Dwarf (Warhammer)


Dwarf (Warhammer)

In Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy fictional universe, The Dwarfs are a race of short, stout humanoids very similar to the dwarves of Middle-Earth and the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. Dwarfs in the Warhammer setting are proud warriors highly driven by honor.

Contents

Homeland

Dwarfs reside mainly in the hills and mountains of the "Old World" where they have their strongholds. Their empire once ran as a series of holds throughout the mountain ranges joined by tunnels. Since the peak some strongholds have fallen and the tunnel ways lost so the strongholds are more isolated. The loss of the holds has been attributed to Orcs and other Greenskins or to the Skaven. There is a reputed "lost" hold in The Southlands and to the north the Dwarfs there in Norsca have become less civilized and more separate from the main - the largest hold there is Karak Drak. Substantial numbers of Dwarfs have settled in the human nations of the Old World; particularly the Empire where their technical skills are appreciated and some serve in the Imperial armies. These expatriate dwarfs were once available as regiments within the Imperial Army but were removed in the 4th edition of the Empire list.

There are a number of important and named holds in the Dwarf Kingdoms. Only one dwarf hold - Barak Varr - is situated on the sea - where the Dwarf sea fleet is based.

Dwarfs have also settled in the New World of Lustria.

Dwarfen mountainhomes are often divided in sections with a specific purpose, like housing of nobles, industry, forges, etc. though most Dwarfen work in the mountains is rough, there are also parts of the hold that have been smoothed and engraved beyond even elven capability. The dwarfs have no need for luxury and frivolities, the most notable in a dwarf's home will often be the gold-filled chest.

Dwarfen mines are the deepest in the entire world, some mines even have access to lava pits, which can easily replace furnaces in forges, the mines often follow veins of copper, silver, gold, iron, Gromril, the hardest of all metals, according to the dwarfs, etc. Dwarfs are taught at a very young age when to fortify a tunnel to avoid cave-ins. Though the most occurring problem is stumbling upon tunnels of Skaven or other vile creatures.

History

Little is known about early Dwarf history but Dawi as they were known were probably assisted in their development by the mysterious and enigmatic Old Ones. It is said that the Dwarfs were foretold of the great catastrophe that befell the Warhammer world by their patron god, Grungni.

After the catastrophe of the Coming of Chaos, the Dwarfs emerged to find their world changed and warped. Mutated Beastmen roamed freely throughout the land, slaying everyone in their path. Warriors of the Chaos Gods murdered and pillaged at will, and Daemons created nightmare realms, enslaving entire tribes and peoples.

It was Grungni himself that forged the first weapons and armour, while teaching the Dwarfs to do the same. Then after he forged the first magical runes, capturing the wild winds of magic and harnessing their power into them, creating even more potent weapons, axes and hammers, as well as runes that gave runic protection into armour and talismans. He armed the Ancestor God Grimnir with two axes and armour harder than the bones of mountains, and he and his first Runesmiths armed the rest of the Dwarfs to do battle.

Soon after their re-emergence the Dwarfs first encountered the High Elves from Ulthuan, both chasing a maurauder warband. The two races had a period of prosperous development but a disastrous war known to the Elves as the 'War of the Beard' and to the Dwarfs as the 'War of Vengeance' almost completely destroyed the two races. The Dwarfs now live in isolated strongholds of decreasing population and their once proud empire lies in tatters.

The War of Vengeance

The War of Vengeance, also known as the War of the Beard, was the cataclysmic war that took place between the Dwarfs of the Old World and the elves of Ulthuan shortly after the great catastrophe. The war was started by Dark Elves, pretending to be High Elves, attacking Dwarf colonies and trading parties. High King Gotrek Starbreaker demanded recompenses from the High Elves, but the arrogant Phoenix King Caledor II replied that if the High King wanted recompense he should come to Ulthuan and ask for them himself. Starbreaker, insulted by the implied suggestion that he should beg, sent his most skilled diplomats to demand double the original amount. The war received its nickname after the emissaries were returned minus their beards. To lose one's beard is the ultimate insult to a Dwarf and thus the war was known as the War of the Beard to the Elves while the Dwarfs, not to take such things lightly, call it the War of Vengeance. The war culminated in the siege of the elf city of Tor Alessi, with High King Starbreaker killing the Caledor (After Caledor foolishly charged the Dwarf army by himself) and taking the Phoenix Crown as recompense. As the High Elves prepared to launch a suicidal attack on the Dwarf Holds news reached them that the Dark Elves had attacked their homeland and were forced to withdraw, eventually shattering the Elven empire in the Old World. Those who remained became the Wood Elves.

