Starfinder: Early Impressions


General Discussion

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Zaister wrote:
By the way, I really resent the usage of the word "trap" as displayed here, because it implies a malicious intent on the side of the designers, and I think that's highly disrespectful.

I'm like 80% sure I've seen it admitted that some options are written to be deliberately bad, to reward system mastery.

(well, I'm 100% sure I've seen it admitted, it just might have been other writers for another system, or a former paizo writer)

Paizo Employee Designer

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Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
While there are some great builds with the solar armor, melee solarians don't generally have really high Dex, so a typical melee build with heavy armor and a solar weapon is going to wind up with more AC than the same character with light armor and solar armor. Unlike in PF where armor proficiency feats weren't that great for the most part, Heavy Armor Proficiency is excellent in SF, and I'd recommend most characters who aren't soldiers or operatives to at least add it on the list they're considering taking.

Boost Stones to keep up on par with regular weapons cost as much as said regular weapons. Solar Weapon is thus, effectively, a non-feature mechanically speaking - just a fluff trinket.

Solar Armour at least lets you has almost the same AC as heavy armour while enjoying the mobility of light armour, which is at least something unique.

It depends on how you go about it. If everyone is currently fully up to date on the max weaponry, that tends to be the case, but that's not the only way things might play out. A solar weapon user who uses a lower level weapon is only a small amount behind on damage, since much of the damage comes from the class feature itself. This means that your gap is far less than a soldier (or solar armor solarian for that matter) if you arm yourself with whatever boost crystal drops off the enemies, or buy a less expensive version if you never fight solarians, and spend your money elsewhere. The ability to keep yourself more detached from spending on the most up-to-date weaponry is a big benefit, but it's harder to see it because it's something less direct than a damage die.


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

A lot of the Solarian talk seems, to me anyway, to be discussion about the optimization side of the class which is great if that's what you're interested in, but if you're an average player who doesn't worry about the in depth math behind everything then it doesn't seem as relevant. Can the class function without feeling completely useless in combat? If so then I'm cool with it. Unless you're really into optimization then as long as the character can play without feeling like it's not actually doing anything to help the combat I don't worry about the minor deficiencies.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Luke Spencer wrote:
A lot of the Solarian talk seems, to me anyway, to be discussion about the optimization side of the class which is great if that's what you're interested in, but if you're an average player who doesn't worry about the in depth math behind everything then it doesn't seem as relevant. Can the class function without feeling completely useless in combat? If so then I'm cool with it. Unless you're really into optimization then as long as the character can play without feeling like it's not actually doing anything to help the combat I don't worry about the minor deficiencies.

Also most of the examples always seem to bring up level 20 situations which is probably what less then 1% of players actually get to.

Dark Archive

In defense of the Envoy, I think they can simply do some things better than any other class can, namely debuffing. Consider a level 1 Envoy with Dispiriting Taunt. Every round, this character can ensure an enemy has a -2 to attack rolls, and likely will instead be shaken. I don't think any other class can do that. Even if they save, they're still off-target. This can be done at will as a standard action. I think that's a pretty solid debuff at level 1. At 4th level, this can become a move action. At 6th level, you could take Draw Fire to give every enemy a -4 to attacks except against you. That's awesome! Draw Fire, dive behind cover, fall prone and the entire enemy team just got a major debuff on ranged attacks, which I assume are going to be common.

Additionally, it's one of the few classes that has the ability to heal other characters' stamina points. The Mystic is, of course, the primary healer, but Inspiring Boost looks like one of the few effective heals I've seen that can essentially be used once per ally per battle.

Also, looks like one of three classes with grenade proficiency, which is a nice bonus.


continuing FE derail:
As evidenced by my choice of alias for this one, I'm a huge fan of producing zany results from convoluted game mechanics. As such, Fates' ability to get nearly any skill on a given character with a little planning makes it pretty dang fun for me.

