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5E Damage on a Miss: Because otherwise Armour Class makes no sense

ExploderWizard

Villager
Or, you embrace the fact that there's some exceptions out there. A miss is usually, but not always or strictly, a miss
Why stop there? Perhaps every die roll that isn't up to snuff just becomes a negotiation mini-game to try and squeeze something out of nothing. Or heck, just make dice optional. If its a narrative you want then one hardly needs them. Tell desired story-profit!
 

JamesonCourage

Villager
Why stop there? Perhaps every die roll that isn't up to snuff just becomes a negotiation mini-game to try and squeeze something out of nothing. Or heck, just make dice optional. If its a narrative you want then one hardly needs them. Tell desired story-profit!
Yeah! Why do anything without taking to an extreme? I can't believe you cracked this!
 

Jester David

Villager
As everyone knows, AC refers to Armour Class and makes you harder to hit. This does not mean that wearing plate armour makes you leap around like a ninja (it doesn't slow you the way urban myths claim - but it certainly doesn't speed you up). Plate armour is utterly mundane and doesn't have a magical forcefield - but still adds 8 to your AC, making you much much harder to hit.

So what does this mean?
A significant proportion of blows that "miss" must be hitting your armour - otherwise armour class makes no sense at all because it does mean that plate armour turns you into a rapidly moving ninja.

Armour will absorb the force of most blows. Damage on a miss with brass knuckles would be ... bizarre. But when a giant swings a greatclub at you, armour will not help you get out of the way. It also isn't some magical inertia-neutralising thing - that greatclub still has momentum, and the only thing preventing it breaking your ribs is your armour so you must take blows on your armour. And with that much momentum you're going to end up with a full-torso bruise at the very least. Of course if you hadn't been wearing armour you'd be much worse off. You'd have taken the full force of the blow to your unprotected body. Ouch.

That's damage on a miss. And without it, large high impact weapons that will rattle the enemy by sheer force and momentum and AD&D's armour paradigm make no sense at all. (DR doesn't work any better because of the vast difference in what it stops between bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing).
That's very true, so long as:
a) hitpoints are meat
b) Your high AC is from armour
C) The blow would have connected

If hitpoints are a result of skill or energy or luck then the target of the attack doesn't take the blow full on but dodges out of the way or parries. Only the final hit, the one that knocks the target below 0 hp, actually connects.
A hit is them dodging out of the way, but doing so in a way that tires them out or leaves them a little wearier and more easily struck. A miss is a blow that they don't have to dodge or can be dodged so easily it does not tire them. DoaM means... they dodge out of the way but are still tired by the exertion, which sounds like how a hit is described.

If your high AC is from Dexterity or a spell like mage armour then a miss does not hit you or is deflected by magical force field that doesn't take impacts like metal plate.

The blow misses because or your armour and not because the target was blind or you had cover.


Given PCs wear armour but most monsters don't, the vast majority of the time, DoaM will NOT be applied to creatures in plate.
 
If hitpoints are a result of skill or energy or luck then the target of the attack doesn't take the blow full on but dodges out of the way or parries. Only the final hit, the one that knocks the target below 0 hp, actually connects.
A hit is them dodging out of the way, but doing so in a way that tires them out or leaves them a little wearier and more easily struck. A miss is a blow that they don't have to dodge or can be dodged so easily it does not tire them. DoaM means... they dodge out of the way but are still tired by the exertion, which sounds like how a hit is described.
Correct. If a character has DoaM, that means that even some of their results which, by the default mechanics, would count as "misses", nevertheless have (a modest version of) the same consequences in the fiction as wold those results which, by the default mechanics, would count as "hits".

In effect, for a DoaM character the attack roll isn't to determine whether or not they hit, but to determine which damage expression they use: W+STR, or STR on its own.
 

Reyemile

Villager
Not quite. AC does indeed refer to Armour Class, but it doesn't make you easier to hit, it makes you easier to hurt.

And as soon as that distinction is made, Damage on a Miss makes no sense whatsoever - an attack failed to hurt you, but it does damage anyway?
If Armor Class makes you harder to hurt, not to hit, then why do we refer to a low roll as a miss ​in the first place?
 

