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Welcome to the party page… Pass the booze and turn up the stereo!!

This is the party page for the party attempting to infiltrate the Withered Fortress and recover the lost something or other that does something for the elders of Findleburrow. In other words, we’re the party that is important enough to trust with such a desperate mission, but not enough to tell us what we’re supposed to be looking for.

  • Edvar – Half-Giant Chaos Monk / Psychic Warrior
  • Morrykin – Human Rogue / Swashbuckler
  • Wendyl – Gnome Sorcerer
  • Falyn – Gnome Spellthief
  • Valen – Human Druid

Red text posted by: JimW

Blue text posted by the GM

Green text posted by: Backpack

Purple text posted by: brassbaboon

Last edit by JimW 3/25/2008 11:15 am, in the Resources section.

Now that Grey Mesa has effectively been sacked, has anyone thought of where the next step in that parade is? Obviously, Belisande seems to be able to defend her tower well enough, but what of other communities that may be in the area, perhaps to the south since our map doesn’t go much further south from Grey Mesa? Speaking of Belisande, what are the chances that she may be involved with whatever is going on in the ruins? Maybe that’s why she tried to dupe us out of some of the items we recovered. It may be just that she’s a greedy wench, but then again…
Wench, witch, whatever… I do think she is just greedy. Maybe self-centered is a better word. I think she is too self-centered to be involved in anything going on at the ruins, and is simply trying to benefit through our exploration.
As far as the raiding party goes… I think we stopped them in their tracks at Grey Mesa. As a matter of fact, I think that party represented a good portion of the garrison guarding the fortress. We should have a pretty easy time waltzing in and out of there now (famous last words). Of course, inside the fortress is more of an unknown.
I’m not so sure that if I was in charge, I’d send a majority of my forces out on some raiding party. That would leave the garrison too open for anyone to come in, especially if I thought there was a wizard in town who would totally destroy my forces. Then again, maybe the commander at the Fort didn’t think she would, which would lead me to believe…

Other Parties
What about these ‘other parties’ that were hired? If we find what we’re after first, what’s to say they won’t come after us to get it?
Consider that since your party doesn’t know where the other groups went, they may not know where your party went…
I’m not worried about the other parties. I’m worried that we may have moved too fast and ignored some important clues or items that we’ve left behind. Falyn is seriously considering backtracking to see if we’re being followed.

How deep?
After seeing what we’ve seen, I’m thinking this theft may go much deeper than we had once thought. Any ideas?
I agree. :D
Do y’all think Findleburrow is aware of how deep this theft goes? I’ll bet they have an idea, in which case they could have a LOT of explaining to do…
I never trust a gnome…

Note Review
Some thoughts after reviewing my notes-
  • Altar to Nerull
    • Are there any local temples to him in the area?
    • Are there any known cults that operate locally?
    • How long does it appear to have been there? (Is it dusty/worn down?)
Most of what you encountered on the first level of the necropolis showed signs of wear. However, on the second level things seem to be in very good condition. A logical person might deduce that there may have been some traffic on the first level, but not the second.
If the sword and goblet had no dust, or no dust imprints were left, then the items were placed there fairly recently…
Not necessarily, they could easily have been protected by a spell of dust prevention… I’d probably allow that as a cantrip (zero level spell). In fact that’s exactly the sort of spells you find in my campaigns, such as “tidy up kitchen”. That’s exactly what a young sorcerer’s apprentice needs if he wants to have time to actually read and study his spellbooks…

The Ruins
Who controlled the ruins before they were ruins?
As part of the backstory, I mentioned that the ruins are the remains of a city. That city was once part of an ancient empire. Both the empire and the city met some kind of downfall.
  • Spoiler: might there be other remnants of this empire that the Elders of Findleburrow knew about? Might that have something to do with the locations they sent teams to?
Sure, if we get back to Findleburrow, perhaps we’ll ask them. I guess the question is how deep the rabbit hole goes.

How did Findleburrow get involved with the god of death?
The Elders would never be involved with him, except to oppose him. See the minor spoiler above ;)
I’m just saying that if anyone who follows Nerull actually stole the eggs, what part could the religion play in their motivation?
That’s a good question. Perhaps the thief just doesn’t like pseudodragons? Wiping out a whole society of them might be something Nerull would smile upon. But perhaps it’s much simpler, and the eggs are nothing but bait.

