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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:25 pm 
Avisaru
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So, I just got zompist's Planet Construction Kit in the mail and I can't put it down. My conworld, Calara, as fascinating as it is (with the giant trees growing out of the sea, supporting entire nations, without much dry land) simply requires too much work. I wanted it to work out as a scientifically plausible place, but it isn't. It's frustrating and it takes up too much of my time. So I want to transplant my major nations away from Calara, the Uscans, the Assan, the Imuthene, the Sadraŋ and Kìn and to a new conworld. Which will still be called Calara, but the setting will be more Earth-like. It's going to require a whole lot of reorganising. And this brings up a lot of questions and gives me many wonderful opportunities to fix things that I felt were limiting. A lot of questions are on my mind.

Should I introduce magic? I've always been tempted to.
Should I make the Aluns more human-like? I keep feeling that their biology requires too much exposition and will hinder me in case
I want to write stories. I'm taking creative fiction writing next semester, maybe I'll want to use Calara.
Have I gone too far with Calara? Can I simply drop this idea this easily?
Should I start over completely, ignoring all the languages and cultures I've worked on? What do my languages, Uscaniv or Imuthan mean when they doesn't have any kind of culture behind it?

Who has gone through this kind of process? Any suggestions?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:44 pm 
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you seem to be suffocated by the need to explain thing scientifically. If you want to do implausible fantasy, go ahead and do it. Nations living on trees above the ocean sounds awesome as shit, you don't need to have a good explanation for it.

Magic is a delicate subject: well done, magic can be a beautiful, elegant and meaningful addition to any setting. often it's just technology with another name. [I just closed a game where someone actually used the phrase 'supply teleporter']. if you want mundane magic, good, but I personally think it's kind of... cheap. like an excuse to use cool visual effects and avoid having to explain plot points.

"okay, how do I get the protagonist from this continent to the other... oh, I know, teleporter stone"

That being said, apparently leaving a conworld aside and starting a new one is a good idea: just look at steampunk xD. my experience in YUCOP points the same way: I'm quite happy with the Chalmean culture.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:58 pm 
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I've been struggling with some similar questions in my own conworlding efforts. On one hand, I want the world to feel realistic and familiar enough that readers can understand it. At the same time, I have a lot of rather fantastic ideas that I don't want to discard. For the most part, I've been weighing the options of setting my conworld on Earth or putting it on a whole other planet (possibly with very different physics).

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Should I introduce magic? I've always been tempted to.


As have I. The difficulty lies in following the logical consequences of magic without making a world so alien that readers can't identify with it. You could just avoid explaining magic in much detail, but that can make it more of a handwave tacked onto an otherwise normal world. I'd prefer magic to feel truly integrated in the bedrock of the world.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:09 pm 
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Torco wrote:
you seem to be suffocated by the need to explain thing scientifically. If you want to do implausible fantasy, go ahead and do it. Nations living on trees above the ocean sounds awesome as shit, you don't need to have a good explanation for it.


Thanks for saying that. It makes me feel like everything I just said is unnecessary and that I'm just being nervous for no reason.

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Magic is a delicate subject: well done, magic can be a beautiful, elegant and meaningful addition to any setting. often it's just technology with another name. [I just closed a game where someone actually used the phrase 'supply teleporter']. if you want mundane magic, good, but I personally think it's kind of... cheap. like an excuse to use cool visual effects and avoid having to explain plot points.

"okay, how do I get the protagonist from this continent to the other... oh, I know, teleporter stone"


Yeah, true.

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That being said, apparently leaving a conworld aside and starting a new one is a good idea: just look at steampunk xD. my experience in YUCOP points the same way: I'm quite happy with the Chalmean culture.


That's what I'm thinking. Actually, Calara is my third conworld, and the one that's stuck the longest, but I feel like I never made progress on it cause I've always been focusing on the logistics of it. I guess I should try to focus on the story of it. What's YUCOP, by the way?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:16 pm 
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Eddy wrote:
I've been struggling with some similar questions in my own conworlding efforts. On one hand, I want the world to feel realistic and familiar enough that readers can understand it. At the same time, I have a lot of rather fantastic ideas that I don't want to discard. For the most part, I've been weighing the options of setting my conworld on Earth or putting it on a whole other planet (possibly with very different physics).

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Should I introduce magic? I've always been tempted to.


As have I. The difficulty lies in following the logical consequences of magic without making a world so alien that readers can't identify with it. You could just avoid explaining magic in much detail, but that can make it more of a handwave tacked onto an otherwise normal world. I'd prefer magic to feel truly integrated in the bedrock of the world.

