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Anaximander

Ideas from Other Game Systems

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

So I’m just going to throw this out there: Ron Edwards’s new Champions Now project goes into great depth on character creation, development, as well as setting development so that they can all integrate and also grow together. I’ve read the rough text, but he’s added a lot more. I even did a character creation session with him in he early development phase. The book should be coming out soon, and will be announced on this site for sure. You may want to take a look at it just for another thoughtful way to bring all these themes from the last few days together. 

 

Not to be a wet blanket, but I own 1st Ed, 2nd Ed, 3rd Ed, 4th Ed, 5th Ed, 5th Ed Revised, 6th Ed, Champions Complete and Fantasy Hero Complete.  For 4th through CC & FHC I own physical version of everything they ever published.  For 4th through CC & FHC I own everything available in PDF.  For 1st through 3rd I own most physical products with some missing items.  For a vast majority of the products I own multiple copies it at least one “collector” version, many still in shrink wrap.

 

I mention this because they have been recycling rules and rule supplements of literally decades while abandoning actual play support back in 5th ed.   

What actual campaign and adventure support is planned for this new line? 

When I buy the 7th version of the Hero system, what plans are there for actual playable support?

I’ve been beating the Hero drum since 1982 and since the late 90’s if feels like no one at Hero actually cared. 

Modern RPG’s are built on three legs.   CharGen – Rule of Play – Adventures/Campaigns.    Like a stool, be missing any one of them and the stool falls over. 

I’ve been buying up 5thEd Rev books, since I prefer that version of the game and the latest ones are effectively dead. 

Am I a bit pessimistic?  Or a lot pessimistic.  Yes.

But without seeing a solid plan for the publication of actual adventures and campaigns, I can’t see coughing up even more money.  Sorry.

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An issue I can see with Champions Now is that Ron's vision of the game makes it difficult to publish adventures for. It's very DIY, with every campaign being different, and worlds being built up from the bottom.

 

Creating an official setting runs directly against that. Individual adventures could be OK, provided that they are presented as an aid to the GM's imagination, not as a replacement for it. Campaign length adventures are probably right out.

 

I do have some ideas for what could be done, but I am waiting to see the final product first.

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On 6/19/2019 at 7:47 AM, Anaximander said:

What are the concepts that should be most emphasized in starter adventures for Hero System? 

 

With that in mind what kinds of pregenerated characters should be designed? 

 

Characters built strait from the archetypes or hybrids that have a good spread of options at their disposal?

As someone who is returning to HERO system after decades away from it playing other games, I think that it is a hard system to learn.  There are a lot of things about it I have always admired.

 

One of the key strengths of the system is the flexibility in character builds.  So the temptation is to start straight in with that.  The trouble is that character building is complex.  And it is made much harder to understand if you're not already pretty fluent with the basic mechanics.  Returning after a long absence, I have had a lot of trouble working out how to build powers involving senses/ enhanced senses, because the language used to describe those things has developed so much since the early editions.

 

So I think that even experienced gamers coming to HERO for the first time would benefit from playing a few sessions (or even just combats in isolation from a story) with pre-generated characters until they are fluent in the basic mechanics.  The ones I am thinking about are characteristics, attack rolls, effect rolls, skill levels, phase chart, phases, targeting, basic combat manoeuvres, END, Stun, Normal (counting BODY) and Killing Damage, Resistant and non-resistant defences, CON-stunning, KO, recovery, Presence Attack and some of the common, easy to adjudicate powers; multi power.  Less experienced gamers probably need this broken down quite a bit.  If you can work in some stuff around disadvantages that affect characters in play, that's a bonus.

 

You also need to cover the concept of 'special effect', from the point of view of 'It's mechanic called a Blast, but it represents a Repressor Ray'.  This is a touchstone of HERO games that has not become universal in RPG design.  By comparison the concept of a character disadvantage is now shared by many RP systems.

 

Things like skill rolls, complementary skills, the time chart etc. are pretty similar to many other RPGs, so experienced players won't need much practice on them.  But players new to role-play would.

