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Finesse rebalance

Cap'n Kobold

Explorer
So what's our assumption here? A feat-less game that also bans Multiclassing (where Str 13 is required for Paladin and Barb?).
Nope. Any situation where the Str-based character doesn't pick up one or two specific feats.
IME featless games are very rare, but characters not picking up GWM are not.
So Finesse weapons are only a problem:

1) In featless games with no multiclassing, in which case it amounts to (at best) a minor if indeed any benefit to fighters, and a net loss to Paladins and Barbarians.
. . .
Are you assuming that all Str-based characters take GWM? I feel that there is a disconnect here.
 

Flamestrike

Explorer
. . .
Are you assuming that all Str-based characters take GWM? I feel that there is a disconnect here.
No I'm saying if the game presumes Multi-classing and Feats, Strength is clearly superior to Dexterity on Paladins and Barbarians (at a bare minimum).

Seriously how many Dex + Sharpshooter Barbarians or Paladins have you seen exactly? And dont try and sell me that the combo is any good'; it's awful on those classes.

When it comes to Fighters, for every Dex based Fighter with Sharpshooter (and most Dex based Fighters are Sharpshooters and thus Ranged PCs who only have rapiers largely for show, unless they're also Rogue M/Cs like Swashbuckler + Battlemasters), you'll find several Fighters with GWM and/or PAM (Strength builds) in heavy armor.

The only Dex based Fighters I've seen have been Rogue multi-classes or Sharpshooters/ Arcane Archers/ Crossbow experts. Every other Fighter (and every single Barbarian and Paladin) have been Strength based, often with GWM, PAM at a reasonable frequence (or both).

The only 'martials' that default to Dex is Rangers (who are a little MAD due to needing Wisdom for casting) with Archery being the most optimal choice for that class, and (of course) Rogues, the latter of which face a choice between 'rapier' or 'two shortwsords' (which is so iconic it doesnt bother me).

I dont see 'zomg rapiers' at my table. Maybe your mileage differs however.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
If they're taking either of those feats, they're ranged characters and the rapier is for show only. Finesse is a non issue.
Dex characters, unlike Str characters, don’t have to dedicate themselves to being melee or ranged only, since they use the same mod to hit and do damage with both. This is more of a reason that finesse is INBA, not less.



No, they're not. Firstly, you need Str 13 to MC as a Barbarian or Paladin.
...so? Who multiclasses?

Secondly Dex based barbarians miss out on Rage damage with dex.
And in exchange they get significantly higher AC and become competent at range. That’s well worth 2 measly damage per hit.

They miss out on using reckless attack + advantage to land GWM hits.
And they miss out on ranged attacks and AC with Str, what’s your point?

Their capstone becomes half useless.
Never in my life have I seen a campaign last long enough for capstones to matter. Even in a game that actually goes to 20, it’s only relevant for 1/20 of your character’s career. Not a big deal.

The advantage on Strength checks when raging becomes meh.
Actually it becomes far more useful, because it makes up for the low Strength mod, instead of being superfluous.

They can use Dex based ranged weapons, but why would they?
...To hit enemies from a distance? Is this a trick question?

Youll never see Sharpshooter or Crossbow expert on a Paladin or Barbarian. Ever.
Hasnt stopped me from seeing more Dex based Paladins than Str based. Barbarians I do tend to see more Str based, but I’ve seen a few Dex based ones.

Paladins cant smite at range, putting them into melee combat. Again V-Paladin and D-Paladin get oath abilities that grant big bonuses to hit (mitigating GWM's -5 to hit) - either advantage to hit or +Charisma to hit. Even A-Paladins get to restrain their target with their oath ability also granting a bonus to hit (and making GWM much better).
GMW isn’t that great on Paladins, for the same reason Sharpshooter isn’t that great on rogues. When you have a class feature like Sneak Attack or Smite that can do buckets of extra damage dice on a hit, -5 to hit for +10 static damage becomes a much worse trade off against opponents of a much wider range of ACs. And dual-wielding becomes a much better option as it gives you an additional opportunity to potentially apply those extra damage dice.

Paladins are also highly MAD - Charisma is vital, as is Con. Dumping Wisdom is a no-no, leaving only 2 stats to dump. Intelligence or one of Dex or Strength.

