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Conan the Barbarian
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/18/2018 10:24:28

Being a barbarian isn't about being rough, rude, violent and uncultured... it speaks of a rugged vitality that more civilised places seem to have lost. This book surveys the 'barbarian' lands of the north: Asgard, Vanaheim, Hyperborea, and Cimmeria (where Conan himself came from). Legends, lore and facts swirl together to present new realms in which adventures may be set, along with a complete system for barbarian raids, and much more.

After a brief introduction showing how the north has been the subject of academic study from Conan's time onwards, we launch into Chapter 1: Barbarian Characters. This is filled with detailed notes and resources for anyone wanting to play a barbarian character, including backgrounds and castes specifically suited to them. The idea is that you use the standard system as given in the core rulebook, but swap in the new options as appropriate. New archetypes include bards and slavers, and there's plenty more to help you create an effective barbarian-themed background for your character. There is new equipment too, items unique to the north and well-suited to its rigours.

Next, Chapter 2: Gazetteer - the main part of the book - presents a detailed view of the lands of the north. History, notes about the peoples that dwell there, far more than a mere description of the geography and settlements of the region. There's a wealth of information here: tribal customs, beautiful maps, notable places to visit and people to meet, and much more to make the north come to life as a place to visit or one to call home.

This is followed by Chapter 3: Events, which presents a series of events that Northern characters are likely to know about and have probably attended, and which visitors can be caught up in, like it or not. Traditions, cultural forces: events and challenges and occurances that can catch the party up and remind them of where they are. There's the Thing, a week-long festival that mixes trading, sporting contests, law-giving, feasting and more in a dizzying kaleidoscope, replete with opportunities for adventure (particularly for parties that like intrigue). Many people are nomadic or seminomadic, so migrations can form a large part of their life - and provide consoderable scope for adventure. This chapter also deals with raids - a major part of barbarian economy. It's a bit abstract on the grounds that raiding is decidedly unheroic. Still, there's ample material for running a raid which the party may come across or get caught up in. There are also some notes on ship battles - think Viking longboats.

We next take a look at Northern beliefs and traditions in Chapter 4: Myth and Magic. Some of their habits seem strange to outsiders, it's fun to play on this as a character from barbarian lands, or spring them on a party visiting the region. This is followed by a chapter-full of Encounters - a selection of NPCs, animals and monsters the party may meet during their travels.

Chapter 6: Hither Came Conan serves as a potted history of the great one's early years (including a character sheet from around the time he left the north), and this is followed by Chapter 7: The Barbarian Way. This discusses running campaigns involving barbarians - perhaps a war band or raiding party, or the young adventurous individuals from one settlement or tribe. There's loads of ideas for things that might go on during such a campaign, many of them common milestones and happenings in barbarian life such as rites of passage, courteous behaviour when a guest, social contests like boasting or riddle games... and the way in which barbarians wage war and comport themselves on the battlefield. Not to mention the duels that occur when nights are long and tempers run short. There's a vast list of events to liven up carousing. Finally, the last short chapter contains a detailed write-up of a barbarian character - perhaps the party will meet her, or one of the group fancies playing her.

If your campaign ever looks north, or you have a party member who wants to be a barbarian like Conan himself, this book will become essential, in the meantime it provides useful information about a fasincating part of the campaign world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan the Barbarian
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Conan: The Book of Skelos
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/15/2018 08:59:28

In most fantasy games, magic is embraced as a useful tool, the use of which any character might aspire to, with many respected practitioners and often centres of learning where budding magic-users may study. It's not quite like that in Conan's world. Magic is scary, often evil, and many of those who wield it are power-hungry villains using their power to further their own selfish if not wicked ends. For most, magic is a black art to be feared and avoided.

This book, however, provides you with an enhanced set of rules to enable magic to feature large within your game. You may wish to increase the threat posed by wicked wizards, or perhaps one or more player-characters wish to learn dark secrets against the advice of everyone who knows them, and probably even their mothers.

Part of the introduction is 'written' by an academic from Miskatonic University in the 1930s, reporting on his study of the legendary tome, the Book of Skelos. Then the nine chapters that make up the work are described. These include the history of sorcery, a collection of magic artefacts, and an array of 'horrors' that will leave you quaking in your boots if not scared clean out of them. If that's not enough, there's also a section on Kingdoms of Dream and Nightmare: spirit and dream realms that the brave may visit... if they dare.

