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Out of Body, Out of Mind
by Kelley M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2007 00:00:00

It is small but definitely worth while. Need a quick story and map? This is it. You can run this on the fly with only a few minutes prep. Of course how long it takes to go through with the players is always a question of how extreme they are - so the potential for a couple hours of play is here.
I have several of these they have all been the same quality and presentation. It is more likely to be used as a quick random adventure encounter (especially since that appears to be what it is for).<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: everything<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Out of Body, Out of Mind
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The Crypt of St Bethesda
by Kelley M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2007 00:00:00

It is small but definitely worth while. Need a quick story and map? This is it. You can run this on the fly with only a few minutes prep. Of course how long it takes to go through with the players is always a question of how extreme they are - so the potential for a couple hours of play is here.
I have several of these they have all been the same quality and presentation. It is more likely to be used as a quick random adventure encounter (especially since that appears to be what it is for).<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: Everything<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The fact that I have never seen it in a store.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Crypt of St Bethesda
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Dead Man's Cove
by Kelley M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2007 00:00:00

It is small but definitely worth while. Need a quick story and map? This is it. You can run this on the fly with only a few minutes prep. Of course how long it takes to go through with the players is always a question of how extreme they are - so the potential for a couple hours of play is here.
I have several of these they have all been the same quality and presentation. It is more likely to be used as a quick random adventure encounter (especially since that appears to be what it is for).<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: Everything<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The fact that I have never seen it in a store.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Man's Cove
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Servants of the Blood Moon
by Curt T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2007 14:02:52

(No spoilers.) Servants of the Blood Moon is a good value. This AEG adventure can be dropped into most fantasy settings with ease. I especially liked the rumors; this extra touch aids the DM in befuddling the players. Only the slight differences between the map, the legend, and the narrative keep me from giving this product the highest marks. The DM can correctly update the map with a careful read-through prior to play. Lastly, this product's file size was much larger than it should have been (57.6 MB) for the relatively small number of pages. No viruses were found.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Servants of the Blood Moon
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Adventure I
by Thomas I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2007 03:21:30

Many good and short adventures that you can play for one evening.
I recommend it!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure I
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Dragons
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/22/2007 00:00:00

Dragons are a big part of the fantasy game. They are rare, powerful creatures that are often the focus of adventures and even some campaigns. Dragons have a sense of awe from them. Everyone knows and most seem to own Draconomicon by Wizards of the Coast. However, there is another lesser known book about dragons called Dragons. It is almost four years old and made for 3.0 but I have gotten a lot of use out it in the many years I have owned it.


Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has recently been doing less d20 work then in previous years. But they had a great series of books people referred to as the One Word Titles. Simply they were single word names and they covered one single topic but did it well. The book is paperback and over two hundred pages. The paper is not high quality, the art is so so, and the layout is okay. The table of contents is not that great and there is no index so finding things in the book is not that easy. In fact if you sit this book next to the hard bound full colored glossy page Draconomicon it is hard to see how it could compare. The Draconomicon is a great looking book, a coffee table book if you will. But I don?t have a coffee table and I am more interesting in the ideas in the book then how well it looks.


Dragons is a book filled with some interesting ideas. My favorite of all though oddly enough has nothing to do with dragons. It is a very cool zero level Bard spell called Sharing the Ancient Lore. It allows others to see share a memory of the caster. It is a simple neat spell that really has no combat ability or is powerful. But in the four years I have had this book I have made good use of the spell. It Is the little things like this that make this book for me.


Now some of the rules in the book are not that good. The prestige classes are pretty cool my favorite being the Student of the dragon a monk oriented class that gives some neat dragon inspired abilities. Others like the dragon Slayer have been done by others but still are not that bad. The feat collection is an interesting variety again including some like Dragon Friend and Hamstring that have been seen in other products at least in name and basic ability.


One area that the book shines in is Dragon Alchemy. This section suggests using dragon parts to craft certain items. It has uses for the blood, bones, brains, claws, crests, ears, eggs, eyes, glands, heart, horns, kidneys, livers, ligaments, lungs, muscles, necks, tongues, scales and hide, stomachs, tails, and teeth of each of the ten common dragons. There is a lot of information and it makes for some good alternate treasures and reasons for hunting dragons. It also is one of the few products that basically lists power components for creating magical items an alternate rule that does not get enough print.


