Creating characters

  • Pitcrew

    Hey! I need suggestions, opinions, tips! What is a perfect character to play and play with? I am kind of new in MUSHing, compared to most. My experience is like three years, but I made more than 40 characters during these years, I believe. I make characters again, and again, and again, but somehow end up retiring them. What am I doing wrong?

    • I do find a sphere I adore.
    • I do find a concept I believe I love.
    • I make a very deep and detailed backstory to fully understand my character's experiences, personality and get into my character in general.
    • I give small and big goals to my character.
    • I try to meet various people/characters on the grid, not just my friends (because sometimes roleplay with another inspires you, helps to get to know your character better and etc.).
    • I try to participate in PrPs and Staff plots, when there are some I can take part in (I am still not comfortable running my own. I am not a native English speaker, plus still feel new to all this).

    But in the end... I get bored of my characters, I lose inspiration. I never had a character about which I could say: "That was quite a game! I adored that!" All I can say: "It was ok... but got boring."

    So, I am wondering... Is it me? Do I just suck playing out characters, writing stories? Though, I can't believe that. I do write play scripts and general prose in my native language. I love working on the story and characters but never manage to play them and continue their story. So, maybe I am just missing some important detail? How do you make /that/ amazing one character with whom you stay from the first day till last and enjoy it?

    Thank you for your tips!

    P.S. I am sorry if this topic had to be made on other part of the forum. I just thought it suits here...

    P.P.S. I would love if someone could recommend me a nWoD or oWoD MUSH with newbie friendly environmental (help during chargen and getting into the action after approval. It's hard when you are new and nobody plays with you, because you do not have friends on the game already and people do not want to give you a chance to prove yourself as a good and interesting player, because they are already having fun with their friends).

    Thank you!

  • Pitcrew

    How long in do you tend to get bored? At what point? Weeks or months? How big is your usual playgroup?

    It sounds to me like it's not a problem with the characters you're building, honestly; there's probably an issue there, but I don't have enough information to determine what it is yet.

    What genres have you tried? How many different games?

    Edited to add: The only real bit of feedback I would maybe have based on just what's said here -- stop with the very deep and detailed backstory. Leave plenty open to figure out and grow in play. Sometimes we make the mistake of making all the interesting things happen to the character before we start playing them. The story's already done, the issues are resolved. They can be the coolest character ever, but they're never going to achieve the heights they did in their past...and that can make a character fall flat very rapidly.

  • Admin

    @JustNobody said:

    But in the end... I get bored of my characters, I lose inspiration. I never had a character about which I could say: "That was quite a game! I adored that!" All I can say: "It was ok... but got boring."

    So, I am wondering... Is it me? Do I just suck playing out characters, writing stories?

    I don't know you, and for that reason alone I must include the possibility that it might be you. :) After all some people are flakes who get excited about a concept beforehand but once the PC hits the grid they lose interest.

    Having said that, I'd say there are at least two possibilities here, in ascending order of likelihood.

    • You are making characters who are too 'complete' and don't have enough hooks to be pulled into others' stories or pull them into yours. The super veteran lone-wolf type who's seen it all, done it all tends to fall into that trap because all he wants to do is stick in his fortress of solitude and not get involved. In my experience characters with playable flaws (i.e. things you can actually portray in scenes and which aren't annoying to encounter) are the best for this; give them an IC hunger to get stuff done, realistic and more or less feasible goals they'll want to achieve.

    • You aren't connected OOC and/or you're playing in cliquish games. It's just how it is, a reality of our fragmented and simultaneously small player pool; some MU* are just not that active. Unless things are happening - and other players are there with you to share the roleplaying momentum and drive each other - it's pretty hard to get excited about what's happening. My most successful characters took advantage of a combination of good timing (which tends to be random) and great company; PCs rarely thrive in a vacuum.

    What I suggest is take a look around your MU* first and make sure you're not simply having a similar experience as everyone else. It's easy to assume other players are off having a blast in their wild adventures when in truth they are as meh as you are for the lack of stuff to do. If that's the case (or either way) maybe reaching out could help everyone involved

    TL;DR: Characters do well and players have more fun while in good company. Make sure you have yourself some of that.

  • This is my process. Parts of it are probably ‘wrong,’ but it mostly works for me, in terms of making characters I’m excited to play (and being excited to play something is, I feel like, the most important aspect of getting me off my ass and actually playing).

