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Legacy of Disaster
by Tahjare D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/21/2014 17:09:47

I am new to l5r and this was the first glimps in to the game. I found the first section informative but lacking in details that only the rule books provide. The adventure it self was interesting and a good read. The third section with the pregenerated characters and spell description was also informative. Had I known the games mechanics I would definitely play the game.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy of Disaster
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Secrets of the Empire
by Kathleen D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2014 14:14:37

Content-wise, this is a great book with lots of useful information.


On the other hand, it's a terrible pdf (like all the other AEG ones I own), as it's super slow to load. It's also 'secured' so you can't even print to a new pdf file that might be less rubbish. If other publishers can make pretty pdfs that are fast and nimble, why can't this one be too?



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Secrets of the Empire
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Creatures of Rokugan
by Lennart B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2014 18:25:07

First, let me rate the content of this monster book. Creates of Rokugan is organised like the official d20 monster books and use the same keywords and formatting. It is intended to be used for adventures in Rokugan, the default campaign setting for Legend of the Five Rings, but is a nice addition for every game master who would like to use some oriental monster in his campaign.


Creates of Rokugan features more than a hundred new monsters, a few templates, items and sample NPCs as well as prestige classes, new magical items and rules for Tainted character that have been corrupted by the Taint of the Shadowlands. Many creatures are established creatures from Legend of the Five Rings, though some (like the tengu-like kenku) come from D&D. Most monsters are evil supernatural creatures like undead, oni and other spirits. This is alright, though, as there are enough d20 books with mundane monsters already.


The illustrations are good too excellent, but all are black-and-white, as the entire interior of the book. And sadly, this is the last positive aspect of this product.


The book was originally published in 2001 (as a physical product) while this PDF is available since 2006. This makes me wonder why it is a scan instead of an actual digital book? Did they accidentally delete the original digital files? However, this is mentioned in the RPGNow sidebar, so I knew it before I bought this product.


However, I was not informed about the absolutely abysmal quality of the scan (the preview as too short to show how miserable the scan is)! Firstly, the resolution is very low. There are no sharp edges, which means that the PDF is probably a collection of JPGs (as opposed to an image format of higher quality,). There are white lines on all sidebars which I'm sure weren't in the original prints.


Furthermore, the PDF has no hyperlinked table of contents (halfway understandable as it's a scan) and not bookmarks at all, which is simply not acceptable. An amateur with a PDF editor could add bookmarks for all the monsters in about an hour, so I expect that from an established publisher as well. Needless to say that the page numbers reflect the total page numbers of the PDF, not the ones that are actually on the page. Also, the back cover is not where it belongs but is the second page for some reason.


The OCR (optical character recognition) is unacceptable. Entire paragraphs as not selectable at all. Only black text on white background is selectable. This was scanned in 2006. That's not very long ago. Scanners back then were solid. Even the amateurish scanner I have at home delivers better results than this. Sure, I could simply OCR the PDF again, but that's not possible without cracking the file as the PDF is secured. And I'm sure not all buyers have the necessary software for that. Oh, and due to the aforementioned low resolution of the PDF, not all text is transferred correctly when copied to a text editor.


Don't buy this product. Don't support abysmal service like this.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Creatures of Rokugan
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Iam B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/07/2014 13:14:38

Great Book! I love that L5R has moved into a 4th edition, it is more balanced and greatly more supported and I strongly recommend it for anyone who likes role playing and samurai.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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Deathwatch: Ark of Lost Souls
by Gary I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2014 07:32:51

I purcahsed Ark of Lost Souls for use in a Black Crusade campaign, rather than Deathwatch, and expect to have to adapt heavily when it comes to the detail of stats etc, but then I tend to run combats and campaigns in quite a narrative style so this isn't much of an issue.


As a stimulating environment for adventure the content hits home quite well, with opportunities presented for much diplomacy and influencing as well as for ass-kicking. The content straddles both a single adventure-like exploration and the much wider material for generating 'random' future escapades aboard this (or with adaptation, any) space hulk.


There are some nice options, with a new and terrifying alien race (well, new to me at least...) and some familiar but no less scary opponents. I particularly liked the way that the text makes the Tyrannid threat sound really frightening.


The main adventure encourages you to make a selection between exploring different major factions / enemies on board, and these are all suitable for adaptation to any party. Instead of trying to stop an Orc Waaagh! I can see my Black Crusade chaos marines trying hard to ally with or control it. Similarly, major alien threats can be a source of new tek, evil alliances or simply outright destruction. In Black Crusade, at least, it doesn't take long for characters to rise to the heights of world- or sector-altering actions, and there is plenty in the Ark of Lost Souls to provide that sort of 'grand' opportunity.