Given all the criticism for plot it gets, I find it funny that my only complaint was when it took priority over the game: the forced deaths in Birthright and Revelation. I was willing to set aside any doubts about how introducing the second generation was handled simply because having them there opened up a new set of options. Besides, the cosmology can support strange temporal interactions, why not use them?

Actual review:

It sticks pretty close to Awakening, with similar unit promotion and support mechanics and the return of the pair up. It is, however, much better balanced for the "endstate" of streetpass PVP. Pair up is no longer the best single option, since secondary character attacks are now promted from being adjacent an unpaired attacker. Stats are harder to cap, since changing to a different class line maintains your level.

In terms of the core game (unlike me living in the postgame just like pokemon), it's admittedly not the best setup. For being more of a beginner section, Birthright fails to really integrate the entire scope of possible strategies since you hve next to no options for high-Defense units. Revelation basically dumps the entire remaining roster all at once during the midgame, including mixing Level 10 unpromoted with level 5 promoted units. The more gimmicky maps are also concentrated in Revelation rather than being spread around.

Even so, this is the first game in the series I've replayed and felt that I actually did something different in the secondary ones, since extra reclassing options are made available through supports. I'm hoping it's also the first one I'll clear on the higher difficulties (I was a little turned off trying after I managed to get myself into a situation where I couldn't win with no deaths against the final boss of Radiant Dawn)


Edit: There were 297 posts when I started.


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Considering the character I wrote for Starfinder is an "Expert Armor Technician"
('Exocortex' Mechanic/'Armor Storm'Soldier multi-class), I think i'll be fine.

However I just wanted to say something....

I don't always go for what is the absolute most effective, I build character stories first and build the rest around that.
Saying that a certain class has no purpose completely "because x does it better" ignores that individuals may choose classes for reasons aside from "what is the best at X". Who cares if someone else from class X would be better in that role? It's a group activity, the sum of the team really decides everything anyway it isn't a competition.

I may just be an idiot but I'm still looking forward to Starfinder and the adventures I'll have within it.


Xa'sha wrote:

Considering the character I wrote for Starfinder is an "Expert Armor Technician"

('Exocortex' Mechanic/'Armor Storm'Soldier multi-class), I think i'll be fine.

However I just wanted to say something....

I don't always go for what is the absolute most effective, I build character stories first and build the rest around that.
Saying that a certain class has no purpose completely "because x does it better" ignores that individuals may choose classes for reasons aside from "what is the best at X". Who cares if someone else from class X would be better in that role? It's a group activity, the sum of the team really decides everything anyway it isn't a competition.

I may just be an idiot but I'm still looking forward to Starfinder.

It's just generally poor form to have something obviously superceded by something else.

Liberty's Edge

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Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
I knew envoy was easy to underestimate before we even played so adjusted my expectations, and to top it off our playtest envoy chose a set of powers that I thought weren't as good as another similar set I would have picked, and despite both those things, I completely underestimated the envoy's strength until we actually added one late in the playtest and she made the team so much more powerful. If anyone here has played Fire Emblem, it's easy to underestimate the Dancer/Crane (depending on which Fire Emblem) when you first play in a similar way "I'd have been better with another unit that could just do its own turn), but it's actually the most powerful unit because it gives you more of what you need.

I'm struggling to see how is that the case.

Pathfinder Bard is obviously strong and has way stronger buffing features than Envoy. 4e Warlord is blatantly extremely powerful and needs no excuses. Many buffing classes in many tabletop games are strong and useful at first glance.
However, simply comparing the offensive buffs that Envoy and Operative can provide, Envoy has only +2 to hit over Operative.
I can't imagine +2 to hit being worth all the other stuff Operative has - it's just 10% after all, especially in a game with a lesser overall number of attacks compared to Pathfinder.

The dancer/crane comparison is to the Hurry chain specifically, which came up earlier in the thread. Giving the exact right person extra actions is extremely and subtly powerful. I highly underestimated the value of the extra move actions and was taught the error of my ways.

