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Could Rules for Hero Gaming System Be Getting To Complicated?


Gauntlet

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Usually, when we set up a campaign in a game without narrative mechanics (We have used this method for different games) we first choose a theme, a short statement that guides the events in the story. Then each character is created with a fatal flow that suits the theme, the player chooses the fatal flow based on the challenge he wants to face while playing.

This helps to reduce the "arms race" feeling around the table while also easing the creation of good transformation arcs that help the story development.

 

If you want to play the best swordsman of all time by a huge margin, that’s fine, but you also have to answer the following question:

1) What is your goal (taking into account the campaign theme)?

2) How can you fail?

3) How will your temperament be tested?

4) What is the price of failure?

 

 

Obviously, this method is not a silver bullet that solves all the problems, it doesn't cover any possible kind of story and it isn't the only way to create a good story. Nevertheless, I think that is a small trick to help players communicate their desires for the game and to reflect on their character from a different point of view.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/13/2023 at 12:00 PM, Gauntlet said:

But I believe we are forgetting, Champions is a ROLE-PLAYING Game, not a Comic or TV show or Movie. The purpose of it is to have fun, making a story is just a portion of having fun. While The Flash may be completely unhittable to the point that even a Phalanx system that shoots a 1000 rounds a second cannot hit him, that is not something you would have in a game. Characters have to have vulnerabilities and be able to be hit and knocked out, and even possibly killed. Without this what is the point of playing if there is no chance of losing.

 

 Yes, the purpose of the game is to have fun. Otherwise, why play the game? However, a character does not have to be able to be hit, KO'd or killed; that's a limited POV. The real question is if the character doesn't have vulnerabilities, can't be hit/KO'd/killed, will the character fit in the game? Will the character be fun to play and will the other players have fun with this character around? I almost created a character like this. I decided against it not because the character couldn't be taken down, but because I liked a different concept more. (Also, an invulnerable character can actually be limiting in concept: okay, what do I buy now that I have 100 xp?  Doh!)  If someone were to introduce an invulnerable person to me, I can easily think of ways to still make the character work as a GM and stop them from hogging the game. I can say this because I've been there. I've seen alot of bad concepts in the decades-old campaign and interestingly, an invulnerable character isn't one that bothers me. I've got at least 1 villain (prob a couple more) that cannot be killed - actually, I don't know if they've ever been KO'd either. Do the players like them? Yes, and they give the villain some respect.

Unfortunately, this digressed from the original topic: can the gaming system be getting too complicated? If I had to pick one, and only one version to use of Champions/HeroGames, I'd prob go with 4th Edition. However, I don't use only one version; I use 1-5th, with a touch of 6th. All my players don't care for 6th edition.

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yeah I had a player build a guy who couldn't die and had takes no stun.  He regenerated and was impossible to hurt.  But, that was so expensive that he didn't have a lot else going on, he was just unkillable.  He couldn't break out of entangles, he couldn't see if he was flashed, if he was knocked back too far, he took forever to get back into the fight.  It worked.  I mean he ended up in lava once and got hit by a truck because I never had to hold back on him, but that was just part of the schtick.


For me as a GM, those kind of characters are what makes me interested and try to build something great for them.  The multiform guy who turned into Chinese elements.  The mentalist who could grant other people mental defense.  It gives me a challenge to come up with interesting scenarios that give those players something to deal with.

Edited by Christopher R Taylor
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I've noticed in various discussions and commentaries over superhero comics, movies, television shows, many people will say, "Why doesn't Hero X just do Y? They did Y back in comic/episode Z, so they'd totally be able to do that here, and then the problem would be solved. It wouldn't even be a challenge."

 

I realized that such people are approaching the story from the perspective of a gamer. I.e. "If I was playing this character, what would I do to win? What are the gaps in the plot, the tricks of the system that I can exploit so my Player Character comes out on top?" Which if carried through to the entertainment they're participating in, would result in a very brief, dull and uninteresting story. Their ability to be entertained, to identify with and be drawn into the struggles of the protagonists, is being spoiled by their approaching it as a challenge for them personally to solve, to "beat the system."

 

Stories set up the parameters for the setting they're dealing with: how powerful the heroes and villains are, what are the limits of their abilities for this story. As long as the characters are respected and the parameters make sense in context, extensive picking apart of what happens based on gaming the world is missing the point.

