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5E Bards have an identity problem!


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I'm not talking about what you meant. I'm talking about what you said. Your words were that those abilities have nothing to do with music. Everyone of them that I listed as having something to do with music does have something to do with music. We're discussing the abilities themselves, not any individual bard's choices with how they use those abilities.

Bardic Inspiration the ability says "words or songs," so it does in fact have something to do with music. Joe the Wanderer may use the words option, but that doesn't change the fact that the ability itself has something to do with music.


None of those I listed failed to have something to do with music. Some of them didn't specifically use music in the ability itself, but they did mention Inspiration, which does have something to do with music, so the music association goes along with the Inspiration.

I never said requires the use of music. I used your criteria of "having something to do with music."

Edit: You really should apologize for calling me a liar. I didn't lie or even attempt to mislead anyone. What I said was the simple truth.
Shouldn't Expertise also be listed as having something to do with music? You can take it in Performance.
 


Perhaps it isn't the "Bard is stuffed in a Wizard shaped square," perhaps, the arcanic art of the Bard is what happens when the art of Onomancey/True Naming magic was lost in the annuals of time. It then descended down into a less/more watered down format which ended up becoming the basis of the words/music that powers the Bard's magic.
 


Ashrym

Hero
Bards have the identity I give them. Flexibility to match the concept I want is nice.

The PHB states bards manipulate the echoes of creation. Seems pretty legit for powerful magic to me. ;-)

I think bardic inspiration, song of rest, and jack-of-all-trades give more identity to bards over wizards than wild shape gives druids identity over wizards.

Bards do not need music for most of their abilities. Music is thematic but an instrument is possible for a focus, not a requirement, and most abilities use music or words. I can walk into a dungeon without an instrument and use any ability on the list.

5e is not the first edition bards cast spells the same level as other casters. The revised bard in 1e (dragon magazine) cast 8th-level spells, which was higher than clerics and druids. In 2e all bards cast 6th-level spells while clerics and druids were limited to 5th, 6th, or 7th-level spells based on wisdom score.

In 3e clerics and druids were given 9th-level spell progression while bards were not; at least not in the base list. Bards were given higher level spells changed to different spell levels to make sure bards could still access those, and gained access to 9th-level spell slots in their PrC's. Sublime chord was pretty popular.

As much as some people ignore it, 4e had bards as full spell casters too.

People cling to a base chart in a single edition where clerics and druids were bumped up earlier, and miss the bigger picture. Bards were always close to other major spell casters. Far closer than they were to rangers and paladins.

5e just streamlined it better and still managed to keep them behind.

As for spell selection:. Focus on druid spells if you liked 1e bards. Focus on wizard spells if you liked 2e bards. Focus on cleric spells if you liked bards as alternative leaders to clerics in 4e. Mix and match to concept if you have a different concept mind. If you don't think your bard should be a full spell caster MC it with something suitable -- done deal.

The bard is very flexible in design. Make it how you think it should be and don't worry about changing it for everyone else. Add your own flavor. It's not that challenging. ;-)

...as the bard now combines the original source of the class being master of lore and performing arts with a general "jack of all trades" class that has at least basic elements of most other classes, such as the basics of swordsmanship from a fighter, the basics of thievery from rogues, rudimentary healing magic from Clerics, and basic use of other magic from Wizards.
That stems from historical roles where bards held military rank and were expected to act as scouts and soldiers if needed.

Historical versions were expected to be capable of many roles. It's not any edition of DnD that created the jack-of-all-trades concept. Bards were very Renaissance before the Renaissance ever existed.

5e also combines history with mythology. Bards were powerful spell casters in mythology.

2e bard wasn't as much ahead as people think...
It wasn't just the XP table. The XP bonus awards favored bards greatly giving them more bonuses than other classes too.

As mentioned, caster level mechanics favored the bard because of the higher level.

From an RP pov they really have an identity problem: A bard, if I would not know D&D s 5e take on the class is one or more of these:

1. A travelling musician/poet
2. A (court-) jester
3. A gigolo
3. A skald
Those are sooooo not a bard, lol. A bard was a bard. They originally shared the shamanistic roots with druids before a separation of duties. The Fili (which was a higher rank of bard in the Celtic heirarchy) is the main influence on bards in DnD.

