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Combat

The following rules have been transcribed from Vampire: the Masquerade's 20th Anniversary Edition, along with some weapons and dirty fighting maneuvers from Werewolf: the Apocalypse's 20th Anniversary Edition. All major changes and system clarifications have been written in red.

 

Defensive Maneuvers

Defensive maneuvers are actions that are rolled as resisted actions against attacks. They subtract from the successes of an attacker's roll and can even cancel it out altogether. Block, dodge, and parry are the three defensive maneuvers.

Block: A Dexterity + Brawl maneuver using your character’s own body to deflect a hand-to-hand bashing attack. Lethal and aggravated attacks cannot be blocked unless the defender has Fortitude or is wearing armor.

Dodge: A Dexterity + Athletics maneuver useful for avoiding attacks of all types. Your character bobs and weaves to avoid Melee or Brawl attacks (if there’s no room to maneuver, she must block or parry instead). In gunfights, your character moves at least one yard/meter and ends up behind cover (if there’s no room to maneuver or no cover available, she can drop to the ground). If your character remains under cover or prone, cover rules apply against further Firearms attacks.

Parry: A Dexterity + Melee maneuver using a weapon to block a Brawl or Melee attack. If a character makes a Brawl attack and the defender parries with a weapon that normally causes lethal damage, the attacker can actually be hurt by a successful parry. If the defender rolls more successes than the attacker does in the resisted action, the defender rolls the weapon’s base damage plus the parry’s extra successes as a damage dice pool against the attacker.

Floating like a butterfly: Rather than having to divide your dice pool among multiple defensive actions, you may declare that your character spends an entire turn defending. The normal multiple-action rules are not used in this case. Instead, you have a full dice pool for the first defensive action, but lose one die, cumulatively, for each subsequent defense action made in the same turn. It is still difficult to avoid several incoming attacks, but not as difficult as trying to attempt multiple things at once. Remember that any actions, including defensive ones, versus multiple attackers still suffer difficulty penalties.

Armor: Please consult the following chart for the ratings of various armor types and their dexterity penalties. If a single attack does double the armor rating of a type of armor it is broken. Armor adds its rating to the character’s soak dice pool against bashing damage, lethal damage, and aggravated damage from fangs and claws. It does not protect against fire or sunlight. However, armor also subtracts a number of dice from dice pools related to bodily coordination and agility (most Dexterity-based dice pools). This is reflected in the penalty listing. Attackers may make targeting rolls to hit unprotected portions of a defender and thus ignore the armor (Storyteller assigns difficulty penalty — typically +1 or +2). For Denver the difficulty will be +1 for 1 through 3 rating armors and +2 for 4 rating armors and higher.

 
Armor Type Rating Dexterity Penalty
Tough Hide 1-3 0
Reinforced Clothing 1 0
Biker Jacket 1 1
Leather Duster 2 2
Bearskin Coat 3 3
Steel Breastplate/Chainmail 3 2
Kevlar Vest 3 1
Flak Vest 4 2
Riot Suit 5 3
Trashcan Lid (requires a Dexterity + Melee roll at difficulty 6) 2 0

 

Offensive Maneuvers

Other than flipping the bird or forgetting to put down the toilet seat.

Close Combat

Bite: The attacker must have fangs. A bite maneuver is a “combat” bite, intended to cause damage rather than drain blood. Bite damage is aggravated. To use a bite attack, the vampire must first perform a successful clinch, hold, or tackle maneuver. On the turn following the successful attack, the player may declare the bite attempt and make a roll using the modifiers below.

Alternatively, a player can declare a vampire’s bite to be a “Kiss” attack. A Kiss is resolved in the same way as a normal bite, but inflicts no health levels of damage. Upon connecting with a Kiss, the vampire may begin to drain the victim’s blood at the normal rate (a number of blood points equal to Strength + Potence per turn), and the victim is typically helpless to resist (vampires may make a Self-Control/Instinct roll at difficulty 8 to resist). Following the Kiss, a vampire may, if she chooses, lick the puncture wound of the Kiss closed, thereby removing any evidence that she has fed.

Traits: Dexterity + Brawl

Difficulty: Normal

Accuracy: +1

Damage: Strength +1

Claw: The attacker must have claws. A claw attack inflicts aggravated damage (if Feral Claws) or lethal damage (if a Vicissitude-constructed weapon).

