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Seventy and Sevenfold
Publisher: Aegis Studios
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2014 08:25:04
Exploring the underbelly of the city in the shape of a district called Westmore, against a backdrop of a sudden plague of house burglaries and rising gang activity, this scenario can serve as an introduction to Contagion 2e or further an existing campaign.

Westmore is the sort of neighbourhood that even police officers drive through in numbers and without stopping, but fortunately up until now the spate of burglaries, although unpleasant, has not resulted in any deaths. But now the demise of one elderly homeowner unleashes an unprecidented terror that neither gangs nor police can contain... perhaps this is something more suited to the specialist skills of the party?

Several hooks are provided to get the party involved. Maybe they knew the deceased, or have some involvement with the gang that controls Westmore, the South West Crew. Or they may just be in the area and get caught in the crossfire... it's up to you to decide what will work the best.

The adventure itself is left open-ended: it can develop in a number of ways from the initial premise. What's provided is the initial set-up, details of the area and notes on the major players in the area. Just mix in your characters and stand well back. If you enjoy this kind of loose structure to your games, and are able to take these details and run with it, you should be in for a good game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Seventy and Sevenfold
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks so much for your excellent review! Glad you enjoyed Seventy and Sevenfold!
21 Plots: Samaritan
Publisher: Gypsy Knights Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2014 10:22:01
Here's another collection of plot outlines, this time linked by the common theme of the Patron needing help. Well, all Patrons need the party's help, that's why they hire them, but in these cases it is the more traditional use of the word 'help' - someone who actually needs (or appears to need) assistance.

Presented in conventional style for Traveller, each outline is given as it appears to the characters coupled with six possible outcomes/developments. The Referee can choose the one which appeals most, or roll a d6. These outcomes vary widely from 'Just as it appears' to something completely different.

Possible adventures range from rescuing kidnap victims to dealing with outbreaks of disease and helping spacefarers in distress... a real range of different situations. There's even a missing cat to find! Any or all of them should provide for an entertaining episode in an ongoing campaign. Many of the outcomes give suggestions as to future ramifications, generally gaining a contact or an enemy from amongst the involved parties.

Some of the situations make reference to various worlds within Gypsy Knights's published Clement Sector, but if you are not using that it will be easy enough to pick suitable worlds within your own campaign. Indeed, if your players are inconsiderate enough not to go to the 'right' world in the Clement Sector, again you could change to a more appropriate one if that's the adventure you want to run.

Overall, a fine collection of plots in true Traveller tradition.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
21 Plots: Samaritan
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Iron Bay Megatropolis
Publisher: Louis E Danhoff - AHC
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2014 09:34:14
All superheroes need a ‘patch’ to patrol and protect, so here is a new place for your ‘heroes to call their home. It’s located in Virginia – a change from the spate of west coast settings for superhero games, yet not quite the Gotham City/New York style metropolis either.

Beginning with a detailed history which mixes real history with fictional events well, we learn a lot about this new home. The occasional typo sneaks in, nothing that a thorough proofread would not have caught, but otherwise it is comprehensive and well written, with not only the history but major corporations and a very detailed education system being covered as well.

Now I initially got confused with the Table of Contents and page numbers (it only seemed to go up to page 9 in an 80-odd page book…) but this is due to the final work being several documents stitched together, each with their own Table of Contents – again something easily corrected with a good editorial eye being cast over it all before publication.

The next section looks at Megatropolis, a completely fictional addition to the area (earlier bits having at least some roots in the real world). Again well described, this has more of the feel of the ‘traditional’ setting for a superhero game. As befitting such a massive conurbation, the write-up is replete with details of companies, municipal authorities (including a police department struggling a bit with metahuman perps) – even an innovative tailor store chain (now, do they just do business suits or can their tailors run up a nifty little number in spandex?) and restaurants… and of course a major newspaper. Sports fans can follow the Megatropolis Knights football team, whilst the more active can train at Martial Arts Mayhem, a massive dojo complex.

Flavour is provided by well-chosen photos, plenty of original graphics and even a column by the major newspaper’s lead op-ed columnist. This is followed by a selection of notable residents (including said columnist) written up in detail for use as NPCs, including ICONS stat blocks. Most of these are the local superheroes, people well embedded into the setting. You may have them around to interact with the party, or you may choose to play them if you like characters who are really part of the environment in which they operate.

Finally, what is promised as a story idea is actually a piece of fiction - you'll have to pick through it and extract what you want to turn into a plot for your game. A separate document in the download provides a comprehensive map of the city.

