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Tower of the Stargazer
by Theodore S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2018 15:12:09

Ran as a one shot using Maz Rats rules with 3 players, as a DM I only read about 1/3 before running at the table. IT WENT AWESOME. The text and diagrams make it easy to run with low prep. I just added a little bit of a hook to get the adventures interested and away we went. 2/3 characters died awesome deaths near the end and the last player lucked out and was able to solved the Treasure Room and walk away a rich man.

Love the weird aspects and made for a memorable game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tower of the Stargazer
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Death Love Doom
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/02/2018 05:29:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5). Unlike many books laid out this way, the module does have quite a lot of content per page, so bear that in mind. I do own the print version of this module – it’s a softcover with a detachable sleeve that has the maps on the inside. As a HUGE plus for everyone looking to play this online, it should be noted that the pdf is layered, and allows you to turn off the map labels. Big plus!

This review was requested by one of my patreons, to be undertaken at my convenience.

Anyhow, as you may have noticed, this is suggested for mature audiences only. 18+. Usually, such ratings stem from (at least to my European sensibilities) pretty harmless cartoon nudity. Not so here. This haunted house module deserves the hardest of hard R-ratings you can imagine.

Indeed, I should note that this module will NOT be for everyone. In fact, it may only be suitable for a very select audience. And yes, that includes folks that otherwise enjoy Lamentations of the Flame Princess releases. If you have a trigger, then chances are pretty high that this module will hit it.

If grotesque, explicit and excessive illustrated violence, including mutilations of infants and children offend you, then steer clear. Same goes if grotesque and disturbing images of nude cartoon people disturb you. More than that, I’d like to strongly dissuade anyone suffering from depression or recuperating from it from playing this module, particularly if the like was prompted by a break-up/infidelity/failing relationship. The tone herein is allcaps GRIMDARK. This, in a way, is abyss-gazing; pure unadulterated misery. If you’re the referee, please make sure that your players can handle this adventure.

This becomes pretty evident from the author’s notes, who therein admits this module to have sprung from a nasty breakup, which, while good, first meant that hell would reign for a while – metaphorically, of course. In a way, this reminded me of some of my own best modules for my home-games in tone. In a way, the emotional struggle and pain are very much palpable in the grim and unrelenting hopelessness and misery this depicts; at least to me, it is pretty much evident that this is a form of catharsis, a transformation of traumatic experiences into a module. It is hard to explain, but unlike many dark modules out there, “Death Love Doom” very much carries this relentless bleakness with it throughout. It made me gulp. The catalogues regularly state that this is not a module to be enjoyed, but one to be endured. This is, for once, not ad-speak hyperbole. Reading this, when you’re already emotionally exhausted, can be draining; same goes for prepping and running this.

Who should consider reading on, then? Well, do you enjoy horror? Can you stomach gut-wrenching misery and excessive gore? Do you enjoy transgressive fiction and/or abyss-gazing? I know that I, personally, can draw strength from media depictions of atrocious misery, but plenty of people don’t work that way. If that sounds like something that you and your group could enjoy, then read on!

As far as rules are concerned, the module uses the Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP)-OSR-rules, but conversion to another old-school system is easy enough. The module works best for characters level 1 – 4, and as a whole, the group’s composition is less important than in many other modules. The module does not feature read-aloud text for the respective locations.

All right, this is as far as I can go without diving deep into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only referees around? Great! So, it’s the year 1625, and the wealthy merchant Erasmus Sylvester Foxlowe, hasn’t been seen or heard from after receiving his latest shipment of imported deals, and the man lives in the Bloodworth House, a manor, near London, with his wife, mother and 4 children. Some gangs have been spotted casing the joint, expecting rich pickings. Of course, adventurers in LotFP are assumed to be misfits of a sort who can’t be bothered to get a proper job, so warning Foxlowe (or stealing all his belongings themselves!) may well be up their agenda.

The manor and its surrounding grounds are fully mapped, and the referee determines the position of the mobile, named adversaries at the start of the module, adding a certain chaos-factor to the proceedings. 12 different rumors are provided for your convenience. Checking out the stables, the PCs can make their first grisly find – a retainer, who had his head removed, and a horse’s head sewn on. That’s NOTHING compared to the horrors that have taken a hold of the manor.

You see, Erasmus hired a nanny to help his wife to help her, due to the demands of his job – said nanny turned out to be Sabrina Newguard, and he did fall madly, horribly, in love with her. So far, so cliché. However, unlike what you might expect, Foxlowe managed to keep it in his pants. Instead, a gift he presented his wife to quench his guilty conscience for his fantasies turned out to be the deadly Necklace of the Sleepless Queen, an item of the most profound morbid power. Sporting the dead sign on its inside, it is activated by handed from one lover to another person loved: The act then summons forth…the THING. This entity is accompanied by two psychic drones, the flesh-movers, which take “the lovers” – here, Erasmus, the giver, and the object of his love, Sabrina. After these somewhat insectoid, incorporeal things have parasitically merged with the two, the thing and its drones proceeded to twist the other family members, into grotesque shapes designed to inflict maximum pain while keeping them alive. Oh, and the flesh-movers will keep the two conscious. Basically, everyone has been transformed into grotesque tableaus of suffering. Applying curative magics sans surgery will fix these forms in place, dooming the unfortunates, and surgery has ridiculously low chances of saving anyone – and in many a case, the resulting survivor would pretty much be a paraplegic. That’s the best possible outcome. Told you this’d be dark.

