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Balazaring Clans Question


GMKen

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I noticed while going through the clan lists (which I’ve divvied up by their ‘allied’ citadels) that there are a number of clan names which bear some similarities to hsunchen tribes.

What got me started was the Black Lion clan, associated with Dykene.  It got me thinking of the Basmoli, and an old RQ2 adventure “The Hide of the Ancestor” from White Dwarf #74, which notes that “there are a total of twenty-six tribes of Ithilian-Fane, of both plains and mountain variety, scattered around Prax, Dragon Pass, Balazar, the Elder Wilds, Dorastor and Talastar”.  So I got to wondering if there might be some kind of association between the Basmoli/Ithilian-Fane and the Black Lion clan.  (Which would conveniently allow me to drop the scenario in near the Troll Hills north of Dykene)

Then I noted the Blue Bear clan, of which the Well of Daliath notes there is a Blue Bear hsunchen, the Orenrar.  Then I got to wondering about Grey Wolf clan and the Telmori.  Then there’s the Tiger clan.  Could there be Hsa hanging around in Balazar/Elder Wilds with the Aldryami?

The Hsunchen aren’t really explored in the original Griffin Mountain, but I have to wonder if from a Gloranthan standpoint there might be some deeper association between the clans and their hsunchen namesakes.  Prior peregrinations preceding permanent presence?

Also, what’s the deal with 20 clans and 10 hearths?  There’s no association noted between clans (or citadels) and particular hearths, so there’s a fair amount of winging it.  I get that the clan names came from an old magazine article, Pegasus IIRC, and taking a closer look I see that most of the clan names are for creatures found in the Encounters table.  But a couple, like those I noted and River Snake (elasmosaur?), Tree Ghost (linked to the great tree that was destroyed?) and White Goat (?, something non-broo-y?) just aren’t as intuitive as Crocodile clan or Barking Deer clan.

Any insight would be appreciated.

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It was always said explicitly that Balazaring clans were not Hsunchen so I wouldn't lean too far into linking them together, especially given their attachment to their dogs (they are allies rather than the same "species").  However, having said that having the odd link from a totem spirit to a Hsunchen tribe could provide a cool adventure so why not?  I'd make it the exception rather than the rule though.

I came back to Balazar last year after a long break (I ran a 10-year GM campaign way back when) and saw the addition of the clan list - I liked the idea, but like you found the names and alliances a bit random, so I changed a few things around and generated names I found more appropriate.  Plus I added quite a few more as the population of Balazar exploded by a factor of 10 when the Guide was released (Fire Jay, Moss Fox, Bone Snake etc etc - I have a Big List).

(IMG I put the Tree Ghost clan down near the Old Tree hearth, because another revelation from the Guide (for me) was the sudden appearance of a horde of Aldryami in High Wood and the surrounding hills (never any mention of this in GM as I recall 🙂 ) - so that comes into play when the elves re-populate the area later in the game).

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5 hours ago, GMKen said:

Also, what’s the deal with 20 clans and 10 hearths?  

Since Balazar has a population of 130,000, each clan would have to have something like 6,500 people which seems like a lot.  There's really two options:

  • Assume the clans are really tribes grown large through pig-herding, or
  • Assume the clans are really the clans in and around the citadels, who have declared a tribal relationship) and that there are many more clans than those listed.

If the later, then the Citadels would have twenty clans between them (Balazar has 5000 urban so the twenty clans might have 50,000 total).  The hearths might then be small towns of pig farmers (the map's not inaccurate - they were clan hearths the last time any outsider looked), being the center for 8,000 balazarings each (pig farmers and more traditional hunter-gatherers), being loosely organized into groups of 20 clans (average clan size ~400 GM p15)

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Anaxial's Roster gave a couple of deities different from your God Learner pantheon for the beasts of Peloria. The Gods Wall lion god is Durbaddath, and the Gods Wall explanatory text gives Votank as a son of the lion god and the goat goddess.

The Basmoli lion has been described as an immigrant to western and southern Genertela, originating in Pamaltela (or near the Spike).

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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8 hours ago, GMKen said:

Also, what’s the deal with 20 clans and 10 hearths?  There’s no association noted between clans (or citadels) and particular hearths, so there’s a fair amount of winging it.  I get that the clan names came from an old magazine article, Pegasus IIRC, and taking a closer look I see that most of the clan names are for creatures found in the Encounters table.  But a couple, like those I noted and River Snake (elasmosaur?), Tree Ghost (linked to the great tree that was destroyed?) and White Goat (?, something non-broo-y?) just aren’t as intuitive as Crocodile clan or Barking Deer clan.

