Post apocalyptic setting


Advice


Hi all

I'm after some guidance for my DM.

He's running a post apocalyptic setting using Pathfinder. Its the same fantasy setting, with a little bit like Mad Max.

We're running into issues with equipment where he has his own system (in his head), not written down for rolling randomly based on the size of the city and level of resourcing. It also involves running around and hunting down each individual item, wasting an 1hr of character time for each dice roll.

I've tried suggest the system is completely unworkable as is. It does not scale, it forces players to practically beg for equipment every time we roll. He's said he wants to capture the post-apocalyptic feel. I've also said that if certain characters have builds in mind then it will screw them. It also marginalises characters who are hopelessly dependent on equipment to bring them up to par to tackle CR appropriate encounters (like a Fighter that I am playing).

To give an example of the random nature of loot allocation, we were originally slaves and have staged a jailbreak. I've got masterwork full plate, masterwork glaive and battleaxe. Yet, I can't get my hands on a lucerne hammer. We also have no magic items yet. He claims that low level magic items are hard but big items we will have to hunt for (which is reasonable).

I've tried to suggest overlaying a random % chance over the top of the standard rules based on the population size, rather than come up with a completely different system. This would a slight blip in the usual rules, still allow us to follow the main rules but make access to certain equipment problematic but not impossible. So far but he seems rather convinced his system is better.

We're only level 2 and I can only imagine the problem will get worse once magic items get into the picture.

He's a good DM however. He is reasonable, open to ideas and is very good at creating an immersive world setting. However, he is not slavishly devoted to the rules and often goes off the beaten path a bit with house rules, which can throw a spanner in the works for those like myself who like to have a bit of planning in our characters.

Does anyone have any references or material (official or otherwise) we can draw upon to cover these sorts of campaigns where technology and magic is rare and hard to come by? I was thinking something like Dark Sun or Eberron would have some good examples. This cannot be a rare problem I'm sure.

Appreciate any help I can get. Thanks :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For a bit of wackiness, White Wolf publishing did make a D20 Gamma World for D&D 3.0, which can be converted to Pathfinder with a bit of work.

Dark Archive

Funny, I hate campaigns where I cannot.buy the.gear I want. I feel the.market price means that if you can afford to pay that much, it means you can afford to find someone selling it. But your GM's take.on a.post apocalypse setting would.lead me.to somehow.accept that.I.have to somehow.find a way to survive with what I got and.can scavenge or salvage. If society has collapsed, you have.to be worried about just finding.food because distribution is now gone. Even if you hunt, an apocalypse means there is little to no safety, makes it a little hard to justify the expectation of finding.exactly what weapon/tool/magic.item you want. The roads were dangerous before collapse, think how dangerous they must be.now

I hate how almost every game I play.where I cannot simply buy.what I.want, I next to never , ever find anything tbat I want. That Leads to either to being.massively under equipped.because I.keep passing.onist.items. hoping something good will come along and the.group is.them cool with me.taking.it cause I passed up much, or I end up with nothing but boring big 6 items.

But somehow, I.all of a sudden would find the lack of.PA equipment choice a meficin I was.willing to swallow.just.to get a taste of the setting theme. Yes, I am a.fallout junkie.

Sovereign Court

Apocalypse World is super cheap and is designed for a post apocalyptic setting. Anyways, good luck.


Tell me about it. I threatened to retrain as a Ranger and take Craft (boyer),(fletcher) and (leatherworking) and make my own bows, arrows and armor and tell him to stick his rules where the sun don't shine...lol.

The reason I'm playing a Fighter is I can't recall ever playing one and I was challenged by another player to play one. The gauntlet has been thrown, and so I don't want to back down.

But it's hillarious, every situation I look at I keep thinking "Gee I wish I picked Ranger" or "A Cavalier would have done well here". I think that's normal for a Fighter though. You're never the *best* choice but you are always solid.


If you're really having issues with the post apocalyptic campaign then I highly suggest focusing on crafting. It doesn't matter if you can't find or buy what you want if you can just make it.

