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  • Seeking Suggestions - Wizards of Aus players stay out!

    So, I've been looking into starting a new game lately and, for a while, I've wanted to set a game in Australia. I've managed to get the base setting concept down but I'm still struggling with the rest; looking for ways on how to tie it together. For once, I'm sort of out of ideas; there's something critically missing from the setting and so I thought I'd see if anyone else had any better ideas.

    In brief, the setting such as it is consists of about 50 Mages in the province of New South Wales, with the prime Consilium in the region being the Shorewind Parliament, centred in Sydney. Of that fifty, there are about twelve Seers, twelve libertines, five each of the Diamond Orders, and a handful of solitaries. These are rough numbers all around, since I will inevitably tweak them as-needed. All six Orders (Pentacle + Seers) have Caucuses in the region, and there's about five or six cabals.

    There are two big Mysteries in the setting; the People of the Path and the Drinker. I also need to apologize here to any native Noongar language speakers; I am going to be butchering your language a bit.

    The Drinker, or the Gallang Gallang (Cicada), is a posited cosmological necessity. The ley lines of Australia are unlike those found elsewhere in the world; they are "thin", carrying their resonances too quickly across the landscape to allow them to settle and well. In the rare few places they do well up, they inevitably form rivers or oases, and such places are often seasonal. Hallows are rarer still; Mages are lucky to find one, yet alone enough to sustain an entire Consilium. And when they do appear, the Awakened often have... Competition.

    This fast-running flow is also tied to the fact that the ley lines appear to converge somewhere off the eastern coast of Australia, between it and New Zealand. No-one has yet found where they converge - they appear to do so underwater - and all attempts to go seeking it usually return empty-handed, if they return at all. Given that attempts to divert the ley lines away from this point often result in violent disturbances that return them to this balance - coming with associated disasters like dust storms, droughts, and forest fires - the Awakened have named this seemingly intelligent phenomenon The Drinker. Aboriginal Mages, of course, have dealt with the phenomenon far longer and come to a similar conclusion; naming it the Gallang Gallang after the way cicadas suck at the roots of trees.

    The People of the Path, or the Bidee Noongar, are something of a result of this phenomenon. In the few places Hallows do occur, they frequently coexist with Astral or sometimes even Supernal Verges. Within such places dwell creatures that are not quite spirit nor goetia nor flesh nor anything else. Most Awakened believe them to be some form of lesser Bound, as these entities have manavoric natures; devouring the Mana from the Hallows greedily as soon as it is formed. Even the weakest such creature is also frighteningly potent; few Mages are willing to risk direct confrontation for the prize they guard. Instead, Mages broker deals with these beings; service and protection in exchange for Mana. These patron spirits will often even provide direct boons for particularly useful servants. Finding such beings is difficult, though, and the oaths of service they extract can be quite burdensome. Still, they are free with their Mana once appeased and cabals which strike such deals can often share it out in the form of tass to others; something that only adds to the power gained by binding oneself to a patron spirit.

    ---

    The political landscape has, at its heart, a Consilium called the Shorewind Parliament, which is more or less a mouthpiece of a predominantly Ladder/Mysterium cabal called the Noble Scales of the Black Adder. The current Hierarch is White Sands, a Malay woman of the Mastigos Path, and the Deacon of the local Ladder Caucus. If a Convocation is ever called, she will likely be appointed to the Magisterium.

    The Adders are one of the foundational cabals in the region. They arrived in the early 1800s, veterans of the Nameless War, looking for a fresh start. The initial cabal was called the Brotherhood of the Adder's Tongues; the name itself derived from an epithet that they turned into a badge of honour. If the Nameless would call them snakes, they would make snakes into a symbol of nobility.

    (Of course, that wasn't what the libertines were calling them; adder's tongue is a name for an herb that acts as an emetic. The libertines found swallowing the speeches of the Adders as pleasant as eating the herb.)

