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Fleshed out religion

religion gods god morality temples

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#21
rjshae

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If they are developing a PnP version, that might be a better place to expand on the topic of religion.



#22
Naesh

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The problem, as vividly displayed here (especially in the OP), is twofold: pretty much nobody in the modern era, or at least very few rpg grognards, have ever done a serious study of any particular religion, let alone practiced one as an adult (and those which are practiced today in Europe and the Americas are more or less affirmational therapeutic Deism rather than a real faith, with some small-but-loud pockets of morally-assertive but mindless Deism mixed in).  Thus both observational knowledge and experiential knowledge are absent.  When people use theological language, they don't even know what the words mean, freely substituting folk pseudoknowledge and making logical leaps from foundations of sand.  It's cringe-inducing, similar to listening to someone speaking of physics when they clearly don't know what the terms "force" and "power" (much less "uncertainty" or "spin") mean, then going on to assert various absurd feats of mechanical engineering are real based on their faulty major premise.

 

From my perspective, the popular religions (in real life) operate by undermining self-worth, offering "poison" to those who need to lean on it. I also see that this needn't be this way. I have serious issues with practically everything they offer, starting from the core concepts to the entire value system that serves as backbone. I guess you reacted to my condescending opening post. I hope i was not offending you or anyone by voicing my opinion, but you see, this is my opinion, and perhaps, my opinion doesn't really matter for anyone but me. As for primary / primitive - well, i am working with a language barrier here.

 

But you opened my eyes to the possibility that some people might find certain ingame religions as offesive caricatures of their real world counterparts. That could be an issue especially with prophets, who shouldn't be portrayed.

 

But let's get back to our main topic: what nuances would you use to improve the ingame religion system? Would there be small-but-loud pockets folk having (shallow) faith in the god of hunt, for example?

What i would really like to see in a game such as this is an almost real cultural diversity. How characters who come from completely different cultures interact with each other.

In this perspective i found both baldurs gate and dragon age: origins severly lacking. Yes, there was an attempt at diversifying cultures, but all the people you met worked essentially the same way. They essentially had the same core values, which came from modern western real-life world counterparts. How about using words for feelings we don't have words for?

How about connecting certain tribal rites or rules of behaviour with personality development (and (divine) magic)?


Edited by Naesh, 31 January 2014 - 03:04 PM.

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#23
tajerio

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The problems with implementing fleshed-out religions in PoE seem to me to be twofold:

 

1. Religions in fantasy generally tend to be either close analogues of real-world faiths, or an amalgam of elements from those same faiths.  This is because a game developer can't hope in at most a couple years to match the sophistication of centuries or millennia.  So they tend to gravitate towards the familiar.  This can lead to people being offended, or to people like me with a background in religious history being like "lol that's just high medieval Catholicism with a Tengriist admixture."  Which would actually be kinda cool to see executed, but never mind that.  In any case, people taking offense due to similarity tends to be a danger because of...

 

2. Game developers specifically, and fantasy writers generally, often don't paint religions very sympathetically.  They tend to be portrayed as neutral at best, and soul-suckingly evil at worst.  And the scale tends to tilt towards worst.  It's particularly hard for people in the industrialized Western world to get into that pre-Enlightenment (there's a good piece of marketing) mindset and convincingly show religious sincerity without also judging it and finding it wanting.

 

That said, a world without major religions falls very flat indeed, of which fantasy's most egregious example would be the Wheel of Time series.



#24
nikolokolus

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The Wheel of Time eventually fell flat, because Robert Jordan couldn't stop faffing about with characters and get around to telling a story.


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#25
tajerio

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The Wheel of Time eventually fell flat, because Robert Jordan couldn't stop faffing about with characters and get around to telling a story.

 

Without a doubt, but that wasn't the only reason.  I was wondering the entire series how he could have so many characters and not have any of them actually have a religion.

 

Not a point that I want to see designers missing out on when constructing a fantasy world.



#26
nikolokolus

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Magic is a sort of religion in WoT. That's where all of the supernatural power lies and the very political, and hierarchical, Aes Sedai, wield a power mimicking the clerical authority found in a lot of super-state religions from Earth's antiquity.

 

The notion that gods and religion must be present for a setting to be considered "fantastical" seems awfully thin to me.



#27
tajerio

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Magic is a sort of religion in WoT. That's where all of the supernatural power lies and the very political, and hierarchical, Aes Sedai, wield a power mimicking the clerical authority found in a lot of super-state religions from Earth's antiquity.

 

The notion that gods and religion must be present for a setting to be considered "fantastical" seems awfully thin to me.