The setting most closely designed as post-apocalyptic is Greyhawk, probably, and it's not really much of one. The idea behind Greyhawk was that magic items were created by civilizations that came before and multiple earth-rending cataclysms killed the previous hyper-advanced civilization, then the next one that cropped up, then the next one, etc. leaving behind magic items of varying levels of power. If it doesn't sound familiar, it's the default setting for D&D 1e-3.5e. Eberron is post WWI industrialization, Forgotten Realms is high fantasy, and Dark Sun is scorched wasteland. It has a metal scarcity and rules concerning magic but it's not a post-apocalyptic world because the world was always like this. Less Fallout, more John Carter.

If you're looking for inspiration, honestly, Fallout New Vegas is ridiculously fun and a decent example of post-apocalyptic. For full effect turn on hardcore mode so you have to constantly make the choice between dying of thirst/hunger or poisoning yourself with radiation. Fair warning, you as a player may not want to play a campaign based on tracking all that mundane stuff and half of it killing you slowly.

If you're just looking for something from the GM it really depends on what they want. If they want a "use whatever we have, toss it if we pick up better" campaign then you're never going to get what you want. If they gave you the armor, reach weapon, and weapon as a form of starting equipment, maybe they just didn't realize you wanted a different reach weapon and you can just ask. I mean, it really seems like they intentionally gave you starting equipment, maybe they just didn't realize you wanted different equipment. Still suggest crafting either way.


I told the DM upfront my Lucerne Hammer build. I don't think he's really interested in pandering to one player's build. The other players are much more laissez faire with their builds and will roll with it. I've decided to flex my build and abandon my original idea but I've told my DM outright I don't want to get a feat and sit on it for 3 levels either, unable to use it (e.g. Exotic Weapon Proficiency Bastard Sword).


You're going to have to make things. Period.

The way the game works is that your stuff advances with you, that's how it's built and how it works. There is nothing particularly WRONG with that.

An allegorical tangent: Lotta fantasy and fiction has the "trusty (insert weapon/tool here)" which tends to do supernatural things (even if it isn't "magic") and in the hands of the Protagonist is totally awesome. It is a standard trope, it is probably one of the things the GM wants to "capture" with his low-magic* campaign. The problem is those kinds of settings either have the protagonist start and finish his adventure with about the same level of phenomenal skill/power, or "unlock the power of the (tool)" by upgrading it or the things he can do with it over time. And no, "the things he can do with it" are not covered merely by leveling up.

To bring this back home, in a post-apocalyptic world the character either has to plot-conveniently find items and tools that contually upgrade the same "track". Even if you bow to randomness at first, your MW bastard sword at level 1 means you need a +7 bastard sword at level 17. That is how the "rules of narrative" mesh with the rules of Pathfinder. And let us not mince words, he wants you to have random loot because he doesn't want players feeling "entitled" or "getting special treatment for the build they found on the boards" because "Roll-play is BadWrongFun and Role-play is king." That is what this sort of thing is always about, and though that is not WRONG it requires flex from the GM as well as from the players. PCs need to be able to (cheaply) re-train their builds when the Awesome Swordsman gets handed a superior quality Glaive of Amazing, or get access to ways to enchant or improve their own gear. Otherwise you are hamstringing characters, ESPECIALLY the already-underpowered melee-martials, for a plot device that doesn't really make for good storytelling.

Because make no mistake, "random" doesn't mean "interesting" or "spontaneous." It just means "random." Interesting and spontaneous come from other sources which are only vaguely associated with "random."

More to the point, having to waste days or weeks of downtime to find or craft things isn't actually going to make the game more fun or more immersive. Okay, sometimes items won't be found, but having the PC roll and then consulting a table, be it real or one in your head based on animal spirits and your changeable moods is not actually going to "capture the feel." The "feel" that is wanted is a character wandering a bazaar for several hours, talking with strange merchants and watching them play their part as the haggler, the swindler, the fair-tradesman, or whatever. It is in blathering with someone for 2 hours over ale before finally getting pointed in a direction. It is finding the one traveling smith from (insert city here) who has/can make what the character actually wants (but perhaps the price is more than money), striking out for the day, or finding something else that is worth the character's while.

But setting that kind of thing up means writing up a character, having more plot than a random table will provide, and most importantly it means there's no real need to have a complicated table of what can or can't be found. You can still use one if you want, but unless you are playing it out all you are doing is deciding how much time the character wastes in-game before admitting that it isn't there or giving them what they want.

