RPS Demands: Rats For The Rat Blog!

By Kieron Gillen on September 19th, 2008 at 4:00 pm.

There's got to be a Skaven/Raving gag somewhere, but I can't manage it.
RPS is not unreasonable. We grasp why the starting races of Warhammer were chosen – three matched pairs of dark mirrors who have every reason to be at each others throats forever. We also know that Mythic’s next step will be reintegrating the cut cities and classes, which we’re pleased to hear will be totally free. We’re fine with that. We understand. However, when all that’s done, we’re going to tell you what you’re going to do next.

You’re going to let us play Skaven. Because otherwise, we’re going to cut you up with knives.

To some, being the first full day of release, this may be a little early to actually start campaigning for an add-on pack. It can never be too soon. Because if we wait, it risks someone over at Mythic having already decided something like “You know – I think the next step should be Vampire Counts versus The Moot” or something booze-addled. By starting now, we can campaign, and make them see sense.

(When we say “see sense” we mean “obey our random whims”.)

If you don’t know anything about Warhammer, you won’t understand or craving for Skaven thus wondering why we should be so het up about them rather than those guys from The Moot we mentioned earlier. Let me explain.

Skaven are a race of subterranean chaos-rat sadistic cowards who amass enormous slave armies, throw them en masse at their foes then nuke everyone with warpstone weaponry – the slaves being just something to make sure their foes stay still for a bit. Alternatively, the warpstone weaponry malfunctions and disintegrates its operators, anyone standing near the operators and anyone who the operators have met on the way to the battlefield. Either way, hi-jinks and death ensue.

They also have a habit of adorably doubling up their word-words before slicing someone up in a right nasty way.

Putting aside our enormous affection for the children of the Underempire, the main reason why they’ll be the ideal race to add for player characters is actually to do with their culture. You see, they actually have a culture. Anyone else half as infected with Chaos as they are spend their time eating their own limbs, but these industrious rodents have built a proper hierarchical structure, with the Lords of Decay at the top, Countless slaves in the bottom and a mass of varying degrees of suffering in the middle.

But Skaven society is run by clans. There’s a dominant four, each with highly distinctive characteristics. Think on that. Four. As in, the four character classes you’d ideally need for a new race. They’re the Clans Skryre, Eshin, Pestilens and Moulder. Or Rats with crazy mechanical bits and bobs, ninja rats, Plague-ridden rats and rats who try to crossbreed a rat with a tank.

The class-types write themselves. Eshin’s is your DPS fighter stealth sort. Pestilens, who have a habit of using censers leaking poisonous fumes as flails, would be some manner of tanky sort. The Skryre’s array of mechanical oddbits would make him a ranged-damage guy. And the Moulder would be a pet class with a splash of hyperdrug warpstone healing.

But with pets that look like this:

We repeat: Ninja-rats! It’s like a ninja… but is also a rat. The guy at Games Workshop who made ‘em up probably killed himself on the way home that day, knowing that his entire life was downhill from that great apex. Hell, we wish we were rat ninjas. And since that’s unlikely, clearly we charge Mythic with letting us pretend to be one in a videogame. We don’t even mind that it makes us sound as if we want to be Furries. We want to be ninja rats.

(Actually, Kieron would go for the Skryre, Alec the Moulder and Jim would continue to pretend to be a spaceship in Eve, but that’s beside the point)

This leaves one problem for Mythic to overcome before releasing the greatest MMO-expansion pack featuring skaven ever. Who will they rodents be paired up against? The Skaven have had a fight with just about everyone, from the Tomb Kings of Northern Arabia to the Knights of Middenheim. They’re even the Chaos race who have no truck with the four great Chaos Powers, instead worshiping their own God, The Horned Rat. But while no-one really likes them, it’s also true they have no natural enemy, in a High Elf/Dark Elf, Dwarf/Goblin and Empire/Chaos way. As far as the Skaven are concerned, the whole world is looking at their bit of cheese funny. They don’t have a nemesis.

But this is Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. We need a partner. This problem is, we’re sure, why Mythic haven’t already announced WARHAMMER: AGE OF RECKONING: GET YOUR SKAVEN HERE. Who’s their mortal enemy?

