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LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

kommy5 posted:

What even is the rationale for Seduction being a distinct skill apart from Persuasion or Charm or whatever? Is this Pickup Artist thinking?

Night10194 posted:

I think it's a function of both the tendency of early skill-based games to have way too drat many skills in general (and much too narrow and specific skills) and 'hey we're making an Anne Rice inspired vampire game better have a be sexy skill' and generally not thinking through the implications.

Seduction isn't a skill player characters can be built with in Vampire: the Masquerade 1e. Seduction is instead handled as a surprisingly specific progression from Opening Line (Appearance+Subterfuge vs Perception) to Witty Exchange (Wits+Subterfuge) to Conversation (Charisma+Empathy), with success on the last one permitting physical intimacy and blood drinking. No mention is made of gender for any party in this. Seduction is, however, a specialization of Subterfuge, meaning it's possible to be extra good at Witty Exchanges.

What this means is that it's not entirely clear what having Seduction as a skill does. Gulfora is clearly very skilled at it, but how are you supposed to game that out? ~whitewolf~

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Drakyn
Dec 26, 2012



Mors Rattus posted:

Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Seraphon
Terradons have extremely powerful legs, able to carry heavy weights over long distances. Skink craftsmen take meteorites and break them into slightly smaller chunks, which they inscribe with magical glyphs and then attach handles to. The Terradons carry these stones into war, dropping them on a signal from their rider. The rocks then explode on impact, bursting with celestial light.
As an aside to everything else about lizardmen reptile-friends, which of course is scrupulously accurate with regards to modern paleontology, this in particular is exactly the opposite of how pterosaurs worked: almost all pterosaur feet are notoriously poor at grasping anything (perfectly fine for walking, mind you) and their legs are just...legs. Nothing disproportionately fancy. If you want an aerial creature with relatively overbuilt legs you want birds, because everything from the hummingbird to the albatross needs them to hop into the air for takeoff. Pterosaurs launched themselves into the air with their arms, thus using the same muscles required for flight to help in takeoff, which may be a major factor in why they could get so damned big, comparatively speaking :eng101:

Ghost Leviathan posted:

Kroxigor are still completely :3:

Still one of the most interesting parts of the Lizardmen is that they're a multi-species civilization that gets along perfectly fine.
Gigabatrachocracy: the most stable and supportive form of government.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017



LatwPIAT posted:

Seduction isn't a skill player characters can be built with in Vampire: the Masquerade 1e. Seduction is instead handled as a surprisingly specific progression from Opening Line (Appearance+Subterfuge vs Perception) to Witty Exchange (Wits+Subterfuge) to Conversation (Charisma+Empathy), with success on the last one permitting physical intimacy and blood drinking. No mention is made of gender for any party in this. Seduction is, however, a specialization of Subterfuge, meaning it's possible to be extra good at Witty Exchanges.

What this means is that it's not entirely clear what having Seduction as a skill does. Gulfora is clearly very skilled at it, but how are you supposed to game that out? ~whitewolf~

Yeah, Gulfora springs from the 1E bit where they really hadn't nailed down... much of anything, really. You probably get a lot of skills that didn't show up in the first core book because I think it and Chicago were written I think almost concurrently. Lord knows they didn't bother to update things in the second edition book, either.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Seraphon
Siege Dinosaurs

Stegadons are immense creatures, bigger than even the Carnosaurs and Troglodons. Their scales are immensely thick, and they have large and prominent cranial crests, with huge horns mounted on them. Stegadons eat...well, practically anything, vegetable or animal alike. They can even get nutrition from some rocks, thanks to a hyperactive digestive system. Some ogor tribes worship them as avatars of Gorkamorka and follow in their wake, eating what little the Stegadons do not. Despite this, they are some of most docile creatures the Seraphon raise...at least under normal conditions. They are used as beasts of burden during construction projects and as earthmovers, flattening the landscape for further development. Most constellations maintain vast racks of Stegadon eggs in their ziggurats, but in an emergency, spawning pools of the greatest size can be converted to produce fully grown Stegadons if enough magical power is channeled into them. Pool-born Stegadons tend to have a stronger tie to the magic of Azyr, with glowing scales or markings that reflect zodiacal constellations.

While they aren't especially aggressive or territorial, a Stegadon forced into a fight is more than capable of devastating violence, and the Seraphon are quite happy to use them in war. They mount heavy howdahs on the backs of these beasts, and the skink crews that ride atop a Stegadon are generally chosen from the beast's caretakers during its hatching. This produces a very strong bond between crew and dinosaur, and the Stegadon can be quite affectionate with them. The skinks hurl meteoric javelins at foes or mount the howdah with powerful siege weapons such as the skystreak bow, a ballista whose bolt can punch through entire ranks of foes, or sunfire throwers, which are potent fire weapons. Even these pale in comparison to the Stegadon's terrifying strength, though.

An upset Stegadon's first reaction to danger is to lower its head and charge at the enemy, trampling and goring anything in their path. This is generally more than enough to wipe out an enemy platoon, and many weapons are simply unable to punch through their thick skin effectively. The skinks like to keep close to them, seeing these huge beasts as avatars of the will of the Old Ones, living idols of reptilian power. Stegadons are fielded in battle largely when the slann decide a city needs to levelled or an enemy force must be eradicated with extreme prejudice. While command of Stegadon-heavy forces are often left to Carnosaur-mounted saurus, the Stegadons are often crewed by veteran Skink Chiefs or put in charge of commanding the hunting packs of lesser beasts that follow after.

Sometimes, however, a Stegadon is mounted with a wholly different weapon: an Engine of the Gods. These devices are built to reshape existence itself, ancient tools that reorder the universe to the patterns required by the Great Plan. The Seraphon have other, similar artifacts, but most of those remain in the vaults, their functions poorly understood even by the slann. The Engines...well, those they know how to use. These massive machines are mounted on top of Stegadons, which are considered to be the only beasts calm enough to carry around something that charges the very air around it with mystical potential. Skink Priests are trained to depress the plaques on the machine in certain sequences, unleashing the power within.