    The cabal became the Noble Scales of the Black Adder shortly before the 1920s, with the admission of its first female members. The cabal has always had a reputation for rigid but generally fair application of the law, backed up by a small armory's worth of magic. It brought with it a handful of artifacts and a small library of grimoires when the initial cabal arrived from England and has used its superior access to training and resources as a bludgeon to allow it to maintain its position of primacy ever since. That it controls perhaps the only Hallow in the region not claimed by one of the People only adds to its prestige. It's said the Sydney Opera House was constructed at the cabal's insistence predominantly to try and anchor some ley lines in the region and, thus far, they've managed to not stir the Drinker's ire.

    The other major cabal in the region, meanwhile, are the Swamp Padfoot; often simply called the Dogs. Primarily libertine, their founding goes back to before the first Consilium, when the region was undeveloped and full of Nameless cabals which lived in relative anarchy. The Padfoot are ascendant largely because they live out in the bush; away from the institutions that protect and enforce the will of the Adders. What they lack in practiced talent, they make up for in their numbers, lack of fear towards the use of violence, and the eponymous Padfoot, their patron. Padfoot is the Dingo, or simply the Dog; protector of Man, hunter of prey, creator of rocks and ochre. Padfoot is a wise but violent patron, who demands the enforcement of his Law through violence. For that reason, the Swamp Padfoot have a reputation for rough justice; chasing down abusers and punishing them for their crimes. This extends to the Awakened as well, with the Padfoot always seeking to make a show of enforcing their law. Importantly, not Consilium law, but the law of Dingo.

    The Padfoot also frequently end up adopting children who show an interest in the supernatural. This adoption can extend from simply mentoring kids who need an adult presence in their life to outright kidnapping the child. Since the kind of child who would end up sneaking around in Padfoot territory is probably not the sort being raised in a stable home to begin with, this is easier than one might think.

    ---

    The biggest recent magical kerfuffle was back in the 1960s, in something called the Vendetta Incident. A cabal of Mages known as the White Maws had accepted the patronage of Dembartmungah; Old Man Fish Trap, the greatest of Great Whites and father of all sharks. Dembartmungah is a bane of all Mages in the region; ancient, enormous, and seemingly able to appear wherever he likes, he is the likely cause why so many expeditions to find the Drinker fail. The White Maws, however, had earned his patronage; using their roles as lighthouse keepers to pick out victims for sacrifice. It's unknown how long the cabal was feeding blood and souls to their bloody god but, eventually, they got too greedy; conjuring a storm and sinking a ship seven miles off the coast that led to the deaths of at least fourteen people. When a Guardian informant (a Sleepwalker with a sensitivity to ghosts) aboard the H.M.S. Vendetta came across the wreck before the evidence could be destroyed, they quickly informed their masters and, before long, the White Maws were caught.

    The White Maws were captured, tried, and sentenced to death for their actions. To silence the ghosts of their victims, they were taken out to sea, tied to an anchor, and thrown into the shark-infested waters.

    To this day, the Guardians are bitter about the whole thing. There are only four Guardian Mages in the whole state. Recruiting is damned near possible. They need more resources to ensure something like this never happens again. They're also less than happy with the system of chiminage that exists between many Mages and the People.

    ---

    So, that's a reasonable summary of the major details of the setting. I have more on most of the Orders, but that's as much as I feel as is needed to get a proper view of the landscape. There's meant to be a kind of country mouse/city mouse tension going on, but that's just a tension, not an open conflict.

    What I need is conflict. Something for the Awakened to be fighting over reasonably regularly but without quite bringing it to open war.

    I also need other ideas for the People; patrons for the cabals.

    My players are interested in a game with cabal rivalries and Artifact hunting, so anything on the latter category would help too. The Astral is likely to feature prominently in this, as the People of the Path are blatantly derived from the idea of the Dreamborn in the Dreamspeaker Legacy.

    So. Suggestions?

  • #2
    This is a very cool setting with a unique Mystery, kudos! Would play a game here.

