Neal Litherland's page

Organized Play Member. 726 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 5 Organized Play characters.



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I love taking mechanics that most folks don't bother with and making them work. Which was why I recently put together my Tips For Building a Whip-Wielding Swashbuckler. Just wanted to share that, as it's been on my mind for a while, but I just put the article together the other day.


Given the similarities to 5E, I'm making an assumption here that even if you receive training from multiple sources, it doesn't raise your proficiency a grade unless it specifically says so.

Example, half orcs have the option of being trained in Intimidation. Zon Kuthon grants his clerics the same skill. As such, I'm assuming that you can't take both options to become an Expert in Intimidation?


It's been a while since I've done a conversion for one of my Badasses of History, so I figured it was time to add another onto the roster. And I figured why not one of the Red Army's best, one of history's deadliest female snipers, Lyudmila Pavlichenko. Especially since her weapon of choice was already statted out.


It's been several months since I last did a character conversion (just not getting the love they did when I started the project), but I thought it was time for at least one more. Which is why I put out something a little unusual this time around... Tyler Durden, the mastermind behind Fight Club and Project Mayhem.


So, I'm aware that I could invest in UMD, and/or play a caster class. But I'm looking at a barbarian/fighter, heavy on the barbarian. And I don't trust anyone else in the group to bring someone who heals. So I want to have the options to keep my own train rolling.

What would you recommend I do? I was initially thinking on the Fast Healer feat, but nice as it is, it doesn't work with rage powers like the Renewed Vigor tree (which was also going to be my go-to for this), troll styptic, or other abilities that let you gain fast healing without spells. So it seems sort of useless in-the-moment without a cleric/oracle/etc. patching me together while I go to work.

Any other recommendations? Have I missed any feats, rage powers, or anything else that might be helpful?


Question for the group.

So, I can see in the reading that Deadly Aim is not applicable to touch attacks. However, I also know that exceptions to this rule have been made for firearms. My question is was a similar exception made for alchemical items? I ask because I'm contemplating the launching crossbow, but the only way I can see it being really useful is if you can apply feats like Deadly Aim in order to get some real oomph out of it.

If there HAS been an exception made, a book where it was printed, or a link to the FAQ would be really helpful.


So, I've currently having fun with a shadowdancer, and a thought occurred to me. I checked the rules, and it seems like it works, but I wanted to make sure I didn't miss an errata somewhere.

Say that my shadowdancer acts first in initiative. He is in an area of dim light, and thus could use his Shadowjump as a standard action. There is a sorceress also in an area of dim light, about 40 feet away. I ready an action that, if she begins to cast a spell, I'm going to use my power to jump right behind her.

The sorceress begins to cast, thus triggering my readied action. My action happens first, and I shadowjump directly behind her. According to the Core rules, my initiative is now directly before hers is. My action happened first, and now I am right behind her as she continues. Does her casting now provoke an attack of opportunity, since I slid into place before she began her casting according to the order of operations?


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I've been working on my 5 Tips series for PF's base classes for a while now. I finally made my way through the Core book, and I'm easing into the Advanced Player's Guide. One of the most requested classes I hit for this expansion was the summoner. While I've only played a handful myself, I've seen a lot of other players make what I think are the same mistakes with them tonally, and story-wise. As such, I thought I'd share my take on how to get more juice out of the class in terms of story and roleplay.

5 Tips For Playing Better Summoners


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Over the past few months, I've seen a slew of players asking how to make what is essentially an anti-class. The weak, sickly barbarian, the uncharismatic sorcerer, the fighter with no physical stats, and the one from the title, a stupid wizard. In short, the players wanted to take the attributes that a class's abilities sort of depend on, and purposefully put their lowest scores in them.

I get the reasoning behind it. If you have a character who has to struggle to overcome something, then they can feel like they have more of an arc. But if you are essentially less useful than your average commoner, why would someone bring you out into a dangerous situation? Which was why I made the case in No One Wins When You Build A Stupid Wizard that the way to have your cake and eat it too was to play a character who is actually another class. The weak "barbarian" is actually a slayer or a rogue who uses precision and tactics to overcome stronger opponents, the smart "fighter" is actually a magus or a wizard who is a soldier, using arcane power to compensate for physical frailty. Etc., etc.

