quite the group heal we've been asking for, but it does the job quite nicely. In fact, it's like the now retired Blessing of Light's great granddaddy for heals because when you heal the Beacon of Light's target, the heal is doubled. I don't know if that's intended or a bug because when you cast Beacon of Light on yourself, it won't work.

Continue reading Paladin changes in Beta build 8885

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Skill Mastery: Arcane Barrage - Sat, 30 Aug 2008 17:00:00 EST

Attention, Arcane Mages. No, not you, who only went far enough into the Arcane tree to pick up Improved Counterspell. Go breathe some Dragon's Breath or hug your Water Elemental or whatever. This is for Arcane Mages, those of you who have Slow and use it to help everyone else win in Warsong Gulch, you brave soldiers who have learned how to rotate Arcane Blast into your spell rotation properly.

There are those who would call your chosen school of magic a support spec, a tree to be used only to augment Fire or Frost. Just ignore these people; we'll be killing them in Wrath of the Lich King. How, you ask? A lot of reasons, really, but today we're spotlighting one of the big ones: Arcane Barrage.

Continue reading Skill Mastery: Arcane Barrage

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Leatherworking recipes in 8885 - Sat, 30 Aug 2008 16:30:00 EST
Some exciting new abilities for leatherworkers have appeared in Beta build 8885. Namely, the ability to enchant our own gear, and not through the use of kits.

Soon we'll be able to line our armor with fur, creating a range of effects. All of the following can only be used on the leatherworker's bracers, and will cause the item to become soulbound.

[Fur Lining: Attack Power]:
Permanently enchant bracers to increase attack power by 120.

[Fur Lining: Stamina]: Permanently enchant bracers to increase stamina by 90.

[Fur Lining: Spell Damage]: Permanently enchant bracers to increase spell power by 70.

Aside from the above three, there are linings that increase fire, frost, shadow, nature and arcane resistance respectively, each by 60.

I love this addition because our kits cannot be used on bracers, and this will allow leatherworkers to personally modify their own bracers in ways that no one else can.

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