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State of the Mongoose 2021

Mongoose Publishing is just finishing its 20th year in business and 2021 has been… well, we are still around, despite all the global upsets.

I am Matthew Sprange, the owner of Mongoose Publishing, and the State of the Mongoose is our yearly address to the gaming community, covering how we have been getting on over the past 12 months and looking forward to our plans for the following year.

This year we will be talking Traveller, Paranoia, Sea of Thieves, comics, video games, brand-new settings and games, and much, much more!

Business Stuff
The pandemic has been a factor in all our lives, and 2021 marked our adaption to it. We had been in lockdown and working from home since everything kicked off last year, and we slowly emerged from our homes and cautiously crept back into the office.

Our advantage is that just about everyone at Mongoose lives a long way from their original family homes and so we were able to create our own ‘support bubble’, as it was called in the UK, effectively working together but shielding ourselves from outside contact as much as possible.

However, not everyone can do this and the pandemic made most things outside of the office take longer to do – shipping was the big one with overseas mail order delivery times going to over a month in some cases and our own restocks going from a few days to two weeks and sometimes three. Freelance writers and artists in particular faced pandemic-related delays, which in turn knocked back the release of several projects, notably the Mercenary box set (now at print though!). We countered this somewhat by redoubling our efforts to find more artists, but a slowdown was inevitable.

The other wondrous event this year, at least in the UK, was Brexit kicking into (almost) full force. The effects were almost instant. At this point, I am guessing there will be some readers in the EU trying to stifle a snigger, and it is difficult to blame them – everything you have heard about the effects of Brexit is probably true.

In terms of Mongoose, the effects were a slowdown of direct mail order times to EU gamers, followed by a more or less complete cut off. In response to this, we started shipping all EU orders from our US warehouse which is expensive and takes a few days longer (especially with the pandemic affecting worldwide shipping), but it maintains the service EU gamers are used to. But, you may ask, did the UK government and mail services in the UK not have everything ready to handle this?

Not even close. As I write this, we are just piecing together a system ourselves (because the one the UK’s main carrier provided simply did not work at the level we dwell in – and still doesn’t) that should allow us to start shipping to the EU again early next year (just in time for Rules of Origin to kick in, and won’t that be fun…). Either way, if you are in the EU you can still get books from us, it is just somewhat less efficient at our end at the moment.

That all leads us into more positive areas.

First off, we are working on a brand new web site, which will hopefully be up and running a short while after you read this. On your side, it provides far more account and tracking options, and on ours a much, much simplified back end that does not look like someone approached its design like a Christmas tree – seriously, for the people working in our office it will be nothing short of a blessing. It will also allow integration with the IOSS system and our own accounts to properly handle EU mail orders. Once that is up and running, we will be working to bring our forums into the technology of this decade.

We also added two new full-time staff members to the office – Katrina joins the graphics team while Bella has very recently joined us as staff writer, editor and all round wordsmith. You have already seen Katrina’s work with the likes of the new Secrets of the Ancients and Bella’s work will be appearing next year. Look out for both of them in the credits of new books.

Overall, Mongoose continues to be profitable, with most of those profits distributed to the staff in bonuses and perks, increasing the company ‘war chest’, and making the office a more secure and comfortable place to work in. The staff received higher than inflation pay rises this year and we expect to do the same early in 2022. Payment to creatives remains our biggest cost by a very large margin – in other words, when you buy a Mongoose book, the majority of that money will end up in the hands of the people who actually created it.

2021 and the Mongoose
Business matters aside, Mongoose did well in getting new books out of the door, despite the pressures of the pandemic and Brexit. The question is always did we manage to get out all the books we mentioned in the last State of the Mongoose? And, broadly speaking, yes we did.

The big non-show was the Fifth Frontier War series. This is still a thing and it will still happen, but as we dove deeper into it we decided there was prep work still to go. As things stand, we are developing background lore books that will support the FFW (such as a deeper look into the Zhodani Consulate) and Mr Miller is working on some brand new material that will be integrated into the series.