Luckily, we’ve done some thinking. Here’s a handy map of the Old World. Skavenblight – the Skaven’s Capital – is marked with a handy red dot. There’s other Skaven cities we could use, but Skavenblight has the best name. These things count.

Now, here’s the pros and cons of all the nearby options:

BRETONNIA:
Pros: Land of Chivalry and excelling in a variety of hard-hitting Knights. With the Empire’s heavy-armoured guys being left out of the game, there’s room for the guys in the Plate Armour.
Cons: They’re the French.

ESTALIA:
Pros: They’re really very near. They’re an unexplored part of the Warhammer world.
Cons: There’s no bloody source material to base it off.

TILEA:
Pros: Unexplored part of the Warhammer world but with slightly more material than the Estalians.
Cons: But still nowhere near enough to base a race off.

THE EMPIRE:
Pros: Yes, I know – they’re in the game already. But there’s a lot of Empire-originated characters who’ve yet to be integrated into the game, and this would give a chance to lob in a few more agreeably puritanical humans with dirty-great SIGMAR tats. Also, rather than having to invent a second capital city, you could have Altdorf exist on two battlefronts. Having it pincered between Chaos and the Skaven would certainly capture the perpetual sense of imminent disaster. Alternative, you could implement one of the large cities in the south of the Empire, like Nuln.
Cons: We’ve already done the bloody Empire.

THE WOOD ELVES:
Pros: While not a natural Skaven enemy, this – on the quiet – makes a lot of sense. The Skaven are corrupted nature, while the Wood Elves are about integration with the lands. Based in the Loren Forests, they’re in the right area. Plus, they’ve got quite the variety of entertaining troops – the Wardancer is the most fun an Elf can have short of waiting for the 41st millennium and joining the Harlequins. Not that Eldar and Elves are anything at all like each other.
Cons: They’ve done Elves already.

Our personal preference would be the Wood Elves, but really, it’s all secondary to getting to “be” the Skaven. Do whatever, Mythic. Just do something. Hell, Skaven versus the Moot sounds better and better the more we think about it.

Hence, our campaign starts here. Rock Paper Shotgun will be bringing you updates as we march towards inevitable victory. To show your support, we’ve a banners you can use to show your allegiance to the underempire and publicise this noble cause. Just cut and post the code, and display it with pride on your blog or similar places…

CUT THIS CODE:
<a HREF=”http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/?p=3031″><img SRC=”http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/images/ratbanner.jpg”/></a>

Oh – anyone else fancy making some agitprop, put the link to your banner in the thread.

Go forth, brothers. Change the world!

(The world in question being the world of Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. Not the real world. We don’t want Skaven in the real world, unless we can be one. And a high up one. Not a slave. Yes.)

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94 Comments »

  1. Ergates says:

    Maybe they could do the whole Planetside thing, with multiple factions, all out to get each other.

    I understand that could make balancing a little harder, but it would open the door to player-based politiking. (temporary alliances between factions etc.)

  2. Malbogio says:

    I don’t care if they have to work hard to shoehorn them in, if they throw in both Skaven AND Lizardmen I’m not only going to buy it, I’ll also proselytize friends and family on the matter. Their culture and style is worth losing some consistency points by allying them with chaos. Anyway, aren’t there supposed to be billions of skaven underground? They’re political schemers, I can easily imagine a single skaven city allying itself temporarily with the side of chaos for it’s own gain, which is enough as I can also only imagine dark elves, chaos, and orcs allying for a very short time. Perhaps I was playing it wrong back when I was doing the Warhammer tabletop, but we were always able to find sufficient reason for dwarves to attack high elves or for goblins to attack dark elves as they all had a shade of grey to them.

    While I find Warhammer’s take on the culture of fantasy human and dwarf races refreshing, they still lean a bit too far towards generic fantasy for my liking.

    I kind of wish they’d paired it off different from the start rather than having humans fight humans, elves fight elves, and orcs fight dwarves as this tends to lock them in a bit on the battlefields available. I’d rather fight as the empire through an overrun city quarter and then down underground into trapped skaven tunnel networks. Unfortunately, it’s a bit difficult to make that happen now as making it a two-fronted war for the empire would be exceedingly difficult to balance between the opposing factions in a strategic MMO.

