Is The Pathfinder Setting Ethically Problematic?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Don't be surprised, Citizen Seven, if you are visited by the Stinking Buzzard Commando Squad later tonight.

Cool, late night snack. Goblin tastes great when they've been working themselves into a rage all day.


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Cori Marie wrote:
That is exactly the agony of being transgender. Which is why it absolutely is a cursed item for 95% of the populace. I, on the other hand, would pay very good money for it.

This is the reason I used brought up the item originally. I think it certainly says something that an item which would be very important to some people, is considered a curse for 95% of all other people. As if the very state of being in conflict of one's gender (whether magically induced or not) is "naturally" a curse.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

@ OP: I am not going to say you are wrong to feel like that advertisement is racist. It is a feeling you got argueing that is pretty silly. Also I can see how you could draw that conclusion. But I will say this in my 30+ years of gaming and reading many different novels Golarion is probably the most inclusive world I have come across. I hope you will read more into the setting.

Also as a fan of the setting that wishes it will do well I thank you for coming here and posting your observations. You did not have to take the the time to do so. Knowing the Pazio staff as I have seen I don't think it will fall on deaf ears.


One man's curse can be other man's blessing. Every curse you can name it, there is someone that could enjoy it or has lived with it the entire life and don't consider itself cursed at all (and would be even offended by the idea). Dumbness, weakness, uglyness, clumsiness, pain, sadness, bad luck, etc... Gender Change COULD be a curse, as everything else. How many people considered gifted by everyone actually consider it a curse (even a certain Aasimar did), extreme beauty, high intelligence, richness, immortality, lack of sense of pain, etc....
Here in Brazil, we have a saying, " Beware of too much complaint, you might actually get it".


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, I guess the Necklace of Strangulation may be of interest to people with the right fetish. For a minute or so.


Annabel wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
That is exactly the agony of being transgender. Which is why it absolutely is a cursed item for 95% of the populace. I, on the other hand, would pay very good money for it.
This is the reason I used brought up the item originally. I think it certainly says something that an item which would be very important to some people, is considered a curse for 95% of all other people. As if the very state of being in conflict of one's gender (whether magically induced or not) is "naturally" a curse.

But isn't that sort of how it is treated: A conflict between one's gender identity and physical gender is "naturally" a curse. Or at least a problem to resolve. Once we tried to resolve it by forcing people to conform to their physical gender, now changing the physical gender to match the identity is becoming more common.

Still, for the vast majority of people, a sudden change in their physical gender would create the same conflict: gender identity not the same as physical gender. A small minority would have that conflict removed by the change, but for most it would be a curse.

As far as the item goes mechanically:
I'd assume the "curse" has more to do with the "happens whether you want it to or not, is permanent unless reversed by magic" nature than with any idea that it's always a bad thing.

A version that operated at will wouldn't be cursed.


magnuskn wrote:
Well, I guess the Necklace of Strangulation may be of interest to people with the right fetish. For a minute or so.

In one way or the other.

Liberty's Edge

Matthew Morris wrote:

It's ok Gorbaz, I understand that you can't see the connections. Mayhaps if you read a bit on the persecution of lefties, you'd be enlightened. That it wasn't/isn't legislated doesn't mean it was done.

Or are you arguing discrimination against a group is only 'bad' if the Government does it?

It's not a matter of not seeing the connections. It's a matter of refusing (rightly, I think) to give equal weight to both wrongs.

Any stigma or discrimination suffered by people as a result of their being left-handed is wrong.

Discrimination suffered by people as a result of their gender identity is also wrong, and has resulted in murder being committed against transgendered people.

They're both wrong. Until there are a bunch of people being beaten to death for being left-handed, though, they're not equal.

Wrong. Not equal.

"Slapping someone in the face is wrong."
"Blowing up an orphanage is wrong."
"How on earth can we get worked up over exploding orphanages, when people are getting slapped in the face?"

That's the problem with giving equal weight to every connection.

Liberty's Edge

Matthew Morris wrote:
Lefties still face difficulties. Heck, every time I move, I have to reconfgure my desk because the movers' default configuration is for a right handed person.

My apologies. I had no real idea just how much suffering you've had to endure just for being left-handed.

Stay strong.


As for the OP, huh?

I've seen the poster and thought it was cool. It shows some of the most interesting adventure locations in the Inner Sea, just the sort of thing to get me interested in the campaign world. I don't find it racist, discriminatory, or anything else. And honestly, even if it is, so what?