Overall, this has the potential to be an interesting setting. The way in which several superheroes have been embedded into it is good and provides a fair few ideas for things that might be going on in town.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Iron Bay Megatropolis
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Battlemap : Mountaintop Oracle
Publisher: Christian Hollnbuchner
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/05/2014 09:42:36
Presenting a suitable setting for a climactic battle or some strange goings-on, this battlemap depicts a strange construction on top of a mountain. Given it's supposed to be on a high and rugged mountain, you might well wonder how it got there in the first place.

The centrepiece is a bronze brazier, arround which there is a double ring of marble monoliths. In turn this structue is surrounded by rough rocks through which you have to scramble to get there (and which will provide excellent cover once combat breaks out).

There is a good illustration that shows what the oracle looks like, and the traditional top-down battlemap view presented in both a multi-sheet version to print and stick together or a single giant image for those wishing to use a virtual table top.

Illustration is crisp and clear, and gives a good feel for the place. One might have expected a few drifts of snow, but maybe that's part of the mystery: why such a high point is without snow... particularly if the party has had to fight its way through snow drifts to get there.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Battlemap : Mountaintop Oracle
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Avalon Quests, Adventure #2
Publisher: Avalon Game Company
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/05/2014 09:01:48
Utilising an innovative system to enable a single player to participate in a full-blown party-style Pathfinder RPG adventure without even benefit of a referee, this is no mere 'adventure' but a full-blown campaign with a whole bunch of things going on to get involved with. There are places to visit and people to interact with, a whole complex world in which your party can wander.

Narrative is atmospheric and interesting and despite the mechanical constraints, even combats have the potential to be interesting as the set-up and opposition tactics are well explained. Most come with a map showing the starting positions of both sides, giving considerable scope for the development of party tactics, and there are frequent opportunities to insert a random element to opponents' behaviour to keep things lively.

A nice touch is the addition of 'Friendly Encounters' which add interest along with considerable variation introduced by various rolls and tables to determine both precise who is encountered and what their response will be. You can meet caravans, mercenary bands, military patrols, rangers, travellers and more - but with several pages to determine the precise nature of each encounter there is massive scope for variation and realistic interaction.

Naturally, there are also 'Unfriendly Encounters' - those where there is a strong potential that the meeting will end in violence. After all, meet a bunch of goblins and it's likely to end in a brawl! Still, there is scope for variation - they might, if they spot you first, choose to evade an encounter. And if all this wasn't enough, there are also random monsters to be found.

Complete with a tracking sheet and the all-important hex map upon which all this adventure occurs, if you cannot find anyone to play with here's something to keep you entertained. For that matter, if you are short of ideas for a game, you could use the randomised encounter generation system and other elements to put something together for a more regular group.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Avalon Quests, Adventure #2
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Dead Light
Publisher: Chaosium
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/03/2014 12:53:28
On a dark and stormy night... here's a chance to spring a sudden and horrifying Mythos event on your Investigators as they're scurrying through the rain on a rural road just outside of Arkham. Suitable for a one off game or as a side-adventure to throw into your regular campaign, it involves the party quite literally running into a chain of unnatural nightmarish events that threaten both their sanity and their very lives.

As said events are under the direct control of the Keeper, you can make this potentially deadly or merely very, very scary as you prefer.

The backstory is suitably dark yet coherent, fitting well with the locale and the individuals involved. Getting the investigators involved requires no more than them happening to be driving on a wet and stormy evening... hence the suitability of this adventure for just dropping in to an ongoing campaign. It is a location-based adventure and fairly free-form - what happens after the initial encounter will depend on how the investigators react. Support for the Keeper is excellent, however, with plenty of resources to enable you to handle just about anything that the investigators might decide to do. There is also some good advice about how to run the adventure, driving the action forward and maintaining suspense while allowing time for investigation. Much of it is good general advice for how to introduce and manage the appearance and effect of any horror, and well worth reading by any GM wishing to improve on this aspect of their game.

All the NPCs are presented in full with loads of background to help you portray them appropriately. Whilst designed for the latest edition of Call of Cthulhu (7e), there are notes to help you if you'd rather use an earlier edition.

Hmm. It's not raining (yet) but I think I'll go round up some players...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Light
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From Gaza with Love
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2014 10:35:21
From Gaza with Love is a classic spy/thriller adventure translated into the cyberpunk setting of Interface 2.0. Wealthy Russians, deserts, kidnappings and a plethora of other folks interested in what the party is up to make for an exciting time for all... and enough twists and turns in the plot to keep conspiracy theorists happy.