 

Pregenerated characters:

 - recognisable archetypes the players are going to find attractive

 - simple powers, with few advantages and limitations that show off the mechanics you want to teach

 - relatively short list of powers

 - powers that represent easily recognisable effects from fiction

 

I know this might sound like a bit of a drag, but provided you have a reasonable adventure to run, the characters shouldn't need to be mechanically sophisticated for everyone to have a good time.

 

You might consider replacing the usual experience system with an accelerated version where each character has a list of available improvements (minor powers, extra dice, skills or characteristic points).  After each adventure the player gets to pick one or two improvements to add to their character for the next session.  That opens up a discussion about any new game elements they introduce, or the mechanics of how they work etc.  and introduces new material more quickly than would happen if the character grew organically.

 

I think you're best going with simple archetypes rather than complex characters.  Archetypes are good because it's easy for the player to understand what the mechanics are representing (they already have a fictional reference point), so it helps them build an understanding of how the mechanics relate to the fiction.  Being familiar characters, they're easy to role-play, leaving more brain space for mechanics.

 

Simple characters are good because they let the player focus on learning the underlying mechanics, rather than drowning in choices.  If the play group as a whole covers a wider range of powers that's all to the good.  People can learn by watching others apply mechanics almost as well as they can by using them for themselves.  In early games it can increase the interest of other players' turns, because the new player wants (hopefully) to understand the other player's character too.  This also showcases the breadth of the system, which is one of HERO's strongest points.

 

You might consider inviting players to swap characters mid-session or between sessions during the learning phase, so they can try out the different mechanics, too.  It would depend on the players whether this idea went down well, I guess.

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On 6/18/2019 at 2:47 PM, Anaximander said:

Has anyone else considered doing or have considered starting a campaign this way?  If so, what are your thoughts?

 

And, while on the subject of taking concepts from one game system and applying them to another, what concepts from other games would you or have you implemented in Hero, and what concepts from Hero would you do likewise for other systems?

I have broken down in the process of writing a small... campaign path(?) using only FHC for new players. Giving a unified format to explain the powers that won't require understanding the whole book and giving options to upgrade parts of the characters as you work through it so new players can see how you spend points and "level up" (as it were). Each scene focuses on an individual aspect of the game, working with Normal Damage (no weapons or improvised), then Killing Damage, then a skill challenge type scene, and so forth. As with most projects drastic life changes have made me put it to the side.

 

As far as other system's mechanics, my current game, the players enjoyed the Traveller character creation system so much that they wanted a Fantasy Hero adaptation. So I complied, with their understanding that characters would not end up as a completely equal point value. They are happy with the results, so who am I to complain?

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6 hours ago, Ken Filewood said:

I know this might sound like a bit of a drag, but provided you have a reasonable adventure to run, the characters shouldn't need to be mechanically sophisticated for everyone to have a good time.

 

This is very true, and why I've all but abandoned HERO for actual play. The fact that it became a system for engineers and coders to play around with how sophisticated their builds could be... and not really an RPG for actual play... has eventually worn me out. I'm actually writing a PbtA style RPG for supers that rejects this mentality completely... and embraces the above. Mechanical sophistication and complexity is often the bane of a good game.

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20 hours ago, Spence said:

 

Not to be a wet blanket, but I own 1st Ed, 2nd Ed, 3rd Ed, 4th Ed, 5th Ed, 5th Ed Revised, 6th Ed, Champions Complete and Fantasy Hero Complete.  For 4th through CC & FHC I own physical version of everything they ever published.  For 4th through CC & FHC I own everything available in PDF.  For 1st through 3rd I own most physical products with some missing items.  For a vast majority of the products I own multiple copies it at least one “collector” version, many still in shrink wrap.

 

I mention this because they have been recycling rules and rule supplements of literally decades while abandoning actual play support back in 5th ed.   

What actual campaign and adventure support is planned for this new line? 