Physical characteristics

Dwarfs are on average a good deal shorter than either men or elves of the Warhammer world making them ideally suited to the tunnels in which they live and work (the average dwarf being estimated to be at approximately 4'5"-5'0"). Their bodies seem purpose-built for manual labour, solidly muscled, broad-shouldered and large thick fingered hands that belie considerable manual dexterity. Dwarfs are a very long-lived race with life-spans that can run into centuries, or rare occasions even into a millennium. As a dwarf becomes older so his beard becomes longer and thicker. Since dwarfs have a deep inbuilt respect for age it would be unthinkable for a dwarf to cut off or even trim their beards. Like the Orcs, dwarfs appear to become stronger the older they get, but unlike the Orcs, there appears to be a "Breaking Point" where the dwarf's health declines rapidly, always happening just a few years before the dwarf dies of old age.

Female dwarfs are very rarely seen outside dwarf realms which has led many people to believe that dwarf males can have babies or that dwarf women have beards. However Games Workshop has released several models in the past depicting female dwarfs, such as Blood Bowl cheerleaders and Queen Helgar, which is still available from Mail Order. These models, like their male counterparts, are heavily built, armed and armoured; are muscular and grim, but instead of long beards have long hair wound into similar braids, worn beneath the helmet which they treasure as greatly as males do their beard.

Magic

Magic in its usual forms is distrusted, and even loathed, by a great many of the Dwarfen population. The general consensus is that magic is too erratic and volatile to fool around with, let alone rely on in battle.

However, Dwarfs do place considerable emphasis on embedding magic within certain items e.g. axes, hammers, shields, and armour suits through Runesmithing (in the same manner other races create talismans). Aspiring Runesmiths will spend years and years as an apprentice to a Runelord who will gradually teach them to inscribe items with symbols that have great magical power. Runes are often expensive and take years to make, even for the most experienced Runesmiths.

The Anvil of Doom is used by only the most skilled Runelords to wreak devastating destruction upon any foe foolish enough to meet the Dwarfs in battle. Magical stones are placed upon the anvil and runic symbols are hammered into them which results in astonishing elemental power that can be directed against the Dwarfs’ foe.

Gromril/Gold addiction and Grudges

For some unknown reasons, dwarfs have a strong attraction to gold. Dwarfs will seek to amass gold, even to the point of acting unreasonably (such as refusing to abandon gold in order to save their lives). The exception to this refusal to leave gold is any gold that is going to be buried (such as by a cave in). As far as a Dwarf is concerned, any gold that is "lost" underground is as easy to regain as a coin dropped in the street. This addiction is sometimes called "gold lust."

What most people do not know is that the Dwarf's true favourite metal is Gromril, a fictional metal which is said to be harder than diamond. The Dwarfs take this metal much more seriously than Gold and only Royalty, Generals and the Legendary Ironbreakers can afford to have it as their armour. In Warhammer, where "Armour Saves" that are taken after a model takes a wound are governed by a roll of a die, Gromril Armour lets the Character survive on a roll of 4 or more while normal heavy armour only gives a save of 5+.

Dwarfs take their obsession with gold seriously, but they take grudges even more seriously. A Dwarf is said to never forget a grudge. A Dwarf will even end a life long friendship over a grudge of the "lightest" matter. To a Dwarf, the source of the grudge (no matter how absurd) does not matter so much as that it is a grudge. Grudges can be ended amicably, though the stubborn nature of Dwarfs makes compromises difficult and grudges must always be fulfilled. In the case of "lesser matters" gold can suffice to end a grudge. Felix Jaeger did end a grudge between Gotrek Gurnisson and Gotrek's childhood friend by taking the source of their grudge, a book of bad poetry, and ripping it in half, giving half to each (all the Dwarfs present found this incredibly funny, which is probably the only reason they did not kill Felix on the spot or declare a grudge upon him). Killing a Dwarf sparks a grudge that is similar to a vendetta, in that the grudge will transfer down the generations (both in the dwarf family and the family of the focus of the grudge) and it MUST be paid in blood. The only offence worse than killing a dwarf is damaging or destroying a Dwarf's beard - such an offence sparked the devastating decade long War of the Beard.

