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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    I came across this term in the Monster Manual V, and it seems interesting. If I understand it correctly, xorvintaal is a chess-like game between a select group of dragons that has been going on for centuries.
    Dragons who take part forfeit their spellcasting ability to get themed abilities for the game, which they use for their advantage during the whole thing.

    Now, I'm planning on basing the next subplot my PCs get when they finish their current arc; however, I'm having trouble thinking off what exactly xorvintaal is.

    The book suggests that moves against another participant's hoard, or basically anything that hurts their treasure is valid, as long as there is no dragon to dragon direct contact. This is what I'm having trouble with, as I'm severed of my connection with my Draconomicon foor the time being, I'm kinda low on draconic information on their MOs, and most subtile actions when attacking socially or in general warfare (if any.)

    That's why I'm asking for some ideas for moves into the xorvintaal game~
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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    I would imagine it to be things like nudging certain Kingdoms to go to war to make it harder for another dragon to increase their horde, also working behind the scenes to get parties of adventurers set against their rivals to steal from or even kill them. Things like that. obviously you'd have to break it down into smaller nuggets, but those are the kind of things I imagine. They literally see lesser beings as pieces on a game board.
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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    You can also go crazy levels of esoteric with it. Say you are the latest pawn in a millennia long bout between a green and black dragon. Your assignment could be something as simple as planting a single acorn, because sometime in the near century it will mature into a full grown tree, able to produce more acorns, and the natural fauna will move in and, as they usually do, potentially feed upon and move about the acorns. This will cause the eventual (over hundreds of years) growth of a forest, which will dampen the expansion of nearby swamp, even potentially leading to a total biome shift, leaving the black dragon without a place to call home, and ultimately resulting in a reduction of hoard.

    See, that's the thing, us humans strain our minds to comprehend things like three dimensional chess. Meanwhile, these giant magical flap-flap lizards are above and beyond any sense of intellect and/or wisdom we will possibly possess. So feel free to make extravagant moves, but also remember that pawns exist on a chess board, and they make small but meaningful moves, too.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Well firstly
    What is the dragon's hoard? Just gold or also lands, taxes, art, books?
    Where do dragons keep their hoard? That anonymous loan to a museum, the donation to a temple so it will gild its dome, the secret room inside the bank's vaults, the deed that gives a king their kingdom...

    A move could then be: having scholars copy a unique text: which might lower or increase the text's worth; or moving a sculpture between museums; or stealing a deed from the Hall of Records; or sending heroes on a quest, which will make the hero fall in love with someone and extend a bloodline the Dragon sees as part ofor their hoard, or strengthen a dynasty's claim to a title, which keeps the seat of power at a particular city.

    A green dragon sends adventurers to find an extremely esoteric riddle: green's foe, a copper, has a fascination for such puzzles. If the riddles resurfaces copper will be distracted

    A gold pushes the worship of Vanus (preventing the assassination of its high priest) because it will push a city to conflict with a nearby goblin tribe, which will slowly force goblins into the caves, making them dig deeper... And into a white's gem hoard: a number of crystal caves... Which will encourage them to trade with elves... Who pay tribute to the gold; or once the goblins are rich, encourage the city to sign a peace with the goblins and open trade with them
    Last edited by Gildedragon; 2017-07-14 at 02:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    A historical look into what the great game really was might help. It was a semi friendly competition between England and Russia in their spheres of influence and across to maintain hegemony. Replace the great powers involved with dragons and boom! A very thematic political struggle ensues.
    Last edited by logic_error; 2017-07-14 at 02:26 PM.

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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Quote Originally Posted by logic_error View Post
    A historical look into what the great game really was might help. It was a semi friendly competition between England and Russia in their spheres of influence and across to maintain hegemony. Replace the great powers involved with dragons and boom! A very thematic political struggle ensues.
    That sounds like something a history major would say.
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    biggrin Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Well this is pretty frickin' cool. I might try to squeeze this into my game.

    I will say, it's going to be incredibly hard to incorporate all the facets of a game on a major scale, like this. That being said, start the session with a little bit of world-building.

    IE: "Rumors have it that Valithion, the Black Dragon, has moved his duergar forces into a mountain hold nearby his treasure trove."
    "The great green dragon of the north beguiled a Cleric of Orcus, and now has the church at his back."

