D&D (2024) Mix multispecies traits


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As a reminder @Yaarel the Ardling will not be core. It wasn't popular enough to be added, but was popular enough it will be in the game later (or maybe before? In the Planescape book?)
I think the Ardling needs refinement before it can be brought back, enough that trying to work it into this year's Planescape book seems unlikely to me...

The Ardling was initially pitched as a form of celestial planetouched paralleling the new Tieflings, with the bestial aspects being used mainly to differentiate them from the Aasimar and emphasize ties to more "bestial" celestials (hound archons, guardinals, etc.) and/or quasi-animal mythological figures like Sun Wukong. In other words, the bestial aspects were largely for flavor.

But people seemed to latch on to those bestial aspects and pushed for them to be more emphasized, to the point that the second iteration of the Ardling had narrowed down to only having ties to the Beastlands, effectively making it a look more like a unified framework for anthropomorphic animal races (Aarakocra, Tabaxi, etc.) with mild celestial flavor instead.

This split on whether the Ardling should primarily represent "celestial planetouched" or "animal person" seems to be where they fell through the cracks.

It's a bit of a tangent, so bear with me, but one of the few 4e cosmology revisions that I really liked was explicitly making Angels as a category into the servants of the gods, without regards to alignment. In fact, I think an argument could be made to decouple the gods themselves from alignment altogether - seriously, going by his depictions in Greek mythology, what alignment would best represent Zeus? - and let them be defined solely by their deific domains, personality, relationships, motives, and actions. And I say that as someone that loves D&D alignment. Different settings incorporate "the gods" to greater or lesser degrees, but the Planescape fan in me has always liked the idea that the multiverse is bigger than the gods and that there are powerful forces for good/evil/etc. outside of explicit divine creation and influence. Tiamat being a goddess is fine, but I don't need Asmodeus to also be a god - I'm fine with him "merely" being the greatest of the archdevils (or something even older than the multiverse itself, depending on what source you use), and the fact that even a god like Tiamat is merely a resident within his circle of influence is icing on the cake.

Decoupling Angels from alignment allows for a more distinct divide between the "celestial" (i.e. naturally occurring denizens of the Upper Planes) and the "divine" (i.e. creations/servitors of the gods), and by the same token, I really liked the concept of the Ardling as a wide-ranging celestial planetouched because it allows Aasimar (and Angels by proxy) to be more tightly themed around their ties to the divine. And personally, I don't see much benefit to replacing Aarakocra, Tabaxi, et al. with a single generic "animal person" species with baked-in celestial undertones... Why can't my dog-man be arcanaloth spawn if I want him to be?

Unfortunately, that seems like the direction the playtest feedback was pushing them, and I think what happened is that on top of not meeting the popularity threshold they were aiming for, at some point the Ardling had also stopped serving the role the designers had created it to serve - if it was just a matter of finding the right expression for the concept they had, I don't see why they couldn't take another swing at it in an upcoming playtest UA, but if they think the underlying concept itself needs work, then I think it makes more sense why they'd opt to pull it entirely.

I do hope they come back to it, because as said, I think the idea behind the Ardling has potential, but I wouldn't expect it to be ready in time for this year's Planescape release.
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
It's a bit of a tangent, but one of the few 4e cosmology revisions that I really liked was making Angels as a broad category the servants of the gods without regards to alignment.
Yes. The Angel needs to be any Good alignment, be a broad category for any Upper Plane. Some Angles need to personify "True" Good. Some Angels need to personify Chaotic Good. To personify Lawful Good is only one kind of Angel.

I am happy you brought this up. Heh, I have been trying to introduce this tangent too.


Decoupling Angels from alignment allows for a more distinct divide between the "celestial" (i.e. naturally occurring denizens of the Upper Planes) and the "divine" (i.e. creations/servitors of the gods), and thus I really liked the concept of the Ardling as a wide-ranging celestial planetouched because it allows Aasimar (and Angels by proxy) to be more tightly themed around their ties to the divine.
I would swap the technical terms "Angel" and "Celestial". Angel becomes the creature type.

Thus Angel and Fiend are opposites.

This Angel creature type is the creature of any Upper Plane. Oppositely, the Fiend creature type is the creature of any Lower Plane.

