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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [D&D 3.5] Gamist Non-Affirmation  (Read 9046 times)
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2007, 06:03:20 AM »

You could be a positive factor for change and/or awareness by running a campaign the 'right way'

Well, I'd replace "right way" with "the way I like," but pretty much.

I'm not familiar with Reign. If it makes a good "gateway game" for D&D players I'minterested in hearing more, but I think TSoY will probably do fine for me as I already own it (and harbor a great throbbing sweaty man-love for it). But then again,if Reign is more tactical, then that could be good for scratching that itch.

Peace,
-Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Caldis
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« Reply #31 on: November 01, 2007, 07:38:21 AM »

Hmm. Seems like it's an unwarranted knock against Sim to say it's only good for exploring what you have and not who you are. it may not go to the depths of Nar in really hammering the "what would you do to get what you want?" (the good ol' "even now? even now?") But surely Sim is just fine with characters wanting something, and pursuing it. And that something can be "revenge on those who killed my parents" just as easily as "Get my own stronghold, or better spells, or a +3 Vorpal weapon."

Yes Sim can handle a character wanting to get revenge or take down the Red Wizards but the point is that's not the focus of the game.  With Sim that stuff can be put off till far in the future when it makes sense given the game world, in D&D that would likely mean once you reach epic levels.  Until then you need the shorter term goals like I mentioned developing spells or gaining power or as others have done persuing hobbies.  You are looking for a quicker return on investment then what the sim game is providing (if it is sim, it's possible Xeno is right but your talk of different assumptions of play sounds spot on CA to me).

I think you are on the right track with developing your own game in a satisfying manner, that sounds fully plausible and possible.  This game sounds like it wont be easy to change, you have at least an Agenda problem if not conflict.  You are trying to achieve one in play and your efforts arent being hampered by others, either actively or passively.   I would suspect they will be resistant to change within this game, especially the gm and the player with the secret they are enjoying what is going on. 

Your options are either to sit back and relax, do what the others are doing and enjoy the social environment if not the gameplay and save that for when you run games,  or to bow out of the game and focus your efforts elsewhere.  This self questioning process may have brought up all the negatives and makes the game seem worse than it is right now so I'd suggest you dont run into anything.   Try it out, see if you can play the game the way it is without any changes and if not try to bow out gracefully.



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xenopulse
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« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2007, 07:49:19 AM »

Yep Joel--I'd be right there with you in focusing on the game and putting lots of effort into it, while at the same time enjoying the social aspect. I can't afford casual gaming anymore, because my time is so damn precious.

If you can step back and be more casual about the game, that might be the way to save it for you. It's not a bad thing to play casually if people enjoy that enough. You'd just have to change your expectations.
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2007, 08:40:50 AM »

Just a quick note to clarify a misunderstanding about Sim play...

I've struggled with the concepts of GNS for a good while, and while my understandings are not 100%, I've boiled down Simulationist pretty well, as every indicator points toward it being my preferred agenda of play. In general, while Narrativist and Gamist play usually strongly include exploration, Simulationist's hallmark is that it makes exploration the main point. Exploration does not, by any means, refer only to setting or story, however. Simulationist exploration may, and frequently does, include any or all of the following elements: Setting, Color, Story, Situation, Character and System.
So it can be a strong simulationist agenda to pursue the Red Wizards, or it can be narrativist. What determines which one it falls under is the reason behind the pursuit. Are you doing it because your character was wronged, and you want him to get vengeance? Probably sim. Are you doing it to explore the themes of vengeance, hatred and redemption? Probably nar.

The sheer wide-openness of Simulationist play is the main reason, I think, that so many people have tried to say that it's not even a Creative Agenda unto itself.

Anyhow, off that topic...

Joel,

Something I'm also noting is that the lack of direction/responsibility isn't necessarily all the GM's fault. The same assumptions on the part of the GM (it's just part of the world) are probably well set into most of your fellow players, as well. They accept that the dungeon wasn't a puddle of awesome, because the world just has some boring dungeons. They accept that their plot ideas aren't a big deal because they aren't a big deal in the world. So basically, the GM is running it the way he knows how, and the other players are reinforcing his belief that it's the only way.

Your ideas put forth earlier in the thread, about encouraging tactics in combat, are a good start. Another thing you may try is taking interest in your fellow players' ideas for story. If someone else has an interesting backstory element going ignored, get interested in play. If someone else has an idea that sounds cool or fun, get behind it 100%. Then it'll be more than just one player pushing the story, and the GM may take notice. Also, it'll help encourage the idea that player investment in other people's characters is acceptable and fun, so next time you want to push something forward, you'll have some support.