When I buy the 7th version of the Hero system, what plans are there for actual playable support?

I’ve been beating the Hero drum since 1982 and since the late 90’s if feels like no one at Hero actually cared. 

Modern RPG’s are built on three legs.   CharGen – Rule of Play – Adventures/Campaigns.    Like a stool, be missing any one of them and the stool falls over. 

I’ve been buying up 5thEd Rev books, since I prefer that version of the game and the latest ones are effectively dead. 

Am I a bit pessimistic?  Or a lot pessimistic.  Yes.

But without seeing a solid plan for the publication of actual adventures and campaigns, I can’t see coughing up even more money.  Sorry.

 

Not a wet blanket at all, but perhaps misunderstanding my reason for posting (or not caring). I totally share your pessimism about the product line. I just thought I’d offer up a writing that I know offers some insight into the discussion at hand. Does it solve the problem with HERO System? Not one bit, unless Ron is planning on offering up a bunch of supplemental material next. But it does answer to the debate for the last couple of pages. 

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On 6/18/2019 at 12:47 PM, Anaximander said:

... And, while on the subject of taking concepts from one game system and applying them to another, what concepts from other games would you or have you implemented in Hero, ...?

 

  1. Mutant's & Masterminds conditions (d20, True20, et al). I would tune them to be more HERO-like, but I really dig the idea of them.
  2. Create a new power similar to GURPS Affliction that utilizes conditions. MM3e has a similar power.
  3. For Heroic level games I would tune up Stun/Body loss with Conditions. Probably steal some ideas from LTE tied into certain Conditions to emulate injuries.
  4. Passions from Mythras setup like Familiarities. When focused on something related to a Passion you get a complimentary skill bonus.
  5. I always use the GM Principles from the various Powered by the Apocalypse games because they are brilliant. Tuned by genre, but there is a theme... Also, focus on the conversation, the description (this is suggested in HERO anyways...).
  6. Mysteries are always handled with a combination of GURPS Mysteries and GumShoe GM advice. Clues are obvious, deduction is based on clues, don't make it too complicated, etc. I would probably never use the Deduction skill in HERO.

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Does it solve the problem with HERO System? Not one bit, unless Ron is planning on offering up a bunch of supplemental material next.

 

There's an obvious question here, isn't there?

 

Maybe we should ask Ron and Jason.

 

In fact, I just did, in the Kickstarter comments section.

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1 hour ago, Trechriron10 said:

Mutant's & Masterminds conditions (d20, True20, et al). I would tune them to be more HERO-like, but I really dig the idea of them.

 

Conditions.  That is the reason I have never been able to play or run M&M.  I actually have several of the latest edition books.  But the conditions are a mess of contradictions I could never grok.  

 

In one paragraph it says you recover one condition at a time from worst to least.  ✔

 

Then it will say A is superseded by B which is superseded by C.

 

Another will then say when recovering C goes to A.  Skipping B altogether. 

 

I've given up on a straight answer on thier forum and they have never put out a flow chart.

 

I KNOW I am missing something stupidly simple, but no one I know actually plays it. 

 

CharGen and world building are pretty simple and it is well supported with both official and third party adventure/campaigns.

 

But I can't seem to penetrate the veil when it comes to conditions. 

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5 hours ago, Trechriron10 said:

 

  1. Mutant's & Masterminds conditions (d20, True20, et al). I would tune them to be more HERO-like, but I really dig the idea of them.
  2. Create a new power similar to GURPS Affliction that utilizes conditions. MM3e has a similar power.
  3. For Heroic level games I would tune up Stun/Body loss with Conditions. Probably steal some ideas from LTE tied into certain Conditions to emulate injuries.
  4. Passions from Mythras setup like Familiarities. When focused on something related to a Passion you get a complimentary skill bonus.
  5. I always use the GM Principles from the various Powered by the Apocalypse games because they are brilliant. Tuned by genre, but there is a theme... Also, focus on the conversation, the description (this is suggested in HERO anyways...).
  6. Mysteries are always handled with a combination of GURPS Mysteries and GumShoe GM advice. Clues are obvious, deduction is based on clues, don't make it too complicated, etc. I would probably never use the Deduction skill in HERO.

