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Preparing for the Unexpected! (Game Master Tips)

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Come hither as Critical Role’s Matt Mercer tells you how to be a better GM / DM. Today’s episode shows you how to roll with the unexpected player choices! Catch these tips a week early on Vessel, and on GeekandSundry.com every Friday! For more on RPGs, go to http://bit.ly/GS_RPG Visit us on http://geekandsundry.com Subscribe to Geek and Sundry: http://goo.gl/B62jl Join our community at: http://geekandsundry.com/community Twitter: http://twitter.com/geekandsundry Facebook: http://facebook.com/geekandsundry Instagram: http://instagram.com/geekandsundry Google+: https://plus.google.com/+GeekandSundry/
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rashkavar (3 days ago)
Heh, watching this being caught up on campaign 2 of Critical Role. (spoilers for epsiode 56 of Campaign 2) "Don't railroad. They may veer off course a bit..." Or...they may give the MacGuffin to the perceived villain and force you to spend that entire 2 week break you got rewriting the campaign.
Jaron (14 days ago)
Best tips and trips I've ever gotten tbh.
Arthur Demörgun (16 days ago)
3:38 lmao
rate eightx (18 days ago)
What Exactly Do You Mean By "Sci-Fi Names"? I'm Guessing You'd Mean Names For Different Alien Races In Your Sci-Fi Setting? Because I Don't See Why Humans In The Future Would Have Much Different Names Than In The Present.
rate eightx (18 days ago)
Just Expect The Unexpected!
Colin Schwiethale (20 days ago)
We once a Tortle barbarian, and he found a locked chest. Now the party wasn’t able to pick the lock(magic) and was not able to open with force either(magic). So the Barbarian picked it up and contained on his way. The entire table was just shocked
Louise C-M (1 month ago)
Justin Varix (1 month ago)
My tip to you people: (I know Matt kind of already said this) Print out a list of names with space between them. As he said, you can pull from these at random times. However, as you reveal personal information or unusual knowledge the NPC may posses via conversation (intentional or not) WRITE IT DOWN. Specifically in the space under the name. This helps keep your NPCs consistent and it doesn't feel like there is someone else trying to remember wtf this random NPC knows. *nudge* *nudge*
Bert schumacher (1 month ago)
Had a party last week that skipped 1/3 of my story (short run, around 3 sittings). Tried to introduce a character who would let them into that part of the story again, and they scared my character of immediatelly. Had to roll with the punches 😅
Skruff Skruff (1 month ago)
What should I do if my players want to make a pig farm?
vazak11 (2 months ago)
Very insightful!
Cherub Art (2 months ago)
"Can I help you, Im david" his face 🤣🤣🤣🤣
Nightshade Isis (2 months ago)
The Supernatural Campaign I am working on now is getting ready to be hard in this regard as I'm takingn the next leg of the story from a trilogy fanfic I wrote, so there are so many ways I'm worried about things derailing. Lol
Scott N (2 months ago)
Did David get his arm back?
Mythical123 (3 months ago)
Alright, so I'm running Curse of Strahd. In certain chests, there are hidden spell tomes for wizards as rewards. Issue is? I don't have a wizard in my group. I don't even have a sorcerer in my group. What can I do with these tomes?
T1NG0 (27 days ago)
Just swap them out for something relevant to the characters, or if their equipment doesn't fit the theme just swap out the tomes for valuable items they can sell.
MA3655 (3 months ago)
Tips and Trips
Princess Tu Tu Beans (3 months ago)
I was running The Lost Mine of Phandelver once. My characters were at the tavern/inn when they somehow found out that the local cleric that takes care of the local shrine was single. So naturally.. Their course of action was to go to said shrine and... Seduce the "nun". * deep sigh * So that was what happened that session.. And the next. (It may be worth mentioning that they try - and usually succeed - to seduce... Everything. Wolves, goblins, bugbears, other goblins, random NPC's, and MORE GOBLINS. Well. At least it's funny XD ) -_- That's usually my expression.
Brianthegreat (3 months ago)
"Oh you go into the hospital"
Oscar M 39999 (3 months ago)
Matt you magnificent bastard I see what you did there! :) 4:11 Anyone a Space Bounty Hunter? (Cowboy Bebop)
Gunnerblaster (4 months ago)
@4:52 - You hear someone, despite themselves, laugh at Matt's sudden, impromptu quest to "Find Dave's Arm."