As to the accuracy boosts, there's a few things, but the math is long. ** spoiler omitted **...

The entire Hurry chain seems pretty much strictly worse than just the Haste spell. Moreover, most damaging classes have "move and full attack" as class features, further devaluing it. The only interesting usage of the Hurry chain as far as I can see is spending 1 RP to...

Questioning the developers math, build on actual game play, based on napkin math isn't constructive


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Xa'sha wrote:

Considering the character I wrote for Starfinder is an "Expert Armor Technician"

('Exocortex' Mechanic/'Armor Storm'Soldier multi-class), I think i'll be fine.

However I just wanted to say something....

I don't always go for what is the absolute most effective, I build character stories first and build the rest around that.
Saying that a certain class has no purpose completely "because x does it better" ignores that individuals may choose classes for reasons aside from "what is the best at X". Who cares if someone else from class X would be better in that role? It's a group activity, the sum of the team really decides everything anyway it isn't a competition.

I may just be an idiot but I'm still looking forward to Starfinder.

Don't let people's (potentially under-informed) opinions of something make you feel bad about liking or looking forward to it. There are lots of different ways to play RPGs, and no single one is the "right" way.


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Mashallah wrote:
Xa'sha wrote:

Considering the character I wrote for Starfinder is an "Expert Armor Technician"

('Exocortex' Mechanic/'Armor Storm'Soldier multi-class), I think i'll be fine.

However I just wanted to say something....

I don't always go for what is the absolute most effective, I build character stories first and build the rest around that.
Saying that a certain class has no purpose completely "because x does it better" ignores that individuals may choose classes for reasons aside from "what is the best at X". Who cares if someone else from class X would be better in that role? It's a group activity, the sum of the team really decides everything anyway it isn't a competition.

I may just be an idiot but I'm still looking forward to Starfinder.

It's just generally poor form to have something obviously superceded by something else.

I just think that sometimes in these discussions player preference, character themes, coop benefits, or the "mouth feel" of classes get ignored in favor of pure mathematics arguements that put the numbers of the classes in direct competition with one another.

I'm not making an arguement about what is good or bad for the game.

I'm just saying there are other factors to consider.

The reward of a class isn't just how it helps you in combat.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
While there are some great builds with the solar armor, melee solarians don't generally have really high Dex, so a typical melee build with heavy armor and a solar weapon is going to wind up with more AC than the same character with light armor and solar armor. Unlike in PF where armor proficiency feats weren't that great for the most part, Heavy Armor Proficiency is excellent in SF, and I'd recommend most characters who aren't soldiers or operatives to at least add it on the list they're considering taking.

If the Solar Weapon is no better than a regular sword of similar level, and the Solar Armour is no better than heavy armour of similar level, then what's the point of them? Flavour's cool and all, but shouldn't a class feature that replaces gear be somewhat better than the gear?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Evilgm wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
While there are some great builds with the solar armor, melee solarians don't generally have really high Dex, so a typical melee build with heavy armor and a solar weapon is going to wind up with more AC than the same character with light armor and solar armor. Unlike in PF where armor proficiency feats weren't that great for the most part, Heavy Armor Proficiency is excellent in SF, and I'd recommend most characters who aren't soldiers or operatives to at least add it on the list they're considering taking.
If the Solar Weapon is no better than a regular sword of similar level, and the Solar Armour is no better than heavy armour of similar level, then what's the point of them? Flavour's cool and all, but shouldn't a class feature that replaces gear be somewhat better than the gear?