 

You could make that argument I suppose.  It certainly wouldn't be the most substantive religion around.  But in any case, why then is there only one?

 

it's not that a setting requires gods and religion to be fantastical.  It's that religion has been an integral part of the human experience in almost all times and places.  And when there's a setting, like that of PoE, where people behave more or less like people do in reality, it would be very very odd for there to be no religion, or only perfunctory systems of belief.



#28
Silent Winter

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Magic is a sort of religion in WoT. That's where all of the supernatural power lies and the very political, and hierarchical, Aes Sedai, wield a power mimicking the clerical authority found in a lot of super-state religions from Earth's antiquity.

 

The notion that gods and religion must be present for a setting to be considered "fantastical" seems awfully thin to me.

 

You could make that argument I suppose.  It certainly wouldn't be the most substantive religion around.  But in any case, why then is there only one?

Technically there are 2 (the Black Ajah worships the other guy) ;)

I'd say in WOT there is faith (in the Creator) but no religion to framework it.  (though there are pseudo-religious customs - marking the dragon's fang on the door of one who is supposedly cursed, some prescripted prayers to the Creator).

The dual salvation and destruction prophecies of the Dragon are bound into that.

 

I don't think the books missed anything by not tackling religion as well.  Though I agree that religion is a big part of human history and society, I think that dealing with 'beliefs' is not necessarily tied to dealing with religion.  It could be argued that some people would always try to gather that belief into a framework.  But the books were long enough as it is :lol:

 

There were different societies with different ways of dealing with their beliefs (though the main continent tended to have just the one - largely due to the Aes Sedai).  The Aiel, the Sharans, the Ogier, they had others.

I think RJ successfully made different societies and cultures without including religious organisations, but then, I'm not a religion major so I might not be looking for what's not there in that regard.  Had there been no faith at all, I might have considered it flat.


Edited by Silent Winter, 01 February 2014 - 06:21 PM.


#29
JFSOCC

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There's a thread in my sig which I wonder what you guys would think of.  In my posts there I've done my best to treat religion more as a cultural phenomenon with no judgement on the religion itself.



#30
Shadowmant

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That said, a world without major religions falls very flat indeed, of which fantasy's most egregious example would be the Wheel of Time series.

 

I would argue that the wheel of time was ripe with religions.  You had the Aes Saidi who believed in the creator and the wheel of time controlling all events.  You also had the dark friends who worshiped the dark one as if he was a god. Additionally you had the Whitecloaks who seemed inspired by both the Christian crusaders and the Christian inquisition and they were heavily religious and powerful to have rule over Arcadia much in the same way as the church ruled Britain at some points of history.  You also had the Maesma's Prophet of the Dragon cult who worshiped the dragon reborn as a god.  Finally you had the Senchan who seemed very inspired by the old Japanese God-Emperor model.



#31
tajerio

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There's a thread in my sig which I wonder what you guys would think of.  In my posts there I've done my best to treat religion more as a cultural phenomenon with no judgement on the religion itself.

 

That's the way to do it.

 

 

 

That said, a world without major religions falls very flat indeed, of which fantasy's most egregious example would be the Wheel of Time series.

 

I would argue that the wheel of time was ripe with religions.  You had the Aes Saidi who believed in the creator and the wheel of time controlling all events.  You also had the dark friends who worshiped the dark one as if he was a god. Additionally you had the Whitecloaks who seemed inspired by both the Christian crusaders and the Christian inquisition and they were heavily religious and powerful to have rule over Arcadia much in the same way as the church ruled Britain at some points of history.  You also had the Maesma's Prophet of the Dragon cult who worshiped the dragon reborn as a god.  Finally you had the Senchan who seemed very inspired by the old Japanese God-Emperor model.

 

 

There were definitely systems of belief and culture that verged on the religious, without a doubt.  But there wasn't much of, if any, what I'd call communal worship, sacrificial devotion, prayer, preaching, or scriptural tradition.  Each of those things have been critical to multiple major real world religions, and I can't think of any religion in history that was without all of them.



#32
redneckdevil

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Ill be honest the last game I played that I role played anything religious was in morrowind as part of the temple. From the pilgrimage to become part of the temple to the seeing the golden masked guys to the principles they venerated and the background. Granted it wasn't perfect but it added a very nice layer that could be easily dismissed or delved into per players choice. Now granted quite a few of the core elements (aka dandruff princes) were already established and brought up, but the religion gave more depth to them and to the tribunal. And the lore around it as well.
Now I would love to ha e that quality of religion in this game but I would also love to have the same option to delve or ignore them and not feel like I am purposely evading something if that makes any sense.