Bards were teachers, advisors, healers, eulogists (which included prophecy at the time), historians, genealogists, messengers, magicians, and more. They went to colleges for 20 years commiting history to memory in the form of verse as a mnemonic trick to help aid memory, and when they told a story it was in parable with a purpose. Think Aesop's fables but specific in advising on a current situation.

In mythology, bards were powerful magicians who did battles of magic on par with druids. That's the basis for spell casters in DnD and why they were always close to other major spell casters (druids and clerics).

They did also entertain and inspire soldiers in battle.

From the OED: Bard - An ancient Celtic order of minstrel-poets, whose primary function appears to have been to compose and sing (usually to the harp) verses celebrating the achievements of chiefs and warriors. Still the word for 'poet' in modern Celtic languages; and in Welsh spec. A poet or versifier who has been recognized at the Eisteddfod. In early Lowland Scottish used for: a strolling musician or minstrel (into which the Celtic bard had denegrated, and aainst whom many laws were enacted). Applied to the early versifying minstrels or poets of other nations, before the use of writing, as the Old English gleeman, Scandinavian scald, etc.

The Druid seems to get the magic
Bards definitely got magic in mythology. Bards and druids were the same thing once upon a time and wizard was just a synonym. DnD separates them thematically but they still ended up with similar roles.

People stating wizards are what bards were are correct. Merlin was based on a bard. Amergin and Taliesin are examples of bards as powerful magicians.

Tolkien based Gandalf on a mythological bard, chose to call him a wizard, readers bought into it, and we're seeing the influence of that choice.
 

Coroc

Hero
Bards have the identity I give them. Flexibility to match the concept I want is nice.

The PHB states bards manipulate the echoes of creation. Seems pretty legit for powerful magic to me. ;-)

I think bardic inspiration, song of rest, and jack-of-all-trades give more identity to bards over wizards than wild shape gives druids identity over wizards.

Bards do not need music for most of their abilities. Music is thematic but an instrument is possible for a focus, not a requirement, and most abilities use music or words. I can walk into a dungeon without an instrument and use any ability on the list.

5e is not the first edition bards cast spells the same level as other casters. The revised bard in 1e (dragon magazine) cast 8th-level spells, which was higher than clerics and druids. In 2e all bards cast 6th-level spells while clerics and druids were limited to 5th, 6th, or 7th-level spells based on wisdom score.

In 3e clerics and druids were given 9th-level spell progression while bards were not; at least not in the base list. Bards were given higher level spells changed to different spell levels to make sure bards could still access those, and gained access to 9th-level spell slots in their PrC's. Sublime chord was pretty popular.

As much as some people ignore it, 4e had bards as full spell casters too.

People cling to a base chart in a single edition where clerics and druids were bumped up earlier, and miss the bigger picture. Bards were always close to other major spell casters. Far closer than they were to rangers and paladins.

5e just streamlined it better and still managed to keep them behind.

As for spell selection:. Focus on druid spells if you liked 1e bards. Focus on wizard spells if you liked 2e bards. Focus on cleric spells if you liked bards as alternative leaders to clerics in 4e. Mix and match to concept if you have a different concept mind. If you don't think your bard should be a full spell caster MC it with something suitable -- done deal.

The bard is very flexible in design. Make it how you think it should be and don't worry about changing it for everyone else. Add your own flavor. It's not that challenging. ;-)



That stems from historical roles where bards held military rank and were expected to act as scouts and soldiers if needed.

Historical versions were expected to be capable of many roles. It's not any edition of DnD that created the jack-of-all-trades concept. Bards were very Renaissance before the Renaissance ever existed.

5e also combines history with mythology. Bards were powerful spell casters in mythology.



It wasn't just the XP table. The XP bonus awards favored bards greatly giving them more bonuses than other classes too.

As mentioned, caster level mechanics favored the bard because of the higher level.



Those are sooooo not a bard, lol. A bard was a bard. They originally shared the shamanistic roots with druids before a separation of duties. The Fili (which was a higher rank of bard in the Celtic heirarchy) is the main influence on bards in DnD.