I have yet to see any fantasy setting that didn't offend someone or put a certain group in a bad light. Fanatical inquisitors and scheming viziers aren't politically correct, but they are fun to have in stories. And ultimately, that is what this is about, having a fun time.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Removed a post. No need to criticize people for posting about a part of the discussion that's since been resolved. Be nice. :)

Dark Archive

Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
...Except for all of that rampant anti-goblin bigotry...

And anti-dwarven sentiments often displayed on these boards! Not to mention that most (especially those Taldorian dandies and Andoran dunderheads!) posters do not admit the superiority of Cheliax or Asmodeus! ;P

Liberty's Edge

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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
...Except for all of that rampant anti-goblin bigotry...
Asgetrion wrote:
And anti-dwarven sentiments often displayed on these boards!

Goblins and dwarves are fine. It's the goblin-dwarf hybrids that I find distasteful...

Contributor

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Andrew R wrote:
The vast majority of people find gender changing to be bad, isn't that the whole agony of the transgender being stuck in the wrong body? Lycanthropy is a curse but you will find people that would desperately want it if it really existed.

Being stuck in a body that doesn't match significant portions of your brain architecture is agony, yes.

But the belt of gender changed, being cursed or not is subject to some intricacies. It's going to be a curse for some, and a manifest blessing for others depending on certain things.

Would a polymorph spell or a belt of gender changing alter those brain portions responsible for gender identity though? Changing your gender without your having a choice in the matter would be terrible, and then on top of that, if it altered your internal gender identification or not to match or not match the new body it gave you, that would be a key thing in determining if it was bad or outright insidious.

Blanket calling it a cursed item without providing answers to those details is problematic. Without addressing what is changed versus not, and given the differences in how the end result would be perceived by either a cis or transgendered wearer of the object is what makes it best to not call it cursed.


Cori Marie wrote:
That is exactly the agony of being transgender. Which is why it absolutely is a cursed item for 95% of the populace. I, on the other hand, would pay very good money for it.

I mean, I'd give it a shot if it were that easy.


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A podcast of the panel on Diversity in Gaming from Paizocon is up at Know Direction.

Features James Sutter, Judy Bauer and Chris Self.

Edit to add: Interesting quote from Sutter at around the 21 minute mark, that's somewhat relevant to some of the discussions in this thread:

"I think it's often really easy to let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

The full quote:
"I think it's often really easy to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Because sometimes it feels good to be righteously angry when you know that you're on the side of progress and justice and change. It's easy to demonize the other side. But the problem we run into then is that then you, when you totally vilify the other side, and otherize them, then suddenly, you're not able to bring anybody else onto your side. And so, like I was saying, the reason I started off with a story about being wrong is because, I think the way that we all win in the end is to really talk to the people who have the other viewpoints, or don't necessarily realize that it's a problem, and find ways to explain why it's a problem and bring them over to the idea that, y'know, diversity is important, and people need to feel accepted within this game."

Liberty's Edge

On the whole "ickiness" and homophobia bit:

I came across a word the other day (the other day being two or three years ago, but who's counting) - squicky.

Squicky was coined, as far as I know, in the LGBTQ and rad-fem communities to describe something that "isn't for me" without the value judgement attached to "icky" or "gross" or "disgusting" or "disturbing" etc.

I think baklava is squicky. I also think *insert your chosen sexual practice here* is squicky. I don't hate either of them. They just aren't my thing. Simple. Quick. No associated stigma.


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The Shining Fool wrote:

On the whole "ickiness" and homophobia bit:

I came across a word the other day (the other day being two or three years ago, but who's counting) - squicky.

Squicky was coined, as far as I know, in the LGBTQ and rad-fem communities to describe something that "isn't for me" without the value judgement attached to "icky" or "gross" or "disgusting" or "disturbing" etc.

I think baklava is squicky. I also think *insert your chosen sexual practice here* is squicky. I don't hate either of them. They just aren't my thing. Simple. Quick. No associated stigma.

As far as I understood it squicky is the combination of sick and icky. TV tropes has more Here


The NPC wrote:
The Shining Fool wrote:

On the whole "ickiness" and homophobia bit:

I came across a word the other day (the other day being two or three years ago, but who's counting) - squicky.

Squicky was coined, as far as I know, in the LGBTQ and rad-fem communities to describe something that "isn't for me" without the value judgement attached to "icky" or "gross" or "disgusting" or "disturbing" etc.

I think baklava is squicky. I also think *insert your chosen sexual practice here* is squicky. I don't hate either of them. They just aren't my thing. Simple. Quick. No associated stigma.