Anyway, fighter is always underpowered anyway.

Edit: Going to take that Bazaar point a bit further. Not being able to commission things you know about is silly. Heck, MOST quality weapons were custom-jobs when they first got made. Moreover it is a great place to get plot hooks and side-quests. The Weaponsmith who makes a deal to escort his oldest apprentice back to his hometown (party was going there anyway) and in exchange he'll make this hammer. Or clear the rats out of a basement, or find his lucky hammer, or get the necessary metal, whatever. If there is a city it will have an industry, and quite frankly there is no real difference between post-apocalyptic economy/industry and medieval economy/industry. The only POSSIBLE difference is that post-apocalypse should occasionally be better off because they sometimes find cool relics while the medieval setting never made that stuff in the first place.

*I am making an effort to keep this civil, I find the so-called "gritty" or "low power, more thematic" campaigns to be detestable for a number of reasons.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Grokk_Bloodfist wrote:

Hi all

I'm after some guidance for my DM.

He's running a post apocalyptic setting using Pathfinder. Its the same fantasy setting, with a little bit like Mad Max.

We're running into issues with equipment where he has his own system (in his head), not written down for rolling randomly based on the size of the city and level of resourcing. It also involves running around and hunting down each individual item, wasting an 1hr of character time for each dice roll.

I've tried suggest the system is completely unworkable as is. It does not scale, it forces players to practically beg for equipment every time we roll. He's said he wants to capture the post-apocalyptic feel. I've also said that if certain characters have builds in mind then it will screw them. It also marginalises characters who are hopelessly dependent on equipment to bring them up to par to tackle CR appropriate encounters (like a Fighter that I am playing).

Your basic problem is you are trying to play a character that doesn't fit the setting. Your DM is looking to run a campaign with equipment and supply scarcity as it's major theme, in other words, a survival camapign. Lots of concepts and classes simply will not fit.


You say he's a good GM, so go on this ride with him for a while. Give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Maybe wait until some point during level 3 to see if things start to get moving. If and when you feel like you have given the campaign a fair shot, and you are still not having fun, then thell him that you have given it a shot and that you are not having fun.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
You say he's a good GM, so go on this ride with him for a while. Give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Maybe wait until some point during level 3 to see if things start to get moving. If and when you feel like you have given the campaign a fair shot, and you are still not having fun, then thell him that you have given it a shot and that you are not having fun.

With respect, I am playing a Fighter with the Two Handed Archetype. That's pretty universal. If that can't fit in his setting then I submit it isn't my character that is the problem.

Yeah I think I will try to 3rd level and see. There's a few niggling things I am not happy with. Unfortunately I nearly always DM and need a break, nobody else wants to DM. So if he won't do it that will be it I'm afraid.

I don't mind a post apocalyptic setting. It's just the rules and playstyle as they stand are untenable. So something needs to change.


Hmm. I understand the predicament, but was trying for optimism. I guess you'll have to focus on getting enjoyment out of role playing your fighter.

It's not a fix per se, but something I have gone twice when I had a character I regretted making for a game was to develop personality aspects that were the most fun to RP. You have spent a lot of time running games, so surely the are done NPCs from you past you loved RPing. Figure out what made them fun.


I like my character and concept. I think it fits his setting. I also like the world setting thus far, antagonists he's set for us and the NPCs.

My problem is dealing with equipment.

It will be a long hard slog, irrespective of class, and zero fun to the PCs while he waxes and wanes about the trials of tribulations of obtaining equipment while the players yawn "whatever dude let's skip this part".


I kind of enjoy playing through some of that stuff for the first couple levels. For example, the first time you have to survive a storm, the first time you negotiate with merchants, the first time you find your way through the mountain pass. But, as I'm sure you know, after that the GM should assume that the characters have learned how to overcome the ordeal and in the future the exact details can be glossed over, or perhaps the degree of success determined with a die roll. Game time should be spent on the details of new challenges or doing things that the group enjoys spending extra time on.