Dwarf Military

A small Warhammer Fantasy Battle army of Dwarfs, featuring the heroes Gotrek Gurnisson and Felix Jaeger

The Dwarfs are a martial race hardened by thousands of years of constantly defending their holds from would be invaders both above and below the ground. What follows are descriptions of the many Dwarf military forces, their background, and effects in the game.

Warriors

Dwarf Warriors are drawn up from the citizenry of Dwarf society. Dwarfs are mostly craftsmen and artisans and there are few professional Dwarf soldiers but in times of war Dwarfs may be called up by their clan leaders who will organize them into regiments ready to fight. Dwarfs are physically strong, resilient and broad of shoulder enabling Dwarf armies to force march at great pace across hard country, a feat of endurance seldom seen in other races. They will fight with a mixture of axes and hammers, often being passed down through a family line for generations, and gird themselves in heavy armour, often with a large round shield.

In game terms Dwarf Warriors are well armoured and resilient defensive infantry with a high leadership characteristic meaning that they'll seldom panic and run away, also when armed with double-handed axes they make cheap and effective shock troops easily capable of taking on many an army's finest.

Longbeards

Longbeards are old and wise Dwarfs and are very experienced warriors, such is evidenced by their longer beards. A Longbeard's long beard grants them total respect from other Dwarfs. Longbeards are veterans of many wars and have endured far more hardships than most beardlings (young Dwarfs) can even imagine and as such they grumble about how everything is less scary or well made as it was in their day. Nothing can stop a Longbeard from a good grumble. Longbeards on the field of battle are very powerful and do not suffer distress about minor shifts in the battle situation which might panic a younger dwarf.

Within the game Longbeards are equipped in much the same way as dwarf warriors but due to their experience they are better at hitting enemies and wounding them and are immune to panic.

Slayers

Slayers are dwarfs which have a great shame they can't live with, and will actively seek their own doom as a compensation, this might be the loss of a family member, or a crime. Slayers will forsake their home and family and go to Karak Kadrin, the Slayerkeep, here they enter the shrine of Grimnir and shave their head but for a strip that goes from the top of their forehead back to the neck, this crest is then dyed orange and put up with pig grease. after this they burn their shirts and have their hands, arms, chests and backs tattooed in blue, these are often exotic tattoos, mostly dragons. they buy a runeaxe, sometimes two and start their quest for a doom in battle. Slayers are often violent maniacs without fear, which is obvious as they seek a doom. The worst thing that can happen to a slayer is to forget why he has become a slayer, for slayers need to die with their sin fixed within their minds in order to be allowed into Grimnir's halls, otherwise they are doomed to wander the earth as restless spirits which in no way are able to find rest.

Ironbreakers

Dwarf Ironbreakers are the guardians of the lower deeps of dwarf holds, they are experienced tunnel fighters and often fight against Skaven and goblins attempting to tunnel into a Dwarf hold, without their efforts most dwarf holds would have almost certainly fallen to enemy attacks. Dwarf Ironbreakers are professional Dwarf soldiers in that they are perpetually under arms, due to their status as professional tunnel fighters they are armoured with the best dwarf armour available, Gromril, which can protect a Dwarf from many a rock fall and enemy blade. Dwarf Ironbreakers also find themselves fighting battles on the surface and they form a bulwark against enemy attacks, but for every battle they fight on the surface, they've faced dozens below the ground.

In game terms, Dwarf Ironbreakers have high weapon skill, good strength, and great armour and leadership characteristics. As a result of this hardiness, many opponents would avoid fighting them and would attempt to tackle less-hardy soldiers, counter with their own heavily armoured units, or use range units.

Hammerers

Dwarf Hammerers are a Dwarf king's personal body-guard, chosen by the King himself. The history of the Hammerers goes back to when a tunneling works that a Dwarf king was inspecting caved in. With all manner of foul creatures pouring in, the craftsmen there raised their heavy hammers, which they typically used for their work, and beat a path for the King to escape. Ever since then, the Hammerers have been a Dwarf King's personal guard. Hammerers are stubborn, even by Dwarf standards, and are known for an unswerving loyalty to their lord; a loyalty solidified in the gift of the heavy warhammer from Lord to Hammerer.