The initial situation is simple: a Russian lady living in Gaza with her new lover has lost her children to kidnappers and quite understandably wants them back. A wealthy friend will pay the party's fees as leads take them to Israel and out into the desert. The children's father is the obvious suspect - but is he the real villain of the piece?

There's plenty of scope for investigation and for meeting some of the colourful locals as the party works out what is going on and begins to track the children's location. The trail can lead to such diverse locations as a traditional Bedouin camp and the high-tech city of Tel Aviv in Israel, with the concomitant customs and laws to negotiate - anger Bedouins or Israeli security forces at your peril! There are plenty of potentially influential people to impress or annoy should you be planning further adventures in the Middle East.

The adventure is reasonably well-resourced with appropriate floorplans and the layout of the Bedouin camp, but if you are unsure about the spatial relationships between Gaza, the Negev and Tel Aviv you will have to look up a map on your own. The various folk encountered are detailed well, with good references even for the 'cannon-fodder' so you can locate appropriate stats in the core rules and apply any necessary modifications easily.

Exciting classic thriller with the feel-good factor of rescuing some youngsters from a fate worse than death.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
From Gaza with Love
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Quickshots: Nightmares & Relics
Publisher: Peeper Corner Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2014 09:25:04
OK, so you have a big book of monsters - in this case Bestiary 4 for the Pathfinder RPG - but what are you going to do with them?

If you want more than just plonking a monster in front of the party for them to fight, but do not have time to figure out full-blown encounters, have a look in here. There are twenty monster-driven encounters here, some are just about a mini-adventure with a single monster antagonist, others are just something the party may come across when they are doing something else entirely. All draw on the particular focus of Bestiary 4, the creepy nightmarish things that develop from evil events or which crawl in from other planes.

For each monster, there's some descriptive text that may be what the characters come across or perhaps it provides some background. There are notes about what is going on and how you can involve the party; and there are several variants of the encounter so you can pick the one which suits the rest of your campaign best (or. of course, the version that takes your fancy!). Whilst you'll need a copy of Bestiary 4 for full effect, critter stat blocks are provided here, although the full details of the creature in question will be found in the pages of the Bestiary.

To make it even more useful, there is a set of separate 'character sheets' for every creature that you'll encounter in these pages as well as all the relevant Hero Lab data files if you use that system. There are three versions of the main document too, as well as the usual full version and a printer-friendly one, there is one with all the stats omitted just giving you a collection of encounters.

The encounters are inventive, many are capable of being developed into a short adventure in their own right or of being woven into an ongoing plotline should you have time and inclination. Otherwise, you can just have them pop up 'as is' whenever you feel things are getting dull!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Quickshots: Nightmares & Relics
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Shadowrun: Missions: Critic's Choice (5A-02)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/01/2014 10:57:09
A delightful ramble through the Chicago Containment Zone where there's always something to do even without the plethora of Johnsons seemingly lining up to hire the 'runners. There are places to visit and contacts to make, as well as nuyen to be made... and even the chance to be Good Samaritans along the way.

Most times, the 'runners get a job then others approach trying to hire them to do it differently. Not this time - they get one job and are then approached to do another job that'll work in tandem with the first. Not bad, one run, 2 paychecks!

There are plenty of contacts, useful contacts, to be made during this adventure: it's well worth keeping track of them (as player or referee). Some interesting locations that you might want to use again too.

Everything is very clearly laid out, making it very easy to run this adventure. It's broken down into discrete scenes and each scene has information to give to the 'runners, background for you, all the game mechanics needed to resolve likely situations and sections called 'Pushing the Envelope' (extra challenges if required) and 'Debugging' (for use when the 'runners do the unexpected). A 'Legwork' section at the end gives you loads of things that the characters can find out, should they take the trouble to do some research or go rumour-hunting. There is also full details on everyone they'll meet during the adventure to supplement the summary information in the body of the adventure.

There are no maps or plans, but the adventure doesn't really need them. There's plenty of descriptive material and if/when a brawl breaks out it is likely to be in close quarters and all you'll really need to know is how people are arrayed with respect to each other.

Overall, a fun adventure that gives the feel of poking around the CZ well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Missions: Critic's Choice (5A-02)
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Space Station
Publisher: DramaScape
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/30/2014 09:59:52
You can get starship plans a-plenty for your SF game, but space stations are less common. So it's good to have a comprehensive and versatile one...