How grotesque? Oh boy. So, Erasmus and Sabrina have insectoid things on their back, are fully cognizant of what happens, but are not in control of their bodies, as the flesh-mover can lash forth with a poisonous stinger from Sabrina’s vagina. Erasmus instead had his genitalia impaled from the back and now shoots acidic, black sludge from his penis. Yes, there are artworks for both. These are perhaps the most harmless ones. The maddened grandmother Penelope has replaced her nipples with her eyeballs and keeps her torture-instruments stuck in the raw meat of her genitalia. Her attacks, when scoring the occult “8” as damage (a leitmotif in LotFP), can rearrange her victims.

The 1-year-old-infants are particularly chilling: One of them has had his limbs amputated and sewn on to his brother. Instead of his limbs, pseudo-clock like limbs have been attached, his eyes removed and replaced with a grotesque pair of glasses, a clock set in the chest cavity. Touching the fellow, getting close, may mean rewinding the time for the horrors already defeated, which can be super-deadly. The limbs missing from the poor toddler? They’ve been sewn on to his brother, who had the top half of the skull removed, the brain lying there, bare, with eyes and nerves similarly still attached. The chest cavity has been opened, and in full-blown misery-mode, many of these unfortunate kids feature gold in their bodies – taking it kills the respective kid. Did I mention the castrated boy who had his teeth removed and limbs/heads sewn back on in the wrong way? The girl turned chandelier? What about Myrna, Erasmus wife, who had a miscarriage and who is now dragged around by her innards, courtesy of the undead foetus that was once to become her youngest child in a horrid twist that should be considered to be the utmost bleakest possible twist on anti-natalism? Even witnessing the latter can utterly. All of these folks are still ALIVE. And yes, we get b/w-artworks. Usually, Kelvin Green’s comic-like art style would make these look less…disturbing, but he has actually managed to make them feel even more twisted than they’d otherwise look.

Told you that this was twisted, right? I did warn you. And yes, the descriptions are VERY detailed.

The thing, just fyi, can’t really be slain, and the amulet is similarly nigh indestructible, increasing its value constantly – the fallout from this module for PCs managing to survive the encounters with the horrors within will be serious.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard, and the pdf has plenty of original b/w-artworks that illustrate the gruesome fates of the poor NPCs within. The softcover, as noted, is a nice little booklet, and the pdf has a plus in that its cartography is layered and thus, player-friendly. Really nice to see.

Oh boy. James Edward Raggi IV knows how to create nightmare fodder. Far beyond mere gore, far beyond the usual dark fantasy/horror-angle of his books, this is gut-wrenching misery, truly frightening gore and twisted body horror of the most explicit kind. If grimdark misery and pain, hopelessness and an acceptance that, sometimes, killing an innocent may be the only viable option, then this could well be for you. This is apex-level dark, as the rewarding for bad behavior, the futility of trying to be good, makes this, even for LotFP, easily the darkest, most twisted adventure/supplement in the whole catalogue.

To the point where, in spite of my own predilections, I am frankly not sure whether this could be called “fun” – it’s an experience, and a depressing and twisted one at that. It’s a module that might well be used as a threat, as a dark consequence of PC behavior. It’s perhaps the only commercial module I have ever read that managed to genuinely make me uncomfortable with its depictions of misery and pain beyond measure.

Let me make that abundantly clear: If you think that LotFP’s usual material is “too dark” or “borderline”, then this may not be for you. If LotFP’s regular modules, on a color-scale, were black, then this is frickin “vantablack”; a whole different level of darkness, sadness, and grotesque horror. I’ve had this module for more than a year now, and to this day, I am not sure I actually like it or consider it to be too much to stand.

Thankfully, as a reviewer, deciding that is not my task. On a formal level, this is a precise module that succeeds very well at what it attempts to do. It sets out to achieve exactly that reaction. If I were to criticize something, then that the house itself is simply not as interesting as in the author’s other modules. Having a series of nasty traps set up by Penelope as they explore, a bit more dynamic elements, would have further enhanced the replay-value. Provided you want to play this more than once.

How to rate this? Well if the above has managed to offend you in any way, then steer clear. For folks triggered by any of the dark themes within, this most certainly is not suitable. If you can stand the darkness, if you want to experience a truly abyss-level dark adventure that manages to be somewhat psychological in its grotesque gore, then this might work out rather well. As a whole, I think that the module succeeds in what it tries to do. As such, my final verdict will be 4 stars. Caveat emptor, though.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Death Love Doom
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Tales of the Scarecrow
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2018 06:04:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This short roadside-encounter/mini-adventure clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, so this pdf comes with a pretty nice layout that presents some creepy shades in the background; in the pdf, which is layered, these may be turned off. The pdf features nice b/w-cartography, which unfortunately does not feature grids. In a slightly puzzling decision, the layered pdf does have an option to turn on/off grids etc., but this does not influence the keys of the map, meaning, alas, that you can’t make the maps player-friendly. My review is based on the pdf-version, and I do not own the print-version of this booklet.

The old-school ruleset employed within would be the LotFP-rules (lamentations of the Flame Princess), but as always, they allow for pretty easy conversion to other old-school rulesets. As far as level-range is concerned, this is probably best used in conjunction with low- to mid-level PCs; I’d recommend at least 2nd level PCs, unless you’re going for an everyone-dies/becomes insane-Cthulhu-purist-style scenario.

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only referees around? So, there is a truly verdant field of corn by the wayside, with a single path leading towards an old and somewhat dilapidated farmstead. If the PCs walk in and investigate (perhaps due to a hook or somesuch), the corn will pretty quickly close ranks; inside the farmstead, a place of horror awaits: Adventurers/relic-hunters have met a truly grisly doom. With the investigation showing even resorting to cannibalism. Among their possessions are three important magical items: The Malleus Deus, a grimoires that allows magic-users to cast cleric spells…and prevent ANY cleric witnessing them doing so from ever casting that spell ever again. Suffice to say, the Vatican has been known to kill pretty much everyone who even knows of the book, much less owns it…

The second artifact would be the sword which is uncertain, which treats all targets as AC 14, but all attack rolls of 16 or 17 strike a random, non-intended target instead for double weapon damage – and if no eligible target is available, the strike is banked for a future attack…this is a devilish angle for a cursed blade. Really cool!

