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Toadmaster

Pendragon questions

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Ok, so now having read through the game a bit I can see the armor issue discussed. Not so much an armor issue as a genre convention where fantasy often provides more allowance for light armor, no armor. 

 

It is an interesting read, and quite different from anything else I've played. I can also see the appeal to converting bits of it to other genres as some of you have mentioned doing.

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21 minutes ago, Toadmaster said:

Ok, so now having read through the game a bit I can see the armor issue discussed. Not so much an armor issue as a genre convention where fantasy often provides more allowance for light armor, no armor. 

Yes, and the fact that Pendragon has no other form of defense-the parry is assumed in the normal combat roll. And it's not just fantasy. A few years back someone here ( I think) was posting about adapting Pendragon for a Swashbucking RPG, and the sticking point was that, as written, the PCs would die too fast. You would have to add something to soak some of the damage. It's not an insurmountable problem, but it is something that would need to be addressed in some way. 

21 minutes ago, Toadmaster said:

It is an interesting read, and quite different from anything else I've played. I can also see the appeal to converting bits of it to other genres as some of you have mentioned doing.

Yeah, you could take the bits for passions, traits, extended families and character backgrounds and port them over to RQ2 and...oops it's been done. 

Pendragon is a good RPG with simple, solid game mechanics that does an exceptionally good job of what it was designed to do, play knights. It could be adapted to other genres but not without some issues, but that is true of all RPGs. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, and the fact that Pendragon has no other form of defense-the parry is assumed in the normal combat roll. And it's not just fantasy. A few years back someone here ( I think) was posting about adapting Pendragon for a Swashbucking RPG, and the sticking point was that, as written, the PCs would die too fast. You would have to add something to soak some of the damage. It's not an insurmountable problem, but it is something that would need to be addressed in some way. 

Yeah, you could take the bits for passions, traits, extended families and character backgrounds and port them over to RQ2 and...oops it's been done. 

Pendragon is a good RPG with simple, solid game mechanics that does an exceptionally good job of what it was designed to do, play knights. It could be adapted to other genres but not without some issues, but that is true of all RPGs. 

 

 

I'm working on something for KAP now.

I've adapted KAP to swashbuckling myself. I had to significantly reduce damage dice. Of course, KAP is somewhat abstracted, and each combat dice contest covers a fair bit of moving about. Proper swashbuckling has to be both fast (simple rules) and yet also cover a lot of mobility and clever tricks. Various attempts at it tend to fall apart when the rules are too percise and thus slower - and also have trouble with complex maneuvering around multiple opponents. I like Lace and Steel myself but the rules have trouble with the latter problem. En Garde was very detailed but had little RPing - and that's the true heart of a Dumas novel.

Characters in KAP are supposed to be knights and sometimes ladies and their opponents ought to be the same - with a few giants, monsters, and enchantresses for good measure. Peasants and Saxons are only interesting when they're clever or formidable. Which means the classic emphasis on the war over Britain in the game, a carryover from the "Historical Arthur" tends to clash significantly with the core themes of "fine amour" and chivalry. There's a conflict between creating competent warriors and "perfect knights" - the latter spending a lot more time writing poetry and pining away. However, this is destined to change...

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5 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

I've adapted KAP to swashbuckling myself. I had to significantly reduce damage dice. Of course, KAP is somewhat abstracted, and each combat dice contest covers a fair bit of moving about. Proper swashbuckling has to be both fast (simple rules) and yet also cover a lot of mobility and clever tricks. Various attempts at it tend to fall apart when the rules are too percise and thus slower - and also have trouble with complex maneuvering around multiple opponents. I like Lace and Steel myself but the rules have trouble with the latter problem. En Garde was very detailed but had little RPing - and that's the true heart of a Dumas novel.

As far as Bluckling Swashe's, if we were to stay with the Chaosium library, that would probably be another one that I would run under HQ, perhaps importing environmental compels from FATE, so that you can "find" that rope to swing over from the deck of one ship to the other as the shots whiz by, fire rages, and powder kegs explode!