Traits: Dexterity + Brawl

Difficulty: Normal

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: Strength +1

Clinch: On a successful attack roll, the attacker goes into a clinch with the target. In the first turn, the attacker may roll Strength damage. In each subsequent turn, combatants act on their orders in the initiative. A combatant can inflict Strength damage automatically or attempt to escape the clinch. No other actions are allowed until one combatant breaks free. To escape a clinch, make a resisted Strength + Brawl roll against the opponent. If the escaping character has more successes, she breaks free; if not, the characters continue to grapple in the next turn.

Traits: Strength + Brawl

Difficulty: Normal

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: Strength

Disarm: To strike an opponent’s weapon, the attacker must make an attack roll at +1 difficulty. If successful, the attacker rolls damage normally. If successes rolled exceed the opponent’s Strength rating, the opponent takes no damage but is disarmed. A botch usually means the attacker drops her own weapon or is struck by her target’s weapon.

Traits: Dexterity + Melee

Difficulty: +1

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: Special

Hold: This attack inflicts no damage, as the intent is to immobilize rather than injure the subject. On a successful roll, the attacker holds the target until the subject’s next action. At that time, both combatants roll resisted Strength + Brawl actions; the subject remains immobilized (able to take no other action) until she rolls more successes than the attacker does. The roll to break free of a hold is reflexive and if successful the character may take an action.

Traits: Strength + Brawl

Difficulty: Normal

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: None

Kick: Kicks range from simple front kicks to aerial spins. The base attack is at +1 difficulty and inflicts the attacker’s Strength +1 in damage. These ratings may be modified further at the Storyteller’s discretion, increasing in damage and/or difficulty as the maneuver increases in complexity.

Ability: Dexterity + Brawl

Difficulty: +1

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: Strength +1

Strike: A punch, smack, backhand, judo chop, etc.

Traits: Dexterity + Brawl

Difficulty: Normal

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: Strength

Sweep: The attacker uses her own legs to knock the legs out from under her opponent. The target takes Strength damage and must roll Dexterity + Athletics (difficulty 8) or suffer a knockdown. If successful the character remains on her feet, but is still at -2 to initiative for the next turn. If failed the character must spend an action getting up (-1 die any other action pool). On a botch you must spend a full action getting up (-1 die to any other action pool) and take one unsoakable level of bashing damage.

The attacker can also use a staff, chain, or similar implement to perform a sweep. The effect is the same, although the target takes damage per the weapon type.

Traits: Dexterity + Brawl/Melee

Difficulty: +1

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: Strength; knockdown

Tackle: The attacker rushes her opponent, tackling him to the ground. The attack roll is at +1 difficulty, and the maneuver inflicts Strength +1 damage. Additionally, both combatants must roll Dexterity + Athletics (difficulty 7) or suffer a knockdown (see “Sweep,” above). Even if the target’s Athletics roll succeeds, he is unbalanced, suffering +1 difficulty to his actions for the next turn.

Traits: Strength + Brawl

Difficulty: +1

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: Strength +1

Weapon Length: It is difficult to get in range with a punch or knife if someone else is wielding a sword or staff. A character being fended off with a longer weapon must close in one yard/meter before striking, losing a die from her attack roll in the process.

Weapon Strike: A slashing blow, thrust, or jab, depending on the weapon used. See the Melee Weapons Chart for damage.

Traits: Dexterity + Melee

Difficulty: Normal

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: Weapon type

 

Close Combat Maneuvers

Maneuver Traits Accuracy Difficulty Damage
Bite Dex + Brawl +1 Normal Str + 1 (A)
Block Dex + Brawl Special Normal None (R)
Claw Dex + Brawl Normal Normal Str + 1 (A)
Clinch Str + Brawl Normal Normal Str (C)
Disarm Dex + Melee Normal +1 Special
Dodge Dex + Athletics Special Normal None (R)
Hold Str + Brawl Normal Normal None (C)
Kick Dex + Brawl Normal +1 Str + 1
Parry Dex + Melee Special Normal None (R)
Strike Dex + Brawl Normal Normal Str
Sweep Dex + Brawl/Melee Normal +1 Str (K)
Tackle Str + Brawl Normal +1 Str + 1 (K)
Melee Strike Dex + Melee Normal Normal Weapon

(A): The maneuver inflicts aggravated damage.