What surprised me, though, was the vehement reaction from a lot of people to this opinion. If a player wants to play a wizard with an INT of 11, they said, then they should be allowed to do that for story reasons. Which left me scratching my head. After all, if you don't bring anything to the party, then why would they want you on their team?

Looking for thoughts and opinions from others. To be clear, I'm not talking about players who put their second-best stats into a class's necessities, or who use feats and class features to substitute abilities for their features. I'm talking about situations where a player is purposefully sabotaging their own character's effectiveness, and why anyone would impose that kind of a burden on the rest of their table.


We hammered together another episode of Dungeon Hacks this month, and we thought we'd get a bit meta. The Dungeon Keeper addresses cheating at your table, and the things you can do to prevent it.

Dungeon Hacks: 5 Ways To Prevent Cheating At Your Table

Did we miss any methods that worked well for you? Or have you used any of these at your table, and found they worked really well?


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One of the most requested characters on the Overwatch roster, I thought I'd take a swing at Reinhardt this month. Difficult, but I think I did the best with what I had available.

Reinhardt Wilhelm, The Crusader


Thanks to a friend of mine running a dark fantasy game with vampires all over the place, I've really begun to appreciate just how niche we make this variety of undead. Which is why I wanted to start trying to broaden that niche.

Vampirism can be added to nearly any living creature... so why make everything all Vlad Dracula, and Vampire Hunter D? Those are cool archetypes, don't get me wrong, but you can do a lot of other stuff, too.

Enter The Draugr's Bastard. The basic concept is an Ulfen dhampir swashbuckler, but by the time the rest of the table figures out that's what's going on under the skin, they should have had plenty of time to appreciate the alterations to the character's mythos, and the local legend around him. After all, dhampir aren't that common, and they're pretty damn scary. Especially when you live in a place that isn't Ustalav!


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So, since Mercy seemed to go over fairly well, I figured I'd try my hand at another member of Overwatch's roster. While a little complicated, here's my conversion guide for Gabriel Reyes, alias Reaper. Let me know what you think!


I've been a DM for a while, a player for a lot longer, and one thing that always boggles my mind is when someone gets a lieutenant bad guy killed by a lucky shot (or good strategy) and then bends over backwards to take the victory away from their players. If they got him, then they got him, don't pull a bait-and-switch so he can get away.

After all, this game HAS resurrection in it. The following video is for DMs who aren't sure how to cope with the sudden downsizing of their villain roster, or for folks who want a few pointers on interesting strategies.

3 Tips For Replacing Murdered Middle-Management Minions


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One of my favorite things to do is to gather the most common stereotypes about classes, and then invert them in a way that is wholly within the rules, but wholly outside of what people consider traditional for that class. It's why I got together with the folks from Dungeon Keeper Radio, and in the latest episode of Mythconceptions I took aim at the stereotypes and assumptions people make about what sorcerers have to be, and how they have to be played.

If you're interested in the interview with Alessa Greenbough, Assistant Dean of Transmutation at the Royal Academy of Arcane Arts, then by all means take a listen to Mythconceptions 3: Scholars and Sorcerers.

However, I'm curious, what are the misconceptions about sorcerers that annoy you the most? How do you subvert expectations? What is an often-overlooked way to play the class that no one at your table saw coming?


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I've had a lot of requests for Overwatch characters, and while I don't play myself, I do enjoy the world lore. So after reviewing some of the more prominent heroes, I figured I'd take a shot at converting some of the fan favorites. The mechanics, of course, won't be accurate, but the spirit of the abilities the characters have is my goal here.

Mercy Character Conversion


A long time ago I was playing a Pathfinder Society character who was part of a clan fam of Ulfen mercenaries. In a module where you have to infiltrate an opera house, and slay a bunch of undead, the DM was kind enough to let Olaf (the family plow horse with a Strength of 18 who stood at about 6'10") find something that actually fit him when searching back stage. A masterwork mastadon costume.

