Magic of Dungeons & Dragons
Magic of Dungeons & Dragons consists of spells used in the settings of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). D&D defined the genre of fantasy role-playing games, and remains the most popular. Many of the original spells have become widely used in the role-playing community, across many different fictional worlds, and across books, board games, video games, and movies.
The specific effects of each spell, and even the names of some spells, vary from edition to edition of the D&D corpus.
- 1 Origins
- 2 d20 System
- 3 Types
- 4 Sample spells
- 5 Rituals
- 6 Casting
- 7 Dweomer
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The idea of spell memorization is sometimes called "Vancian" in the game designer community, since its first use, in Dungeons & Dragons, was inspired by the way magic works in Jack Vance's Dying Earth world.
The current rules are based on the d20 System—a core set of rules which can be (and are) used as the basis for many games. Thus, many d20 games might use the D&D spell list, while others create their own or even replace the entire magic system.
In the Dungeons & Dragons game, magic is a force of nature, and a part of the world. There are two main types of magic: arcane, which comes from the world and universe around the caster, and divine, which is inspired from above (or below): the realms of gods and demons. Wizards, sorcerers and bards learn to cast arcane spells, which are typically flashy and powerful, but, prior to 4th edition, often require complex movements and gestures known as somatic components, which are impeded by wearing bulky armor. Clerics, druids, rangers and paladins cast divine spells, which draw their power from a deity, from nature, or simply the caster's inner faith. While the casting of these spells is not impeded by heavy armor, it may require the caster to wear a holy symbol as a focus. A spell may exist in both arcane and divine forms—for example, summon monster VII can be cast by both wizards and clerics, although a cleric might use it to summon an angel while a wizard would feel free to summon whichever creature best fits the situation.
These are typically spells devoted to manipulating energy, converting one substance to another, or calling on the services of other creatures. For wizards, these spells are generally committed to memory after a session of meditation upon a spellbook containing the details of the incantation. Once prepared, the spell is cast using specific words and/or gestures, and sometimes a specific material component; but the act of casting the spell causes it to fade from the wizard's memory, so that he or she cannot cast it again without first re-memorizing it. Sorcerers and bards know their spells innately and do not need to prepare them at all, nor do they require a spellbook.
Prior to 3rd edition, arcane spellcasting ability is always linked to the Intelligence ability score. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, arcane spellcasters who prepare spells in advance are Intelligence-based, while spontaneous arcane spellcasters, such as Bards and Sorcerers, are Charisma-based.
Each spell belongs to one of eight groups, called "schools". Technically, divine spells belong to schools as well, but the distinction is, for the most part, irrelevant. A wizard (but not a sorcerer) may specialize in one school, but at the expense of completely forsaking one or more others. A few spells are "universal", meaning that they belong to no particular school of magic. The spell school system was first introduced in the Dragonlance setting, and became part of the primary game with the release of the Second Edition.
In 4th edition, spell schools are initially absent but are reintroduced with the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials supplement, allowing Wizards to gain advantage when casting the spells of two schools of their choosing. The spell schools introduced are Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, and Nethermancy (corresponding to the Shadow subschool of the Illusion school from the previous editions). The spells of other classical schools are present in the form of utility spells (like True Seeing being available but not being specifically named a Divination spell) or spell descriptors (like Conjuration or Summoning). However since 4e does not use a Vancian spellcasting system, the benefits of mastering or being an expert in a school work quite differently.
- This school is focused on protective spells, as well as spells which cancel or interfere with other spells, magical effects or supernatural abilities, such as Break Enchantment, Dimensional Anchor, Dispel Magic or Remove Curse. Wizards who specialize in this school are known as Abjurers.
- Alteration/Transmutation or Transmutation
- This school is known as Alteration/Transmutation prior to 3rd edition, and as Transmutation in 3rd and 3.5 editions. Spells in this school alter the properties of their targets. Examples include Bull's Strength, Fabricate, Polymorph, Plant Growth, Move Earth, and Water Breathing. In 3rd edition, many non-mind-affecting spells from 2nd edition's Enchantment/Charm school were moved to the Transmutation school. Wizards who specialize in this school are known as Transmuters.