  3. Will says:

    LIZARDMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I don’t know if the Skaven hate Lizardmen, but Lizardmen sure as hell hate Skaven. When I first bought the starter box maybe a decade ago, bit more, there was Empire and Lizardmen units. So I “picked” Lizardmen, read all the stories in the army book etc.

    I’m sad there’s no Lizardmen, I miss my army of “Diseased Ones” (last 3 turns, double stats) Skinks, now I live in New Zealand.

    Give me Lizardmen!

    And edited again: For Chris’sake yes I support the addition of Skaven too!! I once beat a Skaven army just byt taking our the War Wheel’s driver… Thing rolled over all of his side of the board, killed ‘arf ‘is troops!

  4. ScubaV says:

    I know nothing about Warhammer, but why not have the Skaven be an independent faction with no direct opposite? Make them hostile to both Order and Chaos factions. I’d like to see an MMO try to tackle this FFA idea. Sometimes an us vs. them dichotomy just gets old.

  5. Malbogio says:

    ScubaV says:

    I know nothing about Warhammer, but why not have the Skaven be an independent faction with no direct opposite? Make them hostile to both Order and Chaos factions. I’d like to see an MMO try to tackle this FFA idea. Sometimes an us vs. them dichotomy just gets old.

    Planetside certainly did the same as an MMO battlefield with 3 distinct and opposing factions, and with pleasant results. They had more of an open battlefield thing going on than a linear one though.

    The idea sounds pretty awesome if they could find a way to weave it into the Order & Chaos PVE areas. They could use less scrupulous or black market type contacts and quest givers, with tunnels or the sort to circumvent crowded PVP areas. Their PVP experience would probably have to be based around guerrilla combat and quests rather than direct confrontation as they’d have two larger armies to contend with. If they were only adding an independent race or two like skaven & lizardmen then I imagine the main disadvantage would be content as they wouldn’t have the same resources to draw on. Both order and chaos are getting three highly detailed cities to work with and which they can move between with a single character. However they were only able to build 2 of the 6 cities before release, so I doubt they’ll find the time to build a 7th independent city any time in the next couple years. Bear in mind that Warhammer Online seems centered on the idea of tug-of-war, with one side or the other pushing in a linear fashion along one of a few set chains. Adding a third fully balanced faction just wouldn’t work without changing the whole concept for their PVP combat and rebalancing the game on every level. Plus the more sides you add in, the harder it gets to maintain critical mass on the battlefield, with each side able to coordinate with guilds and hold it’s own.

    Still, cool idea if they could find a way to work it in.

  6. Malagate says:

    For an obvious Skaven tank class, Stormvermin anyone? You know, the heavily armoured rats? Still there would have to be a way to get Rat Ogres in there somehow, possibly poison wind globadiers as well.

    Lizardmen would be the real excitement factor to me though, if I could play as a Kroxigor then there would be pure joy. Probably.

  7. Ixtab says:

    Never having played original warhammer I have no idea about the Skaven but they sound awesome. You had me sold at the sentance:

    “Skaven are a race of subterranean chaos-rat sadistic cowards who amass enormous slave armies, throw them en masse at their foes then nuke everyone with warpstone weaponry.”

    The Order Vs Destruction thing doesn’t make any sense to me though… I thought the Empire was like the Imperium in 40k: “Hmm, they look slightly funny, we’d probably better exterminate them.” And surely the destruction forces aren’t going to work together and will spend as much time beating the hell out of each other as the order people. So everyone should fight everyone else and then adding a race without a strict partner would be fine.

  8. Okami says:

    I don’t know about Vampire Counts. There’s not too much variety in there. You got vampires (who should by all rights be ridiculously powerfull) and necromancers. All other undead creatures are soul- and mindless automatons.

    The “Lizardman in Altdorf” argument is a valid one though – don’t see that happen. The same would be true in reverse. Lizardmen would kill anyone trying to get to their temple cities. No chance of humans walking around there either.

    One of the main problems of Warhammer is, that the “good” races all just pale compared to the “evil “ones.

    Of course there’s still Pygmies, Nippon and Cathay, though I think all those army lists got kicked out of official lore years ago.