I really liked it and the flexibility it gives. The layout is sensible and accessible for me, and the random generation system is actually quite fleshed-out, generating ideas that have depth and subtlety. As has been said, the whole thing is very much amenable to a complete campaign setting, offering challenges on all scales and for all parties. I am seriously thinking of having my players spend quite some time here, with the aim of somehow turning the resources and factions aboard toward their dark ends.


One particularly good feature of a space hulk is the opportunity to expose your party to xenos they might rarely meeet elsewhere, and this is well exploited by the material with plausible backgrounds. Finally, the chance to justify a Harlequin combat !


Good value, with loads of material and lots to stimulate your thinking. Even if you never plan to spend any time on a space hulk, there is so much here to give them more depth and flavour in your games.


Pleased I bought it, and am going back to read it again now !


5 stars would've been for slightly more surprises or twists, or moments of revelation, as my players like those a lot. Shouldn't stop you buying it though - a great resource, especially for anyone that loves the 40k setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deathwatch: Ark of Lost Souls
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Fireborn: The Fire Within
by Geert-Jan W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2014 07:48:41

This is like a great mini-campaign to introduce the characters into Fireborn.
Though it is all BUT subtle, letting the player's really dive in directly into the setting.


For player's this might be a good introduction, but for the GM it isn't...
This requires quite a bit of preperation before hand, and a good read through of the adventure before you start.
Make sure you know the rules, and your player's ready to literally jump right into the action.


The adventure starts with peace negotiations in the mythic age as part of a flashback/dream of the player characters.
This is quite confusing, as they only get little bits of info, and know little other then that it's important to stop the war (but not know why it's so incredibly important).
It's played as a vague dream, and it can be a bit hard to get the player's into it and resolve the negotiations in a fluid and flowing manner.


After the dream however, the rest of the campaign gets a bit mroe interesting.
There is a bit of a lower pace moment where some investigative detective work comes around, but they can be sped up or spiced up if your group doesn't like to get into such situations.
My group actually loved this change of pace in between the action scenes.


I think in general, this adventure tries to show and explore all kinds of different perspectives and styles of what Fireborn can provide in adventures for good or ill.
It is very inspiring, and even though not everything will work for your group, going through it at least once does give you a better idea what Fireborn can be, and gives enough ideas to continue the adventures afterwards.


But again, it's rather ambitious for a "introduction", and requires a lot of carefull reading and preperation to get the msot out of this.
I highly recommend going for an easier and shorter pre-adventure or two to get into the system first, so when it comes to combat not everything has to be explained or covered all over again.
It's how I did it, and it worked out well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fireborn: The Fire Within
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Fireborn: Player's Handbook
by Geert-Jan W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2014 07:34:43

A great game, but not for everyone.


I really enjoyed the rpg, and still do in an active rpg group.
I would highly recommend it, even if the rules may not be for everyone, as the setting in itself is awesome enough to steal from in case you feel other rules systems work better for you.
As the setting should be clear to most (Dragons reincarnating, now coming back in the modern age), the mechanical side is what I'll focus on.


The game uses a system called the "dynamic D6" system.
Generally this means you have 4 seperate dice pools representing 1 for active physical actions (attacking, climbing, jumping etc), 1 pool for active mental actions (looking for something, casting magic, trying to focus your mind, use a mental skill etc), and then 2 more defensive "reactive" pools; reactive physical (defending, dodging away, etc.) and reactive mental (resisting influences, noticing an ambush etc).


Now the truly interesting part (that makes it dynamic) is that you can shift these dice pools around based on your skill in an action, and the amount of focus you put into it.
In example, when attacking using your fists to punch someone in the face, it is a Fire melee action.
Your skill in melee is 2, and Fire score is 2.
This normally means you roll 2 dice (Fire 2), but using your skill you can fcus more on your action, and gain 2 extra dice, so to roll 4 instead.
However, those dice need to come from somewhere.. so you lower one of the other dicepools by 2 due to you more aggresive stance performing this action. (which may make you vulnerable to defense or other actions).


