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Author Topic: Is this Forcing?  (Read 8428 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2005, 04:50:01 PM »

Quote from: Wolfen
If that's all it is, I'd be tempted to say "Yeah, it was Force. So?" Whenever the point comes up.

Good question. Is it perhaps that everyone is applying force in small degree's all the time ("My character sits at the end of the table (which means yours can't)). But basically everyones force is usally equal...and what were talking about here is apply an exceptionally large share of force, relative to everyone else? I'm prolly wrong, but that's the destinction I'd make.
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ptevis
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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2005, 06:19:59 PM »

Quote
Paul, I accidentally called you Grover for some reason. Sorry 'bout that. Has this exchange been interesting or helpful to you?


No problem; he was always my favorite Sesame Street character.

It has been both interesting and helpful. I thought about this further while I was offline, and I seem to have come to the same understanding. If had worked things out so that someone eventually had to kill Ananda, regardless of what the characters chose to do in the scene in question, then that would be Forcing. If, on the other hand, they didn't kill Ananda in that scene and thus Creation was destroyed, Ananda berated them about how they had failed their fallen brothers, and thus the annhilation of reality was on their heads, but they couldn't kill Ananda to fix things (which was the other possible outcome) then that isn't Force. Agreed?

--Paul
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Paul Tevis
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2005, 09:16:03 PM »

Hello,

Lots of short stuff to reply to.

1. Lance, you seem to be surprised that the term Force does not ultimately give us the ability to say "that's bad" or "that's good." To me, that's a feature, not a bug, of the definition. Force is, as I've written, usually rejected violently by role-players who favor Narrativism. (In fact, Marco's example seems to back me up on that.) That doesn't mean it's evil or wrong, and it's mighty handy - although I personally happen to think the Participationist version is socially healthier than the Illusionist one.

As for your basic question of what "use" is it, and now that I've clarified that a term doesn't have to be a badge of Good or Evil in order to be useful ... the term is incredibly useful for helping people understand why others seem so unreasonable during play sometimes. I, for instance, would have looked Paul straight in the eye during the play of that scene, if I'd been present, and said, "Bullshit. Don't jack us this way." And I mean, it would've been serious.

I think this might be an important avenue for you to keep focusing on, because it's clear to me from your Dogs discussion that you are very, very accustomed to having control over scenes' outcomes as a GM, to the point where playing otherwise just seems weird or somehow unworkable.

So you say, "Yeah, it was Force. So?" just as you said. And yes, that is a good question. But be ready for someone in your group say something like, "And that's why it sucks." There is no better indicator, in all of role-playing, that a group contains a serious Creative Agenda conflict, usually involving dysfunctional Narrativism.

2. Callan, Force is all about taking over others' characters when a CA-relevant decision or action is on the line. It'll always be a situation like Paul was describing, although not always as climactic as his was.

So no, people are not using "minor bits" of Force on one another just because, for example, they are narrating what their characters or doing. Nor is scene framing typically an application of Force, although a skilled Forcer can use it that way. This is a very common misunderstanding of Force, by the way, that any input into play by a GM must be Force.

Also, yes, I was working inferentially when describing the instance as Force. If you look at my first post, you'll see that I acknowledged this from the beginning. That's why Paul's responses have been very important; I'm not sitting in the Odin chair and proclaiming "There I spy Force!"

3. Paul, I'm not sure if I've managed to get across that, based on your descriptions and responses, you were indeed utilizing Illusionist techniques, and you were indeed applying Force.

And like many GMs who've become good at this, you've also become good at "branching" and "Plan B," or at least not letting yourself get flustered if the players break the plan.

So yeah, if no matter what, Ananda gets waxed, then it's definitely Force. We're good with that, I think. But I really want to emphasize to you that your alternative is no alternative at all! It's basically just a scolding that they should have cooperated!

(Jesse Burneko, are you out there? This is just like your robot Queen Victoria campaign in Castle Falkenstein, which we discussed by email years ago. A binary choice at the climax is no choice at all, especially if one of them includes "oh, and the world blows up, you feebs.")

Contrast this with Marco's example. Marco, as far as I can tell, you were not doing the "Force Plan B" thing with your rats - because in your game, I think, you would have been accepting the alternate theme and appropriate climax that the players evidently preferred. In running Sorcerer, I call this "Never argue with the word of God."