Sadly, the full potential of the Engines is lost - even the slann do not fully understand their workings, and thus they can only be used to a certain degree. Even then, the results of their activation can be highly unpredictable. Sometimes, they fire off massive electrical storms that tear into enemy ranks. Sometimes they erase entire enemy units from existence in a flash of light. Sometimes they cause localized time reversals that heal damage dealt to the Seraphon forces or summon forth reinforcements unbidden. Occasionally, the power they harness starts unmaking local reality, causing violent earthquakes. Their potential as a weapon is immense, but the Seraphon prefer to turn to them only as a last resort due to their lack of understanding of the mechanics behind the machines. Most constellations only have a few Engines, kept in heavily warded vaults most of the time. Some, however, like the Thunder Lizard or Tepok's Breath, have many functional Engines and are willing to deploy them on a massive scale, understanding their reality-reshaping abilities better than others.



Last, we have the Bastiladons. These beasts prefer to live in the deepest parts of the jungle, and getting them to do anything they don't want to is tricky, as they are nearly impervious to harm. They have a thick, shield-like shell that protects their sides and back and is as hard and tough as sigmarite. Even past that, their skin is bone-hard and resistant to damage, taking only minor wounds from attacks that would shatter most armor. Weapons tend to break on impact with a Bastiladon if their wielder isn't careful, and their tails end in a powerful bone club that makes short work of attackers. Even ghostly weaponry are unable to cause much harm to the beasts, as their skin and muscle is suffused with Azyr's magic, which deflects most soul-carving attacks. Their resistance to damage is so great, in fact, that several Kharadron have made quite a profit claiming to sell Bastiladon-scale armor, though in most cases it's fake.

Bastiladons are, however, very slow. Their shells are heavy, and their top speed is quite low, so they aren't actually brought into melee very often by the Seraphon. Instead, they are siege platforms. Frequently, the Seraphon will mount powerful Solar Engines on their broad backs. A Solar Engine is, essentially, a laser cannon made of obsidian and celestite, and the lasers it shoots are especially dangerous to Chaos daemons. The machines involved generate massive amounts of heat, which would normally make them far too dangerous to mount on a living creature, but the armor and thick skin of the Bastiladons make them largely impervious to damage from the waste heat. (Or pain in general.)

Those Bastiladons that do not get a mounted Solar Engine instead receive a device known as an Ark of Sotek. These are mysterious pieces of arcane technology, each containing a miniature Realmgate that is connected to the bottom of a giant snakepit. (The Seraphon maintain many snakepits in their temples and ships. They like snakes.) The Ark, when activated, teleports many of these serpents to the battlefield. Even the Seraphon are unsure if the snakes are compelled to attack their foes or simply so angry at their sudden transportation that they do so instinctively, but the practical effect is that they have giant ankylosaur-mounted snake guns. (Quite short range compared to a Solar Engine, but it's a gun that shoots swarms of snakes.)

The End

Options for next:
Chaos (Beasts of Chaos, Blades of Khorne, Disciples of Tzeentch, Hedonites of Slaanesh, Maggotkin of Nurgle, Skaven, Slaves to Darkness)
Death (Flesh-Eater Courts, Nighthaunt, Ossiarch Bonereapers)
Destruction (Orruk Warclans, Ogor Mawtribes)
Order (Cities of Sigmar, Daughters of Khaine, Fyreslayers, Idoneth Deepkin, Sylvaneth)

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


Ossiarch Bonereapers

One of my friends was thinking of getting an army and whilst they look cool I want to see how daft the lore is.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Flesh-Eater Courts seem interesting.

I suppose it says something about me that one of my thoughts on that review finishing was imagining a reconceiving of the Amazons as a faction of human stowaways on the Seraphon ships who try to stay out of the way but will follow the Seraphon through gates to war, and are just kinda ignored by most or politely welcomed by skinks.

Cythereal fucked around with this message at 22:39 on Sep 10, 2020

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Mors Rattus posted:

it's a gun that shoots swarms of snakes.)

The End

They went out the way they came in.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.

Oven Wrangler

Disciples of Tzeentch

Tzeentch was what I fielded when I played.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


Slaves to Darkness for a broad chaos view or Hedonites of Slaanesh, just to show how their portrayal has changed.

Mainly just because we have not had a chaos review yet.

Leperflesh
May 17, 2007







Do my army, the tomb kings

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Leperflesh posted:

Do my army, the tomb kings

I’m so sorry, friend

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Mors Rattus posted:

I’m so sorry, friend

Team Return the Slab is missing their other half. The skinks sing sad songs for their fallen bone-brothers.

Gatto Grigio
Feb 9, 2020



Flesh for the Flesh God, Drugs for the Drug Throne

Hedonites of Slaanesh

Gatto Grigio fucked around with this message at 02:28 on Sep 11, 2020

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

Dude, Skaven.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Skaven. Haven't had enough backstabbing rat nazis.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


Falconier111 posted:

Dude, Skaven.

You don't put two good things after each other. You wait and have some more kale before having another bit of ice cream.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.


Might say something that you don't need edge to build up the badass bonafides of loving space dinosaurs, so you make the biggest ones cute instead.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


A CD of accompanying voice clips and background music was originally packaged with

The Deck of Encounters Set Two Part 65: The Deck of Bandits and Overly Complicated Plots

329: Prince of Thieves
Constricted forest, lots of underbrush. The PCs are escorting a merchant caravan (you can’t assume that, card!) and they’re ambushed by bandits. Surrounding them with bows, etc. The leader is a preening egomaniac, so they can probably arrange a duel or something. He’s well-equipped, though - mace +3, chain mail +2, 2,500 gold and a potion of extra healing back at his hideout. “If the PCs defeat the bandit, they may either join the brigands or disband them, according to their alignments.”

Eh. It’s better than card 129, but the content is mostly “bandits attack.” This guy doesn’t even have a name. Play him up as an ertatz jerky Robin Hood and it could be fun. Keep, I suppose.