Darth Squidward1 (4 months ago)
Once I allowed for the players to communicate with the goblins to let them in their mine but they had to stick a great axe through the head of a Guard.
Kane Staiger (4 months ago)
I just started Gm a game with 6 other friends and i can now SO RELATE TO THIS VIDEO! are heroes go into a mine to investigate strange disappearances and the such, when they find the new mine shaft unearthed what looks like remnants of a ruin entrance were resting at the end of the tunnels is a dead guard missing his hands! (foreshadowing)., After fighting reanimated undead hands that had crawled threw the ruble at the end of the shaft, they investigated another one of the mine shafts that ran parallel to the new one finding a gouge in the wall witch they opened only to find a Gazer, more undead hands a few dead corpses and a deep crack in the floor with a dim pinkish glow that seamed to go down very deep witch the Gazer was hovering over. After killing nearly everything in the room the Gazer tried to escape down the crack in the floor, and by my bug eyed surprise the dwarf cleric in are group jumps down the crack manages to land on the Gazer and rides it down 60 to 80 ft down, jumping off last second killing the Gazer landing in the middle of four Abysmal Wretches and an undead Beholder while having landed on a small bolder in the middle of a large puddle of liquid arcane magic witch sucks the life out of anything in it when some one uses magic in this chamber. I had planned for them to get there through a tunnel witch would have hinted to what they would had faced as well as given them a chance to pick off a few enemy's before confronting the beholder. STUPID DWARFS!
Xomsabre (4 months ago)
My party was roaming through a city, near the temple districts. The barbarian was searching for a religion. He hears word of Gorum (Pathfinder god of battle). He walks up to the temple. "Tell me about this Gorum" I give him a basic idea "What is the History of Gorum?" I look up the Gorum page on PFWiki and give a summary of the History "What does Gorum look like?" *grumbles* I summarize the appearance of Gorum (starting to get into it, but slightly annoyed) "I'd like to enter the temple and learn more" *sees "Church of Gorum" section* Me: "Alright, sure" *Barbarian opens door* Me: Make a reflex save Barb: what? Me: "Reflex save" *successful* "You narrowly dodge an axe swinging at your face" Barb: "I try to talk him down" Me: "He's readying another swing..." Barb: "I pull out my axe" Me: "Roll initiative...." I knew he was looking for a religion, but the questions were getting slightly annoying at the time (in hindsight, I'm really glad it happened; it kept me on my feet and reminded me that I need to be prepared to be unprepared).
Rebecca (4 months ago)
I hope Dave found his arm.
Terry Anderson (4 months ago)
tips n trips <3
GregLeagueGaming (4 months ago)
Matt should come back and watch this again after recent events in campaign 2. This whole video is basically about the campaign
Chris Wettelings (4 months ago)
As a player I have cause my fair share of unexpected. In my first time playing the game. My DM had intended for us to fight a horde of zombies as our boss fight upon nightfall. We reached our destination before nightfall and the bodies of the zombies were hung up in the trees as like a warning. We were preparing to make camp and shore up our defenses in case something happened and my character who has a problem with undead from his back story pulled a wild card. The DM asked us what are you going to do before night? My response "I would like to cut the bodies down chop them up and burn them please" I had a good reason and the DM allowed it to my parties disgust (in game) but you could tell the DM was like "you little....." we ended up fighting 10-12 animated shrubberies lol
President Anarchy (5 months ago)
Love these videos, I running a campaign with my friends the other day and they went into a tap house in the city they were at. I offhandedly mentioned there were two guys sitting at a table playing a game of cards together but I didn't anticipate them going over and trying to play as well. Having watched all of the first campaign I knew the basics of creating game they could gamble at with the dice. They were in a small kingdom on a pretty secluded island so I named it after one of the great generals of the first king who was known to be very clever. I called it Minaltra's Take, an ante was placed and 3d4 were rolled, the players could then place a bet and reroll 1-3 of the dice. The objective was to meet 7 but not go over. I honestly couldn't believe I did it on the spot and couldn't help but tell one of them I did after the game. I owe it all to the hours and hours of knowledge, entertainment, and fun you provide. Thanks Matt!