I feel like if I just go ahead unapologetically with my conworld as it was, maybe magic is embedded in it somewhere, but it's not readily available to people? Maybe the magic is just different laws of physics.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:57 pm 
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Torco wrote:
Magic is a delicate subject: well done, magic can be a beautiful, elegant and meaningful addition to any setting. often it's just technology with another name. [I just closed a game where someone actually used the phrase 'supply teleporter']. if you want mundane magic, good, but I personally think it's kind of... cheap. like an excuse to use cool visual effects and avoid having to explain plot points.

"okay, how do I get the protagonist from this continent to the other... oh, I know, teleporter stone"

I agree. If you want to use magic, make sure you're clear from the beginning on how it works and what its limits are. What is impossible even for magic? What does the magic-user have to give up in exchange for this power? What are the risks of using it? If there are no clearly defined limits, it can just wreck your storytelling. Every time something happens, people will wonder why the characters can't just use magic to get out of it.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:18 pm 
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One thing that I've always thought about with magic is to do some research into real-world magical systems and then develop something like that. Something less like wizards shooting fireballs from their fingertips and more like leaden curse-tablets actually working.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:22 pm 
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Also you probably want to consider how magic impacts society. If people can conjure resources out of thin air or transmute common metals into gold, the economy will work very differently. That in turn suggests some big implications for politics and culture.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:43 pm 
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vecfaranti wrote:
So, I just got zompist's Planet Construction Kit in the mail and I can't put it down. My conworld, Calara, as fascinating as it is (with the giant trees growing out of the sea, supporting entire nations, without much dry land) simply requires too much work. I wanted it to work out as a scientifically plausible place, but it isn't. It's frustrating and it takes up too much of my time. So I want to transplant my major nations away from Calara, the Uscans, the Assan, the Imuthene, the Sadraŋ and Kìn and to a new conworld. Which will still be called Calara, but the setting will be more Earth-like. It's going to require a whole lot of reorganising. And this brings up a lot of questions and gives me many wonderful opportunities to fix things that I felt were limiting. A lot of questions are on my mind.

What the...? Vec, if the lack of enough detail and scientific plausibility is the problem, don't worry: there are lots of conworlds and concultures that lack scientific explanation but are fascinating and work perfectly well. I know it's frustating to build an entire world or culture in detail, not to mention that it means a lot work, patience and imagination, but it happens to you, to me and many conworlders. But that's, precisely, one of the things I love the most about conworldery: the eternal reasoning and the neverending research, looking into our real world to take inspiration.
The only thing I can say is "go for it". Keep making Calara as you did, and if you find trouble with something, modify it at your taste. If you need scientific advise, ask us! The ZBB exists for this purpose.

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Should I introduce magic? I've always been tempted to.
Should I make the Aluns more human-like? I keep feeling that their biology requires too much exposition and will hinder me in case I want to write stories. I'm taking creative fiction writing next semester, maybe I'll want to use Calara.
Have I gone too far with Calara? Can I simply drop this idea this easily?
Should I start over completely, ignoring all the languages and cultures I've worked on? What do my languages, Uscaniv or Imuthan mean when they doesn't have any kind of culture behind it?

Others have said it: with magic start from the beginning. What are the physical rules that govern your world and the universe in which Calara exists, and how we should understand the concept of "magic" in that world/universe or, better, what does "magic" mean from the point of view of your peoples. In our world "magic" had more than one meaning and explanation through history and civilizations.

The same with the idea of giant trees growing out of the sea and supporting entire nations without much dry land. It's fascinating and, personally, I would read a novel or watch a movie taking place in an ecosystem like that one. Go for it! It's not necessary an alien planet for that: you can have an Earth-like conworld or a parallel Earth and still having those giant trees on it. In my conworld, Taura, I have an entire nation living in flying ships that never fall because an ancient and now forgotten technology keeps them on the skies. And I have a scientific explanation for the existence of humans and dwarves based on the Homo evolution. Anything is possible, even in a world like us. Really.

Quote:
Who has gone through this kind of process? Any suggestions?

It happened to me a few years ago. I reached a point in which I wasn't sure what was my conworld. I thought a lot about it, and the conclusion was to work Taura as a parallel Earth, basing its geology, geography, biology, etc. from the point of view of my own reality, the universe and world where I live and, from that starting point, progressively modify Taura at my own taste. Now Taura has things that are very Earth-like while others are weird, really weird if we have in mind that Taura is governed by the same rules and laws that exist in our universe. But there are, and can be partially explained from our knowledge or simply can't be. A little room for mystery and the unknown is good too.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:56 pm 
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Yeah, I've gone through this before.

Regarding magic, and anything supernatural, including giant trees, or alien species: DON'T.

That's not because they're bad, but because if you have to ask the question, if you CAN ask the question, the answer should be no.