The final item found within would be the grimoires that is known as Tales of the Scarecrow, a horror-anthology, where the PLAYERS get to weave each a brief horror-story of powers pertaining the (otherwise mostly harmless) scarecrow in the fields. Sure, touching it initiates a HP-countdown due to its vile energies, but that’s it. The PC who weaves the best horror story has it come true…and they may not share them or write them to screw over specific characters. Oh, and the PC whose nightmare becomes reality gets an XP-bonus. Cool exercise in fireside-style cooperative narration here!

…but, you know, there are more issues here. You see, in the corn, there are tentacles. There is a Great Old One-class huge monster below the corn, which is responsible for the fecundity of the field. It is limited in how many tentacles it can send forth and how it can consume victims, but it basically represents one horrific mousetrap to escape from (No, flight is not the instant-win-card…) even before the player’s tales are woven into the scenario. Oh, and between dangerous parasites and a thoroughly traumatized survivor, a super-unwieldy harpsichord would make for an amazing treasure that would yield an excellent price…but how to get it out?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – I noticed no serious snafus. Layout adheres to an impressive 2-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports impressive b/w-artworks as well. This is a beautiful booklet. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, but unfortunately does not make full use of its layered nature.

James Edward Raggi IV’s “Tales of the Scarecrow” makes for a rewarding, deadly and horrific sidetrek thoroughly suitable for Halloween, one that thankfully steers clear of the old and tired “animated scarecrow”-trope in favor of a more interesting set-up where player-ingenuity ultimately depends whether they’ll live or die. (As an aside, recognizing the truth could be an adequate end for a one-shot in the vein of purist Cthulhu modules, where everyone dies or becomes insane…) So yeah, this is a fun supplement, available for a more than fair price. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it doesn’t have to. As written, I consider this to be well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tales of the Scarecrow
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The God that Crawls
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/23/2018 07:27:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page backer-thanks, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5)so let’s take a look!

This adventure is intended for a group of characters level 1 – 2, and one could argue that pretty much any party composition could be capable of besting it. In fact, this module could, theoretically, be run for a single character, but I’ll elaborate on that later. The ruleset used would be, no surprise there, LotFP (Lamentations of the Flame Princess), but, as always, translation to other old-school systems is pretty easy.

As far as difficulty is concerned, this may be one of the more forgiving LotFP-modules; in fact, I’d argue that it is one of the fairest, perhaps the fairest of the LotFP-modules. Save or suck, whether earned or not, or the like does not greatly influence the design-paradigm employed within. Instead, this is very much an adventure, where the greed of the PCs and players ultimately determines the difficulty and consequences of the adventure. It should be noted that the adventure has fallout potential that can change the course of campaigns, but more on that later.

My review is primarily based on the softcover of the module; one of my patreons donated the funds to acquire it for the purpose of a review at my convenience. I chose this time of the year for obvious reasons – this is a unique change of pace as far as horror-adventures are concerned.

I also own the pdf, and while the pdf is layered, there is, alas, no option to render the maps player-friendly, i.e. get rid of the keys denoting keyed encounters or the like. That being said, handing out a map to the players, in this instance, would be super counter-productive due to the whole angle of the adventure, so this, for once, gets a pass in that regard. The map does note places where the structures are instable and can be collapsed for brief respites from the threats within. More on that later. The layers in the pdf do allow you to turn off images and background and make it more printer-friendly, should you choose to print it.

It should be noted that this is NOT an adventure that you can easily run spontaneously – there is no read-aloud text, and the module demands that a referee is rather familiar with the peculiarities of the dungeon-complex featured within. Having to look up stuff can, in this instance, be even more of a mood-killer than usual, so if you plan to run this, do your prep-work, and do it thoroughly. If you have an excellent memory or are a veteran referee, then you should have no serious issues running this.

All right, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

Okay, only referees around? Great!

So, the PCs are on their way to some place in the English country-side, but the module may, with a bit of reskinning, easily relocated to another place; there are rumors of a heresy or cult or somesuch, and the thus the PCs visit an old country church, where Reverend Elroy Bacon lives. This church is fully mapped and sports some interesting and creative artworks on display – while these are only described, they can provide a bit of a nice levity before the module turns dark.

You see, the rumors of the cult here? They’re, in a way, a kind of double-bluff: Yes, there is a “cult” of sorts, but it’s actually just a front for a secret religious order that conceals a great shame for Christianity, namely the true fate of none other than Augustine of Canterbury. Contrary to popular belief, the missionary did not die 604 AD. Paralyzed via poison, he was buried alive and then re-excavated from the lightless depths of his grave, only to be transformed into a horrid, shapeless mockery of his erstwhile form – the eponymous God That Crawls. It is a form of esprit de l’escalier that this transformation turned the man basically immune to the ravages of time. The conspiracy that began as pagan punishment became a cult, and when the Normans came, the cult was found, the goal, obviously, to keep the truth of Augustine’s state from ever coming to light.