    It would be nearly impossible to give the players all the information in one session/sitting. This sounds like something that would be played out across months and months of weekly sessions, before characters even see repercussions of the dragon's activities.

    That being said, very cool idea, and you've piqued my interest. So now I have to go do research on Xorvintaal. THANKS A LOT!
    Last edited by Maximum Carnage; 2017-07-14 at 03:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    It's basically Calvinball, but with world events, politics, military actions instead of capture the flag. Also, the game never ends.

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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    ... but the truth is, none of it was truly original to men OR to dwarves. You see, modern chess was adapted by humanoid cultures based on what little their scholars and acolytes had learned of Xorvintaal.

    Of the original five hundred and eighty nine (conventional) Xorvintaal pieces, humanoids kept six: the kobold, the lair, the rival, the warrior, the dragon, and (naturally) the hoard.

    These six pieces they named: the pawn, the rook, the bishop, the knight, the queen, and the king, respectively. The new names reflected the aspects of humanoid ambition that parallel draconic ambition.

    Unlike Dragons, who play The Great Game with other creatures to keep their minds from stagnation in their long isolation in their deep lairs, the humanoids could barely master this shallow copy of Xorvintaal much further than as a game played with tokens upon a table.

    A minor note worth making: the humanoid Wizards developed their own version of chess, but most of these games were original adaptations of the mage's own imagination rather than a direct return to Xorvintaal's structure. Essentially, it was the same except that it used larger pieces and employed low level magic.

    As the great Xorvintaal master, Uruugushwai famously observed: "Xorvintaal is not a game of creative thought; the pieces are already laid out before us and the solution is already set in place. Xorvintaal merely exposes our own mastery of The Great Game (or lack thereof)." Since the invention of modern Chess based on the concepts of The Great Game, dragons have held little respect for the strategic prowess of humanoid races, with the exclusive exception ...

    **section of scroll contaminated and ruined from exposure to blood and smoke**
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    What would be amusing as well is to have a Xorvintaal lich. A human lich that, to prevent boredom-induced Demilichdom, has begun to play the Game. Uses illusions to pass as a dragon to other dragons.
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    Player: I'll use a classic ploy. "Help! Guards! He's having a seizure!"
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    DM: It's not even animate, let alone sentient.
    Player: That's ok. I'll take the penalty.

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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gildedragon View Post
    What would be amusing as well is to have a Xorvintaal lich. A human lich that, to prevent boredom-induced Demilichdom, has begun to play the Game. Uses illusions to pass as a dragon to other dragons.
    I assume that whatever process was used to strip down a dragon's spellcasting and give the the powers of the great game would be probably reveal the lich for what he truly is, since there would likely be at least some physical contact which an illusion wouldn't hold up to.

    Also, the whole boredom-induced demilichdom is a pathfinder concept, in 3.5 demilichdom is something a lich must actively work toward, and is a straight upgrade.
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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Pretty much good ideas overall.

    I was seeing it on the short term, but you are correct, hundreds of years are only for a move, not for a conclusion. So I'll take it easy on the misions that the respective dragons will make.

    Thanks :3
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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crake View Post
    I assume that whatever process was used to strip down a dragon's spellcasting and give the the powers of the great game would be probably reveal the lich for what he truly is, since there would likely be at least some physical contact which an illusion wouldn't hold up to.

    Also, the whole boredom-induced demilichdom is a pathfinder concept, in 3.5 demilichdom is something a lich must actively work toward, and is a straight upgrade.
    A lich could still play the game. Not having the temple per se but an NPC in a Xorvintaal campaign
    Also: the previous PF fluff on Demiliches is that they've left their body behind because they're off traveling the Astral; LM (iirc) also talks about lich boredom. The implication being that Liches leave their bodies when they get bored
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    Player: I'll use a classic ploy. "Help! Guards! He's having a seizure!"
    DM: You're the only one in the prison.
    Player: I'm very convincing.
    DM: And there are no guards.
    Player: But there's masonry.
    DM: It's not even animate, let alone sentient.
    Player: That's ok. I'll take the penalty.