This one is pretty good as far as it goes. There are five levels in all and something called an 'outer platform' which is a little unclear as to what it is for, precisely. The bulk of the cubic is in two accommodation levels, one designated officer country with space for four of them along with kitchen, wardroom, conference space, a couple of offices and the mysterious Alpha Core. The other is much more cramped with space for 48 crewmen. They get a kitchen, mess hall and a large but shared bathroom space (officers have en suite facilities). The other three levels are a medbay, a bridge and the security facility, complete with a cell block.

As well as the usual overview there's a second one which shows what the individual spaces are - the main version, used in all the scale drawings, has drawings of the furniture and other fixtures and fittings rather than labels. The full-scale drawings come in single sheet (for virtual table top use) and in 3 forms of page-by-page - square grid, hex grid and plain. The single sheet versions are plain and ungridded, one sheet per level. These are all 'line art' blueprint style rather than photorealistic, of course, fitting in with other issues in this series. I find the drawings less crisp than I'd like, but they give a good impression of what's where.

However, what sort of space station is it? What do all those crewmen do? There are no work areas, no docking facilities, nowhere for visitors to go... it feels like you have only got part of the picture, that this might be the resident staff block of a larger space station rather than the whole thing.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Space Station
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Publisher Reply:
You know when you really need a way to sneak in and there is that coms array you have seen with an airlock next to it, well thats the outer platform.
Direlock Base Class
Publisher: Forest Guardian Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2014 11:40:15
Some people are just a bit creepy. There's that certain something about them that sends a shudder down your back, that 'someone walked on my grave' feeling.

Magnify that effect a couple of hundred times, and you have a direlock. Intimidating by their very presence, they add an aura of eldrich energy that fair crackles around them and have a habit of wielding disturbingly large and spiky swords. They disrupt magic that's cast in their presence or cause other effects by use of 'inimica' - supernatural spell-like abilities that are learned as the direlock rises in level.

Using a 'dire pool' - mechanically, points that can be expended to create various effects - the direlock powers a series of 'incunabula' and is even able to cast a limited number of spells. Arcane in the main, although if a divine patron is chosen, the direlock may access a divine spell or two as well. Another power is the 'dire mantle' which absorbs magical energy thrown at the direlock or his party.

The role of the direlock is complex but potent. A good fighter and feared by magic-users as the magic they rely on can be twisted, backfire or be negated by their powers, common folk often misunderstand their fearsome often dark appearance and think them allied with demons or worse... but they're not. (At least, not unless they so choose - this is a class which can be of any alignment.)

Some favoured class bonuses are provided - just about any race spawns the odd direlock (although I'm not sure I could take a halfling direlock seriously....); and there are several archetypes to try out as well.

This is an original idea for a potent base class, quite unlike the regular run of classes, and should prove fun to play... and perhaps even more fun as an NPC against a party that's never heard of one before!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Direlock Base Class
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #66.5: Doom of the Savage King
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/28/2014 11:43:28
Demonstrating the trademark player-character 'funnel' of Dungeon Crawl Classics, this adventure is for 6-12 first-level characters, not all of whom will make it out alive. Hopefully a few will survive to tell the tale...

Set in and around the village of Hirot, the party will first gather information and rumours concerning a dire beast, the legendary Hound of Hirot, and be persuaded to deal with this menace. There are clues to gather as to various artefacts that might help, then off to actually find them (the dungeon crawl bit) and finally to the Sunken Fens to face off against the Hound. Ought to be simple, right?

The village is well-described, it's easy to get the flavour of the place and the people who dwell there. The rumours flying around are many and varied, and it is made clear which ones are true and which false (well, to the GM anyway, the party will have to draw their own conclusions!). Interestingly, from the outset the party needs to make moral choices as to their actions, embedding them into the ongoing events rather than leaving them as spectators. NPCs and encounter locations are provided in abundance: it's hard to realise that all this is packed into a mere 16 pages (yet it doesn't seem cluttered, cramped or overcrowded either).

Maps are plentiful as well: the village, the surrounding area and of course the integral dungeon crawl segment (couldn't be without that, what?). Everything you need to run the adventure - detailed locations, believeable NPCs and a few hideous monsters to bash - is provided. All in all, a good introduction to Dungeon Crawl Classics.

