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  #1  
Unread 30th of May, 2008, 23:46
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Smile Feeding MadDogMaddux a bone

Per Maddog's request, this thread is intended as a sounding board for his pending campaign. Have fun!
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Unread 31st of May, 2008, 09:16
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Thanks, Chris!

OK, Crunchy stuff first, and then concept.

Crunchy:

36 Point Build, double starting gold, starting characters at 2nd level.
Characters have to be LG/NG/CG/or LN
Setting: Greyhawk, right around the time setting of Living Greyhawk. Geographically in the March of Bissell. PCs have been part of a caravan from Dountham to Ebernant and then South.

PCs I have so far:
Fighter/Rogue
Arcanist (probably damage oriented)
Druid
Cleric/Paladin (I'm hoping he shows up!)
Bard (or so I'm told)

We're meeting this Sunday for a sort of meet 'n greet, so hopefully I'll have more details by then. It amazes me how little people are willing to use e-mail! :p

Anyhow, here's the basic concept:

Maybe a day out of Ebernant, they get ambushed at night. The road is between a river and the Barrier Peaks of the Crystalmist mountains. Initially the ambush is some monstrous types. I'm thinking Goblins and Orcs. Once they seem to have a handle on the humanoids, they'll be ambushed again by some undead. I think the undead will attack both humanoids and PCs (as well as the rest of the caravan). Mostly Skeletons and Zombies - but there will be 2 Ghouls who will be focused on paralyzing people and moving on.

The PCs won't realize it at first, but the Ghouls are paralyzing anyone protecting the children. Then I'll have some Gnoll skeletons collect a few children, then ride them off on Warhorse Skeletons.

At that point, the Ghouls will withdraw, along with any undead who are whipping up on the PCs too much. (although hopefully that won't be an issue....)


Once the fight is over, the remnants of the Caravan reorganize and reallize that several young children have been taking (might be the screaming/wailing parents that tips them off?). Then 2 things happen almost at once. First a wealthy merchant and father of some of the children offers a reward for anyone who will return his children to him. Then an adept traveling in the party succumbs to a vision and speaks prophetically of a great power and a great evil within the nearby mountains. He speaks of a shrine at the foothils where the answers may be sought, and I'm thinking he points out our PCs as those who are fated to go. (I'm debating whether or not that's too hackneyed).

So ideally, the PCs decide to go (if not, I'll punish them with excruciating details of their caravan trip to the next stop. BUWAHAHAHA!!!!). They follow the basic directions from the Adept (and maybe the tracks from the skeletal warhorses, if they have someone who can see 'em) across the plain towards the mountains.

Throw in a few random encounters, significantly worsening weather, and boom, you're at the Shrine.


The Shrine.

OK. I'll admit, I haven't really thought up the details of this. Basically there is a spirit here that is not at rest for one reason or another, and the PCs (hopefully) find a way to overcome that. It could have been desecrated as an outpost for a humanoid raiding party, or it may be inhabited by undead. The PCs won't find much in the way of material clues, but I intend the spirit to be their big clue. Once they've made it possible for him to rest, he'll tell them what lies ahead.

I'd REALLY like anyideas you may have on neat ways to handle this. I expect everyone to be close to lvl 3 or at lvl 3 by the time they arrive.
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Unread 31st of May, 2008, 09:20
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Basic Theme of the Campaign

The basic theme from here on out is that they're pursuing these children who have been taken captive. In reality, they've been captured by a powerful necromancer who is intending to use the innocence of these children for various nefarious things. The simplest will be the creation of a Slaymate or two. The primary purpose will be to grant him access to the Crystal Chalice.

The Crystal Chalice is a pool hidden in the higher peaks of the Crystalmists. It was created as a natural backlash to the powerful and evil magics that the Suel were crafting here shortly after fleeing from the Sea of Dust. The result of this magic is that the majority of the Barrier Peaks reak with a necrotic taint (sort of a permanent dessecrate spell?). Over the centuries, evil sorcerers and wizards have been drawn to these mountains as by an urge, and have then been driven mad in their attempts to tap the vastness of the power here.

The Crystal Chalice is basically a pool of pure positive energy. It wards away any undead, yet promises untold power to all who can access it.