- Conjuration or Conjuration/Summoning
- This school, known as Conjuration in 3rd and 3.5 editions and Conjuration/Summoning in earlier editions, is focused on instantaneous transportation, conjuring manifestations of creatures, energy or objects, and object creation. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, healing spells are also part of the conjuration school, however of the three core arcane classes, these spells are generally restricted to bards. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, Conjuration is divided into five subschools: calling (spells which physically transport extraplanar creatures to the caster, as well as granting them the ability to return to where they were called from), creation, healing, summoning (teleporting objects to the caster's location and/or causing creatures to physically manifest at the caster's location), and teleportation (instantly transporting creatures and/or objects). Wizards who specialize in this school are known as Conjurers.
- This school is focused on acquiring information. In 2nd edition, Divination was divided into two schools: Lesser Divination (all Divination spells up to 4th level) and Greater Divination (all Divination spells of 5th level or higher) in order to prevent specialist wizards from losing access to certain utility spells such as Detect Magic, Identify and Read Magic, serving a similar purpose to 3rd edition's Universal Magic. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, Divination has one subschool: scrying, whose spells create invisible magical sensors which provide the caster with information; these sensors can be detected and dispelled. Wizards who specialize in this school are known as Diviners.
- Enchantment or Enchantment/Charm
- This school, known as Enchantment/Charm prior to 3rd edition and Enchantment in 3rd and 3.5 editions, changed dramatically in 3rd edition, when all non-mind-affecting spells were removed from the school and many were moved to Transmutation. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, all Enchantment spells are mind-affecting and Enchantment is divided into two subschools: compulsion and charm. Charm spells, such as Charm Person or Symbol of Persuasion, affect the targets' attitudes, usually making them act more favorably toward the caster. Compulsion spells such as Confusion, Dominate Monster, Feeblemind, Sleep, Suggestion or Zone of Truth, can force the targets' to act in a certain way or avoid certain actions, affect the targets' emotions or affect the targets' minds in other ways. The Compulsion subschool also includes buffs, such as Aid and Heroism. Wizards who specialize in this school are known as Enchanters.
- Evocation or Invocation/Evocation
- This school is called Invocation/Evocation prior to 3rd edition, and Evocation in 3rd and 3.5 editions. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, Evocation is focused on damaging energy-based spells such as Fireball, Lightning Bolt, and Cone of Cold. It also includes conjurations of magical energy, such as Wall of Force, Darkness, Light, Leomund's Tiny Hut, and the Bigby's Hand spells. Wizards who specialize in this school are known as Evokers.
- Illusion or Illusion/Phantasm
- This school is known as Illusion/Phantasm prior to 3rd edition and Illusion in 3rd and 3.5 editions. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, it is divided into five subschools: figment, glamer, pattern, phantasm, and shadow. Figment spells create artificial sensations with no physical substance. Glamer spells alter the target's sensory properties, and can cause invisibility. Pattern spells create insubstantial images which affect the minds of the viewers, and can inflict harm. Phantasm spells create hallucinations which can be harmful. Shadow spells use magical shadows to create things with physical substance. Wizards who specialize in this school are known as Illusionists.
- Necromancy spells involve death, undeath, and the manipulation of life energy. Prior to 3rd edition, healing spells are in the Necromancy school, however these spells are generally restricted to clerics and/or druids. Necromancy can usually be divided into three or four categories: spells that help or create the Undead, like Animate Dead; spells that hurt the Undead, like Disrupt Undead; spells that hurt other people, like Enervation or Vampiric Touch; and spells that manipulate life in order to heal, such as Regenerate or Cure Serious Wounds, which were shifted to the Conjuration school in 3rd edition. Wizards who specialize in this school are known as Necromancers.
- Universal spells have effects too broad to place into one class, or too useful for any specialist to consider forsaking. They often can perform multiple effects, or perform a very specific effect that does not fit into another category. The most famous of these spells is Wish, the most powerful spell within the game, which can duplicate spells from all schools. As universal spells are not a school, per se, no one can specialize in them. Universal spells were introduced in 3rd edition.