Emerikol

Villager
I'm battle weary over this as much as anyone. I think the mechanic fails to evoke the feel of a great weapon. I believe other approaches that no one objected to and which everyone embraced could have been presented. This is a failure of design. It's a failure because the devs are not aware of the viewpoint of a large segment of their playerbase. No one who likes DoaM would have missed it if another equally evocative but inoffensive option had been offered.

I'm not quiting the game over DoaM as it is now. If though the thinking that underlies damage on a miss pervades the game then it will be a deal breaker for me. I'll ban the mechanic otherwise. The key is are the devs going to go down this path? Is it the slippery slope? We have 4e to scare us when it comes to these types of mechanics. Obviously WOTC is capable of such design.
 

Emerikol

Villager
You claim that is "the problem". We can just as easily turn it around and say that "the problem" is folks being a tad too strict in insisting that game mechanics language must hitch directly to narrative language always and without exception, and willing to make a huge stink and fuss over it.
It is true that some people like process simulation. I don't know how we change that. I like it. I want my narrative to coincide with the mechanics. I do not like end results, narrate how you want design. So what do we do? I think we avoid offensive things as much as possible so long as a good alternative exists to evoke the right feel. Where that is impossible, I'd say we modularize. I do think though we shouldn't have to modularize that much.


If the biggest problem the game with dragons, elves, and fireballs has is an occasionally inconsistent definition of what a "hit" is, then I think we're doing pretty darned well. :)
This is one of the most fallacious arguments ever. Any author of fantasy or science fiction novels will tell you that they are often held to a tighter standard of realism than mystery writers.

I'll give you my classic example of why this is bad. Let's assume the super man universe. Superman is battling some enemy who knocks him off a skyscraper and he falls to the ground (force of blow or whatever). He gets back up and attacks. No problem happens all the time. If that same villian knocks a car full of ordinary people off the building and superman fails to save them and the car hits the ground, there should be no survivors. That is just as true in a superman story as in a murder she wrote story.

So a game being fantastical is not a license to ignore reality entirely.
 

Balesir

Villager
I'll give you my classic example of why this is bad. Let's assume the super man universe. Superman is battling some enemy who knocks him off a skyscraper and he falls to the ground (force of blow or whatever). He gets back up and attacks. No problem happens all the time. If that same villian knocks a car full of ordinary people off the building and superman fails to save them and the car hits the ground, there should be no survivors. That is just as true in a superman story as in a murder she wrote story.

So a game being fantastical is not a license to ignore reality entirely.
Sure - but that leaves the question of what constitutes "realistic". A system where the outcome of a melee exchange using medieval weapons devolves to a "hit" or a "miss" is hopelessly unrealistic. We can work around that or say that the mode of "fighting" is just part of the fantasy - which will work but will in no way contradict "damage on a miss".

P.S. I actually like the way you put it in your previous post - you just don't like it. No better reason to be against it, in my view (it's just not a reason to expect others to be against it).
 
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tomBitonti

Explorer
Apologies if this has already been covered ... there are so many threads ... but I'm seeing these problems with DOAM:

1) It scales terribly. How far you were from hitting makes no difference to the result.

Now, damage on a near-miss seems to be more sensible. But, D&D has, except in a few rare cases of optional or home rules, not gone down the route of detailing nears misses, or complete misses, or just barely hits, or strong hits. There *are* fumbles and crits in 3E, and those are set to the maximal results, so that sets a precedent to start considering the attack result vs. the target number as a measure of the result. But, we just haven't gone there, and the game seems to have long decided to not go there.

2) It requires wholly new mental gymnastics to explain. That is, we already have to bend (and bend, and bend) to explain hit points and attack rolls, and really only go so far before giving up and accepting the game mechanics as is, since they make for a decent game anyways. Why invent this new mechanic?

3) It interacts with other rules in strange ways. For example, often, an attack must deal damage for a poison effect to occur. Would poison apply on a miss?

4) It creates a new narrative niche which begs for an explanation. Does the damage represent effort expended to avoid an actual hit?

5) It breaks the abstraction model by adding a new mechanic which is defined in terms of the abstraction, not in terms of an underlying imagined world. Now, mathematicians often do this when exploring mathematical models of physics, and can arrive with new implied physical processes as a result. But, they can also arrive a non-physical situations. In the underlying game world, perhaps there is something there to be discovered which would explain damage on a miss. But, asking players to make that discovery is asking too much. The rules author really has to present a case to justify the abstraction -- that's their job, not the players.

