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BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
by Mark M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2021 05:26:24

I've just finished running a 7-part stream of BEOWULF Age of Heroes, and the excitement I felt when first hearing about it, and first reading it absolutely transfers to the table. This feels like the way we always imagined RPG stories to be, when we first crossed into this wonderful world of storytelling. (What, you mean there is a way to be the hero in the fantasy stories I love? Sign me up!)

The duet play mechanic is inspired, at once catering to our modern life where it is feasible to arrange one player at least for a game, but also catering to the ancient stories which were about one Hero. The follower rules give the hero help while leaving them absolutely in the centre of things, and the battles are cinematic and epic - fights against Sea Raiders are scraps with warriors brawling all over the beach, and fights against monsters shake the earth. If you haven't learned about the creature, studied its story, then you are doomed to die at its claws.

The superb art draws you into the world, and the wonderful introduction by revisionary translator Maria Dahvana Headley really sets the scene that the story of Beowulf is at once timeless and modern. I'll be playing this game for years.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
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BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
by Malcolm H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2021 05:24:07

Loved the intro adventure and was looking forward to the Core Rules. Did not disappoint! Great resource for 1 player 1 GM gaming. I've been looking for something like this for a long time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
by trevor a. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/19/2021 05:42:30

Amazing art and love the setting of the whole thing. Packed with ace dark ages themed inspiration. I ran the free adventure three times for different people and really look forward to running more!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Horror at Herrogate
by trevor a. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/19/2021 05:39:53

Love the horror theme and the interwoven history of the main foe



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Horror at Herrogate
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BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
by John G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2021 17:29:36

I went all in on the kickstarter and was super pumped for this project. BLOWN AWAY by the PDF. It's no surprise that the Beowulf epic was one of the inspirations for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Hobbit etc.

The system is clearly laid out, I love the changes. Makes a much grittier game of DnD that requires REAL logical thinking on the part of the player(s), rather than just rolling dice and adding numbers. The changes to combat rules have been streamlined - monsters can't be defeated until their weakness(es) are discovered, exposed and exploited, so fights feel much more like narrative based problem solving rather than.

Loads of awesome monsters, each with their own flavour.

We have been spoilt with the sheer volume of incredible art.

This feels like a real passion project, you can tell how much heart and soul went into this. Ibn Uthman has a special place in my heart.

Big thanks to Jon, Jacob and the whole team at Handiwork Games for making this incredible module.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
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BEOWULF: The Hermit's Sanctuary
by John G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2021 17:19:02

Haven't had a chance to DM this yet, but as a backer of the Beowulf project I was super pumped to receive this in my inbox. Love the module, its a really good primer for the system and the changes it makes to D&D 5e. The story is good for new DM's - it's straightforward so you stay on track with the module, a unique take on a familiar story, and has the right amount of colour and flare to engage the player(s) without distracting from the new rules. Huge amount of awesome artwork throughout, and I LOVE the maps with zoomed in bits. Great one to start with! AND ITS FREE :O



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: The Hermit's Sanctuary
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Beowulf Zoom Backgrounds
by John G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2021 17:11:32

I use these backgrounds on zoom, never fails to get a comment from at least one of the other participants!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beowulf Zoom Backgrounds
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BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
by Borja C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2021 11:05:01

Me encanta este juego. Más allá de lo bonito que es el arte (y lo acertado) que es el arte, Beowulf simplifica alguna mecánicas de 5a para poder potenciar otras, aumentando el grado de epicidad. ¿Por qué de eo se trata? ¿No? De ser un héroe como el homónimo Beowulf.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
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BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
by Hagai G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2021 04:45:21

"Beowulf" is an Old-English epic poem telling of the adventures of Beowulf, the hero of the Geats, who sails to the Kingdom of the Danes to defeat monsters. Although the story was created and told orally by pagans, it was first transcribed in the 9th or 10th century by Christians, giving the known version of the poem a certain amount of tension between Paganism and Christianity.

THE WORLD SETTING

"Beowulf: The Age of Heroes" conveys the spirit of the poem as a campaign setting for monster-slaying adventure role-play. The "Whale Road" world setting is a mythical version of northern Europe in the 5th to 7th centuries AD. Society along the Whale Road is divided into countless small kingdoms - more than it is possible to describing in a 270-page book. Therefore, "Age of Heroes" focuses on the atmosphere and providing tools for building different kingdoms for your game, instead of giving an encyclopedic overview of people and places. Beowulf: Age of Heroes provides an excellent toolbox for planning and describing rulers, commoners, settlement areas, wild lands and the lair of monsters, and can help any DM and almost any D&D game, including other campaign settings.

