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Goblin Squad Member. 960 posts. 2 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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I'm curious -- what became of Shalelu Andosana in your campaigns? She has had many fates, I'm sure.

In my campaign, Shalelu proved a bit too insightful. The party leader, Micah, was about as shallow as a puddle, and wrapped up in his own emo-outcast self-image. Shalelu pointed out that everbody else saw him as a hero for his repeated acts of selfless courage, and suggested that the outcast loner schtick was all in his head, and continued mainly because he himself wouldn't let anyone get close.

Micah was disturbed by this assessment of his character. It struck too close to home. Therefore, he started telling everyone that Shalelu was creepy, and he didn't know if you could really trust her. The other party members picked up on his distrust, and in short order she became a pariah, tolerated only because she hadn't actively done anything to harm the party.

No one wept especially when she got crushed by a lucky critical hit with a boulder thrown by a stone giant in the very last fight of Book 3. Her final words were: "Tell ... Micah ... he really is ... a hero. And also ... an !@#$%^&."

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This wasn't a PC death, but it was so epic I'm going to put it here anyway.

Name of NPC: Longtooth
Class/Level: Male juvenile red dragon
Adventure: Fortress of the Stone Giants
Catalyst: Glitterdust

The details:

My PCs had acquired some hippogriff mounts during an interlude between books 3 and 4, and had also managed to uncover some intelligence alerting them to the upcoming assault on Sandpoint. They rushed to Sandpoint and set up defenses. Among these, the party bard asked if she could use Inspire Courage on the whole town by playing the bells in the cathedral tower. I thought that was awesome, so I said yes.

When Longtooth made his appearance, he naturally noticed the bells clanging, and decided to deviate from his scripted plan of attack and assault the cathedral bell tower first. He flew towards it, flaming and roasting the bard pretty well; he ended his turn in mid-air with the bell tower at the edge of his breath weapon's reach.

The bard baled out of the far side of the tower using Feather Fall -- and then the party's arcane trickster vaulted onto her hippogriff, used its motion to get into range of the dragon from behind it, and cast: Glitterdust.

"Okay, fine," I thought. "So we'll have a shiny red dragon."

Then he rolled a nat 1 on his Will save to avoid blindness.

Blinded, confused, Longtooth kept flying in the same direction he had been, and crashed straight through the bell tower. It crumbled around him with a clangor of falling bells. On the far side he failed a Fly check to remain aloft, fell, and plowed a furrow in the cathedral grounds. The 6d6 of falling damage didn't kill him; nor did the extra 1d6 for debris raining down on him. He even survived two hits from the bard's holy flaming shortbow (Batman!).

When the arcane trickster flew her hippogriff in and hit him with an acid arrow, he would have been fine too -- if he'd been able to see. But he was still blind, flat-footed, and the sneak attack dice did for him.

So in the end, really, it was Glitterdust that killed him. The bard and the arcane trickster high-fived each other and later had leather hot-pants made out of his skin.

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disclaimer: rules-wise, this might not be kosher)

You're right, technically that shouldn't have worked -- prismatic wall has no effect on its own caster.

But! This is a classic villainous end -- defeated by a clever trick that turned his own power against him. Seems to me that's a textbook case of the Rule of Cool, which trumps the normal rules out of sheer awesome.

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I dislike it when people don't start thinking about what they want to do until it's their turn. Use the other player's turns to plot out your own turn. Conditions may change, but you should have at least some idea what you want to do.

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I do like Pathfinder. But the rules tend to hamper creative gameplay. So. Many. Rules. And every time we have to go look up something in the rules, gameplay grinds to a halt.

Half the time we figure out that the player can't do what they wanted and have to come up with something else to do, which is frustrating for the player, and boring for everybody else who tuned out during the rules consultation part.

Honestly, the longer I play the more I find myself eying rules-light systems like Fate Core.

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On the evening of July 3rd, I ran "The Night March of Kalkamedes" -- PFS scenario 4-19 -- for a party of 5 vigilantes. All PCs were level 5, 20 point buy. Since they weren't created for PFS, I did not enforce any PFS-specific rules, and just picked vaguely appropriate faction missions for them after they introduced their characters.

The cast, with linked character sheets:

Frank, playing Galannon, stalker vigilante (page 1, page 2)
Chris, playing Arthur, zealot vigilante (sheet)
Connor, playing Montgomery, warlock vigilante (sheet)
Andrew, playing Bar, avenger vigilante (sheet)
Stephen, playing Kib, stalker vigilante (sheet)

Notes on the character sheets:

1) Frank didn't actually have Hide in Plain Sight -- I pointed out to him before the session that you need to be level 8 to pick that. He substituted the talent that gets you a Rogue talent, picking Fast Stealth. Also, he was clearly using a form-fillable PDF. I am uncertain why he printed it out and sent me scans of the pages (in two different file formats) rather than just emailing the PDF. There must be some kind of reason.

2) Connor's initial plan was to hide his full plate and a scythe in his Tattoo Chamber, popping them out and using Serren's Swift Girding to put them on when he needed them. Sadly, neither one meets the "fits in one hand" requirement. So he wound up hauling his full plate in a backpack, and switching to a trident for his weapon.

3) Andrew seems to have gone over-budget on his gear, but I don't think it mattered. The keen property on his axe might as well not have been there, considering he never rolled a crit threat during the evening.

We recorded audio of the full session. The session ran just over 4 hours. For convenience, I have split it into separate chunks of audio for each encounter in the scenario, plus one for cleanup after the privateers ("The Ballad of Laurie and Howard"), and one for post-session discussion of mechanics.

There was a television running successive episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation in the background, so there is some more or less constant background noise, but for the most part it doesn't get in the way.