Consider there are different kinds of Fiends, depending on which alignment plane they personify.
• Lawful Evil Infernal: Nine Hells
• True Evil Chthonic: Hades (but rename this, True Evil Tartaran: Tartarus)
• Chaotic Evil Abyssal: Abyss

In parallel, there would be different kinds of Angels, depending on which alignment plane they personify.
• Lawful Good Celestial: Mount Celestia
• True Good Elysian: Elysium
• Chaotic Evil Arboreal: Arborea


In the case of both Angel and Fiend, these Astral creatures come into existence to serve a specific mission. A Divine power can create them by decree. Or a Humanoid Divine-source community can cause them to come into existence by tradition. Either top-down or bottom-up is a possible origin.

When a power of Arborea creates an Angel, that Angel will be Chaotic Good. And so on.


Note, 4e and 5e have evolved since 3e and earlier. The Greek concept of "Hades" is now moreorless identical to Shadowfell. It is awkward to refer to use the term to refer to something else. If the Evil alignment plane is called "Tartarus", at least this term refers to place of punishment. Alternatively, in D&D tradition, the Evil plane was also called the Gray Wastes. Calling the Evil plane the Gray Wastes or the Wastes would help disambiguate. Really, Hades is alternate name for Shadowfell.
 

Yes. The Angel needs to be any Good alignment, be a broad category for any Upper Plane. Some Angles need to personify "True" Good. Some Angels need to personify Chaotic Good. To personify Lawful Good is only one kind of Angel.

I am happy you brought this up. Heh, I have been trying to introduce this tangent too.



I would swap the technical terms "Angel" and "Celestial". Angel becomes the creature type.

Thus Angel and Fiend are opposites.

This Angel creature type is the creature of any Upper Plane. Oppositely, the Fiend creature type is the creature of any Lower Plane.

Consider there are different kinds of Fiends, depending on which alignment plane they personify.
• Lawful Evil Infernal: Nine Hells
• True Evil Chthonic: Hades (but rename this, True Evil Tartaran: Tartarus)
• Chaotic Evil Abyssal: Abyss

In parallel, there would be different kinds of Angels, depending on which alignment plane they personify.
• Lawful Good Celestial: Mount Celestia
• True Good Elysian: Elysium
• Chaotic Evil Arboreal: Arborea


In the case of both Angel and Fiend, these Astral creatures come into existence to serve a specific mission. A Divine power can create them by decree. Or a Humanoid Divine-source community can cause them to come into existence by tradition. Either top-down or bottom-up is a possible origin.

When a power of Arborea creates an Angel, that Angel will be Chaotic Good. And so on.


Note, 4e and 5e have evolved since 3e and earlier. The Greek concept of "Hades" is now moreorless identical to Shadowfell. It is awkward to refer to use the term to refer to something else. If the Evil alignment plane is called "Tartarus", at least this term refers to place of punishment. Alternatively, in D&D tradition, the Evil plane was also called the Gray Wastes. Calling the Evil plane the Gray Wastes or the Wastes would help disambiguate. Really, Hades is alternate name for Shadowfell.
I think you're missing what I'm going for somewhat.

I don't mind some fiends serving evil gods, but I've always liked that there are also large portions of them that very explicitly don't.
  • Most devils serve the Lords of Nine, and through them Asmodeus - who wasn't necessarily portrayed as a god until 4e, a decision I happen to disagree with.
  • Most demons serve the various demon lords and demon princes - some of whom were also gods (Lolth, Orcus at some points) and others who weren't.
  • The yugoloths are famously anti-theistic - the Wasting Tower of Khin-Oin is said to be carved from the spine of the first godling that ever made a deal with them.
The celestial side of the equation has always felt far more tangled up - particularly in Celestia, where it's sometimes hard to tell whether the tome archons of the Celestial Hebdomad are in charge or some nebulous selection of good gods.

What I'm proposing is that celestials (archons, guardinals, asuras, whatever replaces the eladrin in Arborea) remain the counterpart of opposing alignment to fiends as a category, but that angels split off into into a third category all their own that isn't explicitly tied to alignment, so that any god can choose to create/call upon angelic servitors, not just the ones that are arbitrarily put in the "Good" bucket for whatever reason. Why shouldn't a CN goddess of love and passion (I think Aphrodite has been stated as such at times) have angelic servants?

