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Universal aids for vassal knights


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Landlords can collect money for the four universal aids (KAP 5.2, page 188). "When the aid is imposed by a lord knight, each of the lord’s vassals pays an amount equal to the average yearly income of his primary holding." Vassal knights are landlords, but they don't have landed vassals themselves (at least to start with); how much can they get? My guess is to keep it at the value of a starting manor, i.e. 10 libra, which is enough to cover the 8-libra minimum for a new knight and have a bit over for a small feast. Is that reasonable?

(That would make things more difficult in later periods, but I'll cross that bridge when/if I come to it.)

 

 

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1 hour ago, Uqbarian said:

Is that reasonable?

It is reasonable, although Greg usually handwaved that so that the eldest son got equipped with the average equipment of the day. Based on p. 188, it seems clear that the tax might run short of the required money for the Ordinary Knight and extra money needs to come from some place. While the manors do provide around £1 / year extra, the 2:1 conversion to treasure and the implication that hoarding is not something usually done would both speak against saving that excess being the usual thing. But if you save that and assume 25 years or so between generations, yeah, this is about enough to outfit an ordinary knight, taken together. There is also the dowry of the Mother, which is usually around £10 as well. So yeah, it should work.

It is what I did our campaign when one of the PKs who was a (gifted) estate holder had his eldest son knighted. I gave him a budget of £60 (1 manor + 5 manor estate) to get the equipment and the feast, meaning that he started with the best horse and armor for the period, a couple of spare horses, fine clothing, and a big feast. Worked nicely enough.

In our earlier campaign, we set the universal aids at 2*income for demesne manors, since we were still using £6 manors = £12 aid. But with £10 manors, aid = income works across the board.

EDIT: As for the Later Periods, I have no problem with the normal landed knights (1 manor) starting to fall behind in the arms race. This is somewhat already guaranteed to happen, given that the replacement chargers are still just chargers, while they are expected to ride better horses. I might actually allow them to start improving the stock of their replacement horses, maybe coming one step behind the best horse of the period (minimum being a charger), assuming that they have gotten a good stallion as a stud to begin with. This would also be a way to help with the knighting costs, if they could get their first warhorse from the manorial horse herd rather than having to buy it themselves: the warhorse tends to be the biggest single cost in the knighting across all the periods.

EDIT2: Cost of knighting, back in the day when poor chargers did not exist, and coursers were the 5d6 warhorses: http://web.archive.org/web/20190302153130/http://www.gspendragon.com/costofknighting.html. I am actually coming around to the idea that the chargers are too expensive in Early Periods already, and their prices should be £10 throughout. They are simply too ubiquitous through the Early Phase to be that expensive, and that high cost also makes knighting of an ordinary knight cost too much. Not to mention making a loot of a single charge a huge boost in the income of a PK. Keeping chargers at £10 solves all of the above problems.

Edited by Morien
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43 minutes ago, Uqbarian said:

£8 minimum figure

It was the same also in 4th edition, but I think Greg did explain it somewhere...

This is what the poor knight looks like in 4th edition:

Outfit 1:

Poor Knight

Norman (10-point) chainmail armor.

Spear, shield, sword, dagger.

Clothing worth 1/2£

2 rouncys.

 

This is almost the same as in 5.2 edition, despite the difference of 46 years in starting time. Looking just at the above equipment, you get about £5. However, he would need some more gear, personal and war gear, which would easily account for another £1 or even £2. This leaves £1-£2 over for a knighting feast, for a total of £8. It is reasonable enough.

EDIT: Actually, I do see that the Poor Knight outfit in KAP 5.2 is not supposed to include any travel nor war gear, which is silly: you do need this stuff to campaign, even if you are a mere mercenary. So I'd add that stuff and a sumpter horse, which puts it at £1+, making £8 still a reasonable minimum to be knighted.

Edited by Morien
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8 hours ago, Morien said:

Actually, I do see that the Poor Knight outfit in KAP 5.2 is not supposed to include any travel nor war gear, which is silly: you do need this stuff to campaign, even if you are a mere mercenary. So I'd add that stuff and a sumpter horse, which puts it at £1+, making £8 still a reasonable minimum to be knighted.

He might need it but cannot afford it. There is a line in one of the books where it is noted that a liege will give his household knights a sumpter if needed, and  mercs typically got paid upfront, and  could probably buy one.

 

10 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

My guess is to keep it at the value of a starting manor, i.e. 10 libra, which is enough to cover the 8-libra minimum for a new knight and have a bit over for a small feast. Is that reasonable?