Yeah. This does not bode well for the PCs. It should also be noted that clever PCs can find documents in the reverends room that, in a subtle manner, show the PCs how deep the conspiracy actually goes – these permits stretch back for years, and indeed, signatories are noted on a massive 2-page list. In another module, not even one would be given, so kudos for the obsessive attention to detail here! Now, the beginning of the module hinges on the PCs going down into the catacombs of the church, the place where the God That Crawls, looms, and a couple of simple deception angles are provided – this, in a way, represents a bottleneck for the referee to navigate, and the options, from drugged wine to force, could work, but depending on the paranoia level of your players, this may actually be the hardest part to pull off. Hence, my suggestion: Make the reverend own up to the catacombs being forbidden and warded, and hold a mass to “sanctify” the PCs so they don’t trigger the wards; all the villagers will proudly gaze upon the intrepid explorers, as they partake in drugged wine during the mass, only to have them wake at the bottom of the pit. This contextualizes the whole experience and appeals to player-ego, which may work for some PCs. Otherwise, another suggestion would be to have the villagers and reverend create a deliberate opening for infiltration. Both, at least to me, are a bit more subtle and likely to work than the suggestions presented, but that may just be me. After almost 20 years of suffering through my often sadistic GMing, my players are a tad bit paranoid, but I digress.

The dungeon presented is a remarkable, catacomb-like maze with tight tunnels and cells, spanning no less than 3 levels. In the print version, the map is on a fold-out in the back, with a stunning artwork of none other than Jason Rainville on the back. The bottom of the pit is covered in slime, for that is what the God That Crawls has become – a nigh-unstoppable slimy moloch that oozes through the claustrophobic tunnels. Stairs and ladders connect the three levels in a ton of connection points, and this is where the module becomes basically a survival-loot-run: The God That Crawls can theoretically be slain by feeding it clerics and thus reducing its regeneration, but that is EXTREMELY unlikely; the more likely outcome here would be that the PCs will be running. A LOT.

As such, the modules lists the modalities of running from the god, navigating stairs and traps and the like, in great detail, and provides two means for the referee to simulate the presence of the God That Crawls – one that has him spawn in, while the other meticulously tracks its movements. Which one you prefer is a matter of personal taste. I gravitate towards the harder choice of having him tracked properly, but your mileage may vary.

Now, if the villagers managed to drug/capture/fool the PCs, they will begin a ruckus to alert the creature pretty much immediately – and form then onwards, it’ll be the PLAYERS, not the PCs, who determine the difficulty of the adventure. You see, there are A TON of treasure caches denoted by Christian symbols – but breaking these open increases the chance of alerting the God That Crawls. (And yes, a generator is provided for these.)

In a way, this is akin to games like the Clocktower franchise or Haunting Ground when executed properly, as the God That Crawls shows up, resulting in panic and frantic escape. That being said, there is one point of criticism I have here: The God That Crawls is not a particularly interesting chase monster. There is one note of it reacting to mass by swaying in trance, but that’s about it. It doesn’t have unique reactions to certain areas, it doesn’t have unique set-piece reactions beyond follow and consume. Now, I get why that’s the case – it makes it a singularly determined and alien force, and it allows for some breathing room regarding the second leitmotif of the adventure, one that is not explicitly spelled out anywhere in the text of the module, or other reviews.

The God That Crawls, essentially, is an implacable and indestructible warden of sorts. Beyond the mundane treasure-caches, there are plenty of rooms here that contain evil, or at least extremely problematic, items. In a way, while reading this, I had this one impulse: “This is basically an SCP containment facility, fantasy edition!” There are a lot of rooms here that contain items that could be considered to be heretical and even deadly. There is, for example a gem in Null Space beyond a mirror, which may well se a character trapped there forever; there is a pin that makes a disgusting tumor grow slowly, which then proceeds to become a monster under its former host’s command. There is an invisible chair, a room that can make a silver coins gold, there are cursed statuettes that can garner obedience… and there is the spear of Longinus, which is surprisingly weak-sauce for such an artifact. It bypasses all immunities and armor, sure, but it also makes you anathema to the divine…so think well before picking it up. There is a text that could ignite horrific forms of anti-Semitism if circulated, courtesy of its despicable lies; there is a diamond that increases in worth if fed with blood…you get the idea.

Two of the items contained in this dungeon deserve special mention, with the first being the chariot of unreality, just the axle, actually. It’s magic, engulf a chariot affixed in flames, and may pull the PCs beyond space and time! And yes, the item actually comes with a warning. A spelled out warning. In game. If the PCs still go and do it…their problem. Anyway, the chariot may have the PCs vanish – if that happens, their character sheets are put in letters, which are then to be placed around public places. If they are returned, the PCs get XP, if not, the PCs are forever lost. Now, it should be obvious that this is a meta-item and somewhat experimental. I wouldn’t use this approach in e.g. New York City or the like, but yeah – it’s interesting. The chariot can also evaporate PCs if they take a specific amount of damage – reacting to that with humor is intended to be rewarded, which is a nice idea.

The second item would be The Book. Its write-up is a whole 6 pages long, and it is one of the most twisted, genuinely creepy artifacts I have ever encountered in a roleplaying game. It has been separated into different parts, so-called signatures, and these do contain a whole array of rather potent and unique spells; writing on it states that it must be assembled or kept apart and researching it…well, is nigh impossible. Why? Because The Book corrupts information. The more signatures are assembled, the more deadly it becomes, as everything starts unraveling – the item can well destroy all of existence, corrupting math, planes and the like. Beginning the process of assembly, having it fall into an enemy’s hands and then stopping it would be an amazing, utterly horrific campaign of apocalyptic proportions. I adore it. Unfortunately, I adore it more than pretty much anything else in the module.

In a way, the module may be too successful at its SCP-angle for its own good. The creepy and dangerous items with the God That Crawls as a kind of warden make for a super-unique angle, but one that would make more sense, at least to me, in the Vatican or a similarly heavily fortified place, framed by a heist narrative. The vast impact of the items and their religious significance in a couple of cases ultimately mean that it was a bit hard for me to suspend my disbelief regarding how they ended up so comparatively poorly guarded.