    • I keep my backgrounds pretty lean. I’m down to a page in a Word doc usually, and I feel like even shorter would be better. I avoid defining as many relationships as possible, to leave room for people to claim to be my Old Whatever ICly. This both keeps things open so I can figure my character out as I play, and keeps me from over-story-ing my PC. So they can actually do interesting things ICly, rather than just having a lot of interesting stories. It’s the old writer cliché of starting your story at the most interesting point in your character’s life. It doesn’t always apply, but I think it’s a pretty good general rule to watch.

    • If it’s taking me too long to design a character – either in terms of history or concept – that generally means there’s something about the basic idea I’m not really into, and I trash it and start over from scratch on something entirely different. I think too often, players force things that seem like they SHOULD be cool and assume it’ll come together in play. It’s natural to take awhile to find the character’s voice, but if RP becomes ‘work’ I cease wanting to play.

    • I try to go into a new game as blank as possible, and design my characters to fit the world, rather than the other way around. I realize not everyone does this or enjoys doing this, and plenty of people create characters and then find places to play them. For me, though, it’s a really big deal. I feel like it makes it easier for me to plug into whatever action I want to be a part of ICly, rather than drifting around as a loner without a reason to connect with anyone.

    • I always build into my background an NPC my character has or had a relationship with that’s strong enough for me to generate internal stories. Sometimes a sibling, or an old nemesis, dead husband, whatever. This will never, ever become a PC I ask anyone else to play, because that’s not the point of it. I’ve found it’s an element that gives my character some grounding, because I can imagine how they relate to this other imaginary person, and I can use that to figure out how they relate to the characters they meet ICly. It also allows me to generate mini character advancing things for myself that are entirely off-screen. Like, if nothing’s going on ICly that I’m super into, I can generate stuff to talk about by bitching about my ex-wife trying to ream me in our latest court fight, or roll my eyes at my roommate’s latest soon-to-fail business venture. It gives me a handle on what my character does when he/she is off-camera, which I find stops me from being ‘bored’ if IC action is a little low.

    I don’t play WoD, so I can’t help with game recommendations, but I feel like a lot of character creation stuff (beyond, like, mechanics) is universal. These are just the things that I know personally help me get a PC going (some still fail, of course, but that’s life).

  • Pitcrew

    Thank you so much for a quick replay. Three-Eyed Crow, you gave really valuable tips! I will definitely use them in the future.

    To answer other questions:

    Now that I think... I do have just one MUSHing friend and like three or four acquaintances, which I meet on the MUSH, where I play now. And we play sometimes, but they have their own friends to play with and go on adventures. So basically, if I manage to get a scene per week - I consider myself really lucky!

    I played a character for four months. That was the longest period I lasted, and I could have lasted longer, if the game hadn't died (Kingsmouth :( I do miss that place!)

    All the other times... I get bored in a week or two, not getting roleplay in the places I make my characters. Or get just one scene in that whole time. I do my best to get involved, but the clique thing is indeed a problem.

    I tried out all history related MUSHes, which existed the last three years, and all WoD MUSHes. I might have missed some, if they were hidden and not advertised. Though usually, I play in vampire spheres. Others... Even reading books do not sound fun to me, or I just do not have anyone to inspire me to try out another sphere. After all, I was lured into the vampire sphere by a friend, and just read the books after that.

    I just really like idea of MUSHing in general. It's a perfect way to rest my mind from RL. Though, I would love to last longer on the games than a month. That is why I thought I might be doing something wrong with my characters. I give flaws, but likely I give them the wrong flaws or something? It's very hard to actually know what can be annoying to encounter and what isn't. We all are different and understand these things differently...

  • What is it that excites you about the character at creation, and is that being used during play?

  • Pitcrew

    @JustNobody said:

    Now that I think... I do have just one MUSHing friend and like three or four acquaintances, which I meet on the MUSH, where I play now. And we play sometimes, but they have their own friends to play with and go on adventures. So basically, if I manage to get a scene per week - I consider myself really lucky!