330: Barrel of Red Herrings
The PCs are healing up in town and all of them get bored and go looking for something to do. All of them at the same time. Word of god, that’s just what happens. And when they get back, lots of their treasure is gone! Guess you shouldn’t have been so careless, suckers!

There is a fish scale found on the windowsill, because ???. Only one fishmonger in the city sells that specific type of fish, because ???. That fishmonger has a young assistant who bolts as soon as the PCs arrive, because... they’re the culprit.

“If caught, the burglar’s hood is pulled back to reveal a dazzlingly beautiful young woman,” who I guess the PCs didn’t get a look at before because fishmonger’s assistants always wear hoods for some reason? “Can the PCs turn her in to the less-than-gentle attentions of the town guard?” Yeesh, are you going with implied sexual assault, card? Anyway, whatever, I’m passing.


331: This is My Case!
This card is so dense and convoluted that it’s hard to summarize in any fewer words, but I’ll give it a shot.

The PCs are in a pawnshop in their home base city when they recognize some wanted thieves. There’s supposed to be a 250 gp reward for turning them in. But rather than capture the two themselves, the card apparently expects the PCs to bring word to an hitherto-unmentioned acquaintance, a “half-elf troubleshooter who serves the mayor,” who will wave off their tip and say civilians should keep out of this stuff.

“If the PCs persist,” (which they will because ?), they’ll hear rumors that the troubleshooter has debts to the local thieves guild. If they try to act on that rumor, they’ll be hunted by the town guard, which makes them fugitives. But the troubleshooter will help them, because he wants freedom from the thieves’ guild control, and dispatches them to find “vital information on the city’s criminals,” which is stored “in a box hidden in a sewer.” (???) These SewerFacts will spell the downfall of the local thieves guild, the leaders of which may seek out the PCs for revenge later.

This card is a full-on adventure outline crammed onto a tiny card, and as a result is far too sketchy. I admit I’m slightly curious how some real, non-theoretical players would react to this setup, because I’m 1000% certain it would not go as the card writer outlined… but basically, it’s a dud. Pass.


332: I Have Some Excellent Land for Sale
The PCs are back in civilization. The card says they should have completed an adventure or business venture that gives them some expendable income. A well-dressed dude Tizal Landwise comes and offers to cut them in on a land grant that he got - he needs 17,500 gp to pay the taxes necessary to “cash in.” He has a fancy looking document, but it’s a swindle; the land is real but belongs to a baron, a relative of the king’s. Simple, but the thought of land could make players greedy. Players love land. Keep.


333: Excuse Me, But You’re a What?
“Down on their luck, the PCs are hired by a young woman who needs guardians.” So… I can only use this card when the PCs are down on their luck? Whatever.

“She claims to work for a wealthy merchant in a distant city,” and offers 2000 gp to each adventurer to escort her and her package there. It’s actually full of compromising information about her merchant employer’s rival.

That pay is actually not bad! Of course, this is listed as a “high” danger encounter, so odds are decent that the PCs have a teleporting wizard or some kind of flying ship or something, which would totally derail the encounter that’s set up here, where they’re attacked by agents of the merchant’s rival on the way out of town. Those agents are 8 level 3 fighters and the PCs are high-level, so good luck with that.

Anyway, this card is too much work. It’s plot-focused, yet gives no plot. Who’s the employer? Who’s the rival? What kind of information is she carrying? I’d have to make that all up if I ran this, and I do not want to. Pass.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


As someone who has played many Bretonnians and a LOT of Mount and Blade, I can confirm that I love land and fiefs and will do stupid things to get either.

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.


Dalbun, every time you mention a new writer for a group of cards I have big hopes for a different style or type of encounter but they always end up adhering to the house style ("glimmers of promise").

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


BinaryDoubts posted:

Dalbun, every time you mention a new writer for a group of cards I have big hopes for a different style or type of encounter but they always end up adhering to the house style ("glimmers of promise").

I'm afraid this is the last writer in the Deck of Encounters 2, so your emotional rollercoaster is coming to an end.

EDIT: But the thing is, it seems like every writer has moments of off-the wall joyous insanity like the guano-hating vampire from Deck One, or Floyd the shambling mound or whatever. That's what keeps me hoping! And usually feeling disappointed!

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 00:20 on Sep 12, 2020

Speleothing
May 6, 2008

Spare batteries are pretty key.

That land scheme is funny because here, now in 2020 it's so obvious. But in 1992 the average gamer had not heard of nigerian princes asking for help to get their money back.

tokenbrownguy
Apr 1, 2010



Re: seduction as a skill, my group stumbled on that in Godlike... which is by default a frontline WW2-with-superpowers game? What am I going to do, gently caress my CO to skip patrol duty?

Froghammer
Sep 8, 2012





The Ossiarch Bonereapers, for the uninitiated, are a skeleton mafia that routinely shake down randos for bones

Which rules

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Nice skeleton. Be a shame if anything happened to it.

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.


Froghammer posted:

The Ossiarch Bonereapers, for the uninitiated, are a skeleton mafia that routinely shake down randos for bones

Which rules

Are you saying that their bones are their money?

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


BinaryDoubts posted:

Are you saying that their bones are their money?

Yes and their weapons, bodies, equipment, and buildings.

Froghammer
Sep 8, 2012





BinaryDoubts posted:

Are you saying that their bones are their money?

THE WORMS ARE THEIR DOLLARS

In reality it's more like this:

"We're the Ossiarch Bonereapers, give us your bones?"

"Our...bones?"

"Yes. We need them to build more skeletons. We could just kill you all and take your bones, but that would be work, so it's easier to just threaten you into giving us your bones"

"Where...where are we supposed to get bones"

"That sounds like a YOU problem, buddy. Start digging up graves, chop off limbs, kill off the elderly or infirm. We don't care. Give us bones."