In simple crunchy mechanics, anyone who drinks of the Chalice will become a Gestalt Character, having 2 classes for every class level and taking the better of any BAB, Saves, etc. The drawback is that characters who FAIL a saving throw also recieve a random amount of permanent Stat damage. Characters who MAKE their saving throw get to pick what stats they have to lower, bringing their character down to 32 BP) I'm thinking that it automatically changes their alignment to Good, as well - and binds them by a compulsion to defend the Chalice from Evil.

Granted, no one knows all this.

Our friendly neighborhood necromancer has determined that, on account of his alignment, he cannot even come near to the Chalice - so he has captured these children in hopes of covering himself with their innocence so that he may approach the Chalice and draw its power.


Over the centuries there HAVE been some who have made it to the Chalice and drunk from it. Most of them still roam the Barrier Peaks, driven to insanity by the ever present evil, the loss of INT/WIS, and the driving compulsion to defend the Chalice. A few of them retained their sanity and established a defense of the Chalice - they will play the role of the anti-heroes, as they will be trying to make sure that NO one they don't trust has access to it.
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Unread 31st of May, 2008, 09:44
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Future Encounters

After the shrine, if the PCs push deeper into the mountains, they'll stumble across another old ruin which seems to be an abandoned tower. Ideally they'll duck in to take shelter from a really bad storm. That will bring us into a module I'm going to rip off from the WOTC free stuff site. I plan on upping the difficulty to reflect their levels, and to involve undead as well as humanoids.


Again, I'm thinking that there will be a few clues here to push them forward, but I haven't decided what. I'd think that the idea of some undead humanoids chasing after the humanoids might give them the idea that something is up. Maybe the tomb of the Knight will have some old artifacts (not Artifacts!) which can be clues.



Pushing deeper into the mountains, they'll stumble on to a network of warcamps for the humanoids they've been encountering. These humanoids are in league with the necromancer, but I haven't developed the details yet. Basically it's a placeholder for another step on the XP ladder. I'd really like to flesh this out some.



After the warcamps, they'll find the entrance to an old abandoned Dwarven Mine. The dwarves probably fought against the Suel that tained the mountains, and lost. New Underdark fun can be found here! And remnants of the Dwarven society may provide neat treasure, and possibly more clues as to what is going on here.



Deeper in they'll come across a Hobgoblin Fortress. Again, I primarily intend it to develop the connection with Humanoids and as a possible XP step. Granted, I can't expect them to take on a full fortress, so I've got to come up with some ways for them to play here. Or I could throw out the idea for something else entirely. Ideas?


After quite a while of journeying, they'll find themselves in a vale hidden deep in the mountains. Nestled within is a quaint but ancient village! Approaching, they'll find it is inhabited, and not by hideous ucky things! People! It's a normal village! Wearily, they'll take their rest at the local inn, wondering how this place came to be. Only - let's hope they're not outside after dark (or maybe let's hope they do?) when the true nature of these "people" is revealed. (Really, I don't have any mechanics in mind for this. But my concept is that the village is haunted, the people are not people, but ghosts of a sort - and that during the day they carry on life as normal, but at night are cursed to undeath. I don't know how to make it work, but it's a neat idea!)



Eventually they'll come to the fortress of the Undead. Attacking this would be a bad idea. Nonetheless, there is much digging to be done, provided they can get it. Dadgum these fortresses! Why do I keep sending small parties of PCs against them. Where's the RP fun there? Problem is that it makes sense to me that a Necromancer would raise an undead army and have a fortress for it. Obviously I need help.



Somewhere, they'll also find a tomb to an ancient hero. The place will be undesecrated, and a place of refuge. There's some powerful weapons here too, will they take them? Should I make a way for them to take them without feeling guilty?



Eventually they'll come to the Necromancer's lair. Honestly, I haven't given any thought to this at all. Ideally we've got at least a year of gaming to get this far. Still, any ideas are welcome.


These last few encounters (listed above) aren't necessarily in linear fashion. I can obviously determine the order that they arrive at them, but *shrug* I'm wondering how I could let them pick where they go first? Maybe they'll find an old map to use while in the Dwarven Mines or a newer one in the Hobgoblin Fortress.