#33
Tauron

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Some of OP can well expand and add depth on previous, pretty stale mechanics that were in infinity engine games. Tempels in BG series felt more like glorified shops.

 

I am just not sure about your take on "higher entities". I feel you have certain arrogance going on about it. Here is a scene from Babylon 5  to sum how I usually feel about these entities, whatever franchise tends to call them, aliens, gods, demons, angeles, fairies etc http://www.youtube.c...h?v=ZLZW8Deq8vE.  Loved that show, G'Kar and ants analogy is pretty awsome. 



#34
Naesh

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Some of OP can well expand and add depth on previous, pretty stale mechanics that were in infinity engine games. Tempels in BG series felt more like glorified shops.

 

I am just not sure about your take on "higher entities". I feel you have certain arrogance going on about it. Here is a scene from Babylon 5  to sum how I usually feel about these entities, whatever franchise tends to call them, aliens, gods, demons, angeles, fairies etc http://www.youtube.c...h?v=ZLZW8Deq8vE.  Loved that show, G'Kar and ants analogy is pretty awsome. 

Is it really wrong to feel important? I think that everyone should feel himself/herself the most important thing in the universe. What is there to gain from feeling like an ant? As far as i see it, the culture that promotes low self-respect is exactly the reason why things such as the bystander effect can be expected.


Edited by Naesh, 03 February 2014 - 06:03 AM.


#35
redneckdevil

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Some of OP can well expand and add depth on previous, pretty stale mechanics that were in infinity engine games. Tempels in BG series felt more like glorified shops.

I am just not sure about your take on "higher entities". I feel you have certain arrogance going on about it. Here is a scene from Babylon 5 to sum how I usually feel about these entities, whatever franchise tends to call them, aliens, gods, demons, angeles, fairies etc . Loved that show, G'Kar and ants analogy is pretty awsome.

Is it really wrong to feel important? I think that everyone should feel himself/herself the most important thing in the universe. What is there to gain from feeling like an ant? As far as i see it, the culture that promotes low self-respect is exactly the reason why things such as the bystander effect can be expected.

An old bible verse came to mind "pride cometh before the fall". The video that way posted, I didn't get the vibe that it was promoting low self respect, but saying that their are things out there beyond our comprehension even if its staring us in the face....and its okay that we cant unravel every mystery. That's its okay for their to be things out there we cannot ever understand, because isn't that an important and exciting part of life knowing their are unknowns out there waiting to be discovered or experienced? The guy even said that they have tried to reason with it or communicate with it but cannot and hes fine with that.
Its saying that no matter how big or important we think we are, there are things out there that we are ants to. In size and in how much we are recognized and noticed.

Very good video by the way, never saw that episode, I need to go look it up.
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#36
AwesomeOcelot

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The problem with religions in fantasy RPGs is that gods exist and we have two paradigms of how that intereaction goes i.e. fending machine, worship/reward, sacrifice/reward, charity/reward and "mysterious ways". In reality gods do not exist, we only have superstition as a basis for gods interacting with the world, and that's basically people believing what's convenient or flattering to them most of the time.


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#37
Tauron

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The problem with religions in fantasy RPGs is that gods exist and we have two paradigms of how that intereaction goes i.e. fending machine, worship/reward, sacrifice/reward, charity/reward and "mysterious ways". In reality gods do not exist, we only have superstition as a basis for gods interacting with the world, and that's basically people believing what's convenient or flattering to them most of the time.

 

Yes, in fantasy, such things are pretty much straight forward. There is little room for questioning "supernatural" ...it is present visually and can be exprienced by all most basic senses, there is little room for doubt and philosophy.

 

 

Is it really wrong to feel important? I think that everyone should feel himself/herself the most important thing in the universe. What is there to gain from feeling like an ant? As far as i see it, the culture that promotes low self-respect is exactly the reason why things such as the bystander effect can be expected.

 

 

It depends, what means important to you? One defines it by ones collective experience, perception of reality and such blah blah, yes?  To feel important...hmmm sure, but that depends on context...whn I read your post most important in all universe, this type of attitude first came to my mind  Maybe that says more about me than you haha.

 

Hmm...maybe if ant knew how you viewed him, he might feel offended that you put so little value in his existance? hehe, maybe that ant feels very important! He can lift 20 times his own weight, has millions of siblings and has never ever had feelings of disconnection within his family/society. His purpose clear and valued from before hatching, his passing away will be noticed, someone else will take his place. Doesnt mean he wont be mourned or missed.  As for bystander effect, that might be very alien and disturbing to an ant as well. Whn one of them is in danger, they are all in danger. Like cells in the body. They are aware, they are many but like one or form one larger entity. What some cells do whn others are in danger, they do assigned role to them. And thats for that kind of ant.

