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TOP SECRET/S.I.

HOUSE RULES - COMBAT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction ...................................................2 Automatic Fire ...............................................3 Body Armour .................................................4 Braced Shot ..................................................5 Called Shot....................................................5 Cover.............................................................5 Double-Tap ...................................................5 Handedness ..................................................5 Hard Cover Protection...................................6 Hit Locations .................................................7 Laser Dot Pointers ........................................7 Prepared Shot ...............................................7 Range............................................................7 Silencers / Suppressors ................................7 Shotgun Ammunition.....................................8 Special Ammunition ......................................8 Telescopic Sights ..........................................9 Weapon Skills ...............................................9 Useful Gaming Statistics .............................10 Combat Turn Quick Reference ...................11 Special Options & Modifiers Table ..............12

INTRODUCTION The author has been playing and running Top Secret since the mid-80s, and made the switch quite happily to Top Secret/SI when it was released. Top Secret in any guise is not primarily about gun combat, nor should it be. Even if combat is only ever used as a last resort, a games combat system can make or break the game. In Top Secret, combat was so complicated that it inherently discouraged anything more than the occasional pistol waving. Top Secret/SI drastically streamlined combat for the better, but in the process introduced numerous statistical errors, especially with regards to firearm ranges. It is natural for a game master to modify game rules to their own tastes. This is even encouraged by the majority of RPG authors. RPGs are inherently fluid and dependent on storytelling, the rules existing merely as a means of resolving some encounters. One of the most commonly tweaked chapters in any game is the section on combat rules. Motives for this vary, ranging from the preservation of player characters to the addition of more realism to the game. In this particular case, the rules presented are intended to give the players more options, to update some of the concepts from the 1980s, and to give that ever-elusive sense of realism while still maintaining an acceptable degree of gameplay fluidity. This document is not intended as a wholesale replacement for the combat system as written in Top Secret/SI but as a set of clarifications, modifications, and additional rules. These house rules have been developed with balance of gameplay and well-paced simulation of reality in mind. Some of the ideas come from suggestions within the loosely knit TSSI Internet community; some are taken from magazine articles; and some come from the shooting experience of my colleagues and myself. In the end, no one has any specific reason to use the information disclosed herein. However, these are the combat rules and weapon statistics as I, as a game Admin, use them. Therefore, I provide this information so that my players will know and hopefully understand the game rules and be on an even playing field. Additionally, some out-of-print articles from Dragon are an integral part of this revised system. These articles should be referenced directly as they will not be reprinted here: At Close Quarters (Dragon 151), There Are No Generic Black Belts (Dragon 160), and A Swing and a Hit (Dragon 178).

Wayne Young WRY Strategy August 2005

AUTOMATIC FIRE (alternate rule): Each weapon is listed with an ROF that represents the number of bullets fired for a short burst (approximately second). A character may fire a full burst (approximately 1 second) that doubles the ROF or an extended burst (approximately 2 seconds) that quadruples the ROF. When modifying ROF for full and extended Bursts, multiply the base number directly, and multiple the number of dice rolled as well. Example: Short Full Extended d6+2 2d6+4 4d6+8

Note that extended bursts may not be rapid fired (as the burst takes the entire two second combat turn). Short and full bursts may be rapid fired. Full Bursts may only be rapid fired at same or adjacent targets. When automatic bursts are fired, the Admin makes the appropriate ROF roll. This represents the number of rounds that are fired; if this is more than the number of rounds left in the weapon, then the ROF is equal to the number of remaining rounds. Once the ROF is known then the number of to-hit rolls may be determined as follows: Rounds/Burst 1-2 3-6 7-12 13-20 21-30 31-42 Rolls To-Hit 1 2 3 4 5 6 Rounds/Burst 43-56 57-72 73-90 91-110 111-132 133-156 Rolls To-Hit 7 8 9 10 11 12