"Should I put magic in this world?" NO. Because magic doesn't fit in a non-magical world. If you want a magical world, it's a magical world, and it's magical right from the bottom up, and you need to start off saying "this is a magical world" and then work everything from there. Because if you try to build a world and then put magic in it, it won't work. Magic has to be at the CENTRE of the world, or nowhere.

Ditto alien species. If it's possible to replace your aliens with humans, they're not alien enough.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:24 pm 
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Dewrad wrote:
One thing that I've always thought about with magic is to do some research into real-world magical systems and then develop something like that. Something less like wizards shooting fireballs from their fingertips and more like leaden curse-tablets actually working.


Agreed. If you've ever read A Song of Ice and Fire, the frankly weird magic-y stuff going on in there (like a woman bringing a demon into the world by being impregnated by a dark god, as I remember) would be far more interesting than WHOOSH FIREBALL.

Also whaddayaknow I had a conworld called Kalara once.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:30 pm 
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If you want to go for scientifically realistic, then just use the original thought as a creation or world-myth... although magic can exist in either the scientific or mythic world, just depends on how mixed you want it to be.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:30 pm 
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It's unclear, iirc, what creates the 'shadow baby' - whether the man is involved at all or just the woman, and what role rh'llor plays, and whether Rh'llor is indeed 'a dark god'. After all, SHE's fairly evil-seeming, but the only other priest of Rh'llor is quite good-seeming, and Rh'llor does seem directly set up against the Big Bad.

[I take it you've seen the 10-minute preview to HBO's Game of Thrones series, btw?]

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:55 pm 
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Salmoneus wrote:
It's unclear, iirc, what creates the 'shadow baby' - whether the man is involved at all or just the woman, and what role rh'llor plays, and whether Rh'llor is indeed 'a dark god'. After all, SHE's fairly evil-seeming, but the only other priest of Rh'llor is quite good-seeming, and Rh'llor does seem directly set up against the Big Bad.

[I take it you've seen the 10-minute preview to HBO's Game of Thrones series, btw?]


Not yet. I wish George'd stop faffing aroun with his spinoffs and TV versions and finish the bloody written series before he goes the way of R. Jordan.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:31 pm 
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vecfaranti wrote:
Torco wrote:
you seem to be suffocated by the need to explain thing scientifically. If you want to do implausible fantasy, go ahead and do it. Nations living on trees above the ocean sounds awesome as shit, you don't need to have a good explanation for it.


Thanks for saying that. It makes me feel like everything I just said is unnecessary and that I'm just being nervous for no reason.


Without having read your stuff, you very well might be.


vecfaranti wrote:
Quote:
That being said, apparently leaving a conworld aside and starting a new one is a good idea: just look at steampunk xD. my experience in YUCOP points the same way: I'm quite happy with the Chalmean culture.


That's what I'm thinking. Actually, Calara is my third conworld, and the one that's stuck the longest, but I feel like I never made progress on it cause I've always been focusing on the logistics of it. I guess I should try to focus on the story of it. What's YUCOP, by the way?


A collaborative effort me and a bunch of guys [roach, ebba leacci, rickardspagetti, astraios, whimens, and others] are developing. It's turning out quite nicely, even though we've been pretty messy going about it. it's on a site called http://yucop.wikia.com/wiki/YUCOP_Wiki, if you want to check it out. my point is that sometimes, with more skill and experience, starting fresh is good.

that being said, I disagree with Sal about the trees: sure, magic has to organically fit a conworld or it's cheesy videogame magic, but huge trees can just be a visually salient but otherwise marginal feature of a world. same with aliens; you can have a dominantly human universe with a few true aliens... of course, if they're rubberface humans it sucks, but if they are true aliens it can be marginal and still work in concert with the world.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:01 am 
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Salmoneus wrote:
"Should I put magic in this world?" NO. Because magic doesn't fit in a non-magical world. If you want a magical world, it's a magical world, and it's magical right from the bottom up, and you need to start off saying "this is a magical world" and then work everything from there. Because if you try to build a world and then put magic in it, it won't work. Magic has to be at the CENTRE of the world, or nowhere.


One of the biggest challenges plaguing my own project, as a matter of fact. How does one handle magical elements in a way that feels central without making the world so strange that readers don't get it?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:34 am 
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By very strictly limiting the power of magic. Or biting the bullet and going for something readers probably won't understand.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:50 am 
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The big trees (I call them thales) are very much the centre of the whole idea behind the world. While they do require some suspension of disbelief, I think they work. They do cause a lot of issues for me, though, especially with regards to technological advancement:

Do Aluns not have fire? Do they not have metals and minerals? Do they not have metallurgy? I haven't figured these things out and they are in fact very important in order to be able to move forward. One idea that I have is that a second species, the Lentucs, lives on dry land rather than in other thale-forests, and has those things and sells it to Alun nations. But what happened in between? What development is possible for people with no metal or stone, only wood? How do they handle the wood if they don't have metal or at least stone tools?