Celestials and fiends can still occasionally choose to serve a deity, but they originate via the natural processes of the Outer Planes as an expression of alignment.
Angels can occasionally choose to abandon their divine patron or fall out of favor and be cast out, but they originate as servants created by a god as expressions of a divinely ordained cause.

And that filters down to ardlings, tieflings, and aasimar - ardlings are the descendants of celestials, tieflings are the descendants of fiends, aasimar are the descendants of the divine and their angelic servitors.

• True Evil Chthonic: Hades (but rename this, True Evil Tartaran: Tartarus)

Note, 4e and 5e have evolved since 3e and earlier. The Greek concept of "Hades" is now moreorless identical to Shadowfell. It is awkward to refer to use the term to refer to something else. If the Evil alignment plane is called "Tartarus", at least this term refers to place of punishment. Alternatively, in D&D tradition, the Evil plane was also called the Gray Wastes. Calling the Evil plane the Gray Wastes or the Wastes would help disambiguate. Really, Hades is alternate name for Shadowfell.
Unrelated, if you want to drop "Hades" as the name of the pure NE plane of the Great Wheel, I'd say go back to using the Gray Waste - Tartarus is analogous to Carceri.
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
And that filters down to ardlings, tieflings, and aasimar - ardlings are the descendants of celestials, tieflings are the descendants of fiends, aasimar are the descendants of the divine and their angelic servitors.
Right. Tieflings descend from any Fiend. It is a technical possibility, this particular Fiend might have a Good alignment, but still be a native of a Lower Plane.


The following distinction I didnt catch earlier:

You want Ardling to be the counterpart of the Tiefling, thus descend from any Celestial.

However. You want Aasimar to specifically be a descendant of a Solar (or similar Divine being)? This Solar may or may not be a Celestial.


Here is my thinking out loud while exploring this distinction.

Regarding Aasimar the proposal can work. Solar (and Planetar and Deva) are "Aasimons".

So, an Aasimar might specifically descend from an Aasimon, such as a Solar.

Notably, an Aasimar might come from a particular Solar that was created in one of the other alignment planes, and have nothing to do with the Upper Planes.

There are Good Aasimons and there are "fallen" Evil Aasimons. This is already a thing. An Aasimar can descend from any of them.


But regarding the Ardling, the Ardling concept is too specific to the GCG Beastlands Plane and its concepts like Beast Lords and humanimal versions of Guardinals. Even the Ardling flavor is a very narrow subset of the sapient animals in Beastlands. I dont think the Ardling can serve as descendant from each and every Upper Plane.



I think you're missing what I'm going for somewhat.

I don't mind the some fiends serving evil gods, but I've always liked that there are also large portions of them that very explicitly don't.
A "god" means something specific. It is a person who people "worship" and "serve", and specifically build "temples" to with dedicated "priests" whose job is to officiate over the offerings to the temple and any holiday customs relating to the temple tradition.

In this sense, a Greek dryad was and is a "god".


Whether a Fiend is a "god" or not, depends on whether communities are building temples and dedicating priests for a cultic rite to worship the Fiend as a god.

Some Fiends are more like mafia bosses, and there is no significant sense of "worship" happening, so they arent "gods" in any technical sense. But some Fiends, such as Lolth are "gods", namely objects of worship with temples and dedicated priesthoods.

In 5e, according to the official statblock, Lolth is the Fiend creature type, even tho she is also a god.


In parallel, any powerful creature of the Upper Plane is the Celestial creature type, whether or not any communities are worshiping the creature as a god.


  • Most devils serve the Lords of Nine, and through them Asmodeus - who wasn't necessarily portrayed as a god until 4e, a decision I happen to disagree with.
  • Most demons serve the various demon lords and demon princes - some of whom were also gods (Lolth, Orcus at some points) and others who weren't.
  • The yugoloths are famously anti-theistic - the Wasting Tower of Khin-Oin is said to be carved from the spine of the first godling that ever made a deal with them.
Asmodeus behaves more like a secular mafia boss. But I think his ego likes it when certain Human communities in the Forgotten Realms setting worship him as a "god". No doubt he encourages this worship to help consolidate his power base in the Hells.