Then, if there are these objections, and they seem to be real objections, the onus turns to the rules author to demonstrate that the new rule is a good idea. That, the new rule adds a value which is greater than the objections.

Thx!

TomB
 

the Jester

Legend
If Armor Class makes you harder to hurt, not to hit, then why do we refer to a low roll as a miss ​in the first place?
In all fairness, this has always been a thing in D&D. AC has always been a mix of "avoid the hit" and "absorb the blow".
 
It requires wholly new mental gymnastics to explain.

<snip>

It creates a new narrative niche which begs for an explanation.

<snip>

It breaks the abstraction model by adding a new mechanic which is defined in terms of the abstraction, not in terms of an underlying imagined world.
As far as I can tell these are all the same complaint.

Combat in D&Dnext (as in 3E and 4e) is broken up into 6-second chunks. Those chunks don't, in themselves, correspond to any event or process in the gameworld. Some physical processes in the gameworld - say, the swing of certain pendulums - have periods of 6 seconds, but combat is not one of those processes. The 6 second round is simply a metagame device for regulating the action economy.

As part of that action economy, the combat output of the typical character is determined by making 1 attack roll per 6 second round. That roll does not, in itself, correspond to any event or process in the gameworld. The combatants in the gameworld are (presumably) fighting much as real people do in the real world (or, perhaps, like fantasy people do in fantasy movies). They are not tocking at one another in a stop-motion fashion.

For the typical character, a successful to hit roll (" a hit") means that, in that 6 seconds of combat, the foe was worn down. In the fiction that could correspond to one mighty blow, multiple lesser blows, a flurry of skilled swordplay that left the foe somewhat exhausted, off-balance etc. The extent to which you want to treat this as some form of meat-ablation is up to you, although by default in D&Dnext, it's not meat until the foe has lost half their hp.

For the typical character, a failed to hit roll ("a miss") means that, in that 6 seconds of combat, the foe was not worn down. In the fiction that could correspond to blows successfully parried, or deflected off armour or a shield, or dodged, etc. Admittedly my grasp of the details of melee combat is limited, but it seems to me only in certain corner cases (eg a normal person dodges a giant's club or a dragon's bite) is the game mechanical "miss" likely to correspond in a literal sense to a series of swings which never connect in any physical way with a foe or his/her equipment. (Extra oddities arise in that, in the mechanics, it is possible to dodge a giant's club without yielding any ground, whereas at least in all the movie depictions of that sort of dodging I'm familiar with the dodging involves running about, to take advantage of the small target's manoeuvrability advantage over the giant, dragon etc.)

So far, none of the above considerations have factored in DoaM. They are just extrapolating from the mechanical logic of D&D combat plus my own common-sense (?) understanding of the physical realities of melee combat.

What difference does DoaM make? It means that, in 6 seconds of melee combat, the GWF cannot but wear down his/her foe to some extent. The function of the to-hit roll, for that character, is not to decide "whether or not", but rather to decided "how much?" (The two alternatives being STR or W+STR.) This does not "break the abstraction". The only "explanation" or "mental gymnastics" required is to imagine a fighter so implacable that, in 6 seconds of combat, s/he cannot but wear down his/her foe to some extent. That doesn't strike me as very hard.

Now for those who are not treating the action economy, the 6 second round and the attack roll as abstractions, but are treating them literally - as in, each combatant literally moves his/her weapon once per 6 seconds, and a weapon makes debilitating physical contact with an opponent at most once per 6 seconds (corresponding to a literal "hit"), and a "miss" on an attack roll is literally that, ie a blow which failed to make any sort of physical contact with an opponent but rather found only empty air - I can see how DoaM might be a problem.

But that is not because it breaks the abstraction. That is because it relies upon treating the combat mechanics as abstractions, rather than literal representations of physical movements by the characters within the gameworld.

(I regard all of the above as just spelling out, in a bit more detail, [MENTION=87792]Neonchameleon[/MENTION]'s analysis in the OP.)