Uh, if you're such a universal character than how are you having trouble? Pretty sure I saw two-handed weapons (or ones you could two-hand) in the equipment you were given. Isn't that all you need? Some good heavy armor too. If this is actually a complaint solely because of the lucerne hammer, that's pretty petty. If this is a complaint because the loot is random, again, that's a stylistic choice by the GM. If this is a complaint that they take too long to do the rolls and generate the loot, yeah, that one's a valid complaint. That's what prerolling is for. But if this complaint is just because you want one specific loot and the GM has decided that all loot is random then you, the player, are not a good match for his setting. Not the character, the player. Your GM clearly has and is enamored of their own loot generation system, unless you can demonstrate some major flaw in it they're going to keep using it. Since even if it was written down there's no reason to show players it there's no way you can argue against it as you have no way to know what it is.


My current third level character has no magic items, and only recently saved up for mw armor. There are only a few magic items in the whole party. I don't think your GM is obligated to hand them out at 2nd level.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Uh, if you're such a universal character than how are you having trouble? Pretty sure I saw two-handed weapons (or ones you could two-hand) in the equipment you were given. Isn't that all you need? Some good heavy armor too. If this is actually a complaint solely because of the lucerne hammer, that's pretty petty. If this is a complaint because the loot is random, again, that's a stylistic choice by the GM. If this is a complaint that they take too long to do the rolls and generate the loot, yeah, that one's a valid complaint. That's what prerolling is for. But if this complaint is just because you want one specific loot and the GM has decided that all loot is random then you, the player, are not a good match for his setting. Not the character, the player. Your GM clearly has and is enamored of their own loot generation system, unless you can demonstrate some major flaw in it they're going to keep using it. Since even if it was written down there's no reason to show players it there's no way you can argue against it as you have no way to know what it is.

He hasn't documented his system - and I'm not sure he will. It's in his head. He just tells us what to roll and when. He explained that it is an hour each time we seek a piece of gear.

Fair call on the lucerne hammer. What weapon should I go for then? Greatsword? Longsword? Should I be weapon agnostic? At some point a Fighter needs to pick a lane and choose a primary weapon. Even the base Fighter is the same. If I can't then his setting is incompatible with one of the most basic classes in the game. My ability to flex only goes so far.

Scarab Sages

You have the best non magical heavy armor you could get, and a masterwork glaive and a batleaxe for a backup weapon. As a fighter, you don't need to specialize in a weapon. Use feats on something other than weapon focus/specialization. Perhaps the cleave line, perhaps manuevers. Something that is weapon agnostic. When you get to fifth level, if you still have the halberd and axe, pick weapon training axes and it will apply to both weapons.

Halberd is a perfectly fine weapon for a two handed warrior.


Ok then that nicks Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialisation and over a dozen feats. Why bother being a Fighter?

I appreciate what you saying but it doesn't address my original post, which was to find some rule mechanics to achieve what my DM is trying to do but in a way it doesn't railroad us players. Thanks.


So the solution to the fighter feats is Martial Versatility and the right group choice. Polearms? Heavy blades? Couldn't tell you for sure. Same choice you would have to make with your weapon training anyway.

Yes, weapon agnostic would be ideal. You have the feats to pick a couple weapons if you want. The other option is a weapon you can generate yourself (natural weapons, unarmed strike). Remember that fighter bonus feats can be swapped out every four levels so use your bonus feat for weapon focus/weapon spec and swap them out if you find a new weapon that's better.

The base fighter doesn't have to choose a weapon. They have to choose a weapon group, which are pretty broad. Then they eventually choose 3 more. That's like the opposite of specialization. Certain fighter specific feats reward specialization but they're not actually a class feature of the fighter. Again, take them with bonus feats and swap them if you don't use them.

We can't find rules to fix your problem. Your GM has rules. He's done. You don't like them. It's entirely possible the part you hate most (the randomness) is what your GM likes about the system, and any solution we try to make would still have to include it. The rules mechanic to fix your problem has been pointed out multiple times. Use crafting to make your own weapons and don't rely on the random loot system. That's your solution, within the rules and easily obtainable. Everything else requires us to be your GM.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:

So the solution to the fighter feats is Martial Versatility and the right group choice. Polearms? Heavy blades? Couldn't tell you for sure. Same choice you would have to make with your weapon training anyway.

