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5E The "Faster Features" Variant (+)

6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I like this concept. But count me among those who think the wizard is wonky and needs a boost. The class is balanced around spells, including spell levels, and those are essentially class features. By not advancing that part, I feel like you've thrown out the class balance relative to what other classes are getting because those other classes happen to name new abilities something different rather than a feature which says "new spell level available". And no, signature spell doesn't make up for it. That's a fun little add-on, but it's not a core feature for wizards. Wizards have lots of spell slots - they really don't use all their second level slots at high levels anyway, so it's not like treating those as cantrips is a meaingful difference. Their high level abilities are high level spells, and the class is built around that concept as if they were class features with special names.

Here's what I am currently thinking for 2nd level:

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Another option I am considering (but hesitate to use) is allowing more attunement slots maybe? I am not a fan of Artificers and won't make them for this system (sorry to people who like them...). So, giving wizards more attunement slots might work.

I have also considered allow them to get their new spell levels on the even levels instead of the odd levels. Or giving them more spells slots. I don't know, nothing I can think of really screams WIZARD to me... :(

Or, what about allowing Wizards to use an attunement slot for "holding" a concentration spell or something?
 

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6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I'd have to give further thoughts to the possible ramification and consequences of this, but at first (and second) read; it sounds solid.

my preference would have been for a non-linear "acceleration" of features, whereas level 1-5 are left unaffected. 5th level = 2nd attack = 3rd level spell = second tier of cantrips; until then things are fine. My preference would have been to leave those alone.

Similarly, level 11th works well for a universal-ish capstone level where 6th-level and tier 3 cantrip damage come into play. In other words, my ideal faster variant would be a condensation of level 6th-20th features in a 6th-11th level progression. I like how level 1-5 play, but I wish class features (of martials particularly) came faster to match 4th, 5th, and 6th level spells. The game could thus be easily self contained in some kind of E11 version of 5e, ignoring everything above, while leaving early level intact and keeping most of the game's features in play.

Now, I actually like your extra features. They are thematic, balanced (at first read at any case), and fill appropriate gaps/niches, but i would prefer a variant that doesn't add new content to the game.

So I don't have much to say about "this is too strong" or "this is so gimped! you've ruin my childhood by changing D&D!" My only criticism is that it changes level 1-5 play which I otherwise like.
The more I think about this I think you have a good idea here. Levels 1-5 go quickly enough at most tables IME, but bringing the tier 3 and 4 features into the high end of tier 2 will let them see some action, so to say. I've gone back and forth between L10, L12, and L15 variants, and your idea matches a lot of my L12 variant (I just removed subclasses completely from mine, but could put them back in...).

The L12 Variant thread is here: 5E - A L12 (level 12 limit) Variant

I know it messes with your "leave levels 1-5 alone!" thing, but I am thinking something (very close, however) like
Level 1 = 1
Level 2 = 2
Level 3 = 3
Level 4 = 5
Level 5 = 6+7
Level 6 = 9+10
Level 7 = 11+13
Level 8 = 14+15
Level 9 = 17+18
Level 10 = 20
Level 11+ ... (as with FF-variant)

Now, ASIs would come with character level, not class level, with this idea. So a MCed 2/2 would get their first feat as a level 4 PC.

Thoughts?
 
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dmhelp

Villager
I like this concept. But count me among those who think the wizard is wonky and needs a boost. The class is balanced around spells, including spell levels, and those are essentially class features. By not advancing that part, I feel like you've thrown out the class balance relative to what other classes are getting because those other classes happen to name new abilities something different rather than a feature which says "new spell level available". And no, signature spell doesn't make up for it. That's a fun little add-on, but it's not a core feature for wizards. Wizards have lots of spell slots - they really don't use all their second level slots at high levels anyway, so it's not like treating those as cantrips is a meaingful difference. Their high level abilities are high level spells, and the class is built around that concept as if they were class features with special names.
I think unlimited shield and scorching ray when you are level 10 is a lot better than unlimited shield and scorching ray when you are level 20....
The more I think about this I think you have a good idea here. Levels 1-5 go quickly enough at most tables IME, but bringing the tier 3 and 4 features into the high end of tier 2 will let them see some action, so to say. I've gone back and forth between L10, L12, and L15 variants, and your idea matches a lot of my L12 variant (I just removed subclasses completely from mine, but could put them back in...).
Since some of the capstones are not as good it may be nice to have more acceleration at the end (by not messing with level 4/5):
6 -> 6, 7
7 -> 9, 10
8 -> 11, 13
9 -> 14, 15
10 -> 17, 18, 20
With an ASI at character level 4 & 8.