Seeing as you're proficient in Heavy armor from level 1, and need a minimum of Str 13 to multi-class later, its a no-brainer to dump Dex.
If you plan to multiclass.

They're not better than longswords.
Yes they are. If you’re planning to fight with a weapon in 2 hands anyway, then you’re better off with a greatsword or a halberd than a longsword. If you’re not, then the option to use the same stat for melee attacks that you use for ranged attacks and AC is much better than the option to use your weapon that you didn’t plan to use in 2 hands 2 handed.

Screw that. You cant dump Strength on a Paladin or Barbarian and multi-class. Dumping Strength on a Paladin or Barbarian also rules you out of GWM and Heavy weapons which is a bad idea on those classes generally.
The fact that you need one of two classes, multiclassing, a specific fighting style, and a specific feat to make Str more appealing than Dex is a problem.

Im pointing out that your 'problem' is illusory, and that there is no need to do it.
Just because it’s not a problem for you doesn’t mean the people for whom it is a problem are delusional. Believe it or not, different people have different experiences playing and running D&D. I promise, I won’t force you to use the fixes I come up with for problems I experience in my games. Would you kindly return the favor and not try to force me not to fix things that you don’t experience problems with?

That's not the DMs job, that's the players job.

And I guess If you're allowing players to dump Strength willy nilly and never bothering to deal with encumbrance, then that could be a problem.

But that's not a problem with finesse weapons; its a problem with you ignoring the rules.

The same can be said for Hexblades and Charisma to hit and damage (plus medium armor). I lol every time I see one with Strength 8 and Halfplate and shield.

He's moving at 20'.
You’re talking about the optional variant encumbrance rule. If you’re using that, dumping Strength becomes a bit less appealing of a proposition, but that fix comes at the cost of significantly more bookkeeping. If you’re using the default rules for carrying capacity, a 120 lb. limit on characters with 8 strength is pretty manageable.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I dont see 'zomg rapiers' at my table. Maybe your mileage differs however.
You say this, and yet you also say the problem is illusory. Just because it isn’t a problem at your table, doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem at anyone else’s, and it’s pretty rude to walk into a conversation about how to address a problem many people are experiencing and say “this isn’t a real problem, you shouldn’t bother trying to fix it” just because you personally aren’t experiencing the problem.
 

Flamestrike

Explorer
Dex characters, unlike Str characters, don’t have to dedicate themselves to being melee or ranged only, since they use the same mod to hit and do damage with both. This is more of a reason that finesse is INBA, not less.
But they do anyway, seeing as Paladins and Barbarians already suck at ranged combat. Every single Paladin or Barbarian I've seen packs some Strength based throwing weapons and focuses on mobility (getting toe to toe as soon as possible).

Why are we forcing MAD on Martials anyway? They already need [one of Str or Dex], and Con. And why are we forcing them to use two different Stats for combat, when Casters get away with 1 stat for melee spell attacks, ranged spell attacks AND spell DCs?

...so? Who multiclasses?
Maybe your game doesnt include multiclassing. That's fine, but it's a rule and when in play (as it is at many tables, including all AL tables and under AL rules) Strength is important.

And in exchange they get significantly higher AC and become competent at range. That’s well worth 2 measly damage per hit.
Strength builds have the higher AC. At 1st level, every Strength based martial is rocking Chainmail for AC 16. Thats 1 point better than Dex 16/17 and studded leather.

Plate mail comes online at around 4th level when the ASI comes online for Dex guys (bringing them up to AC 16), and its AC 18. AC 18 is unattainable with Light armor.

And they miss out on ranged attacks and AC with Str, what’s your point?
They dont miss out. Thrown melee weapons use Strength to hit and damage. Javelins and hand-axes are prefectly fine. Range isnt as good as a Bow, and the damage is 1 point less on average, but they deal more damage in melee (considerably more when class features are taken into account like Rage and Smite) and have the higher AC.

It's a trade off.

Never in my life have I seen a campaign last long enough for capstones to matter.
Im sorry to hear that. You should look for another group maybe.

Actually it becomes far more useful, because it makes up for the low Strength mod, instead of being superfluous.
That's one way of looking at it I guess. Now you're mediocre at everything, instead of being really good at Strength stuff.