(That would make things more difficult in later periods, but I'll cross that bridge when/if I come to it.)

Yeah that's reasonable. Despite the increasing cost associated with the  better armor and horses of the later periods,  I find that most PKs can offset  a good portion of the the cost of outfitting their sons by giving them one of their spare suits of armor and a spare mount. Warhorse and armor tend to be take up the majority of the equipment costs, and  after 20 years or so of play, it's's rare for a PK not to have an extra suit of armor and charger, won at tournament or battle, to pass down.

 

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8 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

He might need it but cannot afford it. There is a line in one of the books where it is noted that a liege will give his household knights a sumpter if needed, and  mercs typically got paid upfront, and  could probably buy one.

Yeah, but the lack of the travel gear means that he has no tent/pavilion. He does have blankets in his personal gear, at least.

The liege sumpter mentioned is the SECOND sumpter needed for the war gear.

To be honest, I suspect that Greg originally calculated the £8 thusly: rouncy £1 + chainmail £2 + knighting feast £5 = £8...

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Just now, Morien said:

Yeah, but the lack of the travel gear means that he has no tent/pavilion. He does have blankets in his personal gear, at least.

The liege sumpter mentioned is the SECOND sumpter needed for the war gear.

Ayup. My bad. Most poor knights typically have a substandard warhorse too, such as a War Pony.

Just now, Morien said:

To be honest, I suspect that Greg originally calculated the £8 thusly: rouncy £1 + chainmail £2 + knighting feast £5 = £8...

Probably something similar. Say £1 for sword, spears, shield, other miscellaneous gear, and only £4 for the feast, but otherwise pretty close. And back in first edition a knights upkeep was only £2/year, so a lot of the economics have changed, as have the prices. 

I believe you did up a table with the actual costs to outfit an average knight, too. 

 

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1 minute ago, Morien said:

Several, actually, but the 540-ish one is in the link in the OP.

THat's the one, although I missed the hyperlink. Still the average knight at £21-24 would be about the same from Conquest Period onward, and I think the bulk of it could be scrapped together from the father's war spoils, greatly reducing the actual "cost". 

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2 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Still the average knight at £21-24 would be about the same from Conquest Period onward, and I think the bulk of it could be scrapped together from the father's war spoils, greatly reducing the actual "cost". 

Depends. If you assume that the average horse is dragging one or two steps behind the best one, you see a rather steep rise in the price of horseflesh towards Late Tournament and Twilight. Same with the armor, since everything is becoming more expensive. You can easily be double or even triple that £20+ in Twilight. Although I tend to think that the Average rate doesn't climb as steeply as the Best.

Also, when it comes to the War Spoils, given the way the horses die within a decade or so, unless you get very lucky and get that loot horse while the son is getting ready to be knighted, the horse won't survive long enough. Secondly, while the PKs rack up a lot of loot from adventures and such, the average NPK cannot trust to do the same. I think this is one of the reasons why the average equipment rate goes down in comparison, the average landed NPK simply can't keep up as the Universal Aid doesn't go up by the same factor as equipment prices do.

If you look at Uther, everyone has 10pt armor and 6d6 warhorse (at least landed knights).

If you look at Twilight, the best available is 18-pt Gothic Plate and 10d6 warhorse. But the average is probably more like 14-point Partial Plate and 7d6 Andalusian, with PKs likely in between with 16-point Full Plate and 8d6 Destriers. Granted, that might be my biased take on it since in our GPC playthrough, the Players figured it out very quickly that horses come and go but armor is forever... Thus, at the end almost everyone was in Gothic Plate but still riding Andalusians, since all the better horses were simply too expensive to be replaced once they croaked in Winter Phase.

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23 hours ago, Morien said:

Depends. If you assume that the average horse is dragging one or two steps behind the best one, you see a rather steep rise in the price of horseflesh towards Late Tournament and Twilight. Same with the armor, since everything is becoming more expensive. You can easily be double or even triple that £20+ in Twilight. Although I tend to think that the Average rate doesn't climb as steeply as the Best.

I'd assume that the standard charge is the "average" warhorse for knights even in the latter periods. Yes knights would want to have better horses, but I think most of the special breeds are still rare and too expensive for the average knight to afford, especially as the average income of a knight doesn't increase thought the campaign. Well, not unless you use the Book of the Manor

 

 

23 hours ago, Morien said:

Also, when it comes to the War Spoils, given the way the horses die within a decade or so, unless you get very lucky and get that loot horse while the son is getting ready to be knighted, the horse won't survive long enough.

