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Faces of Evil
Publisher: Modiphius
by Olivier [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/03/2024 10:03:58

This product is surprizingly good for a free Rpg adventure : in a desert town, the players are confronted to mysterious disappearances and have to find out what happened to the missing people or even to save them. I think this adventure can be adapted to any medieval fantasy Rpg but be aware it requires an expert gamemasters and clever players. Congrats to the writers and let them continue !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of Evil
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Cities Without Number: Free Version
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/06/2023 14:40:17

"Cities without Number" is a RpG, more than 200 pages long for the free edition, by Kevin Crawford. Once again, the author confirms he's one of the most brilliant writers of RpG rules of the beginning of the XXIst century, even if people already familiar with his previous works won't be surprised by their new opus. The setting is cyberpunk, i.e. in a near future, when pollution and megacorps dominate the world while gangs roam the districts of sprawling cities. Unlike other "Sine Nomine" rulesets, there is only one character class, "operator", but it can be flavoured into different professions thanks various skills. What realy shines are the rules for hacking and digital network in general, that any GM may like to adapt to any RpG in a modern setting. As always, the "king of sandbox" gives us tools to create our own cyberpunk city, with (among others) tables for world problems, rules to generate megacorps, gangs and misions. A pre-made setting, "New Chicago", is provided as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cities Without Number: Free Version
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A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates – Rough-Hewn Edition
Publisher: Daniel James Hanley
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/15/2022 01:27:44

"A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates" is a more than 250 pages long guide to generate randomly grand houses, by Daniel James Hanley. It is primarily designed for the author's Rpg, set in the XVIIIth and beginning of the XIXth centuries, that you can download for free, but any gamemaster can adapt it with little imagination to whatever time for the Middle Ages up to the modern epoch. You get more than 100 tables to create randomly the dwellings of upper classes, including the furniture, the inhabitants (both masters and servants) and their whereabouts. Some side-material concerns neighbouring villages and inns, ruins, subterranean places, random events, menus and paintings. Therefore, this book is a trove of informations and inspiration for any gamemaster who has to deal with the estates of European noblety and bourgeoisie. Congrats to D.J. Hanley !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates – Rough-Hewn Edition
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for the wonderful review!
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Great Hall Burning
Publisher: Rebel Minis
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/17/2022 14:44:35

"Great Hall Burning" contains 44 pages of GMless compact rules for battles and interactions by Ed Teixeira. The setting are the British Isles during the Viking Age, but this is very generic and you can adapt it easily to other places in the same period. The originality of that game, compared to other THW products, is that it plays on three different levels. The main one is, of course, the battlefield level. This time, you can lead small units of shooting (4) or melee (8) soldiers and pit them against "Potential Enemy Forces".The rules are rudimentary and abstract, but adaptable to your own needs. Battles are themselves divided into four main types, not counting the rules for naval (drakkars) fights at the end of the book. It's because they all form a full compaign which is the next level : each petty kingdom of the British Isles has a "morale" number which determines who goes to war, and increases/decreases following your victories/defeats on the battlefield. So, when the opponent's number reaches "0", it surrenders and you have conquered it. As the potential leader of an or (in the future ?) several units, you must have, in the main settlement of the kingdom, to interact with the local residents (king, jarls, captains, merchants, warriors, citizens) in order to get some "fame" and, moreover, to recruit warriors or be given the command of a unit. This "third level" is already a "game within the game", and each month, some random events may spice up the course of your saga. So, GHB is a must for any player who likes early medieval wargaming or roleplaying, even if he's not particularily interested by Vikings. As for myself, I led a full campaign where I reunified Ireland's five kingdoms.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Great Hall Burning
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Warrior Heroes - Legends
Publisher: Rebel Minis
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/31/2021 15:40:18