Hasnt stopped me from seeing more Dex based Paladins than Str based.
Great, but it's a terrible idea.

GMW isn’t that great on Paladins, for the same reason Sharpshooter isn’t that great on rogues. When you have a class feature like Sneak Attack or Smite that can do buckets of extra damage dice on a hit, -5 to hit for +10 static damage becomes a much worse trade off against opponents of a much wider range of ACs. And dual-wielding becomes a much better option as it gives you an additional opportunity to potentially apply those extra damage dice.
Unlike Sneak Attack, Smite is a finite resource. Seeing as you (self admittedly) play low to mid level games, Paladins have no-where near enough Smites to spam them more than a handful of times on your average median 6 encounter Adventuring day.

For every other attack, there is GWM.

The fact that you need one of two classes, multiclassing, a specific fighting style, and a specific feat to make Str more appealing than Dex is a problem.
See my post above.

You’re talking about the optional variant encumbrance rule. If you’re using that, dumping Strength becomes a bit less appealing of a proposition, but that fix comes at the cost of significantly more bookkeeping.
Not for the DM it doesnt.

I ask my PCs to track the weights of armor, weapons and ball-park their other gear (rations are heavy).

If you've ever spent time in the Army, or gone hiking, you'll understand why this is important.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Not enough time at present to read through the thread, so my apologies if I am repeating anything others have already said.

Finesse becomes that you use DEX or STR to attack. Damage is still STR. This weakens DEX as a do-all ability score and makes finesse less of a game changer out of the gate.

So a default DEX-based rapier is inferior to a default STR-based longsword.

Then we add in a Fighting Style
Swashbuckler: You may use your DEX or STR for damage with all finesse weapons. If you are not holding a shield or non-finesse weapon, you gain +1 AC in light, medium or no armor.

The +1 AC is to bring it up the the level of the other fighting styles, though it's a bit stepping on the Protection style. Other suggestions welcome.

Rogues and Monks would get either this fighting style (which would boost their AC) or just the use DEX for damage as well, as an additional feature.

A feat would also do something similar, probably as a half-feat that also raises DEX.

(Note that if I wanted to make this level of balance, I'd probably also adjust the melee vs. ranfged damage, especially since I did just decrease DEX melee damage but not DEX ranged damage.)

If you think the rapier is too good, would you use this? What does it break? (DEX-clerics?) How can we improve it?
We already house-rule all bonus damage comes from Strength, regardless of the weapon type with the exception of loading weapons, which never receive a bonus to damage. This fixed finesse for us. We also added rules for light and heavy weapons (light weapons do half STR mod and heavy to 1.5 x STR mod, both round down). We removed two-handed and all heavy weapons are two-handed by default (most already were anyway). Ranged weapons always require two hands, regardless (for firing and loading), but thrown weapons are always one-handed.

I don't mind the new Fighting Style, but it seems a bit much like a strange combo of Dueling, Defenseive Duelist, and Dual Wielding, ya know? In a non-feat game I am sure you could write such a style that would work better IMO.

If I think of anything I will certainly contribute!
 

Flamestrike

Explorer
You say this, and yet you also say the problem is illusory. Just because it isn’t a problem at your table, doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem at anyone else’s, and it’s pretty rude to walk into a conversation about how to address a problem many people are experiencing and say “this isn’t a real problem, you shouldn’t bother trying to fix it” just because you personally aren’t experiencing the problem.
Its your game and do what you want, but not only do I not see the need to do what you're suggesting, I think it's a poor choice.

Will you be imposing a similar rule forcing Spell Casters to use Int for Spell Attack rolls (spell power), Wisdom for Spell save DC's (will power) and Charisma (force of will) for Spell damage... or will they continue to use one stat for literally everything, while Martials are forced to split between Strength, Dex and Con?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Why are we forcing MAD on Martials anyway? They already need [one of Str or Dex], and Con. And why are we forcing them to use two different Stats for combat, when Casters get away with 1 stat for melee spell attacks, ranged spell attacks AND spell DCs?
Casters get exactly as much benefit out of Con as martials do, so it seems a little misleading to say martials need two stats and casters only need one. Also, casters can’t boost their AC with the same stat they use for spell attacks/DCs, and only Warlocks can add any stat at all to their spell damage. The point isn’t to make anyone MAD, the point is to not have one stat that does everything another stat does and more.

