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Pathfinder 2E Pathfinder 2 and support for other playing styles/subgenres

!DWolf

Explorer
My personal experience is that the game is pretty adaptable. I have never ran an adventure path, module, or PFS scenario in PF2. My experiences as a GM revolved around a combination of sandbox techniques and more character focused stuff. It worked wonderfully. What it does not handle well, but 5e excels at is GM attempts to control outcomes and pacing. The game is too dynamic for that.
I do run APs, though heavily modified - I usually turn them into mini-sandboxes like a more dynamic version of a soulsborne game if that makes sense. So, I use a lot of sandbox techniques and rule customizations (I ran an island adventure sandbox with custom resource management and extremely limited access to weapons and armor for example) and my experience matches this - the game is very adaptable and runs fantastically as long as you are not firmly attached to a desired outcome to any given encounter.
 

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The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
5E's greatest strength is its loose tolerances: you can toss certain things in and out and (generally speaking) you have a lot of leeway as to whether the PCs can handle it as long as they are beyond 1st or 2nd level. Of course, D&D also has a CR problem when it comes to being more precise with balancing, but that's what you get.

@The-Magic-Sword : I can see how it can be confusing given how things have worked for years in D&D. I can just kind of accept it for something a little different. 🤷‍♂️
Yeah, if someone just popped up asking how it worked because they couldn't quite wrap head around the concept I wouldn't blame them at all.

Its more that Zapp's gymnastics in terms of turning every little thing he comes across into something it isn't, is kind of a pattern, its like every time they find a rule, they actively look for the most tortured way of reading it, and insist that its a crippling systemic flaw.

We went through it with his reading of skill feats as the exclusive way of performing an action, we're going through it with his impression of the game as not facilitating sandbox play at all, its just kind of an ongoing thing where he completely dominates the conversation with it.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I... I get this and don't disagree with the reasoning, but at the same time I'm actually for getting away from being able to whack things with spells and swords. At a certain level I can explain it away as haunts being so much more spectral that they are less effected by what works in the physical world but are more effected by the Divine. And given that something like Turn Undead is an aspect of being damage by a Heal spell, it creates different metaphysics that were previously there.

So I can't deny that they break the classic metaphysical ideas of Undead in D&D, but that's why I think I like them.
What I mean by “physics” is that the system has an internal consistency. Certain things work certain ways. When I say that PF2 is a prescriptive system, you have a lot of various things you take or can do that demonstrate your character’s proficiency. It’s not really a game where you’re expected to improvise effects like that. For example, I’d expect something like a seance or creating wards to fall under the ritual subsystem.

I mean, I'm the guy who explicitly wrote out what skills could do in 5E so that my players would start using them, so signposting isn't a problem for me. Are you a skills challenge guy or not? Maybe that's the thing here, because I think I'm more on the side of trying to use skills in abstract ways like skill challenges kind of want you to, even if I'm not sure that's the best way to do that sort of thing.
I had a hunch skill challenges might come up. I’m not a skill challenges guy, especially if one is revealing which skills are pertinent to the challenge. The time I ran the VP subsystem, it was entirely as a tool for my own use. I wouldn’t ever make something like that player facing. It clashes with the style of play I try to cultivate. As a player, I’m not particularly fond of it either.

I dunno, you can have wards that aren't necessarily magical that work on skill checks, but they are limited in scope.
How does a non-magical ward work? What are the setting and system implications of that? This goes back to what I mean by the “physics” of the system. Having a system with some kind of internal logic is important to me.

I disagree. Not that you couldn't do it as a VP encounter, but I don't think most VP systems deal with damage or are necessarily meant to be active in the same way. In this case, they wanted spectral stuff that caused damage, which fits with building a Hazard. I think it was @!DWolf who structured some of their infiltration stuff as Hazards, or at least one time where the guards raised the alarm and started shooting, and I see this as a similar usage.
The idea behind using the VP subsystem is it can track progress towards a goal over time. You can layer it over the regular act of exploration, and as the PCs uncover clues and take actions to deal with it, the VP subsystem would track progress towards a conclusion. You could even run multiple VP tracks to handle things like complications. That’s pretty much for what and how clocks are used in other games.
 
