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General GM's are you bored of your combat and is it because you made it boring?

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Putting it in the DMG doesn't help much when it comes to showing players that not all fights have to go to the death and that fleeing is sometimes wise.
Obviously doing it yourself would but they probably put it in the DMG to remind the DM since that's the person that tends to forget this fact more often than not.

I've always played my NPC's as if they don't want to die. It's funny since the majority of my NPC's don't even kill when they down PC's since that sort of stuff just increases escalation and increases the odds that they themselves will be killed if they lose.

If my NPC is good-aligned, they may even use their action to stabilize (but not awaken) the PC they've just downed. Neutral NPC's might or might not. Everyone also knows that a murder charge isn't worth whatever they're doing.
 

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Utter BS arguement. Science proved you wrong. As for dragons not having a society, I recommand you to read The complete book of dragons. There is even a serie of novel set in Mystara about the Draconic society... so yep my point stands.
ROFL oh god son wow damn. No, science proved me right. I'm the scientist here, you're the layman making wild claims, in terms of training/knowledge. And societies promote the survival of the weak, so if you have a draconic society, more weak dragons will survive to older ages.

Wow, you need to review what is a Lich and reread. A wizard becomes a Lich to study strange forgotten secrets/lore and to eventually reach godhood. Not every lich succeed. It is a case where many are called, few are chosen... But if a Lich is a morron insane lunatic with no rational, it is far from the lich I have read about. Say hello to Vecna, Acererak, Lizandred and quite a few others.
Buddy, read your own words - "not every lich succeed". Yeah, most of them probably don't. For every Vecna, how many lunatic liches do you think there are? Probably quite a few. Vecna is the cream of the crop, he rose to the top, he never eats a... er... anyway, he's not your average Lich.

That said, the 1e DMG advice "Always give a monster an even break" still applies. :)
What does that mean in this context, though? I always play a monster true to its personality, knowledge, limitations, advantages and so on (to the best of my ability!). But I play them true, rather than just playing to win - often they're the same thing - but sometimes they're very divergent.

I must be doing something right, given people have expressed the opinion that when I run combat it's somehow "better" than other DMs (I suspect it's the RP of the monsters and playing them according to motivations, but I dunno - it might just be that I'm a lot faster with monster turns than other DMs I play with, because I know that's the case).
 

I too find the optional rule in the DMG to be... lacking?
Morale should be something that vary from monster to monster. Some kind of monsters are "braver" or more "reckless?" than others and for good reasons (Trolls for example). While others are notorious cowards (kobolds? goblins?). With a base bravery "morale" score, it was easier to judge if monsters would flee or surrender. Some monsters even had adjustments depending on what kind of attacks were used against them (fire against troll was more than just doing damage, it lowered their morale too). These rules were simplifying the work of a DM by a big margin. When a rule is there, you can ignore or apply it as you see fit. When it is absent, you can even base your decision on it.
 

That said, the 1e DMG advice "Always give a monster an even break" still applies. :)
What does that mean in this context, though? I always play a monster true to its personality, knowledge, limitations, advantages and so on (to the best of my ability!). But I play them true, rather than just playing to win - often they're the same thing - but sometimes they're very divergent.

I must be doing something right, given people have expressed the opinion that when I run combat it's somehow "better" than other DMs (I suspect it's the heavy RP of the monsters and playing them according to motivations, but I dunno).
 

ROFL oh god son wow damn. No, science proved me right. I'm the scientist here, you're the layman making wild claims, in terms of training/knowledge. And societies promote the survival of the weak, so if you have a draconic society, more weak dragons will survive to older ages.
So far, Darwin's theory fits evidence quite nicely. Are there exceptions? Of course, luck got a say in this as there are animals that survived and it still bugs scientists.
As for society promotes the survival of the weak... True for modern and enlightned societies. But what about the Spartan? Killing defective babies, and ensuring the "survival of the fittest" through deadly contest for their children? They were not the only ones. The Huns were doing this too. In fact, many societies of the ancient time were doing it and some early medieval/dark age did it too.

And I wish I remembered what was the trilogy about the Draconic Society in Mystara. It was certainly not promoting survival of the weak. Quite the opposite.