Another area I like that some probably will not is the Dragon Classes. These are five level base classes of increased power. So, instead of having the dragon take fighter levels to boost his power, give him draconic fighter levels and he gets a feat each of the five levels. The classes are stronger and made for NPC dragons to make them more powerful as Dragons should be. The classes are a little stronger then the base classes and nicely more focused on the dragon. The Draconic Rogue gets treasure sense and the Draconic Sorcerer gets his spell like abilities as known spells.


Third book despite being a little outdated still has some good options and ideas between its covers. I mentioned a few of my favorites but there is more that this book offers. Many of the other books in the series are like this one, not great on appearance but high quality in the ideas contained in it. Dragons is not going to serve as a replacement for Draconomicon but will serve as a good companion piece.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragons
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Toolbox
by James J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/28/2006 00:00:00

Really just a whole bunch of tables. But they are in fact A WHOLE BUNCH OF TABLES. Lot's of little tidbits to fill out the bare spots in an adventure or to spark the imagination.


<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: lot's of tables<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The type face was gray instead of black, it printed fine but is a pain to read online.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Toolbox
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Evil
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/10/2006 16:09:47

An RPG Resource Review:


This book kicks off by attempting to define 'evil' - or at least, what most people regard as 'evil.' Naturally, a lot of folks you might define as evil would not apply that label to themselves, although they might be prepared to admit that they are greedy, like to get their own way and such like. It often boils down to politics. If a ruler operates by use of muscle to get what he wants, he may well fall - by the strict guidelines of D&D alignments - into 'evil' somewhere: Chaotic Evil if he operates by grabbing what he wants, or Lawful Evil if he establishes a structure that ensures he stays on top of the heap. Neutral evil cheats, tries to get everyone else to obey the rules while breaking them himself! Moving on from this analysis comes the step over to evil itself; why certain people go that way. Perhaps they see themselves as better, more fitted to rule, than the common herd. Or perhaps its just that if the world is divided into predator and prey, they know they don't want to be prey. And of course there's the question of style. Any fool of a hero can beat up their opposition, but the true evil genius leaves cryptic calling cards and wreaks more artistic vengeances...


The discussion continues with a look at how those deemed 'evil' see themselves, ending with the chilling thought that someone who accepts what they are can do anything that they please... without compunction or qualms. They might be lonely, but they get what they want.


Then comes another chilling concept: heroes make the best villains. Well, fallen ones do anyway. There are many ways in which a former hero can be seduced into evil. They make for great stories, whether or not the hero actually succombs to the blandishments of evil, and this section should provide food for thought for any DM who wants to bring some epic - and perhaps tragic - depth into their campaign. Or it could be that having finally confronted the evil genius they've been fighting for so long, your heroes discover that he once was a hero too. Will they be sorry for him and what he has become, or just take him out as the bad guy he is? Various ways of leading heroes astray are discussed, these should give you some ideas if this is the style of campaign you are looking for.


Then we step away from characters for a while, looking at how a group of players might cope with running an evil party. Things like how they still need to find ways to work together, as inter-party rivalry can easily get out of hand and spill over into the real world and ruin real friendships. From the other side of the DM's screen there are other problems to be faced. Heroes, by and large, are reactive. Give them a villainous plot to foil, monsters to fight or mysteries to unravel, and they're off. Villains are in some ways harder work for the DM. A villain operates by generating his evil schemes... so, the DM for a group of evil characters needs to guide them into creating their plots, then step back and prepare the rest of the world's response to what these villains are trying to do. Moreover, the DM needs to decide whether or not he's prepared to let 'evil' win the day... and whether the players (never mind their characters) are able to withstand being defeated and thwarted in the way the average Bad Guy usually is! It can, of course, lead to a distinctive and enjoyable campaign, or a few one-off adventures from the other side, though.


Next comes a look at the more supernatural side of evil. Some folks are led astray - willingly or otherwise - by too close an association with devils or demons. There's plenty of advice on how both demons and devils view such deals, which should enable the DM to carry off the devilish or demonic side of such a pact to good (if that's the right word) effect! Notes include examples of infernal pacts and the benefits the mortal party to them can gain, in the shape of several infernally-derived feats. There's also a Prestige Class, the Demon Summoner, to play with if you dare. The power the character may gain is easy and immense... but the price is very high. Still, for those who do want to go ahead, the necessary rules for scribing magic circles, researching the infernal beast you wish to summon and the spells themselves are provided.