    This is the problem you're facing, really; I don't know that you're getting enough RP to stick with these characters; 4 scenes a month isn't enough to stay interested, I don't think. I'd suggest a few things:

    • Advertise for a playgroup. Put up a post on the games you're playing on saying that you're looking to get involved with a group of some sort? Alternately, state willingness to create a character for a group that needs something, and then do so to fit into what they're asking for. It's usually the most useful on the game in question, but you could also post here or other community sites that exist but I don't really know about.

    • Sit in public, with whatever version of an RP flag there is (if there is one) indicating you want to play. Sit in public a lot. Join any LFG channels there might be. Jump on people. Not literally.

    • Pay attention to other peoples' characters. If you're having problems with your own, see what it is that you're doing differently than other folks.

    I played a character for four months. That was the longest period I lasted, and I could have lasted longer, if the game hadn't died

    What was special about this experience that makes it different from your past experiences? Specifics -- did you have more people to play with? Were you more satisfied with a particular aspect of the PC? What was it that was keeping you engaged? Answer this and you'll figure out exactly what you've got going on.

    All the other times... I get bored in a week or two, not getting roleplay in the places I make my characters. Or get just one scene in that whole time. I do my best to get involved, but the clique thing is indeed a problem.

    It's always a problem everywhere. Human nature. This really confirms for me what I was thinking, though; it's not a problem with the characters, it's a problem with finding roleplay. Are you shy?

    I give flaws, but likely I give them the wrong flaws or something? It's very hard to actually know what can be annoying to encounter and what isn't.

    Very unlikely. It is very, very rare that specifics of this nature are what make or break a PC. I won't say it CAN'T happen, but I can't say it's likely. If there's a problem with the annoyance thing it's a matter of degrees. You might be playing them up too much -- THAT gets annoying. Making the flaws the focal point of every (or even most) scenes? THAT gets annoying. Any given flaw specifically? Not so much. It's really seriously not what you do, in this hobby, but how you do it (and to a certain extent why; if people can't tell why, they'll make up their own, it's why it's good to communicate your why as loudly as possible).

    Edited to add: Why do I always think of ONE MORE THING the instant after I hit submit? Rereading and everything! Argh. Anyway.

    Something else to do:

    • Drop the pencil. A lot. If you do get into scenes and you want the people in question to play with you more, make it super easy for your character to interact with theirs. Approach them. Give them the opportunity to save your PC from getting pickpocketed. Trip over their purse and spill your coffee, then apologize for touching the purse.

    • Focus on the other characters. If all else fails, this will get most people coming back repeatedly: focus on the PC you're playing with. Ask about their life, their history, poke around for their issues, what things about the character the other player finds interesting, whatever. If they're a wild west cowboy, talk about guns and saloons and gambling. If they're a noble lady talk about fashion and parties. Just like in real life, characters love talking about themselves as much as people do. This doesn't have to be a forever thing; spend a while doing this and people reciprocate a lot of the time.

  • Pitcrew

    I think the biggest factor in what makes or break a character in terms of sticking is: hooking in. It matters less what your character is like and more how your character builds relationships with other characters.

    There have been some really awesome suggestions from the others so far. Two ideas to add to your basket, one easier than the other:

    1. Create a character with built-in hooks. Somebody's sibling, somebody's coworker or former colleague, somebody's ex, somebody your character totally caused a car accident with years ago. Like, talk to people you like, even if it's someone you're not close to but whose RP you think is cool or fun. Come in with pre-existing relationships. These can be vital for grounding and hooking a character from the ground up.

    2. Alternatively, if the game allows for it, create a character who comes in via plot. This tends to provide some immediate character hooks with whoever is involved in the plot, as well as story hooks that throw you right into the action. Granted, my experience with this is on smaller games, so I don't know how effectively it scales to some of the giant WoD games.

    I also want to underline the following sentiments that have already been expressed:

    • Stop writing so much detailed background. It is likely getting in the way instead of helping.
    • Don't put your character's most interesting stories into their history.

    And finally: have patience. Sometimes that's really necessary. I've had really successful characters that probably didn't necessarily start being awesomely fun within a month. Sometimes the start is just a certain amount of work that you need to work through.

    And know that characters almost never fail or succeed on their history. They do it on their gameplay.

  • Admin

    Keep in mind MU* are inherently cliquish to some degree. It has a little bit to do with who you are and what you are playing, sure, but having a niche is an enormous factor on its own.