Divine spells take their name from the fact that they are mainly granted to clerics by the grace of the cleric's patron deity, although the spells cast by druids, rangers and paladins also come under this category. Although divine spells can be cast equally well while wearing armor, only rarely require material components, and do not need to be prepared from a spell book, they are generally less overtly powerful than arcane spells and have fewer offensive applications. Despite the lack of flashy spells such as the fireball or meteor swarm granted to a wizard, many very powerful spells—such as gate, summon monster IX, and energy drain—are shared between clerics and wizards. Other powerful wizard spells, such as time stop, are granted to clerics who take up the mantle of certain domains. Finally, spells such as implosion are restricted to clerics only.
Cleric spells are typically devoted to either healing the wounded, restoring lost abilities, and acquiring blessings, or to inflict harm and to curse opponents. These spells must be prepared by the caster daily through a session of meditation or prayer. Since a cleric is also something of a church knight and a champion of his faith, his spells also include ones which temporarily improve his combat ability. Clerics also have the ability either to turn (drive off or destroy) or to rebuke (cow or command) undead, based on their alignment. The spells and abilities of a cleric are based on his deity, as well as his alignment. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, each cleric also has access to bonus spells and granted powers, such as feats, additional class skills and spell-like abilities, from two (or occasionally more) domains which represent his deity or faith; examples include War, Trickery, Good, Evil, and Travel. In 3rd and 3.5 editions, clerics have the ability to lose a prepared spell in order to spontaneously cast either a Cure Wounds spell or Inflict Wounds spell of the same level based on their alignment.
Druid spells are typically devoted to communing with nature, interpreting or directing the weather, communicating with creatures and plants, and the like. The druid shares some spells with the cleric, such as some healing spells, and has a number of offensive spells which use the power of nature—calling down lightning storms, for example, or summoning wild animals to fight. They also gain special powers such as shapeshifting; but these are not considered spells and do not need to be prepared. In 3.5 edition, druids have the ability to lose a prepared spell in order to spontaneously cast a Summon Nature's Ally spell of the same level.
Paladin and ranger spells are similar to cleric and druid spells, respectively, but they are allowed fewer spells per day, only gain access to lower-level spells, and gain access to them more slowly. Both classes have some unique spells that can be fairly powerful, despite their low level. In compensation for their diminished spellcasting ability, paladins and rangers have a more martial focus than clerics and druids. In the 1st edition, rangers also had a very limited ability to cast wizard spells, but this ability was removed in later editions.
In 2nd edition, divine spells are divided into thematic spheres, with Clerics, Druids and specialty priests gaining access to spells from different spheres. The core spheres are All (generic divine spells), Animal, Astral, Charm, Combat, Creation, Divination, Elemental (optionally divided into Air, Earth, Fire and Water sub-spheres), Healing, Necromancy, Plant, Protection, Summon, Sun and Weather. Tome of Magic introduced the Chaos, Numbers, Law, Thought, Time, War and Wards spheres. Spheres were not retained in subsequent editions.
Prior to 3.5 edition, divine spellcasting ability was always linked to the Wisdom ability score. 3.5 edition introduced non-core Charisma-based and Intelligence-based divine spellcasting classes.[vague]
In 4th edition, divine spells were renamed to prayers. The mechanics of clerical magic also changed, and is mostly the same as the mechanics used for all the other classes in the game.
Pact magic (Binding)
Pact magic, or Binding, is one of three magic systems introduced in the revised 3rd-edition sourcebook, Tome of Magic which revolves around the summoning and binding of vestiges, otherworldly spirits, to grant the user supernatural abilities. As all abilities granted by vestiges are supernatural in nature, as opposed to spell-like, there is little overlap with normal spellcasting. These powers are useful, but if a prospective binder fails to make a pact (governed by a skill check), he is subject to that vestige's influence, behaving as it requires (e.g. a pyromaniac vestige could require its binder to burn all flammable objects it possesses).
In 4th Edition, the Binding game mechanics are a unique class feature for Warlocks.
Incarnum is a later addition to D&D (in a 3.5 edition book called Magic of Incarnum by James Wyatt), and is not part of the core d20 System. It is a kind of energy based on the soul. By drawing upon the spirits of past, present and future the meldshaper can become better at fighting, more skilled, or gain special abilities. To draw upon soul energy, the meldshaper first shapes an item called a "soulmeld" out of soul energies which occupies a chakra on the body. In this system, there are ten chakras: crown, brow, throat, shoulder, arms, hands, heart, soul, waist and feet.