SDLeary

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25 minutes ago, SDLeary said:

As far as Bluckling Swashe's, if we were to stay with the Chaosium library, that would probably be another one that I would run under HQ, perhaps importing environmental compels from FATE, so that you can "find" that rope to swing over from the deck of one ship to the other as the shots whiz by, fire rages, and powder kegs explode!

SDLeary

Good plan.

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22 hours ago, SDLeary said:

As far as Bluckling Swashe's, if we were to stay with the Chaosium library, that would probably be another one that I would run under HQ, perhaps importing environmental compels from FATE, so that you can "find" that rope to swing over from the deck of one ship to the other as the shots whiz by, fire rages, and powder kegs explode!

SDLeary

Yeah, that could work. One approach that I'm considering, mostly for BRP but possibly using PEndragon (thanks to you people), is to adapt a rule from Flashing Blades. In that (very BRPish) RPG, weapons usually did about 2 point on a hit (varied by weapon and attack type), but did an extra d6 if the roll was under half skill. In BRP I could see adding in the 1/2 skill success level from CoC7, and then have weapons do minimum damage on a marginal success and normal damage on a half or less success. 

 

That, combined with the minimal armor common to the genre would greatly reduce the lethality of the game. Adding in in a modest pool of hero points would take that a step further.

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In case anyone is interested in picking up Pendragon, they have a really nice offer on Bundle of Holding right now for the 5.2 edition and loads of supplements. They are actually doing two side by side so for $40 +/- you can get quite a haul of stuff.

 

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/KAP2018

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/ArthurianLands

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Okay, Pendragon looks interesting, but....

1.  The system is meant to be a multigenerational type of game with you starting as a knight beginning to raise his family's fortunes over time, yes?

2.  Think I have the overview of each year being a series of actions (short adventures) followed by a "winter" of maintenance.  So, how many adventures or events typically are covered during the action part of the year in most campaigns?  (I admit, this is sounding a bit like what I enjoy from the En Garde! rpg, not to be confused with the En Garde! tabletop skirmish game, which is a great game in itself.)  What I'm looking for here, would it be a decent game playable with a 5-6 hour time slot for each year of game time?  Another way, each year primarily several set piece hack n slash (tournament, skirmish/battle, slay the bad guy, etc.) events and one RPing event per "year".

3.  Are tournaments as "pro sports" part of the game?  Historically, this is what they were, rather violent sport with deaths being very low and having a "circuit" in many areas with poorer knights traveling from one to another to try to gain their fortune.  Some even did this, "bought" land and continued it as a way to inject cash into their estates.

4.  Given this kind of system, how much can it map over to some historical issues, where an English knight (or minor lord) could end up being a faithful vassal of the King, but also a major lord in France and Ireland?  This caused some issues much later in the medieval period where knights were given the option at various times of remaining loyal to their King (of England) or being forced to change their liege to the King of France to maintain their much more extensive estates in France.  Yes, this does lead to oddities where minor Baron Billy Bod is also Earl Billy Bod of Big Landia Overseas who could seriously challenge the King (not beat necessarily, but cost him lots of time & money) using those overseas troops and resources.

5.  Heh, I can see the issue with armor and mass damage, which plays more to the romance side when actually "knights" of the period were wearing leather, chain and maybe a plate or two (but probably not) with an open faced helm (more than likely) during combat footing, but otherwise ran around with a light bit of chain or a quilted gambeson for armor.  Full articulated plate?  It makes my question 4 above a LOT more relevant from the historical side, if not so much the fantasy side.  Heh, the trope of "knight in shining armor" is too pervasive instead of the reality of "knight in dingy and smelly leather & chain".

