[HR] Naval Rules

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Alex
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I love our forums so much.

koewn
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Cool!

What about allowing Veterans to have reached level 1 (via the gain of 100XP, or the 1 month timeframe)? The pay for a "normal man" specialist sailor is 6GP/mo (matching your average crew) and the veteran status would add 12GP to that (D@W:C, pg 12, probably elsewhere as well) for a total of 18GP. (it also matches Light Infantry, which plain sailors are well matched to)

Veterans occur at a rate of 25% amongst human mercenaries, so that also subsumes any availability-per-market changes.

That does double the costs for veterans, however, it makes them a lot more effective in combat.

Kiero
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It does make them a lot more effective in combat, but that's a very dangerous temptation. While oarsmen can fight (and indeed there's evidence Athenian "skirmishers" were often armed rowers), you are risking the motive power of your vessel every time you use them in combat. Plus they'll be even more tired than they would be from rowing if they've been fighting.

I'm just saying it's something to be careful about, routinely using your oarsmen as infantry can significantly increase your crew turnover.

The Dark
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One thing I am adding in now are some true Seaworthiness rules. I had originally left them out because my experience with them in 2e's Of Ships and the Sea was that the numbers seemed rather arbitrary, and were not necessarily good indicators of the actual seaworthiness of the ship. I'm also working on abstracting ship construction so that it doesn't require multiple spreadsheets to make a ship.

The Dark
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So, I've been away on vacation, and coming back, I wanted to give a fairly long bit showing how I'm writing examples into the text now. This is intended to be part of the ship construction section. There are a couple references to tables not included in this excerpt, but the meaning should still be fairly clear. Some of the rules mentioned can be modified by special attributes.

Seaworthiness: Seaworthiness measures how well a ship performs under adverse conditions. Each point of seaworthiness allows a ship to ignore 1d6 of damage from weather each hour. Each point also provides a +1 bonus to any Seafaring checks made to repair the ship. The Base Seaworthiness of a ship is also its starting Armor Class.

Decks: The default for a ship is a single deck, plus a hold for cargo. This deck has a Useful Length equal to 70% of the ship's total length and the same width as the ship. A second deck with the same area can be added by moving one row down on the Length to Draught column (i.e. from the 40 to 1 ratio to the 28 to 1 ratio), while a third deck makes the ship less stable, reducing seaworthiness by 1.

Rowers: The required number of rowers to achieve the Base Rowing Speed is equal to the ship's length in feet divided by 5, multiplied by the ship's beam divided by 4. If this number is odd, add one to make it even. Required rowers = (Length/5)*(Beam/4)

The maximum number of rowers on a single deck is equal to the ship's Useful Length divided by 3, multiplied by the ship's beam minus 8 feet and divided by 2. If this number is odd, add one to make it even. Maximum rowers = (Useful Length/3)*((Beam-8)/2)

Example: A ship is being built as a 7 to 1 rowed and sailed ship, 112 feet long and 16 feet wide. It has a Base Seaworthiness of 3. It requires (22.4*4) = 89.6 rowers to travel at base rowing speed. This is rounded up to 90. On a single deck, it can have (.7*37.3*4) = 104.5 rowers, rounded to 105 and increased to 106 to make it even. This ship can maintain its base rowing speed with only a single deck of rowers.

Rowers can be carried on multiple decks if desired in order to add more power without lengthening or widening the vessel.
Example: While this galley isn't intended for combat, it may find itself being used as a swift transport, so the designer adds a second deck of rowing benches. The ship can now hold up to 212 rowers, and has a draught of 7 feet, instead of the 4 feet it would have originally drawn.

Oars weigh one stone per two rowers.
Example: Fully equipped with oars for 212 rowers and 20 spares, the oars would take up 116 stone of weight. In normal merchant service, however, the ship will only carry 50 rowers' worth of oars, weighing only 25 stone.

Tonnage: The tonnage of a ship is a complicated thing. For purposes of simplification, these rules use Builder's Old Measurement to calculate tonnage, which is the length of a ship, minus 60% of the beam, times the beam, times the draught, all divided by 94. Each ton of ship provides 1 structural hit point (shp). Each ton of ship also provides 200 stone of carrying capacity.
Example: The merchant galley is 112 feet long and 16 feet wide, with a 7 foot draught due to the second deck. This means its tonnage is (102.4*16*7)/94 = 122 tons and it has 122 shp. The ship can be outfitted with up to 24,400 stone of crew, equipment, and cargo.