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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    I ran a xorvintal arc where a copper dragon got the PCs to hold a fort against a few hundred orc barbarian warblades. The dragon gave them some minor magic items and explained to them that by holding the fort that he got a times 5 multiplier on his score against the local blue dragon. Some players thought it was hilarious how much stress all it was while others felt like it cheapened the arc.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Pushing the PCs to secure building objectives.
    "My town needs to have a world-wonder quality lighthouse before the gold's has a world-wonder quality temple!"

    An amethyst dragon wants the PCs to graffiti the last chamber of some catacombs.

    A silver wants a dry pool restored. Ostensibly because the water heals the injured, but mostly because the pool is fed by melt water: water that is melted off the glacier foundation of a rival white's ice castle.

    A trio of young dragons wishes to find a secure vault for their burgeoning horde

    A Red has turned his horde into bonds and is playing the flower market. You need to push a city into tulipmania. Or find a more popular flower.
    Oooh wishfern greenhouses need to be secured.
    Last edited by Gildedragon; 2017-07-14 at 07:54 PM.

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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gildedragon View Post
    A lich could still play the game. Not having the temple per se but an NPC in a Xorvintaal campaign
    Also: the previous PF fluff on Demiliches is that they've left their body behind because they're off traveling the Astral; LM (iirc) also talks about lich boredom. The implication being that Liches leave their bodies when they get bored
    There's only one mention of boredom in LM and that's related to a sample lich, and as far as I can tell, nothing about leaving their bodies. I'm fairly sure that whole thing is a pathfinder construct, especially the part about them devolving into demiliches if they do it for too long.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Playing a wizard the way GitP says wizards should be played requires the equivalent time and effort investment of a university minor. Do you really want to go down this rabbit hole, or are you comfortable with just throwing a souped-up Orb of Fire at the thing?
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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Nah, from playing 2e I recall the standard fluff on a demilich was boredom / disinterest which led to demilichdom. They were like that from a disinterest in maintaining their physical bodies. 3e went a different way in the fluff, PF is just going back to the classic explanation of them.

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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    Elements of the Great Game

    The following are some of the fragmentary rules, gambits, methods, and principles sages have managed to in some way distill from decades of observing the Great Game in action. Note that the nature of Xorvintaal means that any or all of these might be misinterpretations, false assumptions based on unverified information, or local or conditional rules - the depth of Xorvintaal is simply too great to reasonably appreciate, its rules too ingrained in unspoken tradition and ritual to be accessible.

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    Achthend
    Achthend refers broadly to any gambits initiated in order to bait out other players' intervention, and specifically to a play led off by a ghoros, which pays off no points to the player who intervenes but rewards all those who knew about it and took no action. Certain gambits can never be achthend where some players are concerned, depending on the relationship between a player and their assets and the gambit intended.

    Clax
    Capturing a hoard.


    Durah
    "The Knelt Gambit" is one of the more challenging plays for a dragon to make, as it involves a sacrifice of part of the hoard as a gift to a perceived inferior in exchange for later considerations - effectively "kneeling" or "bowing" when these are concepts loathsome to a dragon's pride. Durah is a painful but sometimes necessary play, in keeping with the golden rule of Xorvintaal - "to win, you must first lose." Offering durah to a stronger player is a weakling's move that costs a great deal of points, and is only successful when the stronger player is sufficiently preoccupied elsewhere so as to make it convenient to accede to the admission of weakness and request for mercy. Otherwise, durah offered to a stronger player is grounds for a dragon-to-dragon challenge. A useful play when trying to salvage a desperate position, but otherwise inadvisable.

    Ghent
    The "continuing gambit," ghent is a non-scoring move made immediately after a success against another player, intended to insult them in some fashion and put them off their game. Ghent can appear subtle to outsiders, and almost always takes the form of small interactions between humanoid agents of the two or more players involved, particularly when small matters of personal pride are involved. Ghent is a taunt and a message and rarely fails to hit its mark with younger and less experienced players, though even some of the oldest and most cunning can be riled by a sufficiently skilled ghent.

    Ghoros
    The "announcing gambit," ghoros may be either legitimate or a clever ruse. It involves declaring to other players which gambit one is about to attempt, with the result being a great capture of points from others if your subsequent play succeeds, or an unfortunate payout to those who listened and took no action if your gambit fails. The subsequent gambit is known as the achthend. Completing a successful "triple" of ghoros, achthend, and ghent is a standard component of Xorvintaal play.