In game terms Dwarf Hammerers are heavily armoured and exceedingly strong shock infantry; which due to their stubbornness will almost never run away. If joined by their liege lord, they are also completely fearless; truly elite. Hammerers were originally going to be a playable class in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, fulfilling the Melee DPS role for the Dwarfs, however they were dropped before release due to design flaws and later replaced by the Slayer class.

Dwarf Thunderers and Quarrellers

Dwarf Quarrellers and Thunderers form the bulk of the missile contingent in a Dwarf Army. There was once a time when Dwarf powder weapons had not been invented and Dwarf Quarrellers reigned supreme with their crossbows. Over time, as the Dwarf Handgun came into common usage, the Crossbow lost its dominance. Nowadays, most Dwarf armies see a pretty even split of Quarrellers and Thunderers. Dwarfs are naturally methodical and slow to panic; and so are suited to reloading and firing both weapons calmly, even when the enemy is right on top of them. The competition between various engineers is such that in the efforts to make increasingly better and more reliable weapons Dwarf Handguns have become the most effective weapons of their type in the world. Most Thunderers have crafted their own weapons and over the years add many augmentations and improvements; and are as a result very proud of their weapons. Despite this, many Dwarfs stick to the good old and reliable crossbow as they begrudge the cost of powder when a bit of brute force will propel a bolt as far as a bullet. There have even been known instances of dwarfs improving their crossbows, though of course this is strictly prohibited without the engineers' guild's knowledge and permission.

On the tabletop both units are highly effective at shooting with the choice between the two often being kept more as personal preference rather than any real advantage offered by either one; while Dwarf Thunderer is more effective at shooting but is more expensive points wise, the Dwarf Quarreler may carry a shield and a heavy axe or hammer, making them more effective troops in close combat.

The difference is also the inches (") and other bonuses. The thunderer gets +1 to hit from the handgun, but has a 24" reach and a strength of 4 and Armour Piercing (-2 armour save total), then the Quarreler has a standard crossbow with 30" reach and strength 4.

Chaos Dwarfs

In ancient times, some Dwarfs moved far to the east over the mountains, and were caught by the onslaughts of Chaos. Dwarfs are very resistant to the forces of Chaos, but these Dwarfs gradually changed over time, becoming the evil natured Chaos Dwarfs.

In many ways they are the antithesis of the Dwarfs that remained. Where Dwarfs shun most magic except for Runic magic (which is unique to them) Chaos Dwarfs have embraced it; where Dwarfs worship their Ancestor Gods, Chaos Dwarfs worship "Hashut, Father of Darkness". Dwarfs abhor slavery and hate the "Greenskin" races (Goblins, Orcs and the like) but the Chaos Dwarfs rely on slaves and are allied with or are overlords of many Greenskin tribes, most of them Hobgoblins. The Chaos Dwarfs are even responsible for the creation of the Black Orcs.

While the Dwarfs continue to resemble their counterparts in medieval Tolkien or Dungeons and Dragons fantasy, Chaos Drawfs evolved into a semi-Assyrian/Babylonian style by the fourth edition of Warhammer Fantasy.

Games Workshop, however, has not developed much further back-story detailing the rivalry between the Dwarfs and Chaos Dwarfs, unlike that of the Dark Elves and High Elves. The Chaos Dwarfs are no longer a supported army starting with the seventh edition.

Beliefs and mythology

Dwarfs venerate their ancestors and their deities are the "Ancestor Gods" which are said to have been formed from the very stone of the world itself. There are three main ones: Valaya, Grungni, and Grimnir.

  • Grungni is the patron of the forge and miners, and is depicted as the wisest of the Ancestor Gods, typically taking place as the "head" of the gods. In-game, the Master Rune of Grugni protects Dwarfs by giving them a magical kind of shield to protect them from enemy missile attack.
  • Valaya is the patron of Runesmiths. It is said she is sleeping deep within the mountains until a time when she is needed again. In-game, the Master Rune of Valaya protects Dwarfs from enemy magical assault.
  • Grimnir was a great warrior with two rune axes. He helped the High Elves defeat Chaos at the northern Chaos Gates and although no evidence of his fate exists, it is assumed that he died there, or perhaps some far more sinister fate befell him. Of his weapons, one axe is now held by Thorgrim Grudgebearer and the other axe was taken with him to battle the chaos forces of the northern gate in the first chaos invasion. Some believe the second axe is the weapon wielded by the Slayer Gotrek Gurnisson. In the game the Master Rune of Grimnir (which may only be used by Dwarf armies using the storm of chaos slayer list) has a similar effect as the Master rune of Grungni but with a larger area of effect.