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The other book currently missing in action is Aliens of Charted Space Volume 3, bringing you the Darrians, Bwaps, Geonee, Dolphins and Orcas. This has been written and edited, and will be laid out early next year. We heartily recommend an Orca Traveller for every group, especially those who are flying a Type-S Scout…

We have had some landmark releases this year for Traveller – the mighty Deepnight Revelation campaign, the Solomani Front (plus two adventures already set in that region), the Glorious Empire, Core Rulebook Update 2022, Secrets of the Ancients, and oodles more. We also put the Mercenary series to bed (will be coming back from print early next year), the Third Imperium sourcebook, and of course the new 2300AD.

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Before the year is out, you will also see the new entry point for Traveller – the Explorer’s Edition – and a revised classic adventure, Death Station. This has been revisited by YouTuber Seth Skorkowsky, and will be a free download – our Christmas present to all the Travellers out there!

This means we now have two ways for you to get into Traveller (the Explorer’s Edition and the Core Rulebook Update 2022), and there is a meaty free adventure for you to dive right into!

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The pandemic put the brakes on our YouTube channel a little, but there has been activity this year and we are gearing up for more. Watch out for a music video of a theme song we commissioned for Traveller – Fly Free Travellers, by Tom Cook.

In addition to YouTube, we also (finally) have a functioning Instagram account (Login • Instagram). Here you will find daily previews of art from upcoming books, many of which you will not see elsewhere.

We also signed up for another licence period with Microsoft for the Sea of Thieves RPG, so expect to see more piratical action on the waves for a good few years yet!

And, right now, we have the second set of volumes of the Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society running on Kickstarter. We still have a couple of weeks to go and the project has already broken all expectations – swing by and see what all the fuss is about!

Traveller RPG: The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society II

So, that was 2021. What can you expect from Mongoose in 2022?

Shield Maidens
Written by Alison Cybe, this is a brand new Viking/Cyberpunk style game in which you join the Shield Maidens, a group tasked by Freya to resist the empire of Fenrir and prevent Ragnarök from destroying the universe. The might of the Shield Maidens is tested at every turn, and they have only their training and sacred Guardian Shields to battle enemies across the nine realms.

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The gods are nowhere to be seen, abandoning humanity in favour of the endless war they wage against one another. Elves and humans clash over Ymir’s blood, ripping Midgard to the core to uncover ever greater resources. Dwarves have ascended, no longer troubled by the concerns of mortality, and even the dragons and Jötunn stand aside, caring little for the troubles faced by those in Midgard as humanity wilts under the oppression of a fascistic government. The time of the Shield Maidens has come, but even the strife in Midgard is miniscule compared to their greater task, renewing the cycle of time and ushering a new spring in the aftermath of Ragnarök.

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Expect to see more from Shield Maidens around April/May 2022.

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Traveller in 2022
If you scrolled past all the previous text to read this section first, welcome aboard!

Traveller continues to be a real passion for us here at Mongoose HQ, and we have been working on 2022 releases for some time now.

This year we released the Core Rulebook Update 2022. Next year will see High Guard Update 2022 and, perhaps Central Supply Catalogue Update 2022 (though work has not started on the latter at this time). All books will have player comments incorporated and, of course, will be getting the new interior format and art styles that the latest Traveller books have been featuring. These Update books allow us to do mid-life revisions and corrections of the core rules, so rest assured this edition will be with us for a good long while yet!

Speaking of core books, a new title will be added to that sub-line – the long-awaited Robot Handbook.

The Robot Handbook is designed to be both quick and easy to use, and configurable to customise all aspects of a robot’s functions, capabilities, and skills; a standard robot can be built in just a few minutes. It includes rules for making nanorobots and microrobots, androids, clones, biological robots, and brains for both vehicles and spacecraft. There is also an immense catalogue, acting as a springboard for your own designs and allowing you to begin using robots right away to be tools, companions, or opponents for your Travellers to encounter.

The designer of this book, Geir Lanesskog, has managed to squeeze in just about every style of robot you have ever seen in science fiction, and it is simply packed full of ideas – and yes, you can create robots who are Travellers too!