 

With an RPG the focus is different, as I noted above; but there's still an understanding and acceptance between player and GM as to what's possible and desirable in the world they're playing in. At least, there should be, and with good players and a good GM there usually is. Yes, players will look for that opening in the world and/or the system that they can exploit, but the GM also knows the world and the system, and a good one can adapt to the changing circumstances in whatever way will result in the most entertaining and satisfying conclusion to the game. If what a player attempts to exploit is clever, and their actions have earned them their victory, the GM should let it stand. If it would upset what the GM had prepared to the point that everyone else's fun would be spoiled, then they should find a way to deflect it; and the player should understand why that happens.

 

It sometimes doesn't work out that way, of course, even the best players and Game Masters being just people after all, even if they're playing paragons of virtue. ;)

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I realized that such people are approaching the story from the perspective of a gamer. I.e. "If I was playing this character, what would I do to win? What are the gaps in the plot, the tricks of the system that I can exploit so my Player Character comes out on top?" Which if carried through to the entertainment they're participating in, would result in a very brief, dull and uninteresting story. 

 

It could be.  But its hardly unreasonable to expect a character who could fly in Issue 17 to fly again in issue 18 when they encounter traps on the ground.  If this causes the story not to work, that's not because of unrealistic expectations of a reader, but poor writing on the part of the comic book.  Things have changed quite a bit, I agree.  Back in the Silver Age, readers were less interested in continuity than gee whiz fun.  Today, people have read, and played games, and talked about it and won't put up with what readers used to.


But I don't really call that a problem for anyone but lazy and unimaginative writers.

 

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Not sure I ever finished it, as we're talking 5 or 6 character sheets. 

 

Yeah he had 6 character sheets: one for each element and one for his normal form which was sort of a ninja.  Unfortunately because of the way multiform worked in 5th edition (and as far as I know still today) basically he ended up with 6 different characters all of whom are weaker than every other character in the game for the dubious advantage of variety.  And since he had no control over which element he'd show up as, the advantage was even more questionable.

Edited by Christopher R Taylor
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Why were the multiforms weaker?  As I read 5E, the multiforms get full points to spend...if the campaign's 500, then the base form pays the 100, but all the alternates have complete freedom to spend all 500.  If this is Duplication?  Yeah, OK, the rules say the dupes should still have to account for the Duplication cost, so the dupes don't get additional stuff the base doesn't have.  I'm willing to bend that to a point...one in particular, is that the dupes might get Reincarnation Regen, where the main form wouldn't.

 

That said...it can be harder to execute some of the cost savings.  I like layered defenses...say, Armor that's Always On (tough physique), then perhaps another layer of armor that can be active/inactive.  Always On is rather shaky with a Multiform.  OIAID, even moreso.  There's some savings here and there, tho, too.  

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Why were the multiforms weaker?  As I read 5E, the multiforms get full points to spend...if the campaign's 500, then the base form pays the 100, but all the alternates have complete freedom to spend all 500.

 

You have to buy all the multiforms in the main form making that character weaker.  You have to buy every form your multiform can turn into, making each of them weaker.  5th made it less penalizing than 4th by giving you the doubler effect (5 points for each x2 forms) but still, say you make Ronin who can turn into 5 other forms, but those are still points that the main form gets no use from.

 

That's 250 points/5 for the first form, then +5 for 2 forms, +5 for 4 forms and +5 for up to 8 forms, in this case 5.  So your base "true" form is now 65 points down from every other character.  "But," you say, "everyone pays for powers!"  Indeed they do.  But these powers directly impact the characters ability, they can use all of those powers in their single form.  Multiform points are points in your character that this character never uses.  Its just points gone from their total.  So Ronin is a 195 point character in a world of 250 point characters.  Each form that the other forms can change into are also crippled in this way.

 

See, Duplication you're using all those forms at the same time, so you're using all of that power at once.  Multiform you only use one power set at a time.

 

The reason I see this as a problem is playing the campaign and seeing "dang Ronin is just flat out weaker than everyone else" in action.  It was frustrating for the player, and for me as the GM.  Being able to turn into a different set of powers is valuable, but not that valuable.

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24 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Being able to turn into a different set of powers is valuable, but not that valuable.

That sounds like a mistake in the point cost more than anything else, which is pretty easy to fix by tweaking the cost and playtesting until it feels right.  Versatility should cost something, the question being how much.  

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1 hour ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

You have to buy all the multiforms in the main form making that character weaker.  You have to buy every form your multiform can turn into, making each of them weaker.  5th made it less penalizing than 4th by giving you the doubler effect (5 points for each x2 forms) but still, say you make Ronin who can turn into 5 other forms, but those are still points that the main form gets no use from.