 

I don't know what any of these things are. Is it possible to have a quick, explanatory guide for newbie? 🙂

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  1. Conditions exist in several game systems. d20, new Worlds of Darkness / Chronicles of Darkness (CoD), Mutants & Masterminds (MM3e)... the basic premise is - instead of tracking a bunch of different "hit point" tracks, you have "states" that affect the character based on in-fiction things that happen to them. For example, you could have a Condition called "uneasy" [after a frightening experience, you feel uneasy until you have a chance to rest in what you consider a safe environment. You have -1 to all checks until the Condition is removed]. This is not a real Condition anywhere (yet), but I'm spitballing as an example. In MM3e, these conditions are closely tied to the damage/injury system. Everything is a save. Depending how badly you fail your save, you take "Conditions". The GM can also assign Complications based on severe trauma as desired (especially if you want a "grittier" feel). Conditions could map to supernatural corruption, injury, health or even emotions.
  2. GURPS/MM3e Affliction power is like an attack but does varying levels of distraction to outright pain to instant death. At a basic level, you itch. The next level you feel moderate pain. Then you feel severe agony. If you fail hard, you have a heart attack. It's generally configurable so again I'm summarizing blindly to illustrate - there are lots of "things" in this power (itching, ecstasy, agony, sneezing, coughing, retching, seizures, etc.). It's an attack that doesn't do direct damage. You end up "distracted" or "immobilized" or "paralyzed" or "unconscious". By defining conditions up front, you can summarize Affliction levels in the power and how it applies and then let the Conditions contain the "rules" for how it impacts the character.
  3. HERO games have a lot of back-and-forth in combat. It favors "taken out" as the most common end state vs. "killed". Which is fine. But for a Heroic game with some grit, I would want characters that take a bunch of Stun damage in the combat to walk away "bruised" and have that last for a specified period of time until healed. If you lose say half your Body in an encounter you have the "Injured" Condition, which again lasts a specified period of time until healed. So instead of relying solely on Stun, Body and Endurance you have some lasting "narrative" effects that remind everyone of their fragility. 🙂
  4. In Mythras a Passion works very much like a skill (Mythras is a d100 % game...). Except it relates to relationships, friendships, motivations or obsessions you have for someone or an ideal or perhaps a cult. When you and the GM agree that a Passion applies to a check, you add 1/10 the skill as a bonus to the skill used in the check. In certain circumstances based on in-game actions / decisions these Passions can increase or decrease. These are loosely derived from Pendragon's spiritual traits (IIRC). I would make these work like Complementary Skills on rolls we felt the Passion applied to. (also, I misspelled "complimentary". ooops).
  5. The basic Apocalypse World GM advice is based on two awesome tidbits - the Agenda, and the Principles (I'm taking liberties with the wording as to not copy EXACTLY the words from the books...).
    1. The Agenda
      1. Make the world seem real.
      2. Play to see what happens.
      3. Make the Heroes lives dangerous & scary (or adventurous & challenged OR heroic & complicated... you know, bring the things to the session that fit what you're running and don't be boring...).
    2. The Principles
      1. Put "the important thing" in everyday situations. If you are doing supers, then put harrowing shit in everyday situations. Or maybe you got some Men in Black going on, so you put "Sci-Fi Weirdness" in everyday situations. Just put it in there. Don't be passive. The players can watch National Geographic's Earth 2 when they get home.
      2. Address yourself to the characters, not the players. Nothing pulls you out of "the moment" like using people's real names!
      3. Use the GM "Moves" (the suggested actions you take when you get to make a move) but never use their names. This applies to the players too. Don't just Block, describe what it looks like. This advice is already dripping from the pages of HERO so...