The Eggs
What would the god of death want with Pseudo-dragon eggs?
I doubt he actually has a presence in the ruins (if he does, we’re in deep s—-). But, the current or previous inhabitants of the ruins obviously worship him.
Jim is on the right track…
I’m sure we’re not actually going to encounter the god of death himself, but he obviously has a presence based on the altar to him. Why would his church/cult/followers care about Findleburrow or the pseudo-dragon eggs?
Dragon eggs are highly sought-after. Pseudo-dragon eggs are only slightly less sought-after for the same reasons – magical properties, sacrificial ingredients, pet adoption. I’d bet my money that the thieves stole the eggs for one of these typical reasons – most likely that middle one, judging by the acquaintances we’ve made in the Necropolis thus far.
Also, consider that there is a strategic value to Findleburrow. The loss of these eggs deprive them of a key part of their defense systems.
Well that settles it—the eggs are obviously ammunition to hurl at the attacking Trolls! Nothing thwarts regeneration like some pseudo-dragon yolk in the face!! :D
Hmmm… I wonder if something nasty has happened to the thieves? Something they didn’t expect…?

The Undead
Obviously by all the undead, someone worships Nerull, but are they divine or arcane, and how powerful are they? Are they powerful enough to know that we are there?
Or, how powerful were they once… Also, remember that you are only passing through the necropolis to find a way into the keep. The keep has clearly become inhabited again, but has the necropolis become reinhabited or was it always as it is now…

The Ranger Corps
If the Ranger Corps was annihilated here, why have we not found any corpses or gear?
I think they got killed trying to come in the front door, and never made it in.
Again, Jim is on the right track. Something made the ranger core decide they needed to stage a heavy assault. That went badly for them.
Hadn’t thought about that…
If there is an active cult/religion present in the keep, what are the chances we may have to fight against the risen Ranger Corps?
We haven’t really given much thought the the consequences of tangling with a crowd that wiped out a bunch of rangers who were probably higher level than we are. Again, I think perhaps we should look behind us a bit more than we have been. Don’t want to get caught between a rock and a hard place!

Does anyone care about poor, sincere, earnest, Mephyrion the pseudodragon? :) What may have befallen him that prevented his arrival at the tower?
I think you know how Morrykin would answer that question. Edvar’s concern is merely slight. So far, Mephyrion’s assistance has only been to supply us with information we should have received at our mission’s inception. The Elders must not have trusted us in the beginning; so they sent the flying lizard to check up on us. Now that he’s deemed us worthy, he’s disclosed the details. That doesn’t sit well with Edvar.
Maybe he didn’t expect us to make it to the tower as quickly as we did, or he spoke of another tower. Maybe while conducting his “other business” he was captured or killed. Definitely something worth checking into. Could be useful info later…
Falyn quite despises the prissy little thing. The fact that Mephyrion was able to enter his mind so casually has given Falyn a lot to think about. The idea that his mind is radiating on multiple frequencies while he’s trying to sneak around is not a pleasant thought for him. But besides all that, he considers Mephyrion to be an annoyance, not an ally. He certainly is not expecting any help in the future. If Mephyrion shows up again, don’t expect Falyn to be pleased.

The Underway
I think it was Jim who suggested that the magic blue robe we found could be protection from the bars of energy. That’s worth a try. Falyn is OK with trying it since the robe won’t fit him anyway. ;) The more we leave rooms behind unexplored, the more worried Falyn is getting. Hey DM, how far apart are those blue bars? Falyn’s pretty small. Could he squeeze between them? Could a fly? What about a tiny-sized creature?
Morrykin is also slightly curious about getting through the blue bars. He is more than willing to explore the possibility that the robe grants immunity from them, or at least a way to turn them off. Definitely something worth looking into
The bars are rather close together, but also not totally discrete. In other words, they aren’t like vertical iron bars—they are glowing bands of light. Their edges are fuzzy… hard to tell exactly where they terminate. If you want to try slipping through, go ahead. Heh. I mean uh… not heh.