 

That's 250 points/5 for the first form, then +5 for 2 forms, +5 for 4 forms and +5 for up to 8 forms, in this case 5.  So your base "true" form is now 65 points down from every other character.  "But," you say, "everyone pays for powers!"  Indeed they do.  But these powers directly impact the characters ability, they can use all of those powers in their single form.  Multiform points are points in your character that this character never uses.  Its just points gone from their total.  So Ronin is a 195 point character in a world of 250 point characters.  Each form that the other forms can change into are also crippled in this way.

 

See, Duplication you're using all those forms at the same time, so you're using all of that power at once.  Multiform you only use one power set at a time.

 

The reason I see this as a problem is playing the campaign and seeing "dang Ronin is just flat out weaker than everyone else" in action.  It was frustrating for the player, and for me as the GM.  Being able to turn into a different set of powers is valuable, but not that valuable.

 

No.  That's not how I read it.  Ronin is down the points, yes...but not any of his alternates.  If a 250 point character pays for a 250 point Multiform...the multiform does NOT have to set aside the 50.  Only the base form does.

 

Now in 4E, you're right.  Page 82, slightly abridged...max total points the second form can have is equal to the total points in the base form, minus all multiform costs.
That's saying the second form, like the duplicate, has to pay for the Multiform cost.

 

5E 211:  The cost for Multiform, which only the true form pays for, is 1 CP for every 5 CPs the most expensive alternate form is built with.  

6E 266 mirrors this.  

 

5E and 6E explicitly say they DON'T have to...because, I suspect, they recognized it was too great a power loss.

 

This isn't entirely on point but it's pretty close:

 

I haven't gone through all the Q&A, but Steve never says anything like "the alternate form has X points to spend, minus the cost of Multiform itself." 

 

 

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I haven't gone through all the Q&A, but Steve never says anything like "the alternate form has X points to spend, minus the cost of Multiform itself."

 

Correct... but as I said, IF your alternate forms can change into any of the other alternate forms without going back to the primary form first, THEN they have to buy those forms.

 

But even if you aren't down any points in those forms, you still are in your main form, and a weaker character and trust me, that character feels it.

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From 6e v1 p 266

 

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The cost for Multiform, which only the true form pays for,

 

So only the "true form" pays for Multiform.

 

12 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

Correct... but as I said, IF your alternate forms can change into any of the other alternate forms without going back to the primary form first, THEN they have to buy those forms.

 

No, they do not. Page 268 is clear and unambiguous.

 

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A character with two or more alternate forms can shift directly between any two forms without having to use the true form as an intermediary.

 

12 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

But even if you aren't down any points in those forms, you still are in your main form, and a weaker character and trust me, that character feels it.

 

What is the "main form" - you have introduced an undefined term to the discussion.  The character must have a true form, which can be any of the forms.  Again from 6e v1 p 266

 

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The true form can be any of the character’s forms, depending upon character conception.

 

As a result, many find Multiform overpowered.  The true form, Willie Weenie, can spend all his points on Multiform, and spend all his time in alternate forms. When the Multiform is unlimited, most GMs will restrict alternates to the campaign normal point totals, so no 1,000 point alternate form in a 400 point game.  Even so, having eight alternate forms, each at campaign maximum, plus a true form that sinks all those leftover points into skills and perks, can make the rest of the team feel entirely redundant.

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Hugh is right on this. I have written up a couple of characters using multiform that were anything but underpowered.  Write up the “main form” with the multiform and non-combat skills and abilities.  Then write up multiple highly specialized combat or exploration forms.  If you are not careful you end up with a character who can dominate the campaign.  When you are out of combat your “main character” is a better detective than the detective of the group, and at the same time has more scientific knowledge that the scientist.  In combat your brick from is the strongest in the group, your speedster form is the fastest in the group.  You can literally be everything that is needed.    

 

As a GM any character with more than two form is going to get a very close look to make sure they are not going to be overpowered. 

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As a result, many find Multiform overpowered. 

 

Well if you abuse the system anything can be overpowered, but as I have only run Multiform in previous editions, it may be less problematic than it definitely was in the past.  Thanks for the update on the way Multiform is built, I was running from memory of 5th (I think?  Might have been 4th) edition.

 

In any case, the character that I ran a game for was definitely underpowered.

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On 11/2/2023 at 3:27 PM, Gauntlet said:

Just wanted to think as to how players feel about the complexity of Hero Games. I personally like the extra items that you can do with Hero Games and feel it's combat system is one of the best out there. But could character creation be getting up a bit to far? 

 

What do you all think?

 

Late coming in, but I'd like to comment on the original thread.

 

I agree with @Chris Goodwin that it many ways it has become less complicated for all those reasons, but also the complexity has increased. That is, the rules are generally more consistent and clearer than previous versions, but wow dandy, there's a lot more of them!