*SOME TIME AND A NUMBER OF UNSPEAKABLE TRAGEDIES LATER*

"Here's a big pile of bones we managed to scrape together"

"Great! Cool. Perfect. Thanks for the bones. Beeteedubs we're 100% going to hit you up for bones again the next time we happen to be in the vicnity"

"I'm sorry you'll WHAT"

"Can'thearyouwe'releavingnowbyyyyye"

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




The good news is, if someone can't pay you can still get bones from them once.

Good news for the skeletons I mean.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


I've just got the image of Ossiarch Bonereapers seeing Venerable lord Kroak and going "YOUR HUGE FROG THAT MEANS YOU MUST HAVE HUGE BONES!"

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


Though I should remark that they are not actual skeletons. One of them could be made entirely of one giant skull as shown here.

sleepy.eyes
Sep 14, 2007

Like a pig in a chute.


MonsterEnvy posted:

Though I should remark that they are not actual skeletons. One of them could be made entirely of one giant skull as shown here.



That's the most metal thing I've seen all day.

OtspIII
Sep 22, 2002



B2: Keep on the Borderlands -- Part 4: The Caves of Chaos



Okay, I’ve thought a while about continuing this review after reaching a dark place last time, and ultimately I’ve decided that Gygax is enough of a household name among anybody who’s ever going to read this that I’m not meaningfully giving clout to a racist by discussing B2 (and that he’s dead enough that he couldn’t use the clout to continue harm). It does mean I’m going to be a bit more skeptical while trying to find the ‘intended’ playstyle, however.

Today’s topic is the big focus of the whole module: the Caves of Chaos themselves. A canyon hidden a bit away from the main road lined with almost a dozen different cave entrances, each containing a different faction of monsters to deal with.

The module starts with some general info about the Caves, then quickly dives into the room keys. Let’s start with the general info.

The Caves of Chaos

Start: There’s some box text to read the players when they finally find the Caves. An oppressive aura, dead trees, and scattered bones line the canyon floor. The canyon itself is about 440’ wide, 200’ across, and 100’ deep.

Notes for the DM: There’s basic description of how to read the topographic lines on the map (use them for outdoors, ignore them for the dungeon itself). The dungeon walls are rough-cut stone unless stated otherwise. Basic stuff.

Ransoming Prisoners: There are actually rules for the monsters to ransom captured player characters--they charge 10-100gp or a magic item to release the players, and the clout they gain from this causes an extra 2d6 monsters to move in with them. That’s actually a pretty cool mechanic!

Tribal Alliances and Warfare: This is, in my eyes, the most important paragraph in the book.

”B2” posted:

You might allow player characters to somehow become aware that there is a constant fighting going on between the goblins and hobgoblins on one side and the orcs, sometimes with gnoll allies, on the other - with the kobolds hoping to be forgotten by all, and the bugbears picking off any stragglers who happen by. With this knowledge, they might be able to set tribes to fighting one another, and then the adventurers can take advantage of the weakened state of the feuding humanoids. Be careful to handle this whole thing properly; it is a device you may use to aid players who are few in number but with a high level of playing skill. It will make it too easy if there are many players, or if players do not actually use wits instead of force when the opportunity presents itself.

There’s a lot going on in that tiny block of text. For one thing, none of these alliances or rivalries are mentioned anywhere else in the book (although some of it is hinted at--the bugbears have a bunch of kidnapped members of the other factions in their slave pens). Beyond that, it’s weird to me how downplayed this playstyle is--I’ve generally heard of this module as one all about monster faction play, but even as the module encourages you to “allow player characters to somehow become aware” of the factions, it tells you only to do this as a handicap for small/low level groups.

Monsters Learning From Experience: The module encourages the GM to have the monsters learn from the behavior of the players--if a faction is attacked with burning oil during the first delve, they may find some of their own and use it against the players on the second delve. They should also try to counter whatever strategies the players are employing (setting up noise traps if the players are being stealthy, etc) and just generally be responsive to what the players are up to. “This method of handling monsters is basic to becoming a good DM.” This all seems like solid advice, and is really important to keeping this module from just being a bunch of rooms full of monsters to hack through.

Emptied Areas: If the PCs clear out a cave, it should stay empty for “1-4 weeks”, at which point a new faction should move in (bringing new treasure). I’m not entirely sure what to make of this--it does give the dungeon an ever-evolving feeling, but it also makes the whole thing feel like a bit of a treadmill. If monsters just replace whoever you kill, are you even making things meaningfully safer for the Keep by coming here and killing these goblins?

Encounter Areas

Now begins the keyed room descriptions. There are 11 different zones, each given a letter (A-K) and a faction that lives within it, making up a total of 64 rooms. I’m not going to go super deep into each room, though, because there’s actually a lot of patterning here. All but a few of the zones follow almost exactly the same pattern.

Cave Instructions: Some custom rules for the cave. There may be an active wandering guard patrol, or an ambush set up near the entrance, or maybe some magical effect going on in the cave.
A Defense: Some sort of guard or trap set up at the cave’s entrance.
Guard Stations: Rooms full of guards. Sometimes there’s one of these, sometimes several, and sometimes this is folded into the Defense.
Storage Room: A room full of food/supplies/etc, usually with a locked door. Usually, but not always, has little to no treasure.
Living Quarters: A room with a poo poo-ton of monsters in it, split between male guards and female/child civilians. These rooms are pretty goofy--it’s not unusual to find 40 monsters in a 30’x40’ room. These are probably the most confusing and hardest to run rooms in the dungeon.
Faction Leader: The faction leader has their own room, usually with one to several lovers accompanying/guarding them. This is usually where the treasure is.
Something Thematic: The factions will often have a single room that follows the faction’s theme. Prisoners, tamed beasts, feast halls, stuff like that.

Each different group of monsters has a different random range of coins in their purses. So kobold guards in one room might have 1d6 silver, while guards in another room might have 1d6 gold. I guess maybe this is a way to show social hierarchies (those second guards are the trusted personal guards of the chieftain!), but in practice it’s pretty fiddly, annoying, and low-impact.

If a faction has something cool going on with one of these room types I’ll mention it, otherwise you can assume it’s there and just kind of unremarkable.