That is what I think, makes the system pretty awesome, but it gets better.
During combat it makes things look a bit more like a Matrix style action scene every time an attack is performed.
For each point in for example your Fire score, you can build a sequence.
So Fire 4 would be 4 "small" actions in the sequence, which can allow you to jump through a window, shoot both you guns in your hand (dual wielding pistols), and roll to cover.
(Jump - shoot gun left - shoot gun right - roll for cover)


This does however can make things a bit more complicated/hard to understand in how it works with defending etc. This could have benefited greatly from a better and more clear explanation, but it helps when you have someone who understands the rules to learn from.
(You learn best from experience)


What makes the game a bit more metagamey is the Karma bid, which allows your player to push for a success in any action by spending Karma.
Karma can be spend for 1 extra success each after the dice are rolled, and can allow an action to completely succeed if not enough successes are rolled. The defender also gets to use Karma however, so it becomes a bid...whichever one gets the biggest total of successes will be the winner, but it might still come back to a partial success if not enough excess successes are obtained.
(defender successes and attacker's cancel each other out)


It is rather required however, as Karma will be the thing keeping you alive early in game when you do not have access to draconic powers (which also use Karma).
Combat is lethal!


But there are ofcourse downsides to all this;




  • Combat is nice and fast when you get into it, but it takes a while tog et your head around it. Making combat and defence sequences can be hard to envision at first. And if poorly understood..makes for a complicated mess at the table with everyone looking confused.
    It is advised to really learn the system before seriously going into large scale complicated combat scenes. Take it easy with just 1 or two player's to slowly introduce.
    You will also want the Lost Lore booklet/pdf, it is recomended to answer some questions and give better explanations on soem bits of the game. You can find it still on the G+ community page for Fireborn, along with just about everythign else Fireborn that could still be saved.
    (why they did not make everythign available here or on the official FFG pages anymore is beyond me)




  • Combat styles are nice, and they add specific sequences you can do based on your "martial arts style", in practice however most seem overpowered due to the payoff effects they can give if they succeed the entire chain.
    As well as cumbersome at times, so..I generally moved towards making it more freeform with your own designs of action sequences that fit your style and providing cinematic action dice instead. (they also gain less powerful payoffs, based on the actions they take). It can work as written, but sometimes just feels more restrictive then it probably was intended to be.




  • Lethal combat v.s. cinematic combat.
    Combat feels like an action movie due to the cinematic "effect", but combat nevertheless is highly lethal as written.
    Especially the problem of guns being a bit too overpowered, made me down the damage of guns a little to not shoot everyone dead in their tracks every time one uses them.
    Still, guns are illegal in the game, and should be VERY hard to get. Even if you own one, the GM should be carefull to limit them, and give some drawbacks on carrying one to prevent abuse.
    But even without guns, combat can be over very quickly, as you have a good chance of wound penalties as well.
    I decided to remove the dice penalties, and first have the minor wounds completely fill up before wound penalties develop for every minor wound they would otherwise gain in subsequent attacks.



  • You have 2 characters to work through..
    First a Scion character, and need to make a whole new character for your dragon self in the mythic age.
    There is theoption to sort of "mirror" your Scion to the mythic Age dragon version, but it severely limits your dragon in flexibility and is not recomended.
    It's not THAT hard to make a character in Fireborn, so it's recomended to first play an adventure or two with just the Scion character without draconic powers.
    Let them learn the system, then make their dragon selves and dive in for reall.
    There are many adventures out there that work well for this purpose.
    My first intro adventure was "three souls and a smoking gun", a Gencon adventure, which is found as pdf online.


This is also a game that benefits greatly from a few "helpful" bits and pieces to help speed things up.
I used poker chips for Karma, using the colours to make them personal to each player, making it easy to refresh whenever after combat etc.


Having character sheets printed double sided and color coded (look for the costum collour sheets of Scion and dragon characters) is a great help. Whenever a flashback comes around, just flip over the character sheet to the other side.


It helps having stones or (even better) colloured dice for the 4 dice pools.
I use stones, so if they get switched around due to stance changes, theya re easily brought back to the original situation at the start of the next round.


Making it easy for your player's (and yourself) makes this game work even faster :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fireborn: Player's Handbook
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Black Crusade: Hand of Corruption
by Christian S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2013 07:11:08

it's a great book, with an epic quest for your group of heretics.


The PDF is crap, it takes 2-20 Seconds to turn a page even on a high end System.
Perhaps a Problem with the encoding of the PDF.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Black Crusade: Hand of Corruption
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Secrets of the Empire
by Jeremy M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2013 12:45:55

Recently purchaced this and was not disapointed. The history of the minor clans realy needed to be told and this did it nicely. Was not expecting to much in game mechanics but I was pleasently suprised with the Ronin/Bushi School and the Minor Clan Heritage Table (This was needed). With the new school the Minor Clans that have no listed Bushi School, like the Moshi, can have clan Samurai without having to take different school.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Secrets of the Empire
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Secrets of the Empire
by Jack B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2013 12:25:14

Love this book. Like all of AEG's books it is beautiful and PDFs are so nice to read on a tablet or large phone. The art, layout, and even filler fiction is as always excellent.