While I eventually stopped going to Society games (my local one wasn't as much fun as I liked, and then the venue closed down), I often wondered what happened to Olaf. I fancied that, with time, experience, and a bit of magic, he became a shrewd trader at the hands of his Taldan masters.

That's the story behind Crazy Olaf's Adventurer's Emporium. A tribute to a silly idea that I tend to dot my games with, giving players a chance to interact with someone who may seem a lot more mad than he is in order to turn a profit no one expects.

So Come on Down to Crazy Olaf's Adventurer's Emporium!


Since it's the Halloween season, I figured I'd delve into horror adventures and put together another entry in my "Slashers, Psychos, and Serial Killers" conversion section. With one caveat, though... this one is NOT meant for players. Let this one out of DM hands at your own peril.

Pinhead, The Prince of Agony


So, I recently got together with my fellow gaming friends at Dungeon Keeper Radio, and we put together our Halloween episode 5 Tips For Running Better Horror Games. I figured I'd share the tips we had, but also ask if there were any strategies folks here have used that worked well for them as dungeon masters. Any good stories, or bad ones, that could help us make our seasonal creep just a little better?


So, I've been doing a "5 Tips" series of articles for the base classes, and this week I finally got around to fighters. If you think fighters should be more than suits of armor that occasionally roll initiative, or you know a player whom you wish to convince of that, these tips might just just what you've been seeking.

For those who go through the list, were there any that I missed? Do you have any good stories about flavorful fighters at your table who didn't sacrifice their role in the name of RP?

5 Tips For Playing Better Fighters


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So, I've been busy getting back to my conversions. This one was something special, so I saved it for my 50th character guide.

Allow me to present... John Wick!


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So, I was messing around with the folks at Dungeon Keeper Radio recently, and we put together a silly little episode called Familiar Problems. The basic gist is that it's an agony aunt style show, where familiars write-in with their problems. The ones we hit on were how casters will often send their familiars into danger to keep themselves safe, how familiars used for buffing and healing might not feel their jobs are all that important, and how a caster who starts turning toward corruption can drag their familiar into wickedness with them.

Basic stuff.

I was curious, though, what sorts of familiar problems the community has experienced apart from these three scenarios? Have you had familiars who were capricious, and unhelpful? Did they constantly fail will saves, or always wind up injured, or captured? What's a common scenario out there?


I will fully admit I have not read the entire manual yet. I am just about done with the class section, and I felt my enthusiasm wavering after 100 pages, so I came on here to ask a question of those who have absorbed more of this game than I have.

Is there actually a way to play Pathfinder classes in Starfinder, or was that all just chaff and rumor floating in the wind before release? Because while what I'm looking at is a perfectly fine sci-fi RPG (and though I don't have access to the setting at present, I'm sure it's just as engrossing as Golarion was), it was the idea of already having a huge backlog of stuff that we could put INTO space that had me all excited. So, should I snuff that hope out, or is there a section I haven't reached yet that clarifies how to ship your fantasy favorites into the space opera?

Thanks in advance, all!


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I've been running an occasional feature as part of my "5 Tips" series, and every new installment touches on a new base class. This month I wanted to show the druid some love, and help players step out of the "bearded recluse who hates cities" stereotype. Because while that's one way to druid, there is so much more than that out there.

5 Tips For Playing Better Druids


The feared captain of the pirate ship Revenge, the Dread Pirate Roberts is known to every maritime captain. Of course, we know the man behind the mask. So, here's my conversion for The Dread Pirate Wesley.


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A lot of the time players will make PCs who are entwined when the game begins. They're childhood friends, family members, or they've been co-workers for some time. Other times the DM has to contrive a way to make the party form up. That can be a huge pain, especially when you're bringing 4-6 strangers together, and expecting them to form a team.