Buddy, read your own words - "not every lich succeed". Yeah, most of them probably don't. For every Vecna, how many lunatic liches do you think there are? Probably quite a few. Vecna is the cream of the crop, he rose to the top, he never eats a... er... anyway, he's not your average Lich.
Reread them. Not every lich succeed in becoming gods. None are stupid. Quote not just the part you don't agree. Take everything into consideration. And some lich even becomes demi-lich.


What does that mean in this context, though? I always play a monster true to its personality, knowledge, limitations, advantages and so on (to the best of my ability!). But I play them true, rather than just playing to win - often they're the same thing - but sometimes they're very divergent.
That is the only way to play fair. Kudo to you. Do not demean the foes but do not over do it as I use to say.

I must be doing something right, given people have expressed the opinion that when I run combat it's somehow "better" than other DMs (I suspect it's the RP of the monsters and playing them according to motivations, but I dunno - it might just be that I'm a lot faster with monster turns than other DMs I play with, because I know that's the case).
Maybe your prep time is better. Not longer, better. I know that I reread the potential problematic areas before every games even if I have been a DM for over 37 years now. I get the feeling you do that too or something close to it.
 

nevin

Explorer
Combat can be a real pain when approached in a robot like way. Be it players or DM's side. Tactics make for interesting combat. Each combats, even fillers, should have a stressfull element (unless it is to make players feel powerul, a useful thing to do at times).

A lot of DMs that I coach often forget that there are manoeuvres that can be done even if it is not in the stat block of the creatures. Everybody can grapple, shove or knock down and even try to restain. Ranged attackers using partial or full cover can be a pain in the ass. My ranged players hate it when their ranged opponents fall prone voluntarily as to give ranged players disadvantage to attack them. It only cost half movement to get back up.

Melee characters hate when their opponents start to dodge in a restricted area where they are effective blockers and the monsters' allies pester them crom range or simply shoot the characters in the back.

Or simply having a monster get past the melee character by knocking prone a player and going straight for the wizard or archer or whatever.

The fun thing is that nothing is out of the ordinary, but players tend to forget these actions and their benefits because they have cooler tools to use. Being reminded that creatures can use these too is surprisingly effective. One devious tactic I recently used was a manticore following the characters for a whole day, never getting in bow range. But when the players got in combat with orcs, the manticore attacked them with tail spikes from a far. It went on an other two days when the ranger finally thought of hiding the group and lay a trap for the manticore with an illusion. Since the group was not distracted as the manticore thought they finally got it. But a simple combat became quite a story. They will remember that manticore a long time.

Combat can be its own story.
this i disagree with if you have players that only focus on one thing it gives the GM an insight into what they want. most likely big heroic fights and the recognition for them. I can do all kinds of fun once I know what they want
 

As for society promotes the survival of the weak... True for modern and enlightned societies. But what about the Spartan? Killing defective babies, and ensuring the "survival of the fittest" through deadly contest for their children? They were not the only ones. The Huns were doing this too. In fact, many societies of the ancient time were doing it and some early medieval/dark age did it too.
Societies have practiced exposure forever, and it's not really about "survival of the fittest", it's about getting rid of people who aren't yet perceived as people (the massive death-rate in childhood had a lot of societal effects people are somewhat avoidant about discussing today) who might be a definite burden. It also gets rid of a lot of people who wouldn't be - many children were exposed simply because they were an extra mouth to feed. It's a sign of desperation more than anything else. The Spartans were unusual that they did it even when they didn't need to, but there's no evidence it particularly helped them.

The "deadly contests for their children" thing isn't really true though, and also didn't promote "survival of the fittest" (which is a pop-science misnomer anyway, the real phenomenon is "survival of the best-adapted"). As Sparta demonstrated very well, by the time the Romans had got there, the Spartan lifestyle had ensured Sparta was a pathetic wreck, not some sort of victory for eugenics - all the Spartans really managed to prove was that if you have warriors train pretty much all the time, i.e. a standing, professional army, brainwash/indoctrinate them into fanatics, and equip them with the best gear your society produces, they'll do really well in battle - they weren't the last society to show this, nor, I suspect, the first, just the first where it's well-recorded. And it had a cost, which they eventually paid.