    I don't know anything about local lore and mythic associations so I don't have specific People ideas offhand, but that's a great opportunity to put a face and location on an abstract conflict between groups. Brainstorming ideas:
    • One of the People dwells in a particularly inaccessible Hallow-Verge: thorny brambles, aggressive wildlife, bottom of a steep ravine, etc. To make it easier to access, an enterprising Mastigos has established a permanent Co-Location portal between the Hallow and their comfortable Sydney sanctum. The portal is Keyed to those who pay the Mastigos for access rights. But as it turns out, the aggressive wildlife around the Hallow-Verge includes a species of Goetic spider that weaves Twilight webs over sleepers, harvesting the Willpower they regain from dreams and leaving emptiness and nightmares behind. The spiders are slipping through the portal into the sanctum's neighborhood. Having evolved to only rarely prey on the dreams of Outback travelers, they're overfeeding in an environment with so many unprotected sleepers- maybe they're multiplying, or evolving into something more dangerous. Are they magically getting around the portal Key, or did they pay the Mastigos in dreams for safe passage in exchange for Hallow access? Does the Mastigos cooperate when the PCs try to clean up the spiders and trace their webs back to their portal? What if they're offered a regular supply of Tass to keep it quiet while the Mastigos and/or their cabal "handles it internally"?
    • Through some cruel joke of the gods, a mortal(?) serial killer in Sydney has gained access to an Artifact knife that translates people into Death ephemera when they're stabbed with it. Stop the slasher, get the Artifact, find the wandering and traumatized victims and return them to the physical world.
    • One of the People serving as patron to a cabal is acting strange and erratic, taking a different shape, and making dangerous but not completely unreasonable demands of its mages. Bring it minor magical items as tribute, bind the spirits in the area to its will, deface a monument in the city center with its sigil, etc. What's going on? The cabal downplays the changes and says they're studying its evolution, and besides, why throw away a source of Mana? The cabal's rivals suspect that the being has been corrupted, possibly by an Acamoth (since its actions don't seem to make sense according to its own mythic symbols and usual People behavior), but is it just a power play to claim the Hallow-Verge for themselves? Maybe the errant cabal are Libertines and the understaffed Guardians want the PCs to help them evict the cabal and end the relationship. Or maybe it's a pylon of Seers, and another pylon quietly promises an Artifact for the PCs if they clear out the rogues as a deniable operation.
    • This seems like a good setting to adapt La Vouivre from Summoners, a strange draconic entity that mages regularly summon to hunt for sport and harvest for Tass and sacraments and magical venom and other goodies. Maybe it's an Atavism being called from a specific Hallow-Primal Wild Verge, and there's a whole ritual around its hunting ground. Or maybe, as written, it's from some unknown place that doesn't appear on the Awakened cosmic map. How do the PCs feel about the hunting of this entity? Do they seek to put a stop to it, or join in for those precious magical prizes? What if a close friend or Mentor formally invites them to join the hunt?
    • The ley lines are running thinner than usual, and there's less Mana to go around (Hallow ratings drop by 1). After some investigation in the outback, it turns out that one of the lines is being redirected to an occulted structure in the middle of the desert. The God-Machine has built Infrastructure to imprison some unknown cryptid or other weird entity, and it's drawing on the ley line for power. Do the PCs try to disable the facility to return the lines to their proper (read: useful for mages) position? What if the unknown thing is being imprisoned for a good reason? If you don't want to introduce G-M stuff, this can also be Seers imprisoning a Bound. I just have this image of a big purpose-built track in the middle of the outback where a superfast monster is kept running in circles forever.
    • A wise but sun-baked hermit known to certain elder mages, who spends most of their time alone in the outback, is passing through Shorewind territory for the first time in ages. The hermit supposedly has much to teach, but their Azoth burns hot and causes Disquiet and Wasteland wherever they go, potentially poisoning the mages' territories and their precious Hallow-Verges. They are willing to talk and discuss the world, but adamantly refuse to leave before they accomplish what they came here to do. Unfortunately, they don't actually know what that is yet. But don't worry, they're willing to wait. The cabals and their various patrons have differing opinions on what to do about this source of wisdom/imminent environmental catastrophe. Generally, the People want the hermit to fuck off ASAP, while the mages are more curious. This could provoke or kick off a deeper rift that turns into open conflict. Do the People have the right to tell mages not to pursue their Obsessions?
    Last edited by Caladriu; 01-28-2017, 04:36 PM.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Axelgear View Post
      What I need is conflict. Something for the Awakened to be fighting over reasonably regularly but without quite bringing it to open war.
      Maybe the ley lines are all messed up, resulting in a vastly diminished number of Hallows, and 'something' nearby causes those new ones created via Prime to wither and die? It gives something for Mages to fight over (they're extremely useful) without coming to war (there are lots of other ways to get Mana). It also adds another Mystery for players to pursue if they're so inclined, one that could help shape the region significantly.