Another idea is that the thales don't grow out of the sea but out of the ground. And this might work, but at the same time, it changes the setting quite a bit so it would be a big change. Maybe the ground is always damp and hard to cross? I don't know.

I would say that the biology of Aluns was different enough from ours to be interesting; especially the reproductive system, which requires the "male" to carry the child to term. And at the same time, I feel like the medium betrays me. I'm not an illustrator and I think the ideas are very much visual. Normal people on a normal planet are much easier to describe.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:54 am 
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It's, of course, your own conworld and you can do what you want with it. That said, I think the idea of a whole world built mostly around giant trees growing out of the ocean is rather cool, I'm tempted to rip off parts of the idea for my own conworld, and I'd encourage you to find a more realistic or satisfying way of making it work rather than abandoning your efforts entirely.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:54 am 
Avisaru
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vecfaranti wrote:
The big trees (I call them thales) are very much the centre of the whole idea behind the world. While they do require some suspension of disbelief, I think they work. They do cause a lot of issues for me, though, especially with regards to technological advancement:


If you've got magic, you can use that. Fire's quite possible - they'd just have to be careful. As for metallurgy etc - yeah, I'd say trade is the only way forward there.

Quote:
I would say that the biology of Aluns was different enough from ours to be interesting; especially the reproductive system, which requires the "male" to carry the child to term. And at the same time, I feel like the medium betrays me. I'm not an illustrator and I think the ideas are very much visual. Normal people on a normal planet are much easier to describe.


Hmm. How are they still male if they carry the child to term?

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:33 am 
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YngNghymru wrote:
Hmm. How are they still male if they carry the child to term?


Gametes?

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:42 am 
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The Alun males have marsupial-like pouches on their bellies.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 12:06 pm 
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vecfaranti wrote:
The big trees (I call them thales) are very much the centre of the whole idea behind the world. While they do require some suspension of disbelief, I think they work. They do cause a lot of issues for me, though, especially with regards to technological advancement:

Do Aluns not have fire? Do they not have metals and minerals? Do they not have metallurgy? I haven't figured these things out and they are in fact very important in order to be able to move forward. One idea that I have is that a second species, the Lentucs, lives on dry land rather than in other thale-forests, and has those things and sells it to Alun nations. But what happened in between? What development is possible for people with no metal or stone, only wood? How do they handle the wood if they don't have metal or at least stone tools?

Trade between Lentucs and Aluns could be one solution. A variant would be pillage: Aluns go to the nearest coast with their ships and sack the littoral regions. Another explanation is that Aluns descend the thales periodically and search for minerals and other resources on firm land, trading or working on their own quarries, farms... The land resources could be explited by Aluns or by other species (the Lentucs, if possible), slaved or in agreement with them. It could work if thales grow on land. If the thales grow only out of the sea it would be easy for the Aluns to build ships: they only need wood and some stone/metal tools. That, of course, needs some contact with the land peoples, so the first contact with the Lentucs and littoral peoples could be by accident: if you have thales you have branches or big portions of thales trees, and that means you have a primitve ship. With time, the Aluns could develope a maritime culture.
That way you don't need the thales growing on land.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 12:39 pm 
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cromulant wrote:
YngNghymru wrote:
Hmm. How are they still male if they carry the child to term?


Gametes?

Ask the seahorse.


I had a strange definition of 'male' in my head, clearly.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:05 pm 
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I think if you want to make the Alun advance technologically, you need to go into more detail about the thales themselves, and how they affect things.

Do seabirds use them as nesting grounds or stop-overs on migration? Are there amphibians who live inside the trunks like ants or bugs? How did these trees get into the sea? Were they mangroves that just grew bigger and bigger as the sea-level rose? Can they use salt, instead of being poisoned by it like other trees? How did the Alun get to these trees? Did they go in canoes? Did the trees already exist on land, but rising sealevels forced the Alun to live in the branches, rather than between the roots? Is it very rainy in the area where the thales grow? If not, how do they get fresh water? Are they broadleaf trees, or do they have needles? How far out to sea are they?

If thales are like pines, then the Alun could have resin wells for getting fire, which could occur naturally when a branch breaks off. The thick bark of the tree prevents the resin inside from exploding, but fires can still only be safely lit on the furthest-reaching branches, to prevent branches above the fire catching alight. But they can't be lit on the bark, obviously - so maybe they would only use torches instead.

I'm pretty sure that a tree this big would be able to support coral reefs, and then eventually islands. Also, if the Alun arrived at the thales in canoes, they would presumably still use them for fishing, so maybe they can find a nearby island with mineral resources, but no fresh water, forcing them to stay living in the trees, but they keep settlements on the island which they use when they need stone, or crops, or something.


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