In listening to the session after the fact, with more leisure to check rules, it seems I was running the Acrobatics check for Up Close and Personal incorrectly. We were using a DC of 10+opponent's CMB to go through its space, when rules actually specify CMD+5 as the DC, which would generally be higher. Galannon was rolling pretty well on his Acrobatics, but even so, he likely would have failed to pass through the opponent's square on at least a couple of occasions.

Up Close and Personal was very powerful as long as he had cover to use for Stealth; it will probably be at its peak at level 8 when a Stalker can take Hide in Plain Sight, allowing a pretty reliable way to get Hidden Strike. After that point, it will slowly diminish in power because it only allows a single attack; its damage output will be lower than a full-attacking fighter type. I do wonder how it will interact with feats like the Sap Master chain.

In retrospect, I also wonder if I interpreted the "aware of your presence" clause correctly or not. Gallanon always cover available to re-stealth. But the other bandits were well aware that their comrades were getting cut down by something fast and dark. Should that have meant that they were "aware of his presence" even if they didn't know quite where he was? The extra conditions for determining whether the vigilante gets his Hidden Strike, compared to standard sneak attack, seem a great deal more open to interpretation. I am unsure how I feel about the matter.

We double-checked after the session, and Connor's belief that the Warlock specialization does not gain extra spell slots for a high INT was incorrect. Even so, I am in agreeance with him that the Warlock and Zealot seem distinctly underwhelming compared to the Avenger and Stalker.

I hope this is useful. The class seems like an interesting idea, but the dual identity is difficult to integrate with existing published material.

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93. Reading the adventure in advance (as a player), carefully thinking through the best possible way to tackle every encounter, then steering the group to your preferred solutions through subtle hints.

(The player I saw do this only got caught out because the group made a bad choice, with some very negative consequences that he knew were coming. He had his PC commit suicide. That way he got a new PC, and didn't have to live with the results of his former PCs actions. The group broke up over that.)

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What slows down my table?


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Oh oh, nuke it from orbit! It's the only way to be sure.

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I recently had a lovely encounter prepared for a fight with a nemesis who'd been a thorn in my player's side for about 6 levels. I made the foolish assumption that the PC would follow standard adventurer protocol: kick down the door and roll initiative.

So what does she do instead? She convinces the kingdom's guards that there's an invading army. The council (on which the nemesis sits) was duly convened, and the PC taken straight to them as a material witness -- where she decides to destroy the nemesis' reputation instead of just attacking her.

That's right. She went for character assassination instead of an actual assassination.

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Here's a mythic reincarnate I came up with for use in a campaign I'm GM'ing. Add the following to the end of the spell:


Mythic: You may roll twice when selecting the target's new race, and choose which roll to use.

Augmented (6th): If you expend an additional 4 uses of mythic power, add all playable (0 hd) races to the list of possible races, subject to your GM's approval. You may choose the target's new race, gender, and age category. You may choose the details of the new body's form, such as hair and eye color, complexion, and so on. In addition, you may grant the target a +1 reincarnation bonus to one physical ability score. This bonus does not stack: subsequent reincarnations may affect a new physical ability score, but not the same one twice.

Goblin Squad Member

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Updated for the 6/29 draft!


Terra Australis Incognito moved from J to A
Brains and Brawn moved from S to D
vVv Gaming moved from A to J
The Phoenix Brotherhood changed names to Sunholm but retained control of O
Kabal moved from D to R
Newcomer Open Road took S
Reading Between the Lines moved from R to T
The Bastard Sons of Daggermark lost T

As usual, please post any corrections here.

Goblin Squad Member

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Okay, I've added an additional overlay for the territories of the three first-gen settlements.

And I've updated the alignment for the Agents of Erastil.

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The Underdark, reclaiming a lost citadel of the ancient dwarves.

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Succubi. They're a "challenging" encounter for an APL 6 party, but the save DCs for their Charm Monster and Dominate abilities are sky-high.

A level 6 cleric with an 18 Wisdom would have a Will save of +9. That's not bad, but it'd still take a 14+ on the die to save against the DC 23 dominate person -- meaning a PC who's supposed to be GOOD at will saves has a 65% chance of failing that save. Compare to the poor fighter, who is likely to be a good bit lower than that even if he diligently took Iron Will and didn't dump Wisdom.

Of course, a succubus only gets to Dominate once per day. But she can use Charm Monster and Suggestion at will, which is almost as good, and has a DC of 22, so there's a very good chance you will soon believe wholeheartedly that this lady is your trusted friend and ally, whom you should probably help if she asks you to do something reasonable. And her Bluff skill is ridiculous, so she can make some truly outrageous things seem like a terrific idea.

But suppose you saw them coming, and had Protection from Evil running on the party. Hooray, she can't curdle your brains! But she has ethereal jaunt and greater teleport at will, so really all she has to do is make a tactical withdrawal, wait a few minutes for the spell to wear off, and then come back and curdle your brains all she wants. It'd take Dimensional Anchor -- a 5th level spell that level 6 PCs don't generally have access to -- to actually corner a succubus.

And if you DID manage somehow, as a sixth level party, to confront a succubus with both Protection from Evil and Dimensional Anchor in place, then she's pretty much ... oh wait, she can summon a Babau demon. Babau demons have Dispel Magic at will, and carry spears. So she can summon one (50% chance), directing him to keep spamming Dispel Magic at the PCs, starting with the ones wearing heavy armor, so that she can curdle their brains.

So basically, if you throw a succubus at a level 6 party, they are either going to be REALLY lucky, or they're going to be sock puppets for Team Evil in short order.

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You can potentially use planar binding to summon an outsider enemy. At least, I hope so. There are three succubi loose in the Kingmaker campaign I'm playing in, and we've been having a hard time getting them to stand and fight. Why would they? They can just ethereal jaunt away and leave behind a trail of energy-drained corpses, enchanted puppets, and mentally scarred victims.