We wanted a new ‘epic’ campaign for 2022, so we are proud to announce Singularity Overdrive. This is very much an AI-themed story, written by Chris Griffen who has been pioneering a lot of new ideas with his smaller Traveller adventures. It seemed obvious to give him more space to create his own campaign!

In Imperial Research Station Omicron, scientists are guarding a secret: a computer-based intelligence known only as Naalir. When Naalir breaks free of its bonds, it seeks the Travellers’ help. As fugitives, they go on the run from Imperial agents, and are forced to hide among denizens of the underworld. In the process, they discover dark secrets of the Core, a place whose history is not at all what it seems – but their adventures do not end there. Naalir digitises the Travellers’ consciousnesses and uses the vast Imperial X-boat Network to transmit versions of them to the far corners of Imperial space. At each terminus, they are reconstituted to carry out its mission. Naalir wants to live! The only question is: Should such a powerful and dangerous being be allowed to exist? The Travellers must ultimately decide whether to save Naalir... or destroy it.

Singularity Overdrive is a complete campaign that explores the Core and takes the Travellers beyond its borders using technology that has only been touched upon in Traveller thus far. It features multiple adventures, detailed star system descriptions, new ships, robots, vehicles, weapons, gear and wild new technologies.

If you fancy something smaller and tighter in scale (think Skandersvik in scope), Martin Dougherty has been beavering away on a Solomani-based campaign that you should see around the middle of next year.

With the release of the Third Imperium, we want to continue to produce more ‘empire books’ to properly explore this greater aspect of Charted Space. Next one to appear in 2022 will be the Zhodani Consulate – which will also, of course, lay more groundwork for the Fifth Frontier War.

New Traveller Universe: Pioneer
Around the bottom end of 2022, we will be releasing a brand new universe for Traveller, with the current working title Pioneer. This will be a self-contained book (so no need for the Traveller Core Rulebook), as we will be tweaking the Traveller rules somewhat for this one.

Pioneer is set in our own Solar System, around 10-30 years in the future. Humanity is just starting its new wave of exploration of the planets and moons, and you will be on the leading edge of these missions – this is a game where you will be the first to walk on Mars, the first to establish a Moon base, the first to test mining operations on an asteroid... and if you push the timeline forward, the first to look for life on Europa, to visit Saturn’s moons, and much more. The whole Solar System will be your playground and you will be the first to explore it. The likes of Gravity, The Martian, Interstellar (in terms of atmosphere, not the actual mission), Sunshine and 2001/2010 are very much our touchstones for this new universe.

To do this, you will create characters from around the world, and engage in missions funded by both governments and private enterprise. There is no dedicated combat chapter in this book as your main adversary, by far, is the hostile environment of space and the planets and moons of our sun.

The lead designer for Pioneer will be Sandy Antunes, a name that will be familiar to a lot of you. Dr. Antunes worked as a NASA contractor at NASA/GSFC, an NSF fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory, and is currently a senior programmer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. He also taught as a Professor of Astronautical Engineering for 10 years, and holds a Ph.D. in computational astrophysics. He has written operations, flight and analysis software, and worked with multiple satellite missions in the US and Japan, including CUBIC, ASCA, XTE SUZAKU, STEREO, and Parker Solar Probe, and was the lead for the CACTUS-1 CubeSat mission. He has written 4 books on ‘DIY Space’ for Maker Media and presented talks at both World MakerFaire and Gray Hat/Aerospace Village on the risks from malicious satellites, as well as publishing scientific research on topics ranging from radiation damage to space hardware through to modelling solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs). He has written for multiple gaming books (including Miskatonic University and A Faery's Tale) and short form works (including GURPS: Starbases and Doom: Semper Fidelis), and he is the co-founder of RPG.net.

We are really excited for this project, and believe that for many Traveller players it will be ‘pitch perfect’ in its scope. You will be able to spec mission equipment and parameters, and then literally launch yourself into the unknown…

Traveller Comics
In 2022, Traveller will be debuting in comic form! We have just reached an agreement with Markosia for three volumes of a Traveller-based comic. This is a very recent development, but we are looking forward to seeing new tales told across Charted Space!