Maybe your game doesnt include multiclassing. That's fine, but it's a rule and when in play (as it is at many tables, including all AL tables and under AL rules) Strength is important.
I allow multiclassing, my players just never choose to do it.

Strength builds have the higher AC. At 1st level, every Strength based martial is rocking Chainmail for AC 16. Thats 1 point better than Dex 16/17 and studded leather.

Plate mail comes online at around 4th level when the ASI comes online for Dex guys (bringing them up to AC 16), and its AC 18. AC 18 is unattainable with Light armor.
Indeed, Str builds have Dex builds beat by about 1AC if the Dex character keeps up with their Dex ASIs, or more if they don’t. But this comes at the cost of significantly more gold, more weight carried, -5 or 6 Initiative, and -5 or 6 and Disadvantage on Stealth checks. I’ll take the slightly lower AC over the significantly lower Initiative and Stealth any day of the week.

They dont miss out. Thrown melee weapons use Strength to hit and damage. Javelins and hand-axes are prefectly fine. Range isnt as good as a Bow, and the damage is 1 point less on average, but they deal more damage in melee (considerably more when class features are taken into account like Rage and Smite) and have the higher AC.

It's a trade off.
It is indeed a tradeoff, but by my evaluation Dex gets the better end of the deal. And apparently by my players’ evaluation too judging by how many more Dex builds I see than Str.

Im sorry to hear that. You should look for another group maybe.
I’m not.

That's one way of looking at it I guess. Now you're mediocre at everything, instead of being really good at Strength stuff.
No, you’re really good at Dex stuff and passable at Strength stuff, instead of being really good at Strength stuff and awful at Dex stuff.

Great, but it's a terrible idea.
Not in my experience.

Unlike Sneak Attack, Smite is a finite resource. Seeing as you (self admittedly) play low to mid level games, Paladins have no-where near enough Smites to spam them more than a handful of times on your average median 6 encounter Adventuring day.

For every other attack, there is GWM.

See my post above.
Indeed, smite spam generally leaves paladins pretty boned. It’s generally better to conserve your spell slots for a bigger threat. Meanwhile, sure, you could use GWM if you built for Str. Or Sharpshooter if you built for Dex. Or just, like, hit stuff normally, and you’ll still do just fine.


Not for the DM it doesnt.

I ask my PCs to track the weights of armor, weapons and ball-park their other gear (rations are heavy).

If you've ever spent time in the Army, or gone hiking, you'll understand why this is important.
Its importance depends entirely on your priorities. If you consider it a priority to simulate the difficulty of carrying lots of stuff, sure, that’s important. Personally, that’s not really my main focus when I play or run D&D.

Its your game and do what you want, but not only do I not see the need to do what you're suggesting, I think it's a poor choice.
Great. Duely noted. Now will you excuse the rest of us while we continue to discuss a change we do see a need for?

Will you be imposing a similar rule forcing Spell Casters to use Int for Spell Attack rolls (spell power), Wisdom for Spell save DC's (will power) and Charisma (force of will) for Spell damage... or will they continue to use one stat for literally everything, while Martials are forced to split between Strength, Dex and Con?
I mean, honestly that sounds like a pretty good idea to me. It’s not really the topic at hand, but since you asked, I wouldn’t be opposed to discussing such a change.
 
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Xeviat

Explorer
Will you be imposing a similar rule forcing Spell Casters to use Int for Spell Attack rolls (spell power), Wisdom for Spell save DC's (will power) and Charisma (force of will) for Spell damage... or will they continue to use one stat for literally everything, while Martials are forced to split between Strength, Dex and Con?
This is the big thing right here. While I'd say almost everyone chooses Con as their 2nd or 3rd highest stat, and I think rebalancing Con would be a better discussion, I don't feel like the rapier unbalances everything that much.