      4. Be a fan of the characters.
      5. Build up the details (Mythology, History, Color) of the world as you play.
      6. Nothing is safe. Kill onlookers, maim all the people in the falling building, blow up cars and buildings, rocks fall everything dies and the characters are looking around wondering what's next. See any Avengers movie for examples. Don't be afraid. Go all George R.R. Martin ALL the time. Weeping is an acceptable outcome. OK, just kidding, I may have got a little worked up there...
      7. Give everyone they meet a name. Make NPCs and Villains and Baristas seem real / normal / plausible.
      8. Ask questions and build on the answers. You don't have to know everything. Ask the Curious Kitten what they think. Then build on it. "Is there a fire escape in here?" - "I don't know, tell me - IS there a fire escape in here? Where it is located? What does it look like?" Then go with it. Ask yourself - would putting a fire escape in here really be a BIG DEAL? Probably not. Make Fun - Not Bore.
      9. Sometimes give the Heroes EXACTLY what they earned, rather than everything they hoped for. You saved the princess but the castle is ruined and she really does NOT like the way you ruthlessly killed the Dragon and she's going to tell on you.
      10. Think about what's going on "off-screen". Events happen. People do things. The world should move outside the scene / moment the PCs are playing in. This should generally inspire some foreshadowing... One of the "moves" for GMs is "Announce future badness". Example: "the sky darkens and off the distance you hear a violent rumble..."
      11. You don't have to decide what happens. This is similar to #8. "I drink the unidentifiable green stuff in the vial... what happens?" (I wasn't prepared for this!) "Well, YOU tell me what happens. Based on what you know, describe what it does to you". Then run with it. This is like "forced improv". You know all those GMs you envy who can just pull things out of nowhere? Keep practicing this and that GM will be YOU in a few months. There are NO wrong answers, just GO with it.
      12. Everything is a threat. Or Everything is a mystery. Or Everything is a challenge. Basically, you don't need to go into the harmless fern. "It's a typical office with desks, computers, fake plants and terrible lighting" BUT maybe the fern is a mindless alien creature feeding for its inevitable growth... "as you walk by, the glistening fern reaches out with carnivorous frons and attempts to engulf you!" See? Now the fern is a threat. Not boring. To put it another way - Drama is Conflict!
  6. The concept here is to a) not confuse the players and b) not hide the clues and c) solving a mystery is WAY more fun than being wanked by it.
    1. The mystery doesn't need to be super complex. You are not Machiavelli and likely neither are your players. Maybe 3 important facts (clues) are all that's necessary to deduct what happened. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Don't be offended. I call myself stupid all the time.
    2. If the characters possess a skill that would find a clue, just give it to them!! You can roll and embellish the information on that clue depending on how well they roll. When you devise your mystery you should note some ideas on WHAT to embellish... NEVER I mean absolutely never I don't care how old school you are or how fun it is to feel smarter than every person in your circle of friends - NEVER withhold a clue. NEVER. If you absolutely HAVE to skip a clue in a scene because your NERD-compulsions won't allow it then find a way to slip it in the next scene or a later scene. NEVER. Withhold. A Clue. So serious here.
    3. How many mystery novels have you read where the antagonists DON'T solve the mystery? Zero? Yeah exactly. Now, imagine your playing in your game and four sessions later the aliens invade the earth, everyone is captured and the last thing the dying heroes see are the Prison Mines of Artox 6... Who's showing up to your next game? Exactly. You want them to solve the mystery! See Principle #4 above. Also note I didn't say just hand it to them in a Cliff's Notes summary before the game. They should still work for it. Just don't OBFUSCATE it under layers of boring mundane set pieces drowning in boring rules expositions.