And it's absolutely not "modern and enlightened" societies only, you're showing your ignorance about archaeology and history there. We've got bones from people hundreds of thousands of years ago where people with extremely serious injuries or deformities survived for decades, showing very clearly that even hunter-gatherers often helped injured people.
 

The Glen

Adventurer
Helldritch
It was the dragon lord Saga. And let me save you a read, it was tedious. Even die-hard mystara fans will admit that that entire Trilogy was dull. You never get a feeling that the hero is ever in danger. I read the first one and had to force myself to finish the last two. There's a reason the book's aren't canon.
 

Societies have practiced exposure forever, and it's not really about "survival of the fittest", it's about getting rid of people who aren't yet perceived as people (the massive death-rate in childhood had a lot of societal effects people are somewhat avoidant about discussing today) who might be a definite burden. It also gets rid of a lot of people who wouldn't be - many children were exposed simply because they were an extra mouth to feed. It's a sign of desperation more than anything else. The Spartans were unusual that they did it even when they didn't need to, but there's no evidence it particularly helped them.

The "deadly contests for their children" thing isn't really true though, and also didn't promote "survival of the fittest" (which is a pop-science misnomer anyway, the real phenomenon is "survival of the best-adapted"). As Sparta demonstrated very well, by the time the Romans had got there, the Spartan lifestyle had ensured Sparta was a pathetic wreck, not some sort of victory for eugenics - all the Spartans really managed to prove was that if you have warriors train pretty much all the time, i.e. a standing, professional army, brainwash/indoctrinate them into fanatics, and equip them with the best gear your society produces, they'll do really well in battle - they weren't the last society to show this, nor, I suspect, the first, just the first where it's well-recorded. And it had a cost, which they eventually paid.

And it's absolutely not "modern and enlightened" societies only, you're showing your ignorance about archaeology and history there. We've got bones from people hundreds of thousands of years ago where people with extremely serious injuries or deformities survived for decades, showing very clearly that even hunter-gatherers often helped injured people.
Sparta lost to the Romans because Romans were way more numerous than them. The Greek impressed the Romans so much (via Spartans) that they adopted their gods and cultures.

Call the "deadly contest" the way you want, the result were the same. And yes they were not the only ones. The Akkadians were rumored to do the same thing as were the Babylonians.

For the last part you're right. There are some example of humans taking care of the injured and deformed. I never said that (deadly contest and weeding out the week) this was systematic. It is only in modern/enlightment society that helping the injured and deformed became systematic (and that is a good thing). Neanderthal were particularly good at that from recent digs. As long as they could still do some chores to help the tribe they would be cared for.

And calling me ignorant about history and archeology is blunt and shows your arrogance and self entitlement. I live with an historian (my wife) and she is handicaped (muscular dystrophia). I have a Bachelor's degree at a university and one of my pet peeve is exactly history and archeology (and quantum physics. Go figure...). For long time, my wife was sure that I was a student in archeology and history because I was attending some of her classes and I was discussing medieval society with her teachers (I was not registered, I just had the permission to attend because I happened to knew the sons of one of her teacher). So nope, I am far from being ignorant.
 

Helldritch
It was the dragon lord Saga. And let me save you a read, it was tedious. Even die-hard mystara fans will admit that that entire Trilogy was dull. You never get a feeling that the hero is ever in danger. I read the first one and had to force myself to finish the last two. There's a reason the book's aren't canon.
Strange, I did love them. A friend lend them to me a decade or two ago. Maybe the fact that I have a fast reading pace saved me from boredome. But yes the hero was never in danger. It was more the mystery surounding the hero that was interesting and the draconic view/society that I liked. It was good enough to inspire the Draconomicon and the Council of Wyrms supplement.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
So I updated the rules with some changes, clarifications, and I added #6 as homebrew systems in part because of the discussion of the moral system for NPCs freaking out being a note but not a functional system in the DMG. I also added it because some of the posts seem to suggest home brew without the words. While I figure "homebrew" is a dirty word for some and pushing it into a separate bullet keeps a line for those poeple. I also recognize perhaps a number of us were hard against it when we know very well most tables use some and it can make running a game more fun for the GM. There are a few comets above that section that could be achived with homebrew or without homebrew. I am separating #6 specificity as systems where your adding an entire mechanic. The Special actions bullet is an attempt to describe us of universal homebrew as its own mechanic in that if an NPC can do it an a player character can do it, its now a system not just an ability for a specific monster.
 

nevin

Explorer
Sparta lost to the Romans because Romans were way more numerous than them. The Greek impressed the Romans so much (via Spartans) that they adopted their gods and cultures.