Once a character (or for that matter NPC, if you want to build one from the bottom up) has decided to be evil, you'll need to decide just what sort of evil he'll practice. To this end, there is a collection of archetypes or concepts, aimed at low-level characters intending on a path of evil. Plenty of food for thought as to how to go about your rotten ways. Many of the rationales behind these archetypes do not necessarily lead to being evil, but here it's assumed that they will drive the character beyond the pale of what is normally regarded as good and decent behaviour. Creating a detailed background is important, unless you merely want a comic-book evil character (OK for a one-off or a non-serious campaign, but lacking in depth for true role-playing enjoyment).


As most fantasy non-human societies - dwarfs, elves, etc. - are presented as clannish, tightly-knit ones; it's a bit harder to see how someone from such a background might turn out evil. There always will be the aberrant ones, who are either cunning enough to hide their evil ways or smart enough to get out of the community before they are noticed and dealt with; while others will have gone to the bad after leaving home. Notes are provided as to likely ways in which members of the common humanoid races might have gone astray.


Next comes a section of new uses for familiar skills - of course some if not all of these ideas can be used by anyone, evil or not. But they might want to think about their motivations carefully, if they are worried about that slippery slope. There are new skills too, such as Bully, which basically takes Intimidation (forcing actions by the threat of violence) one step further to the actual use of violence to get your desired result; and Knowledge: Demonology, should you care to tread that dark path. There are also some new feats, Bribery should come in handy for a start; while Bootlicker and Living Shield will do well for assorted evil minions. There's a rather muddled Off-Handed feat, supposed to enable you to confuse enemies by using your other hand in combat. Now, while most people are right-handed and used to fighting others of the same, left-handers are common enough that a good regime of combat training will have exposed you to dealing with them. This one could have been better developed into some kind of 'weapon-juggler' feat where you are able to switch hands during combat without penalty - now that could be confusing! There are also a few rather nasty spells to round out that evil spellbook, and some more evil prestige classes for evil characters to aim towards.


Section 2: Mercy is for the Weak deals with the design and operation of an evil campaign, and is aimed mainly for the prospective DM. Various concepts are provided to spawn your own ideas for your campaign, and it is stressed that if contemplating an evil campaign, it is particularly important to consult with the players on the nature of the campaign they'd like - rising to power in city streets, mercenaries serving whoever'll pay, court intrigue or whatever - as it's not something that will work well if the players would prefer to be doing something different from what you have planned for them. There are lots of ideas thrown out to make you think, the real joy of this book. Indeed, this section would be useful for anyone planning an evil-oriented game, even if it isn't a fantasy one!


Continuing, there are notes on how to build the ultimate villain NPC - whether to provide opposition in an evil campaign, or as an adversary for more conventional heroes. There's information on such details as the best sort of NPC lackeys and hirelings to provide for your villains, lair construction and even how to create a complete villainous organisation.


To add flavour, there is a detailed group of villains complete with their objectives and minions - the Palm of Zadeh - as well as a sample organisation built around the Blood Archer prestige class. Other organisations are the Sisters of Dust (female necromancers), and a secret society called the Brotherhood of the Shroud. This is a sort of spy agency for hire, consisting solely of magic-using individuals who conduct political mischief, investigations or assassinations for pay. There are notes on creating your own secret societies too, including thoughts on how to involve your players - whether they like it or not! Another secret society called the Shadow Quills is provided as an example; and of course all of these can be woven into your campaign as adversaries or allies.


Just in case you don't have enough ideas yet, a selection of evil scenario seeds are provided to give you a start. Blackmail the local mayor, perhaps. Or give the characters a burning need to be revenged on the local thieves' guild. Artifacts to steal or otherwise acquire... and plenty more. Several NPCs - both good and evil - are provided to populate the adventure ideas, and there are some new monsters and artifacts (complete with their own adventure ideas) and finally a complete evil campaign outline to round things off.


Overall this is a cracking good read and idea generator for any DM, whether he fancies running an evil campaign or just wants to add some zest to the bad guys in a more conventional campaign. It's marred by sloppy proof-reading - many minor spelling and grammatical errors have slipped through - but otherwise is well worth a look.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Evil
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Dungeons
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/09/2006 17:11:55

An RPG Resource Review:


Dungeons: A Guide to Survival in the Realms Below is a fascinating read, a thorough exploration of the places that so many adventurers like to explore... these underground complexes both natural and manmade that are lumped together as 'dungeons.'