Chris Stuart (5 months ago)
THANK YOU! THANK YOU for making these videos! Hoping to help my son become a better DM. Listening to his "father" is sometimes not received as well as a stranger or expert. ;-)
Jessica Brown (6 months ago)
Okay, a player who plays an arcane trickster named Loki derailed my entire campaign by trying to kill Arkhan ..... yes, the Force Grey Arkhan.
The Cult of the Jim (6 months ago)
King sent us to kill vampires who took over the government of a neighboring nation. Third session, we got an idea to open up a brewery/brothel/bath/drug lab- main campaign derailed for a session to get the business up and running, it is now a central theme, and the DM has cut back severely on coins/jewels since we have an income. We met the resistance a couple sessions later, who wanted us to prove our worth. Instead of something rational, like disrupt the vampire lord's business, we went straight for steal his coffin. This accelerated the timetable we the players were planning on (we wanted to be more established with the politics to make the city of Whoropolis a reality), but at least the townsfolk now fear the Big Assed Spider ho eats souls which killed their beloved vampire lord, and we chased through the streets carrying the severed head of the vampire (well, at least 56% of the town believe it, hopefully more will be fearful of the ethereal spider after I use the wand of major image a couple times- at least we had the foresight to say it can't eat your soul if you're intoxicated to give our establishment more business). I ponder what must be going through our DM's head, but at least she's given us enough rope to hang ourselves with, only choking us a couple times with it (both times were pretty major). I wonder what will happen when we try to open up our premier charity- the Whorphanage. Alas, she just recently ruled I have to free my slave, which isn't what he wants as being the mastermind behind the party works so much better when others think of him as a mere senile servant. Well, at least he's a very good liar, and acting the part once we move on to the next town won't be a problem.
David Gillam (6 months ago)
I still haven't found my arm :'(
Louise C-M (1 month ago)
Brand_D (4 months ago)
Dave they're paging you in the ER
DAEsaster (7 months ago)
The Lich (8 months ago)
One time in my game I thought they were just going to leave the drow fort after they slaughtered there entire militia NOPE they took it for themselves and I was like "Ummmm.. ok" not were I was expecting to do but who cares they had fun fortifying it with downtime so I ran with it.
BigRedGuy (8 months ago)
oh how my players got the drop on me one time, the where going to infiltrate an enemy camp and weaken the. I had all thies things planed for when they got in. NAH! they just seduced one guard and gave him the plauge. EASY DONE DEAL
Lamiria (8 months ago)
Lmao For the third session I had as a dm I was really good prepared, even wrote down a little dialogue the guard captain would have with the party later into the session... only to be completely out of it when the rogue started the session wanting to loot the cultists they finished off at the end of the last session, which I had no inventory for at all.
Vytautas Volcauskas (8 months ago)
''Trips''' the combination of tips and tricks
The Monkey Prince (8 months ago)
The most amazing thing that we always bring up is a character named shrug he didn’t know what his name was so we called him shrug cuz he kept shrugging he was really annoying so I tried to know him out and he died
Cormandine (8 months ago)
I am good at coming up with names, but, I have had slip-ups every once in a while... like Steve the Sarenrae Cleric.
Mike Guilmette (8 months ago)
Improv class. A very practical tip. Thank you.
Mad Bishop Gaming (9 months ago)
Players NEVER do what you expect. I prepare and prepare and prepare and they still find the one or two things that I barely prepared for or have never considered. It never fails. Gotta be ready for anything as a DM/GM.
Tarrasque Flask (9 months ago)
3:41I know that guys can be nurses, but imagining a female nurse named Dave has got me laughing
Joel Rodrigues (9 months ago)
I Dm a game of Game of thrones and one of my players tried to intimidate a dothraki whit his dick , and was hilarious xD
alex bartschi (9 months ago)
Vitaliy Novikov (9 months ago)
Ayy, Matt rocking that "How do you wanna do this?" shirt :)
Mike Molash (9 months ago)
#find David’s arm
Tiny Marshmallow (9 months ago)
Is it bad if I want to send my players on a quest to find nurse David's arm that was taken by demons now? 😂
Teagan P (9 months ago)
Names. Our GM needs to keep a list of names. Probably half the time when we ask an NPC their name, it's "Ugh, you want a name?" Last week, we were escorted to the library by "faceless lackey 1-a," and from the library to the noble's house by "faceless lackey 2-a." It's a little bit of fun still, though, I should try to start a conversation with one of these faceless lackeys sometime.