Call the "deadly contest" the way you want, the result were the same. And yes they were not the only ones. The Akkadians were rumored to do the same thing as were the Babylonians.

For the last part you're right. There are some example of humans taking care of the injured and deformed. I never said that (deadly contest and weeding out the week) this was systematic. It is only in modern/enlightment society that helping the injured and deformed became systematic (and that is a good thing). Neanderthal were particularly good at that from recent digs. As long as they could still do some chores to help the tribe they would be cared for.

And calling me ignorant about history and archeology is blunt and shows your arrogance and self entitlement. I live with an historian (my wife) and she is handicaped (muscular dystrophia). I have a Bachelor's degree at a university and one of my pet peeve is exactly history and archeology (and quantum physics. Go figure...). For long time, my wife was sure that I was a student in archeology and history because I was attending some of her classes and I was discussing medieval society with her teachers (I was not registered, I just had the permission to attend because I happened to knew the sons of one of her teacher). So nope, I am far from being ignorant.
no Sparta lost to Rome because Athens and Sparta beat each other down. If thing had gone a bit differently Athens would have rules the Mediterranean and the Rome we know would never have existed. until their war with Sparta and the pandemic that happened during it Athens was the dominate naval power in the region. Even Rome Couldn't match them
 

Puddles

Villager
Another thing that has been toying in my mind, is the notion of setting difficult challenges for yourself as the DM to accomplish during a combat.

We've already talked about establishing the motivations of your enemies, and this covers a lot of the same ground, but there is something extra I want to add: what if the thing your enemies are trying to do, is actually pretty difficult and will require all your skill as a tactician?

I'll give an example.

In my last session, I ran a combat between the 3 level 1 PCs, who faced a trio of Goblin Wolfriders on the top of a rocky hill in the frozen tundra.

The goal of the goblins was as follows: To isolate one of the party, catch them in a net, and make off with them in tow.

The reason I particularly enjoyed this combat is because that goal was really hard for me to achieve. I tried to use all my cunning and was nearly successful, but in the end I failed. I played it as follows:

I equipped one of my goblins with a net and a harpoon, and the other two with the standard shortbow and scimitar and approached from the north. I stayed just out of 65ft, weaving between the crags, allowing me to pepper them with arrows whilst staying in cover and being too far for them to engage. I then sent the two wolfriders with bows round to the west to draw them out, and the netter round the east. My players fell for my bait, the bard and rogue went after the 2 with bows, while the druid tried to attack the netter with her sling.

The druid was now isolated, so I sprang my trap, all three wolfriders dashed towards the druid. One of the archers was unfortunately (for me) decapitated by an attack of opportunity made by the Rogue who had hidden behind a crag, but the other two got in close and flanked the druid. I successfully threw a net over her, and then scarpered, dragging the druid with me.

The druid's quick wits saved her, as she was being dragged she grabbed a sharpened rock on the floor which I ruled gave advantage to her next strength check to break free. She cut her way out the net and gave her kidnapper a mighty wallop with her quarter staff as it fled with the other.

My plan had failed, but I had managed to take her a good 80ft and left her with quite a few cuts and bruises (and a dented ego). I had a lot of fun trying to pull it off though!

The point being, a lot of the time the goals we set the enemies often just revolve around killing the party members, but one way to give the DM a more enjoyable combat is for the goal to be something else, and something hard to achieve.

A few examples off the top of my head would be to try and steal rations, supplies or gold off the players. Perhaps you could be trying to lure the players into a valley or some other dangerous position. Or perhaps, one of your enemies carries an important item (like a message), and you are trying to break through the players' battle line and get that 1 enemy to safety beyond.

If the players are savvy, they will eventually cotton on to what the enemies are up to and go out their way to stop it, and that in turn can lead to both you and the players having to think tactically and create really memorable combats.