The Introduction is an analysis of the reasons why 'dungeons' are so fascinating for the average adventurer... and how they can become stale if that's all you ever explore. For the writers, the dungeon is a place unknown, a mysterious place in which adventure can occur; and without them role-playing could degenerate into little more than die-rolls and movie quotes with a bit of history thrown in. Hmmm. While dungeons have their place in fantasy games, they too can degenerate into formulaic 'enter room, hit monster, defeat trap, steal treasure, repeat' if the designer isn't very careful. We are ROLE-playing after all, not running a combat simulation. The announced intention of this book is indeed to step beyond the formula dungeon and look at ways of both making them fun places to explore and providing advice for surviving them!


Section 1: Tips and Tricks looks - mainly from the adventurers' viewpoint - at the very nature of dungeons. It starts with the sort of preparations that the prudent adventurer can take, the equipment that will be useful and why it's important to map the place. Presented in the form of a lecture from a renowed wizard and explorer, it begins by classifying dungeons into 3 sorts - the natural cave system, the labyrinth (nasty, it's the sort that's designed to get you) and the construct (which probably started off as a castle or some such but fell into disrepair later). Then comes a detailed look at the sort of gear you ought to be taking with you. Obvious things like food, water and rope; the uses of light sources (not just illumination: you can burn things, test for air quality and even check - very cautiously - for natural gas!) and so on. Well worth a read, as is the next bit: the questions you ought to be asking yourself about the place you are about to enter. Who made it, and why? Do some research before you go in, and be prepared to pop out to check on something if necessary.


While this first part is written in character, addressed to an adventurer contemplating some dungeon-delving, the next bit is addressed to the player. The key point is: don't let yourself be rushed through whatever is there. Take your time. Figure things out, test things, be cautious. Work out how traps are triggered, and what they do if they are, and it will become easier to avoid them.


The focus then shifts to the DM - how do you make good dungeons with intriguing but ultimately survivable traps? Again, like questioning players, the DM should think about WHY the dungeon is there in the first place. Who built it? Or did it just happen? What's in there now, and are they the original inhabitants or later arrivals? Just as important is why the DM expects the characters to go down there: pure loot (in terms of gold, magic items or XP), or something else - knowledge, perhaps, or a quest to deal with some evil that may have personal implications for the party, or a search for a cure to a disease or poison that threatens the land, or an individual for whom the characters care. Ultimately, it's all about giving that dungeon as much of a place in history, in space and time within your campaign setting, as anything or anybody else. Then there's a purpose, a reason, a whole existance to make use of, not just an instantaneous place that is there only for the time that the characters are wandering through it!


This discussion of how to build an 'ecological' dungeon, where everything has its place and a reason for being there, continues on to wider issues. These include analysis of what the monsters eat when there are no tasty adventurers around, and even a discussion of the different sorts of societies that can arise amongst the sentient inhabitants. Chaotic evil is put in its place: despite the common belief that it's the baddest alignment, a well-played lawful evil group is far worse... And as for neutral evil, well, you just never know with them, they'll do whatever it takes to achieve their own ends.


Next comes an analysis of tricks and traps: the architectural and mechanical means that the owner of the dungeon might use to protect his property and keep the adventurers out. There's a whole bunch of stuff, of course; from secret doors and panels to hide things behind (i.e. keeping the treasure safe) to infernal devices designed to maim or kill people who shouldn't be there. But all these things have to work somehow - however it may seem to the hapless adventurer, they don't go off at random but are specifically triggered... and so can also with some intelligent thought, be bypassed, circumvented or disarmed. The average trap works in one of three ways: balance, trigger or magic. The first two can be explained - or, for a good dungeon design, ought to be able to be explained - using standard physical principles. They might be difficult to build, but they can be built. Magic, of course, requires the application of the appropriate spells and should be consistent with the 'alternate reality' of your world, even if it won't work in the real one. Again, the results of the trap once set off need to be explained, and probably cleaned up after as well. Should the trap be in an area that's used, do the locals know how to bypass or disarm it? Or is there a steady stream of injured minions to contend with? The chapter winds up with a discussion on the sorts of treasures you might find once you've battled your way through, and how the quirky, strange, exotic and even useless items have a place alongside more conventional loot.


Section 2 is entitled 'Dungeon Types' and looks in more detail at what sorts of dungeons you can design and which are best depending on your purposes. This is done by a kind of example system, starting by talking about fortresses in general and then discussing all the different things that you'd need to have there (and why), and how they might have decayed or changed as the fortress either fell into disuse or was used for another purpose. The next type to be explored is the madman's lair - possibly more common in other genres than the fantasy one, but effective enough if used well, perhaps even more so as it isn't quite what the adventurers will expect. However mad the architect may appear to you, he himself is going to have some kind of rationale behind what he's created, so you'll need to understand it to design it. You also need to know who it is that the place is designed for: even most lunatics do not build deathtraps for just anyone who passes by, nor is it likely that said passers-by will enter, they need to be lured in! Or of course you can have great amusement by having the whole edifice set up to trap someone else, and the mad owner stomping around in annoyance that the wrong set of adventurers are down there.