Each to-hit roll is resolved with a cumulative 10 to-hit modifier starting with the second roll unless a turn is taken to steady the weapon, at which point the base modifier returns to 0. Weapons employing a bipod or pintle-mount reduce the cumulative modifier to 5 per additional to-hit roll. Tripod-mounted weapons ignore this modifier. Example: A character with an SMG that has an ROF of d6+2 fires a normal firediscipline burst; the Admin rolls a 5 (secretly) and determines that 7 bullets were fired in the burst; the player rolls to-hit three times, taking 10 and 20 to the 2nd and 3rd shots respectively; results are determined and the Admin makes a note of that players ammo. Designers note: This rule is designed to balance out automatic fire in Top Secret/S.I. given that the existing system is extremely streamlined and the original Top Secret system is overly detailed. This method offers characters the opportunity to deal more damage when firing automatic weapons, but with the consequences that come with that. The system also incorporates a more random ROF formula, which at the same time gives control and takes control from the player a player can choose how long of a burst to attempt, how many bursts to do in a row, and so on; a player does not have control over the exact number of rounds in each burst.

BODY ARMOUR (alternate rule): The existing rules for body armour in Top Secret/SI are terribly simplified and terribly inaccurate. This can be forgiven for a game written in the 1980s when Kevlar seemed like a wonder-material. Instead, the following system provides a compromise between game simplicity and ballistic reality. When a target is hit in a location that is protected by armour, compare the Damage Roll (DR) to Armour Rating (AR) of the body armour. When noting the hit location, keep in mind whether the armour (if any) is Soft (vests) or Rigid (helmets and trauma plates, when they are hit). AR 4 6 8 10 +2 5 10 Type soft soft soft soft rigid rigid rigid Mass Cost 1lbs $300 2lbs $500 4lbs $750 8lbs $1500 +100% +50% 2lbs $50 3lbs $100 Protection (Locations) 1, 2 1, 2 (Mods 1) 1, 2 (Mods 2) 1, 2 (Mods 2, MOV 10) 1, 2 (50%, Mods 1) 0 (front 50%, side 75%) 0 (front 60%, side 80%)

Lightweight Undervest (NIJ-II/IIA) Police Overvest (NIJ-III/IIIA) Tactical Overt Vest (NIJ-IV/IVA) Military Overt Vest Trauma Plate (front & back) Steel Helmet Kevlar Helmet

Notes: 1. All vests can be tailor-made to cover area 3. Such armour weighs and costs and additional 50% if it is available and has a cumulative Mods 1. 2. Police undervests can be acquired for 50% more cost. Such vests have police overvest AR and mass but may be worn under light clothing covertly. 3. Trauma plates are special inserts for vests that help absorb high energy impacts from high velocity projectiles. If the target is hit in the appropriate location, there is a 50% chance that the trauma plate is hit and will a) add +2 to the AR of the vest and b) treat the impact as if vs. rigid armour. The mass and cost presumes front and back trauma plates. Better trauma plates simply cost more Admin discretion. 4. Ballistic casual sports jackets, suit vests, and suit jackets are available. These generally cost 50% more than the equivalent ballistic vest (level II/IIA or III/IIIA only!); longer jackets also protect location 3 and therefore cost 100% more; a duster or trenchcoat may be made of ballistic material upon Admin approval such a creation will mass three times its vest equivalent and cost five times its vest equivalent; ballistic trenchcoat wearers suffer Mods 2 and MOV 10. 5. Body armour may be combined at Admin discretion. Two similar armour types may not be worn together (ie, one cannot wear two police overvests). Negative modifiers are cumulative; any undervest worn with other armour also provides an additional Mods 1 (as it loses the advantage of its covertness). 6. Helmets provide variable protection depending on how they are worn. For simplicity, all shots from the rear are presumed to hit the helmet. Use the percentages given for front and side shots; shots that do not hit the helmet will most likely hit the face. Result DR>AR DRAR DRAR vs. Soft Full Damage (Wound) Full Damage (Bruise) Half Damage (Bruise) vs. Rigid Full Damage (Wound) Half Damage (Bruise) One Point (Bruise)