This book fills in so many holes in the material relased thus far. It makes playing Minor Clans, Ronin, and Monks a much more rewarding experience.


The whole section at the end about the Realms opens up alot avenues to creative GMs. If you are playing/GMing a Kitsune or a Kitsu this section is a must.


Given the poor binding quality of Alderac's physical books, these PDFs have been a life saver. I hope the publisher continues to release the PDF books so quickly after the physical book release.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
by louis-olivier f. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2013 13:04:22

Beaucoup plus proche des autre jdr de 40k, très semblable à only war
Les armes semble maintenant plus proche de leur fluff et les point d'action des combat sont parties ce qui rend les combat plus simple.


Dommage d'avoir ramener les Wounds, le système des blessures était intéressant
aussi dommage d'avoir retirer les ultilisation de stat alternative pour les compétences



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
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Legend of the Five Rings: Strongholds of the Empire
by John Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/11/2013 11:38:25

An excellent source of information to help those GM's who need information to set the background of their stories. This source book was a big very help to me in understanding how different clans run their unique cities and holds within them. The most useful was the write up on Toshi Ranbo itself along with complete stat layouts of several of the most notable NPCs there. The icing on the book itself was the additional game mechanics included at the end of each chapter and the layout of each city as an individual chapter. The only bad thing I can say about this book are the misprinted game mechanics in some sections. Excellent read and a must for GM's and Players alike!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Strongholds of the Empire
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Naishou Province - 2013 GENCON RPG
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2013 23:26:50

I’m really THIS close to declaring Legend of the Five Rings, 4th edition to be the RPG that is most supportive to GMs in my entire experience in the hobby.


The recently released Naishou Province supplement is just more proof of it.


I know that many of those who’v read my previous reviews of L5R books have heard it before, but getting the hang of a setting as exotic and different as Rokugan is difficult for new GMs. The Naishou Province presents an entire province of Rokugan, from locations, to NPCs and plot hooks, all ready for a GM to use in their games.


The Naishou Province is not tied to a specific location in Rokugan, allowing GMs to place it wherever they feel most comfortably in.


The book itself is divided into several sections detailing the Provincial Capital, Settlements inside the province, the Geography of Naishou and a sample adventure which the GM can run or mine for ideas.


The Naishou Province book also allows for different kinds of adventures, from political conspiracies to combat and magic. There’s plenty to see and do in the Naishou province, and the book can easily fuel a long-term campaign as the GM can just keep inserting new complications and the interest of the other Great Clans over the unaligned province.


Mechanics-wise, Naishou Province is a little bit underwhelming, but given that it was meant to be more of a setting book I don’t feel that it is at fault. Lion Clan fans will be happy with the inclusion of a new Basic School in the form of the Lion Elite Spearmen, as well as the mechanics of the Magari-Yari, signature weapon of Matsu Gohei, the Butcher.


One thing of note however is that Naishou Province feels rather short, being a companion volume to another upcoming L5R book: Secrets of the Empire, a book that will detail the Ronin, Minor Clans, Imperial Families and the Brotherhood of Shinsei. I have no complaints about it however, and if I was to get a new GM to start an L5R campaign, I’d easily refer The Naishou Province supplement as one of their first books outside of the core.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Naishou Province - 2013 GENCON RPG
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Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2013 18:30:46

Among the many excellent books for the 4th Edition of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG, the Imperial Histories series is perhaps the one that I would recommend for busy GMs. Imperial Histories presents several alternative eras for an L5R campaign, each being a very game-able setup with enough hooks and twists to keep things fresh and interesting.


Imperial Histories 2 is divided into the following settings:


The Togashi Dynasty – An alternate Rokugan wherein Togashi defeats Hantei in the tournament to decide who should become Emperor in the dawn of the Empire. The resulting setting is one full of interesting supernatural wonders and a stronger presence of nonhuman races as opposed to the default setting.


The Reign of the Shining Prince – Taking place in the reign of the second Emperor, this setting is an introspective one for the Empire. Having fought the first Day of Thunder, the second Emperor finds himself saddled with the duty of making the Empire worthy of the sacrifices of the Kami. It’s less bombastic than the other settings, but I find that it is the one with more options to explore the foundations that made the Rokugan what it is in the present.