The Factions

A. Kobold Lair
There’s a ⅓ chance kobolds are hiding in the trees outside their lair, ready to attack if you try to intrude.
Their defense is a pit trap with a loud enough mechanism that it’ll alert 6 kobold guards and 18 giant rats if you fall into it. The rats are led by a cowardly extra-giant rat wearing jewelry. Already, we’re in for a weird time if you’re running this as a straight tactical combat game--18 rats (2hp, 1d3 damage) is pretty brutal for a party of first level players, and if half your party’s locked in the pit trap it’s even worse. That said, it’s not as bad as it might seem on first glance--it’s basically expected that you’ll be bringing things like burning oil that can prevent more than a handful of them from attacking at a time, and that you’re using things like morale checks to make it likely they run away if you can survive the first round or two/kill a decent number of them. More on this topic at the end.
Their common chambers are some of the densest in the dungeon--17 males, 23 females, and 8 children in a 40’x50’ room. It’s a dead end, too, so if you charge in at them they’re totally cornered.
The Chieftain has some guards outside his room who hide behind cover and try to drive you off with a volley of ranged attacks.

B. Orc Lair
Their defense is one of the big iconic moments from the module--a row of decapitated heads line the entrance to their cave. One of those heads is actually a living orc who’s just sticking his neck through a hole in the wall, and if intruders show up he’ll quietly replace his head with a dead goblin and run to alert two sets of guards for a pincer ambush. Classic.
They have a big old banquet hall, with an extra fancy chair for their leader.
Their living quarters have 12 males, 18 females, and 9 kids, and their storage has some nice (but mundane) weapons.
Their leader is extra big and tough, with a magic shield, but if he starts to lose he’ll run away through a secret door and beg the orc leader from zone C for help. He’s got a decent little treasure stash and a scroll with a 6-die fireball in it, which is basically a free one-time-use ‘one-shot everyone in this room’ card in a module of this level.

C. Orc Lair (again)
These orcs are rivals of the orcs from cave B, but they seem to like each other more than any of the other factions. That’s a cool dynamic--it seems like the actions of the players could easily either put them at each other’s throats or force them to drop their differences and team up.
Their defenses is a bunch of trip-wires attached to an alarm and a weighted net trap.
Their civilians and backup males are spread between two rooms, each with ~10 orc guards.
Their leader has a magic throwing axe, some treasure, and a rope of climbing.

D. Goblin Lair
The goblin lair is super busy, to the point where you have a 50/50 chance of running into a patrol of 6 goblins for every thirty feet you walk. If they see you they’ll yell “BREE-YARK”--an alarm, but a potentially confusing one since one of the false rumors you can learn in village is that this translates to “we surrender”.
If the goblins seem to be losing they’ll throw a big bag of money through a secret door to hire an ogre to help out. More on him in a bit.
Their living quarters have 10 males, 14 females, and 6 children.
The storage room has guards posted outside of it, seemingly because someone keeps stealing from it. It turns out there’s a secret door in the storage room’s back that leads to the hobgoblin caves, and if you linger in the room there’s a good chance hobgoblin thieves will sneak in to grab some snacks.

E. Ogre Cave
The ogre’s just a one-man faction living in a one-room cave. He works as a mercenary for whoever will hire him (including, potentially, the players). He’s got a bunch of treasure and a sweet cave-bear bed-pelt. A big, dumb, greedy, dangerous, untrustworthy mercenary is good stuff in a module like this.

F. Hobgoblin Lair
Their defense is a locked iron door with the message “Come in--we’d like to have you for dinner” written on it.
There are a ton of small guard stations all over the caves.
They have a bunch of prisoners stored in a room labeled as “Torture Chamber/Playroom/Food Storage”. Some of them are humans who will pay you for rescuing them with treasure/service, while some are humanoids of varying levels of grudge held against their hobgoblin captors.
They have an armory with a bunch of weapons/armors in it. These are labeled exhaustively, but none of them are especially valuable or magical.
G. Shunned Cavern
This cave is the lair of some tough-rear end monsters. There’s a Gray Ooze hiding in the bottom of a pool of water, and an angry owlbear. There’s also some rats and some minor treasures.

H. Bugbear Lair
The bugbears are fun. Their deal seems to be that they just love loving with/kidnapping the other factions
Their defense is a bunch of bugbears having a feast. If you show up they’ll put aside their weapons and offer you some big hocks of meat, but if you take them up on it they just sneak attack you with the giant hock of ham and try to murder you.
There’s a good deal of treasure spread between the storage room/chief’s lair/etc, but the big prize seems to be the slave pens. There’s a whole bunch of humans/monsters locked in there, all super pissed at the bugbears and willing to help you drive them out if liberated. One of the humans is a 4th level fighter who’s secretly evil and will try to betray you if possible.



I. Caves of the Minotaur
This cave is just a minotaur and some stirges/fire beetles that the minotaur seems to keep as food. That said, the cave is enchanted with Confusion, so whenever the players attempt to navigate around they end up moving in a random direction. The cave is small and optional enough that this seems like a cool labyrinth gimmick rather than a big annoyance.
There’s a ton of treasure in a side-cave hidden behind a giant boulder. This is one of the bigger jackpots you can find in the module.

J. Gnoll Lair
Their defense is some archers.
Their storage room has some cursed ale that will compel anyone who has a taste to drink so much they get wasted.
They’re not too notable beyond that, though. Their males and females seem to both be warriors? Although the females are a lot weaker, which doesn’t really make any sense for a hyena race.