After shaping a soulmeld, the meldshaper can invest his own soul energy, called essentia, into it to make it stronger. A meldshaper can also bind a soulmeld to a chakra to enhance its power and get even greater benefits from it.
Integration of Incarnum use into a campaign with traditional magic is similar to the way psionics are incorporated. The standard rule is Incarnum–magic transparency, and there is a variant rule called "Incarnum is different."
In 4th edition, druids and shamans are no longer divine spellcasters; instead, they use the new primal power source, along with barbarians and the new warden class. Primal magic is associated with the nature and the feywild. Primal powers are called evocations.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2013)|
|This section requires expansion. (June 2013)|
The following is a sampling of the many spells in Dungeons & Dragons, and is not a full list by any means.
- Color Spray: A vivid cone of clashing colors springs forth from the caster's hand, causing creatures to become stunned, perhaps also blinded, and possibly even knocking them unconscious.
- Darkvision: The subject gains the ability to see clearly (albeit in black and white) in total darkness.
- Feather Fall: The affected creatures or objects fall slowly; at a feather rate. Feather fall instantly changes the rate at which the targets fall to a mere 60 feet per round (equivalent to the end of a fall from a few feet), and the subjects take no damage upon landing while the spell is in effect. However, when the spell duration expires, a normal rate of falling resumes.
- Fireball: A tiny ball flies forward from the caster, exploding in a huge fireball at a point designated by the caster. While an extremely potent spell, the caster must take care to avoid catching allies in the explosion, or to accidentally strike an obstruction and detonate the spell early.
- Flesh to Stone: The subject, along with all its carried gear, is turned into a mindless, inert, stone statue. If the statue resulting from this spell is broken or damaged, the subject (if ever returned to its original state) has similar damage or deformities. (See also: Petrification)
- Invisibility: The target of this spell becomes invisible for a time, but immediately becomes visible if he attacks a person or creature.
- Magic Missile: A bolt of pure energy from the caster's fingertips. It strikes a target automatically, with multiple missiles launched at higher levels. The spell's ability to cause automatic damage makes it one of the most-used spells. In the initial release of 4e, magic missile required an attack roll. The July 2010 update changed this back to an automatic hit, albeit with a lower amount of damage.
- Meteor Swarm: Four meteors fly forward and explode like Fireballs. One of the most destructive spells in the game, capable of rending castles or devastating entire armies.
- Polymorph: Transforms a target into another creature of the caster's choosing, such as an ogre, a small giant or the like. In some editions, polymorph is divided into several spells, for example, in 3rd edition, it is divided into Polymorph Self, which can only target the caster, and Polymorph Other, a higher level spell which can affect other targets, while in 3.5 edition, it is divided into Polymorph, which can only affect a willing target, and the higher level Baleful Polymorph, can transform an unwilling target into a weaker form, such as a frog.
- Scrying: Allows the caster to spy on someone from a distance.
- Summon Monster: Summons a single extraplanar creature or several weaker extraplanar creatures. Most of the creatures are animals with the celestial creature template, although elementals and other creatures unique to other planes are also available. In 3rd edition, there is a distinct Summon Monster spell, differentiated by a Roman numeral, for each of the nine spell levels, with higher level spells summoning more powerful monsters.
- Teleport: Allows the caster to instantly appear somewhere else in the world, though at lower levels this ability can be somewhat imprecise.
- Time Stop: Allows the caster to manipulate the flow of time, giving him few extra moments to act when time is "stopped" for everyone (and everything) else.
- Wish: The mightiest of all non-epic spells a wizard or sorcerer can cast. Bending reality, the caster can change the events of the past few minutes, create an object from nothing, emulate another spell or create practically any effect they can imagine. However, casting the spell has a considerable cost, for example, in 3rd and 3.5 editions, this spell drains the caster of experience points, while in 1st and 2nd edition AD&D, casting Wish causes the caster to age several years. Though the wish can technically fulfill any desire, there are set limitations as to what can be wished for without consequence. Dungeon Masters are often encouraged to interpret a player's wish as literally as possible, particularly for selfish or greedy wishes (or any other wish that exceeds the set boundaries for "safe" wishes). For example, if someone wished for a fortune in gold, the DM could grant the wish by appropriating a local king's treasury, making the wisher a target for retaliation. Or, if somebody wished to live forever, they could end up being trapped in a timeless extradimensional space. Thus, the wisher must be very careful upon using the spell.