Best,
Ron
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2005, 10:01:21 PM »

...Ack. I give. Every time I think I have a handle on it, you say something else that makes me wonder.

From what I was reading prior, any time the GM did anything to encourage an outcome he prefers (something I consider, as player or GM, to be totally within his rights, and as a matter of fact, part of his responsibility as a fellow player in the game) then it would be Force.

Now you're saying specifically that it is not Force every time a GM acts.

So color me confused.

As for comments about what use it is: Basically, if a definition does not allow us to make a judgement based on our values, then it's not a useful definition. From what you're saying here, I gather that I'm totally not grasping it, because you mention that those with Narrativist-style values will make a "bad" judgement on acts which fall under Force.

Oh well.. I think this is just going to be one of the Forge concepts I never fully grasp.

Thanks for trying, Ron.
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~Lance Allen
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ptevis
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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2005, 12:09:30 AM »

Quote
So yeah, if no matter what, Ananda gets waxed, then it's definitely Force. We're good with that, I think. But I really want to emphasize to you that your alternative is no alternative at all! It's basically just a scolding that they should have cooperated!


I'm not sure I follow that. Let me abstract it for a moment. What I set up was basically "If you do X, then A happens. If not, B happens. As a consquence either happening, you'll find out what the alternative would have been, which might seem better by comparison, depending on how we addressed Premise." I certainly would have liked for A to happen, but B is fine to. This doesn't seem like Force to me.

Now, applying that to my game, X is clearly "kill Ananda." A is "Creation is saved, you get your vengeance, but you all die horribly and have your names forever blackened." B is "due to your unwillingness to die horribly for vengeance, you will live, but Creation will eventually be destroyed."

How is "You chose not X, so B happens, and you'll get scolded about not achieving A" Forcing? Isn't that just pointing out to the characters what the consequences of their actions are? Given that X is the last choice in the whole game?

--Paul

--Paul
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Paul Tevis
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ptevis
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2005, 12:19:25 AM »

Quote
A binary choice at the climax is no choice at all, especially if one of them includes "oh, and the world blows up, you feebs."


The way I see the scene is asking the Premise-addressing question "Are you willing to sacrifice yourself and deal a horrible blow to the universe in order to fullfill your vow of Vengeance?" That's necessarily a binary question; either you are or you aren't. I certainly would have preferred the answer to have been "yes," but "no" was also an acceptable answer. So why is a binary climax not a climax at all?

--Paul
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Paul Tevis
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2005, 07:12:37 AM »

Hiya,

You guys are getting into a zone which can be very, very difficult to escape from, and which usually takes months of dialogue even for the person to realize they're in it. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to satisfy you at all. Let's try one more time.

Lance, there's a difference between a value judgment inherent in the definition, vs. a value judgment that a person then may make about the thing, based on his or her preferences. There is no value judgment about Force inherent in the definition. However, every single role-player in the world will bring in a value judgment about Force in a particular instance or in general, based on his or her preferences.

Imagine ... oh, an unusual sexual act. We can give it a name and define it, on paper, clinically, so that whenever we see any act, anywhere, we can say whether this real act is or isn't to be identified as the one we've named. Right? Pure definition, pure observation, pure identification.

But everyone out there can say either (a) "Ooohh, kinky," with a wicked smile; or (b) "Gross! I'd never!" with that 'how could you' look on their face. This is a matter of preference and value judgments, and, I'd suggest, not just a matter of "well everyone has an opinion" either - I'm talking about real values with real consequences in the real world.

Paul, addressing Premise means really addressing it during play - and reserving the "question asking" for a climactic battle decision in the final part of the final session of the game isn't enough. And furthermore, not letting the players know they're engaged in such a question, until after it's over, is not enough.

Many GMs who utilize Force a lot are very fond of tossing binary decisions at their players, and also very often just as you describe: about an NPC who is sending them constant mixed messages and has an agenda for them to do something "for their own good" without telling them.

Let's look at the basic story you guys made - who's the protagonist? It sure isn't the player-characters; it's Ananda. He made the hard choice. He sacrificed himself for Creation. He accepted the price of manipulating these Nobili, and put the plan into action at some risk.

To you, the player-characters were chances for his plan and his story to work out, and you were committed to seeing this through. Yes, with risks (their unpredictable behavior), but that only made the spice of playing his story, as your player-character, all the sweeter.