K. Shrine of Evil Chaos
This is the cave of cultists and undead, and is by far the biggest/most developed. It also has the lion’s share of the treasure in the module, easily more than all the other caves combined. That’s not even counting the huge numbers of Amulets of Protection from Turning that the majority of the undead are wearing.
Its defense is a strange (seemingly magical) echo, magnifying any sounds the party makes, making it easier for monsters to surprise the party, and drawing the attention of a roaming zombie patrol.
There’s a throne room full of bones that animate into skeletons as soon as you inevitably try to steal the gems from the throne, a crypt with a wight, a torture chamber with a torturer, and a storage room guarded by a gelatinous cube.
There are scattered living quarters for cultist Acolytes around. The higher leveled of these can cast some cleric spells on you.
There’s a Chapel of Evil Chaos with some cursed goblets and spooky tapestries. Anyone who touches a goblet will come to covet it, and if not saved by a dispel magic and a bless spell they will eventually become NPCs and return to the Caves as antagonists.
There’s a Temple of Evil Chaos with some cursed candles that will hypnotize you into chanting evil hymns and alerting nearby guards. It’s attached to the Chambers of the Evil Priest, who will hit a gong and summon 20 skeletons and 20 zombies from adjacent rooms if he notices you. If you fight the priest and he’s losing he’ll run through a secret door and throw a ton of treasure behind him to try to distract you.
There’s also a prison with a surprise medusa, sitting so you can’t see her face (and think she’s a normal human) until it’s too late. If she stones any of your party members she’ll try to blackmail you into helping her escape, promising to turn them back with potions of Stone to Flesh if you do so. This is a bit cruel, since it comes without warning, but the blackmail aspect is actually pretty cool and seems ripe for interesting outcomes.

And those are the Caves of Chaos! This has gotten pretty huge, so I’ll save my commentary on how to actually run this for a future post.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

OtspIII posted:

D. Goblin Lair
The goblin lair is super busy, to the point where you have a 50/50 chance of running into a patrol of 6 goblins for every thirty feet you walk. If they see you they’ll yell “BREE-YARK”--an alarm, but a potentially confusing one since one of the false rumors you can learn in village is that this translates to “we surrender”.
If the goblins seem to be losing they’ll throw a big bag of money through a secret door to hire an ogre to help out. More on him in a bit.

I had myself convinced that these ones were in the Village of Hommlet for some reason. I thought I'd tried to run this when I was a kid, and turns out I was right.

This was tough to keep track of when you were ten. :(

OtspIII
Sep 22, 2002



Bieeanshee posted:

This was tough to keep track of when you were ten. :(

This could honestly be B2's motto.

Some cool ideas, barely explained, and unnecessarily hard to keep track of.

8one6
May 20, 2012

When in doubt, err on the side of Awesome!



OtspIII posted:

...
E. Ogre Cave
The ogre’s just a one-man faction living in a one-room cave. He works as a mercenary for whoever will hire him (including, potentially, the players). He’s got a bunch of treasure and a sweet cave-bear bed-pelt. A big, dumb, greedy, dangerous, untrustworthy mercenary is good stuff in a module like this.
...

So my friend Brady wanted to run us through the caves of chaos a few years back. Setup was fine, we get to the caves and decide to scout around and find an easier entrance to the caves then the one lined with skulls (we were only level 2 at the time but there were like 8 of us, including someone really new to rpgs who was going to be the scout). The scout sneaks into the cave and the GM starts reading the boxed text, getting only far enough into it to say "...you see a bear..." before the scout dashes out of the cave to alert the rest of the part that it's a bear cave! Well, our gnome alchemist could talk to animals (We were playing Pathfinder at the time) so as a group we decided that the gnome and the scout should head in to talk to the bear to see if we could use the cave as an entrance into the rest of the caves of chaos.

They discover, too late to flee, that the boxed text was making mention of a bear-skin rug the Ogre was using as a bed. At about the point the two players realizes what happened the ogre has appeared and proceeded to paste the gnome in one hit*. The scout books it, gets the rest of us, and we have a bit of a fight with an ogre.

And that's the story of how the new guy learned to wait for a room's description to finish before reacting.

*the gnome had 1 hit point left, he was fine.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



The bamboo is strong, resilient, unbreakable.

-Morihei Ueshiba


There’s no denying that medieval Europe dominates the conceptual playspace of Dungeons & Dragons when it comes to fantasy counterpart cultures. And even on that note it draws most of its influence from Medieval Britain, with a multicultural sprinkling of various monsters. Official and fanmade worlds have been delving beyond these constraints, with Oriental Adventures being one of the most notable older works. However, much like the British-centrism of not-Europe, OA’s own focus draws heavily from Japanese pop culture with a smattering of Chinese influences here and there. Beyond this, a lot of Fantasy Asia write-ups tend to be by people with no strong ties or ancestry in the locations they’re deriving influence from, and the adoption of folklore, culture, and other features all too often ends up inaccurate or stereotypical.

Unbreakable is a 3rd party D&D project of adventures written by Asian creators, with emphasis on showcasing content beyond the stock archetypes seen in Western popular culture. It’s but one volume in a larger project of yet-to-be-released books. Each chapter lists a short biography and social media links of said writer, as well as what media and/or folkloric influences they used when said adventure derives inspiration from an existing work. There’s also Content Warnings for material that gaming groups may find objectionable or uncomfortable, and there’s brief talks of Safety Toolkits which are handily linked to in a Google Document. In terms of objectionable content nobody was edgy enough to portray sexual violence thankfully, although there are some darker inferences such as torture in one adventure and another centering around monsters that kill and eat children. But some of the CWs seem to be things that are either common enough in fiction that the types of people who would have trouble engaging with them in an adventure would be ill-pressed to play tabletop gaming in general: for example, the first adventure’s CW is Water & Storms, and the seventh lists Poverty & Shapeshifting under its CWs. But I cannot object too much, especially given that the opposite effect is far too common in most gaming groups.

Other commonalities of the adventures include separation of content into Chapters, pronunciation guides are given for proper names, and NPCs of note are given pronouns next to the first time their name appears. Quite a bit of the adventures have notable nonbinary characters, as seen through the use of they/them pronouns. But beyond these universalities it is very clear that the book has different authors. From writing style to mechanical design, the adventures differ greatly in content. They are also setting-agnostic; while they hint upon elements that point to specific cultural elements, most of the Unbreakable adventures take place in relatively isolated locales and city-states whose specific outlying regions and borders are left to the whims of the Dungeon Master.