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The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
I think the VP system would be a very cool structure for a large scale haunting, where it would track the occurrence of certain events as a result of progress made in an investigation of a haunted building. It would be a cool way to pace the drama without constraining the players too much. I could also see it as a kind of exorcism challenge where progress toward moving on / being exorcised could be tracked.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, if someone just popped up asking how it worked because they couldn't quite wrap head around the concept I wouldn't blame them at all.

Its more that Zapp's gymnastics in terms of turning every little thing he comes across into something it isn't, is kind of a pattern, its like every time they find a rule, they actively look for the most tortured way of reading it, and insist that its a crippling systemic flaw.

We went through it with his reading of skill feats as the exclusive way of performing an action, we're going through it with his impression of the game as not facilitating sandbox play at all, its just kind of an ongoing thing where he completely dominates the conversation with it.
I think I was the one who raised the issue of how to run them. @Justice and Rule touched on where I was going with that line of questioning. As written, they remind me of skill challenges, which I didn’t like. I also very strongly dislike using knowledge checks to inform players of how they should solve a problem. I prefer to keep knowledge checks informational. Players should be the ones figuring out the how, but the way haunts are written makes it sometimes non-obvious what the how is expected to be. And in my experience with them in PF1, PCs just navigated around and avoided them. 😅
 

The-Magic-Sword

Adventurer
I also prefer informational knowledge checks, in this instance it would be more like "you know that you do have sufficent skill to exorcise it" because thats something the character would know they know how to do, but the player might not realize is an option.

But I'd present it as a player unknown, that its literally a disable mechanic on a trap, instead it would be presented as "this seems to be x, you did learn how to perform exorcism as part of your [why ever the hell they have religion] so you estimate you might be able to pull one off here"

Notably, this would be less necessary going forward once the player understand their religion skill is a tool to be used in this way.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
What I mean by “physics” is that the system has an internal consistency. Certain things work certain ways. When I say that PF2 is a prescriptive system, you have a lot of various things you take or can do that demonstrate your character’s proficiency. It’s not really a game where you’re expected to improvise effects like that. For example, I’d expect something like a seance or creating wards to fall under the ritual subsystem.

Ah, so you mean like design consistency. I get ya.

I had a hunch skill challenges my come up. I’m not a skill challenges guy, especially if one is revealing which skills are pertinent to the challenge. The time I ran the VP subsystem, it was entirely as a tool for my own use. I wouldn’t ever make something like that player facing. It clashes with the style of play I try to cultivate. As a player, I’m not particularly fond of it either.

Yeah, Skill Challenges can be iffy. I'm reminded a while back when I was watching Critical Role and there was a point at which they were running away in a jungle and Matt called for a Skill Challenge and... it just didn't work for me. I think the big thing is that it went on too long, but it's one of those things where doing a more fluid chase would have worked better.

And it doesn't necessarily have to be something that is solved via a knowledge check as much as someone who has the Religion skill should know that Haunts are generally vulnerable to prayer and exorcism. I'm more thinking using the knowledge check to identify whether it's a haunt or a straight-up spirit, if you catch my drift. The identification of what it is helps inform you of how to take care of it.

How does a non-magical ward work? What are the setting and system implications of that? This goes back to what I mean by the “physics” of the system. Having a system with some kind of internal logic is important to me.

I'd say a lower-scale Religion or Occultism check that required components, like salt or chalk, and maybe something similar to a ritual-style system. In practice it would be less disabling a trap by taking it apart and more jamming something in a gear; it can come loose or eventually break over time.

But I get requiring more consistent design logic. Hrm. Maybe I'll work on plotting out some. I'll be honest, thinking about it made me interested in it as a topic.

The idea behind using the VP subsystem is it can track progress towards a goal over time. You can layer it over the regular act of exploration, and as the PCs uncover clues and take actions to deal with it, the VP subsystem would track progress towards a conclusion. You could even run multiple VP tracks to handle things like complications. That’s pretty much for what and how clocks are used in other games.