For those characters who wish to study sorcerers - or maybe become one themselves - there is a chapter on Sorcerers in the Mortal Kingdoms, covering the different types of magic that have arisen and where, as well as another chapter about Sorcerers and their Followers. This explains how sorcerers form cabals and societies, gather followers, and - inevitably - plot and scheme against one another. Aspiring sorcerers will find Chapter 6: Advanced Rules for Sorcery of use. It contains new origins, archetypes and backgrounds, and delves further into how sorcery is done, along with new forms like necromancy, astrology, mummery, and herbalism.

There is also a chapter on running sorcery campaigns. Sorcerers are about as hard to herd as cats, so this section contains ideas and advice about guiding them, and of course the forces and goals that may be applied. Finally, there's an extremely detailed sorcerer character - Serafus of Numidia - which can be used by the GM or indeed a player. He's quite young as sorcerers go, but from a wealthy family and eager to search out knowledge wherever it may be. Perhaps he'll hire the party to find an item or volume for him, or even come along for the adventure. As a player-character, maybe he has decided that the best way to discover further knowledge is to become an adventurer himself.

Even if sorcery takes a background role in your game, or is practised only by a few antagonists, this is an excellent work to bring sorcery to vivid life on your tabletop. Once you have a major villain who practises the dark arts, or a player who wants their character to venture into these dangerous waters, it really comes into its own.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan: The Book of Skelos
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Mindjammer: Children of Orion—the Venu Sourcebook
by Nathan G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2018 08:37:55

All this is, is the Imperium corrupted by Chaos. That's it. Lazy writing and blatant theft of another's IP.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Mindjammer: Children of Orion—the Venu Sourcebook
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Star Trek Adventures: Command Division supplement
by Christopher J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2018 09:43:47

Significantly better written and edited than the STA core rulebook, it provides an interesting overview of the backbone of Starfleet, and to a lesser degree the Federation as a whole. There is also a refreshing lack of flavor text, something which nearly cripples the core rulebook. The new command-centric talents are a welcome addition, and the command discipline is presented in a very comprehensive way with regard to how it plays off of the other disciplines. While the book doesn't patch the most egregious flaws of the core rulebook, it does a nice job of triaging many of them.

The only serious complaint I have about this book is the utter derth of starship pictures to accompany the 14 new ships. In a game where the ship is as important a "character" as the PCs, describing a bunch of ships with no visual reference seems rather absurd.

Fortunately, Google is our friend. Unusual Suspex at DeviantArt has a comprehensive catalogue for orthograpically-presented Starfleet ships for your reference. (https://unusualsuspex.deviantart.com/)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Command Division supplement
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Conan the Thief
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/05/2018 09:01:07

Conan himself was a thief: it's how he started out and he used the skills thus learned pretty much throughout his life. It's not surprising, then, that there's plenty of opportunities for light-fingered characters in this game. This book provides plenty of information and options for the ethically-challenged... and for the Game Masters who will shepherd them through their adventures.

Firstly, Chapter 1: Thief Characters expands on the information in the core rules, with additional material to help you create, improve and equip thief characters. The character creation process is run through with notes at each stage as to either the most appropriate choices you can make from the core rules or giving new options - so there is a new Caste - the Outlaw - with associated detail, new Archetypes and much more. Perhaps you'd like to be an assassin or a relic-hunter or a spy... the skills of a thief can be turned to all of these and more. And those skills are many and varied, as the Education section proves when it looks at the training that can be acquired by apprenticing to various types of thief (or just hanging around, seeing as a formal apprenticeship doesn't quite go with the territory). When it comes to War Stories, thieves may substitute tall tales of memorable heists instead. There are new talents, equipment and the tricks of using them and more to bring a thief character to life.

Next, Chapter 2: Gazetteer explores the highways, byways, and underbellies of the kingdoms of Zamora, Nemedia, Corinthia, and Brythunia: places where thievery thrives, indeed becomes almost an artform. History and background, maps, descriptions... all manner of information to provide a backdrop to your exploits. There are notable places to explore, gate guards to negotiate (or sneak) your way past, rumours to hear, and much more. Everything is detailed with an eye to its usefulness or interest to a thief, and it all makes interesting reading, and will probably spawn an adventure idea or two in the mind of a suitably-devious GM.

Whilst a well-informed thief might know at least his own hometown in the sort of detail described in the previous chapter, the rest of the book wanders into GM territory, with chapters on Events, Myth and Magic, and Encounters; which are all designed to provide 'building blocks' and background to help you create meaningful episodes in your party's lives. Events may be for individual thieves, or they may be city-wide or even kingdom-wide events in which the whole party is swept up. You can read about appropriate deities for thieves, and the legends and myths commonly told in thievish circles. The Ecounters chapter contains a vast array of people and monsters that can be met, fought, befriended or indeed robbed...