You have to think nomadic hunter-gatherers here in relation to the hearths.  The hearths are not permanent settlements, they are gathering places.

During certain seasons the clans are widely disseminated, during other seasons they come together at the hearths.  It's not unreasonable for multiple clans to gather at a given hearth as that presents opportunity to marry outside the clan, trade, exchange news, participate in important rituals, etc.  (And it's also an opportunity to have fights or feuds to liven up the story!)

As for the clan names, some things to consider:

  • River Snake - Gloranthan rivers are often called snakes or serpents (see any of the myths about the Oslir, Nestendos/Aroka, or even the Writhing Writhers of Prax).  The Arcos which flows out of the Elf Sea northward, if I recall, has a similar myth (maybe in the Guide?).
  • Tree Ghost - any vanished/vanquished tree could have a ghost.  Whether it is of the Great Tree that was destroyed or another Tree doesn't particularly matter, but seems like they'd have some association with the elves.
  • White Goat - not all goats are broo-associated!  Imther, Vanch, and Kostaddi all have ancient associations with goat herding.  There are likely feral goats that have wandered into Balazar from those regions and mountain goats from the Rockwoods even if there are not native wild goats.
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My assumption is that the hearths are gathering places not settlements, a place for meetings and festivals not mundane living.  But you’re still going to run into the issue of clans wanting to exercise a “superior” claim over a holy site versus other nearby clans.

I had also forgotten about the massive increase in population.  Now I need to rethink the military capabilities of the citadels, currently shown as:

Elkoi - 30 warriors/50 hunters

Trilus - 160 warriors/100 hunters

Dykene - 30 warriors/100 hunters

Kind of anemic given the new population figures.

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On 6/28/2022 at 3:56 PM, GMKen said:

My assumption is that the hearths are gathering places not settlements, a place for meetings and festivals not mundane living.  But you’re still going to run into the issue of clans wanting to exercise a “superior” claim over a holy site versus other nearby clans.

I had also forgotten about the massive increase in population.  Now I need to rethink the military capabilities of the citadels, currently shown as:

Elkoi - 30 warriors/50 hunters

Trilus - 160 warriors/100 hunters

Dykene - 30 warriors/100 hunters

Kind of anemic given the new population figures.

When no one else has professional soldiers 50 mounted, metal armoured warriors is a lot of power to project.

However if a tribe muster for war the bulk of the troops will be hunters in the clans.

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5 minutes ago, Jon Hunter said:

When no one else has professional soldiers 50 mounted, metal armoured warriors is a lot of power to project.
 

IIRC the conventional thinking was roughly 10:1 (though I think some of that was simple pride).

But the Balazar tribes will mostly IIRC be neolithic, so likely a more-extreme disparity.

So long as the mounts themselves are reasonably-armored, too, because hunters-become-soldiers will (very eagerly!) target the mounts!

 

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11 minutes ago, g33k said:

IIRC the conventional thinking was roughly 10:1 (though I think some of that was simple pride).

But the Balazar tribes will mostly IIRC be neolithic, so likely a more-extreme disparity.

So long as the mounts themselves are reasonably-armored, too, because hunters-become-soldiers will (very eagerly!) target the mounts!

 

I think my major point that i didn't make well  is that in a tribal structure the kings power is political not directly military, a clan that gets on the wrong side of a kings ire,. will have to deal 3 or 4 neighbouring clans supported by 10 -20 professional soldiers.

If a king loses the clans, he loses the tribe and will be gone.

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1 hour ago, Jon Hunter said:

When no one else has professional soldiers 50 mounted, metal armoured warriors is a lot of power to project.

Horses are hard to keep in Balazar, becoming prey for the Griffins in the long term. Probably true for mules as well, but those might be less tasty.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

Horses are hard to keep in Balazar, becoming prey for the Griffins in the long term. Probably true for mules as well, but those might be less tasty.

I think we need to take a look at the scale of Balazar and the number of Griffins. Its 270 miles from Griffin Mountain to the nearest citadel.

Griffin Mountain is a specific area of interest within the Elder Wilds, Griffins are not a predominate creature across Balazar.

Plus the GM supplement clearly says citadel warriors are mounted.

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10 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

The principle problem is that the Guide does not agree with Griffin Mountain in any way.  Once you accept that YGWV it simplifies everything.

The Guide agrees with Griffin Mountain in most ways. But Greg corrected the population figures, so instead of about 14,000 people as Griffin Mountain would lead you to believe, Balazar has about 130,000. 

So we can assume that there is somewhere around 200 or so clans, and most maintaining very loose associations with a citadel. Balazar covers a lot of area - more than Sartar, with fewer people.