If you really need to, then say finesse can't use shields. 3E had that rule. It just means melee Dex fighters will have less choice and will go into TWFing only instead of sword/shield.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
This is the big thing right here. While I'd say almost everyone chooses Con as their 2nd or 3rd highest stat, and I think rebalancing Con would be a better discussion, I don't feel like the rapier unbalances everything that much.

If you really need to, then say finesse can't use shields. 3E had that rule. It just means melee Dex fighters will have less choice and will go into TWFing only instead of sword/shield.
Right here you’ve clearly identified why “finesse can’t use shields” isn’t a great way to rebalance Dex.
 
Not enough time at present to read through the thread, so my apologies if I am repeating anything others have already said.



We already house-rule all bonus damage comes from Strength, regardless of the weapon type with the exception of loading weapons, which never receive a bonus to damage. This fixed finesse for us. We also added rules for light and heavy weapons (light weapons do half STR mod and heavy to 1.5 x STR mod, both round down). We removed two-handed and all heavy weapons are two-handed by default (most already were anyway). Ranged weapons always require two hands, regardless (for firing and loading), but thrown weapons are always one-handed.

I don't mind the new Fighting Style, but it seems a bit much like a strange combo of Dueling, Defenseive Duelist, and Dual Wielding, ya know? In a non-feat game I am sure you could write such a style that would work better IMO.

If I think of anything I will certainly contribute!
It might have been faster just to say "in my campaign, everyone uses greatswords and nothing else."
 
2) In games with feats... due to Sharpshooter (i.e. on characters that dont even use Finessable melee weapons)?
Sharpshooters'd use finesse weapons as melee backup. The way STR characters use heavy thrown weapons as ranged backup.

Which, I think, illustrates the issue. Heavy thrown weapons are a pretty serious downgrade from archery. Rapiers, as the OP points out, are not a downgrade from longswords, really, at all.

Those guys gt single stat to hit and damage for melee and ranged spell attacks and no-one blinks an eye.
This is D&D. Magic is supposed to be just better.

Will you be imposing a similar rule forcing Spell Casters to use Int for Spell Attack rolls (spell power), Wisdom for Spell save DC's (will power) and Charisma (force of will) for Spell damage...
Not the worst idea I've ever heard.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The last game I ran, I did have the common problem - the rogue, with better Initiative, similar AC, and high damage from sneak attack, left the party paladin feeling a tad... unimportant in combat.

Next D&D game I run, I may simply remove the Dex modifier from damage from Finesse. I am not sure it needs whole fighting styles and such to then make up for it.
 

Psyzhran2357

Villager
The last game I ran, I did have the common problem - the rogue, with better Initiative, similar AC, and high damage from sneak attack, left the party paladin feeling a tad... unimportant in combat.

Next D&D game I run, I may simply remove the Dex modifier from damage from Finesse. I am not sure it needs whole fighting styles and such to then make up for it.

Isn't that more an issue with how consistently Rogues can nova with Sneak Attack? They's only be doing an average of 1 less DPR if they were going ranged with shortbow and the exact same DPR as the rapier with the light crossbow.
 

Flamestrike

Explorer
The last game I ran, I did have the common problem - the rogue, with better Initiative, similar AC, and high damage from sneak attack, left the party paladin feeling a tad... unimportant in combat.
Level 5 Rogue. 1 attack (rapier) at +7 dealing 3d6+1d8+4 [19] damage (presuming adjacent PC to trigger sneak attack) = around 19 damage.

Level 5 Paladin. 2 attacks (Greatsword) at +7 dealing 4d6+8 damage -re'roll 1s and 2s = around 25 damage.

The Paladin also has roughly 6 x smites and/or smite spells, 3 x divine channels (including either +Cha to hit and damage or advantage to hit), and damage buffs from +1d4 radiant to every hit, or Hunters mark from V-Pal.

Paladin AC should be 18. Rogue AC should be 16.

No feats here, but if allowed, there is better feat support for the Greatsword (GWM's power attack and cleave) than the Rapier. Again, I'm not sure the perception fits the reality.

I dont know. I use feats and MCing, and I see a lot of Strength builds. Literally every single Cleric, Paladin, Barbarian and most Fighters (those that arent built specifically as archers) use Strength.

The only 'Dex to melee' guys I've seen in literally dozens of campaigns over 5 years have been every single Monk, and a Swashbuckler/ Battlemaster with TWF and Rogues.