The last point is with the example goals listed above, you might notice that none of them have an absolute fail state for the players. If the DM wins, it doesn't mean the party are wiped out, or some other game ending state, and that's a good thing because it means you as a DM don't necessarily need to hold back any punches when trying to pull off these harebrained schemes.

Hope that gives you some food for thought!
 

no Sparta lost to Rome because Athens and Sparta beat each other down. If thing had gone a bit differently Athens would have rules the Mediterranean and the Rome we know would never have existed. until their war with Sparta and the pandemic that happened during it Athens was the dominate naval power in the region. Even Rome Couldn't match them
You kinda prove my point. They beat each other so much that Rome was able to beat them with superior numbers. The events leading to the Roman supremacy over the Greek is irrelevant as they (the Romans) won exactly because they had the numbers for them. And even with that, the Greek's resistance was so strong that they imprinted their culture and warfare knowledge on the Romans.
 

Call the "deadly contest" the way you want, the result were the same. And yes they were not the only ones. The Akkadians were rumored to do the same thing as were the Babylonians.
RUMOURED.

Come on. RUMOURED. It's all bloody rumours. Find an account from a society, written by that society, where they actually did the thing. Or better yet, find archaeological evidence. Funny how there never is any of either, eh?

Probably because it didn't actually happen! Maybe I'm wrong, but let's see some evidence, not trash-talk from some Athenian prat or whoever.

You say you're not ignorant, and maybe you aren't, but why then repeat dodgy rumours with substantiation or qualification? Like, let's look at Herodotus. The Father of History of the Father of Lies, depending on who you ask. Dude is either his direct experience (very valuable first-hand accounts) or metric tons of rumours. To him tell it, no-one ever took a city by siege, ever. There's always an exotic/romantic tale about how people snuck into a city, or there was a traitor, or whatever. I love Herodotus but he's full of nonsense. Half of what he's saying is probably totally true, and half of it is probably complete bollocks. And we don't know which without other evidence, and that's true of most "rumours".

The Spartans were a failed state from pretty much day 1.

They enslaved a much larger population (something rarely but not never seen in history before/since), and then had to refocus their entire society into violently oppressing that slave population (and no I don't agree that a better word is "serf", but that's a whole other discussion). Pretty much every decision they made comes back to "Oh crap there are so many of them, we gotta keep them from revolting!", whether it's their military machine (which was largely used to suppress said slave revolts), to allowing women to own property (which was necessary with the professional military taking the men away full-time), to the use of exposure (which was part of the propaganda machine that kept them fanatic).

And don't make me start talking about the 700 Thespians, either, who history loves to ignore. "300" my arse.

They managed to stop oppressing the slaves long enough to have one moment of glory, and history forever acts like they were amazing, when in fact they were idiots who happened to be useful in one particular situation.

As long as they could still do some chores to help the tribe they would be cared for.
I don't think there's any evidence to support that, that I'm aware of. Explanations like this fail to account for that fact that they're humans, and so very much bound by emotion and often irrational beliefs, rather than cold calculus. In reality there are going to have been situations where people who could do tasks were ditched because they were unpopular and/or the situation was desperate, and people who were almost entirely useless were kept because they were beloved and/or sacred.

There's a temptation, I think, to see the stone age/bronze age as a sort "post-apocalypse", but studies on actual H-G tribes tend to suggest it was more edenic than apocalyptic most of the time.
 

They managed to stop oppressing the slaves long enough to have one moment of glory, and history forever acts like they were amazing, when in fact they were idiots who happened to be useful in one particular situation.
Strange that when history does not suit you or your POV, you dismiss it. But when it suits you... Well...
Rumors go both ways I guess. But I'll stick to the partially proven classic explanations if you don't mind. I think it's better than just theories based on the assumptions that everything said was a lie. After all, the Romans did accounted their battles with the Greeks. Were the Spartans parangon of virtues? Of course not.


I don't think there's any evidence to support that, that I'm aware of. Explanations like this fail to account for that fact that they're humans, and so very much bound by emotion and often irrational beliefs, rather than cold calculus. In reality there are going to have been situations where people who could do tasks were ditched because they were unpopular and/or the situation was desperate, and people who were almost entirely useless were kept because they were beloved and/or sacred.
Never said the contrary. Fully agree on that. Humans are humans after all. For good or bad, they're humans.