As for the Force itself, look back over your first post - you'll see, I think, that your presentation really focuses on what you wanted to have happen, and how far you were willing to go in order to make it happen ... and the real clincher, that you were successful in doing so.

So what is the deal with the binary decision, then? I think you may have missed my point, that it's not the binary quality in and of itself that connotes Force, but rather the major effort you were prepared to put forth to see one side of the decision get implemented. Until we can discuss this, then the points I want to make about the timing and the binary nature of the "decision" (because it really wasn't much of one, was it?) can't be addressed.

Best,
Ron
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Marco
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« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2005, 07:53:41 AM »

Lemme take a stab at the is-it/isn't-it question. Ron can determine if he think's I'm on the money.

1. Force is defined as controling a CA-relevant action on the character's part away from the player's control. This may be in the sense of "making the character do X" or "Preventing the character from doing Y" or "Arranging it so that even if the character does A,B, or C the outcome was still the same as if they did X."

1.a. Implicit in this is that if the GM prevents an action through Force it must be an action that could have happened but for the GM's intent to use Force. That is: If a player says "My normal guy picks up THE MOUNTAIN RANGE!!" and the GM says "No, he doesn't." That isn't Force. Normally that couldn't happen.

1.b. Also implicit is the intent on the part of a GM to Force the "CA-Relevant" action. That is: If the GM has decided that there simply are no widgets in the whatsit and the character is seeking (and does not find) a widget then there was no real "intent" and it's not Force.

1.c. Force was first, and is most often, discussed in context of dysfunctional Narrativist play. I think this is key to understanding it's origins and maybe it's usage. While I don't know how Force is functional in, say, Gamist play (or how controling a CA-relevant action in Sim play is acceptable if the player disagrees with the direction taken) I think that there's some value to looking at a potential use of Force and saying: "Did this disempower the player and/or did this action mandate theme in a way a hypothetical Narrativist would dislike?" This is tricky: Part of the answer to his is unclear to me because the thread on Participationsim never went anywhere.

2. I think a great deal of confusion is that "what a CA-relevant action is" has a lot of gray-space. In my example (convincing the Mayor) *I* wanted a story with a stronger climax which brought in my cool NPC's and explained things (as opposed to a wrap-up which didn't really "resolve things.")

I think the players were immersive and simply wanted to prevent the end of the world (I don't think it's proper to say they'd have *preferred* the ending they were driving towards--I don't think they were thinking in those terms. I could be wrong, though).

Also: important to *my* example is an aspect of empowerment. The PC doing the convincing had sunk many points into being attractive and persuasive. I do not think this was done to game-the-system: I think that it was done to have an attractive character. However the character had, IMO, a fair expectation that a persuade attempt would work.

If I had invoked the "You can't persuade Named Characters" rule it would have been "acceptable" (the Mayor is certainly in the super-set of people who might be Named Characters") but I, as the GM, knew that while he didn't like the characters much, a well made offer of help during a crisis would be evaluated would be subject to his consideration and therefore Persuade-attempts seemd legitimate.

So here's the thing: I could've
(a) Prevented the characters in a "forceful" manner and if they were interested in getting a good climax it could have been judged to have not controled a CA-Relevant Action since the players were just "trying to solve the problem" and my steering the game towards a more interesting thematic question (not "Can you convince the mayor?" but "will you risk you and your friends for a shot at saving humanity?") might be judged "GM facilitation of Nar play." That is: the GM has the authority to rule that the game isn't ended on a roll (and the rules *explicitly* did give me that power) so the GM invokes that given power to keep the developing themes healthy.

(b) Prevented the characters in a "forceful" manner and because they felt disempowered ("He's just nullifying my action for *his* story!") then it would be judged a dysfunctional event and therefore probably Forceful.

(c) Prvented the characters in a "forceful" manner but they are okay with it because either they think that's what would really happen (so it's considered, by them, functional Sim--maybe) or they are trusting my judgment/leaving the story up to me in which case it is probably indicative of functional Sim since that is rarely considered the attitude of a Nar player. [NOTE: I think "calling this Sim" is a bad idea but it gets the point across about this not being Dysfunctional under some circumstances.