(C): The maneuver carries over on successive turns.

(K): The maneuver causes knockdown.

(R): The maneuver reduces an opponent’s attack successes.

 

Melee Weapons

Weapon Difficulty Damage/Type Conceal
Sap+ 4 Str/B P
Whip 6* Str +1/L J
Spiked Gauntlet 6 Str +1/L J
Broken Bottle 6 Str +1/L P
Chair+ 7 Str +2/B N
Table*** 8 Str +3/B N
Chain 5 Str J
Staff+ 6 Str +1/B N
Mace 6 Str +2/L N
Baseball Bat+ 5 Str +2/B T
Spiked Club 6 Str +2/L T
Huge Spike Club*** 7 Str +4/L N
Knife 4 Str +1/L P
Sword 6 Str +2/L T
Great Sword*** 7 Str +3/L N
Axe 7 Str +3/L T
Great Axe*** 8 Str +4/L N
Polearm 7 Str +3/L N
Chainsaw 8 Str +5/L***** N
Stake<3 6 Str +1/L J

Difficulty: The normal difficulty at which the weapons is used.

Damage: The number of damage dice rolled when employing this weapon.

Type: B = Bashing L = Lethal A = Aggravated

Conceal: P = Pocket J = Jacket T= Trenchcoat or similar N= N/A

+ Denotes a blunt object. Blunt objects inflict bashing damage unless targeted at the head (see “Targeting"). Head shots inflict lethal damage.

<3 May paralyze a vampire if driven through the heart. The attacker must target the heart (difficulty 9, +2 damage dice) and score three damage successes after soak.

*May be used to entangle an enemy’s limb at +1 difficulty.

**Breaks after three uses.

***Two-handed weapons; very heavy and requires minimum of Strength 3 to employ.

*****On a botch, user inflicts damage upon self.

 

Ranged Maneuvers

Aiming: The attacker adds one die to her attack dice pool on a single shot for each turn spent aiming. The maximum number of dice that can be added in this way is equal to the character’s Perception, and a character must have Firearms 1 or better to use this maneuver. A scope adds two more dice to the attacker’s pool in the first turn of aiming (in addition to those added for Perception). The attacker may do nothing but aim during this time. Additionally, it isn’t possible to aim at a target that is moving faster than a walk.

Automatic Fire: The weapon unloads its entire ammunition clip in one attack against a single target. The attacker makes a single roll, adding 10 dice to her accuracy. However, the attack roll is at a +2 difficulty due to the weapon’s recoil. Extra successes add to the damage dice pool, which is still treated as equivalent to one bullet. An attacker using automatic fire may not target a specific area of the body. This attack is permissible only if the weapon’s clip is at least half-full to begin with.

Traits: Dexterity + Firearms

Difficulty: +2

Accuracy: +10

Damage: Special

Cover: Cover increases an attacker’s difficulty to hit a target (and often the target’s ability to fire back). Difficulty penalties for hitting a target under various types of cover are listed below. A character who fires back from behind cover is also at something of a disadvantage to hit, as he exposes himself and ducks back under protection. Note that difficulties for combatants who are both under cover are cumulative. If one combatant is prone and one is behind a wall, attacks staged by the prone character are at +2 difficulty, while attacks staged by the character behind the wall are also at +2 difficulty.

 

Types of Cover

Cover Difficulty to Hit Target Shooter's Difficulty
Lying Flat +1 0
Moving +1 +1
Behind Wall +2 +1
Only Head Exposed +3 +2

 

Multiple Shots: An attacker with a fast firearm may try to take more than one shot in a turn. The attacker can divide his attack dice pool by how many shots she wants to fire at a similar number of targets, up to the weapon’s rate of fire (multiple attacks against the same target are covered under maneuvers like “Automatic Fire” and “Three-Round Burst”). Each attack is then rolled separately.