Bards were teachers, advisors, healers, eulogists (which included prophecy at the time), historians, genealogists, messengers, magicians, and more. They went to colleges for 20 years commiting history to memory in the form of verse as a mnemonic trick to help aid memory, and when they told a story it was in parable with a purpose. Think Aesop's fables but specific in advising on a current situation.

In mythology, bards were powerful magicians who did battles of magic on par with druids. That's the basis for spell casters in DnD and why they were always close to other major spell casters (druids and clerics).

They did also entertain and inspire soldiers in battle.



Bards definitely got magic in mythology. Bards and druids were the same thing once upon a time and wizard was just a synonym. DnD separates them thematically but they still ended up with similar roles.

People stating wizards are what bards were are correct. Merlin was based on a bard. Amergin and Taliesin are examples of bards as powerful magicians.

Tolkien based Gandalf on a mythological bard, chose to call him a wizard, readers bought into it, and we're seeing the influence of that choice.
Could you please cite your sources of mythology with epic magic battles of bards and druids?

Also i do not believe that d&d bard is based mainly on Celtic RL models.
Check out Jack Vances Dying Earth, one of the short stories features a bard.

The medieval minstrel also comes to my mind , not much Celtic about that one is it?

I believe you got profound knowledge on Celtic history, but your take on the d&d bard is to narrow imho.

edit: With your definition the swashbuckling troubadour wielding rapier and dagger would make no sense at all, leading to an identity problem indeed.
All your model does explain, is why a bard should have full access to spellcasting, all other aspects are not covered by the celtic bard.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Bards definitely got magic in mythology. Bards and druids were the same thing once upon a time and wizard was just a synonym. DnD separates them thematically but they still ended up with similar roles.

People stating wizards are what bards were are correct. Merlin was based on a bard. Amergin and Taliesin are examples of bards as powerful magicians.

Tolkien based Gandalf on a mythological bard, chose to call him a wizard, readers bought into it, and we're seeing the influence of that choice.
It feels like the OED should fix that if there's backing for it. Anyone have some favorite early quotes about "Bard" in general to go with that to start badgering the OED folks with?
 

Attachments


That stems from historical roles where bards held military rank and were expected to act as scouts and soldiers if needed.
On the other hand, we have the actual AD&D Player's Handbook 2nd Edition saying that inspirations for the Bard specifically included some of Robin Hood's merry men, which would certainly explain why they specifically had an element of fighting and roguishness to them and is more likely to be a source people would have referenced then obscure information about historic Celtic bards. Which surviving historic primary source on Celtic bards said they held military rank and were expected to fight as soldiers? I'm rather curious, since so little has survived about them in terms of credible academic sources.

Tolkien based Gandalf on a mythological bard, chose to call him a wizard, readers bought into it, and we're seeing the influence of that choice.
I believe "citation needed" is the proper response to this. There's a TON of scholarly works analyzing Tolkien's works. Which reputable works actually says he based Gandalf specifically on Celtic bards?
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
I believe "citation needed" is the proper response to this. There's a TON of scholarly works analyzing Tolkien's works. Which reputable works actually says he based Gandalf specifically on Celtic bards?
Gandalf-Citation.png


[citation offered]

Gandalf is based very much on the O∂innic wanderer, by Tolkien's own admission, which is not really connected closely with Celtic Bards. Skald, I could see - Warrior-Poets. But O∂in is more than a poetic magician, he's a god of death, a god of the crossroads, of battle and wisdom and full of contradictions.

O∂in was also known as the Lord of the Ring - the Ring of the Nibelungs from whence came Tolkien's magic ring - and I've seen some pretty darn good arguments to say that Tolkien split O∂in's complex character in half (or thirds, perhaps), giving us Gandalf and Sauron (and perhaps also Saruman), to align with his more clear-cut binary morality politic in the tales.
 
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View attachment 125984

[citation offered]

Gandalf is based very much on the O∂innic wanderer, by Tolkien's own admission, which is not really connected closely with Celtic Bards. Skald, I could see - Warrior-Poets. But O∂in is more than a poetic magician, he's a god of death, a god of the crossroads, of battle and wisdom and full of contradictions.