I kind of like this because you increase the acceleration at the end.

Barbarian
1 - rage, unarmored, 2 rages, +2 rage
2 - reckless attack, danger sense
3 - primal path, 3 rages
4 - ASI
5 - extra attack, fast movement
6 - path feature, feral instinct, 4 rages
7 - brutal crit (1), path feature, +3 rage
8 - relentless rage, brutal crit (2), 5 rages, ASI
9 - path feature, persistent rage, +4 rage
10 - brutal crit (3), indomitable might, primal champion, unlimited rages

Then I'd give people ASIs at character levels 11, 13, 15, 17 OR spell casting advancement to help balance martials vs casters.

Wizard
1 - arcane recovery
2 - subclass
3 - 2nd level spells
4 - ASI
5 - 3rd level spells
6 - subclass
7 - subclass
8 - ASI
9 - subclass
10 - spell mastery, signature spell
 
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The more I think about this I think you have a good idea here. Levels 1-5 go quickly enough at most tables IME, but bringing the tier 3 and 4 features into the high end of tier 2 will let them see some action, so to say. I've gone back and forth between L10, L12, and L15 variants, and your idea matches a lot of my L12 variant (I just removed subclasses completely from mine, but could put them back in...).

The L12 Variant thread is here: 5E - A L12 (level 12 limit) Variant

I know it messes with your "leave levels 1-5 alone!" thing, but I am thinking something (very close, however) like
Level 1 = 1
Level 2 = 2
Level 3 = 3
Level 4 = 5
Level 5 = 6+7
Level 6 = 9+10
Level 7 = 11+13
Level 8 = 14+15
Level 9 = 17+18
Level 10 = 20
Level 11+ ... (as with FF-variant)

Now, ASIs would come with character level, not class level, with this idea. So a MCed 2/2 would get their first feat as a level 4 PC.

Thoughts?
My first thought coming to mind is «this solves the front-loaded level dipping / potential MC abuse of your first draft », which is good.

This progression is very close to mine; at this point it’s all the details (mainly distribution of ASI) but we seem to be mostly in agreement (Note that some classes do have features at 8th and 12th other than ASI. Would 8th lvl features be 5th or 6th?)
1=1
2=2
3=3
4=4 (ASI)
5=5
6=6+7
7=9+10 (and non-ASI features of 8th)
8=ASI+11 (and non-ASI features of 12)
9=13+14
10=15+17 (and non-ASI features of 16)
11=18+20 (and non-ASI features of 19)
gotta check your E12 variant too...

Otherwise I went pretty thoroughly thru all classes in my FF 6-20 somewhere in page 2. [edit: this one] One of my observations is that advancing features without their table progression (i.e. martial arts damage or sneak attack dice) sometimes skews the relative balance of classes.
 
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6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
This progression is very close to mine; at this point it’s all the details (mainly distribution of ASI) but we seem to be mostly in agreement (Note that some classes do have features at 8th and 12th other than ASI. Would 8th lvl features be 5th or 6th?)
As for the ASI level stuff, only a handful of classes have things and most of those could easily be shifted either way. As I saw them:

Cleric
Destroy Undead (CR 1) - move from 8th to 7th
Divine Domain feature - move from 8th to 9th

Druid
Wild Shape improvement (swim) - move from 4th to 5th
Wild Shape improvement (fly) - move from 8th to 9th

Monk
Slow Fall - move from 4th to 3rd

Ranger
Land's Stride - move from 8th to 9th

Then shift the features to follow the FF-variant (revised):

Level 1 = 1
Level 2 = 2
Level 3 = 3
Level 4 = 5
Level 5 = 6+7
Level 6 = 9+10
Level 7 = 11+13
Level 8 = 14+15
Level 9 = 17+18
Level 10 = 20
Level 11+ ... (as with FF-variant)

One of my observations is that advancing features without their table progression (i.e. martial arts damage or sneak attack dice) sometimes skews the relative balance of classes.
Can you provide an example? I haven't really seen anything that gives me any concern really.
 