Ability: Dexterity + Firearms

Difficulty: Normal

Accuracy: Special

Damage: Weapon type

Range: The Ranged Weapons Chart lists each weapon’s short range; attacks made at that range are versus difficulty 6. Twice that listing is the weapon’s maximum range. Attacks made up to maximum range are versus difficulty 8. Attacks made at targets within two meters are considered point blank. Pointblank shots are made versus difficulty 4.

Reloading: Reloading takes one full turn and requires the character’s concentration. Like any other maneuver, reloading can be performed as part of a multiple action. An example would be ducking for cover while reloading.

Strafing: Instead of aiming at one target, fully-automatic weapons can be fired across an area. Strafing adds 10 dice to accuracy on a standard attack roll, and empties the clip. A maximum of three yards/meters can be covered with this maneuver. The attacker divides any successes gained on the attack roll evenly among all targets in the covered area (successes assigned to hit an individual are added to that target’s damage dice pool, as well). If only one target is within range or the area of effect, only half the successes affect him. The attacker then assigns any leftover successes as she desires. If fewer successes are rolled than there are targets, only one may be assigned per target until they are all allocated. Dodge rolls against strafing are at +1 difficulty.

Ability: Dexterity + Firearms

Difficulty: +2

Accuracy: +10

Damage: Special

Three-Round Burst: The attacker gains two additional dice on a single attack roll, and expends three shots from the weapon’s clip. Only certain weapons may perform this maneuver; see the Ranged Weapons Chart for particulars. Attacks are made at +1 difficulty due to recoil. As with automatic fire, the damage dice pool is based on one bullet from the weapon in question.

Ability: Dexterity + Firearms

Difficulty: +1

Accuracy: +2

Damage: Weapon type

Two Weapons: Firing two weapons is considered performing a multiple action, complete with dividing the dice of the lowest pool between two different targets. Additionally, the attacker suffers +1 difficulty for the attack with her off-hand (unless she’s ambidextrous). Each attack is rolled and resolved separately— multiple attacks made against the same target are covered by maneuvers such as “Automatic Fire” and “Three-Round Burst.”

Ability: Dexterity + Firearms

Difficulty: +1/off-hand

Accuracy: Normal

Damage: Weapon type

 

Ranged Maneuvers

Maneuver Traits Accuracy Difficulty Damage
Automatic Fire Dexterity + Firearms +10 +2 Special
Multiple Shots Dexterity + Firearms Special Normal Weapon
Strafing Dexterity + Firearms +10 +2 Special
3-Round Burst Dexterity + Firearms +2 +1 Weapon
Two Weapons Dexterity + Firearms Normal +1/off-hand Weapon

 

Ranged Weapons

Type Damage Range Rate Clip Conceal
Revolver, Lt. (SW M640 .38 Special) 4 12 3 6 P
Revolver, Hvy. (Colt Anaconda .44 Magnum) 6 35 2 6 J
Semi-Auto Pistol, Lt. (Glock 17 9mm) 4 20 4 17+1 P
Semi-Auto Pistol, Hvy. (IMI Desert Eagle .50 AE) 5 30 3 7+1 J
Rifle (Remington M-700 30.06) 8 200 1 5+1 N
SMG, Small* (Ingram Mac-10 9mm) 4 25 3 30+1 J
SMG, Large (HK MP-5 9mm) 4 50 3 30+1 T
Assault Rifle* (AK-47 7.62x39mm) 7 150 3 42+1 N
Shotgun, Sawed-Off (Winchester 24) 8 10 2 2 J
Shotgun (Ithaca M-37 12 Gauge) 8 20 1 5+1 T
Shotgun, Semi-Auto (Bellini M4 12 Gauge) 8 25 3 6+1 T
Shotgun, Assault* (MPS AA-12 Gauge) 8 50 * 32+1 N
Short Bow** 4 60 1 1 N
Hunting Bow** 5 100 1 1 N
Long Bow** 5 120 1 1 N
Crossbow, Commando** 3 20 1 1 J***
Crossbow 5 90 1 1 T
Crossbow, Hvy. 6 100 1 1 N
Taser**** 5 5 1 1 P
Tear Gas**** 3 3 1 1 P
Bear Mace**** 4 3 1 3 P

Damage: All damage from firearms and bows is lethal for mortals. Versus vampires, firearms are considered bashing damage and halved after soak. The only exception is if the head is targeted (+3 difficulty and +2 damage), in which case the damage is considered lethal.