ART

Beowulf: Age of Heroes is a stunning full-colour book. Each chapter opens with a two-page spread; Each monster in the book, each NPC and each deity were given their own illustration. Other illustrations show landscapes, objects, vegetation, buildings, people and Classic Northern European iconography. There are no empty spaces in the book: wherever the text ends, there's an illustration to complete the page.

GAME SYSTEM CONTENT

The new "Crunchy" content of "Beowulf: Age of Heroes" can be roughly divided into three categories:

The first category is of content related to the world of The Whale Road: new equipment and magical treasures matching the technology and materials available in northern Europe of the 7th century AD; And the Monsters section, full of creatures taken from the folklore of Scotland and Norway. In addition to ~30 monster statblocks, the description of each monster includes a list of optional modifications and upgrades for the use of the DM. There is a clear explanation of how to change a regular bandit into a lame one, or upgrade a "regular" giant snake to a mesmerizing, intelligent giant snake. Some of the changes affect the creature's challenge rating, allowing it to be adapted to a wider range of adventure levels.

The second category is of adding mechanical complexity that does not exist in the basic rule of D&D 5e, mainly through new feats and new expanded rule for inspiration. Some of the new equipment increases the character's ability to trip opponents, disarm them, smash shields or turn critical hits into normal hits. The book also offers a great mechanics for social challenges and intrigue.

The third category deals with adapting the 5e system to duet play - with only one player character. Similar to the hero of the epic poem, "Beowulf: Age of Heroism" player character is mostly accompanied by a warband of followers. The rules for followers are simple: followers have several conditions, but no HP or Ability scores. They hardly make dice rolls, and when they do - they roll 1d20 with no bonuses. Is your follower particularly strong? He will get an advantage for strength check, but not a bonus for strength checks.

All of the new content connects seamlessly to the existing D&D 5e Basic Rule and are elegantly written. They do not feel detached from the rest of the 5e system.

NEW ADVENTURE

One chapter of the book is dedicated to a non-linear ready-made adventure. Without getting into spoilers - I think it's a great adventure, and can be relatively easily adapted in different ways to other campaign settings as well. The adventure is suitable for player characters of levels 1 or 2. The Introduction to this adventure also recommends checking out the free "The Hermits' Sanctuary" - which offers pre-gen characters, a shorter experience, and with clearer starting goals for the Hero.

FINAL VERDICT

If you are a 5e DM looking to run a duet play or looking for a game setting based on northern Europe of the 5th to 7th centuries AD, "Beowulf: Age of Heroes" is a must-read. The book is recommended and worth checking even if you are neither. 5/5.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
by Cassandra C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2021 16:22:21

Beowulf: Age of Heroes is an adaptation of 5E designed for two players: 1 PC and 1 GM. It takes its inspiration from the epic Old English poem Beowulf, as well as Anglo-Saxon history, but it is not tethered to either of those things. Here, the player is a Hero, coming from near or far and traveling the great Whale Road to hunt Monsters. You can certainly hit the books and brush up on the Roman occupation of the lands that are now Great Britain, for example, or medieval trade routes with kingdoms in northern Africa, but you don't need to. You can pile on the fantasy (and there is plenty to pile on), and shroud it all in the mysterious trappings of pure legend.

To help the Hero on their quest, they are accompanied by Followers, and here Beowulf shines with simple, clean mechanics to represent the aid of other characters assisting the Hero. Although they are emphasized as background characters in the text, it is difficult to play a session of Beowulf and not get wrapped up in the lives of your companions, which can become a game in its own right--at least the way most people I've talked to play it.

Hero creation is straightforward, as characters are assumed to be human, their place of origin does not matter mechanically, and instead they have a Hero class, with six potential subclasses each based on one of the six Ability Scores. For example, my Frankish Hero, Lindru, is what's called a Council-Caller by the game: she is wise and insightful above all else, sensing the hidden motivations of the Monsters and the people harrassed by them, but able to hold her own in a melee with the help of her Followers.

While the game is ultimately about monster hunting, there are solid, easy-to-use mechanics to represent social intrigue. It is hard not to populate a Mead Hall with sinister secrets all their own that the Hero must deal with on their way to victory.

I love this game. It is incredibly easy to pick up and play, because scheduling a game with one other person is degrees of magnitude easier than getting a whole group together, and you can often reuse the same prep-work with different players for entirely different results. The artwork is gorgeous and inspiring, and working on my own adventures has (happily) taken up a lot of my time since this released!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
by David C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2021 07:38:46

To start I am not a huge fan of 5e. I don't hate it, but it is not my system of choice.