As far as I understood it squicky is the combination of sick and icky. TV tropes has more Here

No don't TVTropes me! D:

Now I'm gonna be there all night, Desna dammnit >:[

Liberty's Edge

Ahhh...it may have changed since I first encountered it, or the community I was in was using it idiosyncratically. That's too bad, because it had been a good word.


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When I first encountered the word, crica 1993, squick was used as an emote, to indicate a cringing, horrified disgust. I was an early adopter of "to squick," meaning to recoil from your insides all the way to your outsides. Squick is to the viscera what a desire to claw out one's eyes is to unwelcome visions. I would not consider it a neutral word, and if it ever had such a sense, it was by overuse.

My mother taught me the way the proper way to indicate horrified disgust without conveying negativity toward others: "No, thank you."


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think we are forgetting something about that belt that I do think makes it a cursed item. Does it not a percentage chance of of completely removing you biological sex?

I would imagine that would move into curse territory.

But really there is a couple of ways to change your sex...heck I think polymorph objext would make the change perament.


Quote:
If the character's saving throw is a natural 1, the item actually removes all gender from the wearer, giving him an androgynous, neutered appearance.

Yes, it does, and some days I wish I could get my hands on it so that it would.

As with any change, not a curse to everybody.


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Maybe I should start a new thread for this question... Assuming the girdle is re-written as a non-cursed item, what new cursed item should replace it? What about a cursed belt that "reincarnates" (without dying) the PC/NPC... so not just gender could be changed, but humanoid type as well? Perhaps the change isn't random, and the new form comes with memories from a previous creature who, say, died before they could achieve their fated purpose? So long as it leads the PCs on a sidequest to the Outer Planes and Pharasma's court... or some protean plot... or something. And Todd Stewart gets to write it up as a 64-page module. :)

Dark Archive

Todd Stewart wrote:
Would a polymorph spell or a belt of gender changing alter those brain portions responsible for gender identity though?

As a 'cursed' item, it would probably make sense that a girdle would not work on someone who *wanted* to change physical gender (recognizing that their gender identity was not the same as their current physical gender). But that assumes that the 'curse' magic would be able to divine such things, or would be keyed to gender identification, and not physical gender.


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Kind of digging what Set suggested. Let's a cursed item stay a cursed item.

Whenever I took the girdle off the belt loving ogre I would always put it on an evil party member who I was planning on kicking out of the party later. I assume the reference is obvious.


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Set wrote:
As a 'cursed' item, it would probably make sense that a girdle would not work on someone who *wanted* to change physical gender (recognizing that their gender identity was not the same as their current physical gender). But that assumes that the 'curse' magic would be able to divine such things, or would be keyed to gender identification, and not physical gender.

I agree, its a cursed item, because its disguised as something else to entrap a user, and it makes a major modification to a person which in most situations would be quite unpleasant for various reasons (personal identity, relationships, etc.).

There are many items labelled as cursed which can be beneficial for a small minority. A helm of opposite alignment is perfect for someone battling their evil inclinations and seeking redemption. Likewise a ring of truth could be a blessing for a compulsive liar who wants to join a religion that preaches the virtue of telling the truth. Even something like a robe of immolation would be beneficial for a creature that is healed by fire.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
To jump back to something someone said earlier about the girdle of opposite gender: It was indeed unfortunate that we forgot to move that out of cursed items when we moved from 3.5 to Pathfinder. I presume that the thinking was "well, it's still cursed because you often put it on without knowing what it does and then have a hard time removing the effects," but the term "cursed" is loaded and problematic.
That particular item was left out of the Core Rulebook for a reason. (Probably more than one reason, actually.) We also nixed it from Munchkin Pathfinder, where it would have been a curse card. (Gender changing is a not-uncommon mechanic in regular Munchkin.)

Well yes, left out of the Core Rulebook, but it is in the Advanced Player's Guide, although out of alphabetical order, between the Hat of Hatreds and the Planar Invasion Shield. Also, "gender changes" is on the list of random cursed items drawbacks in the Core Rulebook.

Shadow Lodge

I just wanted to say I think you guys are doing a stellar job of interacting with your community, where a lot of others wouldn't even tolerate the discussion.

Good on you, Paizo.


Grollub wrote:


ps. being a sentient ape would be awesome in RL...

Unless you're an alien or something equally unexpected, you ARE a sentient ape.

Ooky Ook!


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here you go


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Statistically, that's how almost all forms of life we know of work. Like how almost all forms of life we know of require food and respiration... but you're not suggesting any pro-food or pro-respiration bias by Paizo. I think you're seeing a gender-binary bias that isn't there.

Glad someone necro'd this, cause this might be the defining SKR quote of the SKR era in my mind.