Kiero
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Looks good.

What's the deal with warships? I'm thinking again of triremes and others, which would likely have a better AC than Seaworthiness.

On oarsmen, what about putting more than one rower to an oar? This has the advantage of more muscle power without additional beam/decks, but also requiring fewer trained oarsmen (since only the guy on the end needs to know what he's doing). It's probably how fours and above managed their numbers, adding oarsmen to each oar rather than more levels.

The Dark
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There will be options for heavy hulls, which will add armor for a small cost in speed. I'm probably also going to add a mortise-and-tenon hull type, which will add armor at the cost of being more expensive to build and repair. I've already added rules for clinker hulls (the default is framed carvel just because that's what most people are familiar with), so adding a mortise-and-tenon carvel would make sense also.

Oarsmen are somewhat abstracted - oars weigh 1 stone per 2 rowers, but the rules don't say whether that's 2 oars each weighing half a stone, or a 1 stone oar with 2 rowers on it. If one really wants to get into the details, the formula for rowers [(Useful Length/3)*((Beam-8)/2)] is based on the math of how many rowers can be crammed into a space. The Useful Length/3 gives the number of files of rowers; each file needed around 3 feet of space to operate efficiently. The ((Beam-8)/2) is a rough estimate of how many rowers can fit next to each other in each file. A ship generally needed 2 feet of space from the hull to the first rower for leverage, plus a 4 foot walkway down the middle for people to move about on the deck, and each rower took up 2 feet of space. So, a 12 foot wide ship can have (12-8)/2 = 2 rowers per file; it's only got 1 man per oar. A 16 foot wide ship can have 4 rowers per file, or 2 men per oar, and so on. Or, working the other way, each time you add an oarsman to an oar, it adds 4 feet of beam to the ship (one man per side times two feet per man).
This particular merchant ship, with 106 rowers, has 26 files of 4 and a file of 2 (probably at the bow, where it starts to narrow but can still fit shorter benches). The "50 oars" would likely be 24 two-man oars and a pair of one-man oars.
tl;dr answer: it's abstracted into the rules.

The ability to add extra men per oar is also part of why ships are limited to three decks; it's pretty much physically impossible to superimpose four decks' worth of oars and actually get a useful working stroke out of them, and moving forward to the Age of Sail, ships generally carried cannon on three decks or less (and there are rules for forecastles and sterncastles for the partial fourth decks that were rarely used).

Kiero
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Excellent.

One other consideration: dry vs wet hulls. Will there be any speed bonus for having dried out your hull, or speed penalty for having been in the water for a while? Or both, with some sort of optimum period of time (a week?) with neither bonus nor penalty?

The Dark
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Most likely it will be gradual penalties for too much time in the water, to simulate both how ancient galleys became waterlogged over time and the fouling of ships in general. Ships can be dried out, careened, plated, or coated. Likely the first two will be actions that can be taken, while plating will be a ship option and coating (white stuff, black stuff, brown stuff) will be something that can be bought and applied to extend the time before the ship starts suffering penalties.

Kiero
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I was looking over the ship speeds in the corebook again, and there's something that doesn't jibe with what I've been reading.

The implication is that the more oarsmen that are powering a ship, the faster it is (under oars). So a pentekonter might be more nimble than a trireme, but it's also slower. However, under sail the smaller vessel is faster.

The Dark
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At the risk of this phrase becoming cliche, ship speed is...complicated. It relies on many things. Among them are the amount of power (whether from oars, sails, a mechanical engine, etc), the ship's length (which generally increases speed), and the ship's block coefficient (essentially, how streamlined it is under water; the sleeker the ship, the faster it is).

Comparing the pentekonter to the trireme, a trireme was slightly longer (around 37 meters to 33 meters), about equally sleek, quite a bit heavier, and with a lot more power (170 rowers to 50 rowers). Both types of ships used a single sail, although I don't know how different the sails were. So, the trireme should have a higher top speed under oars (although possibly slower to accelerate) under optimal conditions, but be the same speed or slower under sail and less nimble due to the heavier weight and need to coordinate multiple tiers of oars.

Note that the "less nimble" is still relative, though. A Greek trireme is still lightly built and quite nimble compared to a Hellenistic polyreme, when fours to sixes were the main battle fleet and larger ships were used as floating siege batteries.

Kiero
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I thought the trieres/trireme had two masts and thus two sails (at least the later ones did). There's countless images of two-mast triremes, and the Olympias had two.