O∂in was also known as the Lord of the Ring - the Ring of the Nibelungs from whence came Tolkien's magic ring - and I've seen some pretty darn good arguments to say that Tolkien split O∂in's complex character in half (or thirds, perhaps), giving us Gandalf and Sauron (and perhaps also Saruman), to align with his more clear-cut binary morality politic in the tales.
So, nothing saying Gandalf was inspired by Celtic Bards, which was Ashyrm's claim.

We have Tolkien saying that he was inspired by a painting of a figure known as Der Berggeist the (translated) Mountain Spirit, by a 19th century German painter, of an old man with a large cloak and big hat in a mountain grove seated while petting a lamb. Certainly it can be seen as the source for Gandalf's appearance.

Tolkien did clearly draw on many influences from northern and western European folklore and myths in creating his works, but the evidence saying that Celtic Bards were specifically an inspiration for Gandalf are lacking.
 

Ashrym

Hero
Could you please cite your sources of mythology with epic magic battles of bards and druids?

Also i do not believe that d&d bard is based mainly on Celtic RL models.
Check out Jack Vances Dying Earth, one of the short stories features a bard.

The medieval minstrel also comes to my mind , not much Celtic about that one is it?

I believe you got profound knowledge on Celtic history, but your take on the d&d bard is to narrow imho.

edit: With your definition the swashbuckling troubadour wielding rapier and dagger would make no sense at all, leading to an identity problem indeed.
All your model does explain, is why a bard should have full access to spellcasting, all other aspects are not covered by the celtic bard.
Amergin against the druids of the Tuatha de Danann during the Milesian invasion is the first example of bard vs druid that comes to mind. Taliesin rescuing Elphin from Maelgwn was a good example of using magic. Manawyddan in the court of Caswallon as portrayed in The Song of Rhiannon is another good example of a powerful magician in a bard (that one is Welsh based).

Taliesin was the bard in Arthur's court until replaced later legends with Merlin, who was based on Myrrdin, and fulfilled the seer / prophet role.

The original bard was based on Celtic mythology and history (hence the jack-of-all-trades aspect and magical nature) with the fili as stated, but also with influence from the skald and jongleur. When Gygax changed that to the 1e appendix option it was because of fighting and skill aspects of a bard, and also because in mythology the Celtic bards learned magic from the druids (sidenote: other sources have claimed bards first taught magic to druids and then druids retaught it to bards who had forgotten). When Jeff Goelz remade the bard in Dragon Magazine 56 it was specifically influenced on Manawyddan as stated in the article.

The fili/skald/jongleur was clearly stated in the Strategic Review article introducing the class, with similar statements in future editions.

1599800293186.png


Where I think you misinterpreted what I said is when I claimed the main influence was the fili that I was excluding other inspirations. The class evolved over time and 5e is meant to allow various archetypes under one similar class. At least that was one of the statements during the open beta testing. We aren't playing "Dying Earth the RPG" but that doesn't mean a player cannot take inspiration from them to build the character. I know many players who follow the jongleur concept, for example. This is from 2e:

"In precise historical terms, the title “bard” applies only to certain groups of Celtic poets who sang the history of their tribes in long, recitative poems. These bards, found mainly in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, filled many important roles in their society. They were storehouses of tribal history, reporters of news, messengers, and even ambassadors to other tribes. However, in the AD&D game, the bard is a more generalized character. Historical and legendary examples of the type include Alan-a-Dale, Will Scarlet, Amergin, and even Homer. Indeed, every culture has its storyteller or poet, whether he is called bard, skald, fili, jongleur, or something else."

It still stresses the typical versions. I can make a biwa hoshi bard if I wanted to now. That doesn't change the roots of the inspiration for the class. This is from XGtE:

1599801537077.png


And this is from the 5e PHB:

1599802170291.png


That scholarly fili is still there showing it's roots. Same as the skald. What's missing is the jongleur, specifically called out as "not every minstrel or jongleur..." is a bard. The only identity crisis is with players denying what bards actually were in favor of other pop culture tropes. Claiming the medieval minstrel comes to mind is the opposite of what is stated. At no point has the bard ever been stated to be based on a gigolo that I know of, lol. That's more of the pop culture style. Playing A Bard's Tale springs to mind for that one. I

Considering I was defending bards as full casters (because caster level was the previous indicator instead of max spell level, among other things) then I think you acknowledging such in my model is actually a "proof is in the pudding" moment. ;-)

I'll also point to Vanya Hargreeves for the "music is magic" trope. Destroying the moon and creating an extinction level event seems appropriate.