BRACED SHOT (clarification): A weapon is automatically considered braced if the shooter is able to use a wall, doorframe, desk, or whatever to support either the weapon itself or her/his shooting hand(s). Therefore, almost all shots taken from the prone or sitting/kneeling positions should be considered braced. Exception: a weapon may never be considered braced on the same turn that it is drawn or put into firing position. CALLED SHOT (alternate rule): With regard to inanimate objects, the rule as written in the Players Guide should stand. When shooting at live targets, all Called Shots should be resolved at Attribute with the following exceptions: Called Shots against the legs (which are arguably larger than the other target areas) are at Attribute; a Called Shot may be declared against Center Body Mass and resolved at Attribute any hit is then randomized between locations 1, 2, and 3. Keep in mind that Called Shots may not be relocated using the shooters skill level this is the trade-off (Center Body Mass hits may be relocated by 1 locations for levels 2 & 3 and by 2 locations for levels 4 & 5. With that in mind, it is in many cases more practical for high level shooters to let the dice determine the hit location and then adjust it accordingly. COVER: The rule as written in the Players Guide should stand. Keep in mind that Soft Cover merely obscures the line of sight, making it harder to hit the target accurately; Hard Cover may also potentially absorb hits as well as obscure the line of sight. DOUBLE-TAP (optional rule): Police and military personnel are often trained to fire their first two shots in rapid succession to increase the probability of a hit. At closer ranges, the double-tap can also improve the chances of stopping the target. To perform the double-tap, the trigger is squeezed twice in rapid succession while the weapon is aimed. A character may only perform a double-tap with a weapon that has a pistol grip (mostly pistols, assault rifles, and submachineguns) and that is capable of firing in a semi-automatic manner (revolvers and shotguns may never double-tap). Double-tapping is essentially controlled rapid fire. As such, each shot starts with the rapid fire modifier of 30 and is modified upwards. Because double-tapping is more or less a skill, the counter-modifier is tied to the characters appropriate weapon skill. The counter-modifier is calculated at +5 per skill level. Used against the rapid fire modifier, a character with a level 3 skill in Pistol that attempts to double-tap with a handgun suffers a 15 modifier to each shot (which is further offset by the +15 for Pistol-3 anyways!). HANDEDNESS (alternate rule): Top Secret/SI provides for a 30 modifier for shooting with the wrong hand; this seems entirely reasonable and can be offset or negated either by the Ambidexterity character Advantage or by acquiring the Off-Hand Firing skill from the Commando book. Contrary to popular belief, pistols are best fired with two hands and most professionals are trained to shoot this way. Similarly, most long-arms are fired two-handed, but those with a pistol grip can be fired one-handed with a certain degree of skill. Characters firing pistols one-handed suffer a 10 to their to-hit roll; those attempting to fire rifles, submachineguns, etc, with one hand suffer a 20 to-hit. Note that Wrong-handed and one-handed modifiers are cumulative a character that fires a pistol with his off-hand alone would suffer a 40 to-hit (plus other modifiers).

HARD COVER PROTECTION (optional rule): In most situations it is more expedient to presume that Hard Cover will stop projectiles dead. Sometimes this is not the case. If there is a chance that the bullet may penetrate the cover, then compare the values below to the damage result (DR). This works similar to the system for Body Armour any damage value above the cover rating (CR) of the cover penetrates and may still potentially cause damage to a person that is hit. If there is a difference in range band between the cover and the target, halve the damage result after penetrating cover but before impacting the target; in most cases where the bullet penetrates intervening cover, the full DR is applied to the target (presuming she/he is hit). Common Cover Automobile door Elevator door Interior wooden door Exterior wooden door Heavy wooden gate Metal fire door Asphalt or shingle roof Tile or slate roof House floor (wood) High-rise floor 3 brick wall 6 brick wall 12 brick wall Wooden frame wall Log timber wall Armour Plate Aluminum Bullet resistant glass Fiberglass Steel Steel armour plate Titanium armour plate Wood Cover Concrete Earth (hand packed) Earth (hard ground) Rock Sand (loose) Water Wood CR 2 4 1 2 5 6 2 4 1 260 100 370 980 1 22
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Miscellaneous Cover Common furniture 55 gallon drum (water filled) 55 gallon drum (earth filled) 55 gallon drum (concrete filled) Livestock Railroad tie Telephone pole Cinder block (plain) Cinder block (earth filled) Cinder block (concrete filled)

CR 1 8 85 3200 18 20 30 4 25 460

/8 1 1 1 6 11 5 1

4 2 2 16 30 13 1

CR by Thickness 1 2 9 16 24 64 3 6 8 22 3 5 7 18 42 75 110 300 79 140 210 550 35 62 93 250 1 1 2 4