 

Complexity is good because it's robust and flexible. But still, like many I haven't made it through the 6E core rules yet; I keep finding little unexpected differences.

 

I have only glanced at the simplified books (I guess that's Champions Now?) not sure how well those scan to a new reader...

 

That said, I recently ran an all-newbie intro session using pre-made characters from the MCU Defenders and it worked very well. But going in, I drastically simplified the character sheets and the game mechanics. No END, no killing attacks, no noncombat movement, combined PD/ED, everyone at 4 SPD (except Spider-Folk at 8), no point costs or any math elements on the sheets. I basically just had them decide on actions and roll.

 

Going through that process made me realize just how complex and flexible the system is, and in many ways, how it's still too complicated. All the different types of rolls is very confusing for new players especially.

 

Roll low, now roll high what? Presence attacks what? Ego attacks what? I mean, there are two ways to break things! No, wait, three including killing attacks. You have to ask the GM which one to use.

 

For a long time I have toyed with the idea of re-scaling Hero game mechanics to support one type of aim-high roll. Then you could let characters buy bigger dice for mutant abilities! d12 for 12 points base, d8 for 8pts, etc. (d6 still costs 5: you get a discount because anthropocentrism 😉

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Going through that process made me realize just how complex and flexible the system is, and in many ways, how it's still too complicated. All the different types of rolls is very confusing for new players especially.

 

Its amazing anyone learns to play D&D based on that standard.  The truth is, all games look complicated and confusing when just reading the rules.  But when you sit down and start to play, they fall into place easily enough.  That's how 99.99% of us learned how to play ANY of these games: a buddy invited us to play and we dove in, learning as we went.  Almost nobody learns to play a game by reading the rules and thinking them over.

Edited by Christopher R Taylor
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3 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Almost nobody learns to play a game by reading the rules and thinking them over.

Eh, that stopped being true for me after the first twenty years or so.  At that point I'd seen enough different design approaches, writing styles, and unstated assumptions that it's honestly usually easier to book-learn the basics now.  Still going to be some subtleties that only register at the actual table, that's mostly the case only with the more complex games these days.  So much of modern design is deliberately "rules light" that there just aren't any subtleties to be found in them - which isn't really a criticism, but it does mean almost all of the enjoyment to be gotten from them is found at the table rather than reading up on an elaborate setting or mulling character builds the way you can with HERO.  Both approaches have value, but they feed somewhat different hungers.

 

The only RPG rule set I can recall bouncing off of while reading in the last thirty years is Continuum, which I'd really like to play sometime with someone who can figure out how to run it, because it lost me but good. 

 

I'm also pretty sure anyone can solo-learn the many, many one-page or pamphlet/zine-format rules out there too.  They take "rules light" to its (sometimes absurdist) extreme, and you sure don't need to be a twenty-year vet to grok them just from a read.  :)  

 

Also been a bit of a movement toward solo TTRPGs and journaling games in recent years, which leave me conflicted as to whether that's roleplaying as I define it.  Who are you roleplaying for when you're alone?  The journaling stuff in particular seems more like pure creative writing to me.  But solo CRPGs have been around for decades and no one seems to question whether they're roleplaying, so I'm clearly in the minority group here.

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7 hours ago, redsash said:

That said, I recently ran an all-newbie intro session using pre-made characters from the MCU Defenders and it worked very well. But going in, I drastically simplified the character sheets and the game mechanics. No END, no killing attacks, no noncombat movement, combined PD/ED, everyone at 4 SPD (except Spider-Folk at 8), no point costs or any math elements on the sheets. I basically just had them decide on actions and roll.

 

Starting with limited elements of the game is a good teaching mechanism.  You could also design a game (Hero is less a game than a system for building a game) that carves out a lot of elements.

 

7 hours ago, redsash said:

Going through that process made me realize just how complex and flexible the system is, and in many ways, how it's still too complicated. All the different types of rolls is very confusing for new players especially.

 

Roll low, now roll high what? Presence attacks what? Ego attacks what? I mean, there are two ways to break things! No, wait, three including killing attacks. You have to ask the GM which one to use.

 

I'm not sure that this is any greater variety of concepts than a d20 game, other than the one element of rolling low rather than high to hit/succeed on a skill roll.

 

7 hours ago, redsash said:

For a long time I have toyed with the idea of re-scaling Hero game mechanics to support one type of aim-high roll. Then you could let characters buy bigger dice for mutant abilities! d12 for 12 points base, d8 for 8pts, etc. (d6 still costs 5: you get a discount because anthropocentrism 😉

 

I'd stick with d6 thanks - much higher average per point spent.  Even if you made it 6 per die, it would still be marginally better than a d8 for 8 or a d12 for 12.