Mistwell

Legend
I think unlimited shield and scorching ray when you are level 10 is a lot better than unlimited shield and scorching ray when you are level 20....
Yes and no. Yes, it's better. But, it was always a fairly meaningless ability. So making it slightly more meaningful doesn't help nearly as much as someone who gets actual high level wizard abilities. Which are higher level spells. After all, at level 10 they were already getting 21 spells a day. More than enough for the number of combats and rounds in a day, particularly in first level spells. Just how many times do you think Wizards will be targeted in a day where they need higher AC? It's not like those spell slots are being used for magic missile anymore, they're already there for shield and absorb elements.

What wizards could use is higher level spells. Those are their class abilities at higher levels. Their 11th level ability is for many "Contingency Spell, once per day" for example. Or in other words, "Once per day when you fall below half hit points, you may use the dimension door spell to automatically move to a different location within range of the dimension door spell." It's not spelled out that way (pun intended) in the class description because it's put into the spell chart instead. But that's what's really going on for many 11th level Wizards, and this Faster Features variant misses it because it's not as easily noticed in the class abilities chart as it's appearing as an assumption in the class spells chart for that level.

I guess one way to address this would be to give wizards higher level spell slots WITHOUT the higher level spells known. In other words, higher level spots to upcast some lower level spells with. You won't get the Banishment spell earlier, but you will be able to upcast that Banishment spell once you do get it to banish two foes rather than one quicker than normal. That would at least cover some of what they're missing out on with this Faster Features concept.
 
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As for the ASI level stuff, only a handful of classes have things and most of those could easily be shifted either way. As I saw them:

Cleric
Destroy Undead (CR 1) - move from 8th to 7th
Divine Domain feature - move from 8th to 9th

Druid
Wild Shape improvement (swim) - move from 4th to 5th
Wild Shape improvement (fly) - move from 8th to 9th

Monk
Slow Fall - move from 4th to 3rd

Ranger
Land's Stride - move from 8th to 9th

Then shift the features to follow the FF-variant (revised):

Level 1 = 1
Level 2 = 2
Level 3 = 3
Level 4 = 5
Level 5 = 6+7
Level 6 = 9+10
Level 7 = 11+13
Level 8 = 14+15
Level 9 = 17+18
Level 10 = 20
Level 11+ ... (as with FF-variant)
I get what you're going for with the ASI. My first reflex was to say "this will favour multiclassing" but under this variant, single class characters are bonified, and if level 1-3 are left as-is, then level dipping isn't OP either.

As for example of side-table progression, lets put Fighter and Rogue side-by-side. Normally, while Fighter gets its Extra Attack (x2), Rogue deals 6d6 extra sneak attack damage. At 20th level when Fighter gets Extra Attack (x3), Rogue deals an extra 10d6.

When FFed, the rogue deals 4d6 by the time fighter gets Extra Attack (x2), and 5d6 by the time fighter gets Extra Attack (x3). Fighter gets its Extra Attack feature fast-tracked, but the rogue's Sneak Attack damage isn't. Same with Martial Arts damage for the Monk, and to a lesser extent, rage damage for Barbarian. In these variants, Paladin and Fighter come on top (even if Paladin loses spell slots), while Rogue and Monk are comparatively weaker.

Is it a big deal? Maybe, maybe not. But my observation was that classes with no side-table progression were advantaged compared to others whose features's progression have their own column in the class table.
 
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6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I get what you're going for with the ASI. My first reflex was to say "this will favour multiclassing" but under this variant, single class characters are bonified, and if level 1-3 are left as-is, then level dipping isn't OP either.