4 8 170 450 58 155 50 130 780 2000 1500 3900 650 1700 7 11

6 450 20 24 900 11 1 11

CR by Thickness 8 10 12 16 24 36 48 680 930 1200 1800 3200 5600 8400 27 34 40 54 80 120 160 32 41 48 65 96 140 190 1300 1800 2400 3600 6400 11000 16500 15 19 23 30 45 68 92 2 2 2 3 5 7 10 15 18 22 29 44 66 89

HIT LOCATIONS (alternate rule): The hit chart shown to the right will be used to determine hit locations in combat. The minor variations to the diagram itself are as follows: 1) The rearrangement of locations 1 and 2, allowing 1 to represent lungs & heart; 2 represents stomach, liver, pancreas, spleen; 3 is the intestines, reproductive organs, & hips. 2) Clear marking of which is left and which is right, as per the PG. 3) The expansion of the number of damage boxes to 12, purely for those uber-characters with CON 71+ and 4pt Toughness advantage. LASER DOT POINTERS (optional rule): Laser dot pointers, more commonly known as laser sights, allow shooters to train their weapon on a target with greater accuracy. A laser sight is easy to use, the shooter simply has to point the weapon and look for the (usually) red dot. As such, the laser affords a +10 to-hit modifier. Because the speed which the laser can brought to bear on the target, laser sights afford a +1 Mods for purposes of initiative only (not concealment). Early laser sights are bulky and incur a 1 to the Mods value of any weapon for purposes of concealment only. The major limitation of the laser sight is that the laser dot must be seen. The basic distance that a shooter can see the dot is based on INT 5 (in feet). Certain Advantages/Disadvantages can modify this distance. A character with Acute Vision can see the dot at twice the usual distance; a character with Vision Impairment or Colour Blindness sees the dot at half the distance (with both, quarter the distance). Shooters using a scope can see the dot at any range that they can see through the scope, but the dot really only serves as an alternate cross-hair and thus is of limited use. PREPARED SHOT (clarification): Keep in mind that a Prepared Shot is the same as Watch (also called overwatch by many). The +5 modifier to-hit is also accompanied by the +5 modifier to initiative (the latter having the greater impact). RANGE (alternate rule): The rules for weapon ranges as written in the Players Guide stands with the following additions: all shots at Point Blank range do double damage (roll double the dice, double the modifiers); all Lucky Break results to hit result in double damage as well (which can be combined with Point Blank range for quadruple damage); a new range category called Extreme Range is added Extreme Range is double the distance of Long Range and has a to-hit modifier of 100. SILENCERS and SUPPRESSORS (alternate rule): Suppressors reduce the report from the weapon by muffling muzzle blast. Suppressors do not inherently reduce the sound of the weapon action or the supersonic snap of the bullet. The base chance of detecting a suppressed weapon is an INT check up to Short range, INT at Medium, and INT at Long (no check is made at Extreme range). This chance may be further reduced by firing from a locked breech weapon (halve the chance) or by using subsonic ammo (cold loads, -P-, etc; halve the chance). Locked breech shots do not automatically chamber a new round. Subsonic ammo does 1 damage (min 0) and halves all range categories.

SHOTGUN AMMUNITION (alternate rule): Because of the way that shotguns disperse their shot, use the following chart to determine the maximum number of targets and the potential damage to each target (targets must be adjacent); note that each target may only be hit once (ie, if there is one target at Medium range, you do not get four shots at that particular target). Shot 10 Gauge 12 Gauge 16 Gauge 20 Gauge Targets Shot Slug Shot Slug Shot Slug Shot Slug Point Blank 1 8d5 2d12+4 8d4 2d12 8d3 2d10 8d2 2d8+2 Short 2 4d5 d12+2 4d4 d12 4d3 d10 4d2 d8+1 Medium 4 2d5 d12+2 2d4 d12 2d3 d10 2d2 d8+1 Long 8 d5 d12+2 d4 d12 d3 d10 d2 d8+1 Extreme 16 d3 d6+1 d2 d6 d2 d5 d2-1 d5 .410 Shot Slug 8d2 2d8 4d2 d8 2d2 d8 d2 d8 d2-1 d4