    Haeshra
    Haeshra are both creatures used as playing pieces in the Great Game and the points scored for making use of such creatures to interfere with the plays of others. Haeshra include magical beasts, animals, and most Prime-native aberrations. Scoring haeshra requires that the creature lair within one's territory but not be an exarch, and different scoring seems to apply when one's haeshra scare off the agents of other players as opposed to slaughtering them. Some sages believe that there are seasonal or annual scoring variances that favor particular types of beast on an inscrutable cycle.

    Ierikc
    The most crucial element of Xorvintaal is the ierikc, the "hundred year gambit." Each player should ideally have at least ten different ierikc in progress, and it is understood that the two marks of a well-conceived ierikc are that it progresses without input for at least a decade and that it relies on no exarchs to advance until its concluding years, if then. Being able to discover, guess at, and unravel other players' ierikc is the skill all players of the Great Game pursue.

    Karif'zara
    When an apprentice attempts zara, countering the move before it can be completed is called karif'zara and earns both the svern of the intended zara as well as great oth'svern if the master manipulated the apprentice into the zara attempt in the first place but did so without a verbal suggestion or allusion and within the master's own territory.

    Kosj
    Would-be dragonslayers moved against an opponent for the purpose of irritating them and wasting their time. Kosj are never one's own exarchs, and ideally aren't a substantial investment of time or resources on the part of the initiating player. More experienced players use haeshra and other territorial assets to deal with kosj spam.

    Martivir
    A closed border between the territories of two players, enacted by agreement and upheld for at least a century, martivir is an uncommon tactic best used by players who wish to size up one another or whose territories lack sufficient natural interaction to squander resources on conflicts between their exarchs. Other players may attempt to undermine martivir to gain position through the resultant chaos or will enact an implied martivir in which a territorial feature such as a valley, river, or mountain is avoided without any communication, ideally to be used as a surprise vector for exarch activity at some point in the future. Two players to gain mrith while under martivir (mrith vur martivir) are seen as playing contrary to the spirit of the game, and a serious penalty results in which mrith is invalidated and its points washed away.

    Mrith
    Mrith is one of the seventeen possible preconditions for being counted among the top-scoring players of the Great Game, achieved by completing unsinti or one of a handful of other partnered gambits (but never martivir, which can invalidate but not erase mrith). Many older players disdain mrith as a low-skill route to status and claim that while it results in noteworthy scores, it also eliminates any potential to climb to the top and is effectively an anchor that creates a score ceiling on whoever pursues it.

    Oth'svern
    Oth'svern are points earned by manipulating other dragons to perform actions that result in your scoring points. Normally svern are counted instead of oth'svern when the dragon in question is an apprentice in the Great Game, but certain moves such as the Karif'zara can be used to score a lot of points from one's apprentices.

    Rach
    Cheap and low-value treasure, fake hoards of little value, or other assets considered more costly to obtain than they are worth. Rach is at the center of a number of different and often incongruent rules and gameplay elements, including rare periods during which players are encouraged to collect rach from their "estates" (the so-called "dominion phase"), the common valignat gambit in which players attempt to unload their rach, the sharing-out of rach among non-exarch allies for eventual later gain, and haeshra'rach, a gambit to undermine other players by capturing their nominally undesired rach by way of haeshra introduced into their territory or ambushing their exarchs with intent to kill. Calling clax on rach is normally seen as a humiliating error, one that loses points unless a deeper gambit is being played that pays off. Claxon rach generally results in acquiring the undesirable status and epithet virlymorn (magpie), which cannot be shaken for at least a decade.

    Sveargith
    One of the most daring gambits, sveargith sees a dragon leaving his or her lands for a period of a decade or more, an unguarded hoard remaining in what was once their lair. Sveargith relies on a dragon's reputation within those lands to keep adventurers and other meddlers at bay. A rare move, sveargith is often attempted early by inexperienced players, who learn a harsh lesson about greed as they struggle to rebuild position in the wake of their error. Arcane rules determine what constitutes guarding a hoard for purposes of sveargith scoring, as well as what conditions constitute loss of the hoard.

    Svent
    Any play that eliminates an opponent's exarch without the use of one's own, or one's self, scores svent. False svent plays are inordinately common and tend to be mixed with real attempts. Svent has been known to improve the scores of some gambits while reducing the value of others; how this is determined, sages are uncertain.