Range: Within listed range (in yards), difficulty is 6; at twice listed Range, difficulty is 8; within two yards, difficulty is 4.

Rate: Maximum number of bullets or three-round bursts the gun can fire in a single turn.

Clip: Maximum number of bullets the gun can hold. Some guns, listed as “+1,” can hold a full clip with a round ready in the chamber.

Conceal: See the Melee Weapons chart.

*The gun may fire full-auto, three-round bursts, and sprays.

**Long and short bows take an automatic action to nock and draw; crossbows require two automatic actions to reload.

***Collapsible; requires one turn to unfold from storage configuration, plus one action to load once it has been unfolded.

**** Bashing damage, not lethal; adds no extra damage from successes scored. Tear gas and bear mace also reduce target’s dice pools by two dice for one turn per success.

 

Throwing Weapons

Weapon Difficulty Damage/Type Conceal
Knife 6 Str/L P
Shuriken 7 3/L P
Spear 6 Str +1/L N
Stone 5 Str/B Varies
Large Stone 6 Str +3/B N
Tomahawk/Hatchet 6 Str +1/L J

The pool for throwing a weapon is always Dexterity + Athletics

 

Dirty Fighting

Blinding: Raking the enemy’s eyes, throwing dirt in them, spraying his face with chemicals or using some similar method, the attacker tries to render her opponent sightless. If she succeeds, the enemy is blinded for one turn per success, and loses two dice from his dice pools until he recovers. This attack doesn’t normally inflict lasting damage. At the Storyteller’s option, however, a truly vicious strike (gouging with claws, throwing acid, etc.) might inflict a health level or two of lethal damage in addition to the blindness. Five successes or more may destroy the eyes completely, and while a vampires and ghouls may heal from such injury, most kine cannot.

Roll: Dexterity + Subterfuge

Difficulty: 9

Damage: Special

Actions: 1

Body Slam: Picking an opponent up over his head, the assailant uses brute strength and momentum to bring some serious pain. This maneuver first requires a successful grapple attack; if the enemy can’t break free that turn, the attacker may use her next action to slam him into the nearest and most painful surface. Generally, this attack inflicts bashing damage; if the surface happens to be sharp, spiked or incredibly hot, however, said pain might be lethal.

Roll: Dexterity + Brawl

Difficulty: 6

Damage: Strength +2

Actions: 2

Curbstomp: Bracing his opponent’s face against a curb or other solid surface, the attacker then slams his foot down on the back of the enemy’s head. A favorite tactic of the rabble and Sabbat, this move can break teeth, crack jaws, snap spines or crush skulls… especially with the help of Potence! Curbstomping requires a stunned or immobilized target, plus a turn to place his face into position. After that, the attacker stomps, and physics does the rest. The attacker rolls his Strength for the attack. This assault inflicts lethal damage, and may leave the opponent unable to bite afterward (Storyteller’s call) until the injury heals.

Roll: Strength + Brawl

Difficulty: 6

Damage: Strength +2

Actions: 2

Low Blow: Just what it says. Wherever the attacker hits (septum, nuts, kidneys, etc.), it’s going to hurt. A lot. Assuming the assailant makes a successful attack roll, her target winds up stunned for one turn for each health level inflicted after the soak roll. He can try each turn to shrug it off with a Stamina roll (difficulty 8), but otherwise he’s writhing or paralyzed with pain. Normally, this trauma involves bashing damage. A low blow struck with claws, teeth, blades, or crushing force, however, is lethal.

Roll: Dexterity + Brawl

Difficulty: 7

Damage: Strength + Stun

Actions: 1

Pistol Whip: Belting her target across the face or skull with a gun or other slender, heavy object, the attacker adds some extra emphasis to her argument… and possibly cracks the target’s skull as well. Obviously, this maneuver requires a gun or similar instrument (crowbar, truncheon, candlestick, etc.), and it inflicts lethal damage. A character hit with a successful pistol whip may be stunned for one turn if he fails a Stamina roll (difficulty 8), and for two turns if he botches that roll.

