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Player's Criticism: unsatisfied w/basic combat


Mike844

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Apparently the % skill roll to hit targets doesn't impress my players. They say it's no harder to hit a large slow target than a small fast target. Not enough variety in "target numbers" I guess - fine for skills, maybe a tad more repetitive during combat.

Fixes? Thoughts?

Mike C.

"Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

~Dr. Ian Malcolm, "Jurassic Park" (1993)

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Apparently the % skill roll to hit targets doesn't impress my players. They say it's no harder to hit a large slow target than a small fast target. Not enough variety in "target numbers" I guess - fine for skills, maybe a tad more repetitive during combat.

Fixes? Thoughts?

The opponent's Dodge and Parry skill is where the "large and slow" and "small

and fast" come into play. In older versions of Stormbringer and RQ, your base

attack and parry/dodge skills were modified by Dex and Siz, but the modifier typically

was less than 10% - however, the max was ~100%, so it made a difference

when players were at 50% - 70% skill, but less so as they approached 90%

and became "exports".

Anyway, you can either reinstitute those modifiers (I believe they are an

optional rule) or add some houserule of your own - but I wouldn't worry

about it too much.

-V

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Even skilled VS unskilled. The variety is coming in on the GM side, not the players side. From their perspective, it's always the same.

Hmmm... require defense roll (if any) be rolled before, and degree of success modifies attack roll maybe? Ah, even that isn't quite right. Most of them (us) were raised on AC... I think it's programming, although I can see their point.

Anyway, you can either reinstitute those modifiers (I believe they are an optional rule) or add some houserule of your own - but I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Easy for you to say - we're shopping around for a new system. :(

Mike C.

"Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

~Dr. Ian Malcolm, "Jurassic Park" (1993)

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Maybe the issue isn't the mechanics. It's the description of what is happening. In mechanics heavy games, poor or non-existence combat narration can be overlooked.

YMMV

And don't forget Realism Rule # 1 "If you can do it in real life you should be able to do it in BRP". - Simon Phipp

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How about you dispense with the idea that NPCs follow the same rules as PCs.

Treat them as opponents to be beaten al la computer games. Say that to hit them is a test against easy, average, difficult or nigh on impossible skill tests. That way mooks will go down fast and elite villains will be damn hard to hit. For large and slow targets you make it easy and small and quick you make it difficult to hit.

I think that'd work quite well.

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My suggestion would be to take a look at the Spot Rules. There's a ton of information in there that makes combat very interesting.

When I'm running a game and I don't remember a specific rule pertinent to the situation I'll wing it. If the player describes something neat and a rule doesn't come to mind I'll bump their skill up at 5% ranks. It makes it very easy to augment criticals this way.

Combat can become tedious, which is why I like to provide as many options as I can for my players. I believe this is where I insert my normal recommendation of Charles Green's Mook Rules.

70/420

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Apparently the % skill roll to hit targets doesn't impress my players. They say it's no harder to hit a large slow target than a small fast target. Not enough variety in "target numbers" I guess - fine for skills, maybe a tad more repetitive during combat.

Fixes? Thoughts?

I'm flabergasted by this! Forgive me if I have trouble composing sentences in my response.

1. Significantly larger targets ARE easier to hit and smaller ones ARE harder to hit - see page 215 'Big and Small Targets'

2. Dexterity, Strength, and Intelligence do play a factor in the ability of a person to defend themselves (if you use the skill modifiers option included in the book), and so does skill.

3. Each oppoent can potentially have different parry and dodge, so each oppoent can vary in how hard they are to wound. They will also have variable attack percentages, so they will vary in how difficult they are to defend against.

3a. There are a number of combat modiers that change the percentages to hit slightly - it isn't always the same.

4. Skills improve regularly, so the attack perecentages change somewhat regularly even without the combat modifiers.

5. Attack percentages vary with weapons, so if you change your weapon your percentages will vary.

6. The fact that a single blow can kill you keeps combat meaningful and exciting.

7. If you add in the hit locations option, combat will be extremely interesting and much more so than 3.5, which I'm guessing is what you are comparing it to (by your use of the term AC). Adding strike ranks to this ups the ante again since when you go in a round will depend on your weapon choice and actions instead of just your dex.

8. Adding an active defense (a parry or dodge) to combat gives your players twice as much to do and think about during each round compared to a passive defence (AC).