No, I get that. I'm just not sure that's what they were going for with Haunts. I totally understand what you are saying, I just don't think they pictured Haunts as something requiring the VP system. But differences of opinion and all that.
 

payn

Adventurer
I think I was the one who raised the issue of how to run them. @Justice and Rule touched on where I was going with that line of questioning. As written, they remind me of skill challenges, which I didn’t like. I also very strongly dislike using knowledge checks to inform players of how they should solve a problem. I prefer to keep knowledge checks informational. Players should be the ones figuring out the how, but the way haunts are written makes it sometimes non-obvious what the how is expected to be. And in my experience with them in PF1, PCs just navigated around and avoided them. 😅
Avoiding and navigating around haunts didnt seem like a bug to me. You can neutralize them for a period and move on, rush through them and hope for the best, or study a bit and put them to final rest. The ouija board communication was a fantastic way to add some roleplay into haunted houses, if the players fancied that kind of story. However, im not sure they kept the oujia communication in PF2?
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Avoiding and navigating around haunts didnt seem like a bug to me. You can neutralize them for a period and move on, rush through them and hope for the best, or study a bit and put them to final rest. The ouija board communication was a fantastic way to add some roleplay into haunted houses, if the players fancied that kind of story. However, im not sure they kept the oujia communication in PF2?
I don’t remember the ouija board stuff from PF1. :confused:
 

payn

Adventurer
I don’t remember the ouija board stuff from PF1. :confused:
In the Carrion Crown AP there was a set of rules for using a Ouijia board to commune with the spirit of the haunt. The player could try and understand how the haunt came about, and more importantly, what they could do to finally put it to rest. It was a ton of fun for my players for awhile, but eventually it became time consuming. The first adventure is a haunted house and the entire first floor is a dozen haunts.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
In the Carrion Crown AP there was a set of rules for using a Ouijia board to commune with the spirit of the haunt. The player could try and understand how the haunt came about, and more importantly, what they could do to finally put it to rest. It was a ton of fun for my players for awhile, but eventually it became time consuming. The first adventure is a haunted house and the entire first floor is a dozen haunts.
Ah. Our experience was with the haunt in Foxglove Manor in Rise of the Runelords. I think the ouija board was unique to Carrion Crown. I checked the description of haunts in the PF1 GMG, and there wasn’t any mention of it.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Don't you just use Recall Knowledge to figure out how to disable haunts or other hazards? That's how I'm running it.
How?

I mean, exactly?

Can I assume you're talking about the case where the heroes have successfully detected the haunt?

How do you describe this? As opposed to an "undetected" haunt, I mean? If you hear spooky moaning, how do you differentiate listening to it "clueless" as opposed to "informed"?

Since Recall Knowledge is an action, do you require the heroes to win initiative? (It's no use identifying a trap if you don't have time disabling it before it activates) Or how do you make it work?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The first is that they are undead that you can't just defeat with a stick (or magical stick, depending on how powerful they are).
This is actually an important point.

Like it or not, D&D is a game where you can solve pretty much any problem with a big enough stick.

It falls squarely on the game developers to very clearly flag when this is not the case. And, actually, to explain the phenomenon in general. Why, exactly, can you beat a ghost but not these spirits? Wouldn't all (incorporeal) undead want to research ways to become immune to sticks?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The second is that these actually provide cool usages of Religion and Occultism if you like.
The problem is the overwhelming gamist nature of the idea.

Nowhere in the rules are you told skills have this power, except buried in the individual haunt descriptions. With zero guidance on how to convey this information to the players.

Compare to, for instance, if there was a general skill action called "exorcise", so the players at least knew that's a button they have to press in appropriate circumstances.

Still, how do you make the players realize when to press these buttons as opposed to other buttons (like the Strike action)...?

You appear to have the perspective of someone already buying Paizo's spiel hook line and sinker without stopping for a second to think about how you're supposed to learn this stuff in the first place. I'm sure the haunt mechanism works great once all the players know of the game information, and just sit around thinking about which skills that might be useful in each case.

But that presupposes a LOAD of information the rulebook Just. Does. Not. Tell. You! That's it is a "haunt" in the first place, as opposed to just some mischievous monster (or even just an environmental phenomenon). And how do players know which buttons to press. What happens if they choose wrong? And what does that mean in-game?