Unless everyone else in the game is utterly content with how things are going, and are resistant to trying new ideas, you've still got hope. I've been in both kinds of groups.. In some, I was able to increase the awesome, in others, I only increased my own, and everyone else's, frustration.

Good luck, either way.
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~Lance Allen
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #34 on: November 01, 2007, 02:51:17 PM »

Yes Sim can handle a character wanting to get revenge or take down the Red Wizards but the point is that's not the focus of the game.  With Sim that stuff can be put off till far in the future when it makes sense given the game world, in D&D that would likely mean once you reach epic levels.  Until then you need the shorter term goals like I mentioned developing spells or gaining power or as others have done persuing hobbies.  You are looking for a quicker return on investment then what the sim game is providing (if it is sim, it's possible Xeno is right but your talk of different assumptions of play sounds spot on CA to me).

OK, Short term/Long term I get. In fact, I'm not asking to take down the Red Wizards overnight; I'm assuming that it would be a pretty ambitious project; all I'm asking for is to get started. In fact, I tackled it right out of the gate because I assumed it would be a difficult, long-range goal--all the more reason to start early!

But short-term/long-term doesn't equate to a What You're Capable of/Who You Are divide. plenty of capability-gaining goals are long-term: "I want to attract followers." "Wait 'til Level 6 and take Leadership." "I want to learn the rarest of 9th-level Spells." "OK, wait 'til you're level 17 and we'll talk." I think duration of goal is a total red herring here.

The only application I can think of for my situation is that maybe the GM mistook my overtures for a demand for immediate resolution? Perhaps he thought I was saying, "OK, I'd like to topple Thay, then have a nice brunch at a cute bistro I spotted last week." So it could be a communication thing. I could always make a fresh overture with a new plan and see what he does with it.Or ask him what his thoughts are on the whole thing.

Peace,
-Joel
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Caldis
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« Reply #35 on: November 01, 2007, 02:56:53 PM »

I dont want to derail the thread or turn this into a debate so i'll make this last posting and move on.

So it can be a strong simulationist agenda to pursue the Red Wizards, or it can be narrativist. What determines which one it falls under is the reason behind the pursuit. Are you doing it because your character was wronged, and you want him to get vengeance? Probably sim. Are you doing it to explore the themes of vengeance, hatred and redemption? Probably nar.

One thing I want to clarify about CA is that it isnt about the reasons behind actions, that is to say someone trying to play narrativist doesnt think to themselves that they are trying to explore themes.  So what makes play narrativist is having an issue, vengeance in this case, and having the player take actions that address the issue.  If play is about persuing vengeance and the player is making decisions on how to go about it then play has become narrativist, any action the character takes is making a thematic statement.
It's about what is happening in the game and it involves not just the player and his character but also the GM and how and where he takes events in play.

With sim play you can have someone  who is seeking vengeance but it's not the point of play.  It's part of who the character is but resolving that issue isnt the primary focus of play there is something else that keeps play moving, maybe an understanding that the group fights crime or undertakes adventures or something similar.
  

Oh and Joel, the long term divide in this case is likely a case of putting it off until he can figure out a way to deal with it.  He has no idea so he doesnt know how to proceed or he may not have a good grasp on what you want out of it.  I think you are right and asking his thoughts, getting clarification on when or if your issue will come into play.
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #36 on: November 01, 2007, 03:05:20 PM »

Hi, Lance,

Your ideas put forth earlier in the thread, about encouraging tactics in combat, are a good start. Another thing you may try is taking interest in your fellow players' ideas for story. If someone else has an interesting backstory element going ignored, get interested in play. If someone else has an idea that sounds cool or fun, get behind it 100%. Then it'll be more than just one player pushing the story, and the GM may take notice. Also, it'll help encourage the idea that player investment in other people's characters is acceptable and fun, so next time you want to push something forward, you'll have some support.
It's hard when everyone plays their backstory so close to the vest. The Warforged Barbarian won't eventell anyone his name. Exactly one PC knows he's a Warforged, because his illusionary disguise dropped in an antimagic field.. I did try pretty strongly to cozy up to the Mageslayer, since we had similar background (family killed by wizards), but he won't really talk about it in character. And of course now he's got his secret thing going, which I really want in on, to expose him or oppose him or whatever (nobody knows he's a psycho-killer in character). I can try to draw some personal detail out of some other PCs, but it's an uphill battle.