Whew. That was a lot.

Edited by Trechriron10
Clarity

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9 minutes ago, dmjalund said:

one way to implement Conditions in HERO is that each Condition had a 'BODY' cost. Each time someone gets hit for BODY, they can declare they have this Condition and get these BODY points back.

 

of course, the more the condition hampers the character, the more BODY they get back

 

I really like this, it puts power into the hands of the player.  Keep the BODY with the greater potential of a future hit killing you or take some kind of limitation related to the injury you just recieved that provides you with BODY back.  Of course, there needs to be a way of removing those conditions - some might last (at most) the full adventure, others will last the combat scene, others the gaming session that night...

 

You could model this as an Everyman regeneration power - it would be most impactful on play in heroic rather than superheroic games but could be useful anywhere...

 

I would rep you more if I could!

 

Doc

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Hero already has some of its own "conditions":  Stunned, Unconscious (various levels: 0 to -9, -10 to -19, -20 to -29, -30 and below), Dying (below 0 BODY), Transformed, Bleeding, Impaired/Disabled (hit location), Suffocating, Flashed (targeting sense), Prone, Covered, Braced, Set, Restrained (Entangled/Grabbed), probably some others I'm not bringing to mind at the moment. 


Hero has a number of game elements that are effectively its equivalent to Affliction: Change Environment, Flash, Transform, powers with the Usable On Others Advantage.  Change Environment in particular has gone from being largely based around environmental effects to an all around "force roll and/or apply penalties" power, and can also be used to directly apply some conditions (Stunned, Suffocating, Prone).  Flash is the "apply the Flashed condition" Power.  A lot of Transforms are built as "target to target that is (X)".  

 

It might not be a bad idea for us to have a "cheat sheet" with conditions broken out: the effect, how it is applied, how to recover from it.  They're strewn throughout the rules -- in the sections where they're most likely to be needed, true, but a reference sheet might be good to have.

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10 hours ago, dmjalund said:

one way to implement Conditions in HERO is that each Condition had a 'BODY' cost. Each time someone gets hit for BODY, they can declare they have this Condition and get these BODY points back.

 

of course, the more the condition hampers the character, the more BODY they get back

 

I really like this! Cool idea.

 

10 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

...

Doc

 

Yeah, what he said.

 

2 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

...

 

It might not be a bad idea for us to have a "cheat sheet" with conditions broken out: the effect, how it is applied, how to recover from it.  They're strewn throughout the rules -- in the sections where they're most likely to be needed, true, but a reference sheet might be good to have.

 

I am currently refreshing my memory - learning 6e, so I will keep this in mind whilst I learn! 😄  Having conditions be a part of the rules I believe makes it helpful to understand. It also lends to creating things like reference card decks you can handout to players during the game to remind them.

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On 7/17/2019 at 9:10 AM, assault said:

 

There's an obvious question here, isn't there?

 

Maybe we should ask Ron and Jason.

 

In fact, I just did, in the Kickstarter comments section.

 

There's a response now at that site:

" I don't think this is the kind of project that lends itself to supplements. But it's possible that the Ron's ideas could lend itself to other, different games."

So it doesn't look like any supplements are likely.

 

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Addressing concerns with "skill bloat", and I can't even remember the system this came from.  It was a pretty free-form system where you picked things the character was good at without a lot of constraints on how broad or focused they were, which is a lot like KS, AK, PS, etc.  If you encountered a challenge your ability was useful for, you could roll for success.  If yours was the only skill relevant, it was a normal roll.  However, if someone else had a more focused skill, you took a penalty.

 

So, if I have Archeology, I might be able to roll to resolve an issue involving Cleopatra and ancient Egypt.  But maybe another character has Egyptology - he would get a normal roll, and mine would be penalized.  A third character has a more focused skill, perhaps the Reign of Celopatra, he would get a normal roll, the Egyptologist gets a penalty and I get a higher penalty.

 

This could be used in Hero.  If our game is a typical Superhero game, PS:  Lawyer probably does the trick.  If we are playing a Legal Drama game, more specialized legal skills would likely be taken, and have an advantage over the generalist skill.

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I couldn't nail down where you saw specifically, Hugh, but over the years that concept has been in several games, and it seems that with the pushing out of numerous fire-and-forget rules-lite RPG, I see variations on that theme a _lot. _

 

 

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