Warrior Heroes - Legends is a hundred pages long "skirmish game" by Ed Teixeira using his own "Reaction System". A skirmish game is halfway between a wargame and a RPG-gamebook, where you manage a small team of heroes and pit them against opponents to fulfill some objectives. All of this can be played GMless. I'm not the first one to review WHL on the net and this game has indeed gotten mixed reviews, so what's pro, what's con ? Ed's system works well with guns (in the broad sense, both firearms and laser weapons) and still works with swords and bows at the skirmish level, but it is both cumbersome and quick-and-dirty, while many players may prefer the good ol' RPG system they have on their shelf rather than feeling overwhelmed by the many tactical details. WHL revolves mostly around one stat (Reputation); fortunately, the characters (and monsters) can be flavoured with various "attributes". So, for example, in my final playtest, I had an archer and a Dwarf (each Rep 4) facing a Ghoul (Rep 4 too) and they were ultimately defeated by her, for she had much better attributes. An interesting feature of WHL is that it has rules to generate a rather detailed "battlefield", i.e. a terrain where the confrontation takes place. I used a 30 cm-sided paper sheet, on which I could set stones, vegetation, habitation blocks to simulate the battle scene, and I took paper stand-ups from a medieval RPG both for the heroes and their foes. As for dungeons, they can be generated randomly and abstractly, using a card deck and rules given in the book. The games takes place in four countries in the northwest corner of Talomir, Ed's medieval fantasy world. Your heroes' actions are broken down into a few Encounters, i.e. generic scenes where they have to fulfill a short-term objective like repel an enemy attack, or reach the building at the other end of the "battlefield". Many tables indicate which settlements, buildings, potential enemies/friends they are bound to encounter. My private feeling is that some rules are of little, if none, usefulness (age, hours of operations and purposes of shops...) while additional encounters and/or a full-fledged adventure generator as in "Larger than Life - Director's Cut" could have boosted the appeal of the game, since the incentive for you and your heroes to wander in that world is rather low, with no long-term mission to carry out nor a time-sensitive threat to overcome.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Heroes - Legends
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Future Tales
Publisher: Rebel Minis
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2021 04:28:08

"Future Tales" is a hundred pages long "skirmish game" by Jay Mackesy, using the "Two Hours Wargame" system by Ed Teixeira. A skirmish game stands halfway between a wargame and a (GMless) roleplaying game, you can manage a small team of heroes and pit them against enemies. This time, the setting is space opera, you know this universe where heroes can walk and breathe normally in outer space :-) (think at Star Wars and Flash Gordon). The tables, which are the core of the game mechanics, are rudimentary and generic but do their job. Therefore, you can play not only humans but humanoids and robots too, and you can wield different kinds of weapons like laser guns, desintegrators (!), and lightsabers, and even cast a few spells (think at the "Force"). The fighting system remains realistic, so I could experience that lightsabers and magics are of no help against laserguns... Fans of space opera may regret the absence of rules for starships, however, some scenes of fights between such craft are given in the Story section. The latter section is a full-fledged generator of a GMless adventure, based on Ed Teixeira "Larger than Life 2e - Director's Cut", this time with no "Love Interest" but of course flavoured to a space opera setting where you travel between four basic locales and confront or avoid the "Potential Enemy Forces". In general, these PEFs should represent no major challenge, you can negotiate or fight them off; the final ordeal arrives when the "Big Bad" shows up with his host of minions : here the combat can be dealy, but you can hope to escape capture and survive the villain's monologue... In my humble opinion, though I find it less entertaining than "Lovecraft's Revenge", "Future Tales" can give you much fun and shall be a good starting rule system for people wishing to roleplay in a space opera setting without investing in a more expensive system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Future Tales
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Lovecraft's Revenge
Publisher: Rebel Minis
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/04/2020 02:31:37

"Lovecraft's Revenge" is a 79 pages long book by Jay Mackesy, using a version of Ed Teixeira's THW system, a "skirmish game" half-way between a wargame and a gamebook which can be played GM-less. As indicated by its name, this one is set in an environment inspired by the writings of the US horror writer Lovecraft (i.e. mostly New England in the first half of the 20th century). I've often been critical of THW's "one-stat" system, but this time, the author has managed to endow this game with ingredients that turn it into a worthwhile must. The actors of the game are divided between Humans (a dozen professions that you can choose for your character), Animals (ex: cats which can be omens of another encounter...), Creatures (i.e. monsters) and Deities. The system still works with the One-Stat (Rep) which can increase or decrease following your good or bad results in the adventure, but it is counterbalanced by an excellent selection of Attributes (some are advantages, others are detriments, and others are peculiar to non-humans) so that your character does not become invulnerable when it reaches Rep 6. All these "figures" are summed up in a table at the end of the book, what is extremely helpful when you are running fights. The combat system hasn't been "boiled down" as in other THW titles and therefore works well with firearms that your characters can wield (including handgrenades and dynamite !). A few magic spells are given as well. All of this leads to interesting results : for instance, I had a character who was a priest, be he was hurt by a simple dog before he could cast a spell, since the attributes give rules making dogs very swift animals. Furthermore, the flavouring rules are well made : ancient artifacts, insanity and above all Darkness level. This number serves to calculate which kind of opponents you are bound to encounter as well as for some other challenges : beware before it runs out of control ! The adventure generator revolves around a "clue system" : after you solve (whether with fight or peaceful interaction) your encounters, you can find some clues, if you pass some tests, that may lead you to the "big bad" behind the whole story. The locations are generic but iconic of Lovecraft's universe, and they contain buildings that can be haunted (lol, the old towne with its mental hospital !). In truth, the game is not about completing your quest (I just completed one out of six, and I didn't even find the big bad) but about how long you will survive before you get killed/turn insane. In my last adventure, I was a soldier wielding dynamite, which wasn't very helpful for my first encounter (a dead body). In the course of my investigation, I met a thug armed with a gun whom I managed to recruit. Alas, my bud turned more and more insane, missing most of his targets and, at the end (in the infamous mental hospital), I had to flee from the invulnerable Spawn of Yog-Sothoth, while my friend lost his last bit of sanity. So, if you're looking for a thrilling game, don't look further !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lovecraft's Revenge
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Adventures with Captain Nemo
Publisher: Rebel Minis
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/03/2020 03:11:00