    Svern
    Svern are points accrued by an elder player from the successes of players under their tutelage.

    Throden
    Throden is a strange maneuver that costs the player points to execute, involving the division of one's main hoard for apparently defensive purposes. It can be used to feign weakness or as part of more complex maneuvers, ideally calibrated to refund points lost for throden and outflank players who had hoped to take advantage.

    Unsinti
    A rarely-attempted maneuver even more unlikely to be completed successfully, unsinti is collaboration between two players that does not directly target another player, but may target negotiations, compacts and other arrangements between unrelated players or undermine neutral or publicly unclaimed resources and play elements. Unsinti is often feigned to draw out a claim, with the hope to find the claimant overextended, at which point unsinti is broken without scoring and one or both participants may make a play against the claimant (though most often the first to do so becomes the target of the other). Successful unsinti scores mrith, worth many points and a significant gain in status.

    Vaex
    A dragon with some degree of position in the Great Game can create vaex, the right of an underling to count svent on the dragon's behalf. Vaex can be risky, since false vaex can be easy to pick out based on the dragon's own puppet strings being perceptible, while real vaex plays suffer from the need to make a decent separate investment to have a reasonable chance of scoring svent. Some masters use real vaex as feints, issuing false svent plays as part of larger and longer-term gambits in which no svent are intended to be scored.

    Valignat
    Outside of the so-called "dominion phase" that occurs periodically, dragons of the Great Game attempt to improve their hoards by collecting gold, silver, and precious stones. At this time, lesser elements of their hoards (rach) are employed to deceive other dragons into sending their exarchs to steal copper coinage, or spent to supplement one's resources, or invested in local lands to create more prosperity for eventual pillage. This constant process is a low-level, low-effort play technique called valignat, one which few players of any skill would avoid. Only the most skilled, possessed of truly creative and inspired gambits, eschew valignat.

    Vhir
    One of the more complex gambits witnessed by sages, vhir is a calculated play that takes a great deal of time, involving the falsification of a capturable lair and territories with an actual lair concealed within the same boundary of play. Successful vhir requires that the player not only contest the invader's hold above with exarchs and other pawns, but that when the invader is successfully displaced they possessed a lesser hoard within the same territory. The gambit has also been recorded as "the cloud above the castle."

    Zara
    Eventually, apprentice players desire to go off on their own, to play the game without a master and to stop paying svern (particularly so that they might themselves begin collecting svern). The most common move to declare one's independence is a gambit against one's teacher, called zara. Zara can take many forms but typically involves using privileged knowledge or the master's trust to capture part of their hoard.


    Hopefully this gives a few ideas, or at least some color for conversations on the topic. It should always sound obtuse and more than a little utterly mad, after all.
    Last edited by afroakuma; 2017-07-15 at 09:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    The whole point of The Great Game is that it's meant to be beyond the comprehension of petty humanoids. There are arguably two main ways to handle this, though they're related.

    Option A: The players should never really feel like they understand what the hell these dragons are doing.

    Option B: The players should feel like they understand what the dragons are doing, and then they should be periodically shown that they are beyond wrong.

    The tricky part is accomplishing either of these in a way that's actually fun and that doesn't just have the GM acting like a smug jerk. This is nontrivial, and if you don't feel like you can pull off not coming off as a smug jerk, The Great Game probably shouldn't be front and center in your campaign, though it might be in the background.

    On a meta level, Xorvintaal is an excuse to say that basically any random quests or tasks you want to throw at the players are part of oh-so-subtle and oh-so-complex gambits that dragons (visible or background) are playing against each other. It can be interesting as a departure from what is typical (much like the mind flayers of Thoon), but if the GM doesn't know how to sell it, it can come off as silly or unapproachable.
    In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Roc View Post
    Gentlefolk, learn from Zaq's example, and his suffering. Remember, seven out of eleven players who use truenamer lose their ability to taste ice cream.
    Come join the Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground E6 Appetizer Edition! We're currently cooking for round 31. Everyone is welcome!

    My compiled Iron Chef stuff!

    Queer pride isn't limited to one month!

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    Default Re: Xorvintaal, the Great Game.

    It seems like a giant game of civ 5 the dragons are playing lol.

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