Yes, while it is a bit of a target here that is an issue I wanted to address. From what I've read so far it seems that a warhorse is 4-5 years old before it can be used as a mount, and such horses canlast for 15-20 years. I think the -1 per year over 7 in age is, much like the old childbirth and survival chances for wives and children, excessive. At the very least I think the -1 shouldn't kick in until the warhorse has served as a mount for 7 years, so -1 per year past 12.

23 hours ago, Morien said:

Secondly, while the PKs rack up a lot of loot from adventures and such, the average NPK cannot trust to do the same. I think this is one of the reasons why the average equipment rate goes down in comparison, the average landed NPK simply can't keep up as the Universal Aid doesn't go up by the same factor as equipment prices do.

Yeah, I agree. It's like with automobiles today. The ultra rich might be able to afford to drive vehicles that cost over a million dollars, but most people are driving vehicles that aren't that much different in price (adjusted for inflation) or fuction than what people drove  a generation or two ago.  

23 hours ago, Morien said:

If you look at Uther, everyone has 10pt armor and 6d6 warhorse (at least landed knights).

If you look at Twilight, the best available is 18-pt Gothic Plate and 10d6 warhorse. But the average is probably more like 14-point Partial Plate and 7d6 Andalusian, with PKs likely in between with 16-point Full Plate and 8d6 Destriers. Granted, that might be my biased take on it since in our GPC playthrough, the Players figured it out very quickly that horses come and go but armor is forever... Thus, at the end almost everyone was in Gothic Plate but still riding Andalusians, since all the better horses were simply too expensive to be replaced once they croaked in Winter Phase.

I mostly agree, especially with the armor. Historically once armorers could press plate (which was  shortly after it's introduction) prices fell to the point where it was actually less expensive than mail. So I can see partial plate being the standard.

 

With horses I would still assume the standard charger to be the norm, for several reasons. First there is the because of the scarcity of the Andalusians compared to the need for mounts. Secondly there is the greater expense without a greater income. Lastly there is the simple fact that historically, Andalusians didn't become the common warhorse of the latter middle ages.I think that most knights still rode chargers, although the Andalusian was probably the upgrade that the typical knight might aspire to having one day. 

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18 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, while it is a bit of a target here that is an issue I wanted to address. From what I've read so far it seems that a warhorse is 4-5 years old before it can be used as a mount, and such horses canlast for 15-20 years. I think the -1 per year over 7 in age is, much like the old childbirth and survival chances for wives and children, excessive. At the very least I think the -1 shouldn't kick in until the warhorse has served as a mount for 7 years, so -1 per year past 12.

You know, I even forgot that there was that little asterisk there in the Winter Phase. The 1-2 roll is bad enough, to add age modifiers (and so soon at that!) to the roll ensures that no (mere vassal knight) PK will ever be able to keep a more expensive horse for longer than a few years, making them a very poor investment. Not to mention that since I am a LazyGMtm, I don't like keeping track of the horses' ages. Hard enough to keep my players tracking the squires' and the wives' ages!

Thus, in my house rules I just lowered the chance of a horse dying to 1, and left it at that. This should make bigger warhorses a more stable investment (pun intended), and I am even thinking of allowing them to improve their horse herds by using their best stallion as a stud. I am not sure I would let them get above Large Charger (Andalusian) without investing some more, but I think that might be an additional help... Kinda telling the player that if they are willing to put the money into it, I am not going to take it away on a bad roll. Not as if your armor is turning up rusty and useless 5% probability per year. :P

18 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Historically once armorers could press plate (which was  shortly after it's introduction) prices fell to the point where it was actually less expensive than mail.

Yes, because it became less labor intensive. Although I would argue that given how prevalent mail is in Earlier Periods and that the Plate is more of a single generation thing, there is a LOT of now 'obsolete' mail floating around that can be had cheaply (by comparison), while the few master craftsmen who have learned to make plate armor are charging as much as they can and keeping the prices high by scarcity. The thing is that even if they would start training apprentices to drive the price down, it still takes almost a generation to go from an apprentice to a master. So the squished timeline of Pendragon actually explains the high prices, especially when it comes to the top of the line product: there are probably just a handful of people who are churning out those Gothic Plates, and guarding their trade secrets jealously.

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3 hours ago, Morien said:

You know, I even forgot that there was that little asterisk there in the Winter Phase. The 1-2 roll is bad enough, to add age modifiers (and so soon at that!) to the roll ensures that no (mere vassal knight) PK will ever be able to keep a more expensive horse for longer than a few years, making them a very poor investment. Not to mention that since I am a LazyGMtm, I don't like keeping track of the horses' ages. Hard enough to keep my players tracking the squires' and the wives' ages!