    I guess it’s gonna be Wood Elves. Which isn’t half bad anyway. Wood Elves are tree hugging, barbaric, xenophobic psycho killers with 80s hair cuts. Which is cooler than most elves. Let’s see: Wardanver: Melee DPS, Waywatcher Ranged DPS, Sorceress Crowd Control Buff Healing. Maybe Shapechanger (are they still part of official lore) for Tanks… Though the whole concept of a Wood Elf tank is just stupid. Maybe they get two different ranged classes..

    Boy I’m tired. Just spent 7 hours playing WAR straight. Which is roughly 6hours and 55minutes more time than I’ve spent with any other MMO (with the exception of Guild Wars – but that doesn’t count). I really like the fact, that one of the skills of my Witchhunter actually involves setting fire to an enemy with a burning torch. Good times..

    EDIT: @Ixtab: The Empire in Warhammer isn’t really the same as the Imperium in 40K. I’d explain it to you, but I’m too tired right now. But suffice to say, that Warhammer Fantasy isn’t as over the top as Warhammer 40K. It’s still a bit darker than your standard D&D fare, but at least not everybody there is a space Nazi.

  9. malkav11 says:

    Yes. Skaven. Definitely.

    But I’m pretty sure they settled on the existing races because they had clear hate pairings and were kinda vaguely plausible as sorta-allies. I don’t see how any of the others I’ve heard of would work into the existing factions, and adding independent races or new factions would be…enormously difficult.

    Also, wtf is The Moot? This is the first anyone’s ever mentioned this name in my presence, even with “what will they add next?” speculation.

  10. Esha says:

    I’m amazed at this response.

    Warhammer Online is an absolutely brilliant game as far as mechanics are concerned, but they did pick a few of the most boring–if the most saleable to the Everyman–races to debut the game with.

    I play Orcs primarily because of their culture, even though they are done to death. But I tend to think to myself frequently that it would be so much better if only the game had Skaven. The Skaven are steeped in their own culture, and that would make for some interesting lore-book collecting. And I want to care more about my lore-book!

    Others here have already cited all the potential that the Skaven carry with them (and that’s not the only thing they carry with them), and they’d just be a great race to roleplay, too. One can only take an insane Orc so far, but with the Skaven and scary insanity… the sky’s the limit.

    I wish to play a Skaven too. And I look forward to outfitting him with all sorts of terrifying obsessions.

    @Devil

    Uncalled for, and a harrowingly media-educated statement. I’m glad the rest of the RPS community is better than that.

  11. Rudolf says:

    vertical banner, still. Or we will take all your warpstone and shove it… in the little cracks in the walls at our mighty home ;)

  12. c0wb0ys7y13 says:

    I LOOOOVE SKAVEN! Skeven is my childhood; my entire childhood! I bought the warhammer RTS because they had skaven and played it a ton even though it was a peace of crap. I will buy and play anything having to do with, uses the same letters as, Skaven.

  13. Kieron Gillen says:

    Okami: Wood Elf tank: Play a Treeman?

    KG

  14. Nullh says:

    Skaven, yes. Give us those crazy rat-men with their warpfire throwers and great big 2 man mustket teams and rat-in-gas-mask death squads!
    Sorry to say though, I’d also vote the Bretons in as the opposite race, might not fit into the lore so well, but a tank class in full on shiny armor and some hilarious faux french accents would make them for me.

  15. Okami says:

    Kieron: Treeman might be a bit too big and powerfull. But why not a dryad? They’re man sized and quite tough in their war forms.. Of course there’d still be the issue of equipment, as far as I know, they wear neither armor, nor do they use weapons.

  16. Temper says:

    Who cares about Skaven, I want to see Slaanesh represented in his/her/it’s full glory. Boobs for the boob god.

  17. Kieron Gillen says:

    Okami: Yeah, but depending on how much people are willing to bend the lore, starting as a sapling and growing to be a full on treeman may be fun – kinda like the way orcs grow in game.

    Temper: Slannesh – it’s the tits!

    KG

  18. H says:

    I’m actually very surprised that [Mythic] haven’t announced the Skaven/Brettonian expansion officially yet.

  19. jeremy says:

    For those who dont understand the excitement. Skaven are to warhammer fantasy as tyranids are to 40k 7 shades of awesome.