Notable Dwarf characters

  • Gotrek Gurnisson is the most (or perhaps the least) successful Slayer and travels with his human companion and Rememberer Felix Jaeger, in a series of novels by William King; the series later picked up by Nathan Long. Gotrek Gurnisson is also thought to possess the second of the axes of Grimnir. He has achieved the Slayer "rank" of Daemon Slayer and in his time has fought representatives of almost all the armies in Warhammer.
  • Malakai Makaisson is thought to be the best engineer who ever lived. He was drummed out of the Guild of Engineers after the first airship fiasco, (just the first, there were others!) which exploded on take-off, killing 30 experienced Engineers and became a Slayer, though he still works as an Engineer. Inside the game he can be fielded as using a goblin hewer- a large axe throwing war machine. In the background story, he appears in several of the adventures of Gotrek and Felix, as an old friend and companion of Gotrek.
  • Snorri Nosebiter was a Slayer who once travelled with Gotrek and Felix. He was notable for his skill in battle, dull wits, and ingenuity in overcoming his baldness and acquiring a Slayer's crest. Since Snorri was bald and could not grow a crest, he painted several nails orange and had them hammered into his skull. Snorri has also "earned" the title of Vampire Slayer (though arguably this was done by accident, since Snorri killed the vampire whilst unconscious).
  • The First Edition Characters: Sigurd Strongarm, Sigrat Blackbrow, Sigrun Slenderhank, Skeggi Brokenback, Saugron Brittlebone and Thorgrim Branedimm. Thorgrim wields the magical warhammer Foebane. They are the characters in the scenario The Ziggurat of Doom (situated in Dwarfstrangle).
  • Perhaps the most famous of all dwarfs is Josef Bugman. Bugman was a master dwarf brewer who was world-renowned for his famous beers, known as Bugman's XXXXXX. However one night, returning from a trading trip in the Empire, he found his brewery ablaze, attacked by a raiding party of Goblins. Since then Bugman and his rangers have travelled the old world fighting against the Goblins and Orcs.
  • The current High King of the Dwarfs is Thorgrim Grudgebearer who carries the Great Book of Grudges and has sworn to make sure all of them are avenged. Inside game terms he is carried into battle by four shield bearers atop the golden throne and carrying one of the axes of Grimnir.
  • A well-known character amongst readers of the White Dwarf magazine is one who shares its name with the magazine. The White Dwarf (often called Grombrindal) is possibly the most feared and respected of all the Dwarf heroes (by his enemies and fellows alike). He has had 5 miniature incarnations (the 4th being released for 26 May 2007 only and the 5th only available from a White Dwarf subscription boxed set) and has had varying background details over the years. Many rumours persist about his true persona, the most common being that he is the ancient dwarf king Snorri Whitebeard, the only king to be shown proper respect by the elves, and a great warrior who swore to return to the aid of his people in their time of greatest need. Often he will appear and fight alongside Dwarf forces in dire peril, and when he joins them, the Dwarfs are always victorious. He was "employed" by White Dwarf to write the Editorial for the magazine but recently the editorial has been taken up by Andrew Kendrick with Grombrindal having been described to having gone out to pursue the enemies of Dwarf kind.
  • Another well-known character is King Alrik Ranulfsson of Karak Hirn. He was depicted as a traditionalist by even Dwarf standards, King Alrik's armies could not include more Thunderers than Quarrellers. Alrik stood on top of a shield carried by shield bearers in a manner similar to that of Vitalstatistix from the Asterix books. Although once represented as a character inside the previous edition of the Dwarf army book, Alrik has now largely passed out of common usage. Rules for him, however, can still be found on the Games Workshop website.
  • Thorek Ironbrow is a dwarf Runelord and master of the weapon workshops of Karak Azul. Thorek Ironbrow is one of the few runelords that use the power of the anvil of doom. Inside game terms he is seen fielded with his anvil of doom and his assistant Kraggi, as a result of his superior experience Thorek Ironbrow strikes runes at ancient power more easily than other Runelords making him very reliable and powerful.
  • Thane Uthor is a notable person because of his heroic attempt to re-take the lost hold of Karak Varn with nearly 300 dwarfs against over 10,000 skaven.
  • Kragg the Grim is perhaps the oldest Dwarf in the world, and known as one of the best and wisest Runelords there is. Creator of the Master Rune of Kragg the Grim, he currently resides in Karaz-a-Karak.