So I'm thinking we may need to try researching their true names in order to summon them and kill them.

Goblin Squad Member

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After the second or third time I misinterpreted the position of a guild in the land rush because the icons aren't labeled, I decided to fix that problem.

Labeled Land Rush Map

Mouse over a settlement, and a little box will pop up containing the name of the guild that currently holds it, a link to their page in the list of guilds, and the letter of the settlement.

Initial scale is 25%. A full size version can be seen by clicking "larger". Sorry, no fancy zoom effects, they would have made developing it a lot slower.

Guild icons can hidden or revealed with a checkbox.

Please note that I do not have permission from Goblinworks to do this, so this is totally unofficial, not affiliated with them in any way, and please don't sue me into little bits. I hopefully point out that I'm not hosting the images (they're still on the Goblinworks site) and it's all in service of furthering a community of people who are going to give Goblinworks lots of money over time.

Also, Goblinworks, if you'd like to adapt my code for use in your own map, help yourself! It's all there in view source. Nothing terribly fancy. And, as mentioned, integrating it with your zooming function would require a good bit more JavaScript than I'm using.

I'll need to update this each time another round passes, so there will be a delay after each draft till I can do so.

EDIT: Oh, and what's that guild symbol at position T? It wasn't labeled in the legend on the Goblinworks site.

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Yeah, that's fine.

But don't discount random encounters. They can really enrich the game if you let them be more than "1d6 monsters show up and try to eat you, roll initiative".

Example: a recent encounter with a Sphinx turned into a trivia contest. The player posed the sphinx a question about the BBEG that the sphinx just couldn't answer. Sphinxes get Legend Lore as a spell-like ability, so I decided she would use that to learn the answer. No sphinx would admit defeat in a contest of wits if she has any other option!

I had no idea it would take 1d10 days. The player rolled a 9 for that, and the sphinx wound up joining the party for 9 days.

So that random encounter turned into a named NPC (Beshala), and a chance for me to introduce some neat backstory the player would otherwise have been unaware of. It added a lot to the game, and I never planned it.

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Nobody speaks "Common" ... but everyone speaks Druidic. It's not secret yet.

Use the Primitive Armor and Weapons from Ultimate Combat.

The Words of Power system is fluffed as a more primitive form of magic that eventually gave rise to the the more refined schools of the day. Could be interesting, but it's also a fairly complex subsystem which will take some serious study for both the GM and the players.

If this is a Golarion game:

- Curchanus is hale, hearty, and very much alive.
- Acavna, Amaznen and Lissala may be around, but may not be full deities yet.
- Desna doesn't have dominion over travel.
- Lamashtu isn't a god yet, just an up-and-coming demon lord.
- Aroden, Cayden Cailean, Iomedae, Milani and Norgorber have not even been born.
- The Starstone doesn't exist.
- The "Inner Sea" itself doesn't exist (since it's mostly an impact crater from the Starstone).
- The lands that will one day be Azlant are there.

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Out of curiousity: What stuff do you use when GM'ing that wasn't originally intended for the purpose? The NPC Codex is nice and all, but I find myself using my 1994 copy of the Writers Digest Character Naming Sourcebook way more often.

It's got loads of inaccuracies, but I don't care. Since I began GM'ing on a regular basis, it's been SO USEFUL. Someone will say "What's the cook's name?" And I'll flip it open and say "Anniki!" Or whatever.

So what's in your GM toolkit that was never meant to be there?

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As a GM, I'm inclined to let druids be awesome. They deserve it after the agony of updating a bazillion character sheets every time they level ...

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All too often it's short hand for "I'm evil, but I can't admit it to myself." There's one of these at my table right now.

The best chaotic neutral RP I ever saw cast the character as, essentially, a libertarian. Freedom of choice was paramount; any and all external restrictions were unacceptable. More often than not, the character behaved in a chaotic good manner; but that was NOT guaranteed. The player argued that if you're not free to choose differently than you did in the past, then you're a slave to your own previous choices. In short, the character was basically a libertarian transplanted to a fantasy setting.

The violent dislike of enchantment spells also made for interesting role playing.

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Protection from Evil says two things about saves.

1) It gives "a +2 resistance bonus on saves [...] against [...] effects created by evil creatures."

2) It also grants a new save against existing mental control effects "with a +2 morale bonus, using the same DC as the original effect."

Those two save bonuses have different types: resistance and morale. Does that mean they stack, for an effective +4 on the new save versus an ongoing evil mental control effect?

Dominated minds want to know.

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To get back to the topic of stuff that's been added/altered:

In my campaign, Xanesha has not spent the last five years sitting on top of the Shadow Tower buffing her nails and idly taking reports from Justice Ironbriar. No, she's been a busy, busy lady.

Specifically, she's been Diana Baythorne, with a timeline like this:

- 5 years past: reached Magnimar, suborned Brothers of the Seven

- 4 years past: joined Magnimaran society in human form, presenting herself as an independently wealthy merchant. (Her wealth actually derives from all the greedy people she's been murdering.)

- 3 years past: purchased a patent of nobility from the Mayor, making her Lady Diana Baythorne, Baroness Ravenmoor. (The fact that she has no connection Ravenmoor is utterly irrelevant to the Mayor, who pays close attention to the opinions of shiny coins).

- 2.5 years past: through a careful campaign of bribery, enchantment, seduction, and one assassination, Xanesha secures herself an appointment as Chief Intelligencer of Magnimar. She's the head of the CIA and the FBI, wrapped up in one. She proceeds to build a vast intelligence network. Her agents tend to be loyal more to her than to Magnimar, and she uses the intelligence they gather to direct attention away from her own activities while also monitoring those of her rivals in Karzoug's employ (Lucrecia, Mokmurion, etc).