One way to help with that is to ask players to create Their Small Legend. Even low-level PCs are notable in small ways, so get players to ask what people know about them. Is The Headsman's Daughter feared for her skill with her father's ax? Have people heard the songs and stories of Briar Redwood, the northern skald whose drinking is nearly as impressive as his sword arm? Etc., etc.

Just a handy tool I wanted to pass along to any fellow DMs.


If you're going to heed the call to adventure, then you better make sure you bring protection. That's where Vanguard tower shields come into the picture. Tailored to each client based on your unique preferences, our shields provide you with the best protection gold will buy, and an inclusive warranty that our competition can't touch.

Remember, whoever you fight beside, Vanguard has your back!

Vanguard Tower Shields

(In all seriousness, though, the idea of putting together a kind of Adventurer's Shopping Channel infomercial for common gear we all use struck me as a fun idea. If folks like it, then tower shields won't be the last item from the Vanguard catalog to get some screen time. If folks have thoughts, ideas, or recommendations for the next piece of gear, please leave them below!)


It's been a while since I played a character with rogue levels, but over the past half year or so I've developed a new appreciation for minutia of the rules about when it goes off, how it interacts with Uncanny Dodge, etc. I think it's under-appreciated, as a player.

So, when I was asked by some folks I'm working with to pick a topic for Risky Business, one of the shows on the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio, I decided to have fun riffing on sneak attack.

Take a listen if you're so inclined.


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I love Golarion as a setting, and it seems every time I dig through one of the national splat books, or re-read an entry in the Inner Sea World Guide, I find another reference to part of Earth's history that I've not seen in a fantasy setting before. It's one of my personal areas of geekdom, so I thought I'd see if anyone else shared it.

What's your favorite? For me it's the reference to The Varangian Guard in the huscarls of Taldor's Ulfen Guard which protect the Grand Prince.


So, I'm reading through the Precise Strike swashbuckler deed, and the wording is tripping me up. It says that, to use the deed, the swashbuckler can have no shield bigger than a buckler, and "cannot attack with a weapon in her other hand". To me, that says, "cannot use two-weapon fighting."

Is that a correct understanding? Or does it ALSO mean the swashbuckler cannot two-hand a 1-handed weapon for extra damage on that single strike (such as using a spear or short sword two-handed to get 1.5 times Strength damage)?

If there is an errata, or a ruling that's been handed down, I'd really appreciate a link.


Currently tinkering with a dragon disciple, and I want to make use of the draconic sorcerer arcana. My bloodline gives me the bonus on Cold spells, and I wanted to know if there was a handy list of spells with that energy descriptor? Especially since cold seems to be few and far between when compared with electricity or fire.

Links appreciated!


So, a little while ago I wrote a post titled Operator Error is The Biggest Cause of Problems in RPGs. It got a lot of people agreeing, but there was also a lot of push back. People who felt I was undermining the rights of DMs to change the game to suit their table, or that I was demanding players play a certain way (which kind of ignores that I'm some mook on the Internet, and the only power I have is that of persuasion).

However, throughout the various discussions, I noticed there seem to be two groups of gamers. Those in my camp who feel the books should be read and understood, and that if there's a disagreement it should be looked up, and the rule read aloud for the table. Then there are other players who feel that a DM should just make a ruling on the fly whenever someone isn't sure about something, because to do otherwise would kill the pace of the game.

I don't expect DMs to be perfect. I'm certainly not, and my players are well aware of it. Sometimes rules are ambiguous, or it takes an extra minute to find the applicable section you need, even with our advanced technology. But I don't understand the aversion to actually looking up rules so you're running with what's in the book instead of what you half-remember, or how your last group did it, or how it runs in the organized game you play.

When in doubt, go to the source. It shuts down at least half the arguments, and making people look stuff up leads to them actually remembering what they searched for.


Hello again all! Since March isn't quite over yet, I thought I'd put together another piece in my 5 Tips series. I've touched on paladins, bards, and barbarians already, so I figured it was time to move on to clerics. One of the oldest standbys we have, I feel that too often our clerics are stuck in the missionary position, just prostheletyzing and acting as a mouthpiece for a particular deity when they can be so much more than that.