Through the Dragon’s Gate

Our first adventure is scaled for 1st to 4th level characters and is a rather straightforward wilderness trek where the PCs visit a gold dragon’s abode to reverse a spate of weather-related disasters. The set-up involves a pair of dragons, Jin-Zhi and her daughter Jin-Hao, who watch over a mountain range with a village at its base. Jin-Zhi had a good relationship with the villagers, who often asked her to use her magic to bless the weather to avert famine and the worst of nature’s wrath. While on a business trip Jin-Hao was placed in charge of the mountain due to some convincing on her part, and in a case of mistaken identity was asked by the local magistrate to perform magic beyond her capabilities. Eager to prove herself, Jin-Hao inadvertently summoned a hailstorm which ruined the village’s crops and stranded the magistrate in the mountains. Jin-Zhi was none too pleased to learn about this turn of events and transformed her own daughter into a golden-scaled carp. The villagers are now angry at Jin-Zhi for “betraying” them and have resorted to overfishing the nearby river to avoid famine.

Enter the PCs, who come upon the village while on their travels and hear about the recent ill news. The initial arrival has some role-playing and skill checks to help the desperate villagers out, whether helping them get more fish or convincing them not to overfish. Jin-Hao is caught by a net, who in magic talking carp form is the immediate adventure hook: pretending to be a water spirit, she offers to help find out the fate of the missing magistrate and parley with the mountain’s dragon “as a fellow spirit.” The local villagers are either too busy attending to domestic duties, too resentful of the dragon, or too ill-equipped to make the dangerous mountain trek themselves.

Jin-Hao is willing to accompany the PCs, but is too prideful to be taken in a container of water and instead opts to swim along the river running down the mountain. The various encounters involve dangers along said river or involve persevering against the watery elements. One such encounter includes helping an ogre hermit find his lost maps (buried in his house’s rubble due to the hailstorm) in exchange for unblocking a dam of rocks, a nest of blood hawks lying in wait near a malfunctioning Boot of Levitation (formerly owned by the magistrate) which acts as a “sitting duck floating in mid-air” trap to those who step over it, and the use of skill checks and possible magic to track down the magistrate via finding his scattered belongings. Sadly Fa-Zhong, said magistrate, suffered injury to his legs from a lightning strike and believes that the dragon will be able to heal his wounds. He can still walk, but not very well. As the party is closer to the mountain’s peak than the village, he and Jin-Hao view this as the more prudent course of action.

The final part of the adventure takes place by a mountain lake, and Jin-Zhi’s lair is at the top of a flat mountain peak with an archway at the top marking the Dragon’s Gate. Carved to look like a pair of golden dragons, it transports those who pass through it into a beautiful grove. Magical protections prevent any form of approach besides manually climbing the cliffside via a damaging invisible force field, and Jin-Hao will warn the party as much.

Jin-Zhi will confront the party as they enter the grove, and Jin-Hao will intervene before any hostile misunderstandings on her mother’s part occur. She’ll explain to her mother and the party the truth of things and asks Jin-Zhi to heal the magistrate. Jin-Zhi proposes that she’ll grant this request and also teach her daughter the magic needed to restore the village’s crops should she be able to best her in combat. Jin-Hao says that this task is beyond her, and instead offers for the party to fight in her stead after all they’ve done in proving themselves along the way. Turns out this was a secret test of character by Jin-Zhi to see if her daughter learned her lesson in humility, and accepts these terms if the party does as well.

The duel with Jin-Zhi is not to the death: she is an Adult Gold Dragon, but attacks nonlethally and only in the form of a weaker animal shape. Said animals range from giant crabs to crocodiles, formidable opponents yet nothing too out of range for a party to handle. Jin-Zhi has a set of unique lair actions which can conjure mist for one round and to change shape into another animal form. She ceases combat after receiving a predetermined amount of damage from the party, which ranges from 40 to 80 depending on the overall numbers and level of said party. If the party’s KOed they will wake up in the lair, but overwise the ending to the adventure is more or less the same: the magistrate Fa-Zhong’s legs are healed, a spell is cast to restore the crops, and Jin-Zhi transforms her daughter back into dragon form and flies everyone down to the village to explain what happened. The villagers are understanding and apologies are given and accepted on both sides. For their troubles, the party is given a golden oyster that can produce a single-use Pearl of Power every 30 days.

Thoughts So Far: I find this to be a passable adventure, if a bit linear for my tastes. Its main weak point is that although suggestions are given for adjusting encounter difficulty, very low-level PCs play very differently than the upper limits of what the adventure suggests. 1st level PCs are very fragile and have a lot less resources to draw upon before requiring rests. I do like the relative sparsity of outright combat and in the case of the ogre a nonviolent alternative which would be good for such a low level. I admit that the final encounter with Jin-Zhi had a lot of tension lost given that the end result is the same whether or not the PCs manage to beat her in a duel. I get that she’s meant to be Lawful Good and is unlikely to let the villagers starve, but maybe something like offering the magical item as a “win condition” or only offering to do one of two miracles (healing Fa-Zhong or restoring the crops) on a loss would put some actual stakes in the fight.

Join us next time as we read Feeding the River, an adventure where the party must put a stop to a powerful pollution spirit despoiling nature and the riverside villages!

Author’s Notes & Acknowledgements posted:

This adventure is based on the Chinese Proverb, “The Carp has leaped through the Dragon’s Gate.” In Chinese mythology, the Dragon’s Gate is a waterfall. It is said that if a carp is strong enough to swim up the turbulent river and over waterfall, it will transform into a dragon. This proverb is often used to demonstrate that if one exemplifies perseverance, success will eventually be achieved. The theme of this adventure plays on this proverb by also including a caveat - that one’s successes are not only due to personal skill, but also with the help of others.

I would like to thank Jacky Leung (Death by Mage), for inviting me to this project. It has been a great experience working with other Asian Americans and Asian Canadians as we bring our own experiences to this game we all love.