It interacts with other rules in strange ways. For example, often, an attack must deal damage for a poison effect to occur. Would poison apply on a miss?
I took this to be what Mearls had in mind when he said on Twitter that DoaM causes some head-scratching at the table. If you are going to use it, you need to differentiate, in your statements of mechanics, between events/effects that trigger on a "hit" (ie a successful attack roll) and events/effects that trigger on the infliction of damage (which, for a GWF with DoaM, is any validly declared attack). This requires suitable drafting of rules text combined with a good sense of the desirable probability distribution for various effects.

To take your poison example: if it is a necessary condition of inflicting a poison effect that damage be dealt (that is not the case in 4e, nor I believe in B/X or AD&D, but might be in 3E for all I know), I think it would be a mistake to make that a sufficient condition. For balance reasons, a DoaM fighter who has poisoned his/her weapon should still have to roll a successful attack roll to deliver the poison.

No one who likes DoaM would have missed it if another equally evocative but inoffensive option had been offered.
Obviously by "no one" you don't literally mean "no one" - so the fact that I'm a counterexample to what you say isn't refutation on its own. But what is the evidence that I am a solitary, unrepresentative prospective customer?
 
The poison part isn't confusing at all IMO.

If the poison only applies on a hit, then Damage on a Miss wouldn't apply it. Maybe it's because you didn't get quite a good enough hit to break the skin, maybe your attack smacked against his armor, maybe he blocked it with his shield, etc.
 

tomBitonti

Explorer
*) What should the DOAM damage amount be?

In 3E terms, at first level, we can easily have a barbarian with:

Attack Bonus: +6: +1 (BAB) +1 (Weapon Focus) +3 (16 Str) +2 (+4 Str; Rage) -1 (Power Attack 1)

Damage: 15.5: 1d12 + 9: 1d12 (Great Axe) +7 (Str) +2 (Power Attack 1)

On the other hand, a sword and board fighter:

Attack Bonus: +5: +1 (BAB) +1 (Focus) +3 (16 Str)
Damage: 7.5: 1d8 + 3: 1d8 (Longsword) + 3 (16 Str)

Or, a fighter in a pinch, with just a dagger:

Attach Bonus: +4: +1 (BAB) +3 (16 Str)
Damage: 5.5: 1d4 + 3: 1d4 (Dagger) +3 (16 Str)

What's an appropriate DOAM damage amount if it is to be applied in all three cases?

*) Why only fighters? That is, why is a fighters ability of a different quality than a ranger's ability, or, a rogues? Why wouldn't BAB be a good universal measure of fighting ability? If DOAM represents effort (or luck) expended to avoid a miss, what makes a fighters miss more troublesome than a rogues miss, if both attack with the same attack bonus?

*) How do you narrate a miss from an attack of which the target is unaware? "The player felt a chill, as if someone had walked over their grave, or as if the fates had placed a dark doom upon them." ??

*) Where in the attack resolution to handle miss changes, say, due to cover or concealment?

*) What happens for, say, mirror image, or poison? Or for attacks which include additional effects, say, a blade that adds 1d6 fire damage?

---

The more I think about it, DOAM seems to be changing a fundamental point of how damage is applied (in D&D). One could replace weapon damage rolls with averages: 4 (or 5) instead of a 1d8. 6 (or 7) for a 1d12; 7 for 2d6, and so on. Or, one could scale damage based on the attack roll. That would probably only work with computer assistance. To create a contrived example, for a 1d8 + 3 damage result with a +7 attack bonus against AC 20, then a 13 roll yields 4 points, a 17 roll yields 8 points, and a 20 roll yields 11 points. Or, the attack roll could be omitted altogether, or radically simplified. Again, requiring computer assistance, the attack could be converted to expected damage, then linearized against an attack roll of a 1d4, with 12.5%, 37.5%, 62.%%, and 87.5% of damage on 1, 2, 3, or 4.

The end numbers would end up about the same, but hardly anyone suggests to do this. Pretty boring, and not easy to do without a computer (although trivial with one).

Doesn't Numenera do this? With modification to enable exceptional results (and put back in the excitement)? In the end, workable, but also, in the end, a rather different game system.

I'm still wondering what new excitement / game possibilities we achieve with DOAM type abilities.

Thx!

TomB
 
What's an appropriate DOAM damage amount if it is to be applied in all three cases?
I don't know. To date, D&Dnext grants DoaM only as a benefit for GWF, and so does not pose the question.