The bottom line is the current incarnation matches up to the original inspirations better than past versions.

It feels like the OED should fix that if there's backing for it. Anyone have some favorite early quotes about "Bard" in general to go with that to start badgering the OED folks with?
The strategic review articles quoted above, 2e PHB quote, and Dragon article should give some. A person could probably dig more up. Praise poetry, chronicling events, and oral tradition is typical of the role.

On the other hand, we have the actual AD&D Player's Handbook 2nd Edition saying that inspirations for the Bard specifically included some of Robin Hood's merry men, which would certainly explain why they specifically had an element of fighting and roguishness to them and is more likely to be a source people would have referenced then obscure information about historic Celtic bards. Which surviving historic primary source on Celtic bards said they held military rank and were expected to fight as soldiers? I'm rather curious, since so little has survived about them in terms of credible academic sources.


I believe "citation needed" is the proper response to this. There's a TON of scholarly works analyzing Tolkien's works. Which reputable works actually says he based Gandalf specifically on Celtic bards?
So, nothing saying Gandalf was inspired by Celtic Bards, which was Ashyrm's claim.

We have Tolkien saying that he was inspired by a painting of a figure known as Der Berggeist the (translated) Mountain Spirit, by a 19th century German painter, of an old man with a large cloak and big hat in a mountain grove seated while petting a lamb. Certainly it can be seen as the source for Gandalf's appearance.

Tolkien did clearly draw on many influences from northern and western European folklore and myths in creating his works, but the evidence saying that Celtic Bards were specifically an inspiration for Gandalf are lacking.
I didn't say Celtic bard in regard to Gandalf. I said bard. One source is listed above. Another inspiration is Väinämöinen from the Kalevala.

Snodgrass, Ellen (2009). Encyclopedia of the Literature of Empire. Infobase Publishing. pp. 161–162. ISBN 9781438119069.

A lot of Tolkien's characters took inspiration from bard or bard equivalents. Väinämöinen had similarities to Odin and Merlin, and he would also use his songs and music for magic.

As for literature on the bards' roles, I'll refer you to:

1599805935832.png


It's written by D.W. Nash and stamped by the University of Oxford November 7, 1939 -- it has the citations you are requesting to validate my claims. The real question I would ask is what counter evidence have you offered? ;-)
 

Coroc

Hero
Amergin against the druids of the Tuatha de Danann during the Milesian invasion is the first example of bard vs druid that comes to mind. Taliesin rescuing Elphin from Maelgwn was a good example of using magic. Manawyddan in the court of Caswallon as portrayed in The Song of Rhiannon is another good example of a powerful magician in a bard (that one is Welsh based).

Taliesin was the bard in Arthur's court until replaced later legends with Merlin, who was based on Myrrdin, and fulfilled the seer / prophet role.

The original bard was based on Celtic mythology and history (hence the jack-of-all-trades aspect and magical nature) with the fili as stated, but also with influence from the skald and jongleur. When Gygax changed that to the 1e appendix option it was because of fighting and skill aspects of a bard, and also because in mythology the Celtic bards learned magic from the druids (sidenote: other sources have claimed bards first taught magic to druids and then druids retaught it to bards who had forgotten). When Jeff Goelz remade the bard in Dragon Magazine 56 it was specifically influenced on Manawyddan as stated in the article.

The fili/skald/jongleur was clearly stated in the Strategic Review article introducing the class, with similar statements in future editions.