From a gamist perspective, you just go "I roll Occultism" but that's shitty roleplaying. You're supposed to describe your character's actions, not to explain which button you as the player are pressing on your game avatar.

How do you describe "I roll Occultism" in the game and how would that differ from rolling, say, Religion or Arcana instead?
How do you know when to use which skill?
And what is the consequence of choosing the wrong skill? A lost action? Or what?

There is a myriad of questions and a whole preamble the rulebook just leaves out entirely just assuming everybody is entirely aboard the gamist train.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yeah, if someone just popped up asking how it worked because they couldn't quite wrap head around the concept I wouldn't blame them at all.

Its more that Zapp's gymnastics in terms of turning every little thing he comes across into something it isn't, is kind of a pattern, its like every time they find a rule, they actively look for the most tortured way of reading it, and insist that its a crippling systemic flaw.

We went through it with his reading of skill feats as the exclusive way of performing an action, we're going through it with his impression of the game as not facilitating sandbox play at all, its just kind of an ongoing thing where he completely dominates the conversation with it.
First off I'm not "dominating" you in any way. You are, after all, free to skip the threads I start...

Second, attack the argument, not the person. At least if you wish to come across as credible in an argument.

Third, we've been over this. If you run skill feats fast and loose, you need to explain what the point is of a) having them and b) controlling them so tightly. Many gamers including me would feel it entirely unsatisfactory to have one player just ad-libbing a great description (and thus the GM allowing a corner case) while a second player argues he's allowed to do it because his character has the feat. It's one or the other, full stop. I certainly wouldn't bother with feats allowing actions I knew I could just sweet-talk my GM into allowing. This way of "minmaxing-by-GM" feels utterly out of place in a highly regulated game like PF2. (It's not that I am against the idea of it. In fact, in a rules-light game that is exactly the charm. But PF2 is possibly the D&D iteration furthest away from the notion of a "rules-light" game). This really is off topic for this particular thread, but still.
 

Justice and Rule

Adventurer
How?

I mean, exactly?

Can I assume you're talking about the case where the heroes have successfully detected the haunt?

How do you describe this? As opposed to an "undetected" haunt, I mean? If you hear spooky moaning, how do you differentiate listening to it "clueless" as opposed to "informed"?

Since Recall Knowledge is an action, do you require the heroes to win initiative? (It's no use identifying a trap if you don't have time disabling it before it activates) Or how do you make it work?

This response doesn't really make sense. Of course you have to successfully detect a Haunt to know exactly how to disable it; do you ask the same of traps? But even without identifying a Haunt, most Haunts are weak to usages of the Religion skill in the form of prayers and exorcisms, just like most traps are able to be disabled through Thievery and most natural hazards are avoidable through Survival. This whole thing just doesn't make

This is actually an important point.

Like it or not, D&D is a game where you can solve pretty much any problem with a big enough stick.

It falls squarely on the game developers to very clearly flag when this is not the case. And, actually, to explain the phenomenon in general. Why, exactly, can you beat a ghost but not these spirits? Wouldn't all (incorporeal) undead want to research ways to become immune to sticks?

The flag is finding out that you're dealing with a Haunt, which should be done through investigation, which is why I said I liked it. It makes you not sure of how you are going to deal with something rather than being able to immediately identify what is causing the problem, which is a problem in D&D-related games: players being so familiar with the bestiary that they can immediately identify what is causing a problem. This forces even experienced players to have doubts about what might be causing a problem and force investigation.

And the reasons are easy to concoct. My immediate thought was undeath is a spectrum, where the closer you are to the spirit world the less physical manifestations can act on you but also the less autonomy you have and more divine prayer can actually affect you. Heck, even zombies have more autonomy than Haunts, which are trapped in automated repetition.

The problem is the overwhelming gamist nature of the idea.

Nowhere in the rules are you told skills have this power, except buried in the individual haunt descriptions. With zero guidance on how to convey this information to the players.

Compare to, for instance, if there was a general skill action called "exorcise", so the players at least knew that's a button they have to press in appropriate circumstances.

Still, how do you make the players realize when to press these buttons as opposed to other buttons (like the Strike action)...?