    For instance I'd play my primary character and get paged out of the blue with roleplay offers then switch to my alt and have a very hard time finding any scenes at all. In more extreme examples someone rolls a new character in the same sphere (say, after their PC dies) and suddenly they can find very little RP. Why? Because all their contacts, their existing hooks, their history to draw from, their positions or ranks, their coterie... even the name recognition are all gone.

    The truth is sometimes you luck out and RP just seems to rain from the sky. Sometimes you look at the channel and realize everyone is in their own sandbox to which you are simply not invited. It has nothing to do with you, it's just timing and positioning.

  • Pitcrew

    I think a few others have hit it on the head--you may be getting bored or not finding satisfying RP because you've left not as much to be interactive about, and are too reliant on others to make things for you to do with your character, vs. being open to having them effect you.

    Staff run plots often have a huge number of signups (as do sphere events). IME these may be exciting actiony things but very very rarely will they introduce you truly to others or get contacts outside your playgroup. There is a scene, but then a lot of people do not get together on their own afterwards (maybe in a job, but even then people tend to do that individually or in clusters). There also are not typically enough of them to constitute regular RP. This isn't a good or a bad thing, just seems to be par for the course for most places I have played at least in the last decade.

    I find when people are way too focused on their own PC being a specific way and interacting in the world a specific way and/or wanting to surround themselves with others and events that go in such a direction as to support that, it rarely goes well--especially if you're not communicating a lot OOC (and even if you are). I think most people who MUSH fall into that a time or two so it's by no means some indication of not being good at things or whatever. But you do have to be careful of an attitude of "I have such an awesome PC, if only people would come and unwrap me and see!" creeping up on you--because a lot of people are used to that kind of interaction being very one sided, when the other person won't run things/won't focus on the other PC for a change, ect.

    IME games are not made exciting or interesting by /your/ PC, but by what develops between them and others. I tend to make rather open ended PCs so I have ready excuse to explore without being too bound by "Oh, I can't do/explore that, because I've had 50 years of doing something else/in my background I /hate/ that, ect." Most of the PCs with elaborate backstory (which can be rewarding, but IMO primarily when you are creating that WITH someone else, not on your own for someone else to try to discover from scratch) that I've had have had a partner to play off of and a reason to be very very very interested in the world around them. (Spy, courtesan, political machinist, personality, ect.)

    If you listen and yield the spotlight and pay attention to what other people RP with their characters, you'll often build goodwill. I can't tell you how many times people have been touched that I remembered something said in play and incorporated it into our next scene or in an offscreen moment (like a @mailed letter or gift, ect). I do that because I enjoy it. It is not super reciprocated, but when it is, I know that that person is a keeper for RP and someone that I'd like to involve more, beause it really does feel good when someone notices and is thinking about your PC as they're writing about theirs. And you can do that sort of thing regardless of backstory.

    I think the most helpful thing to remember though is that your character is often not the prime reason why you do or don't enjoy a place. Your interactions with others, their relationships with others, and other things often affect how and if you settle and how well so much more than your character themselves.

    So I think it's good to leave some open space. It is really good to have a concrete idea in your mind of what your PC is like, but I think realistically on a MUSH you should be willing to adapt a little if the environment is different than you anticipated or be willing to ditch your PC (there's nothing wrong with ditching something that's not working for you, and nothing wrong with trying alterations or giving it time--it's just a matter of how much you'd like to invest or are willing to be patient).

    But I think that staff run plots and other player run +Events and plots are not going to satisfy you unless you're just looking for tabletop ish stuff (and you know, that's fine too, really!). I do think it helps to try and adjust to seeing your PC not as the prime element of your enjoyment. (Or maybe that's just a personality thing for me, dunno.)

  • @JustNobody

    I tend to be a character flipper myself. So, things that help:

    • Remember it's OK to drop a character if they're not working out.
    • Remember that going out in public to do random scenes on the grid is probably not going to be super great all the time. It's actually going to be kind of painful sometimes.
    • Sometimes, applying into an RP group is a good idea. It seems like families are a thing on NWOD games these days (and on Buffy MU*s, once upon a time). Usually, people in RP groups like that want to meet other people in that group and it's a nice 'in' for your character - a built-in reason to RP.
    • Sometimes, applying into an RP group is kind of awful. Maybe they're cliquish, maybe they're insane, maybe they've gone way off the concept you thought you were going to play. Remember you can go rogue.