That being said, I really like Beowulf: Age of Heroes. I am a long time fan of the poem, the Dark Ages, and heroic adventure. Beowulf hits these notes extremely well. It adds elements that bring the game into genre emulation of its inspiration.

First it is designed for duet play. One GM and one player. This replicates the structure of many tales of a single hero against monsters and perils. The hero is not alone however. Rules are given to provide teh hero with a band of Followers. NPCs who largely fade into teh background, stepping forward to offer assitance to the hero at need. This gives the player the advantages of having a larger party without having to constantly juggle a large stable of developed NPCs. There are rules for developing individual followers over time and even potentially promoting them to hero status of their own.

The setting is very much that of the scops' tales, not strictly that of history. There are monsters, dwarfs and elves, but they are not those of standard D&D. Dwarf and elves are not even given game stats, being creatures of mystery. Monsters come in two categories. Regular monsters which can be defeated with a sword, and Monsters which first require the hero to learn the specific means by which they may be vanquished.

The equipment list focuses on the arms and armor of the period. No plate or pole arms, Spears are ubiquitous, so much so that a hero is considered always able to grab one at need. Axes, shields, swords, helmets, and spears are given qualities that make them intersting and give differences one to another.

There are some fun tweaks to rules like Inspiration and Advantage. Inspiration recieves a pool which is divided between the Hero, the Followers, and the Monster. Advantage is combined with an Alignment die which if chosen as the result on a roll grants the Hero Inspiration.

Alignment is changed up. Characters may be aligned with the religion of the Book, the Old Ways, or Neutral. None of these is presented as better or more true. Each may offer advantages and disadvantages during encounters and adventures.

At the beginning of an adventure as Portent is generated. This is a couplet of phrases and determines the initial allocation of the Inspiration pool. It also provides atmosphbere and can be invoked to aid actions in accord with the Portent. The journey to the location of the main adventure is also influenced by the portent, with that shaping the nature of encounters on the Whale Road.

I would be remis if I did not mention the stunning artwork in the book. It is absolutely gorgeous and really helps to establish the feel of the setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Jon Hodgson Map Tiles Wave One & Wave Two Digital Pack
by Marc K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2021 17:19:44

The art in those Tilesets is great and not dominating, easily expandable with other assets. No question, it is good craftsmanship.

What puzzles me about this product is, if the create was oblivious to the fact that map tiles are placed next to each other. Some sets work together seamlessly, while others have obvious borderlines that are really disturbing the look of any battlemap, which is a real pain.

The forest tiles especially have a dark green border visible on most of the tiles which advertises when the characters move from one tile to the next.

It is still a good product and the price is a convincing argument, I would have appreciated a more seamless transition though.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Jon Hodgson Map Tiles Wave One & Wave Two Digital Pack
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BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2021 09:42:59

Beowulf is about heroic fantasy in the dark ages, using D&D 5e as a base. It has 3 goals it's trying to accomplish: low magic historical fantasy in the dark ages, support for solo play, and giving the feel of an epic fantasy. I feel like it succeeds in all 3 goals.

This is definitely lower magic; close to AiTM if you have that. Virtually no spells, just a few mystical abilities. Magical items exist but they're mainly weapons, armor, and protective talismans. There is one class, the Hero, which is close to Fighter. There are subclasses to take the class in different directions: strong, fast, stubborn, clever, charismatic, good leader. There are also seven backgrounds appropriate to the time/place as well. Equipment fits the dark ages, with no plate mail, more axes, and increased importance of shields. Money is pounds of silver and shillings.

There are a few changes to make solo play viable. You start with 10 + con score hit points. There are also ways to renew inspiration to roll with advantage more often. The biggest change is followers, your posse which give you abilities and save your bacon. Your max number of followers is your proficiency bonus + your charisma score. Followers, don't have regular stats; they're assumed to have 10 in all abilities and no hp to track. They have aspects which you can use as needed, like skills and combat abilities. Some abilities are at-will, some are once day. Some abilities give the follower a ~50% chance of dying.

The biggest issue with solo play the risk of everything falling apart when the character dies or goes unconscious. In group play, your comrades will probably save you. In Beowulf, followers play that role. Some can jump in front of an attack and absorb all the damage. Others will scoop you up and carry you to safety when all seems lost. These abilities can get the followers killed. This makes you feel loss beyond just your character as you grow weaker through the loss of followers.