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1 hour ago, Ali the Helering said:

The principle problem is that the Guide does not agree with Griffin Mountain in any way.  Once you accept that YGWV it simplifies everything.

Their is a scaling difference between GM and the guide, that's best understood as GM showing part of the information, but the guide having a more complete view. from 10,000 meters.  

When the guide came out Id started fan writing on Balazar and this is the best I came up with to  reconcile the two:

http://www.backtobalazar.com/the-clans-of-balazar/

YGMV
 

Edited by Jon Hunter
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3 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

Their is a scaling difference between GM and the guide, that's best understood as GM showing part of the information, but the guide having a more complete view. from 10,000 meters.  

When the guide came out Id started fan writing on Balazar and this is the best I came up with to  reconcile the two:

http://www.backtobalazar.com/the-clans-of-balazar/

YGMV
 

Absolutely sterling work, and all kudos to you Jon!

 

5 hours ago, Jeff said:

The Guide agrees with Griffin Mountain in most ways. But Greg corrected the population figures, so instead of about 14,000 people as Griffin Mountain would lead you to believe, Balazar has about 130,000. 

So we can assume that there is somewhere around 200 or so clans, and most maintaining very loose associations with a citadel. Balazar covers a lot of area - more than Sartar, with fewer people.

Indeed, that correction was essential and I heaved a great sigh of relief when it was done, (I seem to remember cheering when I saw it) but that does mean that the understanding of the human population of Balazar doesn't match up between the two products.  The Guide makes it far more interesting.

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16 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

I think we need to take a look at the scale of Balazar and the number of Griffins. Its 270 miles from Griffin Mountain to the nearest citadel.

That's about two hours as the griffin flies? And that nearest citadel happens to keep giant hawks if my memory doesn't lead me astray.

The Griffins of Griffin Mountain are encountered rather close to Greatway (Harc Skybraver).

 

If the human population experienced a tenfold increase, should we assume that the number of griffins remains unchanged, or that the group on the eponymous mountain is the only group in all of the land?

 

The Opili nation (more famed for its cattle than its horses) managed to deal with the griffins by bringing in way more horses than the griffins could prey on, but that's a nation of horse nomads. Upkeep of a horse at a citadel is problematic, especially since no grains are grown (in any meaningful amount) anywhere in Balazar. Importing horse fodder overland is a topic we already discussed in the context of campaign logistics. If you use oxen able to live off the land to pull the carts, it might be possible, but Balazar is not a territory for sedentary cattle (or sheep) raising, either. The Opili managed to pass through Balazar either on their way to the Battle of Quintus Vale or on their way back, but I guess they left a swath of devastation behind, requiring a few years to return to normal fertility.

Yes, there are bison in Balazar, but not quite the amounts that used to cross North America prior to the introduction of black powder. Bison apparently migrated between the Rockies and Appalachia, with no option to reverse their migration as the grazing behind them would have been mostly depleted, until they entered the forested lands of the east.

 

But maybe trying to evaluate the sustainable levels of griffins vs. horses is a backwards argument. It is possible that there is a griffin presence here because there used to be a lot more horses than there are today, before the trolls claimed the Elder Wilds.

There is a region with customary stork nests in the village near Schleswig, the former wetlands of the Eider, Treene and Sorge "rivers" that had occasional tidal surge incursions from the North Sea. Those wetlands are gone, and the stork population has diminished greatly, with those remaining having had to give up on a rich diet of frogs for a diet of field mice. Storks still return to their ancestral nesting grounds from their winters spent in Africa, but the sustainable number of storks has been reduced. The Elder Wilds griffins might be in a similar position, with a once sustainable amount of their favorite prey declined a lot, reducing their numbers and threatening any long term horse populations.

 

16 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

Griffin Mountain is a specific area of interest within the Elder Wilds, Griffins are not a predominate creature across Balazar.

Griffins are wide-ranging apex predators with a mythically motivated appetite for horse-meat (possibly the best source of food because of the kinship and the Fire rune?). They can and probably will hunt other prey in the same size range, but horses may answer a hunger for the Fire Rune that the sky-related creatures cannot satisfy otherwise. Eiritha's beasts may be too lean in Fire. Flying creatures might be taboo (else Dykene might have a problem for their Vrok Hawks).

How many horses does an adult griffin need for health and magic in a week? How much of other prey?

 

16 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

Plus the GM supplement clearly says citadel warriors are mounted.

Those of Dykene are - riding Vrok Hawks. Those of Trilus are upstart Votanki hunters having dethroned the Yelmalian imported nobility, with Lightbringer allies for better magic than Foundchild. Trilus is semi-ruined, too.