- Present: the PCs slip under her radar -- by the time she knows they're a threat, they're barging up the stairs of the Shadow Clock. And by amazing bad luck, she's actually there and not in her offices at the Pediment building. Sometimes a girl's just got to let her scales down, you know? She just picked the wrong day for it.

She is severely wounded in the fight, but manages to flee. Thanks to her wealth (and her own magic) she can heal up that night and show up at work in the morning looking as if nothing happened.

From here on in, she's going to play double agent:

1) Justice Ironbriar survived his confrontation with the PCs. Once they're off to Fort Rannick, she'll quietly reactivate him, assemble a new cult of acolytes, and continue harvesting greedy souls. She will instruct Justice Ironbriar to conceal his kills more carefully.

2) She will personally equip the PCs with excellent gear, and send them to disrupt the activities of Lucrecia and the Kreegs.

3) What she will do later depends on how things go. She can always turn the PCs over to Karzoug, or one of his other minions, and claim she didn't think they were as big a threat as they turned out to be. But on the other hand, if the PCs do well, they'll eliminate her rivals for position in Karzoug's hierarchy.

4) If it looks like they stand a serious chance of actually defeating Karzoug, she'll follow them to Xin-Shalast and monitor the fight, so that she can at any time step in. Ideally, the PCs will take a beating but destroy Karzoug: whereupon she will step in and finish off the PCs, leaving herself undisputed ruler. Alternatively, if it looks like Karzoug is going to wipe the PCs, she'll step in and help. Being second-in-command of a renewed Thassilon would still be pretty good, even if she has to put up with Karzoug.

Bits of this I borrowed from this post by Mathmuse. The basic idea of Xanesha as more of a scheming manipulator appealed to me, and I liked the name Baythorne. The Chief Intelligencer bit was my own addition.

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blackbloodtroll wrote:

Best bet?

Apple of Eternal Sleep, a cart, and some sneaky(and strong) people to haul it.

This is a good plan. But the Apple of Eternal Sleep should be for the paladin. Once the paladin is snoozing permanently, store him someplace safe and the horse can be delivered to the purchaser secure in the knowledge that the paladin won't be coming to punish the miscreant who dared touch his horse.

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Major_Blackhart wrote:
I thought Aroden as well.

No. Aroden raised the Starstone from the bottom of the sea, along with the surrounding land (now Absolom). He achieved divinity before that, apparently due to sheer force of awesomeness.

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Okay, here we go. Here are some pictures of the banner map:

This is 2 feet by 6 feet in dimension, and includes all four structures in the Graul homestead. I made a generic parchment background for them to sit on, and added labels.

- The material seems reasonably tough, while remaining flexible. It rolls up nicely.

- The edges did not have any protruding threads, one issue that the blog I initially found reported. They were smooth, and did not need to be sealed or anything.

- The surface has a little more grip than paper or wood. Dice roll on it just fine. The table it's pictured on is at work, and my Warhammer-40K-playing co-worker tried it too. He pronounced himself satisfied with its dice-rolling qualities.

- I tried markers on it. Wet erase markers go on smoothly and come off smoothly. Don't use dry erase on it, they do not come off cleanly and leave smudges.

- The image I uploaded had 100 dots per inch, and came out to the correct scale, as you can see from the alchemical golem mini in the close-up above.

- The print quality is rather grainy. This is most clearly visible in the close-up picture, above. I have emailed support to ask whether they have the ability to print at higher resolutions, for example 150 DPI or 300 DPI. I probably won't bother with images pulled from APs, since their resoluton starts so very low anyway. But Paizo flip-mat PDFs come at 150 DPI, and I'm fully capable of making my own 300 DPI maps. If they can produce a slightly nicer print quality by upping the resolution, that'd be nice. I'll report back on what they say on this point.

- The final cost for this 2x6 foot color map, including shipping, was $18.19 USD.

At that price I will probably be using them again, especially if I can get better prints by increasing the DPI on the image file.

EDIT: Support got back and had this to say:

We do print all banners at 100 DPI, so increasing the DPI of your file would not increase the print quality.

Too bad. That said, I can live with a little graininess in the print, considering how cheap and comparatively easy to store these are.

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The map arrived today! Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of preparing for a job interview, which will be out of state, so I'll be traveling till Tuesday. I promise to post a full write-up once I get back.

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Hobbun wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
If they are like regular vinyl banners they will be very much thinner and more prone to wrinkle.


Well, we don't know yet. Once the one I ordered arrives I'll report on how durable it seems.

When I said it only needed to last "a few sessions", that's because it's unlikely to take more than 2-3 sessions for the party to clear the area and move on. After that, we probably won't need that map again this campaign. So I'll just roll it up and store it someplace cool and out of direct sunlight.

Hobbun wrote:
Although the one you are purchasing you said is 2'x6', correct? That is pretty long. Are you putting multiple maps (floors) on one 2x6 section?

Yes. That 2x6 area includes all three floors of the Graul homestead, plus barn. If it doesn't fit on my table, or I just decide I want separate maps, I can just cut it apart. I left about an inch of space between each area.

Laithoron wrote:
My main concern right now is that in their help section that they state the JPG, EPS, or PNG file should be 20MB or under, yet there is no mention of the DPI at which their banners are printed.

The 20MB limit is for files uploaded through their web interface. During the upload process it said to contact support if I had a larger file, or something in a more obscure file format, and they'd work out an alternate way of getting the image to them.

As for DPI, that would be nice to know. Since I was working with Paizo maps extracted from the PDF, I scaled the map images up to 100px = 1 inch, then used Photoshop to create an image that was 7200x2400 px (6' by 2' at 100 DPI). When I saved that as a PNG, it came in about 8 MB.