Traveller Video Games
Video games take even longer than RPGs to develop, and our friends at Evil Twin Artworks are still hard at work on not one but two Traveller video games. The first, Traveller: Vanguard, is a turn-based isometric squad-based game with full campaign mode that will see you engaging in boarding actions during the Fifth Frontier War, from the perspective of both the Imperial Marines and Zhodani.

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Vanguard is coming along nicely, as evidenced by some of the 3D models you can see here.

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Traveller will be a little while yet in coming to your gaming screens, as a new Victory at Sea WWII naval game is scheduled to be released first, but it will not be massively long before you can launch your boarding shuttles and start building up your squad’s experience!

2300AD
The all new 2300AD box set went on ebook release and pre-order this year, was quickly followed by the Aerospace Engineer’s Handbook, and you will soon be enjoying Ships of the Frontier.

2022 will see a completely revised Bayern campaign released, with buckets of new material. This campaign follows the story of a group of explorers as they chart the Pleiades cluster, and this edition has been given all the room needed to let it bloom into a truly memorable gaming experience.

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Beyond Bayern, in 2022 you will also be seeing a brand new Tools for Frontier Living (the 2300AD equivalent of the Central Supply Catalogue) and a separate Colonies book that will allow you to create, build and expand your own far-flung outposts across the frontier.

We are also hoping to be able to bring you a brand new campaign that will take 2300AD in a new direction!

Paranoia: The Perfect Edition
The current Red Clearance edition of Paranoia is perfect. We all know this. The Computer says so, and we all agree on a mandatory level.

Therefore, loyal citizens will be excited to learn that a brand new Paranoia is on the way in 2022 – Paranoia: The Perfect Edition. Why publish the Perfect Edition? Oh, many reasons…
  • The second edition of Paranoia arrived three years after the first edition. The Perfect Edition will come five years after the Red Clearance edition, which means we are two years late. Wait, is that how to calendar?
  • There was not enough lore and setting details in the Red Clearance edition (Paranoia XP ruined it for everyone!), so we are adding information on service groups, propaganda, celebrities, and more.
  • Famous Game Designer WJ MacGuffin wants a new mudroom so he blackmailed us into green-lighting this project.
  • We’re lonely and want people to give us attention.
Quick initiative. Revised Moxie. Calling in favours. Compatibility with Red Clearance edition expansions. And all the fatalities and swaths of destruction you’ve come to expect from Paranoia.

Sea of Thieves
The easy-to-pick-up and fun-loaded game of piracy on the Sea of Thieves continues to prove extremely popular, and we have recently reached an agreement with Microsoft to extend the licence for another few years.

If you have not yet checked out the Sea of Thieves RPG and fancy some good pirating action on the waves, you really cannot do better. We have ensured that you can begin playing within minutes of opening the box (yes, really!), and the tutorial voyage leads directly into a full campaign (also included in the box set) that will take you around the huge poster map of the playing area while encountering all the weird and wonderful sights within the Sea of Thieves.

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This year saw the release of a bumper expansion book, A Tale of Two Captains, adding lots more goodies based on recent updates of the video game, including new regions to explore, new monsters to hunt, and the story of two rival captains who cannot help but get each other into trouble.

Be More Pirate.

The Sea of Thieves RPG will be receiving a major new supplement towards the end of 2022.

Warlord Games
We enjoy a good relationship with our friends at Warlord Games, who produce the Victory at Sea and SPQR miniatures games that Mongoose designed. We are currently working on no less than three new projects for Warlord, including a supplement for SPQR, a supplement for one of their other games, and a brand new miniatures game that we are really, really excited for. If you like story-telling/narrative games, this will be one to keep an eye out for…

Peering into the Future
2021 was about extending our stride in terms of capabilities and production quality. 2022 will be about building upon this and pushing forward with projects for which the groundwork has been laid. We want to take what we have already done and elevate the bar as high as we can – we really want to see how far we can push things in terms of game development, support and production.