As for example of side-table progression, lets put Fighter and Rogue side-by-side. Normally, while Fighter gets its Extra Attack (x2), Rogue deals 6d6 extra sneak attack damage. At 20th level when Fighter gets Extra Attack (x3), Rogue deals an extra 10d6.

When FFed, the rogue deals 4d6 by the time fighter gets Extra Attack (x2), and 5d6 by the time fighter gets Extra Attack (x3). Fighter gets its Extra Attackfeature fast-tracked, but the rogue's Sneak Attack damage isn't. Same with Martial Arts damage for the Monk, and to a lesser extent, rage damage for Barbarian. In these variants, Paladin and Fighter come on top (even if Paladin loses spell slots), while Rogue and Monk are comparatively weaker.

Is it a big deal? Maybe, maybe not. But my observation was that classes with no side-table progression were advantaged compared to others whose features's progression have their own column in the class table.
Ok, those examples show a bit more of your point. Thanks!

First your numbers seem a bit off. Referencing just the original post, when fighter gets EA (2), the SA bonus is 5d6, and when fighter gets EA (3), the rogue gets 8d6. Depending on the fighter build, the rogue keeps pace nicely (yes, it will be behind, but not so much to make them ineffective in any way). The monk with FoB can get 4 attacks much sooner, and a mid-levels can use it regularly if they want. Even just the bonus action unarmed strike gives them 3 to the fighter's 2. The fighter won't get three routinely until level 10 unless they TWF.

To address it, I am fine with Fighter (especially) outshining others when it comes to combat. To me, that is there "thing" in every respect. Barbarians can tank really well and perform feats of strength, Monk stun and have other features to set them apart, Paladins nova via smites, Rangers--well, rangers are still sort of lost in the mix IMO, but I am working on it, Rogues are best at skills and can still fight effectively.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Yes and no. Yes, it's better. But, it was always a fairly meaningless ability. So making it slightly more meaningful doesn't help nearly as much as someone who gets actual high level wizard abilities. Which are higher level spells. After all, at level 10 they were already getting 21 spells a day. More than enough for the number of combats and rounds in a day, particularly in first level spells. Just how many times do you think Wizards will be targeted in a day where they need higher AC? It's not like those spell slots are being used for magic missile anymore, they're already there for shield and absorb elements.
I understand the point but I think we are isolating Wizards as a corner case when this is realistically a common theme of class capstone esque abilities. For example the monk, sorc, warlock, and bard capstones all work in a similar way, they don't add "power" they add "longevity", the ability to maintain your class stuff for a longer duration.

Then you have the Paladin who just gets a wider range aura, a more "useful" aura but not a more powerful one.

The cleric's divine intervention is pretty solid, but if we make the assumption that it only allows for 5th level and lower (aka the maximum spell he can cast), then its a very flexible extra spell slot....the real power then is the ability to pick any cleric spell or domain spell and use it. Wizards already get the extra slots with their short rest refresh, so its really the spell flexibility that is the power of this ability. Solid, but I don't think clerics were the dominate spellcaster before either.

Rangers do get a nice capstone, but since they are generally considered one of the weakest classes, seems like they could use the help.

Fighters, I've already argued that their second action surge should not be allowed in the same encounter. This again will give us longevity but not nova power. They are not getting their actual capstone, which would be broken in this system. And I personally think the AC and saving throw bonus is unnecessary, they have an absolutely solid package at the moment.

Rogue's capstone is nice, but its once per day and only makes them a little more consistent on their attack rolls. The 20 on an ability check is probably the better use, but a super skill roll is not going to break the game. That and elusive give you a nice high level package, but competing against 5th level spells I don't think its anything to write home about.

The druid's capstone is broken, and I've argued for a 1 minute cast time between uses to get the unlimited effect. Again longevity instead of power.

So that leaves the barbarian, who you could argue has the best overall capstone (out the druid of course)....and perhaps could be toned down as a +2 str and con or something of that nature. I think the argument could be made that the barbarian is one of the biggest winners overall with this compression.