After uploading, it showed me a preview of the banner. The image appeared to stretch all the way to the edges of the area, so hopefully it will come out at 100 DPI with nicely sized squares. We'll see!

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Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Why should the bard get a free ride for dumping strength if the barbarian is not going to get the same thing for dump stat? Dump stats should have negative effects on the character who takes them.

The bard isn't getting a free ride. The low STR still has plenty of negative effects. Namely:

1) Crappy melee damage if the bard winds up mixing it up.
2) Poor Swim and Climb checks. Those can easily be fatal.
3) Poor generic STR checks. This bard will not be bursting free of restraints, bashing down doors, or any other high-strength activity.

By the same token, the Barbarian is getting benefits too. If he ever gets his oh-so-amazing STR drained down to, say, 1, he will still be capable of moving rather than being immobilized by the weight of his armor.

As for dumping stats harder, my PCs don't have the option. We roll stats. They get what they roll. Their options for dumping are therefore pretty limited.

Anyway, heavy optimization is simply not a problem with my players. Several of them lack the rules knowledge. Others are more interested in RP than mechanics. And the one guy who's interested in optimizing isn't very good at it.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
If you don’t want to do the book keeping then you should limit all characters to their light encumbrance load. Tell them they cannot carry any more period.

How about I go have badwrongfun my way, and you can go have badwrongfun your way.

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Ah ha! got back to me. Here is what they had to say:

Banners on the Cheap Support wrote:

Happy Sunday! I hope you've had a great weekend. I heard back from our legal team who let me know that we will flag the order as a "do not reprint

or use for marketing purposes" and asked that I let you know that we are aware of situations like this and it is completely acceptable for you to
deliver us the file and have it printed under your limited license! Woohoo!

Yay! The rep went on to ask that I inform her when I put in the order to make sure it gets flagged. I'll give it a whirl and see how it goes.

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Large scale prophecies work much better in novels. In a campaign, you run two risks. First, if the plot strays too far from the prophecy, then it can easily become totally irrelevant to actual game events. Some prophecy. Second, and on the other end of the spectrum, if the GM can't let go of the prophecy, then the prophecy can easily become a railroad.

I therefore much prefer tying prophecies to specific encounters. If the PCs avoid the encounter somehow, you can forget the prophecy entirely with no harm to the overall plot.


Spoilers for Rise of the Runelords:
An early encounter in RotRL is the fight on Thistletop, where there's some nasty difficult terrain composed of briars. I could tell that was going to be a serious problem for my group. So, I the NPC Madame Niska Mvashti appear to a PC and hand her a card from a Harrow Deck, the Briar Patch, together with the following prophecy: "Thorny briars do not hinder those who love the land." When the encounter happened, the card vanished and that one PC got freedom to move through the terrain unhindered.

Spoilers for The Harrowing:
This one was more or less impromptu. There's an encounter where the party comes across a centaur apparently getting mauled by an air elemental. The elemental is drunk and trying to dance. One of the PCs cast Divination and asked for advice on navigating the desert, so I told him "The dancing wind means no harm to the horse man." Of course, when they encountered the centaur and elemental mere minutes later, they failed to figure it out despite the air elemental shouting "Dance, horse man, dance!" Ah, well.

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I've been doing the rescaling myself to save on costs. It's not all THAT difficult. Here's the procedure I use:

1) Put the PDF in a folder by itself.

2) Open the PDF in Nitro PDF Reader.

3) Click the "Extract Images" button in the Nitro toolbar. This will dump a copy of every image in the entire PDF into the folder the PDF is in. There will be a lot of them.

4) Go through and delete images I'm not interested in, e.g. page backgrounds etc.

5) Rename the map images to file names that make sense.

6) Open a map in, GIMP, Photoshop, or other suitable image editor.

7) In the event that something needs correcting -- like maybe there's a secret door symbol that got accidentally burned into the map or something -- correct it now using a Clone Stamp tool or similar. This is fortunately rare.

8) resize it according to Jonathan Roberts' post on rescaling maps for VTT use. I usually set the resized image at 100 DPI for printing purposes. Scaling it up further won't do anything but increase the file size without adding any detail.

8) Save the file.

9) Take it to the print shop and tell them it's ready to print as-is. Be sure to tell them that it needs to be printed at 100 DPI.

It's not THE most straightforward process, but it works. I tend to process all the maps from one book at a time. Then they're ready to go when I need to get them printed.

Also, be sure to check and see if there are higher-resolution fan maps available. Certainly for Rise of the Runelords there are a number of those in the Community Created Stuff thread. Tintagel's version of Foxglove Manor is spectacular, for example.

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They got back to say they'd forwarded my request to their legal people. I'll keep you posted.

Also, apparently their customer support is the "Customer Love Team". Judging by the number of exclamation points in the email, this team is composed entirely of hyper-enthusiastic teens. Friendly, but a little over-the-top.

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I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this. If not, would a mod please move it to the correct spot?

I've been having the local copy shop print maps from RotRL for my group for some time. It's been my understanding that Paizo's fine with printing stuff out for use with your group, since that is after all the point.

Last night, I found a site called Banners On The Cheap, which prints vinyl banners up to fairly large sizes. As promised, it's cheap. And they got a very good review from a gamer who tried printing some battlemaps.

I'm very interested in trying this service out, but -- because I am crazy -- I read their Terms of Service in full, and there's a problematic clause in section 4.1:

You do not lose ownership of the Content that you design on, or upload to, the Web Site. By uploading Designs to the Web Site or creating Designs with Banners on the Cheap's design tools, however, you grant the following licenses to Banners on the Cheap: the nonexclusive, worldwide, transferable, sublicensable right to copy, crop, reproduce, publicly display, sell, and distribute the Design in or on Products and in advertising, marketing, samples, and promotional materials for the purpose of promoting the Web Site and Products; and the right to make modifications to your Design as Banners on the Cheap, in its sole discretion, finds necessary to achieve the above listed purposes.