Officially Asmodeus is an "archdevil" and a "devil". I assume he has the Fiend creature type, even tho some Humans worship him as a "god".

Any creature that is native to the Lower Planes is the Fiend creature type whether a god or not.


The celestial side of the equations has always felt far more tangled up - particularly in Celestia, where it's sometimes hard to tell whether the tome archons of the Celestial Hebdomad are in charge or some nebulous selection of good gods.
In parallel to the Fiends, any creature that is native to the Upper Planes is the Celestial creature type whether a "god" or not.


What I'm proposing is that celestials (archons, guardinals, asuras, whatever replaces the eladrin in Arborea) remain the counterpart of opposing alignment to fiends as a category
Yeah, the Celestial creature type is ANY native of the Upper Planes, whether a god or not, and whether an archon, guardinal, eladrin, or not.

(Albeit, I would prefer to call all of these natives the Upper Planes the "Angel" creature type. Opposite Fiend, and instead of Celestial.)


but that angels split off into into a third category all their own that isn't explicitly tied to alignment, so that any god can choose to create/call upon angelic servitors, not just the ones that are arbitrarily put in the "Good" bucket for whatever reason.
There are creatures who ally themselves with or who serve under a powerful Celestial, whether this Celestial has worshipers or not. These are armies or bureaucrats or messengers or agents.

Going by earlier D&D traditions, these armies in the Lawful Good Plane are called "Aasimon", including Solar, Planetar, and Deva.

In the 2014 Monster Manual, the "Solar" officially lists as Lawful Good, now understood more clearly as "typically" Lawful Good, but perhaps should instead be "Any" alignment. So its alignment and mission depends on which "god" or other powerful being of Divine magic created it.

If Asmodeus wants to create a Solar to send it on a Lawful Evil mission, that seems fine enough. Even the earlier traditions include "fallen" Solars. So a Solar that was created to fulfill an Evil purpose in the first place doesnt change anything official.

If a Lawful Neutral Modron in Mechanus creates a Solar, that is fine too.


Celestials and fiends can still occasionally choose to serve a deity, but they originate via the natural processes of the Outer Planes as an expression of alignment.
Obviously, the choice to worship something or not is a personal decision and can be for various reasons.

The natives of any Upper Plane can choose to serve or not any powerful being whether worshiped or not.


Angels can occasionally choose to abandon their divine patron or fall out of favor and be cast out, but they originate as servants created by a god as expressions of a divinely ordained cause.
Definitely.

If Asmodeus creates a Solar to fulfill a Lawful Evil purpose, that Solar might well decide to help the Upper Planes of Good, instead.


Unrelated, if you want to drop "Hades" as the name of the pure NE plane of the Great Wheel, I'd say go back to using the Gray Waste - Tartarus is analogous to Carceri.
I know 1e referred to the Evil by Chaotic Evil Plane as Tartarus. I supposed that since 5e now calls this plane Carceri, the unused term Tartarus could be recycled for the True Evil Plane.

But you are probably right, Tartarus is probably still in use as a byname for Carceri.

So using the 3e name for the True Evil Plane, the Gray Waste, is probably the best way to go.

Renaming the True Evil Plane the "Gray Waste", helps avoid a new confusion in 4e and 5e, since "Hades" − the Underworld realm of the dead − makes more sense as one of the bynames for Shadowfell.

Waste is itself an adjective, such as in the phrase "waste products". But perhaps "Wasting" works better as a descriptor. Thus there are three kinds of Fiends, depending on which alignment plane they personify.

Fiend
• Lawful Evil Infernal: Nine Hells
• True Evil Wasting: Gray Waste
• Chaotic Evil Abyssal: Abyss
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
Huh. According to Mordenkainen, the Tabaxi were created by a "Cat Lord", who is one of the kinds of "Beast Lord". A Tabaxi is one of the Ardlings. The Ardling species would absorb the Tabaxi species as one of the "animal ancestors". Depending on the kind of cat, whether domestic or large such as Tiger, Cheetah, or Jaguar, the Tabaxi cat ancestry can function as either Racers or Climbers. Probably "Tabaxi" now works best as a "culture" (namely a Background), whose members are descendants of various kinds of cats.