View attachment 126056

Where I think you misinterpreted what I said is when I claimed the main influence was the fili that I was excluding other inspirations. The class evolved over time and 5e is meant to allow various archetypes under one similar class. At least that was one of the statements during the open beta testing. We aren't playing "Dying Earth the RPG" but that doesn't mean a player cannot take inspiration from them to build the character. I know many players who follow the jongleur concept, for example. This is from 2e:

"In precise historical terms, the title “bard” applies only to certain groups of Celtic poets who sang the history of their tribes in long, recitative poems. These bards, found mainly in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, filled many important roles in their society. They were storehouses of tribal history, reporters of news, messengers, and even ambassadors to other tribes. However, in the AD&D game, the bard is a more generalized character. Historical and legendary examples of the type include Alan-a-Dale, Will Scarlet, Amergin, and even Homer. Indeed, every culture has its storyteller or poet, whether he is called bard, skald, fili, jongleur, or something else."

It still stresses the typical versions. I can make a biwa hoshi bard if I wanted to now. That doesn't change the roots of the inspiration for the class. This is from XGtE:

View attachment 126057

And this is from the 5e PHB:

View attachment 126058

That scholarly fili is still there showing it's roots. Same as the skald. What's missing is the jongleur, specifically called out as "not every minstrel or jongleur..." is a bard. The only identity crisis is with players denying what bards actually were in favor of other pop culture tropes. Claiming the medieval minstrel comes to mind is the opposite of what is stated. At no point has the bard ever been stated to be based on a gigolo that I know of, lol. That's more of the pop culture style. Playing A Bard's Tale springs to mind for that one. I

Considering I was defending bards as full casters (because caster level was the previous indicator instead of max spell level, among other things) then I think you acknowledging such in my model is actually a "proof is in the pudding" moment. ;-)

I'll also point to Vanya Hargreeves for the "music is magic" trope. Destroying the moon and creating an extinction level event seems appropriate.

The bottom line is the current incarnation matches up to the original inspirations better than past versions.



The strategic review articles quoted above, 2e PHB quote, and Dragon article should give some. A person could probably dig more up. Praise poetry, chronicling events, and oral tradition is typical of the role.





I didn't say Celtic bard in regard to Gandalf. I said bard. One source is listed above. Another inspiration is Väinämöinen from the Kalevala.

Snodgrass, Ellen (2009). Encyclopedia of the Literature of Empire. Infobase Publishing. pp. 161–162. ISBN 9781438119069.

A lot of Tolkien's characters took inspiration from bard or bard equivalents. Väinämöinen had similarities to Odin and Merlin, and he would also use his songs and music for magic.

As for literature on the bards' roles, I'll refer you to:

View attachment 126059

It's written by D.W. Nash and stamped by the University of Oxford November 7, 1939 -- it has the citations you are requesting to validate my claims. The real question I would ask is what counter evidence have you offered? ;-)
thanks for clarifying your point, the medieval Minnesaenger was a kind of gigolo, although not in a physical love sense, but rather an idealized way, often "courting" married women, which would have led to big trouble back then, if it were the "real thing"
Walter von der Vogelweide is the best example for this.
 

Ashrym

Hero
thanks for clarifying your point, the medieval Minnesaenger was a kind of gigolo, although not in a physical love sense, but rather an idealized way, often "courting" married women, which would have led to big trouble back then, if it were the "real thing"
Walter von der Vogelweide is the best example for this.
What makes him a bard instead on an entertainer? We're back at "musician does not equal bard" just because bards play music.

A person can use him for personality traits as a bard but there's still no class design drawing from it.
 

thanks for clarifying your point, the medieval Minnesaenger was a kind of gigolo, although not in a physical love sense, but rather an idealized way, often "courting" married women, which would have led to big trouble back then, if it were the "real thing"
Walter von der Vogelweide is the best example for this.
So what you're saying is this washed-up, codpiece-wearing Russian singer is the ideal bard:

 
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although this guy is pretty ridiculous in a funny way, i do not get in the slightest way, what he has to do with my post. Is his name Walter in Russian eventually?

The description of "a kind of gigolo, although not in a physical love sense, but rather an idealized way, often "courting" married women, which would have led to big trouble back then, if it were the "real thing" is a pretty good description of the song.
 

Ashrym

Hero
I don't think "kind of a gigolo" is the right way to put it anyway. It was a the same tradition of minstrels and troubadours writing love poetry. Writing love songs isn't what makes a bard a bard. Writing love songs is a form of entertainment.

I would be more inclined to consider Walter von der Vogelweide a bard based on other works. Praise, satire, and moralizing in the political works fits the bard concept better.
 

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