And there's more. Hither Came Conan recounts exploits from Conan's experience as a thief, and even provides a character sheet for the young Conan. Then Chapter 7: The Way of Thieves is replete with material to aid you in running a campaign based around thievery. Ideas galore including thieves' guilds and the fine art of thievery; and then there's a whole chapter on setting up and running heists... which as any film-watcher knows, make for the most entertaining of light-fingered exploits. Finally, there are three fully-developed legendary thieves, the people your PC thieves want to emulate. Weave them in as something aspirational.

This work really captures the essence of the early Conan books, when Conan was living by his wits and thieving his way across the land. It also makes for interesting and unusual role-play, plenty of excitement but relying on skill and knowledge and planning rather than brute force, yet there are opportunities for combat - especially when that heist goes wrong. Definitely worth adding to your bookshelf or hard drive.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan the Thief
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Conan Player's Guide
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2018 08:47:41

This book is intended for those members of your group who want to play rather than GM, the idea being that if they're not going to GM they do not need the additional information provided for GMs. After all, where's the point in buying a book where you only need a part of it. As the information here is reproduced from the core rulebook, if you have that you don't need this as well.

It starts off by explaining what a role-playing game is, then gets straight on with character generation, detailing the steps necessary for creating your character. This involves a 10-step process that builds a description of your character in terms of his attributes, skills, talents, and equipment. These steps can be followed by rolling on a series of tables or by making deliberate choices as you go along depending on preference. Some players may have a clear image of the character that they want to play, and the dice should not be allowed to get in their way!

The whole thing begins by determining where the character comes from - his homeland. Next comes a quite complex system for allocating numbers to the seven attributes of Agility, Awareness, Brawn, Coordination, Intelligence, Personality, and Willpower. Next comes social class or Caste of origin, followed by Story - little snippets associated with your Caste that provide a spark to start in on developing your backstory. A choice of Archetype then gives skills, talents and equipment to the growing character. A lot of choice is involved at every stage, making this a quite involved process but one which produces rich and rounded characters.

But we're not done yet! Determine your character's Nature, Education and War Story. Just about everyone has seen at least a bit of war, and will have seen or done something that affected them, which - like everything else - contributes to skills and talents as well as to the character's backstory. We round off with Finishing Touches and some Final Calculations... and at some point you'd better decide on a name, age, appearance, etc. If this seems all too much and you're itching to play already, there is a fast random method; and those who want a particular slant have some alternate methods - this may be mandated by the GM, depending on the game that's being planned.

Following chapters go into much more detail about Skills and Talents, with plenty of examples, as well as Equipment. Here you'll find out how to use what you've got. Finally there's a Rules chapter with many detailed explanations of how the rules actually work and how to use them to best effect during play and a further chapter on Action Scenes which focusses on the rules for combat.

If you're certain you never want to GM this game, go ahead and get this book. It contains all that you'll ever need to create and play characters to good effect, with loads of detailed explanations and examples, and some beautiful illustrations.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conan Player's Guide
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Elite Dangerous RPG core book
by Randall S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2018 09:37:35

A review based on entire pdf, in progress:

Good

1: setting allows for variable campaigns 2: simple system that fits setting, including both spaceship and individual combat. 3: layout is fantastic and the text speaks to you as a reader rather than directly dumping info/stat blocks at you. 4: random tables make a bit of a mini game for adventure setting creation.

Bad

1: no pdf bookmarks or links. 2: on iphone, not accessability-friendly; i.e. siri cannot read it aloud. (superbad in a negative way) 3: price sucks for what it lacks vs what a reader would expect. 4: world description could use an expansion because it seems based for people who know the setting through playing the video game.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Elite Dangerous RPG core book
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Star Trek Adventures Quickstart
by Rion S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/11/2018 18:47:19

A good intro to the game, helps explain some of the newer gaming concepts well. If you are considering buying in, check this one out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures Quickstart
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Legacy: Life Among the Ruins 2nd Edition
by Carl A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/29/2018 22:51:07

One of the more extensive modifications of the Apocalypse World rules, I found this version to have some excellent ideas and structure changes. It is also one of the best at handling different scales. You have two "characters" you play. One is a character in the more traditional sense, but the main character is actually a familiy of people that single character is from. I use the term "people" pretty loosely here. One of the families are synthetic beings, and another are uplifted animals.