"Adventures with Captain Nemo" is a "skirmish game" by Ed Teixeira, i.e. half-way between a wargame and a gamebook where you can manage your small team against foes, as set by the scenario and the random encounters. There are 15 pages of rules which use the "one Stat" system, i.e. Rep(utation) which can increase or decrease following the outcome of your actions. The adventures take place in one of THW's settings, Lemuria, a lost world located in the Indian Ocean. I was looking forward to explore this island with its teaming jungles and its monsters but all of this ends up as a major disappointment. There is nearly no description of Lemuria and your potential foes are nothing else than a one-stat like each other. The 17 pages of campaign is a railroad of nine missions given to you by Captain Nemo; therefore there is no replayability but, anyway, except perhaps for the two naval battles, the encounters are mere dice-throwing versus Rep 3, 4 or 5 so that the gaming interest fades off very quickly.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures with Captain Nemo
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Death of Legends
Publisher: Imaginary Empire
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2020 14:07:34

"Death of Legends" is presented as a "dark-fantasy RpG" but it is in my opinion more a tabletop game (because of the map and of the military campaign it involves) with some roleplaying elements. The Free Territories are surrounded by the Badlands ruled by the absolute impersonification of evil, the "Enemy". You interprete up to 6 archetypal heroes who played a major role in the latest war against evil, but once again, the Enemy unleashes his hosts of monstruosities and you have to defend your territories. Though you can cooperate with the other players, the fight will be unbalanced as the Enemy still recruit new armies and the conquered territories add to his power. In the fourth year, you learn that a potent magic item can be retrieved in a remote and perilous place, that shall be the quintessential bane against the Enemy. Who shall take on the Quest and wield this final weapon instead being present on the battlefield ? A very interesting period of negociations, quite "tolkienesque", shall arise between the players; and it is all the more intense since one of the players can be a traitor ! (they're given secret cards at the beginning so that they have different roles and powers). So it's a very original game, that you can use as a story arc for your own RpG if you gamemaster a campaign as epic as "the Lord of the Lords"

(thanks to the generosity of the authors, the game is free but they recommend to spend some money to the UNICEF; given the ongoing pandemics, I had already decided to register as a test patient for medicine students).



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Death of Legends
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Swordplay 2015
Publisher: Two Hour Wargames
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2020 13:47:42

"Swordplay 2015" is a "skirmish" free rulebook by Ed Teixeira. (you also download it with Swordplay 2018 on the author's website). Like his other products, these rules are meant to manage your small team of warriors and to pit them against opponents (randomly generated as "Potential Enemy Forces" = PEF). Most of the system revolves around one characteristic, Reputation. I've already written in another review that the problem with a one-stat system is that you cannot develop a strategy with it :you're either doomed to failure or you become near invulnerable. Fortunately, Swordplay 2015 includes the possibility of different weapons for your warriors and a nice rudimentary "battlefield" generator : if you fight with a team, you can then decide if you split your squad or keep it as one. Three linked encounters are given : explore/raid/defend (I just don't understand why the terrain in "Explore" doesn't have Buildings in Square 2 while this same terrain has them for "Raid" if you successfully explored it). So, even if you don't catch on to the combat rules, this free PdF is still useful for any medieval RpG system of your choice. Of course, you can use it with other medieval settings of Two Hours Wargames.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swordplay 2015
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Talomir Tales: Distant Shores
Publisher: Two Hour Wargames
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/10/2020 01:14:17