The Iron Empire – Again another intriguing setting, this one discusses Rokugan if samurai were slowly being displaced by technological progress? By adopting foreign technologies, Rokugan finds itself evolving differently, and along interesting branches of development. Steam engines, guns, and other technologies transform Rokugan into something similar but also teeming with tension as traditionalists try to cling to old glories in the face of innovation.


Heresy of the Five Rings – This setting offers a different angle, as it deals with what happens when change in Rokugan happens from a Religious angle. This is especially useful for games centered around the more spiritual clans such as the Dragon and the Phoenix.


The Reign of the Steel Chrysanthemum – One of the most hated villains in Rokugan’s canon history is the Hantei XVI, the Steel Chrysanthemum. A cruel and vicious tyrant, his reign was considered to be one of the darkest in Rokugani history, which is saying something in a setting that is constantly beset by assaults from Ancient Evil Gods. That said this is great for the rebels and freedom fighter types.


The Eighth Century Crises – Perhaps one of the settings in the book that amuses me due to how closely it resembles standard RPG campaigns, this setting is a gauntlet of existential threats thrown at Rokugan one after the other. From the Maw to the Dark Oracles and the Bloodspeakers it’s a veritable buffet of evil for the heroes of Rokugan to confront (and hopefully defeat.)


The Return of the Unicorn – Perhaps it’s because I’ve been running a Unicorn Campaign, but this setting deals with a major turning point in the history of the Empire. It surprises me that it took this long for it to actually get the spotlight. The return of the former Ki-Rin Clan is a wake up call of sorts to the Empire to understand that the world does not revolve solely around them and that there are other places exotic and dangerous outside their borders.


The Shattered Empire – An alternate setting meant to take place after the Second Day of Thunder. This setting assumes that it was Togashi Hitomi to survive the confict against Fu Leng, and does not assume the throne, as Toturi did. This power vaccuum leaves the Clans working on recovering fast enough to put their candidate upon the empty throne.


The Four Winds Era – Detailing the age where the Four Winds were making their various bids for the throne, this is considered to be one of the better eras of the canon storyline. Interesting characters, plenty of opportunities for glory in both combat and in court and a spiritual hook in the form of Toturi Sezaru makes for well-rounded opportunities for any group of samurai.


The Shadowed Throne – In an interesting counterpoint to the Four Winds Era, the Shadowed Throne assumes that Toturi Tsudao survives to become Empress. With all Four Winds taking their places in the empire, Rokugan still proves to be a fragile setting as the various Clans react to what turns out to be Tsudao’s insufficient skill at keeping the Clans placated.


The Destroyer War – Another canon setting, The Destroyer War discusses the time when Kali-Ma marches towards Rokugan with the intent of claiming it for her own. Fans of the more recent events in the setting will find good use of this setting as it presents important details of that era as well as the necessary NPCs and mechanics of the era


Age of Exploration – This setting works very well with the Second City Boxed set, as it presents the time when the Empire goes forth to explore (and claim) the lands of the Ivory Kingdoms as it’s own.


Empire of Emerald Stars – Of all the settings in the book, this one is perhaps the most divergent. Empire of Emerald Stars takes the L5R setting and spins it off as a Space Opera, set in the far future, with interesting takes on what spacefaring and technology would look like if filtered through Rokugan’s unique lens. I have to admit that I’m very amused with this particular setting and a part of me wishes that it had a bigger page count. For those wondering about how different an L5R game can get, this is well worth checking out.



Imperial Histories 2 is full of interesting worlds, both canon and alternate, and has the mechanics to back it up. Fans of the setting will find nothing to complain about in the book as it lives up to the incredible reputation of being another excellent supplement to the 4th Edition line.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
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Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
by Frazier M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2013 13:37:38

Imperial Histories was one of the best constructed and most useful books in the Legend of the Five Rings line and its successor does not disappoint. Like the first, each chapter details a different era of Rokugani history, some which have been detailed before, while some are entirely new.


It dedicates a bit more space to alternate history variant Rokugans than the first, but they are all quite imaginative. The Togashi Dynasty is the highlight here, which explores what Rokugan might have looked like under the Dragon Emperor.


Of the canonical chapters, the Reign of the Steel Chrysanthemum stands out. Hantei XVI, the Seel Chrysanthemum, is known to have been one of Rokugan's most ruthless tyrants, but now his reign of terror is explored and detailed in great depths. I honestly cannot wait to run a game about a shadow war between the Scorpion Clan and the Steel Chrysanthemum's mistress of spies.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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