Same goes for the Chalice. It's out there, and they can get to it before they go fight the Necromancer if they decide to. Once they start heading into that area of the mountains, they'll start encountering crazed Gestalt NPCs who simply try to kill them for being in the area. Their intent is good, I promise, but they are not capable of discerning that the PCs are trustworthy. (are they?)


Eventually they'll draw the attention of those who have chosen to remain and protect the Chalice. These will arrange for the PCs to stumble into groups of undead in order to watch how they deal with them. They may try to make them get lost. And anyother test of worth that I (or you?) can think up.
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Unread 31st of May, 2008, 09:48
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Anti-Heroes

I've only determined 2 of these so far, but I expect there to be more.

The first is a dead paladin.


Along the way the PCs come across another space which seems to have a reprieve from the necromantic taint. It is a rune drawn into the ground of a natural bottleneck. In its center lies the broken hilt of a greatsword and the rusted remains of some armor. IF any undead are nearby, the PCs will notice that they are driven away from this spot.

The rune was crafted by our Paladin long ago when he chose this spot to defend the access to the Chalice. It's not exactly near the Chalice, but it's the only place easily passable to get there. So the Paladin crafted the Rune to radiate positive energy in the form of healing (or some such - I read this in Dungeonscapes, I think?) and stood upon it to repel anyone, be they undead or alive, from gaining access.

Eventually he was overcome and in his dying breath gave his life force to sustain the Rune. His deity saw fit to use that life force as a permanent sustenance for the Rune.


The PCs will encounter the Paladin's ghost, and he will forewarn them to turn around, and HOPEFULLY the PCs will convince him of their good intent and worth. If they do so, he'll agree to let them pass, and if they do well enough, he may even volunteer to inhabit someone's weapon. (woot! Intelligent item!)
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Unread 31st of May, 2008, 09:50
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The other Character I have developed as an anti-hero is basically Malek, the character I'm going to play for Epicureans. Except he's not a werebear. And I think he has either Druid or Barbarian levels. Anyhow, he's the brains behind the PCs testing and possibly the defense of the Chalice.

After they've proven they're worth, he'll allow them to drink of it.


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>




So there's the sketchy concepts I've got so far. I've never run a DnD campaign before, can you tell? Am I committing some fatal flaws? What are your suggestions? What other ideas can I encorporate?

In other words, HELP!

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Unread 31st of May, 2008, 12:09
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That's a lot written that I haven't fully read yet, so I'll come back to it again later. However, probably the number one point that I can give is to be prepared for things to not go your way. Players will find ways to circumvent whole portions of the campaign that you never even thought of. Bad guys will die early, plot points will be revealed too soon (or never at all), and things will generally go pear-shaped.

But don't worry about it! If the players start really getting into one aspect that you didn't put much thought into because it was going to be a minor detail, don't be afraid to drop the rest of the story (only temporarily, hopefully) to let them pursue what's going on. I once spent three whole sessions letting the party track down a serial killer that was originally intended to be just background noise for the city. Turned out to be the best part of the whole campaign, because the players were hungering for this guy, and were genuinely afraid when he showed up. They didn't know what was going to happen, and neither did I. They eventually captured him (after a few unfortunate deaths), and the storyline got back on track. they didn't know until after the campaign that I ad-libbed most of those sessions.

So, plan loosely, but not too many details. Sometimes the players will hand you the best parts of the story without realizing it.
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Unread 3rd of June, 2008, 00:19
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I couldn't have said it better. Players have a way of screwing things up. As you noted towards the beginning, 'How do you ensure the players even take the bait to go rescue the children'?

I noted the alignments you listed were mostly Good. Simply use their alignments against them. Make them the most likely to be able to rescue the children, by killing anyone else powerful enough to do so. Also a dying mother begging for their promise to rescue her young daughter wouldn't hurt.

Remember my tag line from Shadow?
"Feelings and empathy are just devices to better help you see into the hearts and desires of your victims."


I earned that baby.

I myself am a very ad-lib GM. I plan very little out ahead of time and use things that unfold during the adventure to progress the adventure rather than try to plan out things way in advance. Again you run into the PC's ability to go the exact opposite way you want them to. Now if you don't mind pushing the PC's plan away.
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Unread 3rd of June, 2008, 14:40
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Well. We met last night, and looks like I'll have a full party:

Fighter/Rogue
Rogue/Warmage
Druid2
Paladin/Cleric
Ranger/Bard

Now that I realize that I have less than a week to go, I'm terrified.