EDIT: 6.  What is with all of these "Book of the ????" I'm seeing on the online sites?  Are they necessary?  If not, what do they do?  Dropping $50-100 on a game to fiddle with is one thing, but I could see that price tripling or quadrupling quickly if all of these "supplements" are considered required.  Makes GW look like wimps in the "have to buy all these books to play the full game" mode.

 

SIDE NOTE: All En Garde! the RPG really needs is a decent combat system.  I've made a few notes & charts (based on the quick combat system from an old Dragon & the stats from En Garde!) to use the excellent higher level functions of it to create "tactical" results from the various orders each player gives for the month, but haven't gotten far with it since I'm also wanting to integrate the tabletop game (not related to each other, I just love the way that skirmish system is designed) so it can be used for the seasonal campaigns.  Actually, I've just had some thoughts how BRP could usefully convert to tabletop stats.....  Heh, actually, The Fantasy Trip would probably work even better if you dropped the Wizard half of the system....  Where did I put those books...

Edited by Algesan

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7 hours ago, Algesan said:

Okay, Pendragon looks interesting, but....

1.  The system is meant to be a multigenerational type of game with you starting as a knight beginning to raise his family's fortunes over time, yes?

yes but mainly a replaying of the great Arthurian tales

Quote

2.  Think I have the overview of each year being a series of actions (short adventures) followed by a "winter" of maintenance.  So, how many adventures or events typically are covered during the action part of the year in most campaigns?

One. See Timescale p95 (5.1)

The Glory economy becomes a problem with more adventures. I've recently played with a new GM who ignored this, we had 1000s of glory but were still squires! 

Quote

3.  Are tournaments as "pro sports" part of the game?  Historically, this is what they were, rather violent sport with deaths being very low and having a "circuit" in many areas with poorer knights traveling from one to another to try to gain their fortune.  Some even did this, "bought" land and continued it as a way to inject cash into their estates.

Depends which phase you are playing in , i've only ever run/played against the campaign backdrop. The bare outline of this is on page 217, tournaments

Quote

4.  Given this kind of system, how much can it map over to some historical issues, where an English knight (or minor lord) could end up being a faithful vassal of the King, but also a major lord in France and Ireland?  This caused some issues much later in the medieval period where knights were given the option at various times of remaining loyal to their King (of England) or being forced to change their liege to the King of France to maintain their much more extensive estates in France.  Yes, this does lead to oddities where minor Baron Billy Bod is also Earl Billy Bod of Big Landia Overseas who could seriously challenge the King (not beat necessarily, but cost him lots of time & money) using those overseas troops and resources.

sure, there's plenty of scope for this covered in supplements, but bear in mind that Pendragon is set much before the time you mention.

Quote

5.  Heh, I can see the issue with armor and mass damage, which plays more to the romance side when actually "knights" of the period were wearing leather, chain and maybe a plate or two (but probably not) with an open faced helm (more than likely) during combat footing, but otherwise ran around with a light bit of chain or a quilted gambeson for armor.  Full articulated plate?  It makes my question 4 above a LOT more relevant from the historical side, if not so much the fantasy side.  Heh, the trope of "knight in shining armor" is too pervasive instead of the reality of "knight in dingy and smelly leather & chain".

all is this is covered in the progressing campaign. Pendragon gets lethal very quickly regardless of armour. Once you've inspired yourself Sword skills gets high.

Quote

EDIT: 6.  What is with all of these "Book of the ????" I'm seeing on the online sites?  Are they necessary?  If not, what do they do?  Dropping $50-100 on a game to fiddle with is one thing, but I could see that price tripling or quadrupling quickly if all of these "supplements" are considered required.  Makes GW look like wimps in the "have to buy all these books to play the full game" mode.

they are extra fluff, buy them later if you enjoy the game, not needed. the real extra is the great pendragon campaign. I see Pendragon as a two volume set, the rules and the campaign.