END EUKARYOTE TYRANNY! PROKARYOTES UNITE!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dude, why necro this thread? It was stupid last year, already.


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WillowX wrote:

Then I looked at Not-Africa, and it wasn't funny anymore.

...

Thus, especially in the context of centuries of institutionalized abuse of Afrcian peoples by European ones, it seems particularly problematic that the people of central Africa (and therefore Black People in general) are depicted as either Pirates, Talking Apes, or Gnolls.

This is incredibly racist.

Yes, that is indeed incredibly racist. I can't believe you would make such a racist claim. Sheesh. Never once have I ever looked at gnolls and thought "gee, these savage sentient-creature eating hyena people sure do remind me of Africans or 'black people'" (as a general rule I tend to try to avoid thinking of people as skin colors because it's about as dumb as thinking of people as hair colors, plus I've never actually seen a black or white person except as a weird hybrid mask in drama pictures...).

And wow, talking apes remind you have Africans? That's harsh. Talking apes remind me of A) the Jungle Book, B) Tarzan, C) a villain from the superfriends, D) a sign language using gorilla from a 90s movie, E) planet of the apes, F) druids ('cause I've been influenced by RPGs! :O). Never once imagined a talking monkey and said "Hey, you know what this reminds me of? My friend I play Magic the Gathering with on the weekends!"

So what does that make lizardfolk?

Yeah, I smell racism in the air, and it's the worst kind of racism.


Ashiel wrote:
WillowX wrote:

Then I looked at Not-Africa, and it wasn't funny anymore.

...

Thus, especially in the context of centuries of institutionalized abuse of Afrcian peoples by European ones, it seems particularly problematic that the people of central Africa (and therefore Black People in general) are depicted as either Pirates, Talking Apes, or Gnolls.

This is incredibly racist.

Yes, that is indeed incredibly racist. I can't believe you would make such a racist claim. Sheesh. Never once have I ever looked at gnolls and thought "gee, these savage sentient-creature eating hyena people sure do remind me of Africans or 'black people'" (as a general rule I tend to try to avoid thinking of people as skin colors because it's about as dumb as thinking of people as hair colors, plus I've never actually seen a black or white person except as a weird hybrid mask in drama pictures...).

And wow, talking apes remind you have Africans? That's harsh. Talking apes remind me of A) the Jungle Book, B) Tarzan, C) a villain from the superfriends, D) a sign language using gorilla from a 90s movie, E) planet of the apes, F) druids ('cause I've been influenced by RPGs! :O). Never once imagined a talking monkey and said "Hey, you know what this reminds me of? My friend I play Magic the Gathering with on the weekends!"

So what does that make lizardfolk?

Yeah, I smell racism in the air, and it's the worst kind of racism.

Ashiel, you know you're responding to a post from last year. The OP isn't paying attention and you're making an argument that was already made over and over the first time around.

Of course if you're just trying to reignite the racism flamewar, please proceed.


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Snark Victory wrote:
here you go

That's great.

I think Paizo should use that as their marketing poster. It would sell me on it.


thejeff wrote:

Ashiel, you know you're responding to a post from last year. The OP isn't paying attention and you're making an argument that was already made over and over the first time around.

Of course if you're just trying to reignite the racism flamewar, please proceed.

Actually nope, I hadn't noticed that at all. Oh well. In either case I still think that the OP displays appalling racism. Seriously I've never once looked at another human being and thought "gnoll". >:(

IMHO, drawing lines in the sand around us only pushes the "us" and "they" mindset that results in racism in the first place. The idea that other people are not like you and are outsiders to your specific "kind". It pushes a tribal-mindset where at best you have peace with other tribes rather than unity as a people.

We're all human beings. Trying to split us into subgroups is pointless and damaging to use as a people and as a species.


thejeff wrote:
Snark Victory wrote:
here you go

That's great.

I think Paizo should use that as their marketing poster. It would sell me on it.

+1. That is the best poster ever. XD


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Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Ashiel, you know you're responding to a post from last year. The OP isn't paying attention and you're making an argument that was already made over and over the first time around.

Of course if you're just trying to reignite the racism flamewar, please proceed.

Actually nope, I hadn't noticed that at all. Oh well. In either case I still think that the OP displays appalling racism. Seriously I've never once looked at another human being and thought "gnoll". >:(

I'll give the rebuttal that I and others used earlier, but I'm not going to get drawn further back into this:

I don't think the OP looked at the gnoll or the gorilla and thought: Those remind me of black people. He looked at the map, saw the pattern that suggested Garund was an African analogue (which it blatantly is) and saw that the sub-Saharan analogue as represented by gnolls and gorillas and that black people were conspicuously absent.