Similar discussions follow for mines, natural caverns, sewers, subterranean communities, temples and tombs. Mines, of course, tend to simple yet sprawling layouts - they are dug in the direction of whatever the original delver was trying to find. Of course, who knows what has been disturbed, or has moved in since mining ceased? If the mine is still in operation, the owners may not be impressed with adventurers wandering through, particularly if they are mining something valuable and easily portable like gemstones. Just because natural caverns were not built by someone does not mean that they are empty and safe - far from it. Creatures, intelligent or otherwise, may be living there... and as far as they are concerned, the adventurers are the wandering monsters which need to be dealt with! Sewers can prove mighty unpleasant, especially if they are still in use - for an example of this, see Sundered Faith. There are also problems posed by creatures living there - likely the slimes, fungi and moulds - as well as any down-and-outs who may have taken up residence, and the danger of flooding. The one thing not mentioned is disease. Properly organised subterranean communities will regard adventurers as intruders, and likely deal with them accordingly. Temples are - or were - someone's place of worship, and if they are there they are unlikely to welcome visitors who have not come to venerate their deity. Each 'type' of dungeon gets a whole bunch of suggestions and examples, so whichever you fancy there should be plenty to spawn ideas.


Section 3 is devoted to the 'Player' and provides the character with useful resources. New skills - such as Contortionist, Intuit Depth, Intuit Distance... and a neat new use for Knowledge - 'Dungeon Lore' where a character has spent time researching the stories and legends about the subterranean places that he might visit, and can then apply this knowledge while he is underground. You can even study Trap Design - useful in getting around them, as well as for building them. There are also new feats that might prove useful to the dedicated dungeoneer, such as Blind Casting (you can target spells without needing to see what you are aiming at), Grace Under Pressure (you don't flap easily), Improved Alertness, Light Sleeper and Tinker (again useful with traps, you have a mechanical bent and a pocket-full of tools!). There are also useful items (the Tool Staff looks handy) and some spells. Then comes some Prestige Classes - the Crusader, the Demolitionist (if you allow explosives in your campaign), the Shock Trooper and the Treasure Hunter. All in all, a chapter full of rules to use to your advantage when delving.


The final section is intended for the Dungeon Master (with the usual note that players should read no further... when will publishers realise that most of us both play and DM?). It starts off with a selection of dungeon monsters, some variants on a theme like the floor trapper and others quite novel. This is followed by a listing of magic items again with an underground theme. The assortment of magic marbles is rather fun, while the Scroll of Mapping is a godsend for any character who cannot draw! Next comes a selection of traps for you to visit upon your players... and then, three sample dungeons to give you an idea of what can be done.


Overall, an enlightening read, especially for those who are or wish to be DMs - and even if you don't particularly like the 'dungeon crawl' it's recommended because it might just change your mind!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeons
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Relics
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2003 00:00:00

Relics is a good collection of his work although I prefer "House of Flesh". This is intended as more of an art book rather than a roleplaying visual aid and, as such, its a nice cheap way to "own" some of Christopher Shy's art.


...and "dark" is a very apt term used in the blurb to describe this book. If you're squeamish or offended at nudity, you'll probably want to avoid this.



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
Relics
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Relics
by james g. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/09/2003 00:00:00

Chris Shy's sketches and ideas. You should check out his website as well. At the small price of 3 bucks, its a nice buy. This does contain a few of the same sketches as in his Attribution book, but still a nice if you really dig his stuff.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Relics
by Christoph F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2003 00:00:00

First of I'm VERY Dissapointed with the Product.


It doesn't lie, it is a sketchbook about mature Art from Shy. But the Problem is that I didn't know his style but I really liked the cover. The Problem with that was that the Sketches doesn't even nearly ressemble the same quality as the cover. I hopped for a good Source for one of my Campaigns but I don't see how can I use any of the pictures! :(


Why couldn't they include one or two sample pages like most of the products here do? Now my 5 bucks are gone and left a bad taste for future products without Demo's.


Anyway, if you are a fan of the Artist than it might be a good buy, but if you don't know him than better look elsewhere for usable RPG-Art.


P.S.: Why is this Product even here at RPGNow? I really don't see how you can use this, and I usally use Pictures quite often in my Group!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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