Yes, weapon agnostic would be ideal. You have the feats to pick a couple weapons if you want. The other option is a weapon you can generate yourself (natural weapons, unarmed strike). Remember that fighter bonus feats can be swapped out every four levels so use your bonus feat for weapon focus/weapon spec and swap them out if you find a new weapon that's better.

The base fighter doesn't have to choose a weapon. They have to choose a weapon group, which are pretty broad. Then they eventually choose 3 more. That's like the opposite of specialization. Certain fighter specific feats reward specialization but they're not actually a class feature of the fighter. Again, take them with bonus feats and swap them if you don't use them.

Good point. Had entirely missed Martisl Versatility.

Quote:


We can't find rules to fix your problem. Your GM has rules. He's done. You don't like them. It's entirely possible the part you hate most (the randomness) is what your GM likes about the system, and any solution we try to make would still have to include it. The rules mechanic to fix your problem has been pointed out multiple times. Use crafting to make your own weapons and don't rely on the random loot system. That's your solution, within the rules and easily obtainable. Everything else requires us to be your GM.

True. I just do not relish using the 3 skill points per level I get all on crafting.

I will see what I can do.

The DM can love the system he's created all he wants. If the other players find it annoying then it's a problem. He has acknowledged it is a problem but he is open to ideas - hence my post.


FWIW I appreciate the advice though. Thanks for the tips.


If you want advice on a brand new loot system then we actually need a solid list of requirements. Post-apocalyptic covers several different styles.

There's every zombie movie ever where the apocalypse is recent and the looting is good. There's I am Legend where humans have been gone for a while but you can still find pockets of goods in odd places (or in the caches of survivors). There's Fallout where the apocalypse is the past and society has (for the most part) adapted to the new life and technology level.

Then there's the level of apocalypse. All humanoid life destroyed? Major population centers wiped out? Only above-ground people wiped out? How much warning did they have to save themselves? How much damage to the environment and nature? All of these change what would be available and what survived.

The simplest way to do it (for your weapon choices as well) is based on what the humanoid antagonists use. If you're fighting the "Marauding Axe Barbarians", focus on axes. The stray gear in the area will be stuff you pull off the corpses of dead marauding axe barbarians, axes and breastplates. If he has regular humanoid antagonists with signature styles then he just needs a table of their gear to roll on for what you find. Presumably the settlements looted them off the bandits that attacked them. If you want an extra layer then you can throw on a second table of whatever the people who used to live there before the apocalypse used (longswords/longbows for elves, hammers/whatever for dwarves, axes for orcs?) so you'll find a combination of location-based and population-based loot tables. Also, that way you'll get consistent weapon choices and won't worry you're going to be unable to find another <whatever> if yours breaks. That's the best I can do with no parameters whatsoever though.

Grand Lodge

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A fighter is highly gear-dependent, and lacks skill points to put into crafting, while also not having many things that make Wondrous Item Crafting at higher levels viable.

Monk, druid once you get wildshape and many 9th level casters are liable to take you a greater distance. Alternatively, a ranger who can invest skills that take the edge off scarce resources as you pointed out would make an ideal addition.

In the world that has nothing, the survivor is the one who doesn't need anything to kick ass.

Now I have another alternate druid idea in case my current PFS one dies: Druid from the Mana Wastes, wildman of the wastes.


Grokk_Bloodfist wrote:

Hi all

I'm after some guidance for my DM.

He's running a post apocalyptic setting using Pathfinder. Its the same fantasy setting, with a little bit like Mad Max.

We're running into issues with equipment where he has his own system (in his head), not written down for rolling randomly based on the size of the city and level of resourcing. It also involves running around and hunting down each individual item, wasting an 1hr of character time for each dice roll.

I've tried suggest the system is completely unworkable as is. It does not scale, it forces players to practically beg for equipment every time we roll. He's said he wants to capture the post-apocalyptic feel. I've also said that if certain characters have builds in mind then it will screw them. It also marginalises characters who are hopelessly dependent on equipment to bring them up to par to tackle CR appropriate encounters (like a Fighter that I am playing).