Families have needs, and surpluses. Those resources (or the lack of the same) are a driving force for motivation. One of your figured attributes is the difference between the two of these totals (number of surpluses - number of needs), named "Mood". You have to roll that when the Family is under adverse conditions, so you want to get rid of your needs and maximize your wants so your family doesn't crack when things get hard and the GM decides you need to see if they "Hold Together".

Another great aspect of the system is the Quick Character system. If one of the Players wants to go off and persue a section of the map (that you all built together in the first session) for some goal it often won't make sense for everyone's character to go along. But rather than sitting out that part of the game, you make a Quick Character which is another member of their family with a reduced amount of detail comapred to a full PC. This way everyone can still be involved and not feel like they have nothing to do if the session focuses on someone else for a while.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy: Life Among the Ruins 2nd Edition
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Coriolis: Aram's Ravine
by Marc C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2018 13:54:27

« a complete scenario location for the award-winning Coriolis »

The use of the words «scenario location» was confusing to me. While their are descriptions of several locations, important NPCs and possible interactions between them and PCs, you will not find any detailed plans of buildings or an actual scenario/mission for the players. There are only two short paragraphs of possible adventures hooks at the end of the PDF. The GM has to do all the hard work. I didn't find what I was looking for but what is included is well written and engaging.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Coriolis: Aram's Ravine
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Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart
by Glenn F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2018 15:39:17

Take a long hard look at this game - it's got a great deal of promise.

A neat stat and skill based system with a 2(or more)d20 resolution mechanic that cleverly folds in special effects and varying success alongside levels of skill mastery and raw talent.

Armour and basic defences soak damage and circumstances increase difficulty. Effects add unique outcomes for different weapons and will work the same for spells.

Momentum is a group based mechnic that replaces your usual 'special' or 'critical' successes and can be shared with other players interchangeably with combat and non-combat skills.

Fortune are powerful 'Luck Points' and 'Doom' - Doom is something you buy for extra oomph when you need it, that the GM can spend later to fuel changes in circumstances or enemy spells (sorcery is nasty - just like the books).

DISCLAIMER: The above detail isn't designed to give you a pocket guide to the system, it's designed to make you ask the kinds of question that will lead you to the pages of the Quickstart, and hopefully, to a game run with them.

Only then will you understand what I've said, and a lot more besides.

Conan is shaping up to be a well-researched 'true telling' of the world as originally envisioned, and is supported by a rules system that suits it well. If you read elsewhere that the 'Doom' mechnic 'ruins' the game, do yourself the favour of ignoring the 'doom-mongers' (ironic yes?) and trying it out yourself. I don't think most people critiquing it bothered to actually play...

An elegant system and THE Swords and Sorcery world as a combo deal. What more can you ask for?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart
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Coriolis: The Dying Ship
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/15/2018 10:47:37

This adventure is a classic tale of a ship that has gone silent and off course, with the party sent to discover what's amiss, sort it out and recover a valuable cargo hauler and its load. The text begins with a detailed explanation of what has gone wrong and how it all came about, masses of beautiful detail that's enlightening for the GM but does raise the question of how easy it will be to enable the party to discover it all for themselves.

The adventure is well-resourced, with plenty of handouts and five pre-generated characters for groups who want to start straight away and have no characters of their own. Using your own characters is, however, a viable option. There are also some interesting comments about pacing the adventure, which can be done in a session or two if the group is time-strapped, or played out in a more leisurely manner for groups who like to explore every aspect of a given situation. Like any adventure, a thorough understanding and preparation on the part of the GM repays dividends. The situation is quite dangerous and should a player-character die, suggestions are made as to how best to replace them.

In classic style, the party is on Coriolis when they are approached and invited to a meeting at a cantina... and arrive to find another bunch impersonating them! Once this is sorted out - and several options are provided for you to use depending on how the party reacts - their contact will explain the delicate nature of the mission to be undertaken and enlist their help. He's in quite a rush to get their answer and be on the way... even going so far as to say he'll answer all the questions that they likely have once en route.

The trip to the oddly-behaving ship is relatively straightforward, although a few events are provided should you want to make a bit more of it. They may find out a bit more about the fellow who hired them as well. Once they arrive, the first trick is to get aboard. The hauler is already dangerously close to an asteroid swarm, which would probably destroy it if its course cannot be changed. The ship is dark, appears mostly powered-down, and the party's hails go unanswered. Once aboard, it is a creepy search to find the answers that they seek and regain control of the ship before it is all too late.