As a reminder @Yaarel the Ardling will not be core. It wasn't popular enough to be added, but was popular enough it will be in the game later (or maybe before? In the Planescape book?)

I know the first version of the Ardling required revision. Is there new info about feedback on the second version of Ardling?


The Ardling was initially pitched mainly as a form of celestial planetouched paralleling the new Tieflings, with the bestial aspects being used mainly to distinguish them from Aasimar and emphasize ties to more "bestial" celestials (hound archons, guardinals, etc.) and/or quasi-animal mythological figures like Sun Wukong. In other words, the bestial aspects were largely for flavor.

But people seemed to latch on to those bestial aspects and pushed for them to be more emphasized, to the point that the second iteration of the Ardling had narrowed down to only having ties to the Beastlands, effectively making it a look more like a unified framework for anthropomorphic animal races (Aarakocra, Tabaxi, etc.) with mild celestial flavor instead.

The split on whether the Ardling should primarily represent "celestial planetouched" or "animal person" seems to be where they fell through the cracks.

The Ardling can ... potentially ... appeal to both Aasimar fans as a counterpart to Tiefling and to humanimal fans as an accessible "core" way to build a Tabaxi or something that resembles one of the many other humanimal species.

But it is tricky to thread the needle between the two because the flavors are conflictive.

I hope, adding the Shapeshifter as one of the Ardling ancestry types that descends from a Beast Lord, will allow a human-appearing Celestial that can satisfy the Aasimar fans, while the humanimal flavor remains intact for the humanimal fans. The Ardling will still be of Beastlandic origin. I think a human head is enough, and the Divine cantrip is Celestial and angelic. An alternate form into a permanent choice of a specific natural animal, can be cool. I think many Aasimar fans can work with this as a core option. The Aasimar remains a noncore choice that many tables will make use of.
 

When I refer to "gods" in the context of D&D, I specifically mean entities that explicitly draw power and sustenance from the worship of their followers. Any entity can theoretically have a following of worshipers, even a mortal, but only the divine have their power directly tied to one.

Wiping out the cult of a mortal/archdevil/demon lord doesn't directly weaken them - Demogorgon's CR doesn't go down, he just has less backup to call upon. Wiping out the cult of a god causes it to starve to death.

That's the distinction, in my mind. An entity can be both, and start out as either (Lolth/Araushnee was a goddess of the elves before she became a demon lord, Orcus was a demon lord before he became a god), but being/becoming a "god" ties their existence to their worshipers in a more direct and intimate way.

I know 1e referred to the Evil by Chaotic Evil Plane as Tartarus. I supposed that since 5e now calls this plane Carceri, the unused term Tartarus could be recycled for the True Evil Plane.

But you are probably right, Tartarus is probably still in use as a byname for Carceri.
It's been "The Tartarian Depths of Carceri" since the 3e era at least, and more to the point, it's been explicitly noted as the prison realm the Olympian gods cast the Titans into after they overthrew them since at least 2e and probably before, so it's clearly intended to represent the mythological Tartarus whether or not that is considered the plane's "official" name.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
When I refer to "gods" in the context of D&D, I specifically mean entities that explicitly draw power and sustenance from the worship of their followers. Any entity can theoretically have a following of worshipers, even a mortal, but only the divine have their power directly tied to one.
In my 5e games, the "gods" only exist as archetypes. There is no mechanical statblock for a god.

And, if there is a statblock, it is more like conjuring an "avatar". To kill the avatar might impede the activity of the god, but it wouldnt eliminate the archetype itself. To conjure an avatar of a god is similar to, or perhaps exactly the same thing, as to create an Angel.

It can be, a creature who does have a statblock can take on the persona of an archetype. Compare the Fiend Lolth emulating the archetypal concept of Treachery. Even if players killed Lolth, the archetype of Treachery would persist without her.

These archetypes are somewhat like the 3e game design of Divine "portfolios". But the main point is, there are no stats, nor mechanics, for a "god".

When I use the term "Divine", I always mean Divine magic, in contrast to Arcane, Primal, or Psionic.