(d) Prevented the characters in a "forceful" manner and had them be unhappy because the theme they were producing with the attempt which was: :: thinks :: "How much will I risk (public humiliation) to set things right?" In this case, if I *denied* the roll, I am removing the risk entirely (no chance of success) and therefore stuffing the question at it's genesis.

Note: I think that people might judge (a) NOT Force. I think (d) is *classic* Force. I think (c) is why people say Force is "okay with Sim" (but I'm not sure that's a good perspective after reading the bricolage threads). I think that (b) is seen as dysfunctional Force but is often more about feelings of disempowerment than, say, "production of a unified theme" (if he player just felt he should get a damn roll it's not necessiarily thematic) and without knowing *why* the GM did it (which we do know here) it's a tough call.

Therefore: In the case in this thread the action is Force or not based on GM intent.

1. The GM had a stated intent to have a specific outcome.
2. The GM was willing to manipulate the game space in a highly specific way to create that outcome.
3.a. If we judge that the GM would not have stopped at simply *tempting* the PC, but rather would have worked coveretly with the original intent to continue tempting the PC until either the game broke down or the PC acted on the temptation then: YES. Force.
3.b. If the GM stated that this "was it" and "if the PC didn't take the sword and kill the guy then the test was passed and the game would run to its logical conclusion" (the end of the universe) then: NO. Not Force.

The dividing line is whether or not the initial intent extended to the control of the action which in this case is deemed CA-relevant (although we don't know what the CA is, it sounds thematic).

We also don't know if this was dysfunctional since the players might be okay with being "Forced" to take the vengance steps.

Finally: if the player came here and said "I kept going give me the sword, dammit. And the GM just keeps on doin' this other raising the stakes stuff and I'm all 'I'm there, man--let's go to climax! GIVE me the SWORD'." Then I think it only tenuously qualifies as Force. If the GM and player are both prepared to go full-out for the same thing in a game, even if the GM is prepared to use Force to do it, I'm not sure that the "taking control" aspect can ever actually be said to happen.

:: whew ::
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hello,

Lots of short stuff to reply to.

1. Lance, you seem to be surprised that the term Force does not ultimately give us the ability to say "that's bad" or "that's good." To me, that's a feature, not a bug, of the definition. Force is, as I've written, usually rejected violently by role-players who favor Narrativism. (In fact, Marco's example seems to back me up on that.) That doesn't mean it's evil or wrong, and it's mighty handy - although I personally happen to think the Participationist version is socially healthier than the Illusionist one.


Lotta people have told me they think that game is Sim (from the write-up). But whether it is, or it isn't. I can say for certain that that I was concerned about the themes involved in the story. I was concerned about un-wanted anti-climax, and I was concerned about keeping my 'GM-oath' of not screwing the players on a judgment call because of my story-concerns over their (i.e. everyone playing has an equal right to a cool story if they care).

Whether or not my players were thinking in terms of theme or whatever, *I* would've considered it bad form to reject the *chance* of a roll just to push things in my direction.

Quote

Contrast this with Marco's example. Marco, as far as I can tell, you were not doing the "Force Plan B" thing with your rats - because in your game, I think, you would have been accepting the alternate theme and appropriate climax that the players evidently preferred. In running Sorcerer, I call this "Never argue with the word of God."

Best,
Ron

The final Rat attack was simply "part of the situation" (in fact, it happened in the game but the PC's were there with a small, armed, army of people and the mutant rats were simply swept away). If the climax had been lacking drama, I would've probably played up the attack as much as I could (played combat music on the computer when the battle was joined, used spooky descriptions prior to the fight, etc.) But in terms of an "invention" it was more along the lines of "we have established monsters in the desert" and "if you go there alone you may get monstered."

So yeah: it's not Plan B. It wouldn't likely have had much impact other than ending the game on a slightly higher note than "Okay, make some science rolls! Yeah? You win!"

-Marco
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ptevis
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« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2005, 08:42:33 AM »

First, thanks to everyone who's stuck with me on the discussion so far. I think discussion is really useful to me and my gaming.

Quote
Paul, addressing Premise means really addressing it during play - and reserving the "question asking" for a climactic battle decision in the final part of the final session of the game isn't enough. And furthermore, not letting the players know they're engaged in such a question, until after it's over, is not enough.