Assuming a STR of 16 and a 12 in 20 chance to hit (eg +4 bonus vs AC 13, which seems fairly typical for 1st level in the playtest at least), that makes the same contribution to expected damage per attack roll as a +2 bonus to damage, although in practice it may be slightly better than a +2 bonus over the long term due to less damage being wasted on low-hp targets.

Why only fighters? That is, why is a fighters ability of a different quality than a ranger's ability, or, a rogues? Why wouldn't BAB be a good universal measure of fighting ability? If DOAM represents effort (or luck) expended to avoid a miss, what makes a fighters miss more troublesome than a rogues miss, if both attack with the same attack bonus?
To me, this is like asking why a 3E barbarian gets both high HD and damage reduction - what does each of these correspond to in the fiction? Or why is it that DEX adds to AC but CON to hp, given that hp are often regarded as encapsulating the ability to avoid serious blows that would otherwise be fatal? Or why a 3E character can have maximum possible Reflex save yet a rather mediocre ability as an Acrobat (no ranks meaning DEX bonus only)?

D&D has never taken the approach of assigning mechanics to ingame properties and events on a one-to-one basis.

A GWF's ability, for me at least, represents implacability. In 6 seconds of confrontation with this fighter you will be worn down, whatever else happens. A ranger or paladin, at least in the last playtest, can also have this ability. A rogue cannot. Why not? Well, whatever story you tell that explains why a rogue, but not a weaponmaster fighter, can stab more accurately and forcefully from out of the shadow, tell an appropriate variation on that story to explain why the rogue is not implacable.

Personally I see these as trope reinforcements: the reason the rogue but not the fighter can sneak attack is because the rogue PC exemplifies the trope of the "stabby sneak"; the reason the fighter but not the rogue gets GWF with DoaM is because the fighter but not the rogue exemplifies the trope of "relentless dreadnought fighter".

How do you narrate a miss from an attack of which the target is unaware?
I don't see the problem: once someone takes N hp of damage from an attack from a greataxe, they're not going to be unaware of the greataxe anymore!

We've been narrating auto-damage from invisible MUs shooting magic missiles for a long time now.

Where in the attack resolution to handle miss changes, say, due to cover or concealment?
Miss chances aren't features of 4e, 13th Age or D&Dnext. 3E/PF has both damage on a miss (I gather from others) and miss chances, but I don't know how they interact.

What happens for, say, mirror image, or poison? Or for attacks which include additional effects, say, a blade that adds 1d6 fire damage?
Poison and bonus damage were addressed by me and [MENTION=6774827]EnglishLanguage[/MENTION] upthread: you draft your rules to make clear when these effects apply and when they don't. In most cases you probably want special effects to apply only on a successful attack roll.

Mirror Image in 4e provides a bonus to AC and is run down only on a miss. In D&Dnext Mirror Image takes effect when a target is declared but before an attack roll is made. So its mechanical interaction with DoaM is quite clear.

The more I think about it, DOAM seems to be changing a fundamental point of how damage is applied (in D&D).
I don't think so. D&D has long had auto-damage (eg magic missile, various AoE effects, etc). DoaM just extends the domain of auto-damage into melee combat, thereby supporting the narrative of the implacable fighter.

I'm still wondering what new excitement / game possibilities we achieve with DOAM type abilities.
For me, they are a marker of a readiness to explore the design space that exists within D&D's abstract combat mechanics. 4e did this on a fairly large scale, and I am unlikely to be interested in a D&Dnext that resolutely refuses to do so at all.

More prosaically within the context of D&Dnext, and as [MENTION=63508]Minigiant[/MENTION] has pointed out on at least some of these threads, it makes low-level GWF mechanically viable. Otherwise they have a tendency to die off before they actually get to do their thing (due to lower AC, having no shield, but not having the compensating 2nd attack of the 2WF).
 
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Balesir

Villager
First, a note: I think there are many and various answers to [MENTION=13107]tomBitonti[/MENTION]'s questions, all of which are valid. I'm just going to give ones that occur immediately to me, by way of illustration.

*) What should the DOAM damage amount be?