- Cure light wounds: A basic healing spell available to clerics, druids, bards, paladins, and rangers.
- Cure critical wounds: A more powerful healing spell available only to clerics, druids, and bards.
- Detect evil: The caster is able to tell if someone or something he looks at is evil. Other versions of this spell exist for the various other alignment components, such as good, lawful, and chaotic.
- Raise dead: The power to revive a deceased character, as long as their remains are roughly whole and have not deteriorated beyond a certain point. The character being revived will lose enough experience points to drop their most recent class level. More potent versions of this spell include resurrection, which needs only a fragment of the body, and true resurrection, which doesn't need the body at all and can be performed many years after the character's death.
- Miracle: This is the Divine equivalent of wish. It essentially calls upon the cleric's deity to perform an epic miracle, such as resurrecting an entire army or lifting a massive curse. Unlike wish, it may or may not come at a high cost of experience points, depending on the miracle requested. The miracle-granting deity is typically more forgiving of its followers' requests than the wish spell is, but this can change depending on the deity's alignment and the specific miracle being requested.
- Summon Nature's Ally: This Druid spell can summon one creature or several weaker creatures. It is similar to the arcane Summon Monster spells (which Clerics can also cast as Divine spells), and like Summon Monster there is a variant of Summon Nature's Ally for each spell level. Summon Nature's Ally differs from Summon Monster in the kind of creatures it is capable of summoning. Most of the available creatures are animals, although elementals, magical beasts and fey are also available.
There are two clear concepts which developed into 4th edition rituals. First, the idea of the quest spell in the Tome of Magic and Dragon Magic in the second edition Dark Sun book, Dragon Kings, are ritual-like though only for high-level characters. This idea is revisited in a few other places, such as the Second Edition Arcane Age book Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. The third edition book Unearthed Arcana presents invocations, which are a predecessor of 4th edition rituals. These invocations are not restricted to high-level casters, but still remain potent spells that further the story.
In 4e, rituals are non-combat spells. There are nine categories: binding, creation, deception, divination, exploration, restoration, scrying, travel and warding. Each ritual has a key skill, Arcana, Heal, Nature or Religion, some rituals have multiple key skills, allowing a player to choose which key skill to use. Each ritual has a casting time and a component cost. There are five classes of ritual components: alchemical reagents can be used for arcana rituals, mystic salves can be used for heal rituals, rare herbs can be used for nature rituals, sanctified incense can be used for religion rituals and residuum can be used for any ritual. Rituals are performed from books or scrolls, unlike spells, rituals are not learned and are not restricted by class, a ritual can be performed by any character who has the Ritual Caster feat and meets the ritual's level requirement. Using a ritual scroll halves the time required to perform a specific ritual, however doing so expends the scroll, causing it to crumble to dust once the ritual has been performed.
The casting of spells within Dungeons & Dragons often requires the mage to do, say, or use something in order for the spell to work. Spells may require a verbal, somatic, or material component or a magical focus. These actions are performed by the fictional character in the game, not by the player in the real world. The player may simply state what the character does, or may embellish with sound effects or gestures to enhance the theatrics of the game. In 4th edition, spell components were eliminated as a mechanic, the flavour text for some spells and prayers mentions words, gestures or objects, however this is purely cosmetic. Although 4th edition eliminated the component mechanic for spells, most rituals require material components, some rituals require foci and many spells and prayers benefit from magical implements.
Many spells require the caster to speak certain words, or, in the case of a bard, create music, to cast a spell. Being prevented from speaking, by such means as a gag or magical effects that remove sounds, makes it impossible for a caster to cast such a spell. A deafened caster may also fail when casting a spell, by misspeaking, which causes the spell to be expended with no effect.
Many spells require the caster to make a motion to cast the spell. If the caster is unable to make the correct motion, the spell cannot be cast. Prior to 4th edition, wearing armor or using a shield interferes with the somatic components of arcane spells (but not divine spells), preventing spellcasting prior to 3rd edition and creating a risk of arcane spell failure (which causes the spell to be expended with no effect) in 3rd and 3.5 editions. In 3.5 edition, Bards and some other arcane classes can cast spells in light armor without this risk.