Rachel Jones (9 months ago)
"We've gotta find Dave's arm!" :-)
I love the daves arm quest. Absolutely love it. Why did demons take his arm? What are they gonna do with it? Where are they keeping it? How can the players get to it, get it back safely and either reattach it or enable Dave to use it for whatever functions the demons wanted it for.
Gaming Ninja (10 months ago)
What I do is I pretty much have some randomizer papers I do whenever I want to make up a backstory, name, quest, etc. While the game is happening....recommend it, though you can get some pretty weird results
JKoby99 (10 months ago)
Does someone know the background music?
Fire Ice (10 months ago)
Dave: I’m missing an arm Me: Oh, I didn’t notice that
Simone Simonazzi (11 months ago)
I'm having a lot of fun watching your videos, Matt, it really helps me out with my party since we're all beginners. Now, I know I have to be flexible as GM, but at some point really weird and absurd questions come up, questions to which I have no answer: the arcanist wants to create a machine gun that shoots infinite magic arrows... How am I supposed to handle something like that?
Mick Ross (11 months ago)
(((Completely insane)))
EpicPie9121 (11 months ago)
love me some tips and trips
Jarod Jagges (11 months ago)
I'm not really the right kind of person for being a dm but I love watching these because I think it gives players perspective on what the dm goes through to prep but also how to get into/help make the experience better for the party
Septlaxer Gaming (11 months ago)
Ran my first campaign with my friends, my friend decided to seduce a corrupt official to distract him whilst our thief found evidence of his crimes. Definitely not expected, definitely fun.
Rocketman Namtecor (11 months ago)
During a game a friend and I managed to convince a whole group of enemies to join the city guard including a orc warior two goblins a hill giant and a litch
Patrilicus ! (11 months ago)
We gotta find Dave's arm!!
Shadowfire Angel (11 months ago)
"Some of those will make for the best stories for one." First thing that came to mind when he mentioned this was a Goblin-Hobgoblin Civil War that occurred all because a Hobgoblin Archer rolled a natural 1 and killed a Goblin.
Greenflame1971 (1 year ago)
I feel like some of the best NPC names arise when the GM has to invent them on the spot. My personal favourites from that category are Ben Tabulous, Guy Manson, Sssss Sss, and Phurburt Timmils.
Casper Hooft (1 year ago)
I like using the concept of the "chaos character", which is very similar to this. Along with all of the side characters that you make, just in case, have a character that links to the story that the players randomly run in to if everything goes so incredibly batshit insane that you can't possibly think of anything to do with it. Maybe they mention the consequences of the players not doing anything, maybe they mention how the chaos is causing greater powers to rise elsewhere and no one is willing to fight this second threat, or maybe they're just straight up a god in disguise that refuses to be ignored as they tell the party that they are powerless and weaklings and that he will crush them with his hoard of powerful magic item equipped army and destroy everything, leaving nothing left for the players to interact with - pillage or otherwise.
Declan Galvin (1 year ago)
I know it's cheating but sometimes when I have to come up with NPCs on the spot I pull one out of a book, TV show, movie, or game I like and just using them as an NPC basically
Owen Eastman (1 year ago)
We gotta find Dave’s arm!
Aiden Yoo (1 year ago)
Already the best dm on youtube, and now the best dm taecher.
Cody Cosman (1 year ago)
So the last time my group got together, the Ranger got really upset with the merchant in the town, and so she killed him. Right in front of our Lawful Good Fighter. He told her to turn herself in, and she naturally refused. So he tried to apprehend her, and she said that he would have to kill her first. She attacked him, and that was exactly what happened. She got a nat 20 to kill the merchant, and a nat 1 to save herself, with the Fighter getting a nat 20 to hit. That merchant was supposed to be a major player in the game. Now I have to think of someone else to fill his role lol!