The Dark
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Sorry, I'm just getting back to this - my understanding (although I'll need to re-read the Olympias trials again) is that the boat mast (the forward mast) did very little to speed the ship up if the mainmast was functioning. It ended up having two functions: it was an emergency mast that would allow sailing if the mainmast wasn't aboard (i.e. in a combat situation) or if the mainmast broke. Also, when both sails were used, it helped the ship when turning because it could be set for the new angle and catch the wind while the mainsail was being reset.

I do already have rules for a bowsprit that reflect the second use, but I'll need to modify the rule to allow use of a bowsprit as an emergency sail.

The Dark
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I received some information today from a very helpful research historian regarding masts and sails and how much certain things weigh in relation to other things, which means I will be revising and expanding on the Ship Construction section of the document.

Kiero
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Talking of construction, one other thing that occurred to me: reconstruction. You might take a ship of one type, and rebuild it as something else (either by design or when repairing storm/battle damage). That might be as simple as turning an aphract vessel into a cataphract by adding decking, but also more complex such as adding a bank of oars to a single or two-decked vessel to increase the number of rowers.

As you noted in an earlier reply, a pentekonter, for example, wasn't much smaller than a trireme, adding another bank of oars (which would make it higher, but also sit lower in the water due to the extra weight) would double it's power under oars. Rebuilding it with a broader beam might also allow you to accommodate a second rower on each oar of the top bank.

While it might be complicated and involve compromises, it's still probably cheaper than building a new ship, and may require a lower level of shipwright skill.

The Dark
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Just to test the construction system, I decided to try out a giant merchantman. It's loosely based on the Roman grain ship Isis.

Our starting point is that the ship was 180 feet long, over a quarter that in width, and had a cargo hold that was 44 feet deep from the main deck to the keel.

So, to start, we'll use a 180 foot length and a 3:1 beam, which gives us a rather tubby 180x60 ship, with a 15 foot draught. That's probably not enough to be 44 feet from the main deck, so we'll add a second deck to drop the draught to 22.5 feet. The ship has a seaworthiness of 5, and as a giant merchant ship, no rowers will be added. Isis is a 2068 ton ship, with a base capacity of 413,600 stone. Her base shp are equal to her tonnage, which is 2068. Because the Romans used mortise and tenon joining, she'll be considered a clinker ship. This give +10% shp and +1 seaworthiness, but means rowers or artillery cannot be carried on any deck except the top deck. This means Isis has 2275 shp and a seaworthiness of 6.

At 180 feet, she could have up to six masts, for a total of 13 sails, but that's far more than what the Romans actually did. Instead, we'll go for a modest 3 masts and 5 sails. With square sails and the beaminess of the ship, that will require 66 crew to handle the sails. This also gives her a speed of 2 hexes per round when sailing with a fresh breeze (0 modifier) from an aft quarter (also 0 modifier). Given that the base turn rate for Isis is 11 (one 60 degree turn every 11 rounds), we'll also add a bowsprit (which requires 2 more crew), to improve the turn rate to 10. It's not much, but it makes her a little less of a wallowing pig. The total weight of masts, sails, and rigging is 5400 stone. Carrying a full spare set of sails and rigging adds another 1800 stone, so the total rig is 7200 stone.

With 68 crew needed to run the ship, an additional 7 crew (captain, navigator, bosun, and 4 spare sailors) are added to make an even 75 crew. At an average of 15 stone weight for a human, the crew weighs 1,125 stone. For the sake of this example, each crew member has 200 stone of personal gear and rations for the voyage, for another 15,000 stone in crew weight. The total crew weight is 16,125 stone.

Adding crew weight plus rig weight, the ship could sail with equipment taking up 23,325 stone, which would allow Isis to theoretically carry up to 390,275 stone in cargo, or about 1950 tons. However, a ship like this would also have marines aboard, and the real Isis also carried artillery on her top deck. These would reduce cargo space accordingly, but it shows the massive amounts she could theoretically carry.

For cost, the hull of Isis alone costs 227,500 gold pieces. The masts cost 36,000 gold pieces. Rigging costs haven't been figured yet, but I anticipate they'd be somewhere around the cost of the masts, maybe a bit more. A normal crew would be 563 gold per month. So, it would cost approximately 300,000 gold to have the ship built, and a minimum of 563 gold a month to have a competent crew handle her. She can haul large amounts of cargo, but only at a speed of 4 knots in a moderate breeze, and she'll pretty much only be used between Class I markets because of the amount of cargo she needs to haul to be profitable.