 

If  you think of an ant as oppressed creature slaving to feed Queen who keeps all enthralled within hivemind where her Will is absolute. Somewhere within confines of that drone's mind lies his own self locked away, yet apathic to do anything. Aware that IT IS at all times, yet cant do anything to break Queens will or something like that. Somewhere within lies promise of greater things, yet it was programmed as drone, it cant override its genetic code, its nature. It can think itself to what if I wasnt drone but a soldier or if I was a queen, etc. Persepctive or perception I guess. I dont know. One can build on tons of diff scenarios and take parallells from world if one is creative in such.

 

Maybe we have to assume that humanity is meant to be "flawed" in certain way, at least for now. Or maybe it is gift that we just yet dont appreciate. Becouse it also kind of sucks, becouse to know we are "designed" or evolved in manner to know about more than we can do or have tools to accomplish. I think that idea is what has always fascinated me about sci-fi and fantasy really. We are 3D creatures with most of us apparantly day to day 2D mind set, living possibly in 9-10D reality, yet we sense up to 4D, if 4D is like time, which there seem to be discussion about. I have no idea really. So there is like no way for most of us simple mortals to like PICTURE how 5th demension work. You can say how it supposedly behaves at times based on some equations. But you cant PICTURE that really, becouse our brain just isnt wired that way yet. We cant really see it. Physicist can tell us how it is supposedly working. So lets say a godlike/demonic/fairy entitty is something betwean 5 and 10D. Paint me how according to those numbers it may look in it original form!? One cant, becouse we could at best see only up to 3D of it. So whatever we would be seeing is only part of it, not it. But for some fkup reason your mind just CANT PAINT IT! Becouse of that I think many 5D creatures are drawn in metaphorical sense, not what they are but becouse of what they instill in us. World of symbolism. Amazing isnt it. I have no idea what it even means. I liked that explanation about physics few posts above. I have no intelligent comprehension for how all the small details work to paint the bigger picture...it all sounds ughhh..umm..wow...but I can probably appreciate some of the bigger picture or practical application of that understanding.

 

I have no clue why i am trying to communicate about something I dont fully understand, but here is guy who explains it hehe..awsome isnt it! :D



#38
Giantevilhead

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Considering the more mysterious nature of the gods, I think it would be more feasible to explore the idea of religions/myths/gods being used for political manipulation and cultural exploitation.

 

People have always used religion and mythology as a way of gaining influence. For example, the reason why Zeus has so many children is because rulers of nations would claim themselves to be the descendents of the gods and use the power of myth to give themselves more power. When small cities or villages get conquered by more powerful nations, the folk heroes/spirits/gods of local cultures would get integrated into the myths of the conquering nation. So the heroes and gods of myth are often times amalgamations of a dozen different folk heroes/spirits/gods.

 

It would be interesting to see priests and religions change based on the demands of politics and culture. So priests wouldn't just be there to dispense advice or talk about their religion, they would actually modify their message based on your responses and the demands of the current political/cultural climate.

 

In fact, you can add another layer so that where there's a reciprocal relationship between the gods and their followers where the gods can actually change based on what people believe about them and how they're worshiped. So a god who allows their believers to use religion as a tool of political and cultural manipulation/expansion gains more power but at the same time, they're more subject to the beliefs of their followers. On the other hand, if a god holds to their own beliefs and doesn't allow their followers to change their religion to gain greater influence, they're less powerful but they have greater freedom and will of their own.


Edited by Giantevilhead, 04 February 2014 - 09:40 PM.

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#39
Naesh

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The problem with religions in fantasy RPGs is that gods exist and we have two paradigms of how that intereaction goes i.e. fending machine, worship/reward, sacrifice/reward, charity/reward and "mysterious ways". In reality gods do not exist, we only have superstition as a basis for gods interacting with the world, and that's basically people believing what's convenient or flattering to them most of the time.

Gods do not exists? That depends on your definition of the word 'god'.

As i see it, people created gods because they needed them. The great bull aided the hunters, the sun god watched over the crops and the wind god brought luck to the explorers. (i made these up)

God, in this sense, is actually the real face of the person who called him or her into existence. Of course god exists. Just look into the mirror if you want to see him or her. God is the externalization of the deepest wishes of humans onto the forces of nature. And it's not hard to see why people *needed* the gods in the age of pestilence. And if you look at the right places it's not hard to see why people *need* the gods in the modern world, today. And will keep needing them.

