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When you gather materials from a resource node, you have a small chance of obtaining a rare item depending on what type of node it is. (For example, Aspen Saplings occasionally drop a few cinnamon sticks when you cut one down.)

In addition, there are several gathering tools that the game describes as:

More efficient at gathering resources and uncovering rare components.

What is the base chance of getting rare materials, and how do these special gathering tools modify that chance?

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I haven't seen an answer from Arenanet on this one, but I believe it depends on what type of node you're gathering from. Ore nodes, for example, all appear to have approximately a 20% chance per hit to receive gemstones, while gathering nodes have a much lower chance to yield an unidentified dye (likely to be about 1%).

From my experience, tools labeled as "more efficient" or "extremely efficient" only make a small difference to the total drop rate of rare components.

It is also noteworthy that such tools seem to have a higher chance to preserve the node that was gathered from rather than destroying it, although this chance is still low.

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I've been able to harvest the same plant node twice before, without using master tools, so that has nothing to do with it – Hackworth Dec 13 '12 at 3:51
That's odd, I harvested thousands of plants with regular tools and never got a second harvest from the same node. I recently started using a Master Harvesting Sickle on one character and it preserves the node about 5-10% of the time. – Brian Dec 13 '12 at 19:31
So far, it has only happened to me with higher level tools, say Darksteel or Mithril upwards, so maybe it does depend on tool quality. It definitely happens though, not only with Master, and also with wood and ore nodes. – Hackworth Dec 14 '12 at 9:47
I had a Mithril pick give me 4 hits on a normal mining node yesterday, so you're definitely right. I modified the last sentence of my answer accordingly. – Brian Dec 15 '12 at 19:09
Don't forget to factor in the WvW harvesting bonus if your world is winning. – David Yell Dec 19 '12 at 11:50

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