They also, in a way, dilute the focus, away from the survival horror aspect of the constant threat of the God That Crawls. The magical items and their cool angles stand in no true relation to the God That Crawls, and while PCs will probably experiment with a few of them/take them with them, the two focuses of the adventure never wholly align. Don’t get me wrong: They don’t impede each other in a crucial manner, and in a way, the dangerous items represent the true price to be gained here, but still. A sense of disjunction never wholly left me. That being said, this may well never actually come up in play for your group, as the whole containment site angle is very much a place that the players are not guaranteed to find or explore in detail.

Groups that find them, that are excited by the items may well consider the God That Crawls to be a nuisance of sorts, while paranoid/careful groups may well only encounter one or two, or even none of the items prior to escaping. Granted, most of these items are separated from the God’s roaming grounds by a chasm that it can’t cross, allowing for plenty of experimentation, but ultimately, the items, to me, somewhat diluted the frantic pace of the adventure.

If you manage to get the God That Crawls hunting the PCs done right, if you manage to incite the panic this module goes for, then the items will be less of a point of interest. This, in a way, ties in regarding my previous observation – the God That Crawls, in lack of a better term, doesn’t have a particularly compelling “AI”; adding a couple of “scripted” encounters is easy and should not overexert the prowess of any referee. Still, adding a couple of unique behavior patterns to keep up the pressure would have made the creature more compelling, at least for me. To give you an example: Within aforementioned chasm, there are mini-gods, split off over the century from the horrid slime-thing. They can’t, RAW, escape, but having conditions to free them would have made this more interesting – as would having the God That Crawls exhibit a kind of animal cunning, a couple of unique responses. The module, for example, allows the PCs to initiate collapses to get a respite from the God That Crawls – making the creature affect, at least potentially, the integrity of the complex, making it cut off PC routes and the like, would have added a whole new realization of terror here. Granted, once more that is easy enough to implement, but yeah.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – I noticed no grievous glitches on either levels. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard and manages to present quite a lot of content per page. The artworks by Jason Rainville are excellent, top-tier – no surprise there. The cartography by Devin Night is also full-color and neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the softcover print version is a nice book.

James Edward Raggi IV’s “The God That Crawls” is a module I wrestled with for a while. It plays better than it reads, courtesy of the smart design of the complex, and it requires some serious prep-work by the GM to become familiar with the complex and the plethora of stairs and ladders connecting the levels. It does reward the referee for doing so with the best execution of its trope I have seen in quite a long while, though. This is a good module, one could even argue it to be great. However, as discussed in the SPOILER-section above, it doesn’t feel as “whole” as e.g. “Death Frost Doom”, “The Grinding Gear” and some other early modules penned by the author. It has all the trademarks you’d expect: Lavish attention to detail, a bit of meta-game shenanigans, horrific stuff that can happen to the PCs, a focus on player-agenda over character-agenda, a focus on letting the greed of players/PCs dictate, in a way, the difficulty of the adventure…it’s all there. This module, in spite of my nitpicking above, is one that is definitely worth owning.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake that feeling, that, with a big more unique set-pieces pertaining the primary antagonist within, with a tighter focus or a more expansive scope, this could have been legendary. With a couple more pages to add a few unique reactions for the main antagonist, this could have been even better, a masterpiece; with a couple of mini-puzzles beyond navigation, this could have made for a longer and truly nerve-wracking exploration. Without the SCP-ish angle, this could have focused a bit more on the main theme of the adventure; with an expanded focus on this secondary leitmotif, it could have grown into something utterly brilliant.

This module, in a way, almost reaches true greatness, but can’t quite make the transition to it. The beginning is also, imho, somewhat rough on the referee. Still, this adventure is very much worth checking out. If you’re looking for just a collection of inspiring, nasty items, it may well warrant the asking price for these. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The God that Crawls
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Towers Two
by Andres S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2018 15:49:46

Maybe the most fun, gross and bizarre Loftp adventure. Not only text as the ilustrations as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Towers Two
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Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2018 11:55:36

Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds, or GTFO (cute huh) is again a case of me getting something that is exactly what I need. While I am not going to play it as-is, there is a tweak mentioned in the book itself that works perfectly for me. In fact, a lot of this book works perfectly for me and my next set of adventures. I can't believe I am saying this, but I will turn up the gore factor in this Lamentations product for my needs.

Not a real fan of the art inside but I see why it works for this.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds
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Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds
by Raymond W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/17/2018 15:09:32

I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed. I'm a big fan of some of Zzarchov's other works, especially One-Thousand Dead Babies and The Gnomes of Levnec. This one has a good premise and some solid ideas, but it leaves a lot on the table. I was definitely irritated by the fact that it suggests you roll up any demons on the Lamentations table for the Summon spell, or the Random Esoteric Creature Generator. The adventure would have greatly benefited if the author had pre-generated a few of these on your behalf, allowing you to roll or choose which one, or go to the forementioned tables as a fallback. It just smacks of laziness.

There were some nice hooks, but the adventure doesn't talk much about what else you can do with the adventure location other than closing it. I can imagine that it could be a great place for PC mages to perform experiments, or to create their own transportation nexus. It can also be a great hook for future adventures (e.g. demon invasion).

Also, there isn't much to do for role-playing or any kind of faction play. The few encounters that aren't innately combative are pretty straightforward.

Finally, considering the location, I think there could be a bit more creepy atmospherics. The sole survivor, with flies embedded in his face, is probably the best step in that direction.

On the plus side, as I mentioned, the premise and the hooks are quite good. I really like the nastiness that happens when characters fall asleep in hell.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Weird New World
by Peter W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/17/2018 09:53:46

I ran the magician's cave section and it was joyful and puzzling. i wanna run the rest of this book, it's been the upper frozen part of my campaign world for years. raggi writing's dope and concise

downsides? the huge map at the end doesnt look easy to use, there's not a clear key I could find on one or two readthroughs, definitely not easy to print not that I've tried



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Weird New World
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World of the Lost
by Ivan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/18/2018 06:38:09

I foudn this product tremendously hard to read, and grappled with it through to the end.