      Edit: Caladriu had a similar idea above. Teaches me not to read suggestions before making my own. I still think I'd go with reducing the number/frequency of Hallows instead of reducing their ratings if you want it to be significant enough to cause conflict in the region.

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      • #4
        Yeah Inodiv's idea is better, cutting off access to Hallows altogether is a good way to kick the hornet's nest and create some angry and desperate mages. I think a good hook for this setting would be resource scarcity, environmental destruction, tragedy of the commons, etc. But y'know, with magic.


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        • #5
          This has actually given me some pretty great ideas already, thanks!

          As an aside, the ley lines are already kinda messed up, and the number of Hallows is already pretty diminished. At present, the only one I have in mind for the entire region is in the hands of the Adders.

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          • #6
            Myself, I would made Hallows and Ley Lines as instant torrents rivers - going on and off again, changing their paths, sometimes without reason. Australia is a bush, low rain in it are norm, sweet water is very important inland. Ley Lines are reflecting Supernally this. They stick in one way for few years then suddenly switch. And your newest Hallow is not powered by Lines then...

            When running my Ayers Rock/Uluru story, I made it holy site of Dreamspeakers, communing with Dreamborns, what Rainbow Serpent was leading one ( and secret Archmage, but it was necessary of chronicle here ). Using Astral and Dreamborns should be fun and logical - maybe just let Dreamborns to become more physical than in other places on Earth, by Australian Mystery.

            And last but not least - I think you need proper Nameless Order, probably based on Dreamspeakers dogma. Some of Mage conflicts are based on colonialism, as even Diamond Orders were created by conquering Empires of Alexander and Rome. Having organised local Aboriginal mages to counter surely Diamond ( and even probably Free Council ) would nicely show you this. And this Nameless Order could have all the lore you need for stories about Dreamborns, but do not want to share with white Ausies. Instant conflict over Obsessions and players would need to talk with weird indigenous Awakened!
            Last edited by wyrdhamster; 01-29-2017, 02:50 AM.


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            • #7
              Axelgear, I got you covered here.

              Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
              Nameless Order - Dreamspeakers
              Dreamspeakers Legacy is said to hail from various shamanistic traditions, connecting holy men with so called Dreamborns in Anima Mundi – gods of Dreamtime. This Nameless Order is template for those aboriginal cults that you still can found in heart of Africa, Australia, Oceania, North and South America. From Age of Exploration, Mysterium were doing extensive research on them, seeing some universal patterns in those primal communities, but most of them over throw people that were studying them and their ‘white magic’. When come Nameless War and many of those indigenous communities were endangered, future Dreamspeakers joined Nameless and later Free Council as Libertines. Still, there are enclosed communities in world that did not welcome both Diamond or Free Council and they stick to their own belief in Dreamborns.

              Order Tools: Admission of entheogen, Ritual dancing, ???

              Initiation
              1: High Speech Merit ( as Dreamborn Tales or incantations )
              2: Dream 1 Merit
              3: Familiar 2 Merit ( as servant to your Dreamborn patron )
              4: Astral Adept Merit
              5: Summoning – Highest shamans can summon their Dreamborn patron by connection it have with it. It works like Supernal Being summoning, only as powerful goetia, Dreamborns do not have Manifestations, so they linger in Twilight near shaman and do not lose Corpus or Mana from time spent in Twilight.