The exploration of the ship is handled in an elegant manner: it's completely up to the party what they do. The ship is described clearly, and certain things will occur in certain places... but only when the party reaches those places. Other events can be triggered as you feel appropriate. There's lots of atmospheric descriptions and ancillary notes making it all very easy to build up the air of suspense necessary... and of course that asteroid field is getting closer by the minute!

Overall it's an outstanding adventure, mixing traditional 'dead ship' tropes with some of the unique background and mythology of the Coriolis RPG (although if you are minded to get a bit mystical you could retool it for other spacefaring games). This has the potential to make a memorable story indeed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Coriolis: The Dying Ship
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Coriolis: Aram's Ravine
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/14/2018 10:30:43

This supplement introduces Aram's Ravine, the only settlement on a planet called Jina which is by all accounts a bit of a hellhole that you only want to visit if you are after bauxite and other minerals... or adventure, with rival individuals constantly bickering and intriguing against one another.

Jina is barely habitable, with acid storms, temperature extremes, dried-up oceans and icy poles. You are recommended to check out the comments on this planet in the core rulebook to put this settlement into context. The colony is a hub for everyone exploiting the resources of the planet. It's perched on the edge of a ravine in a place with odd geology that has led to the formation of several 'towers' of rock between which softer rock has been eroded away - and the settlement itself is located on several of the towers, linked by rather precarious-looking bridges.

There is a plan of the settlement, atmospherically presented in a way that represents the rather misty atmosphere. This mist is acidic and slowly eats away at anything and everything (including people!) left out in it. Locations of interest include a palatial bath house or hammam, cantinas, a chapel of the Icons, Colonial Agency office, a small medical facility and a witch doctor's office. Outside the settlement there's a local population of fiercely tribal xenophobic 'kalites', acid-resistant humanites who are fairly primitive, although probably less so than most people give them credit for. There's some description of the surrounding area, which is where the mines can be found.

Then we get to meet some of the personalities in the settlement. The Colonial Agent. The (self-proclaimed) Mine Lord. The Salt Witch. These are the three rivals, and there are other subsiduary NPCs as well.

Then there are a series of events, beginning with a note that any new arrivals - like the party - will immediately be drawn into the scheming and plotting that's going on whether they like it or not. And that's before any set=piece events take place. Both of the ideas presented are ripe for development into full-blown adventures, and are open-ended enough that you can put your own spin on them.

Another fascinating location replete with opportunity for adventure!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Coriolis: Aram's Ravine
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Fallout: Wasteland Warfare – Rules of Play
by Séan J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2018 22:56:14

Well done with good explanations. Excellent artwork, with no obviously exploitable games theory errors.

A bit on the complicated side, but a welcome fusion of RPG and table-top blitzes.

BZ, Dev Team!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fallout: Wasteland Warfare – Rules of Play
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Coriolis: The Mahanji Oasis
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/13/2018 09:40:23

Labau is an arid and hot desert planet, but if something takes the party there, they will be glad of a lush oasis to visit... so here it is. A few reasons for why they might be there are provided, and reading through the notes on Labau in the core rulebook may suggest others. The oasis and the lakes nearby are clearly visible from orbit.

There's an overview of the oasis and a more detailed description of the village of Mahanji and some of the notable places: a cantina, the caravan seraglio, and premises belonging to petroleum companies. There's also an area called the Wall of Dreams where you can find, er, individuals of negotiable affection. OK, that's where the brothels are. Apparently caravanners, petroleum workers and workers from the starport are all regular patrons.

There's a map of the area supplemented by a sort of labelled skectch of the village itself which gets across what's where in a very atmospheric way. There are notes on every location noted on the map and sketch. and some might think - if you don't mind the high temperatures - that it might be a nice place to establish a base...

Of course, then we hear about the simmering tensions between various groups. The Firstcomer natives aren't too happy about those prospecting for petroleum. There are rumours about illicit experiments going on in the Factory (which does bionics research). Something odd is going on around some ancient ruins... and now people have started to disappear. Things are coming to a head, and of course do so when the party is there, irrespective of why they have actually come! There are detailed notes on the main personalities involved (including stat blocks if required) and a series of events that will blow the lid off things. You could pile all of these up at once or - especially if you expect the party to be frequent visitors to the oasis - spread them out a bit, for each is capable of being developed into a full-blown adventure in its own right. This provides for a lot of flexibility, and the range of events means that you can pick which ones to develop based on what you know of the party or even which of the rumours flying around catches their interest!

A fascinating little settlement to visit in its own right, and with all this going on the party may be in for a long stay. Well worth a look!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Coriolis: The Mahanji Oasis
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