So what is the definition of self-respect then? What is self-worth? I dont know exactly. But i know that it depends on the feedback of your own actions and it depends on the feedback you get from others - the opinion of the group you feel you belong to. Self-worth is kind of an 'average rank' in the pecking order, based on 'overall usefulness' from your own perspective, or rather, your control over reality.

So, why do i think that low-self-respect is an unhealthy state of mind? Why am i against the subtle messages that promote low-self-respect? (for example, the popular message that self-sacrifice is a virtue - now this can be found in lots of places in the popular media.... and it's really saying that being useful to others even at the cost of your own peril is a virtue)

Some time ago an experiment was conducted at an american university (if i remember correctly -- perhaps i could find the original article if anyone is interested). During the experiment a couple of rats were periodically subjected to a small dosage of electric shock. They felt the pain, but they didn't suffer any major damage. What do you think happened after a while?

The rats ganged on one of their own and tore it to pieces.

You see, they were protecting themselves from getting shocked. They protected their own self-respect, their illusion of control. That's why it had to be this one rats fault.

History provides plenty of evidence of similar behavioral patterns from humans. The nazis, the commies, etc. It's also not hard to see why evolution could be the real culprit behind this behavioral pattern: like rats, humans are social animals.

Let me explain that a bit more.
If you are practically useless to *your* group, your self-worth goes down. Then you feel that self-sacrifice is a virtue and this feeling is the product of both the culture you live in and your genetics. You will want to sacrifice *for others* to show *to others* that you are a good person. And because of this, the effectivity, the chance of survival of the group might increase, since the resources are going to the more successful members. Of course, nobody wants to be the omega dog or the kid who is being bullied, so eventually you will try to fight to restore your self-worth and become the bully in some form or other. That's why you really can't blame the rats for ripping one of their own into pieces.

Because, if you think about it, a small burst of gamma ray radiation from a nearby star could sterilize the planet without causing any ruckus in the galaxy whatsoever. Everything that matters to you could be gone in a small puff, in the blink of an eye. This is the insane reality that completely undermines your self-worth, that takes control away from you. The a-bombs have the same effect on your ego.... just knowing about the threat causes damage.

If you think about it a little bit more, you might find it strange that despite the impossible odds, the huge amount of time that was needed for life to emerge on this planet, there actually *is* life on Earth. This evidence suggests that life is a very potent natural force. But you yourself are connected to this mysterious, hidden natural force in a very personal way, since you live. This connection is the real reson for the need for gods. This is the reality that gives your self-worth, your control back to you.

So, i'm against rubbing it into the peoples faces that "there are things out there far-far-far greater and more powerful than us". Of course there are. A waterfall, a whirlwind, a lightning is much more powerful than you. Even a gorilla is much stronger than you will ever be.

I would have said to G'Kar that perhaps we are ants now, but guess what, we lived in caves once. In time, we will get there, buddy. And i'm against thinking that humanity is "flawed" in any way for reasons mentioned above. Anyway, i just wanted to shed some more light on what i wrote in the opening post. And of course it's just how i see it, an opinion, my opinion, and i borrowed it from various books and articles refining bits and pieces.   


Edited by Naesh, 05 February 2014 - 03:01 PM.


#40
Lephys

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You could make that argument I suppose.  It certainly wouldn't be the most substantive religion around.  But in any case, why then is there only one?


In the WOT, it's almost as if there's only one religion, but a plethora of various denominations. Or... *shrug*, I dare say it's almost like Christianity and Islam. I mean, the Seanchan basically had Artur Hawkwing as their liaison figure between the Creator and the created, with all their own views on how and why to go about life and what the goals in life should be. The Whitecloaks, while obviously pretty corrupted, were still very much founded on the whole "WWJD" aspect of how to live, in regard to the Creator and the Light, etc. Then you had, what, the Way of the Leaf? And the Aiel, with their way of doing things. You even had the creation of the Dragonsworn within the book series, itself, and its development throughout. AND, the Ogier, with their reverence and revolvement around the groves.

I know it's not quite all different religions, but, you've gotta also consider that they all lived in a world where certain stuff undeniably happened. Even in the real world, religion and philosophy are a bit intertwined, with many religions/denominations simply being various interpretations of the same general path/goal.

I don't really think the WOT was devoid of religion. I just think it was all a bit more intertwined with culture, is all. Which is a little weird, because there weren't like... oodles of various temples and organizations and such. But, the individual cultures were already separated in the same way that organizations are, so it wasn't such a big deal. The Ogier, for example, almost never mingled with people anymore, so it wasn't like they had to say "okay, since we're all just people and live in this country together, we're going to have to distinguish ourselves by saying that we're such-and-such religion, whilst you guys are something-or-another religion, u_u."





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