The Shotgun modifiers (+10 for regular shotguns, +20 for sawed-off shotguns) apply only to shotshells, not to slugs. Similarly, slugs can only hit one target at any range. Using shot, a shotgun may affect as many targets as indicated by the Shot Targets column. For armour penetration, each shot die is considered individually. SPECIAL AMMUNITION (optional rule): The general assumption within the game is that all ammunition represented is ball ammunition either cast lead bullets with rounded noses, or similarly shaped bullets with (usually) copper jacketing. The Admin may allow characters to have access to different ammunition types at her/his discretion. Hollowpoint: same as ball, except when the dice are rolled for damage, treat the roll as being 1 for purposes of armour penetration, but +1 for purposes of damage. Glaser: designed for hunters, Glaser ammunition is frangible; when the dice are rolled for damage, treat the roll as half the rolled result for purposes of armour penetration, but +2 for purposes of damage. Cost is double that of ball or hollowpoint. Cold Loads: designed to keep bullet velocity low for use with suppressed weapons; apply a 1 to the damage dice and apply to both armour penetration and damage; halve all ranges; cold loaded ammo is specialty ammo, so the cost is double the normal. Armour Piercing: military rounds designed specifically for penetrating armour, often using high density cores and other gimmicks; when the dice are rolled for damage, treat the roll as being +2 for purposes of armour penetration; this is very specialized ammo not commonly available outside the military cost and availability should be at the discretion of the Admin, but it is suggested that it be rare (likely black market or direct government issue) and that it cost dearly (minimum triple or quadruple normal cost). Flechette: again, a specialized round designed purely for penetration, flechettes are dart-like projectiles contained in the cartridge with a sabot; when the dice are rolled for damage, treat the roll as being double for purposes of armour penetration, but half for purposes of damage; flechette ammo is uncommon and often illegal minimum 2x cost.

TELESCOPIC SIGHTS (alternate rule): Telescopic sights (or scopes) offer a skilled shooter a greater ability to hit small targets at long ranges. Using a scope offers a base bonus to-hit of +25 and an additional bonus of 5% per skill level of the shooter. However, scopes have their drawbacks and one of them is the time required to train the sight onto the target. The base time to aim with a scope is five combat turns, reduced by one turn per skill level of the shooter. If the character shoots before the aiming is complete, use the telescopic sight bonus but incur a 10 to-hit for each turn of aiming that is remaining. Because the bonus is based on shooter skill and the time to aim is also based on shooter skill, a mid-level shooter can actually shoot without waiting and still have a small bonus (e.g.: level 2 shooter would get a +35 to-hit after aiming for 3 turns (52=3) but would still get a +5 to-hit without waiting the 3 turns (30)). Optic sights are simplified and compact scopes, often employed on military small arms. These sights only give the base +25 to-hit modifier. They are designed to be simpler to use and thus do not require time to train onto the target. Telescopic sights have Mods 2 and optic sights have Mods 1. WEAPON SKILLS (optional rule): The world is rarely as black and white as the Top Secret/SI skill system portrays it, particularly with regards to firearm usage. The reality of it is that firearms dont always fall into distinct categories, seeming to qualify as two (or more) types of weapon at once. Pistol: Any weapon with a pistol grip that is light enough to be handled reasonable well in one hand. These weapons often have the magazine inserted into the pistol grip, though some have alternate magazine arrangements. Revolvers fall into this category, as do submachinepistols. Generally, these weapons have barrel lengths ranging from 2 up to 12. Rifle: Any longer weapon, usually with a barrel of 12 or more. Weapons that can be used with this skill include all rifles, carbines, and shotguns of conventional design. Lighter machineguns can be used with the Rifle skill, but skill checks should be required for loading belted or drummed ammunition. While shotguns may be fired equally well with this skill, the Shotgun skill should be used for maintaining and repairing shotgun specific features (chokes, custom shell loads, etc). Submachinegun: This skill covers a broad range of weapons true submachineguns, short carbines, and submachinepistols. The skill also covers the varying degree of stances and firing techniques employed by these weapons, thereby justifying the slightly greater cost of this skill over Pistol, Rifle, and Shotgun. Shotgun: Large caliber weapons that are usually designed to fire shotshells, the general aiming principles apply similarly to rifles. While rifles may be fired using the Shotgun skill without penalty, rifle specific maintenance and repairs (including custom cartridge loads) are performed with the Rifle skill. Sniper Rifle: As per the Commando book, this skill only applies to accurized sniper weapons, and only those zeroed in and adjusted for the shooter. 9

USEFUL GAMING STATISTICS


1. Endurance (p66, Players Guide):
Characters can perform light exercise for CON minutes. Characters can perform heavy exercise for CON 2-second turns. Heavy Exercise includes any combat and running over half of MOV rate.