amedeus40k (1 year ago)
I find that the “unexpected” events are what often make the game so very interesting and exciting. As a GM, don’t worry if your players suddenly go off in a direction that is not what you intended, and is not really part of the scenario that you had in mind. Just remember that EVERYTHING can be solved with “story,” and every action your players make has consequences. If they’ve fallen off the beaten path, simply change the storyline to help guide your players back to where you want them to be. You must do this in a very subtle way. As Matt says, you don’t want to railroad your players, or at least, you don’t want them knowing that you’re putting them back on your intended path. For example, if you have an over zealous thief in your party, and is always trying come up with new ways of stealing something, and it’s leading your game into areas that have nothing to do with your adventure, just remember that there are always consequences to your players actions. Say your adventure is set around a group of werewolves that are terrorizing a city, and while speaking to the mayor about the problem all your thief can think about is stealing the mayors prized ruby ring. Simply make that “ring” part of your central story, and say that the Mayor is actually the werewolves leader, and that the ring is the only thing that keeps the mayor from transforming into a werewolf during a full moon. As I said, EVERYTHING can be fixed through the subtle manipulation of the story. By changing the story a little, you’ve allowed your player to play their character as they think they should, while at the same time bringing the party back on track with your planned adventure. I’m addition, you’ve added an element of intrigue to the story that really wasn’t there before.
Turbine360 (1 year ago)
0:30 yeah "off the cuffs" is how I would put it. I had my PCs buy a book a man steals the book. Instantly someone shoots him in the leg, and one of my, what I would consider sane, friends suggests that they should and I quote "cut off his legs so he won't get away" yeah their pretty unpredictable :\
David Ahmad (1 year ago)
Can I help you? I'm David
Shady Br1T (1 year ago)
I remember once my dm let me cut the dick off of a monster that turned me into stone
Just a Manatee (1 year ago)
Tips and trips?
Bein' Ian (1 year ago)
"You talk to him for a while, and learn that he's missing an arm." They must have rolled a 1 for perception if it took a conversation to point that out to them xD
QuantumLolliepop (1 year ago)
You hear about the situations where the DM sets a scene that the players aren't supposed to use at the time but remember or return to later and think "OMG it's this place again. So THAT'S what that was." Then a player rolls a natural 20 and, to avoid making the players actions seem useless, play along and that story element gets ruined by it. What can you do to prepare for/react to those unexpected successes without nullifying the twist or reveal later?
Eric Whitt (1 year ago)
Nat 20 doesn't mean it has to be a positive success. I mean someone can look into an empty bucket searching for hidden treasure and rolls a nat 20 "You look into the bucket, and you are definitely sure there is nothing of value in that bucket. You have never been more sure of anything in your life." If a rogue is trying to pick the lock of a door they aren't supposed to be in "You spend a few minutes examining the door and trying to understand the locking mechanism. You pull out your trusted lock pick and start to work. A few minutes of attempting to pick this lock and you realize that you do not have the necessary skills or items required to unlock this door. But because you were so cautious, you didn't alert any nearby beings to your presence. You gather that someone or something important must be behind this door and vow to return to it at a later time."
Darth Stuticus (1 year ago)
I pretty much never prepare. I wing almost everything i do.
Freed Crow (1 year ago)
You know what even Mathew didn't expect? The Unexpectables.
Max Mustermann (1 year ago)
Matt Mercer seems like an awesome guy and he fits perfectly for his group (obviously) but I wouldn't like to have him as my DM.
Disapoint - (1 year ago)
*can i help you im david*
lionei33 (1 year ago)
Making a giant sun lazer out of all the maginfing glasses and mirrors in town then enlarging the item with a spell just to destroy one vampire
TheUsernameIsInUse (1 year ago)
Dave, The Nurse liked this
Walter Ingle (1 year ago)
What sometimes messed with my characters, very often, is that I generally created a world/setting, and they were free to do pretty much 'whatever'. 90% of actual gameplay during my games were generally run off the cuff. Impromptu. Both a 2nd Ed D&D game, as well as a World of Darkness game that ended up lasting years, and was even redone with new players. I was celebrated on my planning skills. Illusion is pretty awesome. I've got a poker face about as strong as Matt's. All I have to say on that. LOL. And the random NPCs with names, some of mine, at least, actually became significant characters later. So enjoyable, some would be indoctrinated into the players' extended family. :) I also kept a list of "weird stuff", like a random encounter table, just oddball stuff that had purpose, but seemed, well, weird. Scan the list if the players start seeming less engaged. Just in case /I/ got bored. It happens... :P Keeps players a little paranoid. Healthy paranoia in a game is a /good/ thing.