Peace,
-Joel
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contracycle
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« Reply #37 on: November 02, 2007, 12:45:49 AM »

Hmm, well that sounds pretty grim.  I think players keeping that kind of secret is a serious problem.  It all smacks of play being actually so unsatisfying that the only thing they can do is amuse themselves running private conspiracies.  The fact that there appears to be a private two-party parallel game going on sorta reinforces this suspicion.

Quote
OK, I misunderstood you I guess. Honestly, I'm not sure how effective (or even possible) it would be to move D&D away from the "articulation of special powers." It's pretty hard-wired into the system. You wanna trip your opponent? Then Combat Expertise and Improved Trip. You wanna fake out your opponent? Then Improved Feint. And so on and so on.

Doesn't seem to me that restricting region is going to solve much. D&D largely doesn't care where a person comes from, except for the nod to Species background. A Spiked-chain-wielding fighter or Evocation-specializing Wizard are gonna be the same no matter where they grew up.

I like the cut of your jib. But I don't think D&D is really the place to put that jib into practice.

Well I was trying to offer a suggestion a bit more constructive than just "play something else".  There is no particular reason you couldn't do this in D&D;  precisely because it doesn't care where you come from the default/implied setting is not obligatory.  Neither are the class selections etc.  You don't have to use all the available options.  In fact once you sort the wood from the trees its quite suitable for this sort of manipulation.

You could play a game in which all the characters must be fighters in a particular army from a particular place.  That can itself be quite an interesting experiment in how to express character differentiation through different builds of the same class.  Build encounters and experiences that can be solved by a one class-party; use the common origin for motivation and exposition.  THAT would be a very different game, even if within the same actual rules.  Very different from a wandering team of misfit superheroes who are not even on first name terms!  Also seeing as things like healing magic will be simply unavailable to an all-fighter party some of the conventions of how play goes will start to break down.

I once ran a game set in a thieves guild in Waterdeep and all the PC's had to be thieves, assassins or fighters.  Just establishing that association broke down some of the "why should I care" stuff.  The parameters of the problem could be more easily discerned; they could reasonably expect I wouldn't be siccing a dragon on them for example (although I did use some undead).  In a sense, this afforded them a space in which to concentrate on how to use this particular set of tools effectively, rather than trying to be prepared for every eventuality.  The denial of illusionary and invisibility magics etc forced them to plan their jobs quite carefully, which they enjoyed.  They had to keep a cleric sweet for emergency healing, or they just had to (horror) walk around with a limp for bit. 

So thats the kind of thing I mean, restricting the scope so that you are not bombarded by the vast array of possibilities all the time, so that some of the conventional solutions are not available and have to be worked around, so that the group is identified as a group rather than a miscellany of individuals, so that you have a better idea of what kind of problems you can expect to have to deal with.  You can do all that within the rules with which your group is comfortable.
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Jasper the Mimbo
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« Reply #38 on: November 02, 2007, 12:56:06 PM »

Since so many other people have talked about the CA angle of your question, (and done so quite well) and other systems that may suit your needs better. I don't feel there's anything new I can add on that note. Instead I'll go to something that's been touched on less-

The game you've described has some problems that are common to many Gamist games (DnD 3.5 being the most notable example.) In my opinion it comes down to a GM who doesn't know much about tactics trying to put together a tactical scenario. The players don't have to get creative at all, because the situation doesn't warrant it.

He's using his challenges (the monsters) all wrong, as you've mentioned. Based on what you've described, he seems to rely on straight forward "hit-you-in-the-face" style encounters. Demons and spellcasters are not cut out for that. They're "bag-of-trickes" monsters. (this has also been mentioned.) You might tell your GM that Golems, Undead, Beasts and Magical Beasts are probably more along the lines of what he's looking for.

Also, keep in mind that the CR system is balanced against a party of 4 players. You have 7. An Ettin isn't going to challenge your group at all. 2 Ettins would be a lot better.

The best way I've ever found of training a GM how to make encounters interesting was to sit down with the group, and instead of gaming, watch a couple of good adventure movies. (not action movies) Star Wars, Indiana Jones, even cheesy ones like Van Helsing or Army of Darkness. Take notes during the action sequences and talk about which ones were your favorites, and why. The things that make them exciting are often more a product of "where" than of "why" or "how". Environmental hazards are great for forcing tactical game play. The GM will get excited by the discussion, and may give him what he needs to spice up your games. It's been my experience that when people ask for "more tactical gameplay" What they really mean is "give me a situation to think my way out of". This very often leads to Adventure Movie style scenes.