Elkoi has a small Lunar garrison, presumably including mounted troops. This citadel is the furthest from Griffin Mountain and even has enough grain to produce a local beer, so keeping up some horses seems to be more feasible.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

That's about two hours as the griffin flies? And that nearest citadel happens to keep giant hawks if my memory doesn't lead me astray.

The Griffins of Griffin Mountain are encountered rather close to Greatway (Harc Skybraver).

 

If the human population experienced a tenfold increase, should we assume that the number of griffins remains unchanged, or that the group on the eponymous mountain is the only group in all of the land?

 

The Opili nation (more famed for its cattle than its horses) managed to deal with the griffins by bringing in way more horses than the griffins could prey on, but that's a nation of horse nomads. Upkeep of a horse at a citadel is problematic, especially since no grains are grown (in any meaningful amount) anywhere in Balazar. Importing horse fodder overland is a topic we already discussed in the context of campaign logistics. If you use oxen able to live off the land to pull the carts, it might be possible, but Balazar is not a territory for sedentary cattle (or sheep) raising, either. The Opili managed to pass through Balazar either on their way to the Battle of Quintus Vale or on their way back, but I guess they left a swath of devastation behind, requiring a few years to return to normal fertility.

Yes, there are bison in Balazar, but not quite the amounts that used to cross North America prior to the introduction of black powder. Bison apparently migrated between the Rockies and Appalachia, with no option to reverse their migration as the grazing behind them would have been mostly depleted, until they entered the forested lands of the east.

 

But maybe trying to evaluate the sustainable levels of griffins vs. horses is a backwards argument. It is possible that there is a griffin presence here because there used to be a lot more horses than there are today, before the trolls claimed the Elder Wilds.

There is a region with customary stork nests in the village near Schleswig, the former wetlands of the Eider, Treene and Sorge "rivers" that had occasional tidal surge incursions from the North Sea. Those wetlands are gone, and the stork population has diminished greatly, with those remaining having had to give up on a rich diet of frogs for a diet of field mice. Storks still return to their ancestral nesting grounds from their winters spent in Africa, but the sustainable number of storks has been reduced. The Elder Wilds griffins might be in a similar position, with a once sustainable amount of their favorite prey declined a lot, reducing their numbers and threatening any long term horse populations.

 

Griffins are wide-ranging apex predators with a mythically motivated appetite for horse-meat (possibly the best source of food because of the kinship and the Fire rune?). They can and probably will hunt other prey in the same size range, but horses may answer a hunger for the Fire Rune that the sky-related creatures cannot satisfy otherwise. Eiritha's beasts may be too lean in Fire. Flying creatures might be taboo (else Dykene might have a problem for their Vrok Hawks).

How many horses does an adult griffin need for health and magic in a week? How much of other prey?

 

Those of Dykene are - riding Vrok Hawks. Those of Trilus are upstart Votanki hunters having dethroned the Yelmalian imported nobility, with Lightbringer allies for better magic than Foundchild. Trilus is semi-ruined, too.

Elkoi has a small Lunar garrison, presumably including mounted troops. This citadel is the furthest from Griffin Mountain and even has enough grain to produce a local beer, so keeping up some horses seems to be more feasible.

I've got no great desire to get side tracked into an long point for point argument on whether griffins have depopulated all of Balazar of horses to an extend the kings of the citadels cant mount warriors so this my final post against the argument. 

First the most important is what does Griffin Mountain say;

pg 64 tribal kings gift warriors with horses

pg 65 a whole section called mountain patrol and a picture of 2 mounted citadel warriors.

pg 145 citadel warrior patrol is described as light cavalry

Guide to Glorantha
pg 191 citadel warriors are mounted on ponies

I think that's pretty conclusive.  YGMV but that's good enough for me

Comments on interesting points you made;

as regards range, most hawks can cover 1000 miles in 24 hours but hunt in range 3 to 5 miles in diameter. we don't know if Griffins are similar when looking at hunting range but it shows a pattern that would make sense looking at the size and weight of a Griffin.

Also look where is also within 120 miles of Griffin Mountain and that's the Redlands and even the pent borderlands, much more accessible horses than those stabled safe in Balazaring citadels.

As regards numbers of Griffins, i'm not multiplying everything in griffin mountain  by 10, there are not 10 gon ortas, festering isles, etc. The increased scale gives lots of room for other creatures, encounters and wonders, i'm looking for something better than duplication (except trolls - I want lots of trolls). 