Dismissing a system as boring because the 'target numbers don't vary' sounds ridiculous to me. BRP has everything you need to make combat fast, furious, and exciting. It's fine if your players like the roll-over system that they're used to and only want to play that way, not problem. But your players should just say so and not make up ill-informed reasons to try and convince you.

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

__________________________________

 

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The point is that it is not easier to hit a big and slow target in melee. Maybe you have some bonuses with a ranged weapon, but you don't just miss a punch "because target is small". The point is that the target reacted and was out of the way when your punch hit, and being small and fast helped him.

D&D abstracts all this into the target number (AC) which includes both armor and dodging capabilities, while BRP uses a two-roll mechanics like GURPS (whereas GURPS keeps the armor in the equation by adding it to the defense roll instead of subtracting it to the attack roll).

I think the solution is just to provide a challenge to your players by using good dodgers (trollkin, pixies, goblins) as opponents and showing them that small fast opponents actually are difficult to hit because they dodge. (PC: "I squash the goblin with my maul!" GM: [Rolls a successful Dodge at 70%] "He's too fast to hit easily, you need a special success to strike him.")The moment they learn the trick of ganging up on one of those pesky critters to lower his Dodge they shall start to "grok" BRP.

Proud member of the Evil CompetitionTM

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Apparently the % skill roll to hit targets doesn't impress my players. They say it's no harder to hit a large slow target than a small fast target.

Well, what your players say is just plain wrong.

As Thalaba pointed out above, the "Big and Little Targets" Spot Rule (p.215) gives bonuses/penalties to hit large/small targets. (Two options, in fact. The simpler being +/-20% v opponents twice/half their Size.)

As also pointed out previously, the slow/fast aspect is handled by the target's Dodge skill (and perhaps Parry). Your players just haven't yet recognized that, realistically, ability to get-out-of-the-way is a property of the target (when such situations are analyzed properly).

The variety is coming in on the GM side, not the players side. From their perspective, it's always the same.

That's the dumbed-down mind-set D&D gets people into. Players should be creative, looking for anything that'll give them advantages - not mindlessly slugging it out, toe-to-toe.

Maybe a few tiny, reasonably-skilled and intelligent kobolds* (all at -20% to be hit, dodging/parrying effectively, using cunning combat tactics) would force these 'D&D Drone' players to evolve - or die.

we're shopping around for a new system. :(

Yes, that is sad. I suspect their 'samey combat' griping is just an excuse. The trouble is that players are quite happy in their D&D 'comfort zone'. Safe behind tons of Hit Points and high AC, they can always wade unthinkingly into combat as the first/only option, the unrealistic attritional system giving them plenty of warning to run away if they're outclassed (- and then probably blaming the GM for 'lack of balance'!).

Lots of people prefer to play that way. The trouble is, they are not being Heroes - they are being Bullies. As a GM I would not pander to that. (It took me 10-20 years to gradually convert my campaign/players from D&D to BRP. Including one guy who much preferred d20 to d100 now says it works very well, and another who says he hates RuneQuest but likes my system - I haven't the heart to tell him!)

I strongly suggest you should give your players opportunity to learn the error of their ways - stick with BRP, the best RPG system around.

* PS: Or trollkin/pixies/goblins, as RosenMcStern says.

Edited by frogspawner
PS

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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More specific example:

attack the troll - roll under 70% sword skill

never mind the troll I'll attack the pixie - roll under 70% sword skill

how about this human? - roll under 70% sword skill

from their perspective, it isn't as rewarding as "overcoming an opponents defenses". They roll same old same old, and hope the NPC fails his roll - subtle distinction, but I can see their point.

Don't get me wrong, combat is not a huge part in my game. Last game, though, the game was going quite well (I don't mind saying), people were very "in the atmosphere", it did come time for a combat - and when one person finally attacked that zombie in the graveyard they actually blurted out "that's it"?

Maybe a few tiny, reasonably-skilled and intelligent kobolds* (all at -20% to be hit...

Huh... that might be something. Giving some monsters/NPCs built in attack modifiers. Do you do that regularly?

Mike C.

"Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

~Dr. Ian Malcolm, "Jurassic Park" (1993)

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attack the troll - roll under 70% sword skill

Ah, I rolled 65, I hit! Now 1d8+1+1d4 for damage, 11 points. Whaddayamean with "a scratch"!? He is wearing chainmail, so? It is - uh - 7 points, and do you mean his skin is armor, too? Now what, parry his Big Scary Club with my sword? And what happens if miss? Will he scratch me too? No?

never mind the troll I'll attack the pixie - roll under 70% sword skill

Whaddayamean when I attack? I am DEX Rank 15, I am fast. Pixie is faster? Well never mind, I'll parry. Ah, parried, always this boring 70%. Whaddayamean with "The whip entangled your sword"? I parried. He wanted me to parry? Oh, well, I'll just kill the little bugger. I hit, I rolled 60. Whaddayamean with "Using what weapon?" With my sword of course! It's entangled? Rolling on what table to free it? Damn little - how did you say it's called? Runner? - damn little ****ing runner!

how about this human? - roll under 70% sword skill

I'll just hack him in half with my Great Axe. My Strike Rank? It's six. He hits at SR six, too? Well, what's the problem? I cannot parry on the same SR I attack? Well, so does he. Weapon and shield? What a coward! Well, I am a real man and I attack without parrying. I hit, rolled 45. He parried? Coward! Well, his turn now. Whaddayamean with "severed arm"?

from their perspective, it isn't as rewarding as "overcoming an opponents defenses". They roll same old same old, and hope the NPC fails his roll - subtle distinction, but I can see their point.

Use the techniques above and nothing will look unrewarding ;)

Proud member of the Evil CompetitionTM

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...from their perspective, it isn't as rewarding as "overcoming an opponents defenses". ... that might be something. Giving some monsters/NPCs built in attack modifiers. Do you do that regularly?

It's nice to know some players care about such subtleties! Personally, the Attack/Parry/Dodge mechanism feels much more rewarding and involving to me (and, I guess, to most others around here). Objectively, it is more realistic - and hopefully they'll come to appreciate that. It's just not what they're accustomed to.

In your example, to hit the Troll might have been 70+20 = 90%, and the Pixie almost certainly 70-20 = 50%. That's according to the straight BRP rules.

(Me? I'm not a good example of someone who sticks to the straight rules, perhaps due to the history of my campaign having 'evolved' piecemeal from D&D. So I tend to use only x2 or /2 multipliers rather than fiddly +/- modifiers. I think I usually give smaller monsters higher dodge skills, and that's it. My players don't complain about combat being too 'samey' (unless they're having trouble getting through something's armour!). But they do complain it's scary - even though it's rare for any PCs to actually die in combat...)

Anyway, an attack roll is not "it" (especially in the case of zombies). The quality of the rolls matters a heck of a lot. OK, they rolled a successful hit, but was it a Normal, Special or Critical hit? It matters hugely.

Even when the hit lands, that's not all there is to it either. Armour has to be overcome (unless it was a critical hit), so was their damage roll good enough?

(And for zombies, the damage is likely to be halved, too. Plus, the players still need to use their brains and figure out if it's the sort of zombie that won't be killed unless they aim for the head...)

PS:

Whaddayamean with "a scratch"!? ...<etc>

Brilliant!

Edited by frogspawner
PS

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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More specific example:

attack the troll - roll under 70% sword skill

never mind the troll I'll attack the pixie - roll under 70% sword skill

how about this human? - roll under 70% sword skill

from their perspective, it isn't as rewarding as "overcoming an opponents defenses". They roll same old same old, and hope the NPC fails his roll - subtle distinction, but I can see their point.

Don't get me wrong, combat is not a huge part in my game. Last game, though, the game was going quite well (I don't mind saying), people were very "in the atmosphere", it did come time for a combat - and when one person finally attacked that zombie in the graveyard they actually blurted out "that's it"?

The problem is the attack roll is only half (or, actually, less than half) of the

result.

As others have mentioned, the Spot Rule for Big and Little Targets applies -

if the troll is significantly larger, add 20%, and if the pixie is significantly

smaller, subtract 20% (or, if the target is SIZ 30 or higher add 10% per 10

SIZ higher than 30 - though the book example seems to be wrong, and if

the target is less than 5, subtract 5% per SIZ under 5).

So, human is 70% to hit, troll is 80% - 90% to hit, and pixie is 50% - 60%

to hit.

Also, as mentioned, speed (or lack of) comes into play in Strike Ranks/Dex

Ranks - faster goes first, slower goes last.

Finally, using the optional stat bonuses/penalties, the troll, due to his lower

DEX and greater SIZ will have penalties to his Dodge (and Parry if you use the

optional separate Attack/Parry rules) while the pixie will have a bonus due

to being smaller and faster (Dodge). However, the pixie's lower STR may

make his parry weaker (while the troll's parry may be improved due to high

STR).

And, then you factor in SIZ relevance to HP, and armor, etc.