Edited by David Scott

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7 hours ago, Algesan said:

EDIT: 6.  What is with all of these "Book of the ????" I'm seeing on the online sites?  Are they necessary?  If not, what do they do?  Dropping $50-100 on a game to fiddle with is one thing, but I could see that price tripling or quadrupling quickly if all of these "supplements" are considered required.  Makes GW look like wimps in the "have to buy all these books to play the full game" mode.

 

I have zero experience playing the game, and have only had time for a cursory review if the rules so I will leave most of your questions for those with actual experience of the system. This last though I feel I can actually answer semi-intelligently. The game can be played with the core rules alone, all of the "Book of the" books are simply additional material, some more geneally useful to a specific group than others.

Something like The Book of Knights and Ladies looks to be across the board useful as it provides loads of additional details for creating important NPC's. Lots of information on the various cultures, tables to help create the NPCs etc.

The Book of Battle would be of minimal use for a game where large scale battles are not of great interest (as I recall the core book includes a basic system for determining the results of a mass battle and the effect on the PCs). It would be of great interest for a group that wanted to spend time playing out how the PCs spent their time in the war. The Book of Armies is an obvious companion to this one.

Many are simply detailing new regions and peoples so only of interest if there is interest in taking the game to those regions.

The bulk are essentially adventure modules, or utilities (character sheets and other tracking materials) and such. 

 

Pendragon has been around 30 years or so, and in that time there has been a lot of mateial produced for it.

 

The 2 bundles are an awesome deal if you have any interest in the game. Pdfs of the 5.2 core rules and the Great Pendragon campaign alone would cost more. I'm not sure if I will even play the game proper, but I know I will use the fluff material for something eventually.  

Edited by Toadmaster
fat fingers...

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7 hours ago, Algesan said:

Given this kind of system, how much can it map over to some historical issues, where an English knight (or minor lord) could end up being a faithful vassal of the King, but also a major lord in France and Ireland?  This caused some issues much later in the medieval period where knights were given the option at various times of remaining loyal to their King (of England) or being forced to change their liege to the King of France to maintain their much more extensive estates in France.  Yes, this does lead to oddities where minor Baron Billy Bod is also Earl Billy Bod of Big Landia Overseas who could seriously challenge the King (not beat necessarily, but cost him lots of time & money) using those overseas troops and resources.

you might like Paladin, based on Pendragon when it comes out:

 

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Answers:

1.  Yes, but you are only going to go through about 80 years on so, meaning that you are going to play three or four generations of characters, depending on when you decide to retire a character and move on. Note that you might play another character of the same generation (a brother, cousin, etc.) depending on the fortunes of play. That typically happens when your main character dies while his heir is still underage, or worse still, when he has no heirs.

2. Typically each game session covers one year, and there is one adventure during that year. Some times, when nothing much happens, several years might pass in one game session. Other times, like during the Boy King Phase, when Aurthur is fighting lots of battles to secure his position as High King,  you can have several "adventures" (i.e. battles) in one year, and the year might stretch out over more than one game session.Battle, tournaments, and such usually take up that years, adventure because of the time they take up. But most things (adventures, tournaments, battles) have "short form" versions that can be used to quickly resolve them, for whn you got something else that you want to spend time on.

 

3.  Oh, yeah. Tournaments can be both dangerous, and very costly/rewarding, depending on the type of stakes. Most tournaments use jousting lances and rebated weapons, so injuries are minor, but accidents can happen, just like real life. Also, in most tournaments, the winners get to take the arms, armor and horse of the ones they defeat, as well as charge a ransom equivalent to 3 years upkeep for the vanquished. So, as you have probably already guessed, fortunes can be made or lost on the tourney fields. 

In one of my own campaigns, there was a player knight that excelled in jousting, and amassed so much wealth from jousting that he eventually outfitted all his man-at-arms in  the obsolete mail armor the he won in his younger days. 

Some tournaments are for "love" meaning that the knights are doing if for the love of the sport, and as such they use rebated weapons, and take no ransoms. Others are blood tournaments where real weapons are used, and the whole thing is a real fight. 

