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Author Topic: [Bronze] magic and 'magic items'  (Read 20698 times)
stefoid
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« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2006, 03:33:02 PM »

Hi!
  Another way to dissect this issue is to ask practical questions:
1) What do peasants want from a Magic User?
2) What do craftsmen want from a Magic User?
3) What do soldiers want from a Magic User?
4) What do nobles want from a Magic User?
5) How do Magic User's make thier money? (I mean they have to eat don;t they?)
6) Do Magic Users really distinguish themselves from other Magic Users? If so, why?
7) Is the Magic of different Magic Users really different? If so, why?
  Forget about the rules, and just answer these in reference to the setting. Then come back and make rules that match.


your right there.  This is the path Im going down currently.  Perhaps the major problem is that magic use in the setting is just still in the process of geling in my head.
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contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2006, 02:18:20 AM »

Stefoid, you are going to have make some decisions on the above questions.  Saying its the route you are going down does not help, but these are only indicative of POSSIBLE routes.  You still have not told use what role you WANT magic to play in your GAME; instead we have discussed the game setting and Real World analogues.  But, form follows funciton, so we must determine what funciton magic is to fill in your game before we can address methods of implementation or metaphysical rationales.  So far, the most concrete statement you ahve made is this: "I think it is most likely that PCs will be opposed to any sorceror they come across, unless of course the scenario is one where the PCs are associated with sorcerous magic themselves."

From that we can deduce that magic is not intended as a PC power, is that fair?
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Tommi Brander
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2006, 05:36:23 AM »

First decide what role magic will have in game.
Next decide how magic will work (there can be multiple methods) as far as rules are considered.
Then, how does it work in game fiction.


We can't be of much help before you answer to the first one.
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lumpley
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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2006, 06:38:14 AM »

Do you envision magic to be primarily a tool for the PCs to use, a hazard for the PCs to deal with, or a neutral but atmospheric feature of the setting?
so i would say mostly a) for barbarian culture characters and mostly c) for civilized characters

I can see barbarian characters specifically benefitting from magic in their endevours, either from the help of a shaman character, or by specifically enlisting the aid of spirits themselves through spiritual quests and ordeals.

I can see civilized characters benefitting from magic via obtaining devine magical items, or by participating in religious ceremonies.

I think it is most likely that PCs will be opposed to any sorceror they come across, unless of course the scenario is one where the PCs are associated with sorcerous magic themselves.

Awesome! Good answers.

Next question:

You say "benefitting in their endeavors." What will their endeavors be, generally? In your game, what do the PCs do?

Just like "all three" was a bad answer, "whatever they want" is a bad answer. Imagine some people playing your game, having their characters do things - what is it they're having their characters do?

-Vincent
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Tommi Brander
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« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2006, 10:29:27 AM »

For inspiration.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2006, 12:41:06 PM »

Thats where I got the three main concepts from :  divine magic, shamanism and sorcery.  These were recognized styles of magic in ancient times.  I am trying to find out more details of ancient magic but its hard work.  Im slowly building my library at home with various sources.

I am curious what source(s) you have read that have given you this idea. I ask, as having studied the occult and ancient religions (and cultures) for the past decade-and-a-half, I know the tropes of D&D fantasy, where wizards are the atheistic students of impersonal arcane forces and priests interact with otherworldly entities and focus upon morality and moral strictures (and where shamans are spiritual intermediaries who talk with and become possessed by a variety of different non-corporeal entities) are non-existant in the historical practice of magic.

Historically, "sorcerers" were of the priest-class, as only the priest caste was able to learn and study such things -- were required to, in fact, as their duties required the regular performance of magical rituals. Mainly this was because only the priests were allowed (or taught) to read and thus have access to all the recorded secrets of the ages [1]. As well as because (even well past the Bronze Age) priests were the mathematicians, the astronomers, and the law-keepers -- they WERE the educated intelligentsia of society. They built the foundations of the practices that became medieval occultism and (in time) science.

[1] This is particularly true in the age we are discussing regarding your game -- if, as it seems, you wish to at least somewhat accurately portray the Bronze Age -- the act of reading and writing itself was seen as magical and mysterious. Written words held great power, and reading itself was a sorcerous act.