To give the feel of an epic tale, Beowulf has a suggested story structure. You hear the call to adventure then gather your followers. Then roll for a portent, which affects the various inspirations pools which you can draw from if you can make it relevant to the portent. You pile into your longship and sail towards adventure, with stuff happening along the way (analagous to journey rules in AiTM). Your arrival is noted by a scout and you make your way to the meadhall, where most of the story unfolds. The rules make suggestions on what key NPCs desire and hate so you can work to get info or help from them, and maybe even turn them into a follower. Success in the adventure is strongly affected by how well you navigate the social scene in the meadhall.

Combat is a bit different because you are activating followers as well as taking your own actions. The big monster at the end of the story starts as undefeatable, taking only 1 pt of damage per hit. Like a classic monster movie, much of the adventure is learning about the monster to find their weakness. This makes the game about more than dpr; you are expected to engage with the story. The book has a nice list of period monsters with lists of what might be the secret to making then defeatable.

religion plays a minor role. There are two religions: the old ways and the church. Neither is presented as superior but some NPCs may like or dislike based on your religion.

The above is illustrated through the included 32 page adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes
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BEOWULF: Pregenerated Characters 2
by Anthony M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/14/2020 19:20:59

All these characters carry in them the unique foreboding mystery of the Beowful setting with backgrounds and art which alluded to both the fact and mythology of the Danes. While these may be 'just characters', I found the expanded the mood and fiction of the setting. And in the case of Wolf-Child introduces a warrior child who has pets (wolves) as followers. (If you have kid gamers, you know how important pets can be!) The only caution -if you are not up to speed on your Old Norse vocabulary or mythology, you may have to do what I did, and look up some words and name. (But no regrests, and I feel more Danish as a result! That's good, right? ) I paid the recommend $2.00 and feel it was coin well spent.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: Pregenerated Characters 2
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BEOWULF: The Hermit's Sanctuary
by Bill W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/12/2020 10:51:35

I recently had a chance to play Beowulf - The Hermit’s Sanctuary. I have been looking forward to this game for some time and so was excited to try it out, especially since it is designed for a GM and one player.

The game is built off of the 5e rules and so should be fairly accessible to many RPG players without much of a learning curve. I was interested to see how this would be handled, and I have to say, I think that what has been done really does make for a very playable and exciting experience for a single player.

Before I get into the gameplay, however, I would like to briefly discuss the setting and feel of the game. Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the story of Beowulf, or at least familiar that there is a story called Beowulf. I suspect that most people have never read Beowulf or if they have may have forgotten most of the details. Some may have seen the animated movie with Sean Bean and Angelina Jolie some years back. There was even an attempt to make a serialized television show back in 2016 (I tried to watch it and made it through about 1 ½ episodes). For those of you not up on Old English literature, Beowulf is an epic poem written sometime around 1000 years ago. It describes the tales of a great warrior and leader of men, Beowulf. He comes to the aid of a kingdom being slowly massacred by a horrible monster, Grendel. Beowulf confronts and kills the beast, and then has to go deal with the creature’s even more horrifying mother. And then years later Beowulf fights a dragon. He wins great honor and rewards his followers with rings and wealth. For some people it might be more helpful to explain that this game is set in a similar timeframe as the TV shows Vikings and The Last Kingdom (which is well worth watching) but here the monsters and myths are real.

In many ways it feels a lot like Middle-earth, which is no accident, since J.R.R. Tolkien was a scholar of Anglo-Saxon and formed the world-of Middle-earth out of a desire to create an English mythology based on Anglo-Saxon cultural elements. He even has a published translation of Beowulf and themes from Beowulf pop up throughout The Lord of the Rings. I’m sure many people know far more about this all than I do, but for people who don’t, I think it important to bring it up. In many ways, I felt like I could have been playing a Middle-earth game, or to be more precise, Beowulf felt a lot like the Middle-earth RPG games I have played, namely The One Ring and Adventures in Middle-earth, its 5e sister. I don’t think that that is an accident either. Jon Hodgson, who owns Handiwork Games wrote this with Jacob Rodgers. Both worked on the development of The One Ring and Adventures in MIddle-earth. To me it feels pretty obvious that they took what they learned from that experience, especially the 5e variant of the Middle-earth game and built upon it to create a really delightful game with Beowulf. It also has a lot to do with the artwork, which Jon has done for Beowulf. Those of you who know his unique style, especially people acquainted with The One Ring and Adventures in Middle-earth will get the sense that there is something very familliar here.

Perhaps I should mention here that I was introduced to the world of tabletop role playing games through The One Ring. I tend to feel more comfortable with games that are set in a more low magic or magic free setting. Beowulf is not a high fantasy or high magic setting. You play a heroic figure, but you are not casting fireballs or shooting lightning from your fingers. You are a human with human weaknesses facing off against supernatural creatures. You are also fighting them alone, albeit with the help of some followers, which I will get into momentarily. If you are comfortable with playing a game where the magic is a bit below the surface, then you might give this a try.