Take your example combat, now put it on top of the tower, and give the Ettin a pair of clubs that cause knockback when they hit (or just house-rule that all giants initiate Bull Rushes when they hit creatures smaller than them with blunt weapons.) All of a sudden the GM knows exactly what his goal is (knock a PC off the roof) and the PC's figure out real quickly taht they have to change their game plan or someone's going to be lawn art. All because of where the fight is. Toss in a flying sorcerer with Grease and Ray of Enfeeblement... cool.

The trick is to find one ability to showcase in an encounter, and maybe one or two others that compliment it. Put the creature with the ability in a location that will make it's ability catastrophic to the party, and then watch them think their way out. The always do.

As for Teamwork, if the GM doesn't reward it, it will almost never happen. Take a look in "Heroes of Battle". There are a couple teamwork feats and abilities that make things a lot more interesting. The best part about them is that they have requirements, but do not actually take a feat themselves. All the characters have to do is meet the Prereqs and train together. Then all of a sudden, the players want to work together to gain the benefit o their new ability.

Hope that helps.

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Callan S.
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« Reply #39 on: November 02, 2007, 03:07:26 PM »

Maybe it's system and not a lack of gamist fire, so it would be a waste to give up the group when its actually system that matters in this case - I'm suggesting this as a means of testing that ground.

This is inspired by the computer game 'Puzzle quest', but you could have a memory game that's in charge of primary currencies. Just the classic style memory game - a deck of cards each with a duplicate. Shuffle, lay them all face down, then take turns flipping two, then flipping them back over if their not the same. Getting pairs gets you some significant advantage in the D&D game.

The thing about this design is that the GM and you are both working with the same materials. This puts you into direct competition on exactly the same problem - I think this is somewhat what Gareth/Contracycle is refering too by having similar resources. The great thing about that is that someone else can potentially do better at the same thing that your doing. Bam, it's on! Well, its set to be on - if there's no gamist competative fire in them, nothing will happen and it's literally game over man, game over!

Alot of roleplay design that's supposedly gamist has the GM and players playing two different games. They use entirely different resources, so there is no comparison to make in terms of "I'm doing better than you, heh!". GM's rustle up resources out of thin air while adhering to some world paradigm, but do players do that? Nah, they used this rigid as hell, points all the way. They're not doing the same game, so no "Hey, I'm doing better!" comparision can be made. It'd be like someone saying cause their good at cricket, they're ahead of someone who's plays basketball. It doesn't even make sense to say. Competition comes from doing better or worse than someone on the same job as them.
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Jasper the Mimbo
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« Reply #40 on: November 03, 2007, 08:39:30 AM »

Callan, not that your idea doesn't sound like fun, but your proposal sounds like the exact opposite of what he wants for his group. Mainly, because he want's teamwork, and a group puzzle-solving experience (players vs. DM). I can't think of a way to turn a memory game into a team sport.

It seems you're thinking of Gamism as a competition between players to control resources, which it can be. DnD style Gamism is more of a competition in who can crunch the numbers the best to hit the bad guys (or each other) with the most math. You're right in thinking that all the players are using a different rules set. The real gamist challenge in DnD (IMO) is to make all the various rules sets behave in a complimentary fashion. (a guy with improved bull rush pushing a bad guy through his friends with combat reflexes and reach weapons' threat zones, or something)

The real problem is, most classes are designed to be able to stand alone. Classes like the Marshal and the Dragon Shaman (who really shine in groups) are relatively new, and not played often. Bards are the classic "I help the party" class, and not only do they just get to do it basically all the time, in a vast area of effect (which makes tactical choice irrelivent) but as a class, they pretty much suck.

The only class that has tactical teamwork built into it's rules set is the rogue. They basically need to be flanking to take advantage of their main class ability. Either that or sink vast amounts of feats and skills (resources) into elaborate ability chains. The rest of the classes *can* be tactical and team oriented, but it really isn't necessary, which is why it takes a creative GM to get the lazy players to step up and use their brains.