That's the problem you're players are facing. In D&D, this is all abstracted by

AC with simple mods based upon size (if you used those rules) and then

abstracted again with HP (which may or may not be affected by size). In

BRP, the attack roll only gauges the "threat" - there is still the dodge/parry,

the armor, and finally, the HP (which is most definitely affected by SIZ).

-V

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At the risk of simply echoing what everyone is saying, the complexity in the system comes from defences and armour. You mentioned zombies and that is probably an extreme case because basically zombies get hit and don't do much about it. A single good hit and it'll probably fall over and squirm on the floor.

Similarly, a fight is often settled by the first undefended hit unless you're using various heroic options. When you're playing with characters in 60-70% range then the most common outcome is one success and one fail meaning that combats can be over in a single attack.

A lot of the game engine in D&D is designed to prevent that from happening. Sounds like your players like the feel of a combat where the first successful blow never ends it so that they can all pile in. I suspect the target number issue is a misnomer, I suspect that what they want are fights that last a long time.

If you're not already doing it then the heroic options might fit better. Also, you might consider letting the boss guys use PPs to buy off the first few lethal blows so that they can keep on fighting.

I wouldn't really worry too much about trying to shoe-horn target numbers into the system because it's complicated enough without having Tiny Tim (Siz 10) getting +20% to attack Burly Bob (Siz 21) while Moderate Mike (Siz 13) gets nothing. You're better off saving that kind of thing for special abilities of monster so that it feels *special* when it comes up. So, unlike everyone else, I say look a little at survivability in combat so that combats last a fair time.

Edited by deleriad
Bob needs to be SIZ 21
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More specific example:

I haven't played D&D for a long time, but ...

attack the troll - roll under 70% sword skill

never mind the troll I'll attack the pixie - roll under 70% sword skill

how about this human? - roll under 70% sword skill

You attack a human or elf or half-orc fighter at the same level with the same armour and they all have the same AC. You have a chance to hit and you try and roll it. Just as boring as you say BRP is.

You attack different monsters with different Hit Dice and the target number changes, but all you are doing is rolling a D20 to try and get under a certain number. That's boring as well.

In BRP your Target Number depends on your skill, mainly, with a few modifiers. In D&D your Target Number depends on your level and the opponent's AC/Hit Dice. However, once you have rolled your target number, in D&D you roll for damage and that's it. In BRP your opponent can Parry or Dodge, you roll your damage, it may or may not get through the opponent's armour, it may, or may not, be a Major Wound and have extra effects, you may or may not have to roll Hit Location and the damage done may or may not have different effects depending on the hit location struck.

Saying that you always have a 70% chance to hit is like saying that "Every unarmed human Level 0 NPC always has AC10" - yes, but there is a lot more to combat than Hit Chance or AC.

from their perspective, it isn't as rewarding as "overcoming an opponents defenses". They roll same old same old, and hope the NPC fails his roll - subtle distinction, but I can see their point.

You jockey for position. Get behind him - that's +20%. Get two people attacking him - who does he parry? Hit him with 2 swords - which one does he parry? Try and trip him up or knock him over - now he is on the ground you have +20%. He hasn't got a helmet? Try and aim for his head. He is using a 2H weapon? Try breaking the weapon instead of the opponent. He is sitting on a horse? Attack the horse's legs and see him fall off. He is using a shield? Grab the shield and try and wrestle it away from him while your friend hits him with a sword. Throw sand into his eyes, say his mother wears army boots, try and distract him with clever banter, rush at him with an ear-splitting roar, throw a dagger at him rather than hit him with your sword.

There are many tactics that you can use to make combats more interesting.

Don't get me wrong, combat is not a huge part in my game. Last game, though, the game was going quite well (I don't mind saying), people were very "in the atmosphere", it did come time for a combat - and when one person finally attacked that zombie in the graveyard they actually blurted out "that's it"?

And in D&D? You hit a zombie (AC whatever) and do damage to it. Boring.

The thing about zombies in BRP is that they don't have a concept of total hit points, so you can chop away at them and not kill them while they gnaw away at you. They are also dead and scary, especially when in a graveyard. If you are using Sanity then seeing a zombie in a graveyard will give you a fright.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Well, if you and your players would prefer a "sliding" percentage to hit vs. a passive defense, here's a house rule I've used before - most recently for WFRP. I used it to experiment with the idea that the players could make most of the rolls in the game, freeing me to concentrate on story and narrative.