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I can be interesting though with rules how some rules can certain people pick up but others take awhile to grok. I was playing with my boys and nephew Battletech. My boys have picked up on it and my nephew never really played it. My oldest though couldn’t grasp the Minimum Range Modifier to save his life. Certain weapons you are in Short Range so no Range Modifier but if you’re the weapons minimum you gain a +1 per hex of the minimum. 

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  • 4 months later...

The challenge for Hero is that they publish a game design system rather than games.  What we need are games "Powered by Hero System" that set the dials, provide some pre-fab abilities (for Supers, perhaps some template characters with a few embedded choices in them) and away we go.

 

Look at 5e D&D, for example.

 

You get this many points to spend on characteristics. Bundle some Hero characteristics into, say, 3-point packages and assign others (everyone gets a 3 SPD, for example), and you choose how much to invest in "Strength", "Agility", "Toughness", "Intelligence", "Wisdom" and "Presence".  The player does not need to know that "Toughness" is really CON, STUN, PD and ED bundled together, for example.

 

Pick a Race (it's just a template with a bundle of abilities for that specific race), a Background (another template with a few abilities) and a Class (another Template, this one with a few choices like Fighting Style, Spells or whatever).

 

If we assign 25 CP to "every character" abilities (a few baseline skills and proficiencies; that 3 SPD) everyone gets to raise Characteristics by 20 (60 character points, say with a hard cap of 20 for each characteristic), pick a race (maybe 25 Character Points), a Background (15 CP of abilities) and a Class (50 CP more abilities, with some choices to make) , we have a pretty 5e D&D model. Toss in some standard starting equipment for each Background and Class.

 

Provide a quickstart for standard choices for each element (e.g. to build an Elven Archer, select these Characteristics, the Elf race with these choices, this Background and the Warrior class, making these choices) and they have a quickstart similar to 5e D&D.

 

There's a decent, but likely sub-optimal and not very customized character - now start playing. If you want to be more of an optimizer and/or customizer, there are more choices in the game rules and maybe future supplements (much like D&D), or you can get the full Hero System and design new elements/redesign existing ones to your heart's content (not at all like D&D).

 

Make most of the customization optional so it's "not complicated", "just like D&D". How many D&D players actually play the non-complicated version? They'll be learning the Hero System in no time.

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Posted (edited)

I definitely have to agree. We have a lot of game types but very few actual written adventures. Many times it is just nice to have an adventure ready to be played. There are a few adventures out there, but not many. There may be little tidbits with just about all villain/monster/group books, but they are very basic and just something to give a GM a quick idea to start a writeup; but the actual writeup is done by the GM. It would be nice to see more full adventures written up.

 

Plus, full adventure writeups make it much easier for new GMs. I remember when learning D&D Second Edition, you had the A series (Slavelords), the G series (Against the Giants), the D series (Against the Drow), Ravenloft, Isle of the Dread, and a ton of others. It meant that a GM could quickly start a game which is great for new GMs.

Edited by Gauntlet
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It's interesting to watch the history.  Back in the '80s, a game would be published with a few adventures (TSR had a standard "box set; 3 modules; watch sales" model). If it sold, we'd see more adventures.  We saw them for V&V, Champions and, of course, D&D.

 

Then Unearthed Arcana came out and sold well.  Hey, new classes and spells and rules sell to players, not just one DM in the group!

 

D&D 2e saw a lot of adventures, but also a lot of settings and the Dawn of the Splatbook.

By 3e, they knew the money was in splatbooks, so very few D&D "official" adventures.  Dungeon Magazine became their primary source and OGL was expected to see third parties make the less lucrative adventures.  By that time, Hero wasn't really publishing any more.  The third parties figured out the splatbooks sold better, though.

 

Then along comes Paizo.  What if we made adventures that cover whole campaigns?  Let's give it a whirl.  WOTC then takes back Dungeon (stops publishing) and Paizo starts publishing adventure paths independently. Meanwhile, we get more Hero, but it's all "splatbooks" - the last adventures they published were not great sellers.

Those gamers in the '80s (like me) were in high school/college.  Lots of time, not much money. We'll make our own adventures.  But a few decades later, we're middle-aged.  Much less time,  but more disposable income. Suddenly adventures sell again - longer, pricier, more sophisticated adventures.  Hero was already largely in turtle mode by then, and never attempted a comparable "adventure path" type publication.

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