Only if you want to break WbL.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Evilgm wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
While there are some great builds with the solar armor, melee solarians don't generally have really high Dex, so a typical melee build with heavy armor and a solar weapon is going to wind up with more AC than the same character with light armor and solar armor. Unlike in PF where armor proficiency feats weren't that great for the most part, Heavy Armor Proficiency is excellent in SF, and I'd recommend most characters who aren't soldiers or operatives to at least add it on the list they're considering taking.
If the Solar Weapon is no better than a regular sword of similar level, and the Solar Armour is no better than heavy armour of similar level, then what's the point of them? Flavour's cool and all, but shouldn't a class feature that replaces gear be somewhat better than the gear?

They give you other benefits (and indeed, solar armor is better than heavy armor on some more unusual builds for AC while still having the benefits of light armor that Mashallah pointed out above). Different class features are built to do different things, and there's a limit to how many and which are going to be overall damage enhancers compared to the best that other characters can do. Consider, for a moment, the alternative: Suppose that solar weapons gave you more power than a solar armor solarian (or a soldier) could ever hope to achieve. Now from an optimizer's perspective, you are "forced" to go solar weapon solarian or stay out of melee altogether. The only way to avoid this optimization trap would be to just refuse to design solar weapon (and/or any alternative to solar weapon) altogether, but that's less satisfying than including it and keeping in mind that it does what it's meant to do when designing other class features.


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Evilgm wrote:
If the Solar Weapon is no better than a regular sword of similar level, and the Solar Armour is no better than heavy armour of similar level, then what's the point of them? Flavour's cool and all, but shouldn't a class feature that replaces gear be somewhat better than the gear?

Nope. It shouldn't be worse (which was the monk's problem), as it's bizarre to be inferior to something you can buy, but it shouldn't overshadow the other classes either (which is what happens if it's better).

Being better than a weapon attack should be limited to something that involves using limited resources, not something that can be used all the time.

The 'power stones' or whatever also makes sense, because then you aren't snapping wealth by level (or starfinder equivalent) in half and loading up on other stuff with your 'weapon/armor money.'


Trying to mathematically determine whether certain options are worth it for offense or defense is going to be really hard until the Alien Archive comes out and we have hard numbers for opposition to gauge things against. Actually gauging whether a character is worth their salt in combat or even what combat numbers mean in the setting is pretty close to impossible. A lot of the text in the book might as well be gibberish until then.

That doesn't mean we're short on problems to point out before then, unfortunately. Like carrying capacity scaling linearly (so that your endgame power armor suit can only lift about 290 pounds), most of the class options being both mechanically ineffective and extremely bland, stealth still being broken in the same ways it is in D&D, and and traps still being totally undetectable if you don't specifically stop and spend actions to find them.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Evilgm wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
While there are some great builds with the solar armor, melee solarians don't generally have really high Dex, so a typical melee build with heavy armor and a solar weapon is going to wind up with more AC than the same character with light armor and solar armor. Unlike in PF where armor proficiency feats weren't that great for the most part, Heavy Armor Proficiency is excellent in SF, and I'd recommend most characters who aren't soldiers or operatives to at least add it on the list they're considering taking.
If the Solar Weapon is no better than a regular sword of similar level, and the Solar Armour is no better than heavy armour of similar level, then what's the point of them? Flavour's cool and all, but shouldn't a class feature that replaces gear be somewhat better than the gear?
They give you other benefits (and indeed, solar armor is better than heavy armor on some more unusual builds for AC while still having the benefits of light armor that Mashallah pointed out above). Different class features are built to do different things, and there's a limit to how many and which are going to be overall damage enhancers compared to the best that other characters can do. Consider, for a moment, the alternative: Suppose that solar weapons gave you more power than a solar armor solarian (or a soldier) could ever hope to achieve. Now from an optimizer's perspective, you are "forced" to go solar weapon solarian or stay out of melee altogether. The only way to avoid this optimization trap would be to just refuse to design solar weapon (and/or any alternative to solar weapon) altogether, but that's less satisfying than including it and keeping in mind that it does what it's meant to do when designing other class features.

You could have just baked in a small damage boost or even cost discount into Solar Weapon.