If, that is, players think outside the box.

5 Tips For Playing Better Clerics


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So, I addressed this topic a few days back, and it rather exploded. As such, I thought I'd bring it over here to see what folks on the boards thought.

In short, I think that a lot of the time players assume that because they are PCs, that they can take certain actions free of consequence. For example, the party can't kick them out for doing something harmful, dangerous, or evil. If someone is bringing in a new PC to an existing game, then they will be integrated without question, even if there is literally no reason for their character to come with the party. Or, in some cases, the character is actively resisting going with them, such as staying at the bar to get drunk rather than going out to raid the kobold warrens.

In short, it is up to the player to meet the rest of the table, and the DM, halfway. You need to create a character who has motivation to participate, skills the party needs, and who is a bigger help than a hindrance. If you can develop rapport with the party, and make sure you do your job, hey, bonus.

So, those are my basic thoughts from Remember, The Party is Under No Obligation To Adventure With You. I'm sure folks have their own opinions on the matter, though.


I'm reading through the description of caster level, and it implies that you pretty much use the level of the class you gain spells from in order to determine your caster level. A point of contention that a player I know has is classes with only partial spellcasting. Rangers, bloodragers, etc. who don't get spells till a later level.

Is there anywhere that states they don't get to count their full level as their caster level, or which confirms that they do?

Thanks!


I'm sure I'm not the first person to ask this dumb question.

So, under the improvised weapon rules, you compare an object's relative size to determine its damage. So a barstool might do 1d6, whereas a heavy plant might do 1d8. A table might even manage 2d6, if it's a good, sturdy piece of furniture. A thrown improvised weapon has a range of 10 feet.

My question is how do you deal with characters who have prodigious Strength scores, lifting capacity, and the ability to hurl huge items at their enemies?

Say, for instance, you have a barbarian alchemist. You get Throw Anything for free, and you take Catch Off-Guard as your 1st level feat. You now have access to extracts, mutagen, and Rage Powers. So you start at Strength 20 (high, but not impossible). You drink a Strength mutagen for 24, then you Rage for 28. That's a 400 pound light load. Then you add on the effects of Ant Haul, tripling your light carrying capacity to 1200 pounds.

The first question is, since you can lift and carry something that heavy with relative ease, can you throw it just as easily? Ant Haul wouldn't increase your throw weapon damage, obviously, but it would give you the ability to pick up something much bigger than you normally could. Still, how to you determine the damage of something that big? Especially if you combine it with something like Hurling Charge?

Put another way, how do you determine the damage of flinging an ox cart at someone? Or, if there is an errata that clarifies you can lift but not throw something with ant haul, how do you determine the damage done by what is essentially a decently large tree trunk flung like a javelin with the 400 pound limit?

Or, because we're dealing with weapons, does this fall under the age-old answer of "you cannot wield anything bigger than a large-sized one-handed weapon without a special feature saying otherwise"? And, if that were the case, what happens when you become Large-sized via something like Enlarge Person? What is the biggest thing you could pick up, and fling?

Appreciate any and all responses, but if possible please include page numbers, or links to a source that backs up your answer. Looking for if this was answered in the rules, not how a particular DM would rule it by their own judgment at their table.


When you ask someone what do you want, and they respond with money, you tell them that getting money is easy. Anyone can do it, if they're willing to get their hands dirty. How important is money to you? Would you prostitute yourself? Kill someone? Steal it? What stops someone from doing anything to get their hands on that lucre is their morality.

Put another way, someone who is lawful good, and someone who is chaotic evil can have the exact, same goals, but they will take wildly different means to achieve it. But it's that meeting of the minds on achieving a goal that allows them to work together... even if it's only for a single mission.

Anyway, I went into more detail on this in my most recent piece Alignment Isn't Your Motivation, because I think it's something many players, and even DMs, could benefit from thinking about.


It's been a while since I've put together a Badasses of History post, so I figured it was time. This month I decided to dig into America's history again, and put together a character build for Doc Holliday. Hopefully folks enjoy!