It has rules and tables aplenty, but to be honest it just never "got" me whilst making the slog through the book. The bestiary at the end is cool, I guess, but it fundamentally feels like it owers a fair bit to Carcosa, in a bad way, and it's weak in comparison to the other amazing LotFP books which do so much better.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
World of the Lost
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The Monolith from beyond Space and Time
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/10/2018 04:41:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover,2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of back-list, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content, laid out for 6’’ by 9’’.

My review is primarily based on the print softcover version I received from one of my patreons, who requested a review of it at my convenience. I have also consulted the pdf-version to ascertain electronic features etc.

That being said, I would have reviewed this module either way. Why? Because it is one of the worst-reviewed Lamentations of the Flame Princess books, one that I only got for completion’s sake. I had the pdf-version for a while before this was requested by my patreons and only then started reading it. Now, usually, I steer clear of other reviews in order to avoid coloring my point of view. Here, I never expected to write a review when I got the book, and as such, was very cognizant of the backlash this generated.

Now, I am not saying that most reviews get it wrong – while there are some negative ratings and reviews that stem from being offended by a horror product, there are more eloquent ones out there that frankly made this sound like an unmitigated mess. To make that abundantly clear: I do not share this point of view, but I think I know where these notions come from. Hence, I will try to explain why this book did elicit these responses.

Let’s begin with a clarification of terminology; I promise to be brief: This is a lovecraftian adventure. The “n” here is important – this does NOT deal with Lovecraftiana or the Cthulhu mythos in the traditional sense. In fact, nowadays, we can make a claim that the mythos has actually ceased to have any notion of being “lovecraftian.” In stark contrast to most depictions of the Cthulhu mythos in media, the term “lovecraftian” usually denotes a sense of cosmic nihilism and futility oozing into our world; a sense of cosmic insignificance and unknowable forces. The sheer amount of material collected on Cthulhu et al. undermines this notion rather vividly and once the brave PCs/investigators have fired tank shells at ole’ Shubby, any sense of dread beyond that which a sword-wielding murder-hobo might feel in front of a dragon, has been thoroughly lost. In short: The mythos has been codified and elaborated upon to the point where, paradoxically, while obviously a crucial part of Lovecraftiana, it is no longer lovecraftian in the strictest sense of the word. Similarly, it does not attempt to depict the lovecraftian as seen through the lens of psychology, but more as the unfiltered, played glimpse at a harsh, Lacanian real.

The second unfair claim I have seen voiced against this module, is that it has “unfair” components. I’d frankly beg to differ. Yes, this is a very difficult module, but it is NOT difficult because of badly designed save-or-die mechanics. It does not just randomly punish PCs – all they experience is ultimately their own doing.

It is difficult because it actually works as a module for ANY levels. In fact, it may work better from mid- to high-level characters. How does it achieve that? Well, more than ANY OSR-module (and most RPG-modules, regardless of system), success in it is utterly and thoroughly contingent on PLAYER-skill. NO matter how optimized your character is, no matter how OP your items are, this module can and will destroy you if you are not up to your A-game. If you and your group usually just want to murder-hobo through a dungeon, then this will ANNIHILATE you. It should be noted that players with copious horror-gaming experience will be MUCH more likely to succeed here. This requires very methodical and smart PLAYERS.

There is no pattern on a global scale to the monolith’s effects – and there’s a reason for that – it is not sentient, and there is no global, guiding intelligence. It just IS. It is indifferent and weird. While the phenomena can be analyzed and exploited/bested, they cannot be made sense of. They cannot be explained away. This is actually very deliberate and smart here – because, y’ know, when does the horror-movie start to suck? When does the book start to fall apart? Bingo, when the authors explain too much and provide human motivations to beings/things that are more akin to forces of nature, inscrutable and unknowable. You can’t reason with the weather, but you can witness the tempest blaring or a tsunami, and you can observe patterns in these individual manifestations of it. There is serious fun in that, in finding the tricks for survival.

Even in this context, this remains a horror-module. Bad things will happen to PCs and a palpable doom hangs over everything. There is no true victory, but also no true defeat here. This is a difference in mentality that anyone with horror-experience, from CoC, to GUMSHOE or Ravenloft, will be familiar with – the fun in these horrific things is to roll with the curveballs they represent, not to complain about them.

It is actually pretty likely that the PCs will survive, but it is also very likely that the module will have serious repercussions that can change the course of whole campaigns.

The module is not only demanding on the players, though: This is a lovecraftian adventure and as such, it can include some seriously mind-bending components that require that a referee is capable of conveying somewhat mind-bending dissolutions of space and time in eloquent speech. It is my firm belief that quite a few folks who experienced this as less than fulfilling did so because the referee did not manage to convey the concepts, because the group did not approach this with the required, deliberate care. Granted, one weakness here is that the module does have a bit of James Edward Raggi IV’s sarcasm shining through, when one description comments “Good luck describing that to your players!” – that can feel like an insult to a referee who already did struggle with understanding the notion in question. It may be another reason why some considered this to be problematic. (In the Spoiler-section, I quote the passage in question, so you can see for yourself why this indeed requires some serious referee-mojo…but it’s definitely not impossible!)

To cut a long ramble short: If you like horror-gaming (and I’m not talking about some dark fantasy, slightly gritty hack and slash, but about HORROR; if your players are veterans and like challenges; if your group loves having their brains challenged; if you are an experienced referee, capable of conveying complex concepts in vivid descriptions, then this may well be a true masterpiece for you.

As an aside: This adventure can also double as a great scavenging toolbox – the encounters and weird effects basically demand being used, and a great degree of variance allows for a rather high replay value.