You should realize in the historical practice of magic, sorcerers called upon the gods and spirits to help enact the magic for them; that all the signs and sigils and glyphs magicians use are tied to supernatural forces: gods and spirits and other sorts of entities. Even alchemy, arguably the most "scientific" magical practice, requires great spiritual work and devotion.

Also, when talking about magic, realize that everything in the practice of sorcery/magic is hinged upon the divine/supernatural world, and this applies to modern occult traditions as well. In real magical traditions, as in historical magical traditions, there is no seperation between magic as a divine force and magic as a "natural" force, because there was no seperation between these two things: the divine forces are the natural forces. There is no strange old man muttering over mathematical formulae to cause changes to reality through some sort of pseudo-science, without even a nod to the gods and spirits...because those formulae, with or without math, nearly all invoke and refer to supernatural/divine entities!

Simply put: there was no "sorcerer" and "priest", no difference between "magic" and "divine magic": they were one and the same. (Even shamanism was simply a different cultural tradition of such!)

I'm point all this out as you are calling the game "Bronze Age" and intending it to be Bronze Age fantasy [2]. If that is the focus of the game play, to recreate the Bronze Age via gaming, then whether or not you want to model this is something you will strongly need to consider in the design of your game. Would doing so meet your goals for play? How historically accurate are you attempting to be, and where do you feel it best to sacrifice historical accuracy for game play? Thus, do you see it as necessary for some game reason to keep these practices seperate, and create, for your setting, an artificial division between them that does not exist in the historical practice?

Which, of course, is simply the question everyone else is asking: "What is supposed to be happening in this game? What is its focus (and how does magic tie into that)?"

[2] Of course, which Bronze Age is also a question. Celtic? Egyptian? Babylonian? Have you reviewed how these cultures viewed enchanted items and magical trinkets to see if they match with your design goals for play?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
stefoid
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« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2006, 04:02:04 PM »

Stefoid, you are going to have make some decisions on the above questions.  Saying its the route you are going down does not help, but these are only indicative of POSSIBLE routes.  You still have not told use what role you WANT magic to play in your GAME; instead we have discussed the game setting and Real World analogues.  But, form follows funciton, so we must determine what funciton magic is to fill in your game before we can address methods of implementation or metaphysical rationales.  So far, the most concrete statement you ahve made is this: "I think it is most likely that PCs will be opposed to any sorceror they come across, unless of course the scenario is one where the PCs are associated with sorcerous magic themselves."

From that we can deduce that magic is not intended as a PC power, is that fair?

no.  In shamanistic cultures it will be more about 'by the people, for the people'  - i.e. the general population of these type of cultures will have a much greater chance to participate and even initiate magical happeneings.

in civilized cultures, that statement is more valid, as the average non-preist character will only benefit from magic via charms, amulets and participating in worship.  Great power is concentrated in the hands of the religious elite in the form of preists and acolytes etc..   however, having said that , this is a world of many deities of greatly varying powers.  It is possible that smaller cults will give the opportunity to civilized citizens to initiate low-level theistic magic without rising to a position of high public prominance.  i.e. when the average joe schmoe goes off every thursday night to his cult meetings, he may actually be learning some useful stuff.

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stefoid
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« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2006, 04:05:46 PM »


thanks very much
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stefoid
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« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2006, 04:31:29 PM »



Quote
I am curious what source(s) you have read that have given you this idea. I ask, as having studied the occult and ancient religions (and cultures) for the past decade-and-a-half, I know the tropes of D&D fantasy, where wizards are the atheistic students of impersonal arcane forces and priests interact with otherworldly entities and focus upon morality and moral strictures (and where shamans are spiritual intermediaries who talk with and become possessed by a variety of different non-corporeal entities) are non-existant in the historical practice of magic.

I feel most happy with my ideas on shamanism which I have derived from a cool book call "two leggings, the making of a crow warrior". 

sorcery I think I am probably deriving from an amalgam of fictional sources inside my head.  Im aware that the ancients had the concept of a sorceror as a practioner of magic, but thats as far as my studies have yet taken me.

divine magic being the worship of deities in civilized cultures - sourced from any history book you like really - most cover the religions of various cultures in a summary way.


Quote
Historically, "sorcerers" were of the priest-class, as only the priest caste was able to learn and study such things -- were required to, in fact, as their duties required the regular performance of magical rituals. Mainly this was because only the priests were allowed (or taught) to read and thus have access to all the recorded secrets of the ages [1]. As well as because (even well past the Bronze Age) priests were the mathematicians, the astronomers, and the law-keepers -- they WERE the educated intelligentsia of society. They built the foundations of the practices that became medieval occultism and (in time) science.