Emphasis added.

I'm pretty sure I don't have the right to grant them a license to use Paizo's maps in their advertising. Does this mean I cannot use this service with Paizo materials?

I hope my reading is wrong. It looks like a very promising service for cheap, durable, mark-able maps. I'll certainly try it with maps that I've made myself, but it would be very nice to have the ability to use Paizo's stuff too.

While I'm at it, hey Paizo, have you considered partnering with these people to produce flip-mats? Maybe you could hammer out a deal that would leave a price point low enough to make it economically feasible. I know I'd rather have a nice rollable vinyl map than a folding cardboard-ish one that always needs to be weighted down a the corners to lie flat.

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It's your campaign of course, but I might actually take that and riff on it. If they're expecting a hive queen -- give them one! Re-skin those demons as insectile horrors from the Great Beyond, acting on the orders of a terrible hive queen intent on turning the city/nation/planet into her personal domain. Then they can feel clever for having worked it out.

I just kind of like it when the players tell me what they want this way.

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Mapmaker Jonathan Roberts, who does the "Fantastic Maps" series for Rite Publishing, has a VERY handy post on rescaling maps for use in VTTs.

He gives directions for Photoshop and Gimp; I use them with, and it's very helpful.

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The catacombs of wrath are saturated with the psychic residue of ancient torture.

So rather than having them attacked by physical creatures, give them nightmares. Borrow the mechanic from Foxglove Manor -- if they fail a Will save, say, DC 14 or so, they take 1 point of Wisdom damage from horrific nightmares and wake up fatigued.

For extra credit, come up with a personalized dream for each one of them that ties into their backstory and stuff they've done so far, then distribute those to each player on a 3x5 card. For example:

"You dream of your hapless party member who got shoved in the furnaces of the glassworks above. His flesh turns to molten glass before your eyes. As his face liquifies, he turns his blind gaze to you and stretches his hand for your help. Then you wake up. You are fatigued. Make a Will save (DC 14). If you fail, take 1 point of Wisdom damage."

Putting it on 3x5 cards like this helps a lot, because it's personal to each player, and they can talk about it in character. It's a good role-playing opportunity, as well as a reminder that sleeping in a dungeon is generally not something to do voluntarily.

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I handle gods gently, and only with permission.

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Create Water deals with the problem of drinking water; Endure Elements handles the temperature. There are, however, other natural hazards that aren't automatically negated.

1) Quicksand. Not the wet kind -- under some circumstances, deep areas of very fine sand can work like a fluid. Hence, quicksand.

2) Sun blindness. If PCs don't protect their eyes in some way, the light reflecting off the sand (or snow, in tundra deserts) can cause them to become dazzled or blinded, depending on length of exposure.

3) Sandstorms. There are rules for these in the Environment chapter, but if that's too tame for you, you can always punch them up to do lethal damage if the party doesn't shield themselves somehow. Also, a big sandstorm can completely rearrange the landscape, potentially getting the party lost.

And then you can add always add supernatural desert hazards to supplement the natural ones. Such as:

A) Dryness Incarnate. In some areas of the desert, "dry" has passed beyond "absence of water" to "antithesis of water". In these areas, Create Water fails, and unsealed water-skins rapidly evaporate (treat waterskins as effectively containing half their usual volume). Just 1d2 hours after entering the area the PCs start suffering from dehydration (fort save every hour to avoid 1d6 points of non-lethal damage, DC 10+the number of checks). Depending on the size of the area, it may be impossible to pass through such a zone.

B) Whispers in the Wind. In the deepest parts of the deserts, the angry spirits of travelers who failed their journeys fill the air. They whisper hatred in the ears of the living. PCs must make a DC 18 will save each night or wake up fatigued; during combat, DC 14 will saves each round or suffer the effects of Confusion for one round.

C) Fire Sands. Some areas of the desert become superheated, causing painful burns to unprotected creatures passing over them. PCs attempting to walk over such areas must make a DC 15 Reflex save or take 1d6 points of fire damage. This is of course a smaller-scale hazard, which might make a good addition to a combat.

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Hiya! My group called the last session immediately before reaching the top of the Shadow Clock in Magnimar, so the Xanesha fight is going to be the very first thing we do on Sunday.

Since it's the boss fight, I decided to make a custom map just of the Shadow Clock roof. Here it is:

Shadow Clock Roof

Shadow Clock Roof, no grid

The scale is 100 pixels to the square. If you're printing it out, set your printer to 100 DPI to get the scale right (it' won't fit on 8.5x11 paper, though -- the map is 16x16 inches.

Although the campaign specifies that parts of the roof are intact, I didn't try to show that. I wanted the battle area clear of visual obstructions. GMs should perhaps mark where the remaining roof segments are using a marker or something so players can see where they've got cover and/or railings.

And as if this wasn't geeky enough to start with -- the positions of the buildings in the streets below exactly mirror the arrangement of buildings in the map of the Shadow District from page 39 of Magnimar, City of Monuments.

I made it in Photoshop, using a bunch of textures from, and some objects from the dundjinni forums. The conical roof was the hardest; that had to be made from scratch.

Hope someone finds this useful. I'll link to this from the Community Resources thread in a minute.

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1) Get some green slime.

2) Put it in a glass jar.

3) Perform surgery on a cow, placing the jar inside its stomach (gently).

4) Use a healing spell of some sort to prevent any scars from forming on the cow. A Negate Aroma spell on the jar (and its contents) might not go amiss either. Hire these done if you don't have Use Magic Device.