The subtle art of buffing is really something we have not explored much. Buffing is a huge advantage if done properly. We really should at least start a discussion on buffing. More and more often we are seeing Edvar’s grapple attacks being core to our strategy. But we haven’t really done much to help him with that. Buffing him up so that his grappling is more effective could be a huge help to us. I’d like to explore what sort of buffing we could do that would be helpful to a grappling character. Obviously size is a big one. If we could increase Edvar’s size, that would increase his grapple chances. Anything that would increase his strength would also be a big help. And then there’s the need he has to get in close, so anything that increases his AC would be good too. Of course Falyn is not a spellcaster (yet) so it’s a bit cheeky to talk about how other spell-casters should be buffing Edvar, but since we seem to be invested in that approach, we should do what we can to increase the chance for success. Especially since a grappled monster is so wonderfully vulnerable to Falyn and Morrykin’s abilities.
Our party is somewhat unusual in having two rogue-ish characters. I think we’ve done a fairly good job so far of exploiting that as an advantage against our opponents. But we haven’t really done a lot to use that to our advantage. For example, Falyn has rarely used his “hide” ability, nor has he used sneak ranged attacks other than a few special situations (like guards on doors). There are lots of great buffs that increase rogue’s ability to sneak around and surprise attack enemies. One really good one is “Cat’s Grace” which is a second level druid spell. That gives the recipient a +4 to dexterity for a minute per level. That’s more than enough time for a critical melee encounter. Since rogues are usually either range attacking or using “weapon finesse” as a feat, that pretty much gives a +2 to hit and to AC, that’s hard to beat. But there are other ways to “buff” rogues, and since we have two rogues, some of those give double the value. For example, “fog cloud” is one of those spells that gives an advantage to sneaky, hiding characters. With two such characters, such a spell could be very effective against a party, especially if we encounter one unexpectedly. As other party members escape, Morrykin and Falyn can use the fog to allow us to make sneak attacks on the foe. Other simple spells that would be very helpful to a rogue are things like “Barkskin” which is a +2 bonus to natural armor. That means it stacks with “Cat’s Grace.” If a Rogue receives both of those, then for several minutes they would have a +4 to AC. For Falyn that means an AC of 23, 24 using the Dodge feat against one foe. For most creatures we encounter that pretty much means they’d need a natural 20 to hit either me or Morrykin. In the meantime we could be wreaking havoc even in the middle of a melee situation. “Entangle” is one of the best spells around to slow up or stop enemies, although underground as we are it may be of lesser value. Then there’s this very intriguing spell from the Spell Compendium called “Bite of the Wererat”. It’s a second level druid spell that gives the caster a +6 to dexterity, a +3 natural armor bonus and an extra bite attack per round. Now that spell may not be something that our own druid wants to take (it more or less transforms the caster into a melee fighter) but if our druid were to memorize that spell and allow Falyn to steal it (not quite yet, Falyn needs to be level 4) then that would essentially give Falyn a +6 to AC and three attacks per round in melee. Basically that gives Falyn an AC of 25 and three melee attacks (all of which could be sneak attacks) per round. That’s pretty freaking awesome, even if it only lasts 1 round per level. Anyway I think we should be looking at this sort of thing very carefully. Proper buffing of characters can make a huge difference in survivability of the party.
So far, we haven’t had much opportunity to use our abilities as rogues, due to the nature of the opponents we have faced. I think we should clearly explore the possibility of doing things like that in the future, but I do think that currently it is a moot point. There ain’t much sense in increasing a rogue’s sneak attack, or ability to use it, on creatures that are immune.
Hmm… You have a point, but I think there are still things we could do for our rogues beyond enhancing their sneak attack abilities. Does Morrykin have Weapon Finesse as a feat? Anything that enhances the rogue’s armor class is going to be a big help in combat, since both of us tend to get into the middle of the fights. Anything that enhances our dexterity helps both AC (defense) and to hit (offense). So Cat’s Grace on either or both of us before a fight is a huge help. And if we can flank a creature, all of our sneak attacks become possible. Also, any spell that takes away an opponents Dex bonus is huge for us. Babau Slime, while not helping us much, would be a huge help for Edvar, doing 1d8 per round of acid damage to every creature he grapples. If we think about how we buff up Edvard before battle, we could turn him into a grapple fiend. If we hit him with Bull’s Strength (+4 to Str) and Babau Slime, that gives him better grapple results and does damage to anything he grapples. I’m sure there are other even better combinations, but we really should have a “standard buff” regimen, or regimens, based on circumstances. One to buff up our grappler, one to buff up a rogue, one to buff up our ranged attack options, etc.
  • As a matter of fact, Morrykin does have Weapon Finesse. In fact he lives by it, like you suggested anything that helps my Dex would go as AC and To Hit bonuses as well.
Edvar has become a Psychic Warrior specifically for the numerous Powers that will “buff” his grappling. Expansion is his first power – which is nearly Identical to Enlarge Person. He grows one size category larger and gains +2 strength – this improves his grapple check by 5! I bring this up because I don’t want the spellcasters in the party to think they really need to add “Edvar-buffing” spells to their spellbook since there might be other more useful spells to choose. Also, keep in mind that bonuses of the same type don’t stack – he wouldn’t benefit from 2 different spells or powers or magic items that both gave enhancement bonuses. Expansion grant sizes bonuses, so it’s likely to stack with anything else. Something else to keep in mind… A buffed-up Edvar and 2 sneak attackers can reek havoc on a single target (even a very powerful one); our weakness is fighting many enemies at the same time. This is where area spells from the casters will come in quite handy.
If anyone can figure out why my text in the previous block isn’t red – they get a cookie!
I spent ten minutes last night fixing one of my posts that did the same thing. In my case it turned out to be the use of the “percent” sign inside my text. Dunno what your problem is though, I didn’t see anything obvious. Update… I removed the carriage return between paragraphs and that seems to have fixed it. Apparently you can’t put two paragraphs in the same block of text.
Edvar, (and the rest of the group), I may be too old school, but I don’t consider spell-casters using spells to buff their teammates to be wasting spell slots. I know that spell-casters like to be involved in the fray as much as possible, and that casting a couple of spells up front and then standing around watching the fight isn’t very exciting, but there are other options. Even if you have some self-buffing capabilities, I think it is still very worthwhile to discuss ways to enhance your abilities even more. But in all fairness this is one of the main reasons I chose to play a spellthief in the first place, so I could do my own buffing. It’s a tough balance for spellcasters to deal with. I play a druid in my other campaign and I struggle with the same issue (healing spells, btw, are essentially “buffs”.) Sometimes I wonder how much effort to put into strategy because of the possibility that the best strategy may not be the most fun way for everyone to play the game. Back in the “old days” when I used to play, it was not uncommon for my party to cast five or six buff spells before any significant encounter. And how did we know when those encounters would be? Because our sneaky dude had gone out and found the bad guys for us, so we could prepare for them. But to play that way means there are long periods where only the rogue is really engaged, and then the spell casters use up a significant fraction of their magic casting buff spells on the melee combatants and then mostly hide during the battle. Playing that way may not be the most fun for the whole party. Still, I think some investigation of our ability to synergize class abilities is worthwhile.
I have never been one to say that buffing is a waste of spell either, but I will say that buffs use slots that may or may not be needed as other spells. Playing a spell caster is usually a gamble for this reason. As a wizard, it’s more of a gamble than a sorcerer for instance. On the other hand, I personally would not spend a bunch of my slots on buff spells, since they would be at the bottom of my priority list: defensive-save my own hind end-type spells, offensive array of spells, divinations, buffs, etc. I am trying to work new abilities and increased abilities for Morrykin, but I am not doing so with the benefit of anyone else, in particular, in mind. My new or increased abilities will work well with others, such as a flanked sneak attack with Falyn. Just my two cents.
It’s an interesting subject to debate. For me anyway. What I am trying to say is that buffing characters is one of those areas where self-interest and strategic goals can be at odds with each other. Both in-character and as game playing mechanics. For example, if a standard adventuring party were to do everything in their power to ensure success in a battle, proper buffing would be high on the list of priorities. As an example, let’s say a wizard in a low level party has the option to memorize “magic missile” or “magic weapon”. Which is the better choice? Any tactician worth their salt would say “magic weapon” and cast that on the best offensive fighter in the group. Especially if you find yourself fighting somethign normal weapons won’t hurt. For a third level wizard, the spell will enchant a battleaxe for 30 rounds. Let’s say the battle goes for 6 rounds. Even against normal opponents that increases the to hit chance by 5 percent and increases damage by 1 per hit. If that turns into one more hit, (say four hits instead of 3) then the additional damage that “magic weapon” would incur on the enemy would be something like an average of ten points of damage (battlexe d12+1 is 7.5 average, plus three more for the +1 damage on the other hits). If the wizard casts magic missile instead, it does an average of 7 points of damage. So on average “magic weapon” does more damage than “magic missile.” In fact the longer the fight goes, the better the damage done by “magic weapon” is, meaning that the harder pressed the party is, the more value you get from it. But I would bet that wizards memorize a hundred “magic missile” spells for every “magic weapon” spells. The same analysis can be done for spells like “bless”, “protection from evil”, or even anti-buff spells like “ray of enfeeblement” which can pretty much negate the most powerful enemy in the battle. Bards more or less perform that function today with bard songs, but we tend to forget how much better a party fights when fighting with these buffs. But as I said, it makes the spell-casters feel pretty much out of the fight, and so that’s not the way most people play these days. I wonder if 4th edition is taking a different approach to this?
Truer words may never have been spoken. I agree that buffs don’t get the credit they deserve. As for the lack of combat involvement for spell casters, I think that is part of the allure to them. The party typically has things under control, but when they lose it, it is up to the spell caster (and I speak mainly of wizards, cause that’s what I prefer) to get them out. And usually at that point, they have plenty of tricks up their sleeves, cause they have the majority of their spells and slots still available. Perhaps I’ll create a new spell caster, just in case (although I won’t bring him along, cause that would be bad joo joo)
We are at a disadvantage for buffing as a party. Druids don’t get any really decent buff spells until level 2, and it’s very hard to convince a druid to memorize “bull’s strength” and cast that on the party tank instead of memorizing “splinterbolt” and using that one spell to dramatically end a battle that “bull’s strength” would have ended a few rounds earlier. I know because I play a druid and I’ve done exactly that. The more spells you have access to, the more willing you are to dedicate some to buffing. With a druid and a sorcerer, we’ve really got limited opportunities for buffing, but those opportunities will grow as we go forward and I’d like to lay some groundwork. Bards and clerics get the best buff spells, and we have neither in our party.