"Talomir Tales - Distant Shores" is a "skirmish game" by Ed Teixeira, i.e. a mix between a tabletop wargame and a role-playing game, where you can manage a small group of adventurers and have them face different challenges. Ed Teixeira wrote many other games of the same category in his collection "Two Hour Wargames". The book is 70 pages long and contains approximately 29 pages of rules, 24 pages of encounters and the "scenario", Distant Shores on 9 pages. The rule system is quite simple and revolves around one Stat : Reputation, which can increase or decrease following the outcome of the Encounters, i.e. scenes where you face a challenge like "exploring", "carousing", etc. Similar systems are used in other titles of the collection and the issue with that "one-stat" is that you're either doomed to defeat, or that you can become near invulnerable after two encounters (and that's what happened to me in another title of the collection) if you're lucky. But worse, developing a strategy is what makes the gist of wargaming, and even of tabletop RpGs; here, the boiled-down rules and the one-stat don't let you much space for strategy and you end up throwing mechanically the dice until you grow tired of it. The fourteen encounters are the sole interest of that PdF even if they are of different qualities : the abstract dungeon generator does work, and the employment encounter can help you start some short adventures. However, on the contrary to his other works, Ed didn't bother/forgot to give us a random encounter generator. OK, you can start by carousing at the local inn, meet a potential employer and go wandering or delving into a dungeon. But there are no links to other encounters like "Explore"; that's why I suspect that Ed Teixeira just took back some material from his previous works ("Mission St Mary" ?), turned it into something medieval but forgot to fix the loose ends. The "scenario" doesn't help under such conditions : what's the point in having encounters artificially strung together and filled with heaps of enemies whose stats are desperately similar ?

My reply to Ed Teixeira's comment :

  • OK, there are secondary skills, but they don't help much. "People" just helps you when you Interact with character (so : does the other guy attack me or not or does he accept to join my party, we are not in "Legends of Araby"); "Savvy" is just when YOU decide to have a challenge ("gain some info/solve a puzzle/find a person/object")... all of this is decided by the player himself and not the story, and these "challenges" are completely abstract, their sole impact is that you gain Decreasing/Increasing Rep.
  • About getting a job by carousing, that's what I write just above : you can start by carousing at the local inn, meet a potential employer and go wandering or delving into a dungeon . But you don't answer why you didn't give an Encounter Generator as in others of your books, nor why some of the encounters are not connected to this job generator. (ex: Explore)


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Talomir Tales: Distant Shores
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Creator Reply:
Check page 16 - Skills. You can add People Skill for interacting with NPCs and Savvy Skill for figuring out mental challenges. That would be three stats. As for being invulnerable, not with the melee system played as written. Let's say you are an "Invincible Rep 7". And you run into two trolls, probably Rep 6 and Rep 5. You fight the first round of melee and the odds are very, very high that everyone passes 2d6 - rolls their Rep or less with a d6 - even though you roll 3d6 as a current Rep 7. You drop down to Rep 5 because you lose 1 Rep versus EACH opponent. Now you're Rep 5, one Troll is Rep 5 and the other Rep 4. Fight another round of melee and you're probably going to drop to Rep 3. Not to mention that if you roll a 6 it is ALWAYS a failure. Plus once you drop under 7 in the fight, your extra d6 is gone. As for Carousing, the Employment Encounter tells you to spend 1 PEF while Carousing and you can roll for a job (page 38). I'm not going to go into too much more detail and hope this helps. If you do have questions on how to play the game you can always go to the THW Forum. Thanks!
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Conan The Exiles Sourcebook
Publisher: Modiphius
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/21/2020 14:45:39

"Conan the Exiles Sourcebook" is a 120 pages long supplement for the Modiphius D20 Conan RpG. Inspired by the on-line game, this book gives rules to roleplay it on tabletop, and stunning art from the net adorns many pages of it. As always, interesting character archetypes are given. There is a section about the Exiled Lands, but it is quite vague, so much that we'll surely prefer to have a look at the Conan Exiles wikia for more information. I don't understand why they didn't take back the rules from "Ancient Ruins and Cursed Cities". In fact, the real interest of the book lies in its many rules taylored to roleplay survival. They explain how players can create basic facilities with their bare hands and step-by-step improve them up to cities ! For this, hexcrawl rules are given, with "resources" generation for each kind of biome, and an interesting encounter table. The survival game can be played at different scales, at the individual one, with "ingredients", or at a group level, with "material". The only regret I have here is that no measure unit is indicated for how wide those hexes are. Apart from this, there are detailed rules for (bad) weather, settlement management and war. If you want to create a harsh setting with no stable power (no money, no national "pride") but day-to-day survival, then this book is for you !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan The Exiles Sourcebook
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Legends Of Araby
Publisher: Rebel Minis
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/17/2020 14:58:41