About the Author posted:

Ethan Yen is a writer and content creator. Ethan can be reached at ethanyen.com or via Twitter @ethnyen]

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 04:06 on Sep 13, 2020

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

tokenbrownguy posted:

Re: seduction as a skill, my group stumbled on that in Godlike... which is by default a frontline WW2-with-superpowers game? What am I going to do, gently caress my CO to skip patrol duty?

Oddly enough, WW2 is one setting where this has a historical justification. The memoirs of SOE agents and French resistance fighters are full of stories of female agents flirting their way past guards and checkpoints, or sexual bribery. Bored, horny conscripts far from home will fall for that stuff.

"Seduction" might be the wrong word though, but that's RPG tradition by now. Calling the skill "flirting" might tone down ugly behaviour at the gaming table, I suppose.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




Well that seems to be a pretty cool adventure for all ages and role-playing familiarity levels.

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Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


To move between the Inner and Outer Planes, you must pass through

The Deck of Encounters Set Two Part 66: The Deck of Priests and Prophets

334: Such a Nice Old Man
An assassin has been hired to kill the PCs. He’s an eldarly man named Thadisant. HIs favored technique is to beat the PCs to a town and whip up the populace against them, accusing them of terrible crimes that he claims to have personally witnessed. This is a high-level encounter, FYI, so this seems like a better plan to get villagers killed than adventurers. Also he’s just a 7th-level fighter with some poisoned crossbow quarrels himself, so really nothing too threatening. The card does give extra EXP awards for avoiding the deaths of villagers or outing Thadisant, though.

Maybe shuffle it down to the mid-level pile and keep.

P.S.: The card refers us to the thief “assassin” kit even though Thadisant is a fighter.


335: The Voice of the Prophet
“The PCs have been hired by the Sultan of Shanazzar to spy on a rabble-rousing priest.” [sigh] The dude’s message involves the “‘cleansing of outsiders’ from the land,” so hiring outsiders rather than locals to spy sounds… dumb?

The priest is always surrounded by bodyguards, and only speaks to his followers in a group and in the company of Akim, a noble political enemy of the sultan. So yeah, the priest is captive and being forced to preach intolerance to get people angry at the sultan. I’m not 100% sold that this is a good plan on Akim’s part, but I guess it hangs together more or less. It can be a quest.

KIT CORNER: Prophet Priest (PHBR 3: The Complete Priest’s Handbook, mislabelled here as PHB3 (Wizard))
These priests get visions or clues to the future from their deity. I mean without casting augury. You need a Wisdom of 15, which I hope you have anyway. The benefit is that you become a DM plot tool. Woo! Visions might be changeable or inevitable. The DM decides that as well! (Though as the DM, I can’t help but notice that changeable visions are a hell of a lot less work for me.) Another part of the book suggests limiting visions to once or twice per month just so it doesn’t dominate the campaign, which seems reasonable.

As a drawback, you get a -2 reaction adjustment with everyone, but that can’t bring the reaction down below “Cautious.” Couldn’t you just not tell anyone outside the party that you’re a prophet? Also, why are people down on prophets but not on priests who cast “augury,” “commune,” or so on?


336: Give Peace a Chance
The PCs are in a boom town of some kind. There’s an uproar because an agitator (a young pacifist priest) is giving a speech urging the townsfolk not to support the duke’s latest war, to refuse to sell food to the army, etc. A troop of the duke’s men is marching through town to put a stop to this. The priest’s followers will gather around to protect them, but the priest urges nonviolent resistance. The PCs might help the priest escape or help defend him at trial, but he’s not going to give up his cause and will put himself in harm’s way again.

It’s fine. I could have used a suggestion about what this war is about, so I don’t have to improvise it. But keep.


337: Woman of the People
The PCs run into a middle-aged woman and a young girl camping by the side of the road with their few, rather worn, possessions and old draft horse. They’ll invite the PCs to dinner, and say a prayer to an unfamiliar god of justice beforehand. They’ve been traveling for months, fleeing from a kingdom where the ruler persecuted their faith. They’re wandering until they can return home. She’s level 8, and owns a ring of protection +2 and a mace.

I guess that’s fine. I’d send it back to the deck when drawn if I didn’t want to improvise info about this far-off kingdom and obscure god. Keep.

KIT CORNER: Outlaw Priest (PHBR 3: The Complete Priest’s Handbook)
“This priest has decided to become part of some sort of outlaw community and serve that community’s religious needs.” You know, religious needs such as not dying of bloody wounds.

Friar Tuck here gets Religion as a bonus NWP. All the other benefits and hindrances are entirely social: they’re disowned by their religious organization and are probably sought by the law, but on the other hand they don’t have any superiors to report to. Ideal for murderhoboing, really.


338: Dark Night of the Soul
The PCs are on the edge of the known world. “There’s a small pagoda-like shrine in the hills near the Edge of the World (an incredibly deep chasm stretching to the horizons).” Metal level = fairly metal.

Anyway, a dude just up and climbs out of the chasm. He’s Brother Imahl, and speaks accented common and asks what land it is. He’s a monk who’s pursuing a brother monk who caught a “rare, madness-producing fever” and fled. Also the mad monk was a capable mountaineer. Imahl is pursuing him to cure the fever and make sure it doesn’t sweep through other lands and cause destruction.

“They are ready to set out when a figure drops from the ceiling, striking Imahl and knocking him unconscious. Now the PCs must fight a dangerously insane monk!” (The card doesn’t explicitly say they’re supposed to have the Fighting-Monk kit, but it does refer us to the PHB3 for more information, so I have to assume.)

Uhhhhhhh why is there a pagoda in the middle of nowhere here that we’re all standing inside? Imahl certainly didn’t build it, he just came over the edge of the chasm a moment ago. And has this madman just been hanging out on the ceiling hoping Imahl would come inside? There seem to be some holes, and I'm not sure there's anyway the party-plus-one-on-one fight is going to be anything other than short and anticlimactic. Also, it assumes an extremely specific geographic setup? Pass, I think.

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