Yeah, the -1 per year was a 5th edition addition. 

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Thus, in my house rules I just lowered the chance of a horse dying to 1, and left it at that. This should make bigger warhorses a more stable investment (pun intended),

That sounds a bit better although it's probably a bit too much in the other direction. You could  see horses lasting 30+ years (21% chance) that way. Or even 50+ year (7% chance).

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and I am even thinking of allowing them to improve their horse herds by using their best stallion as a stud. I am not sure I would let them get above Large Charger (Andalusian) without investing some more, but I think that might be an additional help... Kinda telling the player that if they are willing to put the money into it, I am not going to take it away on a bad roll. Not as if your armor is turning up rusty and useless 5% probability per year. :P

That's one of the things I've got in my horse rules. 

 

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Yes, because it became less labor intensive. Although I would argue that given how prevalent mail is in Earlier Periods and that the Plate is more of a single generation thing, there is a LOT of now 'obsolete' mail floating around that can be had cheaply (by comparison), while the few master craftsmen who have learned to make plate armor are charging as much as they can and keeping the prices high by scarcity. The thing is that even if they would start training apprentices to drive the price down, it still takes almost a generation to go from an apprentice to a master. So the squished timeline of Pendragon actually explains the high prices, especially when it comes to the top of the line product: there are probably just a handful of people who are churning out those Gothic Plates, and guarding their trade secrets jealously.

It looks like it was a one general thing historically. While I agree there was some mail lying around, I'm not all that sure if it would keep the prices as is. A lot of mail would deteriorate over time, or get cut up and incorporated into the newer armors. I think that the pricing is more of a RPG convenience thing. Plate protects better than mail so it is more expensive. I suspect what probably should happen is plate pretty much becomes the new standard and ends up costing about the same as mail once did.  KInda like what happens with chargers. 

Edited by Atgxtg
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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

A lot of mail would deteriorate over time, or get cut up and incorporated into the newer armors. 

Some, but there is a lot of mail in KAP until 530s, and even after that. If it is not allowed to rust, mail will keep for centuries, let alone a generation or so we are talking about here.

1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

I think that the pricing is more of a RPG convenience thing.

Sure, but you can justify it by scarcity. The thing is, thanks to the squishing the plate armor development of about 200 years to only 30 years or so, there is a much smaller pool of talent to draw from. You could still have the same Master Armorer of Camelot, who came up with the breastplate in 520s (assuming that it is in general market by 531), still in charge of overseeing the Gothic Plate production in 560s, or at worst, his original apprentice, now a Master himself.

But hey, if you want to bring the price down to a chainmail level in your campaign, I would not dream of stopping you. :) (Of course, if I recall correctly, you are still about 100 years off in your 400s campaign?)

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1 hour ago, Morien said:

. Some, but there is a lot of mail in KAP until 530s, and even after that. If it is not allowed to rust, mail will keep for centuries, let alone a generation or so we are talking about here.

No, but it does wear out, get damaged, etc -espeically since softer iron makes better mail than steel (energy that is spent deforming links is energy not spent hurter the guy in the armor). So I don't think there is really a big surplus, especially with mail be used in the construction of plate armor covering the spots that can't be covered with plate ("gussets"). 

 

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Sure, but you can justify it by scarcity. The thing is, thanks to the squishing the plate armor development of about 200 years to only 30 years or so, there is a much smaller pool of talent to draw from. You could still have the same Master Armorer of Camelot, who came up with the breastplate in 520s (assuming that it is in general market by 531), still in charge of overseeing the Gothic Plate production in 560s, or at worst, his original apprentice, now a Master himself.

I don't think the pool of talent is that much small that is history, although I agree that, especially with the condesnse timeframe, the latter armor types probably would remain rare and expensive as the technique to make them wouldn't have then to spread.  I suspect the prices for plate (not the "white armor"/gothic stuff) would probably drop the way chargers do.

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But hey, if you want to bring the price down to a chainmail level in your campaign, I would not dream of stopping you. :) (Of course, if I recall correctly, you are still about 100 years off in your 400s campaign?)

I might just bring the price of mail up, and plate down, but I'm not sure if it's worth the bother. 

Yeah, I'm still way before plate (445), and, aside for a couple of suits of light cataphact scale armor (11 point/12 with the facemask for those willing to take a -5 to Awareness), 10 point hauberks are the best armor around. Oh, except for some ivory partial plate that a Faerie knight wears, but that doesn't really count, being "magical" armor. 