5) Present the cow to the dragon. Maybe it's a housewarming gift, or a please-eat-this-cow-instead-of-me offering. Better yet, have a minion present the cow while you stay safely at home. Preferably a minion who doesn't know about the green slime, and therefore can't give it away. Those with more devious minds might come up with ways to ensure the dragon gets the cow without actively appearing to present the cow to it.

The key is getting a glass jar strong enough to withstand being in a cow's stomach, but weak enough that it will shatter when the dragon eats the cow. The cow's flesh should give the green slime enough to eat that the dragon will have long enough to swallow it even if the jar breaks during chewing.

Once it's inside the stomach, the dragon can no longer bring its breath weapon to bear. The green slime will consume it from the inside out, burning through its Constitution in just a few rounds. Sadly the dragonhide is not likely to be usable afterwards.

If presenting the Trojan Cow yourself, I recommend having Ethereal Jaunt prepped so you can take a nice safe stroll in another dimension while the dragon is thrashing in agony. Also, a teleport spell would be a good thing to have prepped in case something goes badly wrong. Oh, and a few fireballs for cleaning up the slime afterwards.

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1) A good rep. Have people occasionally recognize them as the charitable souls who helped dear old Aunt Nelly make her pilgrimage to Holy Site X, and thank them profusely. Everybody likes getting thanked.

2) Freeloaders. Have somebody approach the party with a heart-rending tale of woe, begging for assistance in the form of cold, hard cash. If the party goes along, be sure to have the con artist thank them profusely (see #1!) and then vanish. If you intend this as a plot hook, make sure that the con artist promises some kind of publicly viewable outcome, so that the party will eventually KNOW that they've been duped. That could lead them to track down the miscreant, a nice little side quest.

3) The name of any PC who has participated in this charitable giving should NOT appear on any of the lists of greedy people scheduled for assassination.

4) Averta could show her pleasure at the PCs actions. Deities don't usually get involved directly in the affairs of mortals in Golarion, but there are a number of minor ways she could make her approval known, such as:

- If they sleep in Foxglove Manor, Averta (or one of her favored minions) might appear in their nightmares as an ally, granting a +2 bonus on the Will save to avoid WIS damage.

- If they become lost on the way to Turtleback Ferry (or anywhere, really), a sudden gust of wind on a still afternoon might cause autumn leaves to arrange themselves in an arrow pointing the correct direction.

- She might give occasional hints. For example, take the assault of the stone giants on Sandpoint at the beginning of book 4. Pick a PC who has been especially charitable and hand him/her a notecard bearing something along the lines of "You dream of Averta. She is looking out over a darkened landscape -- the lands around Sandpoint. Looking down you see large forms moving through the dark. She turns to you and says: 'They're coming. They're coming SOON. You must rise and fight!"' Essentially, you're handing them the advantages spelled out if one of the PCs happens to be up at dawn and spots them.

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I have a request.

The description in Gods and Magic describes Desna as "clad in billowing gowns", but depicts her as naked save for some strategically placed swirls of mist.

So if you're commissioning new art for this, could Desna please have some clothes?

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On my first reading, I assumed that Arcanists were supposed to select a sorcerer bloodline and a wizard arcane school. Then I got to the end of the Blood Focus section and found myself wondering how they get access to their arcane school power.

On a second reading it's actually just one of the types of magic. The context of selecting a Sorcerer class feature probably led me into thinking they also get a Wizard class feature.

In the final revision, consider just listing the schools of magic, e.g. "an arcanist must select a sorcerer bloodline and one of the schools of magic: abjuration, conjuration, divination, enchantment, evocation, illusion, necromancy, or transmutation." A bit more wordy, but less prone to misinterpretation.

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Hmm. Expending a use of Blood Focus to get the temporary use of a bloodline power is going to run into all kinds of weirdness.

Just to name one -- suppose I pick Arcane as my bloodline. If I expend one use of Blood Focus at level one, does that mean a familiar appears out of thin air, acts for one round, then vanishes?

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Awesome familiar stories? Here's one.

In a homebrew 3.5 adventure, I played Alexei Voinovich, a human wizard. My familiar was a basic cat, affectionately named Mishka. One day, the following happened right after I roasted a bunch of mooks with a fireball:

GM: The cleric casts ...

Me: OO! Spellcraft to identify the spell. 34!

GM: It's "Slay Living". He walks over. 18 vs your touch AC?

Me: ... a 4 doesn't save, does it?

*combat continues till it's my turn*

GM: All right, Alexei. Oh, right, you're dead. Next!

Me: Wait! Mishka yowls in grief and rage, and charges the cleric.

GM: She what?

Me: You heard me. Let's see ... does a 20 hit?

GM: Yeah. Damage?

Me: One!

GM: He slumps to the ground with Mishka's fangs in his throat.

Everybody: Woo hoo!

And that's how Mishka earned her title of Mighty Huntress.

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Four - is a good basic number of players.

Five - is even better; if one player can't make it, you can still play.

Six - works okay.

Any more than that and things tend to get bogged down during combat.

So ... it's your game, but in your shoes I'd help her roll up a character and let her join.

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Okay, here's a stab at Daranariel, Lorekeeper Oracle 15.