  20. Derek K. says:

    Sheet, boy – there’s a reason I’ve been playing Destruction on Skavenblight since head start. Because 1. Skavenblight must have the strongest Destruction presence of all, being the best of all names and 2. Some day, there will be Skaven. And I’ll already have my level 40s to pimp out my new lovely lovelies.

  21. Derek K. says:

    And there’s a freakin’ Skaven in the Chaos starting area, in the crypt!

    The art is there! DO IT NOW!

  22. malkav11 says:

    That *is* another thing I want – it disappointed me greatly that all of the Chaos characters are of the Raven Host of Tzeentch. I know we beat up minions of Nurgle and Khorne (not sure about Slaanesh), but I want to *play* minions of Nurgle and Khorne and Slaanesh.

  23. Jochen Scheisse says:

    They obviously have to leave some room for expansion packs here, malk. And it’s pretty impossible to squeeze the whole Warhammer background into a single game release. DoW needed 4 releases to cover ~3/4 of the 40K universe, and I’d say that’s the smaller of both Warhammer universes.

  24. MRig says:

    @ Kieron: When mentioning Dogs of War I figured they’d take an Empire city as their capital, with the Empire using that as its mercenary base. But now that people have brought up Lizardmen, I think they’re the best choice. There’ve been times when I was bumming through Stranglethorn Vale in WoW and said “Man, I wish this was Lustria.”

    @Riotpoll and other Wood Elf detractors: Fantasy games do tend to suffer from Elf overload, but Warhammer Wood Elves are just too nasty and Celtic to be pansies. Wardancers are badass and the Elves and Forest Spirits of Loren have a history of massacring Brettonian peasants for no discernible reason.

  25. Nick says:

    Yeah, the wood elves aren’t exactly cheery treefolk. Their “tank” could focus on evasion rather than absorbtion, although a growing Treeman would be awesome…

  26. Andynonymous says:

    I may be way off the mark here, but I’ve just noticed that in the tome of knowledge bestiary section there are entries for Skaven, Beastmen, and Ogres. They are in the same section as the currently playable humanoid characters, so it could be a good indication…
    Maybe?

  27. Echo says:

    Hmm. Can we think of any good reasons for Ogres to team up with Order? They’re kind of chaotic neutral (to steal a D&D phrase), but they sure can fight for money! And all the horses they can eat!

    Random class thoughts:

    Tank or melee DPS: Irongut
    Alt. melee DPS: Bull
    Healer/Debuffer: Butcher
    Ranged DPS: Leadbelcher or Hunter

    I mean, a goddamn Ogre with an Empire cannon strapped to his arms as ranged DPS!

  28. Rakysh says:

    You could have another set of overall factions almost. Skaven/Ogres, both don’t fit with the chaos gods vs good thing, so have them as like a periphery. Or make ogres available to both sides, but have the ogre faction in direct opposition to the skaven? So it looks like

    Ogres vs Skaven
    Dwarfs vs Orcs
    Empire vs Chaos warriors
    Elves vs Dark Elves

    Maybe a crap idea, I dunno. But not too hard to work out fluff-wise- maybe the skaven are taking over the ogres hunting grounds?

  29. spinks says:

    I want to play a skeleton or a zombie ;/

  30. Thanqual says:

    (awful rat impression no.9)
    Yes yes, entry we must achive – the furry horror… the furry horror…

    This article was an absolute class! could we petion roman abramovitch to sponsor the skaven adition?

  31. Fraser says:

    A few people have mentioned Lizardmen as a vague possibility, but I’m going to declare right now: it’s Lizardmen vs. Skaven. Lizardmen and Skaven have serious history! The rivalry doesn’t work just in terms of game mechanics, it fits right into Warhammer history. Sure Skaven fight everyone, but looking at it from the other direction, I’m pretty sure the Lizardmen consider the Skaven to be their biggest opponent.

    Besides, both races are too cool to pass up: Skaven for everything written above, and Lizardmen because THEY’RE DINOSAURS.

    Two more reasons why the next two races will be Lizardmen and Skaven:
    1) Neither of them look like they’re from World of Warcraft.
    2) Neither of them look like they’re from World of Warcraft.