4.  That can happen, and in fact to some extent will happen. Most characters are not only vassals to a lord, but also vassals to the High King (Arthur) and it might lead to a conflict in loyalties. Some other such conflicts are possible. That why players should be careful just who they swear loyalty to (you get a passion trait from it). 

In one of my own campaigns, the aforementioned wealthy player knight wound up as a vassal to a fellow knight, after the latter had become King of a a minor kingdom in an adventure. Unfortunately the kingdom was in a bad state, and the player was suffering financial hardship. The wealthy PC, with others, as an act of loyalty, snuck a considerably amount of wealth into the castle of the poor King while the latter was out hunting. Then someone reported the wealth that was "found" hidden in the storerooms. 

5.  Each  fifteen year "phase" of the game is analogous to a 100 year period of history. Thus, technology advances. In the early part of the game, the best armor is mail armor (10 points), followed by  reinforced mail (12 points), and escalation continues as as time goes by. What a given knight might be wearing depends on his wealth, status, and luck. 

6. Each "Book" supplement expands upon some aspect of the game. None of them are necessary, although if you are playing 5th edition of latter the books of Knights and Ladies is, in my opinion, close.  

Edited by Atgxtg

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1 hour ago, David Scott said:

you might like Paladin, based on Pendragon when it comes out:

Paladin is already out, in pdf at least (463 pages). Quite enjoyable, I'd say, with a focus on Charlemagne and the Song of Roland and all that. I actually was just looking through some of the rules before going here -- they seem a bit more detailed than Pendragon, but it's still basically the same game. There is a nice part about the setting as well, but I haven't read the whole thing closely enough to review it.

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I'd say you first of all want the main rulebook and the Great Pendragon campaign. You can even make do without the campaign book if you like -- simply play adventures and advance things to your own taste -- but it's a fine game supplement so just go ahead and buy it.

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Personally, I'm currently mulling over designing a short-ish campaign using Paladin and based on Jack Vance's Lyonesse books (which are conveniently located off the French west coast). It will need some adjusting but I think it could work out nicely. 

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I got Paladin from the kickstarter via DriveThru, most recently updated  in February, but I see that it doesn't appear to be available as a product there yet. Odd. 

The pdf backer copy of Paladin Adventures appeared just a couple of weeks ago but I haven't had time to look at it yet. 

Nocturnal is the publisher, for what it's worth. 

 

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2 hours ago, The God Learner said:

I got Paladin from the kickstarter via DriveThru, most recently updated  in February, but I see that it doesn't appear to be available as a product there yet. Odd. 

The pdf backer copy of Paladin Adventures appeared just a couple of weeks ago but I haven't had time to look at it yet. 

Nocturnal is the publisher, for what it's worth. 

 

It was delayed because they decided to go with new art. The last I heard was in early August stating that all the new art was in and that their layout person was working on it.  I haven't seen a new PDF yet, so I have to assume they are still finishing things off.

SDLeary

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4 hours ago, SDLeary said:

It was delayed because they decided to go with new art. The last I heard was in early August stating that all the new art was in and that their layout person was working on it.  I haven't seen a new PDF yet, so I have to assume they are still finishing things off.

Aha, that explains it. I must have missed that. 

4 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Wow! Was the old art that bad? 

Looking through it, I'd say the art is okay but not great, reminiscent of the old RQ art (and not the worst of it). Perhaps expectations are greater nowadays. Perhaps they wanted a bit more art as well; I thought the layout and decorations were quite well done and it was easy to read, but there is a lot of text and tables. 

(For something that I personally thought was a step above that, I've always found the Pendragon 'Books of X' with their medieval-style illos to be simple yet stylish.)

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Thanks for the replies and the link to the bundles was nice.  Solved the economic issue quite smartly.