*snippage*

What's an appropriate DOAM damage amount if it is to be applied in all three cases?
STR bonus seems to me a good basis. Reason? One of several would be that there is absolutely no reason for a melee attack to culminate in either a hit with the weapon originally used to strike or a clear miss. Fechbuchs and illustrations clearly show that pommel/butt strikes, punches, arm locks, leg hooks, axe-like blows with the quillions, kicks, knees and headbutts could all be the outcome of an attack with a longsword (bastard sword, in D&D parlance). To restrict the possible outcomes to "cut with blade or miss" is just bizarre.

*) Why only fighters? That is, why is a fighters ability of a different quality than a ranger's ability, or, a rogues?
Because only fighters train in the full, martial arts techniques that use medieval weapons to their fullest potential, maybe? This could actually form a fine basis for fighters having the ability to do damage if their opponent misses, too, actually. There are several techniques that can convert a response to an attack directly into an arm lock (read "break") or a strike with the attacker's own weapon against a poorly trained target.

*) How do you narrate a miss from an attack of which the target is unaware? "The player felt a chill, as if someone had walked over their grave, or as if the fates had placed a dark doom upon them." ??
If we are talking about a melee attack - which is what is suggested for DDN - then the target will be aware of the attack after it happens, whether they were aware of it beforehand or not! The only way an attack on an unaware target will fail is through luck - they turn or move at just the crucial moment, or a piece of armour deflects the incoming weapon - and there will be a "clash of bodies" regardless.

*) Where in the attack resolution to handle miss changes, say, due to cover or concealment?
Cover and concealment don't work the same way in close combat as they do for missiles. No-one stabs into a brick wall instead of an enemy by accident. What they do is restrict the combatants' options - but they also add new options to a skilled fighter, such as crushing/bashing the enemy against the wall, or flicking a branch into the enemy's face.

What you need to account for is that a trained fighter is not just trying to strike their enemy with their weapon - they are trying to disable the enemy with anything, and by any means, that they can do so. An important concept in close combat is to control your opponent's weapon. If that weapon is only their sword, this is a lot easier than if their weapon is their whole body and aspects of the fighting environment, so fighting with your whole body has clear advantages.

*) What happens for, say, mirror image, or poison? Or for attacks which include additional effects, say, a blade that adds 1d6 fire damage?
Well, in the examples I gave, easy - you are not striking with the blade, so poison or flame don't figure into the situation. The mirror image likely doesn't, either, since the "miss damage" will not be coming from the initial movement in the exchange, so it will be guided as much by touch as by sight. If you watch swordsmen fight, you will see that they often keep their blades (or shields) "bound" (touching). This is because you get a much better feedback of what your opponent intends to do next that way. Of course, this is mutual - but if you are a better fighter it's a net advantage.
 

Minigiant

Villager
The real issue is that a lot can happen in 6 seconds.

So my imagination of what happened in 6 seconds of a fight is different from your. And his. And hers. And that guy. And that dude.

Because my imagination is fueled by Brooklynstreet fights as a youth and heavy Street Fighter play. Why a another guy is an amateur fender. While that woman is a boxing geek. While that guy is a fan of medieval fighting illustrations and reenactments.

But D&D had 6 seconds of fighting as one roll versus one number with a result one for rolling igher
​So the base mechanic didn't always match everyone's imagination because attack rolls in D&D is so simple.
 

Balesir

Villager
But D&D had 6 seconds of fighting as one roll versus one number with a result one for rolling igher
​So the base mechanic didn't always match everyone's imagination because attack rolls in D&D is so simple.
Yeah, but I would say that the general outcome of the base mechanic can fit OK with most players' imaginations - it's when you start trying to dictate "facts" about what happens inside that mechanic, within those 6 seconds, that problems start to arise.
 

Iosue

Community Supporter
The point that always seems forgotten is that "miss" doesn't refer to the character missing with their attack. It refers to the player missing their target number on the d20.
 

ExploderWizard

Villager
The point that always seems forgotten is that "miss" doesn't refer to the character missing with their attack. It refers to the player missing their target number on the d20.
Thats because "an attack" is an overall effort to do effective damage during the round. DoaM makes the answer to that question YES 100% of the time. The hit roll is then merely
a glorified damage multiplier. Does this fighter do greater damage or lesser damage this round?

We already have variable damage rolls for that.
 

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