Now, to go into more details, I need to venture into SPOILER-territory. Folks who wish to actually play this module should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

Somewhere in the world, a wooden valley has appeared. Mist-shrouded and uncivilized, in its midst, there is a strange monolith, a weird thing somewhere between rock and rotted flesh. It is into this valley that the PCs set foot. This, alone, may well be enough to doom them. No, I am not kidding you. You see, the distance to the monolith can be feet, yards, hundreds of yards, miles…or astronomical units. You roll once for dice-size/number, and one for the unit of measurement. You can, theoretically, end up with 1000 astronomical units of distance. See, that’s why I mentioned that smart and methodical PLAYERS are required – distance is recalculated every time the valley is entered. Failing to grasp the spatial distortion can essentially strand the PCs in a nigh-infinite valley. There is another complication that is utterly glorious: The monolith effects. Beyond the distance, there are 10 complex, global effects, one of which kicks in whenever the PCs enter the valley.

These include the “Doom of Hierarchy” – all members of the party roll a d20, rerolling ties. Everyone must obey the letter (if not the spirit) of an order issues by a member of the party with a higher roll. Slowed lifeforms. Oh, and if you really think your Referee-mojo is top-notch, try for “Light defeats Distance.” To give you a quote: “This condition prevents characters from traveling across space during the day, no matter how far they travel. Whatever destination the player characters have in mind, when they travel, they will appear to cross distances (and intervening terrain), but they will never get any closer to their destination and in fact will have not moved at all. They have effectively been walking in place the entire time. Thrown or discarded objects (or spells!) will be observed as traveling to their destination, but will never arrive. If something is tossed (or shot) from one person to another, the one throwing/shooting will perceive the object as reaching its target, while the character on the receiving end will perceive the object as having been wildly misdirected. The object will not be found again. Items can be physically passed from person to person normally.[…]”

Told you that this one would be a challenge, right? Can you see how some groups will be utterly flabbergasted and frustrated by this? I can. I can, however, also see how incredibly AMAZING this effect can be in the hands of a capable referee! Can you see the PLAYERS figure that one out and how to get past its effects? Oh yes. The mutation effect sports btw. no less than 20 different entries in a subtable. Impossible weather, distorted time flow…and what if the monolith makes things the PCs and players wish for come true? These effects alone had me grin my most malicious of GM-grins – and indeed, they are relevant beyond the confines of the rules-system for which they were written.

This emphasis on PLAYER-skill over PC-skill btw. continues throughout the whole module. There are exactly two possible encounters en route to the monolith that are more classic: The first is an encounter with a nudist colony of pacifists, supernaturally ageless and fertile, the colony subsisting on its own children. Yes, this is disturbing. Yes, that would be the shock-value encounter to piss off folks. It didn’t do much for me, but neither was I offended. The second deals with basically a mutated, ginormous angler-fish monstrosity, which would be a perfect place to note that Aeron Alfrey’s illustrations throughout the module are PHENOMENAL. Weird, disturbing, glorious art. Love them.

Anyways, the more interesting encounter would be the contribution by none other than Kenneth Hite, who wrote “The Owl’s Service.” The PCs happen upon strange statues ringing a clearing, a corpse, which may have a possession that is starkly like one held by the PCs – and in the aftermath, the PCs may well find their SPELLSLOTS infested by owls after disturbing dreams. The infestation may well spread…and the head of that corpse was bashed in…perhaps to let out the owls? There is no explanation here; no easy remedy. Just a plainly weird and encroaching doom that any campaign can handle as befitting of its own paradigms and dynamics. It could be just a curse to remove, but it similarly could be a world-threatening magical disease that spreads from caster to caster…

Arriving at the monolith has its own hazards and, indeed, represents another potential fallout during/after the adventure – seeing the monolith has the PCs invaded by microscopic invaders, whose civilizations in them rise and fall, becoming even more hyper-advanced. Unfortunately, this also hijacks the PCs when they are asleep, making them invincible killing machines with a pretty extensive kill-boundary. Once more, this is provided as a problem that can have dire consequences for the PCs, but when handled properly, it can make for a truly horrific revelation at the table…and solving the problem can be amazing. Unlike the owls-issue, closing the monolith can deal with this one, rendering them dormant…but yeah. I can see how these invaders can really irk folks only used to “I’m good, therefore I kill evil stuff.”

The monolith also has a guardian, who is a rather dangerous entity…and once more, represents something the PCs can’t bash apart. See a theme there? As noted above, this is not a module you can rollplay to win.

The inside of the monolith continues this almost psychedelic nightmare – there is only the way in which the character is facing. Closing eyes also ends the way, entrapping the character, unable to move until the eyes are once more opened to The Way. The tunnel is always in front of the character, a single line. Distance does not truly exist, and an example of how this works is given – within the monolith, the PCs have basically already reached the treasure-chamber…if the players understand how to get to it! The monolith allows access to other worlds and times, contains strange healing pods – and attempts to find the “control room” or the like will actually have the PCs within the brain of the respective PC who voiced that wish. And yes, destroying stuff there may not be wise. Weaponry-wise, the PCs can find a slime/ooze-drinking worm-symbiote…and the head of Carter Holmes. This is actually the main “treasure” of the adventure, and it is twisted. The man is a thoroughly vile magic-user. Pardon. Was. He’s just a head now. Literally confined to this place for all eternity. He wants to die. And tells the PCs about the kewl loot they can get – they just need to eat his brain. Yes. The disembodied head offers for his brain to be eaten.

If your players think that eating the brain of a thoroughly wicked magic-user in a weird dimension-warping monolith is a good idea, then they totally deserve what they get – for better and worse, for Carter’s brain can convey 6 unique spells, all of which are comparably very potent; similarly, PCs may gain agelessness (at a potentially dire cost…), faster reflexes or the option to move between the lines…but he was a loathsome, despicable psycho. As such, the PCs may also have their minds tainted by his horrible insights, which double as serious insanities. It’s all about the luck here – and if they complain, you seriously just have to point out that they ATE A BRAIN to get power.