Kiero
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Excellent stuff.

How would a vessel at that level of seaworthiness handle storms and other bad weather at sea?

The Dark
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Seaworthiness 6 can withstand up to Beaufort Wind Force 9 before it starts taking damage. That's more than I intended pseudo-Isis to be able to withstand, but it gives me a starting point to work from in balancing the rules. I haven't done all the ship options yet, and this convinces me there need to be some that add a benefit but reduce seaworthiness to reflect ships designed for areas with calmer weather.

bobloblah
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Out of curiosity, what happens under your rules if you add 13 masts to this design? I ask because the Romans presumably didn't do so because the marginal return past the number of masts it actually had was poor, or even negative...

The Dark
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There are two constraints on masts. The first is a hard rule that a ship can only have 1 mast per 30 full feet of length, so the 13-mast ship would need to be 390 feet or longer. The second is an effect rule that if a ship has more masts than its Base Seaworthiness, it gets -1 to Seaworthiness for each additional mast. This represents the fact that as masts are added on, there are more stresses on their anchoring points and amount of weight higher in the hull increases, reducing stability. There are also diminishing returns built into the speed chart once you get to about 8 knots or so. Below that, each pair of sails adds about 2 knots to speed. Above it, each pair adds about half a knot.

bobloblah
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Cool! I have zero knowledge that would allow me to assess the accuracy, but it certainly sounds real-world.

The Dark
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Just a small "ah-ha!" update. I took most of September off from writing because it's my company's end-of-fiscal-year, and my job gets crazy for about six weeks. When I came back to my files and started reading, I realized I had been trying to write the combat rules, non-combat rules, and construction system all at the same time, which made things incredibly convoluted. I am going to go back and reorganize what I have, and then focus on one area at a time. Hopefully that will let me be more efficient in how I write...stuff.

Kiero
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Good to hear. Making me feel a little guilty on how little I've done on MLT lately...

The Dark
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I'm doing a major revision right now - the original draft of the rules used a movement chart where speed bonuses or penalties moved you up or down the chart, but it had a lot of fractional movements. It worked OK for single-ship actions, but would be totally unwieldy for even a small squadron. I'm switching instead to a point-based movement system, which (so far) is going much smoother. There's still math involved, but it's much simpler math.

Kiero
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Good to hear you're still working on this, I'm really looking forward to the results.

The Dark
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One side effect to switching to a Movement Point system is something that I just finished working out the math on. The MPs scale almost perfectly as long as I play around with time scales a bit, as follows:

On a tactical scale, 1 hex is 30 feet per 10 seconds, and generally costs 2-4 MP (depending on movement type, wind direction, etc). At a 6-mile hex size, the same MP will let you move 1 hex in 3 hours, so moving to a 3 hour time scale means the same MP equals the same amount of movement. Likewise, at a 24-mile hex size, the same MP lets you move 1 hex in 12 hours. No messing around with the number of MP, it's just zooming in or zooming out to different scales of distance and time.

Pope Nag
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Damn, this is cool!

I might have missed these points, but here's my two cents:

What happens if the captain decides to cancel a burst half way through? Or if the burts has to stop before the 2d3 rounds are up? Is the downtime in which the ship is slowed affected?

Perhaps you could look into defenses like protecting a harbour with a large chain - that would certainly ruin someone's day.

And a few things I'm sure my players would come up with:
- what happens if I chain 40 zombies to the oars? Obviously they won't get tired, but I'm guessing bursts are out of the question as well.
- more importantly: fire. Do you have riles for people trying to set other ships ablaze? Or was that historically not as common as I would imagine?

The Dark
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"What happens if the captain decides to cancel a burst half way through? Or if the burts has to stop before the 2d3 rounds are up? Is the downtime in which the ship is slowed affected?"

Good question - I hadn't considered that yet. There should still be some downtime, but it probably shouldn't be the full time, since the rowers haven't been worked to exhaustion.

"Perhaps you could look into defenses like protecting a harbour with a large chain - that would certainly ruin someone's day."

*evil grin* I should point out that one of my major sources recently is William Murray's 'Age of Titans,' which is heavily about naval siege warfare, including harbor defenses and using ships to ram city walls(!).