  32. Hellebaerd says:

    How about having Skaven and Lizardmen as two indepentant factions apart from both the order and destruction setup. Two new factions who are both enemies of everyone could work imo…

  33. H says:

    The annoying thing about this thread is, because I receive notifications of updates in my Gmail account, I’m getting spammed with adverts for rat traps and poisons. *sigh*

  34. malkav11 says:

    There’s more than enough other races to add in expansions without having the “Chaos” race == the “Tzeentch” race. That was my disappointment – they label the race as all of Chaos, but it’s really just one subfaction.

    Of course, they needn’t necessarily *only* add new races with expansions. They could conceivably toss in a couple of additional classes for the existing ones. Get us a representative or two of Nurgle and Khorne. They might not want to go the alien boob route, so Slaanesh is more dubious.

  35. SixStringSamurai says:

    for the horned rat! warplock weapons ftw!

  36. Dante says:

    I’m willing to put my backing behind the Skaven, but only if they’re paired with Wood Elves and Waywatchers.

    How can you say ‘no more elves’ when they’ve included the slightly naff elves but missed out the coolest ones?

    Wardancers and Waywatchers are clearly better than anything the high or dark elves can bring to the table.

  37. Contempt says:

    Why can’t the Clan Molder Packmaster be the “Pet” and the player can be a Rat Ogre tank? I mean that way it would fit fine with lore, the packmaster could just trail along behind cracking his whip intermittently and you could have a little pet bar with his limited abilities on it (probably mostly buffs for the Rat Ogre but also snares too)

    It doesn’t really fit with lore to have them paired with anyone but all Mythic has to do is tie it into the overaching conspiracy with Malekith. Throw some ancient item or place of power down in Lustria that the Slaan control. The scaven in Lustria are being influenced by the Dark Elves to distract/destroy the Lizardmen while a force of the Dark Elves slip in to control the item.

    Meanwhile the High Elves catch wind of the plan, notify their allies and send what small forces they can spare to support the Lizardmen in their time of need.

    And that was from about 5 mins of thinking. I’m sure the brains at Mythic can put together something more convincing.

  38. MRig says:

    Fraser’s made the case best, but another reason that Lizardmen are an ideal Order opponent for Skaven is that within the lore the Lizardmen are the most ancient opponent of Chaos. Sure, they’re a shadow of their former glory like everyone else, but the comatose demigods that rule them have a pretty strong incentive to come to the Empire’s aid. Sure, it’s hard to imagine the forces of Order trusting them, but this is a war that has brought High Elves and Dwarfs to the same side.

  39. Marty says:

    Lizardmen make a better match. As mentioned before, this is where the real hatred lies. Not because the ratmen hate lizardmen. But because the skinks hate scaven.

    The saurus, not so much, but the skinks are gung-ho anytime killing skaven is involved, and their little semi-cult, semi-old one god Sotek is all for it. In fact, he’s the bugger that kicked Pestilens back out of Lustria in the first place. Though, Kroxigor would be a bit beyond the scope of War. I was thinking Saurus Warrior, Temple Guard, then Skink Chameleon, and Skink Shamen (or perhaps priest of Sotek, it doesn’t matter much). DPS, Tank, Ranged, and then pets. Considering Sotek is all about snakes, you really could release a horde of snakes, or call in a mighty Kroxigor to smash things, or perhaps a Stegadon.

    In any case. Those are my thoughts.

  40. pestilen says:

    Totally for skaven. Current selection of races is so bland: humans, greenskins, dwarfs, elves. So original!
    Skaven vs Lizards go go go! I’m sure they can work out the lore. War is everywhere, now isn’t it?

    Captain Kroxy: What is it Lt. Sebastian?
    Lt. Sebastian: It’s just the skaven, Sir. They’re here.
    Captain Kroxy: My God man! Do they want tea?

    P.s. What’s worse than dying in WAR? Dying close to an engineer’s bloody turret. My ears!

  41. H says:

    My copy arrived today. Haven’t played it since beta. How is stability and how is the guild coming along? Maybe an update report?

  42. Greg Wild says:

    Bring on the Ogre Kingdoms I say.

  43. Exchange Foreign Forex Trading says:

    I somehow dont agree with a few things, but its great anyways.

  44. warhammer empire says:

    I think you have point there,It is more organize if you have one site for a one topic.It is more interesting to read if the subject is just focus in one area which the story goes.

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