So back to the wizard, yes they don't get 9th level spells....but its not like every other classes is knocking it out of the park in power. They still have the power of 5th level spells, still get a lot of spell slots through their recovery, and now can casually throw around a 2nd level spell. That's solid, not mind blowing, but they didn't suddenly get dropped to the bottom of the pack either.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I know it messes with your "leave levels 1-5 alone!" thing, but I am thinking something (very close, however) like
Level 1 = 1
Level 2 = 2
Level 3 = 3
Level 4 = 5
Level 5 = 6+7
Level 6 = 9+10
Level 7 = 11+13
Level 8 = 14+15
Level 9 = 17+18
Level 10 = 20
Level 11+ ... (as with FF-variant)

My only note here is at level 5. 5th level in 5e is a game changing level. Casters gains 3rd level spells, which mark a sizable increase in their power and capabilities. Warriors get their 2nd attack, a doubling of their attack capabilities.

I think its important to keep that level as it is, both to give casters and warriors a roughly equal bump in strength at the same time, but also because this level already represents a major bump from the levels before it, and really doesn't need any more.

I would actually argue that most 6th level abilities could be moved to the 4th level instead of the extra attack and that would be "less powerful" than sliding the extra attack back.
 

Mistwell

Legend
So back to the wizard, yes they don't get 9th level spells....but its not like every other classes is knocking it out of the park in power. They still have the power of 5th level spells, still get a lot of spell slots through their recovery, and now can casually throw around a 2nd level spell. That's solid, not mind blowing, but they didn't suddenly get dropped to the bottom of the pack either.
Not really talking about capstone abilities and I think this conversation keeps getting caught up on that topic rather than the normal every level abilities. If the wizard had a named ability at 11th level of "Contingency spell, once per day" it would be listed here in the Faster Variant features. That's not a capstone ability, it's their 11th level ability, which has been put into the spell list instead of a named ability. But it's their ability for that level nonetheless.

I really do think they should have higher level spell slots, without the spells known to match those slots, to help make up for what's missing here.

Forget about the capstone though. This thread isn't about capstones, and what's missing for the wizard isn't the capstone. It's the other level abilities which were buried in their spells.
 

6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
My only note here is at level 5. 5th level in 5e is a game changing level. Casters gains 3rd level spells, which mark a sizable increase in their power and capabilities. Warriors get their 2nd attack, a doubling of their attack capabilities.

I think its important to keep that level as it is, both to give casters and warriors a roughly equal bump in strength at the same time, but also because this level already represents a major bump from the levels before it, and really doesn't need any more.

I would actually argue that most 6th level abilities could be moved to the 4th level instead of the extra attack and that would be "less powerful" than sliding the extra attack back.
I understand your logic but level 6 is a subclass feature level for many classes and putting it to level 4 would make it come right after many get their subclasses at level 3.

I am not as worried about keeping level 5 "as is". I would rather move that power level up to level 4. Extra Attack is given at level 4 (in the updated version I will post later tonight, so no longer level 3) and cantrips could scale at level 4 instead of 5 as well to keep caster attacks up a bit.

If it seems weird when we play-test it, we can discuss further alterations. Right now I am pretty happy with the current draft to test out. I'll update the OP in a couple hours if you want to check it out.

Thanks again for your words of caution. :)
 

6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
UPDATE: The OP spoiler tables have all been updated for review. Thanks to all for your contributions, insights, and such!

Please comment as before with the new ideas. Play-testing will likely begin in the next two weeks or sooner. :)
 

Stalker0

Legend
Not really talking about capstone abilities and I think this conversation keeps getting caught up on that topic rather than the normal every level abilities. If the wizard had a named ability at 11th level of "Contingency spell, once per day" it would be listed here in the Faster Variant features. That's not a capstone ability, it's their 11th level ability, which has been put into the spell list instead of a named ability. But it's their ability for that level nonetheless.

...

Forget about the capstone though. This thread isn't about capstones, and what's missing for the wizard isn't the capstone. It's the other level abilities which were buried in their spells.
This is a fair point, the whole must be taken in order to fully evaluate whether the wizard is "missing out" compared to other classes. I agree, so lets try and look a little deeper.