I'm planning on opening the game with some extended combat: Goblins, Hobgoblins, Wargs. Then after they catch their breath, it'll be Skeletons, Zombies, and Ghouls.

After that they'll finally get to roleplay out of combat, while I feed 'em stuff.

It's pretty much a level 2 party, but they're 36 point build with 1800 gold worth of gear. I'm hoping to pace the combat so that they'll face JUST enough bad guys to keep 'em busy for a constant stream for a while.


Thoughts or comments?
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Unread 3rd of June, 2008, 23:33
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If you said this for sure and I missed it, I apologize, but is this your first ever DMing experience?
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Unread 3rd of June, 2008, 23:35
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Here a piece of advice that seems obvious, but took me awhile to figure out.

That seems like a lot of combat, and the group doesn't have a dedicated healer, so if you don't intend on killing off the PC's right away you should keep your die rolls to yourself. There's nothing like the DM rolling a nat 20 out in the open, and then following it up with max damage. Once the players see the rolls you have to follow through, or they will know you won't kill them, and they can get away with all kinds of crazy crap. So if you want to keep them alive, unless they deserve to die, then keep your rolls to yourself.
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Unread 4th of June, 2008, 03:26
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Originally Posted by LadyGlutter # If you said this for sure and I missed it, I apologize, but is this your first ever DMing experience?


Pretty much, at least in this format with this game system.
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Unread 4th of June, 2008, 05:14
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I'm not a DM, so bear that in mind. My thoughts on the subject are going to be fairly brief, because both Doom and LB covered the biggest thought I had. I have been both the player that screwed up the entire game, and also the one who kept the game on track. Even the most predictable players sometimes won't follow the carrot you dangle in front of their noses. Even the most brilliant gamer might never figure out what seems to you to be the simplest puzzle.

One thing that I've seen help even my favorite GMs on a night when nothing was coming to them -- You might want to have a backup module or two there so that you can have a braindead/stage frighted DM kind of night to watch how they play. Just a safety net. Then you might be more confident, because even if it falters, they'll have something to do. And if you have to use the safety net, youll get a better idea of their play styles, what they are interested in, and capable of, to better tailor, say, your test of merit.

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Unread 9th of June, 2008, 04:22
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So today is our first meet for the campaign. The basic outline is they're in a caravan headed south, about 2 days out of the city they left, maybe a week from their next stop.

Key Events:

1) Goblinoid attack of the caravan
2) Undead attack of the caravan the next morning during a storm: stealing of lots of children
3) Random Encounter witha Jackalwere while in pursuit
4) Dungeon Crawl in an old Tor while they take shelter from the storm.

Vignettes Leading Up to the Initial Ambush

1: Uth'Gar (Rog1/WMG1 - commander of a squad of NPC class warriors as bodyguards for the caravan) catches a flash of familiar colour, then hears a familiar squeal of laughter. To his chagrin, he realizes that his youngest son has stowed away in the caravan. The son has been playing with other children, and upon seeing his daddy runs to him with overflowing delight.

2: Diesel (Rog1/Swash1) has been hired as personal bodyguard to the daughter of a wealthy merchant in this caravan. As it happens, the daughter is a stunning beauty his same age (17) who is clearly smitten with him. The two flirt a bit, and Diesel notices that the girl, Aesha, is also caring for her 6 yr old niece, who seems as charming as can be.

3: Ehl (druid 2) catches glimpse of a cat pouncing after her shadow along the side of the road. Eventually this cat pounces onto the cart next to Ehl and begins playfully batting at her. As Ehl turns her attention to the cat, the cat speaks. (it's actually a grimalkin!) The cat senses Ehl's undercurrent of distress and changes into a beautiful songbird and sings her a song to lift her spirits. Afterwards, she changes back suddenly with a gasp of pain. It turns out, the cat (Mrissa) is pregnant! Mrissa explains that her master was recently attacked in the wild, and she had to flee to protect the life of the kit in her womb. She asks Ehl if she can help her with the time comes in a few days.