 

Anyway, to bring this all around back to topic, the cost to outfit an average knight could be fairly stable throughout the various periods with just the quality of the equipment improving over time.

 

In fact, I could see just listing armor prices by type (i.e. cutting edge/super-rare stuff that is hard to find £20, high grade/best armor available £10, average £5, low grade £2, very low grade 1) and then just shift the actually armor type up as the campaign progresses. For example, at the start of ta typical campaign a Hauberk (10) would be the norm, "norm mail w/nasal" (11) would be the high grade, and imported scale (12) would be the cutting edge stuff. Then just shift it up as the new armors become available. So when partial plate (14) becomes the high grade armor, reinforced mail (12) would be standard and so on.  I think that would be a simple way to do it,  match up well with the way Pendragon does the  outfitting fin chargen, and also help with giving a price for the latter armors, as they haven't been put into 5th books yet. Not that anyone else has to do this, it's just a thought.

 

 

 

Edited by Atgxtg
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  • 6 months later...

Well, as it's written on the book, I thought the universal aids were for lords from their vassals, and therefore, lords without vassals  wouldn't have universal aids... but it seems I was wrong. 

So, do the knights without subenfeoffed lands get these four universal aids from their peasants?

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11 hours ago, The Wanderer said:

So, do the knights without subenfeoffed lands get these four universal aids from their peasants?

Yes. Greg made that explicit in his posts.

Also, "These four taxes give the knight the right to collect income from his holding" and the fact that the lord knight is especially singled out "When the aid is imposed by a lord knight, each of the lord’s vassals pays an amount equal to the average yearly income of his primary holding." There would be little need to specify just the lord knights separately, if only the vassals would pay.

The idea that the peasants pay as well, not just the vassals, is supported by Susan Reynolds: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feudal_aid#Problems

Finally, if the Vassal Knight has to pay around £20-£30 per generation (knighting of the eldest son of his liege, marriage of the eldest daughter of his liege, and ransoming the liege), and then has to do the knighting of his eldest son and dowry for his eldest daughter from his own funds, too, he would be bankrupt. Getting the latter from his peasants balances the scales a bit.

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4 hours ago, Morien said:

 Getting the latter from his peasants balances the scales a bit.

Yes, and hopefully the Knight spreads those aids out a bit. In my campaign one knight nearly terrorized his peasants when he considered marring off his eldest daughter the same year he knighted his eldest son. 

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42 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, and hopefully the Knight spreads those aids out a bit. In my campaign one knight nearly terrorized his peasants when he considered marring off his eldest daughter the same year he knighted his eldest son. 

Good reason for the peasants to pray that the first child will be a feminine child. :) (Since the girls usually marry before they turn 21, which means that if there is first a son and then a daughter, the chances that his knighting at 21 and her marriage happens on the same year go up.)

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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, and hopefully the Knight spreads those aids out a bit. In my campaign one knight nearly terrorized his peasants when he considered marring off his eldest daughter the same year he knighted his eldest son. 

Hahahaha!

6 hours ago, Morien said:

ransoming the liege

Is "the liege" here refering to the knight? Or does it refer to the kinght's liege? I mean, if the PK is captured, do the peasants also have to pay for the ransom?

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18 minutes ago, The Wanderer said:

Is "the liege" here refering to the knight? Or does it refer to the kinght's liege? I mean, if the PK is captured, do the peasants also have to pay for the ransom?

I was referring to the knight's liege, as far as the ransom payments go, but yes, the same universal aid would be demanded from the peasants to ransom the landholder. Like it says in KAP 5.2, only the first ransom counts as an aid. For the second ransom, the knight would have to squeeze the peasants if he wants them to pay.

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1 hour ago, Morien said:

For the second ransom, the knight would have to squeeze the peasants if he wants them to pay.

Technically he could ask for a voluntary tallage, but suqqzing would probably yield better results -unless the liege is very popular and it had been a very good time.. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, The Wanderer said:

Is it possible to reduce the price if the father is dead and therefore the knight inherits the armor, weapons and even horses?

Yes in terms of reducing the cost to become a knight. In fact it's probably expected in the latter Periods that  a young knight is probably getting equipment and mounts that his father acquired in battle, tourney or adventures.

No in terms of the universal aide that can be raised. That is the knights serfs and other vassals would still be expected to contribute the same and what would have been spent of gear would instead be spent to make the knighting feast more lavish. That said, a knight could choose to take less than his due for some reason.

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