First, a fundamental question must be asked: Are classes (before compression) balanced at 10th level?

Your answer to this question will flavor your thoughts on the discussion, so its important to consider. I will start from the position of "Yes, the classes are balanced".

So lets take a look at the "core 4" classes and see how they stack up to each other with this compression (aka what do they gain by 10th). This will help us make a direct comparison for debate. I am also going to select a common subclass for each. I think its way too easy to ignore subclass abilities (some of which are very good) in this debate, and subclasses are as core to the power of a class as the fundamental abilities are, so we cannot ignore them.

Wizard (Diviner)
  • You roll three d20s for your Portent feature, rather than two.
  • Auto Prepare 2 3rd level spells, cast each 1/short rest for free.
  • Cast a 1st and 2nd level spell at will.
  • +1 Arcane Recovery (which roughly translates to an extra 5th level spell per day).
  • +4 to Arcana Checks
  • Their spells impose disadvantage on counterspell checks.
Rogue (Thief)
  • Minimum 10 roll on ability checks
  • Detect Hidden or Invisible creatures within 10 feet
  • +4 to Wisdom saving throws
  • No attack has advantage against you unless incapacitated.
  • One ability check becomes 20, or 1 missed attack becomes hit (1/short rest).
  • You ignore all class, race, and level requirements on the use of magic items.
  • You can take two turns during the first round of any combat. You take your first turn at your normal initiative and your second turn at your initiative minus 10. You can’t use this feature when you are surprised.
  • ASI
Cleric (Life Domain)
  • Destroy Undead (CR 2-4)
  • +1 Channel Divinity per Rest (aka 50 HP of healing as an action or a Turn Undead)
  • All Healing with spells is Maximized (aka 4d6 = 24)
  • Can cast any 5th level Cleric or Domain spell 1/week
Fighter (Champion)
  • Reroll saving throw (and must keep new result) 2/long rest
  • +1 AC
  • +1 to Saving Throws
  • +1 Attack
  • Crit on 18-20 (up from 19-20)
  • If at half HP (and not 0), gain 5 + con mod in HP.
  • ASI
 
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Stalker0

Legend
UPDATE: The OP spoiler tables have all been updated for review. Thanks to all for your contributions, insights, and such!

Please comment as before with the new ideas. Play-testing will likely begin in the next two weeks or sooner. :)

My first note off the bat. I can say in my game already my players gripe about the fact that feats are only every 4 levels. The fact that many of your martial classes are getting their "feat" at 5th or even 6th level....even if its balanced on paper, is not going to have good mouthfeel to many players.
 

6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
My first note off the bat. I can say in my game already my players gripe about the fact that feats are only every 4 levels. The fact that many of your martial classes are getting their "feat" at 5th or even 6th level....even if its balanced on paper, is not going to have good mouthfeel to many players.
Sorry, but I am a bit confused, the only martial class that gains extra feats is the fighter...

The feat progression is standard, the only caveat being the fighter and rogue who gain extra feats as their class features at those levels (which they gain already of course).
 

Stalker0

Legend
Sorry, but I am a bit confused, the only martial class that gains extra feats is the fighter...

The feat progression is standard, the only caveat being the fighter and rogue who gain extra feats as their class features at those levels (which they gain already of course).
Ah I misunderstood, thank you for the clarification.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Not really talking about capstone abilities and I think this conversation keeps getting caught up on that topic rather than the normal every level abilities. If the wizard had a named ability at 11th level of "Contingency spell, once per day" it would be listed here in the Faster Variant features. That's not a capstone ability, it's their 11th level ability, which has been put into the spell list instead of a named ability. But it's their ability for that level nonetheless.

I really do think they should have higher level spell slots, without the spells known to match those slots, to help make up for what's missing here.

Forget about the capstone though. This thread isn't about capstones, and what's missing for the wizard isn't the capstone. It's the other level abilities which were buried in their spells.
They still get their 6th level spell slot and spells at 11th level, though. That "Contingency spell, once per day" at 11th level is still there.
 


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