Your post was a nice reminder that i hadn't thought of how Griffins and horses may interact and as a result i'm probably not going to put large of herds of wild horses running across the north plain, but my hobby time is valuable, id prefer to use it writing stuff that people will enjoy and not getting bogged down in hypothetical discussions on things published materials have pretty much settled.

Feel free to respond but its hopefully the last I say on the issue.

 

 

Edited by Jon Hunter
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13 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

Absolutely sterling work, and all kudos to you Jon!

 

Indeed, that correction was essential and I heaved a great sigh of relief when it was done, (I seem to remember cheering when I saw it) but that does mean that the understanding of the human population of Balazar doesn't match up between the two products.  The Guide makes it far more interesting.

And given that Balazar covers about 50,000 square km, that gives it a population density of a little more than 2.5 people per square kilometer. Or about a quarter of the density of eastern Dragon Pass. That puts it well in the range for complex hunter-gatherer societies (1 to 4 people per square km). 

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7 minutes ago, Jeff said:

And given that Balazar covers about 50,000 square km, that gives it a population density of a little more than 2.5 people per square kilometer. Or about a quarter of the density of eastern Dragon Pass. That puts it well in the range for complex hunter-gatherer societies (1 to 4 people per square km). 

To be fair I think my work was me trying to flesh out, Jeffs comments a few years ago.

I'm not always a yes man, but I think the change was bang on in this instance

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3 hours ago, Joerg said:

... Flying creatures might be taboo (else Dykene might have a problem for their Vrok Hawks) ...

I suspect this is mostly a non-issue; large raptors seldom (not never, but seldom!) prefer to hunt smaller raptors.

Additionally, the Dykenoi (?) will likely take action, if griffon-on-vrok predation became problematic:  a human archer on a vrok would be a HUGE problem for a griffon!  A group of human archers riding vroks could destroy a griffon colony in minutes, if they had to, with an attack around hatching-time.

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8 hours ago, Jeff said:

And given that Balazar covers about 50,000 square km, that gives it a population density of a little more than 2.5 people per square kilometer. Or about a quarter of the density of eastern Dragon Pass. That puts it well in the range for complex hunter-gatherer societies (1 to 4 people per square km). 

Which is why I cheered!

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There is a progression in territory as raptors get larger. Royal eagles will keep pther raptors out in a territory around 10 km around their nest and hunt usually up to 30-50 km away. Animals like griffins that are a hundred times larger and are not solitary as the eagles will need a much larger hunting range. However I would expect that the practical range is not much larger than 100 km as otherwise they would spend too long traveling. That does not mean that in lean times they may not range much further, but locals know when you are getting too close to the mountain.

The guide says ponies, and that would fit with the terrain and the proximity to Pent. Unless in a war expedition or ridden for too long, you do not really need grain to keep ponies well fed, which was one of the reasons of the logistical success of the Mongol armies. I confess I am vexed by the Eastern Seredae breed being larger than the Galana horses, but I just play that the size we have in the rulebook is typical in settled lands like Peloria, but the size among nomads without access to concentrated fodder is 1d6 less, and those are the horses, except for a few expensive Lunar imports, that you will find in Balazar.

Griffin are moderately smart, so I also played that even hungry they tend to avoid the three citadels. Except when needed for plot reasons, of course.

After a couple of game years in the Zola Fel valley, our small party is exploring Balazar, but they intend just to winter there and return back to Pavis, as their writer has a finished book to deliver to Nochet's LM temple. They have already lost a mule and downed a griffin, and are not keen into going out into the wilderness again.

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On 6/28/2022 at 3:05 PM, GMKen said:

I noticed while going through the clan lists (which I’ve divvied up by their ‘allied’ citadels) that there are a number of clan names which bear some similarities to hsunchen tribes.

Given that Brother Dog and Foundchild are worshipped in both Prax and Balazar, and I don't think they are proper hsunchen. I would suggest that Waha may have even been raised in Balazar by Helpwoman, while a little godling refugee from the chaos wars raging over the Rockwoods in Generts Lands.  If the Balazarings are hsunchen, they would probably be Dog hsunchen, but dogs are domesticated, not wild, so they have no shapeshifting powers.  Ever hear of a chicken or sheep hsunchen?  I don't think so.  Domesticated animals lose the power to make humans want to be them, and instead become objectified creatures that human magic manipulates.

The fact that the Balazarings name themselves after local animals is likely due to the clan shamans forming some sort of pact with local spirit animals.  This is not the same as being Hsunchen, but means that the clan and the animal type won't attack each other and may help each other on occasion, much as it is when Sartarite clans call themselves things like "blue fox", or "muledeer".

That's my take on the matter, anyhow. YGWV.

Edited by Darius West
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