              Conquest of Paradise - Fan Dark Era about Portugal and Spain conquests in XVI century - Mage & Beast ( & Hunter )
              My Hubs - MtAw 2E Legacies and System Hacks & WtF 2E Lodges and System Hacks
              MtAw 2E - History of Awakened - (almost) canonical game timeline of events

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              • #8
                I think you should consider connecting your setting to British colonial times by putting traditional Guardians and Arrows cabal that is based on Australia as prison colony. Maybe they look for the way to lock all the local Bound in to safe custedy.


                Conquest of Paradise - Fan Dark Era about Portugal and Spain conquests in XVI century - Mage & Beast ( & Hunter )
                My Hubs - MtAw 2E Legacies and System Hacks & WtF 2E Lodges and System Hacks
                MtAw 2E - History of Awakened - (almost) canonical game timeline of events

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                • #9
                  Is this a primarily Outback game? Also is this historical, or modern day?

                  I mainly ask because NSW (which is a State, not a province) is home to like 7.5 million people, and Sydney as a city is a smorgasbord of races, cultures and creeds (marginally less than 50% do not identify as having Australian/European heritage), which makes having about 50 Mages (and only 12 Libertines, when Australian 'culture' strongly involves flipping the bird and the high and mighty) a bit odd.

                  It works well for your Hallow scarcity bit too. Without as many Aboriginals (mostly Proximi) to tend to the leyline system through traditional practices, it's grown tangled and chaotic which fucks with the connected Hallows. And with so few keeping the old ways (and even less holding true to the ones that actually work) there's little way to fix it. Also if Sydney itself has very few Hallows, then that provides ample opportunities for arrogant Sydney mages to drive/teleport out into the outback and less settled areas and fight with one another over control of those Hallows there.
                  Also in the Outback, Spirits have an easiser time manifesting than in a cramped, overcrowded city like Sydney, which would leave that a more capable option.

                  Also I'd suggest going against any "colonial" references. It's been over 115 years since Federation, and even longer since Australia was a prison Colony. Also Mages-as-Prison-Wardens isn't really symbology most Australians would like. Being the Prisoners, and making a new life for themselves? That's what people are proud of (though since when have Guardians ever cared about that).

                  Apologies for my potentially unhelpful questions, but as a Sydneysider I'm just trying to wrap my head around some of your setting stuff. So once again, apologies.

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                  • #10
                    The game is modern and set all across the state (terminology got mixed up; I'm used to thinking in provinces). There's members of the cabal in Sydney, but their sanctum is waaaay west, out where the dirt turns to stand. They've got a Mastigos who handles teleportation to facilitate easier travel to and from Sydney, though.

                    As for having 50 Mages... That's actually pretty normal. Mages aren't that common. The Greater Boston region has a similar population in a smaller space and it only has a few dozen Mages. The Awakened are an infinitesimally small fraction of any region. New York is one of the most ultra-dense regions in canon, it spills over all the way from New York City through New Jersey, and it only has 200 Mages in a region whose population approaches 20+ million.

                    On the topic of libertines, remember that twelve Mages represents >20% of the Awakened in the region. They're not exactly underrepresented when there are six Orders in the area. The idea, as well, that the libertines are the only Order that represents sticking it to the Man is not the case.

                    The rest... Hoo boy, there's a lot to go into there but, suffice to say, Australia's colonial past is present as a feature - just as the Chinese migrants in the gold rush or the Afghani camel riders are - but is most certainly not a theme. Australia's a lot older than the century and a half Europeans have inhabited it.

                    Anywho... The game's already started and had its second session. I might put up an Actual Play or something once the first adventure is over.

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                    • #11
                      This is a fantastic setting you've made Axelgear.

                      I am a bit curious about the 12 Seers of the Throne that are in the setting though. Mostly because they are my favorit Order, but also because they're usually great sources of conflict. Are they part of a single Tetrarchy that encompasses all of Australia? Or a Lesser Ministry that specifically has it's power base in the Provice of New South Wales? Do they have any of the People as contractors, they would never use the word patron after all , and if so do these entities have any allegiance to the Exarchs?
                      Last edited by Dusksage; 02-26-2017, 06:38 AM. Reason: Spellcheck

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HerbertIsBestBert View Post
                        which makes having about 50 Mages (and only 12 Libertines, when Australian 'culture' strongly involves flipping the bird and the high and mighty) a bit odd.
                        People frequently forget that the Guardians have been sticking it to the man since before it was cool.