There's a temptation, I think, to see the stone age/bronze age as a sort "post-apocalypse", but studies on actual H-G tribes tend to suggest it was more edenic than apocalyptic most of the time.
And there is the other temptation to see the garden of eden side of stone/bronze age where humans had no ruler and only have to live off the land and other utter non sense. You were victims of wild predators, other tribes and until the coming of agriculture, you were not sure to have food for the winter... And when you had reserves, you'd better be ready to defend those reserves with your lives. Yep, Great Times...
 

And there is the other temptation to see the garden of eden side of stone/bronze age where humans had no ruler and only have to live off the land and other utter non sense. You were victims of wild predators, other tribes and until the coming of agriculture, you were not sure to have food for the winter... And when you had reserves, you'd better be ready to defend those reserves with your lives. Yep, Great Times...
You say "great times" sarcastically, but literally all the scientific evidence we have suggests that hunter-gatherers were larger, healthier, lived longer, had much more free time, and were less worn-down/damaged by their lifestyle than early agricultural peoples. It took thousands of years for agriculture to even bring food/health/growth levels up to near H-G ones, and it still hasn't got back to 20-hour weeks. That's science, dude.

I agree that people can go too far, of course! There are some hysterical novels about the neolithic and paleolithic which do get way too edenic, particularly, and yes, the old "whoops we don't have any food" is probably part of how agriculture got started (because some tribes were already on routes where they planted food expecting it to be grown by the time they came back around, so could expand from that to "why not just plant more and stick around?").

There's very little scientific evidence to support the kind of warfare over reserves you're describing though. What evidence there is suggests warfare became drastically more common with agriculture, and that before that, warfare was typically low-intensity and not about "reserves", but rather about who is allowed to hunt where and so on. Didn't mean it it didn't get nasty, but it's a different kind of thing to later warfare, and doesn't seem common.

Strange that when history does not suit you or your POV, you dismiss it. But when it suits you...
Examples? I can't see anything I've written which doesn't have multiple historical sources and/or hard archaeological evidence. If you can't provide any examples, that's not a fair thing to say.
 

You say "great times" sarcastically, but literally all the scientific evidence we have suggests that hunter-gatherers were larger, healthier, lived longer, had much more free time, and were less worn-down/damaged by their lifestyle than early agricultural peoples. It took thousands of years for agriculture to even bring food/health/growth levels up to near H-G ones, and it still hasn't got back to 20-hour weeks. That's science, dude.
So far, a few examples have shown what you said. But so far, the evidence is that the H-G had relatively short lives. I have Atikameks friends and their HG habits takes up more than 20 hours per week. More like 60... and we are in modern times. They showed how it was done to anthropologists of our university. Crafting clothes, (especially winter clothes) is not so easy. Hunting isn't always successful. So fishing is of utmost importance. H-G was a lot of work but one thing's for sure. Diabetes was not a concern. Humanity came close to extinction during the H-G times, there was a PBS archeological show on that. Less than 10,000 humans were on earth from what I remember.


There's very little scientific evidence to support the kind of warfare over reserves you're describing though. What evidence there is suggests warfare became drastically more common with agriculture, and that before that, warfare was typically low-intensity and not about "reserves", but rather about who is allowed to hunt where and so on. Didn't mean it it didn't get nasty, but it's a different kind of thing to later warfare, and doesn't seem common.
Warfare comes in all sizes and shapes. If you compare our wars with H-G warfare...


Examples? I can't see anything I've written which doesn't have multiple historical sources and/or hard archaeological evidence. If you can't provide any examples, that's not a fair thing to say.
You did demeaned the Spartan and their society. If they were the morons you described, they would never have stood against Athene. By ignoring their achievements, you did exactly what I said. Were they saints? Nope. But they were not morrons. Fair enough?

Edit: The vast majority of the time I respect your opinion and I really like your interventions (and more often than not, fully agree with them). But saying things you said in this thread about historical facts (or at least what is and is still considered historical facts) is just a wee bit too much for me to let go.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Mod Note:

We know that topic drift is a thing, but this whole line about Spartans and such is... rather far from the original topic of the thread. Can you bring it back around to vague relevance, please folks? Thanks.
 

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