The PC's weapon skill is considered the default vs. a skill 50% opponent. The PC's chance "to hit" is then modified by the opponent's skill if it is over or under 50%. The quick little pixie with a 70% dodge is -20% for the PC to hit, the slow, unskilled Troll with a 45% parry is +5% to hit. If the player makes the modified roll, the PC hits, there is no defensive roll.

You can also use this for NPC attacks, just use NPC attack skill +/- 50% to modify the PC's defense skill. If the PC makes their modified defensive roll - they defend, it they fail, they're hit - GM rolls damage.

You can also use this rule throughout the game. NPC has a skill of 30% for Spot, then the PC rolls their hide roll at +20%, etc. The GM rarely has to make a roll.

I've only used this rule for games where skills are capped at 100%, there may be problems for skills levels over 100%. Also, I used this rule along with house rules to increase skills in 5% blocks, the modifiers are quicker if they're in +/- 5% blocks.

This is really just using the Resistance Chart option for opposed roll option from BRP, with the players making all the rolls and expanding it to include combat.

Edited by Amra
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Apparently the % skill roll to hit targets doesn't impress my players. They say it's no harder to hit a large slow target than a small fast target. Not enough variety in "target numbers" I guess - fine for skills, maybe a tad more repetitive during combat.

Fixes? Thoughts?

And that is supposed to be a criticism?

http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying. ;)
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from their perspective, it isn't as rewarding as "overcoming an opponents defenses". They roll same old same old, and hope the NPC fails his roll - subtle distinction, but I can see their point.

I offer my sympathy to you that you have such players. But their so called criticism is one of the lamest I've heard. In fact it is chuckle inducing just thinking about it.

If you make combat encounters interesting enough, then your players will be too busy trying to defeat the opposition to notice that their respectable level of swordsmanship (70%) is boring.

Easy for you to say - we're shopping around for a new system. :(

The system is not at fault.You and your players just don't appreciate it. Thats all. Maybe if you'd read the spot rules you might have noticed ways of altering the to hit roll, such as putting your players on horseback in combat. Good luck with finding a new system.

Edited by Conrad
http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying. ;)
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I think y'all are being awful hard on a formerly enthusiastic BRP newbie. Mike844 and his group gave the system a playtest, had legitimate questions about the combat rules, and found that the "feel" of the system didn't meet their expectations. Instead of receiving encouragement and friendly advice from those experienced with the rules, he found himself being savaged when he dared to express his concerns. Not exactly a way to win friends and influence gamers on behalf of your beloved system, guys. :(

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Instead of receiving encouragement and friendly advice from those experienced with the rules, he found himself being savaged when he dared to express his concerns. Not exactly a way to win friends and influence gamers on behalf of your beloved system, guys. :(

Aww, I dunno, Seneschal...as I look over the thread, it seems the guy got a lot of encouragement and advice from Vagabond, Byron A., Thalaba (once he got over being flabbergasted :) ), Chaot, RosenMcstern, Frogspawner, etc. And while things did sorta degenerate toward the end, don't discount what came before :happy:.

I have to say, though, that the complaint of sameness--if I understood the original poster correctly and there is a good chance I did not--does seem a little weak. As I recall that was one of the draws I felt toward RQIII: combat was definitely NOT the same simple business it had been in a DnD or DnD-like game. It was also something I felt I had more control over…more options: pluses for this; pluses for that; an attack skill AND a parry skill; a riposte even!--Thank you Stormbringer; weapon specifics; armor specifics; hit locations; various results...my god, it gives me a wood just thinking about it. BRP's got all that too for anyone who reads the rules closely and uses a fair amount of devious thinking. I'm not saying Mike didn't read closely or isn't devious enough...hell, I don't even know 'em, but from-my-point-of-view the seemingly casual dismissal of the system, "Easy for you to say - we're shopping around for a new system" did not indicate an interest in thoroughly researching the subject and raised my hackles too. I think that's why more than a few of us were “flabbergasted” and may have responded with less than kid-gloves :ohwell:.

Again I could be wrong and stand corrected if I am. I hope Mike and crew find what they are looking for :thumb:.

Cheers,

Sunwolfe

P.S. Thanks for the game master screen link there, Harshax; I must have one!

Present home-port: home-brew BRP/OQ SRD variant; past ports-of-call: SB '81, RQIII '84, BGB '08, RQIV(Mythras) '12,  MW '15, and OQ '17

BGB BRP: 0 edition: 20/420; .pdf edition: 06/11/08; 1st edition: 06/13/08

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