Dwarf technology

The dwarfs are by far Warhammer's most technologically advanced race, and are regarded as consummate engineers. Where other races use wooden ships to travel overseas, the dwarfs use ironclad dreadnoughts and nautilus, the Warhammer equivalent of early battleships and submarines. They have also pioneered the development of black powder and steam technology such as cannon, handguns and Gyrocopters (helicopters). They have shared some of this technology with Humans, but still consider the work of the 'Manlings' to be shoddy in comparison to good Dwarven work.

The most innovative examples of Dwarven engineering are the Organ Gun (a cannon with multiple light-calibre barrels and a high rate of fire), the Flame Cannon (a massive flamethrower artillery piece with the capacity to destroy entire units), and the Ungrim Ankor, a vast hub of mining tunnels connected to all the Dwarf Strongholds in the Old World.

Dwarfs are a naturally conservative race, however, and most treat technological innovation with suspicion and distrust. Most of their technology is of a highly traditional nature, and their engineering guilds dissuade members from coming up with anything novel or innovative. As such human, Skaven and Chaos Dwarf engineers often produce more unusual, impressive and powerful, albeit less reliable, technologies, such as the Imperial Steam Tank or the Skaven Ratling Gun. A comparison may be found between the Dwarf Organ Gun and the Imperial Hellblaster Volley gun; both artillery pieces are based on the same concept, a ribauld, however while the Dwarf Organ gun can cause a maximum of 10 casualties a game turn and the Hellblaster may cause 30, it is far more likely that the organ gun will be able to cause eight or ten casualties a turn and it is far less likely that the organ will explode, thus emphasising the Dwarven focus on reliability.

Gyrocopter

In the Warhammer Fantasy world, a Gyrocopter is a small one-Dwarf, steam-powered helicopter, built by the Dwarfs. It is fielded as a unit in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle wargame.

It is seen as an example of and possibly the pinnacle of Dwarven engineering although older and more traditional dwarfs view the idea of flying with a great deal of suspicion; Dwarfs, as a general rule, being happiest when they have solid rock over their heads. Any dwarf that volunteers to travel around hundreds of feet in the air in an "untested contraption" such as a gyrocopter is seen as being just a little strange. Hence, the "Kings Flying Corp" (KFC) which operate them tends to attract the youngest and most adventurous dwarf engineers. It is thought that the instability of the Dwarven tunnel system connecting their mountain strongholds and the spread of the "Greenskin" menace across the old overland trade routes is thought to have prompted its development. Originally designed to act as couriers and messengers between dwarf holds, an unknown Dwarf Lord saw its potential as an army scout and ordered it to be fitted with a small forward-firing cannon and bombs.

Gyrocopters are designed to be as light as possible in order to attain flight and so most of the frame is built of canvas and wood, with thin bands of reinforcing metal. They are powered by a small, lightweight steam engine which uses a chain linkage system to drive the main rotor blades. As a result gyrocopters are lightly armoured and rely on speed and maneuverability to stay out of trouble.

Army tactics

Due to the slow movement of the dwarf army[1] the most common advice given to gamers wishing to play as this race, is to take a defensive stance.[2] This can be done in a variety of ways, the most often advocated being aligning the units along the edge of the gaming area or utilising other aspects of the gaming area such as scenery to protect the units' flank from attack.[3] Dwarf armies will frequently utilise their immense capacity for heavy firepower to destroy their opponents from afar.

References

  1. ^ Warhammer Dwarfs, Games Workshop 2009. ISBN 1-84154-690-9
  2. ^ Dwarfs Tactica Article as of Dec 2009
  3. ^ Dwarf Army Deployment

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