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                        • #13
                          I think numbers only really become an issue for the Seers because you kinda need people to fill out those ranks otherwise it looks kinda silly. Although you can certainly play the Seers as a black box that the players never directly interact with.

                          Although I do like the idea of a tertrachy of NSW consisting of four tetrarchs with two subordinates each.


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dusksage View Post
                            This is a fantastic setting you've made Axelgear.

                            I am a bit curious about the 12 Seers of the Throne that are in the setting though. Mostly because they are my favorit Order, but also because they're usually great sources of conflict. Are they part of a single Tetrarchy that encompasses all of Australia? Or a Lesser Ministry that specifically has it's power base in the Provice of New South Wales? Do they have any of the People as contractors, they would never use the word patron after all , and if so do these entities have any allegiance to the Exarchs?
                            Glad you like it! I should probably put more detail about it in the thread, since it's been expanded upon since I first posted this.

                            To answer your questions about the Seers... There are two tetrarchies in Australia, mostly because the vast majority of the country's population lives in NSW, Victoria, and Queensland (17 of the country's 22 million people). The first tetrarchy is the Pedestal of the Cataract, which, despite the name, is heavily in thrall to the Unity. Their primary pylon is in Canberra, where one of their members is outright a senator from NSW; Noah "Fraternitas" Lachlan.

                            (One of the player characters, who goes by the Shadow Name of Rex, also used to be a senator and was good friends with Noah until he realized just how hollow the Seers were. Noah saved Rex's life after the man's rejection of the Seers, asking his superiors to give Rex time to come back to the fold.)

                            The Cataract is something of a caricatured Tory government on its face - a group of bastards in suits talking about how if the poor didn't want to suffer malnutrition and rickets, maybe they shouldn't have decided to be poor - but they're really playing all sides of the equation. Their goal isn't to have the conservatives win because winners might actually learn and do something about it. Instead, it's to keep everyone angry and blaming one another instead of coming together for common purpose and discovering empathy. These are the bastards who send in their own cultists waving the black flag to smash property at a peaceful protest; they pour money into tabloid news that complain about immigrants taking away jobs and unemployment benefits (at the same time, apparently); they just as eagerly organize groups with behaviours outside the mainstream, so that people who think that taking away food from poor families is bad can get outraged, but not quite enough to be willing to be seen with people wearing rainbow wigs.

                            Keep the people divided and they'll always be blind.

                            So the idea goes, anyway.

                            The other tetrarchy is the Dust Mandate, and covers pretty much the entire western half of Australia. It's ruled by the enigmatic Lord of Dust, a tetrarch and likely Archmaster, whose own goals are far more mystically orientated than the Cataract's. The Lord of Dust is the encroaching desert; the whipping dust storm; the burning heat; the eternal drought. S/he wishes for Australia's draining by the Drinker to progress, and so commands Seers to agitate, distort, and disrupt ley lines through everything from altering city planning documents to conjuring storms.

                            When it comes to the People, different pylons have different approaches and different People have different responses. The Canberra pylon, though, gets its mana from an entirely different source; one of the greatest works of geomancy in the region; Canberra itself. The entire city is one enormous anchor, binding and bending into a foul pattern that prevents the lines from flowing. It's as much to blame for rising droughts and forest fires and coral bleaching as much as global warming, as it drains off the already slow trickle heading to the coast. Not to mention the effects such pooling resonances have on the human minds in the area.



                            It was meant to be something grand and glorious, and the Seers killed it in the cradle, turning it into an enormous mandala from which Mana drips into their waiting, hungry maws, and the Pentacle seethes over it to this day.

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                            • #15
                              I just want to jump in, before reading any posts, and say that the chronicle name is brilliant. Bravo.

                              And having now read the posts, the setting is A+ too. But mostly the name. I really liked the name. :P
                              Last edited by Tabanese; 02-26-2017, 04:39 PM.

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