And this being a revision? I'm afraid I never saw the original version, so cannot comment on how it's been improved. Suffice to say, this rendition is excellent fun!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #66.5: Doom of the Savage King
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Ingenium Second Edition Quick Start
Publisher: Silver Gryphon Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/28/2014 10:46:01
At some 90-odd pages, this is more substantial than most Quick Starts, indeed it is more of a preview of the entire game.

It begins with character creation and takes you through the Three Words mechanic in detail, showing how the words you choose to describe the character's controlling trait (the thing he's known for: wise, strong, cunning, etc), his race and his profession to generate his Attributes (there are nine of them) and guide you through the other selections that you need to make. With this, unlike most Quick Starts, you not only know what's on the character sheet and what it means, you can actually create a character from scratch.

Once character creation is done, there is extensive explanation of how task resolution and combat work. This is followed by magic - including the interesting snippet that using magic bleaches your hair and eyes! (I think people might mistake me for a mage in this world if you look at my hair!) In designing spells, again a Three Words system is used - it's wonderful for those of us who like to design our own spells, but there are plenty of examples for those who want them ready-made or need examples to get them going.

There is a chapter of monsters and a whole adventure as well... by the time you have finished reading, never mind playing, you will have a clear idea of what Ingenium 2e has to offer and if its unique and elegant style will suit the games you want to play and the way in which you play them.

Overall, if epic fantasy is your gaming choice, this elegant yet powerful system provides a good mechanic to power your games.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ingenium Second Edition Quick Start
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Chapel Perilous
Publisher: Assassin Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/27/2014 11:28:09
Fancy a heist adventure with subtle undertones of something that wouldn't be out of place in the TV show Leverage, all in a fantasy setting? In a few short sentences the scene is set: a mysterious and powerful artefact has fallen into the hands of a fellow who has been making money out of warfare and off the backs of the downtrodden citizens in the town he rules, and your party has been hired to, ahem, acquire it. It's thought he's about to sell it on, so there's just one chance - he's throwing a party for notables from far and wide at which it is believed he'll be selling the item, and his guard may be down enough for the party to sneak in.

The background gives names and circumstances, but they are easy to change to fit in with your campaign world and its history. Likewise, you know the party and who is likely to hire them, but a range of suggestions (which can, of course, be twisted to fit) are provided to get the ball rolling.

Once we get to the main location - this warlord's plush manor house - the descriptions are rich and vivid, bringing the place to life in your mind's eye. It's up to the party how they get in - wangle invitations, present a fake one or sneak in, perhaps - and many of the likely options are dealt with in a series of notes to help you react appropriately with all the information that you'll need as they make their preparations to attend this prestigious event. Security is tight, so the party will have to be imaginative with their approach... and then it's likely that they will have to behave like regular attendees for at least a while. There are plenty of resources in terms of rumours and NPCs to test their social skills.

Those who prefer more in the way of combat should not fret, they will get the chance... and yet the scenario offers options such that everything could be resolved by persuasion and negotiation in the rather unlikely event that your party is that way inclined. Without giving too much away, the climax of the event is a gripping hostage situation that creates more problems of its own.

There are a few flaws in layout and proofreading, but nothing that renders any part of the adventure unusable. Floorplans are simple but clear, there's a DM version and one for the players.

Overall, this is an exciting adventure with plenty of scope to turn it into a really memorable event in your party's lives, even that of their players - the sort of adventure that will be reminisced about for years to come.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chapel Perilous
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One Knight Games, Vol 1, Issue 6
Publisher: Avalon Game Company
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2014 10:52:25
If you enjoyed the first future-tech cycle-racing game (One Knight Games Vol.1 Issue 3) this is a continuation of the story with a new set of challenges on and off the track. However, there is sufficient background given for those who have not played the first game to get involved and enjoy this one too.

The backstory remains the same, a Kid racer who is taking a seat once held by his (or her... there's a kind of assumption that it's a boy but no particular reason for this) father and who has to fend off both corporate interests and other more experienced racers to succeed. One player takes on the role of the Kid - if you played the first game, you'll already have him set up and ready to go. A second player has the role of his race partner, an older and more experienced racer; and there are additional racers provided should you have more than two players.

The scenario involves a lot of corporate dealing and two complete races, with plenty of scope for the racers to get involved... and a bit of skulduggery for good measure.

The package comes with full rules for racing, track designs for the two races and tiles to build them on your tabletop complete with a colourful array of racer tokens. Excellent for an evening's entertainment - focussed on the actual races, but with enough role-playing to take it beyond a board-game racing simulation to something in which you can really get involved.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
One Knight Games, Vol 1, Issue 6
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