Notes on Spellthief
I wish there was a way to add pages to this! But since there doesn’t seem to be, I’ll just keep adding to this…
We’ve had a lot of email discussions on the rather unusual abilities of the spellthief. I thought I would try to capture those here so we can refer back to them if we need to, as well as to reduce any confusion as we play.
Spellthieves and psionics: The GM has not made a ruling on this yet (as far as I know) but the option presented on the boards is that psionics are either separate (and therefore you need a modified spellthief “class” to steal them) or they are treated as “spell-like abilities.” In the second case (if the GM rules this way) that means Falyn could steal and use psionic abilities but could not use them to power his own spells. Basically the only thing Falyn can use to power his own spells are stolen spells. Nothing else.
“Willing Targets:” The Spellthief description says that they can steal spells from “willing targets” but does not describe what a “willing target” is. Since there are a number of spells and abilities that use this same terminology, the WotC rules lawyers have stated that “willing” means anyone who allows it to happen while conscious or any unconscious character. If I am reading that correctly that means if our druid gets whacked below 0 hit points, Falyn could steal a heal spell from his unconscious form and use that spell to heal him. It also means if we knock out any of our opponents Falyn can steal spells fromthem by merely touching them instead of attacking them.
On the subject of stealing Psionics, I am inclined to treat psionics as just another magic school, ie we have divine, arcane, and psionic. So, steal away. On the subject of psionic items, if you want to use these you’ll need to add skill points in psicraft and/or use psionic device. Both are covered on
On the subject of “willing.” I am inclined thus: for something like a heal spell, there can be a saving throw but the subject is usually considered willing and the save is not carried out. Similarly, if you are unable to make a saving throw I’d call you willing as well. So, I’d argue that an unconscious PC or NPC is unable to make a saving throw (maybe a fortitude saving throw, but not reflex or will). So, steal away.