Dave Haskell (1 year ago)
"We gotta go find Dave's arm", that actually happened one session, strait up tru story, except for the daemons lol
Kris Simonis (1 year ago)
The way I do it, probably not the best for a lot of people. I don't write a particular story, instead I focus on creating a villain, flesh out his goals, plans, motives and ideas, then work out how he/she would attain said goals, and carry out his/her nefarious plots. This then leads to a what I call a 'sphere of influence' on how these things affect the world, and thus how other NPCs react to this, and through them impart this onto the players. This way, I have the players slowly become entangled into the web of an adventure, and let the story evolve around them naturally. Ofcourse to make matters interesting, I Always use the affected NPCs to colour the events unfolding int he world as a result of the villain's actions, having them tell the events through their perspective, which might not even be entirely correct, as NPCs wouldn't have ALL the info and can easily draw wrong conclusions about things. This way requires a lot of improvisation as a GM, but makes the story far more organic, instead of a railroad of 'hear about the evil plot, find the evil doers lair, fight through said lair, defeat the villain'
Loren Garms (1 year ago)
Alexn Andum (1 year ago)
The vinegar treatment in this campaign I am a PC in.
Leo Willenberg (1 year ago)
Tips and trips
Jack Walsh (1 year ago)
Bob Bobson (1 year ago)
One time I was the DM for a group of people I thought I knew well, then out of the blue our rogue gets taken to be executed. The entire party goes to rescue him, aggravating some important people. Some other stuff went down and a session later they had started a full fledged revolution. Keep in mind the story I had written went the complete opposite direction.
Dusty Fedora (1 year ago)
Would a player choosing to catch a giant log of a ballista bolt and using it as a bat be counted as unexpected
John Crum (1 year ago)
What's up, fellow ProJared fan!
Bryan Floyd (1 year ago)
Anyone else want to find David's arm?
Dave DeWitt (1 year ago)
I am a nurse named David... this hit home for me
IshKetchup27 (1 year ago)
I have a monodrone friend named bob who has a top hat and monocle
Christian Daniel (1 year ago)
"In Case of Player Free Will, Break Glass."
Blackmantis1 (1 year ago)
In the first game I played, as a elvish rogue, the DMV put a morality check of an old man getting abused for not paying his overly high taxes, we overthrew the kingdom
ochentan (1 year ago)
this applies perfectly to what i had to deal today, thank god I'm seeing now this and the fun part it was the most hilarious way on getting to the boss of the dungeon, it was like how to skip 1/2 of the dungeon in a ridiculous way
daisyfairy42 (1 year ago)
I actually had an interesting time as a player when I threw my party for a loop. We were in a police station, the barricade that was holding back zombies was giving way, and we had no way into an armory. It had bulletproof glass, and a locked metal door. The keys were lost to the horde of zombies. Earlier, I had gotten the sort of tool that a mortician uses to split open ribs as a weapon, and I figured, hey, let's jam it in the door lock and try to pry it open! My party looked at me like I was nuts. The DM was actually pretty down with my idea. I passed it to our hobo (yes someone was playing a hobo) and they set it up, and rolled magically. Yep. We opened a big old metal door with a pair of rib splitters. Good times.
Tyler Knox01 (1 year ago)
Don't look behind the curtain!
My friend went to push over an ogre from behind. He ended up failing and rammed his arm up its bum.
Doyle Tristian (1 year ago)
Alright, so I'm doing my first official big campaign. I'm used to doing One-Shots. Anyway, I created this pit, where I put a device used somewhat of an elevator of sorts for this 230 feet pit. My characters were worried about the weight capacity, and so three out of four of my characters went on this elevatorish machine, while our super heavy dwarf climbed down with a chain wrapped around as a safety precaution. He failed the climb check and falls, but the chain caught him, but broke the elevator... All of this was on the fly, and the characters ended up combining the chain and the weapons to use as a swing of sorts, to get down. So I was impressed, I was thrown off at first, hopefully they couldn't tell, but they seemed to love it.

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