2. Encumbrance (p66, Players Guide):


Characters can carry up to their STR (in pounds) without a STR check. Characters carrying more than half of their STR in lbs effectively halve their MOV. Characters carrying more than half of their STR in lbs halve their DEX for balance.

3. Scale (proprietary):
Any scale can be used as determined by pre-existing maps and space limitations. Normal game scale recommended is game surface of 1=5 game distance; this permits compatibility with 25mm/28mm/30mm scale figs, 1:43 & 1:48 scale vehicles and terrain, as well as being an easy number to work with mathematically. While this makes the range scale 1:60 while the props are 1:43-48, it still looks good.

Action Slow Walk Fast Walk Jog Full Run Accelerate Decelerate Stand up Go prone Stand to kneel Prone to kneel

Per turn 5 10 20 MOV (MOV) (MOV) 1 turn Instant Instant 1 turn

Scale inches 1 2 4 (MOV5) (MOV10) (MOV0.15) Stationary Up to 1 Stationary Stationary

Note Easy pace (No effect) Brisk pace (Slow) Easy run (Medium) All-out sprint (Fast) Increase speed Decrease speed From prone or kneel From stand or kneel From stand From prone

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COMBAT TURN QUICK REFERENCE


1. Check for surprise (if applicable). To avoid being surprised: Front: INT check Sides: INT check Rear: INT check 2. Declare Actions: Move Attack (ranged) Attack (hand-to-hand) Defend (hand-to-hand) Watch Special Actions (usually skill dependent) 3. Roll Initiative (highest modified result goes first): d10 +Mods (if using a firearm) +Boxing/Wrestling/Martial Arts skills level (in hand-to-hand) +1/10th of REF, MOV, or DEX (fractions round up, see below) +1 for using a Laser Dot Pointer or similar sighting aid 1 per Essential Wound (as per the Players Guide) +5 for declaration of Watch action (as per the Players Guide) Draw/Attack modifiers (At Close Quarters from Dragon 151)
Do not use both weapon Mods and hand-to-hand skill on the same initiative roll. Use REF for reactionary tasks (eg. Defend, Watch) Use MOV when body motion is the primary task (eg. Move, Attack hand-to-hand) Use DEX for tasks that require fine use of hands or feet (eg. Attack ranged)

4. Resolve to-hit result, apply all halving/doubling first, then other modifiers:
a) For hand-to-hand, tens of d% is damage, digits of d% is hit location. b) For ranged attacks, digits of d% is hit location.

5. Apply damage in order of initiative. A character that is incapacitated by another character of higher initiative will lose their action for the current (and possibly subsequent) turns.

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SPECIAL OPTIONS & MODIFIERS


TABLE

BRACED SHOT +10 1 CALLED SHOT or Att. COVER or Att. HANDEDNESS: 1-Handed, Pistol 10 1-Handed, Rifle 20 Wrong-Handed 30 (Walk, Vehicle <10mph) MOVEMENT: Slow 10 Medium (Run, Vehicle 10-35mph) 25 (Full Run/Dodge, Vehicle >35mph) Fast 40 PREPARED SHOT +5 RANGE: Point Blank (Double damage, Range=Skill10, FRU) +30 Short +10 Medium 0 Long 40 (2x Long range) 100 Extreme RAPID FIRE 30 2 SHOTGUN : Regular +10 Sawed-off +20 3 TELESCOPIC SIGHTS +25+(Skill5) 4 LASER DOT POINTER +10
1: 2: 3: 4: A called shot may not be relocated once a hit has resulted. Bonus is for using shot only; slug/sabot does not get any bonus. Telescopic sights take time to align to target, based inversely on skill and range. Laser sights are only useful for as far as they can be seen.

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