Critical hits and fumbles
OK, so the GM asked if anyone was interested in putting together a critical hit and fumble table. I’m one of those people who can’t seem to do anything halfway, so I put one of each together. It’s got a lot of critical hit results and lots of fumbles. So I’m wondering if most players prefer the diversity of a whole lot of options, or the simplicity of just a few. In other words would you prefer to make a critical hit roll and know that there are about ten different results, or would you rather there be about 50? Same for fumble table. I know it depends on how clever the result are, but let’s assume some reasonable level of cleverness for this exercise.
I have to be honest fellas, I have never been a fan of critical tables. I prefer damage being based on mathematical results, and the “action” determined by the imagination of myself and the DM. I just don’t like the chance that I can roll a 20, then a successful hit, and have a 1 in however many chance that on my first hit, I just severed the head of a dracolich. Kinda anti-climactic if you ask me. Thoughts?
I wonder what happens if two people try to update this page at the same time? I’m guessing the first one in will lose their comments. But back to weightier matters! I actually sort of agree with you on this. I’ve never been a big fan of them for that and other reasons. I haven’t used one in my own campaign for a long time. However, in the interest of fairness, if we have critical hits, we should have critical failures. Putting a table together is mostly just to make things more interesting. I have had some campaigns that had some memorable (and usually hilarious) moments due to critical hits or misses. I’m willing to try it, but I’m one of those who seems to be all or nothing. I don’t like the idea of a critical hit or failure table that just repeats the same tired options over and over again. So I’m inclined to make things as random as possible with as many outcomes as I can come up with if I’m going to do it. As far as the draco-lich is concerned, I think they are immune to critical hits. The DMs Guide in its discussion of critical hit tables points out that it is not feasible that a creature whacking at the toes of a tarrasque can somehow lop its head off, so DM discretion should obviously be applied. In general critical hits are reserved for situations where they make some level of sense. And many people think they add to the fun of the game. As I said, I’m willing to try it, even though it will likely end up biting me.
One more comment on the “one hit whacks off the head of the draco-lich” theme. Actually that’s more realistic than the steady whittling away of hit points. In the real world a single bullet, arrow or knife wound can kill the strongest hero. If D&D were more like reality you would see a lot more battles end that way, with a lucky sword poke, or a well-aimed deadly blow. It’s D&D that is unrealistic in this sense, requiring dozens of sword blows to fell a single fighter. It was in part due to people arguing this way that critical hits even became part of the game.
In general, I’m not a big fan of the Crit/Fumble chart. Adversely, I am a fan of making the game more exciting or interesting. Frankly, the crit chart in use by my enemies scares me. Edvar would rarely be using the chart since there is no critical threat with a grapple check. I’m willing to try anything, although I may regret it when Edvar loses his head!
Ok, well, I think if even one person does not want the tables then we shouldn’t use them. Perhaps before deciding, we could have everyone read over the final versions of the crit and fumble table. To make that clear, if we use a crit table we also use a fumble table. ;)
When I have used critical hit and fumble tables, I generally have not shared them with the players. The purpose of the tables is to introduce some level of surprise and variety to the game, so I usually kept the results secret until they happened…