    More specific ideas:

    • Friendly PCs. Characters who like to talk to random people and will talk to random people. Chatty types. They're just easier.
    • Do go to big scenes, but concentrate on finding and including newbies or other people who seem to be on the fringes. That's easier than trying to keep tabs on everyone all at once. Also, newbies are usually eager to RP and super happy when someone notices them.
    • Characters with jobs that involve meeting random people. Excellent occupations for this include coffee shop employees, mechanics, bartenders, pool hall owners, and so on. Cubicle farm workers? Not so much. Now I kind of want to play an electrician.
    • Give your goods. You spent a long time on that background, so if something comes up where you can share it, take the plunge, even if it's your character's 'secret'.
    • Have a wiki page, if the game you're on has a wiki. Yes, it's a pain, but having a list of things your PC is interested in can really help other people find reasons to RP with you.
    • Drop the pencil. Man, I love that this is a term now. Come up with reasons to talk to other people in public areas. Lose a cell phone, lose your wallet, look for one of your earrings. Be three cents short when you're buying something. Get splashed by a passing car, slip on ice, deal (briefly!) with a jerky NPC, look for interesting things in people's @descs and then compliment them on them or ask about them ('those shoes are awesome', 'where did you get that necklace', 'is that a dog collar you're wearing?').

    I have found Fallcoast, which is NWOD, to be pretty welcoming. Like I've had people page me out of the blue because of something on my wiki page.

  • Tutorialist

    General advice, I don't claim that any of this will make a character "stick" for you, but it might help:

    • Make a character with hooks, but not tied to any one because they can and probably will flake out on you. e.g. Play someone from the same college/workplace as someone you're interested in playing with. Do not play their sibling/boyfriend/some-who-won't-function-if-they-disappear.

    • Make a character with hooks that match what you want to play. (Example time: I played on ST:Gamma One for its life span. I wanted to play, specifically, a doctor. I wanted to play a doctor so I could go on missions as 'medical officer', and help people with their 'reporting for duty physical'. Probably, twice, I let Rapier talk me into playing Not A Doctor because he convinced me it was a better concept -- play a nurse! They're needed! Play the Chef Counselor as a psychologist, not a psychiatrist! Each time I ended up being unable to do the two things I wanted: Be medical officer on a mission, or do the RFD physicals.)

    • Do you like music? Make characters with songs that you really enjoy and when listening to those songs you'll want to play the character. -- When writing a background or a concept I find a song I really like that matches the theme of the character I'm going for and listen to it on repeat while writing/building.

    • Make pretty things -- idk, this has worked for me. Do you play with photoshop at all? Make pretty things to go on the wiki. (e.g. Changeling miens for changeling characters, or mage + their nimbus, or actor in their uniform for star trek / battle star games, etc).

    Less advise and more musings:

    • My longest running characters on any mush were likely: Cytosine@HM (several years, off and on), Maia@STGO (2 years), Girah@STGO (two years), Peta@HM(~1.5yr). I originally wrote up a long post comparing each of them to each other but it eventually falls down to:

    I like to play characters that start out low rank / power, and work my way up to max rank/power. And along the way be in a lot of plots / PrPs, and have strong ties to other PCs, but not ones that mean if those PCs go away I can no longer play them.

    My real advice:

    Figure out what you like to play, and do that. Figure out what you liked about your longest PCs so far, and see if you can apply that to a new one. Keep doing it until something sticks.

  • Admin

    Also, don't have an agenda. It can backfire.

    You know - don't only talk to the hot chicks in a room with six people, even if it's 'what your character would do'. Don't only try to interact with the Primogen and ignore everyone else even if your character is super ambitious.

    You get the idea. :)

  • Pitcrew

    Also, this isn't necessarily feasible for every single character you build, but having a PC who is genuinely curious about other people and learning about them can really help be a springboard for crafting connections. Not all of my characters are super curious, but when I have one, it can be a lot of fun, and to a certain extent it's playing a little bit on Easy Mode because you have to do less twisting around to invent reasons to talk to other people and ask questions.

  • I might not be a good person to answer this because I am very much the sort of person that has a hard time staying on a character. A lot of the advice here looks good and some seems to include being less complete in your character write-up, and I certainly hope that helps you, but I don't even have that problem.