"And a few things I'm sure my players would come up with:
- what happens if I chain 40 zombies to the oars? Obviously they won't get tired, but I'm guessing bursts are out of the question as well."

Yes, undead won't be able to do bursts. However, there is discussion of "non-living" power sources in the strategic movement section. That could be a steam engine, a magical engine, or Residual Human Resources. They may not be as fast for tactical movement, but their endurance is higher than living rowers.

"- more importantly: fire. Do you have riles for people trying to set other ships ablaze? Or was that historically not as common as I would imagine?"

...OK, that needs to be added to the To-Do list. If nothing else, there were the Rhodians (I think - may have been Cretans) using firepots, fire arrows, and (of course) Greek Fire. Plus, PCs have a tendency towards pyromania, so even if it wasn't totally historical, it would still need to be included. Besides, at some point, somebody with a ship WILL anger a dragon (in addition to pyromania, PCs have a tendency to rather poor life decisions).

koewn
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I'm somewhat wondering now how many water elementals it would take to move a ship of a given size, if they flatten themselves up underneath it and essentially "carry" it.

As an aside, it would be fun to have some sort of conversion system from whatever horrible sea monster to the statistics that would be compatible with your ships in combat, for polyreme vs. dragon turtle (next on SyFy!)

The Dark
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I had mentioned I needed to reorganize what I had written. I spent some time looking at how past books were set up, and using them as inspiration, have reorganized my working document. The combat rules, large-scale movement rules, and ship construction rules are mostly complete, with 13 pages of text in a semi-edited format. There will be at least two more sections, one with sample ships and the other...well, that would be telling.

The Dark
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Based on the Oberstimm river craft, here's a light vessel that may be of use if characters want to travel between the river forts in SSoS:

River Galley
56'x8'x2' (freeboard 1'4”)
Tonnage 9
shp 27
Base Seaworthiness 3
Armor Class 1
Base Rowing Speed 4 (equivalent to 4 knots or 1 hex per 90 minutes at 6 mile scale)
Required Rowers 22
Rowers 28
Rowing MP 4
Modifications: Light Hull (-2 AC, +1 MP), Flat Bottom (-1 MP, +1 save vs. ground, -2d6 damage from grounding)
Cargo capacity: 5400 stone
Cargo used: 14 stone (oars), 450 stone (28 crew and 2 passengers), 450 stone (5 days' rations), 3000 stone (10 stone of equipment per person)
Cargo available: 1486 stone

Design considerations: The original ship was 51.5' by 8.5' and around 3.3' from top to bottom. It worked out best as a 7:1, at 56'x8'x3.3'. It's known to have a flat bottom, and reproductions done by Projekt Romerschiff have been rowed at around 4 knots (note: I do not know German, but Google Translate is a miracle of technology), so the light hull was added to bring the speed back to 4. This type of boat would be used to transport patrols. The 10 stone of gear is 6 stone for banded armor, 1 stone for shield, 2 stone for weapons (sword, dagger, and either spear or bow and arrows), and 1 stone for miscellaneous gear. Rations were calculated at 3 stone per person. If the troops were actually going on patrol, more rations would be carried, but at 1 stone per person for the days expected to be spent on patrol, rather than the 3 stone for rowing.

I hope this is helpful to someone. Working it through helped me see that I do seem to at least be in the ballpark for stats, and can do this for a relatively small vessel suitable to a (large) adventuring party.

The Dark
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...and I forgot to include cost. The hull of the ship is 2700 gp, the benches for rowers are 140 gp, and oars are 70 gp. Rations are 21.5 weeks of rations, so between between 6.5 gp and 130 gp for rations (based on 3 sp lowest for fresh and 6 gp highest for iron). For the sake of argument, make it 90 gp so that everything totals up to 3000 gp.

Kiero
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I finally managed to dredge this thread up from the deep - what's the latest?

The Dark
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I moved in November 2015, and haven't done much since. The rules are up to around 15 pages. There's also a page of notes regarding harbors and seven fully-statted ships (a river galley, four types of merchant vessel ranging in crew size from 4 to 21, a bireme, and a trireme). However, there are some gaps in the rules - one of the ships has a sewn hull, which I apparently never finished adding to the rules.

Kiero
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Fair enough, real life happens. Any plans to return to it in the near future?

The Dark
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Fair enough, real life happens. Any plans to return to it in the near future?


-Kiero
Probably not the near future, though I do hope to get back to it at some point. I don't currently have a playtest group, and I haven't had time to do some of the research I need to do.

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