Roll: Dexterity + Melee

Difficulty: 7

Damage: Strength +2/L

Actions: 1

 

Effecting Maneuvers

Aborting Actions: You can abandon your character’s declared action in favor of a defensive action as long as your character hasn’t acted in the turn. Actions that can take the place of a previously declared action include block, dodge, and parry. A successful Willpower roll versus difficulty 6 (or the expenditure of a Willpower point) is required for a character to abort an action and perform a defensive one instead. When spending Willpower for an abort maneuver, a character may declare the Willpower expenditure at the time of the abort. A Willpower roll to abort is considered a reflexive action.

Ambush: Ambushes involve surprising a target to get in a decisive first strike. The attacker rolls Dexterity + Stealth in a resisted action against the target’s Perception + Alertness. If the attacker scores more successes, she can stage one free attack on the target; she then adds any extra successes from the resisted roll to her attack dice pool. On a tie, the attacker still attacks first, although the target may perform a defensive maneuver. If the defender gets more successes, he spots the ambush, and both parties determine initiative normally. Targets already involved in combat cannot be ambushed. In the case of characters who are using Obfuscate the Dexterity + Stealth roll is not resisted. These characters still may not attack characters who are already involved in combat.

Blind Fighting: Staging attacks while blind (or in pitch darkness) usually incurs a +2 difficulty, and ranged attacks cannot be accurately made at all. Disciplines such as Heightened Senses and Eyes of the Beast mitigate this penalty. In the case of Eyes of the Beast, this allows for ranged attacks to be made at no restriction. In the case of Heightened Sense, the attacker must make a successful Perception + Alertness roll, and such attacks are still at +2 difficulty.

Flank and Rear Attacks: Characters attacking targets from the flank gain an additional attack die. Characters attacking from the rear gain two additional attack dice.

Movement: A character may move half of her running distance (15 + [Dexterity x 1.5]) and still take an action in a turn. Other maneuvers such as leaping or tumbling may be considered separate actions, depending on their complexity.

Multiple Actions: If you declare multiple actions, declare the total number of actions you wish to attempt and determine which of the dice pools is the smallest. Then, divide that number of dice between all of your actions. If a character performs only defensive actions in a turn, use the appropriate block, dodge, or parry system.

Multiple Opponents: A character who battles multiple opponents in close combat suffers attack and defense difficulties of +1, cumulative, for each opponent after the first (to a maximum of +4).

Targeting: Aiming for a specific location incurs an added difficulty, but can bypass armor or cover, or can result in an increased damage effect. The Storyteller should consider special results beyond a simple increase in damage, depending on the attack and the target. For our purposes we will say that it takes three lethal damage (after soak) to blind someone and that three lethal damage or five bashing damage (after soak) can cripple a limb (rendering an arm useless or breaking a leg to slow movement). Severing a limb completely would take three lethal damage or the character's Stamina rating in lethal damage, whichever is higher, after soak. Decapitation always takes at least seven lethal damage after soak, though for cinematic effect these rules may be altered by an ST (only in the case of NPCs).

 

Target Size Difficulty Damage
Medium (limb, briefcase) +1 No modifier
Small (hand, head, cellphone) +2 +1
Precise (eye, heart, lock) +3 +2

 

Maneuver Complications

The following are common combat complications.

Blinded: Add two dice to attack rolls made against a blinded target. Furthermore, blind characters are at +2 difficulty on all actions.

Dazed: If, in a single attack, the attacker rolls a number of damage successes greater than the target’s Stamina (for mortals) or Stamina + 2 (for vampires and other supernatural beings), the victim is dazed. The target must spend her next available turn shaking off the attack’s effects. Only damage successes that penetrate the defender’s soak attempt count toward this total.

Immobilization: Add two dice to attack rolls made on an immobilized (i.e., held by someone or something) but still struggling target. Attacks hit automatically if the target is completely immobilized (tied up, staked, or otherwise paralyzed).

Stake Through Heart: A vampire can indeed be incapacitated by the classic wooden stake of legend. However, the legends err on one point: A Kindred impaled through the heart with a wooden stake is not destroyed, but merely paralyzed until the stake is removed. To stake a vampire, an attacker must target the heart (difficulty 9). If the attack succeeds and inflicts at least three health levels of damage, the target is immobilized. An immobilized victim is conscious (and may use perception powers, such as those in the Auspex Discipline), but may not move or spend blood points.

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