That way it would at least make sense - Solar Weapon gets a bit better weaponry, Solar Armour gets a bit better light armour, making for clear build specialisations.
As is, the Solar Weapon doesn't really give anything tangible, while Solar Armour does. Getting nothing tangible versus getting something tangible is quite the difference.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

To bring up some missed opportunities, Solarion is the other Cha class. Why aren't a few of the Stellar Revelations socially focused, so the Solarion can function as a backup party frontman if you don't have an Envoy? It'd help distinguish them from a melee Soldier and give them some other utility.

Attractive Personality and Shining Good Looks seem like gimmies.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Porridge wrote:
Throne wrote:
You honestly believe Flashing Strikes was the best someone could come up with?

Reposting this here, since it seems to be relevant:

One thing I’ve noticed in Starfinder so far is that, in general, they’re much more stingy with bonuses to hit and bonuses against enemies hitting (i.e., to armor class) than they are in Pathfinder. (They may be following 5e here, and doing this to keep the math a bit more under control.)

As a rule of thumb, it seems like most bonuses to hit and/or AC are about half of what they would be in Pathfinder. Judged by that standard, a lot of the class bonuses make more sense.

For example:

—The armor-specialized Solarion ends up with a +2 bonus to AC at level 20. That sounds very weak by Pathfinder standards. But if we double it, it sounds about right (by Pathfinder standards); comparable to a Monk’s AC bonus at level 20.

—The Solarion’s Flashing Strikes ability adds a +1 bonus to hit when full attacking, which sounds very weak by Pathfinder standards. But if we double it, it sounds about right (by Pathfinder standards).

—The Envoy’s Get ‘Em ability adds a +1 morale bonus to attacks against a given enemy, which sounds very weak by Pathfinder standards. But if we double it, it sounds about right (by Pathfinder standards).

Anyway, I think that’s one of the reasons some of the Starfinder class abilities strike those of us coming from Pathfinder as so underwhelming.

You have correctly identified what I believe to be one of the crux points shared by the features underestimated the most in this thread thus far: The math of attacks and full attacks in Starfinder is such that you get a major benefit from accuracy buffs, even small accuracy buffs. It's not unusual to be in a place where a +1 to hit on a triple attack gives you more than +10% to expected damage against a big boss (it's why the envoy in the big math spoiler upthread was putting out so much buff damage with a +4 to hit).

Liberty's Edge

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Evilgm wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
While there are some great builds with the solar armor, melee solarians don't generally have really high Dex, so a typical melee build with heavy armor and a solar weapon is going to wind up with more AC than the same character with light armor and solar armor. Unlike in PF where armor proficiency feats weren't that great for the most part, Heavy Armor Proficiency is excellent in SF, and I'd recommend most characters who aren't soldiers or operatives to at least add it on the list they're considering taking.
If the Solar Weapon is no better than a regular sword of similar level, and the Solar Armour is no better than heavy armour of similar level, then what's the point of them? Flavour's cool and all, but shouldn't a class feature that replaces gear be somewhat better than the gear?

Especially in a more modern setting, there are a huge number of possible scenarios where carrying big weapons and wearing big armor are not going to be viable options. And I'm not just talking "you've been captured and all your stuff taken", I'm talking things like social events, meetings with various people, and all sorts of other places where weapons and armor are either not allowed or would stand out to a massive degree. How do you think people today would react to four or five people wandering around downtown dressed in full tactical gear and carrying assault weapons?

It may not be better than what others can do mechanically, but it offers more options in various situations. If you're taking a meeting with the CEO of a corrupt corporation thinking you're getting a job offer, but it turns out it's an ambush and he wants you dead, you'll be pretty damn thankful that one of your teammates can pull a sword or suit of armor out of thin air.

This isn't D&D or Pathfinder, where the vast majority of adventures are assumed to be dungeon crawls where you'll always be in full kit, or set in faux-medieval times where people don't blink an eye at a fully armed and armored warrior walking down the street. There are tons of possible adventures that could involve situations where you won't be able to or won't want to carry all your gear with you.