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So, I've recently put my first Shadowdancer into play, and I'm trying to wrap my head around the Hide in Plain Sight ability. I know it isn't a skill-based form of invisibility, so I can't just walk down a dimly-lit corridor like it ain't no thing, but I'm having difficulty understanding precisely what the advantages of it are. If you can't just pull a Lamont Cranston and step into a dark alleyway to vanish, then what IS it good for?

You can make Stealth checks while being observed if you're within 10 feet of a shadow. That doesn't remove the necessity for cover or concealment, though (or it doesn't appear to, at least). So what is the advantage of being able to step into another room if people can see you went that way?

If there's a guide that breaks this down, or something in a book or FAQ that would help, I'd appreciate a link.


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So, this week I decided to explore the possibilities of the tumor familiar, and what you could do by combining it with the familiar archetypes. My results are below. I intend on field-testing this at some point, but haven't had a chance to just yet.

Gross! Combine The Tumor Familiar With A Familiar Archetype For Disgusting Results


I'm reading through my copy of the Advanced Player's Guide, and I can't find specific information regarding witch spells.

What I'm looking for are A) how many spells does a witch begin play with, and B) how many spells does the witch gain every level? I can't find a spot that expressly states this, so any help (and citations) would be welcome.

Thanks in advance, all!


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So, this one might be preaching to the choir, but it seems like everywhere I go people are always asking, "How come you play Pathfinder? Why aren't you playing 5th ed?" The other game title changes, but the question stays the same. So this week I thought I would put down my reasons. The blog post is fairly long, but so far it's received some positive support. So I thought I'd share it here, and see if folks agree with my reasons.

Why Pathfinder is My Game of Choice.

Are there reasons I don't mention, or things that you prefer instead?


As a player, I tend to use the books as my primary source of information. Checking online, though, it looks as if the requirement of "elf or half-elf" has been done away with. Is that official? If so, where is it as part of the errata?

Thanks all!


So, I really like the spiritualist, as a concept. I have a great idea, and it utilizes a phantom with the hatred emotion. However, unlike the old-fashioned eidolons, it seems that all phantoms share the same base stats. And those base stats aren't really that great.

So, I'm looking for advice on how I can pump up my ghostly companion. It has some advantages (free Weapon Finesse, and the hated enemy provide some snazzy bonuses), but I'm going to need more than that. So are there any good ways to really boost this class feature, since it can't wield weapons, can't wear armor, and gets a very limited number of feats?

Thanks in advance!


I took most of November off, but December is here and I have a new conversion for the folks who are interested in such things. Allow me to present the hardest individual on the street right now... Luke Cage!


So, I have a quick question for folks. Spring attack is an old favorite among rogues who want to get in, get their sneak attack, and get out, but the wording of it makes me curious.

When it says you may take a single attack, does that mean you may take a single attack action (thereby implying that you are using the standard action attack, and could do something like Vital Strike or Cleave as part of a spring attack), or is it just as straightforward as it says, meaning that using spring attack is a full-round action that lets you move, attack, then move again?

I ask, in particular, because I'm thinking on combining spring attack with spell casting. However, it seems unlikely you could cast, move, touch, and move. You'd likely have to cast, hold, and then the next round duck in, make the touch attack, and then duck back out again. Sound about right?


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So, I know that most folks don't mess with drugs in Pathfinder because of the ability damage, and the chance of addiction. However, a recent character concept I put together I'm calling The Pill-Popping Paladin embraces the harder alchemical items Golarion has to offer. Is it for the rush? To reach a higher state of mind? Or to gain an advantage when standing against the hordes? All potential options.


As anyone who's seen my posts knows, I like characters that are hard to classify when you look at them. Also, I love multiclass characters. So, with those two facts in mind, I present 5 Barbarian Multiclass Characters (You'll Never Expect).

Now, it's possible, and even likely, that folks here have seen and done some of these before. However, these are the combinations I've found that get the most raised eyebrows, or people who try to tell you that you can't, but which can't find a single rule barring the combination. Hope you enjoy!

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