    From my own experience over the years, I've only had a handful of characters that I can think of that I had any real success keeping for any length of time, and the common thread for all of them was making the right connections early on. What is the "right" connection? For me, it was the availability of a handful of people that I enjoyed playing with who were present when I was. That was it, basically. Every concept I have, every character I CG and get approved, has excited me for some amount of time, but it was never the concept that nailed it so much as the people I fell in with. Also, it couldn't just be one good interaction, or unrelated scene. Chance or circumstance had to get something rolling with those folks beyond the standard coffee-shop name-swap. I just don't have the perseverance otherwise, which is a personal flaw that gets me rather easily, and accurately, hung with the a sign that reads: Flake.

    tl;dr Focus on finding the right people at the right time (really important) and worry less about any weakness in your CG process.

  • @Cobaltasaurus said:

    • Make a character with hooks, but not tied to any one because they can and probably will flake out on you. e.g. Play someone from the same college/workplace as someone you're interested in playing with. Do not play their sibling/boyfriend/some-who-won't-function-if-they-disappear.

    I think this is right, though for me it's more, "Don't make your character so dependent on another that they're unplayable without that person." Which I don't think precludes making characters with very close IC ties. I apped into a game as someone's twin once. They idled out fairly quickly, but I never felt like I had trouble finding things to do with my character, and played him for a couple years. He just wasn't single-mindedly attached to only that one person (which I think is a mistake people make when they make connected characters which leads to ALL sorts of problems). Be open to IC bonds, but be aware you need to make your own fun, is the way I approach it.

  • I've only ever played a handful of characters over the fifteen years or so I've veen RPing. There's a rare instance (mostly recently while trying to find a MUSH to play on...lots of turn around in the last six months) where I don't play a character for at least six months, and even then that's kind of short, for me.
    What I find works the best (for me):

    *It's been mentioned, but not detailing a background too much - or at least not having the most interesting things in their life, in the background.
    *Making a concept that is flexible. Have your specific quirks and hooks that you stick to (because you liked the character enough to make it, stick with those reasons why), but try not to have them dictate every interaction. Influence, sure. But if you know what's going to happen in every scene because of a certain flaw, or whatever, then it's going to get boring.
    *Roll with the punches. (Figuratively and literally). Figuratively - cannot stress being flexible, enough. Literally - don't be afraid of IC confrontation. Don't be afraid of short scenes. Short scenes can easily lead to more plot hooks. Characters not getting along at first, can lead to more plot hooks (assuming the person ooc wants to rp again).
    *Curiosity - it kills the cat, but doesn't tend to kill plot unless you're a real jerk about it. This ties into "drop the pencil", a lot. Yes, drop the pencil, but try to respond when others do, too.

    Aaand, that's all I can think of specifically, right now. Good luck! And RL willing, if you (or anyone) is on Fallcoast and doesn't mind a Changeling, I'm Red over there. Feel free to poke me for scenes! I'm not always available when on (i idle-chat at work a lot), but I do love meeting new folks =)

    ETA: Cliques? Forget cliques. I have my prefered rp people, but I feel like there's always one clique on a mu*, and then there's everyone else who thinks everyone else is in a clique, so they get frustrated and don't branch out. When everyone does that, that makes for a lot of lonely RPers. Branch out! The more people you meet, the more plot hooks you have.
    I went to The Reach all by my lonesome (mostly because who dragged me there totally bailed. Not cool, man =p), and managed to find people to rp with, despite being overwhelmed and super shy, because I took that first step of branching out. Don't be afraid to help others with their characters, either. Often they'll return the favor. I'll stop rambling now =D

  • Pitcrew

    You all are so cool people! Thank you so much for wonderful tips, thank you so much for the help. I will definitely use your guidance, making my new character right now. Basically, the main thing what I learned is that first of all, I need to stop being super shy. Yes, I am like that. Super shy and with a huge lack of self-confidence. So, I will try to deal with that, and then follow your guidance, and I should be okay.

    Thank you again.

    Happy MU*ing for all of us!

  • Pitcrew

    It's cool, man. I'm actually ridiculously shy myself, though most folks would never know it. It's possible to sort of get over it and sort of compensate and just do it. The self-confidence will come with time.Cut yourself some slack!

  • Admin

    @JustNobody said:

    You all are so cool people!

    You must be new here. :)

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