"Legends of Araby" is 91 pages long "skirmish" game by Ed Teixeira, i.e. a game halfway between RpGs and a stand-up/figurine game that you can alone.

It uses Ed's "2D6 Sword & Sorcery" system found in other of his books, a system (described in 9 pages at the end of the book) that revolves around one stat : Reputation (a little like "level" in many RpGs, however this "Rep" can both increase or decrease following the outcome of the different encounters). OK, I'm aware that it was impossible to lodge a more detailed system but I explained in one of my other reviews ("Talomir Tales - Distant Shores") that this One-Stat leads to the impossibility of developing a strategy and to two opposite ends : either you're too weak and are doomed to failure and demise, or the lucky end, you become near invulnerable after two encounters (what happened to me...)

Fortunately, the setting really saves this book for Ed has managed what not everyone has attained : to render the atmosphere of the Arabian Nights. "Legends of Araby" is set in the desert realm of Barylistan (of the larger "Talomir" world used by Ed for his medieval fantasy works). Most of the game revolves around the "interactions" that your character shall have with the inhabitants of that country : tens of different Interaction tables with diffeent results are given, with encounter tables depending on the region, or the city you are in. Therefore, the game turns itself into a small gamebook full of little adventures like being given a mission to set free a nomad chief's daughter from a harem or become a mercenary in a "faction" (like the army, the hill bandits, etc...), in the very spirit of Aladdin or the tabletop game "Tales of the Arabian Nights". So, these encounters and interactions are a must for any lover of Sword & Sorcery who, perhaps, shall use them with a ruleset of his choice.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legends Of Araby
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Rebirth
Publisher: GRAmel
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2019 07:07:29

"Rebirth" is an 8 pages long scenario (+ Stats) by Umberto Pignatelli for "Beasts & Barbarians" in the latest version of Savage Worlds (the "Adventure Edition"; if you prefer, you can download the conversion guidelines in a separate PdF for free on this same website). Because of its shortness, "Rebirth" is more a SW "Savage Tale" than a B&B adventure as we used to know. The heroes are marooned on a tropical island (so notice that you ought to play this adventure after your playing characters were actually sailing...), there they have to cope with the natives and a big danger, atop the main mountain. This scenario is therefore very reminiscent of some Conan tales and the part on climbing the cliffs (with the well-functioning "Abstract Navigation System") shall give some fun to the players.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rebirth
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The Eye of Xalath
Publisher: GRAmel
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/20/2018 14:34:28

The "Eye of Xalath" is a 25 pages (+ stats and book of lore) adventure for Beasts & Barbarians by Umberto Pignatelli. It takes place in the decadent empire of Tricarnia (though it may be adapted to some other dark realms). The heroes wake up tied on a sacrificial altar, while the ceremony is being performed ! Yes, I know, starting in medias res is a staple of Sword & Sorcery, but some gamemasters may have to justify this situation in front of their players. If the latters did not fail their previous adventure, I suggest that the GM, as a "reward", include some precious items in the second part of this story. A beautiful Tricarnian princess is about to stab them with a magical dagger when, suddenly, minions of her brother and foe rush into the tower. Both the heroes and the princess have to flee on a giant bat in the direction of the Brokenchain Mountains, where their "air-beast" finally crashes into a giant maze, the "Xalath", populated by strange three-eyed humanoids who capture the princess. After this railroading (that's why I spoilt this part of the story :-) ), the adventure becomes interesting : will the heroes seek to save the princess, or only their own souls ? And what about the minions of her brother ? As usual, don't await any map in this book; Umberto uses once again his acclaimed "Abstract Navigation system". Since a short book of lore of the Xalath is given at the end of the PdF, any gamemaster might well lengthen the heroes' journey in the labyrinth, in case they enjoy its pitfalls, challenges and rewards. Therefore, the course of this adventure is very open-ended.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Eye of Xalath
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