Every Ranger barring 1 I have seen has been ranged, and the 1 ranger that was melee was a Tortle TWF Strength guy.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Level 5 Rogue. 1 attack (rapier) at +7 dealing 3d6+1d8+4 [19] damage (presuming adjacent PC to trigger sneak attack) = around 19 damage.

Level 5 Paladin. 2 attacks (Greatsword) at +7 dealing 4d6+8 damage -re'roll 1s and 2s = around 25 damage.
The smart rogue uses dual shortswords in melee rather than a rapier unless they're going Arcane Trickster and need the off-hand for spellcasting components. That's 5d6+4 damage, for around 21.5 damage per round - still not as much as the paladin can dish out, but it's pretty close. The paladin also loses half that damage (for around 12.5) if he misses one attack, whereas the rogue only loses 1d6 (for around 18 damage). Heck, if the rouge lands the first hit, they can spend their bonus action on one of their Cunning Action options instead of blowing it on a chance at a few extra points of damage. Even assuming the paladin does land both hits and the rogue lands the first one and Disengages or something, that's a tradeoff of 7 DPR, 2 AC, and -4-5 athletics for 1,455 gold, +4-5 Initiative, +4-5 stealth and no disadvantage, +4-5 acrobatics, +4-5 sleight of hand, +4-5 thieves's tools all before proficiency/expertise. I'd say the paladin's getting the raw end of the deal here.

The Paladin also has roughly 6 x smites and/or smite spells, 3 x divine channels (including either +Cha to hit and damage or advantage to hit), and damage buffs from +1d4 radiant to every hit, or Hunters mark from V-Pal.
Sure, but the Paladin still gets all of that if they go Dex instead of Str, which is IMO the smarter choice.

No feats here, but if allowed, there is better feat support for the Greatsword (GWM's power attack and cleave) than the Rapier. Again, I'm not sure the perception fits the reality.
If we're adding in Feats, the rogue can take Dual Wielder and get two rapiers instead of two shortswords and close the AC gap, or Crossbow Expert and use a hand crossbow, allowing them to transition seamlessly between melee and ranged.

I dont know. I use feats and MCing, and I see a lot of Strength builds. Literally every single Cleric, Paladin, Barbarian and most Fighters (those that arent built specifically as archers) use Strength.
And I allow both feats and MCing and I see a lot more Dex builds than Strength. Every single rogue, monk, ranger, most fighters and paladins (those that aren't built specifically as great weapon masters), every bladelock, every bladesinger wizard, and even some clerics and barbarians use Dexterity.

The only 'Dex to melee' guys I've seen in literally dozens of campaigns over 5 years have been every single Monk, and a Swashbuckler/ Battlemaster with TWF and Rogues.

Every Ranger barring 1 I have seen has been ranged, and the 1 ranger that was melee was a Tortle TWF Strength guy.
It's very strange to me that you draw a line between "Dex to melee guys" and ranged guys. Any Dex-based character can do both with no penalty whatsoever.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
It's very strange to me that you draw a line between "Dex to melee guys" and ranged guys. Any Dex-based character can do both with no penalty whatsoever.
I've always felt like it should take more time to be switching from melee to a ranged projectile weapon vs. switching from melee to a thrown weapon. A bow user could draw a weapon and hold their bow in their off-hand, but then they don't get the benefit of a shield (anyone else have groups that sundered bows as a typical strategy in 3E?). The rules kind of don't differentiate item manipulation but that is another point to consider.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Level 5 Rogue. 1 attack (rapier) at +7 dealing 3d6+1d8+4 [19] damage (presuming adjacent PC to trigger sneak attack) = around 19 damage.

Level 5 Paladin. 2 attacks (Greatsword) at +7 dealing 4d6+8 damage -re'roll 1s and 2s = around 25 damage.

The Paladin also has roughly 6 x smites and/or smite spells, 3 x divine channels (including either +Cha to hit and damage or advantage to hit), and damage buffs from +1d4 radiant to every hit, or Hunters mark from V-Pal.

Paladin AC should be 18. Rogue AC should be 16.
Your analysis has too many assumptions to be useful to me, but thank you for trying.
 

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