That's not racism. That's drawing an obvious inference.


thejeff wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Ashiel, you know you're responding to a post from last year. The OP isn't paying attention and you're making an argument that was already made over and over the first time around.

Of course if you're just trying to reignite the racism flamewar, please proceed.

Actually nope, I hadn't noticed that at all. Oh well. In either case I still think that the OP displays appalling racism. Seriously I've never once looked at another human being and thought "gnoll". >:(

I'll give the rebuttal that I and others used earlier, but I'm not going to get drawn further back into this:

I don't think the OP looked at the gnoll or the gorilla and thought: Those remind me of black people. He looked at the map, saw the pattern that suggested Garund was an African analogue (which it blatantly is) and saw that the sub-Saharan analogue as represented by gnolls and gorillas and that black people were conspicuously absent.

That's not racism. That's drawing an obvious inference.

That seems like a stretch to me. Seems like something you needed to be thinking ahead of time to make the inference to begin with. For example, I didn't make that association when I saw the poster. Nor did I assume the Paizo was implying that people from Transylvania are all blood-sucking undead monsters even though the poster depicts vampires in Ustalav.

What did occur to me however is that I don't really know a better place to put hyena men and talking gorillas than an African-inspired location (since y'know, hyenas and gorillas come from AFRICA). And honestly I think "here be the savage hyena men and the talking gorillas" is a better draw for a fantasy RPG than "here be black people".

Maybe I'm just crazy like that.


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My problem with the thread title/question is, it presupposes racism on Paizo's part, which, if you know Paizo's work at all, just isn't an issue. To the OP's credit, he asked, rather than making up his mind having viewed the poster once.


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you all are better than this


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Better than this? To quote The Underminer, "I am always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me!" :P


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Ashiel wrote:


And wow, talking apes remind you have Africans? That's harsh. Talking apes remind me of A) the Jungle Book, B) Tarzan, C) a villain from the superfriends, D) a sign language using gorilla from a 90s movie, E) planet of the apes, F) druids ('cause I've been influenced by RPGs! :O). Never once imagined a talking monkey and said "Hey, you know what this reminds me of? My friend I play Magic the Gathering with on the weekends!"

So what does that make lizardfolk?

As a Cajun, I am concerned with where this may be headed.


Snark Victory wrote:
here you go

Thank you. Thank you very much.


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Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Ashiel, you know you're responding to a post from last year. The OP isn't paying attention and you're making an argument that was already made over and over the first time around.

Of course if you're just trying to reignite the racism flamewar, please proceed.

Actually nope, I hadn't noticed that at all. Oh well. In either case I still think that the OP displays appalling racism. Seriously I've never once looked at another human being and thought "gnoll". >:(

I'll give the rebuttal that I and others used earlier, but I'm not going to get drawn further back into this:

I don't think the OP looked at the gnoll or the gorilla and thought: Those remind me of black people. He looked at the map, saw the pattern that suggested Garund was an African analogue (which it blatantly is) and saw that the sub-Saharan analogue as represented by gnolls and gorillas and that black people were conspicuously absent.

That's not racism. That's drawing an obvious inference.

That seems like a stretch to me. Seems like something you needed to be thinking ahead of time to make the inference to begin with. For example, I didn't make that association when I saw the poster. Nor did I assume the Paizo was implying that people from Transylvania are all blood-sucking undead monsters even though the poster depicts vampires in Ustalav.

What did occur to me however is that I don't really know a better place to put hyena men and talking gorillas than an African-inspired location (since y'know, hyenas and gorillas come from AFRICA). And honestly I think "here be the savage hyena men and the talking gorillas" is a better draw for a fantasy RPG than "here be black people".

Maybe I'm just crazy like that.

Because who needs black people in fantasy, right?

But you're right in part. Talking gorillas are a draw and they belong in not-Africa. (Gnolls, meh, whatever.) Maybe they should replace all the European types in the north with cool non-humans.
OTOH, having those non-humans as the only visible representations in Central Africa and having no representations of black Africans at all, I don't think seeing a racist slant in that is itself racist. If there had been another nation represented by an image of a black African, I doubt it would have come up.

It's also hard to imagine what a first impression would be like. You and I are both familiar with Paizo and Golarion. We know the setting has depth and we know that Paizo isn't racist. This is a poster, a marketing tool. It's going to be some people's first impression. That needs a little extra care.


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Wait, there aren't any Black people in central Garund? Where the hell did all the Mawangi go?

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