This is suprising to me.  You say preists and sorcerors were one and the same.  I have to admit that for some reason I asociated the term sorceror with practioners of magic who did so to benefit themselves (so usually what you might term 'bad magic' whereas a preist is someone who works 'good magic' on behalf of the community.  Is that a fair historical statement or did I just make that up?

I also assumed that sorcerers were not associated withdivine worship as such, or if they were it wasnt the source of their sorcerous powers.  I had in mind that I wouldnt go into any attempt to rationalize the source of sorceros power, other than it be based on secret knowledge.  I also had in mind that the cultures that inhabit the setting generally see sorcery as being sourced from demons, but that I wasnt going to make that a concrete fact either.

What are your thoughts on the above? 

Quote
[1] This is particularly true in the age we are discussing regarding your game -- if, as it seems, you wish to at least somewhat accurately portray the Bronze Age -- the act of reading and writing itself was seen as magical and mysterious. Written words held great power, and reading itself was a sorcerous act.

You should realize in the historical practice of magic, sorcerers called upon the gods and spirits to help enact the magic for them; that all the signs and sigils and glyphs magicians use are tied to supernatural forces: gods and spirits and other sorts of entities. Even alchemy, arguably the most "scientific" magical practice, requires great spiritual work and devotion.

this challenges the assumption that sorcerors work magic on their own behalf.  What was the notion of demons in relation to gods and spirits?  were they clearly differentiated enities in the minds of the ancients?  did demons have any magical power?

Quote
Also, when talking about magic, realize that everything in the practice of sorcery/magic is hinged upon the divine/supernatural world, and this applies to modern occult traditions as well. In real magical traditions, as in historical magical traditions, there is no seperation between magic as a divine force and magic as a "natural" force, because there was no seperation between these two things: the divine forces are the natural forces. There is no strange old man muttering over mathematical formulae to cause changes to reality through some sort of pseudo-science, without even a nod to the gods and spirits...because those formulae, with or without math, nearly all invoke and refer to supernatural/divine entities!

Simply put: there was no "sorcerer" and "priest", no difference between "magic" and "divine magic": they were one and the same. (Even shamanism was simply a different cultural tradition of such!)


Being a different cultural tradition is more than enough reason for me to make the distinction between theistic and shamanistic magic.  However, I do have trouble with sorceror and priest being synonomous (is that the right word?)  Even if the difference is merely the intent of the individual, and hence the implications of refering to someone as a preist or a sorcerer.  Maybe the same as calling someone a 'leader' or a 'politician'  They may be one and the same but the name implies certain thigns that the namer thinks about the subject.


Quote
I'm point all this out as you are calling the game "Bronze Age" and intending it to be Bronze Age fantasy [2]. If that is the focus of the game play, to recreate the Bronze Age via gaming, then whether or not you want to model this is something you will strongly need to consider in the design of your game. Would doing so meet your goals for play? How historically accurate are you attempting to be, and where do you feel it best to sacrifice historical accuracy for game play? Thus, do you see it as necessary for some game reason to keep these practices seperate, and create, for your setting, an artificial division between them that does not exist in the historical practice?

Which, of course, is simply the question everyone else is asking: "What is supposed to be happening in this game? What is its focus (and how does magic tie into that)?"

[2] Of course, which Bronze Age is also a question. Celtic? Egyptian? Babylonian? Have you reviewed how these cultures viewed enchanted items and magical trinkets to see if they match with your design goals for play?

This is definately a fantasy setting.  I dont want to model the bronze age exactly, I just want to steal its most romantic bits.  so definately in the 'gameplay first' camp.

Could you give me some of the sources you are familiar with?  Its hard finding the information.  as I say, my library is slowly expanding, but at the moment it is mostly historical stuff as in this great person did this in 1400bc and this state attacked this area, and who were the sea peoples anyway. and so on.  I did very recently order a 2nd hand book from amazon on the daily lives of the babylonians and assyrians which is more like the stuff I need.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2006, 04:40:32 PM »

Lumpley asks some very good questions, Steve. I urge you to answer.
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stefoid
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« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2006, 06:29:09 PM »

Lumpley asks some very good questions, Steve. I urge you to answer.