You appear to have the perspective of someone already buying Paizo's spiel hook line and sinker without stopping for a second to think about how you're supposed to learn this stuff in the first place. I'm sure the haunt mechanism works great once all the players know of the game information, and just sit around thinking about which skills that might be useful in each case.

But that presupposes a LOAD of information the rulebook Just. Does. Not. Tell. You! That's it is a "haunt" in the first place, as opposed to just some mischievous monster (or even just an environmental phenomenon). And how do players know which buttons to press. What happens if they choose wrong? And what does that mean in-game?

I'm sorry, you can't make this argument and then try pulling the previous argument of "D&D is a game where you can solve pretty much anything with striking". It's not more "gamist" to suddenly need to use skills to solve a problem that you thought you could hit.

The "THEY DON'T TELL YOU THIS" thing is weak, given that the Survival Skill doesn't say that it is used in most Environmental hazards, but it's obvious that it would. That the Religion skill can deal with certain manifestations of spirits is pretty easy to grok and acting like this is some incredible game design flaw is inane, no matter how much text you try to hide it in.

From a gamist perspective, you just go "I roll Occultism" but that's shitty roleplaying. You're supposed to describe your character's actions, not to explain which button you as the player are pressing on your game avatar.

How do you describe "I roll Occultism" in the game and how would that differ from rolling, say, Religion or Arcana instead?
How do you know when to use which skill?
And what is the consequence of choosing the wrong skill? A lost action? Or what?

There is a myriad of questions and a whole preamble the rulebook just leaves out entirely just assuming everybody is entirely aboard the gamist train.

For starters, you roll Occultism because it specifically denotes that it deals with Spirits, just as Religion deals with Undead. Arcana wouldn't work because that doesn't really cover those areas. And really this argument comes off less about Haunts and more as a weird argument against skill checks in general: if you just "Roll Occultism", I have no clue what you are actually doing, any more than if you roll Athletics. If you say "I roll Occultism to do something" I ask "What?" The simple argument is that, when using a skill, if you can't describe what you want to do you can't roll the check.

To write an easy example of how I could see a Haunt going down without getting particularly specific:

"Hm. I'm going to roll Occultism to see if I can Recall Knowledge on this. 25."

"Okay, so this is a Haunt, a spiritual echo. Typically speaking you can't hit those-"

"Damn it!"

"-and this one is of an aggrieved, angry spirit who is restless. From your check, you know that spirits can be calmed down through talking and also through prayer and exorcism rites, though that might take a little longer."

"Alright. 'It's an angry spirit! We need to talk it down!' "

"Okay, who is up next?"

"Me! So prayer and exorcism, that'd be like Religion, right? Can I try that?"

"Yes, that would be it."

"So my Cleric begins to begin to chant the Rites of Legal Exorcism from the Prayers of Law. 'Oh spirit, I ask that you be moved from this place where you do not belong and should not intrude into...' And... 21!"

"Nice! You can see the spectral storm around you begin to waver, but it does not let up."

"Grr. Have to keep going then..."

I don't see why that situation is particularly gamist unless you make it as such, and that's on you.

First off I'm not "dominating" you in any way. You are, after all, free to skip the threads I start...

I mean, when you post how much you dislike a system all over the board, it's hard to avoid your presence. The easiest thing would be for you to stop talking about something you actively dislike, rather than continually inflicting it on others.

Second, attack the argument, not the person. At least if you wish to come across as credible in an argument.

Noooooo, when you operate in bad faith and find a need to hostilely threadcrap a system constantly, you can hit a person with that. @The-Magic-Sword is absolutely right about your behavior. It's why people here are starting to get fed up with you.

Third, we've been over this. If you run skill feats fast and loose, you need to explain what the point is of a) having them and b) controlling them so tightly. Many gamers including me would feel it entirely unsatisfactory to have one player just ad-libbing a great description (and thus the GM allowing a corner case) while a second player argues he's allowed to do it because his character has the feat. It's one or the other, full stop. I certainly wouldn't bother with feats allowing actions I knew I could just sweet-talk my GM into allowing. This way of "minmaxing-by-GM" feels utterly out of place in a highly regulated game like PF2. (It's not that I am against the idea of it. In fact, in a rules-light game that is exactly the charm. But PF2 is possibly the D&D iteration furthest away from the notion of a "rules-light" game). This really is off topic for this particular thread, but still.