Math is only one small part of this game, it's really disheartening to see people discounting all other possible benefits that abilities like this might have.


Aratrok wrote:

Trying to mathematically determine whether certain options are worth it for offense or defense is going to be really hard until the Alien Archive comes out and we have hard numbers for opposition to gauge things against. Actually gauging whether a character is worth their salt in combat or even what combat numbers mean in the setting is pretty close to impossible. A lot of the text in the book might as well be gibberish until then.

That doesn't mean we're short on problems to point out before then, unfortunately. Like carrying capacity scaling linearly (so that your endgame power armor suit can only lift about 290 pounds), most of the class options being both mechanically ineffective and extremely bland, stealth still being broken in the same ways it is in D&D, and and traps still being totally undetectable if you don't specifically stop and spend actions to find them.

Could you elaborate on "Mechanically ineffective and extremely bland"?


JRutterbush wrote:
Evilgm wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
While there are some great builds with the solar armor, melee solarians don't generally have really high Dex, so a typical melee build with heavy armor and a solar weapon is going to wind up with more AC than the same character with light armor and solar armor. Unlike in PF where armor proficiency feats weren't that great for the most part, Heavy Armor Proficiency is excellent in SF, and I'd recommend most characters who aren't soldiers or operatives to at least add it on the list they're considering taking.
If the Solar Weapon is no better than a regular sword of similar level, and the Solar Armour is no better than heavy armour of similar level, then what's the point of them? Flavour's cool and all, but shouldn't a class feature that replaces gear be somewhat better than the gear?

Especially in a more modern setting, there are a huge number of possible scenarios where carrying big weapons and wearing big armor are not going to be viable options. And I'm not just talking "you've been captured and all your stuff taken", I'm talking things like social events, meetings with various people, and all sorts of other places where weapons and armor are either not allowed or would stand out to a massive degree. How do you think people today would react to four or five people wandering around downtown dressed in full tactical gear and carrying assault weapons?

It may not be better than what others can do mechanically, but it offers more options in various situations. If you're taking a meeting with the CEO of a corrupt corporation thinking you're getting a job offer, but it turns out it's an ambush and he wants you dead, you'll be pretty damn thankful that one of your teammates can pull a sword or suit of armor out of thin air.

This isn't D&D or Pathfinder, where the vast majority of adventures are assumed to be dungeon crawls where you'll always be in full kit, or set in faux-medieval times where people don't blink an eye at a fully armed and...

This is a part of what I have been attempting to convey.


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I must admit...I'm rather not a fan by the split up of non-combat stuff between the classes. The Soldier's absolute lack of anything in the way of a non-combat boost really hurts it. No class features that boost anything non-combat and the lowest skill points in the game (Tied with Technomancer and Engineer but those two classes are at least int-primary). A boost like the engineer to some physical skills would have been nice (As currently non-operatives don't have much doing that)

Operatives on the other hand feel like they got too MUCH of a boost non-combat wise. The operatives bonus scales faster with literally every skill than the Mechanic does with just his two speciality skills and the operative gets a staggering amount of skills to combine it with. As a result, the operative is not merely 'Good at his focus' but 'Better in many skills than other classes specialising in that skill'

Mechanics and Technomancers also have a rather annoying issue of 'Not enough class skills to actually give you options'. As a 4+Int class with only 8 class skills and int as the primary stat, they rapidly run out of actual choices unless they want to buy several professions.

Note: This is tied into my personal belief that classes should be able to have a place both non-combat and in combat. Right now, Soldiers entirely lack a Niche out of combat while the Operative's niche includes stealing the niche of other classes.

This doesn't make any of this unplayable but it does feel like an area that could have done with another design pass to tighten it up. After all, combat is only one aspect of the game.

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