If I understand correctly, what you mean by "gods" is, any entity that gains power from the followers that "worship" it. For you, some entities can amass power in this way and others cant.

I think I can work with this.

I would insist that any "god", by definition, requires the institution of a priesthood whose job is to maintain a temple of some kind, and this is a requirement for the definition of "worshiping" a "god".

The "god" might be an abstract archetypal concept relating to ability to exist or survive, like light or war. Or the "god" might be a creature with hit points but that identifies itself with such a concept. (Such as, Lolth is an Elf-become-Fiend who identifies with the conceptual portfolio of Treachery.) Either way, the building of temples and the dedication of priests grants power to this "god". This power is precisely a form of Divine magic. If the god is an abstract cosmic force, like light or war, the Divine magic can conjure an avatar of it that has a statblock, or manifest other kinds of magical effects that cohere with the concept. If the god is already a creature with a statblock, the Divine magic can increase its levels and features, such as making Lolth a more powerful Fiend.


Note, it is possible to have Divine magic without any temple-priest-god. For example, the Paladin class achieves Divine magic nontheistically by means of an "Oath". But this oath is a personal dedication to some archetypal concept. It is the archetype-concept-ideal-meaningfulness that makes Divine magic "divine". To institute an order of Paladins whose members are all dedicated to the same Oath is also a way to amass Divine magical power collectively.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
personally while i have no issue with ardlings in and of themselves i find them a terrible substitute for filling the position that assimar were occupying as 'not-quite-angels', i would probably have ardlings as the third neutral alignment counterpart of 'celestial spawned' mortal species, assimar for the good, ardlings for the neutral and tieflings for the evil decended,

while there are plenty of well designed specific animal people species, ardlings (alongside shifters) work well IMO as a catch-all solution for playing anything that might fall through the cracks,
 

Yaarel

He Mage
personally while i have no issue with ardlings in and of themselves i find them a terrible substitute for filling the position that assimar were occupying as 'not-quite-angels',
I agree. The Ardling seems like a good idea to make a diversity of humanimal concepts more accessible to the many fans by being a core option. At the same time, the animalistic flavor of the Ardling interferes the "angelic" archetype that transfigures and idealizes a human body, that Aasimar fans want.

i would probably have ardlings as the third neutral alignment counterpart of 'celestial spawned' mortal species, assimar for the good, ardlings for the neutral and tieflings for the evil decended,
When I was researching the 2e Planescape traditions, the Ardling is clearly specific to the Good-by-Chaotic-Good Plane, Beastland. Their flavor would need to be quite different to be Neutral. Also, 5e animals are officially "Unaligned", in the sense of being mostly unable to make ethical choices. I am unsure if animal imagery works for a personification of the True Neutral alignment. At least the Beastland animals resonate the trope that Nature is an expression of the Divine creation, is inherently good, and continues to be a Divine revelation. Many persons and cultures go into the wilderness to commune with the Divine.


Maybe "Primordial" can specifically mean the Proto-Elemental "thoughts" within the Astral Plane. In the sense of being powerful Astral beings who are involved in the formation of the multiverse, Primordials can be part of Divine magic. I suggest the Non-Good and Non-Evil Astral beings be referred to as "Primordials". Thus the Lawful Neutral Modron of Mechanus and the Chaotic Neutral Slaadi of Limbo are "Primordials", rather than Celestials or Fiends. These LN and CN beings kinda already do have Elemental flavor and imagery. The True Neutral Primordials are especially Elemental. The relationship between Primordials and Elementals resembles the relationship between Corellon and Elves. Corellon is actually an Elf, albeit an Astral thought of an Elf preexisting the physicalization elves within the Feywild. Likewise, Primordials actually are Elementals − and the True Neutral Primordials more clearly Fire, Air, Water, and Earth − albeit an Astral thought of elements preexisting the materialization of Elemental matter.

In this context, the Genasi can repurpose as a species who have Primordial Ancestry − function as the True Neutral angelics, sotospeak, between Aasimar and Tiefling.


while there are plenty of well designed specific animal people species, ardlings (alongside shifters) work well IMO as a catch-all solution for playing anything that might fall through the cracks,
Yeah, I agree. There is value in having a core humanimal option that is fluid, and better able to personalize to the players humanimal concept.
 
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