To give an example of the random nature of loot allocation, we were originally slaves and have staged a jailbreak. I've got masterwork full plate, masterwork glaive and battleaxe. Yet, I can't get my hands on a lucerne hammer. We also have no magic items yet. He claims that low level magic items are hard but big items we will have to hunt for (which is reasonable).

I've tried to suggest overlaying a random % chance over the top of the standard rules based on the population size, rather than come up with a completely different system. This would a slight blip in the usual rules, still allow us to follow the main rules but make access to certain equipment problematic but not impossible. So far but he seems rather convinced his system is better.

We're only level 2 and I can only imagine the problem will get worse once magic items get into the picture.

He's a good DM however. He is reasonable, open to ideas and is very good at creating an immersive world setting. However, he is not slavishly devoted to the rules and often goes off the beaten path a bit with house rules, which...

My suggestions

Scavenge metal and use available crafting skills to make spears and machetes. Try to complete initial quests and challenges with those available weapons.

If killed by bandits with plasma guns or firearms, express a need for better equipment and that you will give it one more chance, then you walk.

If you win, good luck with your new kit, keep on keeping on scavenging whatever you can.

(He might want you to make everything from scratch, with a lot of apoc crafting heavy games out there, it seems this is really in vogue, apparently scavenging & crafting mundane stuff and not just buying it in a few minutes from a list is now "fun". I don't get it either)


Ms. Pleiades wrote:

A fighter is highly gear-dependent, and lacks skill points to put into crafting, while also not having many things that make Wondrous Item Crafting at higher levels viable.

Monk, druid once you get wildshape and many 9th level casters are liable to take you a greater distance. Alternatively, a ranger who can invest skills that take the edge off scarce resources as you pointed out would make an ideal addition.

In the world that has nothing, the survivor is the one who doesn't need anything to kick ass.

Now I have another alternate druid idea in case my current PFS one dies: Druid from the Mana Wastes, wildman of the wastes.

Agreed! Monks are really strong in an equipment and treasure weak setting. Also very strong in demilitarised/disarmed areas "no swords past this point", and so on.

Good luck fighting that level 7 monk mr level 7 fighter if you only have a +1 short sword, very average half plate, no magic shield and maybe 2 potions to your name encompassing the remainder of your magic items.


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If we're wildly speculating about the GM's motives I'm going with "recently watched a zombie movie", "played DayZ", or "played Fallout". There's a few other zombie/apocalypse survival games out there (Dying Light is coming soon) but they all have the same basic travel/scavenge/fight setup. The 1 hour per scavenge really comes across as some flash game I'm forgetting the name of right now. Of course, it could just be Mad Max (there's a remake in the works). If you do end up going full Road Warrior make sure that every time you go to town to sell (well, probably trade) your loot in you scream "WHO RUN BARTERTOWN?!".


When conversing with npcs, ask them if they know the way to Tomorrow-morrow Land.


Its hard for the GM i'm thinking as any good post apocaplytic game involves scant rescources and a lot of scavenging to get what you need otherwise the setting would not really be post-apocloptic. There are some good d20 rescources for this setting though. Darwins world is excellent and for random scavenging loot get the cheap Scavs Swag PDF. It has tables for equipment and junk that can be used to trade or make stuff. The new Broken Earth PF setting book has rules for scavenging and I could be wrong but it does sound like your GM might be suing a similar system that is in this book. There is also a new none D20 book out called Mutant year zero in which you are counting every bullet so think yourself lucky you are not playing that one lol.

The very nature of these types of games though is a fight for survial where every resource counts and trade/bartering is the economy, you may not find what you want but you may be able to trade for it in larger communites, its not a game world where everything in the books is availible and you have to make do with what you have. I think maybe the GM sould have been a bit more forth coming with his ideas and helped you all out when building the PC's a you have corretley said some builds and classes willnot work and the setting has crewed with them.

Not much help but all I can say is pick everything from corpses, scavenge as much as you can then trade it. Maybe you could persuade the GM that each of you had 1 item that was a kind of family hierloom carried down through the generations, a migic item maybe form the past (afterall you are the heroes of the story), you might be able to get that hammer then to start you off. Maybe it levels up with you and gets more powerful kind of like the legendary items in the ultimate psionics guide if you have it.Its a tough one as I can see both sides to this dilemma

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