(I've got 2 other characters who haven't got me Bios yet, so I can't create vignettes for them. )

When the Goblinoids attack, their attack will cripple the caravan enough that they have to seek shelter in some nearby ruins. The attack will also (hopefully) kill off a majority of Uth'Gar's soldiers. During that attack, Aesha will call Diesel to herself at an appropriate time and give him a kiss loaded with Cure Light. (she's an Adept1)

That night, they'll seek shelter in the ruins (GM fiat will ensure this. ) and I'll be sure to mention the softness of the earth.

Early next morning (after the casters have rested well enough and have prepared their spells) the rain will hit in ernest, and in the dimness of early-morning light, they'll see the rain washing away dirt from on top of something gleaming white.... Bones! And then they'll hear the moaning.

I'm going to keep throwing Undead (Skeletons and Zombies Oh My!) at them to make sure they're overwhelmed. The Caravan will be decimated. Aesha will be killed and her niece kidnapped by a Gnoll Zombie. Uth'Gar will be paralyzed by a ghoul and watch as his terrified son is stolen from his very grasp by another Gnoll Skeleton. Ehl will similarly find Mrissa wrested from her protection - probably stunned or paralyzed sho she can't shapeshift and defend herself.


And that's the basic hook. Throw in Aesha's father giving them a Bag of holding II loaded with rations, and a doddering old prophet giving them a few loaded but vague statements about the mountains, destiny, and the children and they should be good to go. Oh, and he'll give the party's ranger/bard a wand of Identify with maybe 4 charges to carry them initially.

So - that's in a few hours. we'll see how it goes down. Dunno how far we'll get, but I've got quite a few encounters readied if they stumble into 'em.
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Unread 9th of June, 2008, 04:30
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Sounds good, but there's just one thing: What if Uth'Gar makes his save against the ghoul? I will admit to occasionally fudging things, but in general, I prefer to let the dice do the talking. I humbly suggest that you find another way to separate him from his child if he makes his save legitimately -- otherwise it might feel like you're taking too much power away from the player.
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Unread 9th of June, 2008, 12:02
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Well, for one he'll not know the save he's got to make. And for another, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Just concluded tonight's session. We got as far as the Goblin ambush. I managed to kill off or incapacitate about half of Uth'Gar's militiamen. So here's hoping. All in all, the characters are interacting well. In combat each of them was brought to within a hair's breadth of death, but survived. It was fun.
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Unread 10th of June, 2008, 01:57
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Sounds pretty cool. I hope the rest of your sessions go as well.
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Unread 11th of June, 2008, 03:34
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Just as a note - I haven't been weighing in not because I'm uniterested. Folks have, rather, been giving good advice before I get a chance to give similar good advice. I like what I'm hearing so far, from all parties.
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Unread 11th of June, 2008, 03:56
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I think what you mean to say is "not because I'm not interested," rather than "I'm not interested." Right?
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Unread 11th of June, 2008, 04:06
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Yes, that.
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Unread 21st of June, 2008, 08:58
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So since we have no arcane caster capable of casting Identify, I had to find a way to circumvent the issue in order that they can know the properties of the loot they get. Especially since they won't have frequent access to towns.

So I created a set of magic items: 2 gloves and a Monacle.

When a wearer dons all 3 items and holds any magical item in his/her hands, she gets to make an Appraise check as though he or she had the Appraise Magic Value feat, as well as the requisite 5 ranks in Appraise, Spellcraft, and Knowledge Arcana. The roll is still based on the user's Appraise value, but I'm thinking of cutting down on the time required to determine the identity (Complete Adventurer makes the feat take 8 hours per item, and 25 gp of materials)

I'm thinking that the use of the set of magic items will cut the time down to one hour per appraise roll, and that the materials cost is waived.

Thoughts or comments?
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Unread 21st of June, 2008, 12:16
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The Monocle of Perusal Does exactly that. Well close to it, it gives the wearer a +5 comp bonus to Appraisal checks. That is continuous, and 3 times a day you can use identify. The monocle is in the tools section of the Magic Item Compendium.
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Unread 25th of June, 2008, 11:43
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can't seem to find it. Page number?
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Unread 25th of June, 2008, 14:29
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Unread 26th of June, 2008, 00:11
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MadDogMaddux
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Gottit, thanks!

Seems I was looking in Tools, not Clothing.
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