How can the monolith be banished? How can the PCs win in this nightmare? You can hold the door shut. From the inside. For an eternity. Yes, there is no easy solution. There is no cop out.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are topnotch on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the artworks, as mentioned above, are b/w and Gigeresque in their amazing weirdness. The softcover has the letters on the spine and is solid. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and s layered, so if you want to save ink/toner, you can turn off background etc. – huge kudos there! The module sports no cartography, but needs none.

Now, I have only touched on some highlights featured herein – James Edward Raggi IV’s module actually contains more than I mentioned. I also tried to remain as opaque as possible, mainly because the emphasis on player-skill/encountering the horror as the central tenet and focus of the adventure.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-run, low-impact, generic hex-crawl with a bit of weirdness and tentacles, then look elsewhere. This is not what you’re looking for.

Similarly, if you’re relatively new to GMing, or if your players have no experience with horror-gaming, with problems that can’t be solved by rolling high enough, then you may want to ease them into horror-gaming with other modules.

If, however, you’re an experienced referee and if your players are experienced and smart as well, if they enjoy weirdness and strange problems that can’t be solved by waving a metal stick at them, then this is a psychedelic masterpiece of a nightmarescape. A good litmus-test may be whether you and yours enjoy purist-Cthulhu-modules: Do you like the weirdness, the fact that only your wits stand between you and death/gibbering insanity? Can you live with strange and dire effects? Do you like roleplaying the solving of complex and bafflingly weird phenomena that highlight the uncaring and hostile nature of the cosmos? Then, oh boy, will you love this one!

To make that abundantly clear – I am not trying to disparage other reviewers and folks who did not like this; I can see this crash and burn horribly for newbies, for folks that need a focused leitmotif/mystery to solve, for groups that have only ever played fantasy, etc.. Unlike Death Frost Doom, for example, this is not even dark fantasy. This is cosmic horror, pure and simple. Its premises are different, its focus is different and its challenges are different – there is no overwhelming force, no super-strong foe, no easy solution – just the uncaring, insentient, almost divine obelisk.

So yeah, many, though not all, points of criticism voiced against this module can be considered to be valid to a degree.

At the same time, I’d argue that these bemoaned points are actually features, not bugs. They are very deliberate design-decisions rooted in an aesthetic that differs radically from traditional D&D-esque adventure-design. They are not made to screw over PCs, but to present truly horrifying challenges to the players. How you navigate and solve them is another thing, but to me, this module is more successful in its attempted and clearly-stated design-goals than 90% of CoC-modules I’ve read. Considering the very clear mission statement, I cannot help but think of this as a resounding success. I am probably going to get some blowback for this, but personally, I prefer this over pretty much all of the early LotFP-modules.

Why? Because it dares to be radically, defiantly DIFFERENT. Because it, in spite of being downright brutal, this adventure is actually inspiring. As an aside: Most of the global effects and challenges herein translate rather well to more complex systems or more rules-lite systems, courtesy of their focus on player-capabilities over those of PCs.

This adventure is weird. It is challenging. And I am 100% positive that no player that went through it will ever forget it. It absolutely DEMANDS a truly experienced referee and similarly skilled players, but it delivers for them, in spades.

My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. If you’re a fan of horror-adventures and feel like the above has resounded like something you’d enjoy, then consider this to be a must-own purchase, regardless of system you’re playing in.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Monolith from beyond Space and Time
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The Magnificent Joop van Ooms
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2018 05:58:42

wonderful! And very beautiful! Lots of useful material packed in a few pages. It's a shame I can't get a hard copy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Magnificent Joop van Ooms
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Frostbitten & Mutilated
by Daniel E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2018 18:12:46

An awesome collection of ideas! Unlearn what you have learned and start running an interesting game. This book along with Vornheim: The complete city kit is a great place to begin the journey away from WOTC cookie cutter adventures for children, and run a next level game!!

Go head and buy this. No Ragrets, not even a single letter

"No more WOTC fluff, by yourself some heady stuff"

Thanks for Vornheim part 2 Zak waiting for 3!! And we need a world map!! -Silver0wl



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostbitten & Mutilated
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Frostbitten & Mutilated
by Grant E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2018 00:16:47

The Wonderful and Brutal work of Frostbitten and Mutilated achieves the goals it sets before itself, I believe. While I'm not a mind-reader, the artist clearly states intents on how to use the book.

They then present terrifying and beautiful things. Cold things, secret things, hard things, and new things... all before the backdrop of the Devoured Land.

The images in the book provoke you to action. This is an exercise in overtones with brilliant use of a subject.

As striking as the words and images are, it doesn't mean much of anything if you don't use the book. I used the book.

What I found was a carefully laid out set of tools that could be accessed and introduced during a session. I took the liberty of converting from LotFP to my chosen system (I do this all the time) and my players LOVED the feeling they had exploring this strange new world of warrior women and danger.

My flowery language and high praise might come off as too much, so let's paraphrase:

This work is metal af. \m/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostbitten & Mutilated
by Ron R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2018 19:37:12

You should get this if your fantasy game features snow, ice, tribes, witches, animals, giants, the wilderness or if you like lovely scratchy artwork. Although it's for Lamentations of the Flame Princess/OSR systems, that just means the mechanics are nice and simple and easy to port over to other editions of the world's greatest fantasy game. This is a must-have for any GM that keeps a Viking helmet stashed away somewhere.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Veins of the Earth
by Rachel B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2018 07:49:28

Fuck. Yeah.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Veins of the Earth
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