I'd like to think that this is merely the last in series of asked questions, that throughout the course of play we continued to up the ante while asking, "Is revenge worth this?" And I know that the player who actually killed Ananda knew that such a question was being asked, as she told me about it afterward. As a side question, does the presence of hidden consequences interfere with the Premise addressing issue?

Quote
To you, the player-characters were chances for his plan and his story to work out, and you were committed to seeing this through. Yes, with risks (their unpredictable behavior), but that only made the spice of playing his story, as your player-character, all the sweeter.


Interesting. As this is not what I intended to do, and not what I believe I was doing, how would I have avoid it?

Quote
As for the Force itself, look back over your first post - you'll see, I think, that your presentation really focuses on what you wanted to have happen, and how far you were willing to go in order to make it happen ... and the real clincher, that you were successful in doing so.


You're right, and looking back my initial post, I've noticed that I had a real concern with the way the session was run. I had intended to create a Premise-addressing climax, and I initially thought I had, but I'm not so sure anymore. The real question for me now is how could I have created a real Premise-addressing climax?
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Paul Tevis
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2005, 09:58:53 AM »

Hey Paul,

I'd like to think that this is merely the last in series of asked questions, that throughout the course of play we continued to up the ante while asking, "Is revenge worth this?"

If the players had ever answered "no" to that question, what would you have done?

Paul
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ptevis
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« Reply #25 on: February 18, 2005, 10:34:48 AM »

Quote
If the players had ever answered "no" to that question, what would you have done?


The intermediate questions? I don't know exactly, but what ever it would been it would have followed from their answer. I know I wouldn't have gotten to the same ending session. The only reason that I put such a situation in front of the players is that I knew that they were likely to kill Ananda, and I thought they'd appreciate the consequences. If they'd said no to the questions earlier in play, we likely wouldn't have gotten to that point.

--Paul
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Paul Tevis
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Ian Charvill
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« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2005, 11:44:27 AM »

Quote from: ptevis
When we started the game several months ago, we decided to organize it around the theme of Vengeance. As a GM, I tried to add little revenge motifs to the game, but the action centered around the characters' plans to avenge the deaths of their Familia. I tried to be very hands-off in letting the players dig themselves into holes on their own, but when it came time to wrap things up, I came up with an idea that I thought would provide a nice thematic capper for the game. I made it happen last night, and I'm trying to figure out if I Forced it or not.


If I could but in with a pretty elementary question:

How long before the final session did you come up with the idea for the thematic capper -- i.e. how many sessions did you have to do stuff to 'make it happen'?
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Ian Charvill
ptevis
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« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2005, 12:16:23 PM »

Quote
How long before the final session did you come up with the idea for the thematic capper -- i.e. how many sessions did you have to do stuff to 'make it happen'?


I came up with the idea with two sessions to go.

--Paul
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Paul Tevis
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ptevis
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« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2005, 12:19:34 PM »

Quote
I came up with the idea with two sessions to go.


To give a sense of perspective, this was in the context of a fourteen session game.

--Paul
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Paul Tevis
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ADGBoss
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« Reply #29 on: February 18, 2005, 01:46:11 PM »

Paul

forgive me for jumping in at such a late date but I had some commentary which I hope is relevent.  I will try and be brief.

Quickly I will just say, to answer the question Did you use force? Yes I think you did.  That is not judging it as good or bad, just saying yes I think you did.

However, to fullly understand all of this myself, I need to ask a question.

The ending confused me. What was the purpose of the Characters and the Game? To save creation? To understand Sacrifice i.e. dying even though they saved creation? To understand the price of revenge, which turned out to be death?

Did the Players know that seeking and fulfilling their revenge would lead to their deaths? Did they know that not seeking revenge would lead to creation getting axed? Was the Player who killed Lord A even aware that he was guilty of anything when she offed him? Afterall, he did just stand their mute.

Did Lord A tell them, with his dying words, "Creation is saved, but you are doomed for killing me?" Also why did they all have to die?

See my feeling is that a binary choice CAN be a choice if the consequences have meaning.  Frankly here, the Players simply chose their way to die, there was no way out and frankly, however realistic it may be that sometimes Damned if you do and Damned if you don't, I personally would have let creation go bye bye for putting me in that predicament.

So a bit more clarification if you could on what the Players and their Characters were aware of.

Thanks

Sean
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