In the sample adventure, there are four pregenerated characters to choose from. There is only one race, human. I don’t know what will happen in the full game, but for now it appears there is only one class, the Hero. Alignment appears to be one of three choices, to the church, to the old gods, or unaligned. Because you are flying solo you get a health boost to your starting hit points. You have a boat, which plays a role in the adventure, and you have followers. Each pregenerated Hero has a different number of followers that they can retain.

So let’s talk a bit about followers. They are more or less controllable NPCs that can be called on for certain advantages throughout the game. Some also come with disadvantages, or “burdens”. Some of these are passive abilities, some allow the follower to get the player’s hero out of trouble or even take a blow for the hero. Some of these abilities will cause the follower to be spent and make that follower unusable for the remainder of the session. Followers can be killed or slain too. Basically, followers are Beowulf’s way of allowing a single player character to accomplish what normally would take a party of players. It is a very creative and useful system and I could see people adapting it for other games, like Adventures in Middle-earth.

Once a Hero is picked and followers are selected, the player then rolls a Portent. This is a four word phrase generated from a table that is used throughout the game to aid in roleplaying and also as a means of generating inspiration in addition to the traditional method. An example of a portent might be “Ruinous Wisdom, Ancient Hall”. This would be generated from a table by rolling dice. Each die roll also assigns an inspiration token to an inspiration pool. Some will go to the Hero, some to the Followers, and some go to the Monster. That’s right, the monster can get inspiration too, and use it to cause extra damage and destruction. In order to claim inspiration from the pool, the portent must be tied into the story in some meaningful way. I think this is a great way to encourage story telling and is very much in keeping with the style of the ancient epic poem from which the game gets its name. My one concern with this is that players familiar with the traditional 5e setting may not think to use this mechanic, or not feel inclined to focus as much on storytelling. I know in the game I ran, I had to remind the player several times that they had inspiration available, but even then, they were struggling to understand how to invoke the portent.

The adventure always starts with a sea voyage, just like the epic poem. The hero must overcome an obstacle at sea. This will feel very familiar to players of The One Ring or Adventures in Middle-earth. It is very much like a Journey Phase in those games. The result of the encounter (I assume the full game might have multiple encounters at sea, but the sample game has only one) will have some impact on the hero and the adventure, for good or bad. Then eventually the Hero lands his longboat at the destination and the second phase of the adventure begins.

Once the Hero arrives, an investigative phase begins. The player’s hero takes his followers and heads out to find out the nature of the monster they are hunting, search for clues as to how to defeat the beast, and deal with whatever NPCs might be hanging around wishing to help or hinder the player. It appears that this is where the bulk of the time in the adventure will be spent. In Beowulf, Monsters aren’t to be trifled with. Your hero is a party of one, and no matter how brave, it is impossible to walk into the lair of a supernatural beast and slay it without first uncovering its secrets. I really enjoyed this part of the game. There are clues hidden everywhere and the hero must piece them together in order to have a chance against the monster. I liked the fact too that there was a built in urgency. The clock is ticking. You don’t want to rush in before knowing what you were getting into, but you also can’t just sit back and wait. I thought this sample adventure was very well written and enjoyable with plenty of paths for the player to reach the goal. It will be interesting to see how future adventures are set out and what kind of guidelines for creating adventures will be included in the core rulebook.

Finally, the hero will have to come face to face with the terrifying creature that is causing all the problems. This is intentionally a challenging fight and will take creative and well timed use of the followers and their abilities to overcome. The Hermits’ Sanctuary seems to strike a good balance of having a challenging not impossible fight for a single player. I did like the fact that combat does not bog down with a single player, they are always engaged.

I would say that even though I have been waiting for this to be released, I was pleasantly surprised that I found Beowulf even more enjoyable than I had hoped. It is often difficult to get a group together to play a regular tabletop session. A single player and GM seems much more likely to happen for me, and that is an advantage this game has over others that I want to play.

I love the setting, although as is probably obvious, I really like the time period and shows like Vikings and The Last Kingdom have probably piqued my interest in a game like Beowulf. I would recommend this to someone who is up for a little less traditional 5e experience who would like to focus a little more on character and story and less on slashing and looting everything that moves. After all, this is a game based on an epic poem. It is all about telling a story; a story about epic sea voyages and hideous monsters and heroism. I really did enjoy it and would encourage others to download the Hermit’s Sanctuary and give it a try.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BEOWULF: The Hermit's Sanctuary
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