Casting a spell often requires that the caster sacrifice some sort of material component, which typically has a thematic connection to the spell. Often, these components are of negligible cost (egg shells, sand, a feather, etc.), but spells which allow major bending or breaking of the laws of nature, such as spells to reanimate the dead or grant wishes, require material components costing thousands of gold pieces (precious or semiprecious gems, statuettes, etc.). In 3rd and 3.5 editions, components with negligible cost are not tracked by default, and do not need to be acquired in play, any character who has their spell component pouch is presumed to have a sufficient supply of such components whenever they cast a spell. If a caster is unable to access or use the correct material component, the spell cannot be cast. In 1st and 2nd editions, some components were not consumed during casting, in 3rd edition, this concept was split off into focus components. In 4th edition, spells and prayers do not require material components, however costly components are required for most rituals, there are five types of components: alchemical reagents, mystic salves, rare herbs, sanctified incense and residuum, by default, these components are only tracked by their type and value.
In 3rd and 3.5 edition, certain powerful spells, such as Wish, Miracle, and Atonement require a caster to pay a certain amount of experience points, the same that are used to determine in-game level progression, in order to reduce the overuse of such a powerful spell.
Casting a spell may require that the caster has access to a specific, generally thematic prop, such as a feather for Fly or a glove for the Hand spells. Many bard spells require a musical instrument as a focus. A number of divine spells require a divine focus: a holy symbol or other special object; unlike a regular focus, which is specific and varies from spell to spell, a character can use the same divine focus for any spell with a divine focus requirement. Some spells with both arcane and divine versions require a material component or focus for the arcane version and a divine focus for the divine version. The focus and divine focus components were introduced in 3rd edition; however, 1st and 2nd editions had a counterpart: material components which were not consumed. In 4th edition, spells and prayers with the weapon keyword require a weapon, with some requiring a specific weapon type, spells and prayers with the implement keyword benefit from an appropriate magical implement but do not require one and some rituals require a specific focus.
4th edition introduced implements. Magic implements fill a similar role to magic weapons, although no power requires an implement, if a character wields an appropriate magical implement while activating a power with the implement keyword, that power can benefit from the enhancement bonus and other properties of the implements. Rods are used by invokers and warlocks. Staffs, which also function as weapons, are used by druids, invokers, sorcerers and wizards. Totems are used by druids and shamans. Wands are used by bards, warlocks and wizards. Holy symbols are used by Avengers, Clerics and Paladins; unlike other implements, a character can benefit from a holy symbol by wearing it rather than needing to wield it. Orbs are used by wizards and musical instruments are used by bards. Sorcerers can use daggers as implements, and swordmages can use any weapon in the light and heavy blade groups, and certain paragon paths such as Wizard of the Spiral Tower can use specific weapon types as implements. Additionally, some magic weapons, such as Holy Avengers (for paladins), Pact Blades (for warlocks) and Songblades (for bards), function as implements. The July 2008 Playtest version of the Artificer uses orbs, rods, staffs and wands as implements.
In 1st and 2nd edition AD&D, some spells have the reversible trait. These spells are memorized in either their normal or reverse version. For example the reversed form of the Cure Serious Wounds spell, which heals a touched target, is Cause Serious Wounds, which damages a touched target, while the reversed form of the Water Breathing spell, which allows the target to breathe water, is Air Breathing, which allows the target to breathe air, and the reversed form of the Continual Light spell, which provides magical illumination, is Continual Darkness, which causes magical darkness.
In Dungeons & Dragons, a dweomer is an aura of magic; especially that which enchanted items radiate. According to Wizards of the Coast, the word is pronounced either DWEH-mer (rhymes with "hem her")[needs IPA], DWIH-mer, or DWEE-mer.
Gary Gygax encountered the Middle English word dweomercræft in Susan Kelz Sperling's book Poplollies & Bellibones: A Celebration of Lost Words (1977), where it is defined as "the art of magic or juggling." Gygax invented such derivations as dweomered, dweomercræfter, and dweomercræfting.
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