Preliminary review: Ugh.  The freebie "quick start" rules worked out real well for me and sparked my interest.  (Book of Knights, NOT Book of Knights & Ladies & Pendragon Campaign, NOT Great Pendragon Campaign).

There was a clean character creation, although for several reasons it was obviously a bit skimpy, from looking at the full rules, it appears that it was a character creation that would be perfectly usable with the main rules.

Then, there was the 5.2....You know, did someone else write/edit the Book of Knights?  Seriously.  Oh, severely limited scope of character creation too, seriously limited.  Usually the "quick start" version is the extremely limited version, not the "core rulebook" version, right?

But wait!  I can use the Book of Knights & Ladies to expand on the character creation process.   (whistles a jaunty tune and dives into the book).....(skims).....(goes back for a closer read)....(skims).....(switches back and forth among pages, notes that virtually all of this dreck is useful AFTER the character is created, but not BEFORE).....(skims)....(figures out halfway through the "local character" creation system there is No Fething Way a character creation process can be filleted out of the mess by printing some of the pages)....(skims further to see if there is anything at all worth it)...(discovers that the character creation system starts about halfway through the section, with more useful but worthless for initial character creation verbiage, but not so bad as almost the ENTIRE first half of the section on character creation)

Again, UGH!  I'm sorry, this is a work in serious need of editing expertise.  It is interesting, appears to be (so far, after that introduction, I'm afraid to claim that it is actually) a clean and functional character creation process with plenty of lore, but I'm still not sure that there aren't critical character points buried in the mass of fluff/lore verbiage that got dumped out first (and had little to nothing to do with character creation). 

Heh, one flaw that struck me immediately was the sudden appearance in the various Feudal, Tribal, Urban, etc. charts and tables was that the "Knight, Vassal" used in all the other works had totally disappeared from the charts to determine your father's status.  Now, it was still there in the definitions and still there for the inherited abilities and gear, but you cannot physically roll a "Knight, Vassal" anywhere in the charts.  Oh, wait, useful for me that I happen to know that what Pendragon RPG calls a "Knight, Vassal" is what historical texts call a "Landed Knight" or in the words of the charts "Knight, Landed"....unfortunately, the guys I play with wouldn't have had a clue about that if they noticed, except by process of elimination.  That was a mega-facepalm event for me it was so obviously stupid and bad.

I'll get over it, I just had to vent when I look over something like this with all its rep (which it deserves a lot of AFAIK now) and see seriously stupid crap like this.  The 5.2 rules should have either had the Quick Start version or a set of pregenerated characters should be handed out.  Seriously....

No, "make up your own stuff" doesn't cut it with a mature (or what should be a mature) product.  That was more for a time when the "rules" from the book were a hodgepodge of stuff that barely worked when it didn't contradict itself or was blindly inserted for game balance and never explained.  1st Edition, not 5th Edition.  I see how much of a cluster that causes in games I participate in.  If someone starts doing big house rules that contradict the written rules, the best thing to do is to throw away whatever part of the game system that was being "fixed to work right" and not use it for your character, because almost always it is a nerf detrimental to your character and if it is an exploit, then it will be nerfed to "balance it" (idiot, if you hadn't fethed with it, it wouldn't be "unbalanced"!), so why waste time developing it for your character.

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Okay, sorry for the rant again.  Thanks for the various answers.  This does look like something useful for what I want it for, which is a quick break and/or not having to deal with occasional last minute changes in available players in our small group.  If someone misses, then so what, the rest go on the annual adventure and everyone can do the winter phase(s) as needed.

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I think the various supplement books in the bundle come from different editions, so some of the issues you mention are probably related to 5 editions, 3 or 4 publishers, multiple authors and different expectations based on the period of time they were released.

 

I read through the 1st ed rules which I picked up a few months ago and only skimmed through the other books which I picked up a few days ago. 1st ed is 150 pages, 5.2 ed 276 pages. I haven't even started to look into what accounts for the additional almost twice the size in the later book.

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