I thought I did.   the answer is it depends on the scenario.

For shamanistic characters, its very much magic is a tool for the players to use
For civilized characters, its a bit each way.  A tool sometimes, but mostly an atmospheric part of the background.
And in general, sorcery will be something to be opposed.

I guess I can think of scenarios where each type of magic I have proposed is used by PCs.  So going on that, I have ti say that generally it is a tool to be used by PCs. 
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stefoid
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« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2006, 06:40:17 PM »

Do you envision magic to be primarily a tool for the PCs to use, a hazard for the PCs to deal with, or a neutral but atmospheric feature of the setting?
so i would say mostly a) for barbarian culture characters and mostly c) for civilized characters

I can see barbarian characters specifically benefitting from magic in their endevours, either from the help of a shaman character, or by specifically enlisting the aid of spirits themselves through spiritual quests and ordeals.

I can see civilized characters benefitting from magic via obtaining devine magical items, or by participating in religious ceremonies.

I think it is most likely that PCs will be opposed to any sorceror they come across, unless of course the scenario is one where the PCs are associated with sorcerous magic themselves.

Awesome! Good answers.

Next question:

You say "benefitting in their endeavors." What will their endeavors be, generally? In your game, what do the PCs do?

Just like "all three" was a bad answer, "whatever they want" is a bad answer. Imagine some people playing your game, having their characters do things - what is it they're having their characters do?

-Vincent

hmm, we're back to this.  The best answer I could come up with in another thread on the general rules is that my game is 'about' the bronze age setting.  My thang is to build up these really detailed cultures that capture the imaginations of the players.  Help the players get into the role of being a barbarian sheep herder or a comopolitan city-dweller in the decrepit capital of the old empire.  You know: roleplaying !!  Whatever the players have their character do will depend on whatever scenario the GM cooks up.  In general that involves resolving problems they are faced with.  Achieving goals set by the GM. 

I dont have any one idea about 'what the characters do', like in some of these other games where the characters are required to be variations of a specific type or do specific things.
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2006, 08:47:51 PM »

Quote
hmm, we're back to this.  The best answer I could come up with in another thread on the general rules is that my game is 'about' the bronze age setting.  My thang is to build up these really detailed cultures that capture the imaginations of the players.  Help the players get into the role of being a barbarian sheep herder or a comopolitan city-dweller in the decrepit capital of the old empire.  You know: roleplaying !!  Whatever the players have their character do will depend on whatever scenario the GM cooks up.  In general that involves resolving problems they are faced with.  Achieving goals set by the GM. 

I dont have any one idea about 'what the characters do', like in some of these other games where the characters are required to be variations of a specific type or do specific things.

Can someone link the thread which gives the 3 questions with sample answers for Sorcerer, DitV, and... Universalis, I think? (I just can never find that thread, my apologies.)



Stefoid, you describe setting and possibilities really well.
I am excited about THOSE.

but what these guys are asking is more about premise, intent, etc.
This isn't about limiting player choice, this is about guiding the tone and game.


To give you an example of what an answer to this question might be:
Quote
Characters in my game struggle to balance their day to day lives with the harsh calamities of war. The game is about exploring the world around you, which is both dangerous and constantly changing.

This EXAMPLE outlines that the game might be about experiencing culture, experiencing war, and exploring your world.
Experience and exploration seem key in this game, as does the dangers and wars.
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stefoid
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« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2006, 09:27:50 PM »

Quote
hmm, we're back to this.  The best answer I could come up with in another thread on the general rules is that my game is 'about' the bronze age setting.  My thang is to build up these really detailed cultures that capture the imaginations of the players.  Help the players get into the role of being a barbarian sheep herder or a comopolitan city-dweller in the decrepit capital of the old empire.  You know: roleplaying !!  Whatever the players have their character do will depend on whatever scenario the GM cooks up.  In general that involves resolving problems they are faced with.  Achieving goals set by the GM. 

I dont have any one idea about 'what the characters do', like in some of these other games where the characters are required to be variations of a specific type or do specific things.

Can someone link the thread which gives the 3 questions with sample answers for Sorcerer, DitV, and... Universalis, I think? (I just can never find that thread, my apologies.)