A year ago in the last State of the Mongoose, we listed a series of primary goals for 2021. How did we do?
  • Deliver mercenary campaigns to Traveller and do them justice (success, a little delayed, but now off to print).
  • Begin the Fifth Frontier War sub-line which, collectively, will become the biggest project we have ever attempted for… well, pretty much any game, actually (too big for 2021 – we are going to be taking another run at this one with more support material at our disposal).
  • Bring a new Graphic Artist on board and get them trained up (Katrina is here and has already started delivering books).
  • Expand the audio-visual components of our games and universes (we released the Pirates of Drinax soundtrack, and the Fly Free Travellers music video is imminent – more already in the works).
  • Begin work on the next great leap for Paranoia (the Perfect Edition will be nothing less than absolutely perfect).
  • Make our staff members 3.6 times happier than they were in 2020 (success, with a new TV and Xbox for the office, comfy boardroom seating, regular bonuses throughout the year and an official slushy machine – plus large doses of chocolate).
  • Start development of a brand new setting and game that has been buzzing around our heads for too long now (Shield Maidens will be with us very soon).
Looks pretty good. So, what shall be our goals for 2022?
  • With 2300AD and Pioneer under our belt, we are wanting to introduce another Traveller universe that has been bubbling its way through our creative process for more than a decade now. It is tightly focussed (three core books, no more, no less) and will be developed in 2022, likely for release in 2023.
  • We want to redouble our efforts in working on a good future for our staff. A core component of that will be getting younger members on the housing ladder, no easy task in this day and age. This means continuing to provide a good salary, but also facilitating a healthy deposit and sound financial advice.
  • There is also a move that has already begun to ‘future proof’ Mongoose and ensure it continues to function whatever disasters come its way. This has led to training staff in areas other than their core responsibilities, to the extent that the company can continue to function no matter who unexpectedly leaves, for whatever reasons. We will be continuing to do that and aim to have at least one week in 2022 where the staff become responsible for the running of Mongoose with no directorial oversight.
  • On that note, we will also be looking to appoint one or more of the staff as company directors, as right now Mongoose has just one and that is never great.
  • We will continue our mission to make Mongoose HQ a pleasant environment to work in. At a minimum we want to redecorate/replace the entire kitchen area. The carpets in the office desperately need replacing but until the technology arrives that can levitate everything off the floor (including staff), we are reluctant to pull the trigger on that one.
  • Pandemic permitting, we will be re-instituting our office day trips!
Officially, we do not work to deadlines, but we have started tightening up our ‘guideline dates’ for project completion in an effort to succeed in finishing all current projects before Christmas – a feat we have not managed for well over a decade, but at time of writing 2021 is looking good! This might become a regular thing, it might not. However, it does feel good to go into a New Year ‘clean’ when it comes to projects.

We have a team at Mongoose composed of people for whom gaming in other worlds and universes is a passion. Hopefully, you will see that in our recent work and future books. In a sense it is our job to get across our enthusiasm for these books into your own games and give you new experiences that will stay with you for years to come – as other games designers have done for us over the years.

It is just left for everyone on the Mongoose team to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous and fun-filled New Year. See you at the gaming table!

Matthew Sprange
Managing Director
Mongoose Publishing
 

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Jaeger

That someone better.
Shield Maidens
Written by Alison Cybe, this is a brand new Viking/Cyberpunk style game in which you join the Shield Maidens, a group tasked by Freya to resist the empire of Fenrir and prevent Ragnarök from destroying the universe. The might of the Shield Maidens is tested at every turn, and they have only their training and sacred Guardian Shields to battle enemies across the nine realms.

System?
 

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KFC

Villager
All this sounds awesome. It is really cool to see the company and the Traveller to be back on track. But to be honest I'm missing a bit your fantasy wing from d20s era. You did an awesome job with RQ, Conan and Legend stuff... any chance for some new products from those genres?
 