Identify blues…
OK, I am going to have to come clean here about one of my least favorite aspects of playing this game. That is the need to run back to town to identify magic items. The need to run back to town is usually needed because of either a lack of money (in the form of pearls) or spell casting ability. Right now I’m not sure if anyone in the group can cast identify, unless we had a scroll. The rules for “Use Magic Device” are ridiculously strict imho. If I am reading them properly if you want to use UMD to determine the means to activate an item you have to actually successfully activate it in the first place. For items with limited charges, this is simply wasting a charge. Even if you take that action, I would guess that Falyn’s UMD total of +7 is as high as, or higher than anyone in the group, but even with a +7 he would have to roll an 18 or better to successfully activate something like Wendyl’s earring or the black gem Falyn has. But if he rolls worse than a 9, the item misfires, potentially destroying itself and killing Falyn in the bargain. Even with a wisdom of 8, Falyn’s not going to do that unless we are seriously pressed. So, GM dude, if those are our only options, Falyn’s going to head back to the little town we stayed at before entering the withered fortress and identify a couple of things. And pick up some new armor and daggers at the same time if he can. ;)
A thoughtful DM would probably include some scrolls of identify at some point in his dungeon when he believes party members may have obtained some items they wish to identify. Probably wouldn’t be till the second level, or so, though. ;) Then again, it’s true that there is nothing stopping you from climbing out of the necropolis again and heading back, at this point.

Do we want a real blog?
I think that this single page, manual edit business is way too unwieldy. We could use any of the blog providers to set up a running campaign blog and link to it from here if we wanted to.

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The Withered Fortress Backpack