Stefoid, you describe setting and possibilities really well.
I am excited about THOSE.

but what these guys are asking is more about premise, intent, etc.
This isn't about limiting player choice, this is about guiding the tone and game.


To give you an example of what an answer to this question might be:
Quote
Characters in my game struggle to balance their day to day lives with the harsh calamities of war. The game is about exploring the world around you, which is both dangerous and constantly changing.

This EXAMPLE outlines that the game might be about experiencing culture, experiencing war, and exploring your world.
Experience and exploration seem key in this game, as does the dangers and wars.

In your example, there is no possibility of the GM presenting a scenario where the characters dont struggle to balance their daily lives with the harsh calamities of war? 

Take the world of Tolkien.  sure, theres a major theme going on there - the resistance of various peoples against the growing power of the dark whatsit who wants to dominate the world.  So you could say the game was about that.  Not every scenario would have to be about that, however.  the Tolkien world is so richly described that you could have 100s of scenarios that had nothing to do with the forces of the dark whatsit.  A band of dwarves and a hobbit looking for dragon treasure for instance.  Nothing to do with dark struggles, just a bunch of  height challenged greedy fools out for loot.  What about a bunch of elves who are having a cooking contest to impress the cute elven princess and need to travel to mirkwood to obtain the secret ingredients?  what about...? the list is endless.

So my setting kind of has this theme going on, but its way less prominent than the dark struggle theme of the tolkien world, for example.   so its even less 'about' something specific as far as I can see. 

The 'kind of theme' is the situation where the inhabitants of the remanents of the colapse of the 'first great empire in the world' are struggling out of a dark age of chaos and violence.  That central area is metophorically an island within a sea of uncivilized , 'unexplored' lands.  I say 'uncivilized' and 'unexplored' because the immediate surrounding  areas are populated by barbarian cultures of varying sorts that the PCs can also play.  One of the main ingredients in the destruction of the old empire was a plague of undead that was thought to be created by sorcerors of the old empire meddling in immortality and probably under the direction of demons for all anyone knows, because thats the kind of shit sorcerors get up to, right?  But anyway, for a variety of reasons the emprie collapsed and the undead were destroyed or at least most of them were, and the sorcerors were killed or at least most of them were and everything was left in a heap of crap.  Im trying to avoid monochromatic hats here, because the sorcerors may have got a bad rap (unspecified) and the undead arent neccesaarilly evil or have outrageous powers or anything - they are just unfortunate enough to have been killed during a time when the plague was sweeping the lands and then woke up on the battlefield or whereever with a javelin through their guts and tottered home to find their old friends and familly didnt want to hang with them anymore.  So players could play undead as well. 

so what is it?  age of recovery?  age of expansion?  age of political consolidation (there are a lot factions)?, or just sheep herding barbarians having shenanigans  amongst themselves, which was the subject of my first scenario I playtested?
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2006, 04:32:27 AM »

You say above:
Quote
I thought I did.   the answer is it depends on the scenario.

So lets approach it like this: what kind of scenarios are suitable in your world?  What kind of scenarios would you expect, or prefer, GM's to construct?  What kind of scenarios would allow the players to get the most out of your world?  To see the interesting and unique things that make this setting special?

For example, Legend of the Five Rings, while being fairly conventional in most respects, has as a suggested mode of play "the magistrate game", in which the PC's are Imperial Magistrates.  As such, they have reasons to go to interesting places, deal with important plots, and interact with powerful people, all of which provides good opportunities for the Exploration of the pseudo-Japanese setting.  It even remarks upon the fact that the setting does have wandering, violent opportunists like the conventional adventuring party, but that here they are referred to as "bandits" and hunted down and killed.  Further, the assumption is that all characters will be Samurai, and as such necessarily deal with issues of honour and face - rather like the game example given above of "the calamities of war", it is presumed that such issues of honour and face are unavoidable and a necessary part of "the PC condition".

In so doing L5R provides quite a lot of direction for how to build scenarios at the table.  It is not just a description of the world dropped in front of the players.  It provides information on what kind of people make good PC's, and what kind of activities those PC's are likely to engage in - court intrigue, duelling, investigation, etc. - and what kind of issues make good plots.

I hope that helps illustrate the question of "what do the players do".  Even if you don't adopt the magistrate game in L5R, simply knowing the PC's are going to be Samurai helps everyone understand where game play is likely to go, how to select suitable characters and skills, etc.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
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