Daranariel CR 14
XP 38400
Female Old Elf Oracle (Ancient Lorekeeper) 15
N Medium humanoid (elf)
Init -2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +19
AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 10 (+5 Dex)
hp 56 (15d8-15)
Fort +6, Ref +10, Will +11; +2 vs. enchantments
Immune magic sleep; Resist elven immunities
Weakness oracle's curses (haunted)
Speed 30 ft.
Spell-Like Abilities
. . 1/day—automatic writing
Oracle (Ancient Lorekeeper) Spells Known (CL 15th; concentration +20):
7th (4/day)—mass cure serious wounds, legend lore, reverse gravity, greater scrying (DC 24), resurrection
6th (6/day)—mass cure moderate wounds, greater glyph of warding (DC 21), contact other plane, find the path, truespeak
5th (7/day)—mass cure light wounds, cleanse, scrying (DC 22), arcane eye, telekinesis, ancestral memory, mark of justice
4th (7/day)—discern lies (DC 21), cure critical wounds, tongues, divination, clairaudience/clairvoyance, gilded whispers (DC 21)
3rd (7/day)—blood biography (DC 20), locate object, cure serious wounds, speak with dead (DC 18), detect thoughts (DC 20), glyph of warding (DC 18)
2nd (7/day)—identify, cure moderate wounds, silence (DC 17), zone of truth (DC 17), augury, minor image (DC 17), levitate, communal protection from evil, share language (DC 19)
1st (8/day)—disrupt undead, shield of faith, detect good, detect evil, sanctuary (DC 16), cure light wounds, know the enemy
0 (at will)—spark (DC 15), resistance, mage hand, detect magic, mending, create water, detect poison, read magic, ghost sound (DC 15), guidance, light
Str 7, Dex 7, Con 9, Int 26, Wis 14, Cha 20
Base Atk +11; CMB +9; CMD 17
Feats Breadth of Experience, Diviner's Delving, Great Fortitude, Greater Spell Focus (divination), Run, Scholar, Spell Focus (divination), Spell Penetration
Skills Acrobatics +3 (+7 to jump with a running start), Diplomacy +18, Knowledge (arcana) +32, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +20, Knowledge (engineering) +10, Knowledge (geography) +25, Knowledge (history) +28, Knowledge (local) +23, Knowledge (nature) +20, Knowledge (nobility) +20, Knowledge (planes) +32, Knowledge (religion) +28, Linguistics +15, Perception +19, Ride +3, Sense Motive +20, Spellcraft +21 (+23 to determine the properties of a magic item), Swim +3; Racial Modifiers +2 Perception
Languages Abyssal, Aklo, Aquan, Auran, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Halfling, Infernal, Orvian, Osiriani, Ancient, Shadowtongue, Sphinx, Sylvan, Thassilonian
SQ elven lore, elven magic, mysteries (lore)
Other Gear Headband of mental prowess (Int & Cha +2) (Sense M, 35000 GP)
Special Abilities
Automatic Writing (Commune) (1/day) (Su) Use Commune as a spell-like ability.
Diviner's Delving Divination spells gain +2 vs. Spell Resistance, and information gained over multiple rounds comes 1 rd faster.
Elven Immunities +2 save bonus vs Enchantments.
Elven Immunities - Sleep You are immune to magic sleep effects.
Elven Lore +7 Add half oracle level to Knowledge checks about elves.
Elven Magic +2 to spellcraft checks to determine the properties of a magic item.
Greater Spell Focus (Divination) +1 to the Save DC of spells from one school.
Haunted Retrieving stored gear is a Standard action or worse, dropped items land 10' away.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.
Run Run 5x your speed in light/medium armor or 4x speed in heavy armor and keep Dex when running.
Scholar (Knowledge [arcana], Knowledge [planes]) +2 bonus on two Knowledge skills
Spell Focus (Divination) Spells from one school of magic have +1 to their save DC.
Spontaneous Symbology (Ex) Spontaneously cast Symbol spells.
Think on It (1/day) (Ex) Reattempt a failed Knowledge check at +10

Throughout the Elven Dominion, Lorekeeper Daranariel commands two things: respect, and fear. The respect rises from her vast knowledge of virtually every topic. The fear derives from the unsettling certainty she evokes in her visitors that she sees things -- knows things -- that perhaps no one should. Her habit of speaking in an even monotone while staring just past the shoulder of whomever she addresses gives the distinct impression that she is speaking to, or at least aware of, entities no one else can see. But despite her spooky mannerisms, elves throughout the dominion know that if you desperately need an answer to a question, Lorekeeper Daranariel is your best bet.

She is also a woman driven to answer one question of her own: what is the true purpose of the maze? From the time her powers blossomed as a young elf, she has been obsessed with a theory that the vast maze enclosing the Elven Dominion is not a protection, but instead a vast rune which some unknowable entity is inscribing on the surface of the world. Its routine shifts of space and form merely indicate that it is not done. Now approaching the winter of her life, she lives in fear that she will not discover its true purpose before it is ... finished.

That's about the best I could do considering how little I know about the world. If the maze around the elven lands is something they built themselves, well, her backstory won't work without adding a paranoid conviction that the elves who built and maintain it are mere unknowing puppets of ... whomever.

The character started with the standard Elite array.

10 STR - 3 age = 7
8 DEX + 2 racial - 3 age = 7
14 CON - 2 racial - 3 age = 9
13 INT + 2 racial + 2 age + 5 mental acuity + 2 enhance + 2 level = 26
12 WIS + 2 age = 14
15 CHA + 2 age + 1 level + 2 enhance = 20

At levels 8-15 I used the elven favored class bonus to add 1/2 level to her Mental Acuity revelation, meaning it's functioning as if she were considerably higher level as an oracle. The other favored class bonuses went to skill points.

First and foremost, she's an Oracle. If she doesn't flat-out know the answer, she can probably find out via her assorted divinatory abilities. She may also be able to help with some healing, though there are almost certainly better healers out there.

EDIT: Argh, Hero Lab omitted most of her revelations. Those are:

Spontaneous Symbology: can cast "symbol" spells as if they were on her spells known list.

Sidestep Secret: CHA governs AC and Reflex saves instead of DEX.

Mental Acuity: May cast "cure" spells as a swift action by spending 2 slots, plus some inherent INT bonuses

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