Yes, we went over this and the last time we did we thoroughly argued against it, and you basically dismissed our arguments and went on to claim validation and victory over it.
 
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Is this PF or PF2 thing that I am unaware of? I don't necessarily think spirits = religion and =/=occult is an RPG standard. Heck necromancy, which deals with death and spirits, is typically arcane or occultism.
Wasn’t the Medium character in Occult Adventures also Occultism based.
 

transmission89

Adventurer
First off I'm not "dominating" you in any way. You are, after all, free to skip the threads I start...

Second, attack the argument, not the person. At least if you wish to come across as credible in an argument.

Third, we've been over this. If you run skill feats fast and loose, you need to explain what the point is of a) having them and b) controlling them so tightly. Many gamers including me would feel it entirely unsatisfactory to have one player just ad-libbing a great description (and thus the GM allowing a corner case) while a second player argues he's allowed to do it because his character has the feat. It's one or the other, full stop. I certainly wouldn't bother with feats allowing actions I knew I could just sweet-talk my GM into allowing. This way of "minmaxing-by-GM" feels utterly out of place in a highly regulated game like PF2. (It's not that I am against the idea of it. In fact, in a rules-light game that is exactly the charm. But PF2 is possibly the D&D iteration furthest away from the notion of a "rules-light" game). This really is off topic for this particular thread, but still.
Yup, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander here.

I’d disagree with the binary idea you’re presenting here of either a defined skill system or playing fast and loose. There is room in between as no matter how comprehensive a games system, there will always be areas not covered by the rules. This involves improv and adaptation from all participants at the table.

I can understand you have problems with the PF2 game. There are somethings about it you have problems with. In particular, in this thread, you’re discussing some of the ambiguities around the hazards and such right? Like how are the players supposed to know how to do x or the GM to run x without this missing critical information?

So, using the 5e DMG as your sole resource, explain how to run a dungeon crawl procedure with the activities that can be taken by the players (Please also mention the more robust hazard system included that Paizo clearly failed with here).

I can save you the effort though. You can’t, because the 5e DMG massively falls down here. Were I to adopt your argument, this would be the point I’d label it a complete failure of a system.

I also suspect you’ll then critique the ”relativism” here again and how this frustrates you, as you are wont to do. but, and I’m gonna let you finish... you yourself do this every time you critique PF2 by making reference to 5e and a “post 5e world”. If you don’t want people to draw comparison, or constantly point out that Paizo were not interested in looking at 5e for design (thus meaning it can’t be a failure on those terms as that was never their success criteria), it’d behoove you to not constantly create the comparison yourself.

Rest assured, this is, as with magic, an attack on the argument because, as I’ve highlighted here, when you draw the logical conclusions from your assertions, they apply quite heavily to something you are contrasting it against.
 

I had a hunch skill challenges my come up. I’m not a skill challenges guy, especially if one is revealing which skills are pertinent to the challenge. The time I ran the VP subsystem, it was entirely as a tool for my own use. I wouldn’t ever make something like that player facing. It clashes with the style of play I try to cultivate. As a player, I’m not particularly fond of it either.
I’m curious about this, because I don’t see the VP subsystem as any different from skill challenges. Both of them are mechanisms to create more open-ended challenges that can’t be resolved in a single roll.
 

The flag is finding out that you're dealing with a Haunt, which should be done through investigation, which is why I said I liked it. It makes you not sure of how you are going to deal with something rather than being able to immediately identify what is causing the problem, which is a problem in D&D-related games: players being so familiar with the bestiary that they can immediately identify what is causing a problem. This forces even experienced players to have doubts about what might be causing a problem and force investigation.
I think this post pretty much encapsulates my problems with PF2. In a lot of areas, it comes off as a system that assumes that you are playing with players that have played D&D so much that it can be taken for granted that the can immediately identify the cause of the problem. Or that once they hit level 2, they will immediately buy the power rune and buy the striking rune at level 4. Or that will immediately recognize that you should trip wraiths but intimidate ogres.
 

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