I'm all for using different systems, but one of the things that aggravates me is when we forge-ites toss out changing systems as a way of fixing problems within someone's game. (I catch myself doing it from time to time.) If system matters (which it does) then to change the system is to *change the game itself.* As long as the game is still mostly fun, it has value. Fixing the existing game seems like a better alternative than starting a new one.

Hope that didn't come across as too aggressive or inflammatory.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #41 on: November 04, 2007, 11:01:50 PM »

Hi Jasper,

There's nothing to salvage, if a challenge has failed to be delivered. Even if the rest is still mostly fun somehow. It doesn't matter how much you fiddle with all the other parts, that wont make a challenge spring out of nothing. Someone (designer or end user) has to have issued a challenge. And from this account it appears they have failed to do so, or failed to communicate it. And if someone does issue a clear challenge now, just as you note, it will be a change that actually starts a whole new game anyway. Even if they make clear the challenge they tried and failed to comminicate before, everyone will have to shift from what they perceived the challenge to this - that'll be a change that starts a new game. Even if what you insist is true, that crunching the numbers the best is the challenge. That it wasn't communicated before means to introduce it now will start a new game.

My suggestion for a challenge was to work parralel with the groups regular play, but controlling major resources. This is so it can't be waved off as non relevant to the point of play. Also I think it can be remade into other challenges - all the players Vs the GM in a memory game, for example (though if he faced say three players, perhaps along with his turn he can look at an extra card for free, without showing it - so as to lessne the predictability that comes with ganging up).
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Daztur
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« Reply #42 on: November 05, 2007, 06:26:54 PM »

Callan S: What I'd recommend is if its D&D play it the D&D way. Maybe reroll your Warmage to a straight Wizard and get a lot of buff, debuff, illusion and crowd control spells (grease, cause fear, color spray, ray of enfeeblement, enlarge person, jump, glitterdust, web, hideous laughter, mirror image, scare, alter self and spider climb are good standbys for the first two levels get similar spells at higher levels). Don't try to destroy the opposition or steal the show, just completely unbalance the battlefield in ways that help your allies destroy the opposition themselves. Your allies will love you while they're tearing apart the monsters that you made helpless or getting free AoOs against monsters that you forced to run away and they'll see a good bit of how D&D teamwork SHOULD work, right now as a warmage you have one of the least teamwork friendly classes...

Maybe be a specialist wizard and ban evocation.
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Jasper the Mimbo
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« Reply #43 on: November 05, 2007, 11:41:06 PM »

Callan: When you put it that way, it makes a lot more sense. The main trouble seems to be that they never firmly established the challenge itself. (I.E. why they're playing at all) Sounds like a problem with the social contract. It's amazing how much can go wrong without that little pre-game discussion, and how many groups don't even do it at all. I still think that the game is fine as it is written, as long as everyone is clear about what they want and why they are playing.

Datzur: You, sir, are a wizard after my own heart. Most people think of wizards as a heavy damage classes. They aren't. (That would be the Rogue, Scout and a couple of Fighter builds) A decently played wizard doesn't really do much damage at all. It's all be Failed Save= Removed from Combat. Whether the enemy is unconscious, dead or just screwed over somehow, an arcane caster should be able to take at least one enemy out of the fight every round. There's very few things a person can play in DnD that are more fun than a good Battlefield Controller. War Mage is an interesting idea, but I find it to be a frustrating class, because it isn't very friendly to other players, and doesn't quite seem to behave the way it's intended to. Might be a flaw in the design of the class itself, or maybe I just haven't figured out how to make it do what I want it to do yet. (that being, Blow Up Everything.)

Melinglor, I think Datzur might be on to something. You may find yourself having more fun if you fill your bag of tricks with spells that force creativity. (Stone Shape is my favorite example.) To me "I throw another fireball" gets a little old. Don't know if your attention span is as short as mine is, though.
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2. Vincent Baker
3. Ben Lehman
4. Ron Edwards
5. Ron Edwards (once isn't enough)

If you're on the list, you know why.
Caldis
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Posts: 359


« Reply #44 on: November 06, 2007, 07:02:02 AM »

Melinglor, I think Datzur might be on to something. You may find yourself having more fun if you fill your bag of tricks with spells that force creativity. (Stone Shape is my favorite example.) To me "I throw another fireball" gets a little old. Don't know if your attention span is as short as mine is, though.

I think you guys missed the part where he did use a spell to do just that and the rest of the group thought it was cool but didnt use it to their advantage.  It's not a question of the characters working together it's the players, they arent playing the same game. 
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