Mongoose_Matt

Adventurer
Publisher
All this sounds awesome. It is really cool to see the company and the Traveller to be back on track. But to be honest I'm missing a bit your fantasy wing from d20s era. You did an awesome job with RQ, Conan and Legend stuff... any chance for some new products from those genres?
This is very much something we want to do, and it would likely be backed up by a new edition of Legend. However, rather than just a core rules set we want to release a strong setting with it and that has been where things are delayed. That said, we have some irons in the fire for fantasy settings so we shall see what results!
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
It has its own system, D6- and D8-based.

Ha! That's what I get for such a short question LOL. I'll roll with it!

Ant further details on how it works - or will it be pending further announcements?


a new edition of Legend. However, rather than just a core rules set we want to release a strong setting with it and that has been where things are delayed. That said, we have some irons in the fire for fantasy settings so we shall see what results!

That's a wise move. With Mythras and stuff like Openquest out there already, d100 game engines have carved their niches.

Because outside of RQ no one has delivered a strong fantasy setting tied into the game from the ground up. Yes, Mythras has setting books - but that is not really the same thing. Even Chaosium has never really done a proper follow up for Magic world in any form.
 

Randomthoughts

Adventurer
This is very much something we want to do, and it would likely be backed up by a new edition of Legend. However, rather than just a core rules set we want to release a strong setting with it and that has been where things are delayed. That said, we have some irons in the fire for fantasy settings so we shall see what results!
Well, a setting I’d be very interested in is something inspired by Dark Sun using Legend (or RQ-based) rules. I believe there are fan conversions but it would be great if there was an official setting.
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
Well, a setting I’d be very interested in is something inspired by Dark Sun using Legend (or RQ-based) rules. I believe there are fan conversions but it would be great if there was an official setting.

IMHO, the setting would be a bit of a quandary for them.

Stuff like Dark Sun is niche even within the hobby. And Dark Sun still has the popularity that it does because it is: Dark Sun.

The similar enough but Totally Not-Dark Sun setting (so that WotC doesn't sue them); would not bring in the same following.

For example: I would go as far to say that RQ/Gorlantha benefits enormously from its early entry into the RPG hobby as one of the first-mover D&D alternatives that integrated system and setting.

Gorlantha as a setting would go nowhere if it was introduced today. It's just too niche.

These games take thousands of hours to produce, and at some point they have to decide what market niche will give them the best bang for their ROI.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
This is very much something we want to do, and it would likely be backed up by a new edition of Legend. However, rather than just a core rules set we want to release a strong setting with it and that has been where things are delayed. That said, we have some irons in the fire for fantasy settings so we shall see what results!
Does it have to be licensed?
 

Mongoose_Matt

Adventurer
Publisher
Ha! That's what I get for such a short question LOL. I'll roll with it!

Ant further details on how it works - or will it be pending further announcements?
Pending. The core rulebook is completely written and, just coming to the end of editing and we are preparing art and layout. Once that is all complete we will start with some proper previews.
 

Randomthoughts

Adventurer
IMHO, the setting would be a bit of a quandary for them.

Stuff like Dark Sun is niche even within the hobby. And Dark Sun still has the popularity that it does because it is: Dark Sun.

The similar enough but Totally Not-Dark Sun setting (so that WotC doesn't sue them); would not bring in the same following.

For example: I would go as far to say that RQ/Gorlantha benefits enormously from its early entry into the RPG hobby as one of the first-mover D&D alternatives that integrated system and setting.

Gorlantha as a setting would go nowhere if it was introduced today. It's just too niche.

These games take thousands of hours to produce, and at some point they have to decide what market niche will give them the best bang for their ROI.
I was definitely expressing my personal preference. And Dark Sun still gets some buzz. But making another big tent fantasy setting also faces a lot of competition. Personally, I’m tired of them.
 

Herne'sSon

Villager
This is very much something we want to do, and it would likely be backed up by a new edition of Legend. However, rather than just a core rules set we want to release a strong setting with it and that has been where things are delayed. That said, we have some irons in the fire for fantasy settings so we shall see what results!
Fingers crossed!
 

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