DM getting mad because I can't always make it to games, what should I do?

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The guy is a great friend and we hang out at least weekly but I don't always have time to make it to his games. He has one every weekend and they generally last about 8+ hours. I love playing but the games are long and I pretty much need to have my whole day free in order to attend. So until recently I was playing maybe once every couple weeks and then he pulled me aside to tell me it was too much of a stress not to know if my character would be a consistent part of the campaign and that I had to either make a commitment to be there each week or not at all.

I was honestly kindof surprised, I know that I am the one that misses the most games out of all the people in the group (usually around 5 of us) but other people seem to miss some here and there and it never hindered the game, we just went along without them.  

Is this a common thing for DM's to feel? I've never been one myself so I guess I don't understand why it's so stressful.
It seems like he could just allow me to play a more generic character who doesn't matter too much to the story and it should be all fine and dandy.

I guess I'm just wondering if he's being a little unreasonable about it or if I was actually putting stress on the game. I'd still like to play when I'm available if possible so any advice would be much appreciated.
 
well you should probably tell him what you just typed out to us here.  You like the game obviously, since you're taking the time to try and figure this out, so you would probably want to keep playing.  Maybe just try to explain that to him, but that you also have a life outside of the DnD and unfortunately (like other people at the table) it will happen that you won't make a session. 

I figure if you can give him some heads up about you being or not being there it should be ok.  One part that could be annoying for him though is having to re-balance his encounters with a player or 2 missing from the table.  If you plan for 6 players and you get 4, it could get annoying if it happens alot.  I suggest talking to your DM again and trying to figure it out together.  There's not much an online forum can do for you in reality to solve the problem.

One suggestion I can give, if things don't get better, is that if you know you can only play every 2 weeks why not join a group that plays every 2 weeks, you know ?  If you're open to playing DnD with a different group that is.
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When someone can't show up to our game, we usually just do something else that night; card or video or board games, movie night, or just sit around shooting the breeze, so it's really not an issue.
@Noctaem
Well I usually can give at least 3-4 days notice but yeah I didn't know it would be a whole process to balance the encounters differently. He seems to make so much of that part up off the top of his head! You are right I will need to talk to him eventually I guess I was just seeking some outside opinion on why this was happening in the first place. And yeah your suggestion makes sense but I am mostly playing because I like hanging out with my friends and they play each week. I'm not actively seeking other groups... yet anyway.

@LolaBonne
Is that because you don't want people to miss out or because it is difficult to change the game to accomadate the missing person? I personally wouldn't mind if a game had to progress a bit without me and just have people fill me in later but I know some would be a little upset by that.
@Noctaem
Well I usually can give at least 3-4 days notice but yeah I didn't know it would be a whole process to balance the encounters differently. He seems to make so much of that part up off the top of his head! You are right I will need to talk to him eventually I guess I was just seeking some outside opinion on why this was happening in the first place.

@LolaBonne
Is that because you don't want people to miss out or because it is difficult to change the game to accomadate the missing person? I personally wouldn't mind if a game had to progress a bit without me and just have people fill me in later but I know some would be a little upset by that.
 



You know it's possible that because you guys are friends outside the game itself, it might be the source of the whole problem.  In the sense that he might feel like you don't care about the campaign he's running or something.  Just saying since you pointed out others have missed sessions and you didn't notice the DM caring as much.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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You know it's possible that because you guys are friends outside the game itself, it might be the source of the whole problem.  In the sense that he might feel like you don't care about the campaign he's running or something.  Just saying since you pointed out others have missed sessions and you didn't notice the DM caring as much.



I have been a little afraid of that since he can be a tad temperamental at times but I do always tell him I have a good time playing with him and the guys. I don't really know how else I would convince him though.
It sounds like he's upset because you miss much more compared to the others. It might not be a bad idea to suggest shorter but more frequent sessions. This way people miss less but can get together more often. 
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Player attendance from a planning perspective only becomes really important if the DM is counting on certain characters being present due to a predetermined plot. "I planned to have a big scene between Mr. NPC and Ragnar. Ragnar's player can't make it to the game. I'm boned!" When the DM has a story to tell and story arcs based upon specific characters, if those characters aren't there due to PC death, change of character ("I'm bored with Ragnar..."), or player absenteeism, it can ruin a gaming session. Or, it could mean that encounters are scaled a certain way and too few players means that it will be too hard or fall flat due to having to strip out the bells and whistles. Does your game fall into these categories?

A location- or situation-based game without a predetermined plot does not suffer from this problem. Players can come and go and it doesn't really matter because you're creating the story as you play rather than before you play. Characters can be written in and out with no real issues. Of course, this is DMing advice more than player advice, but perhaps this gives you some perspective as to why your DM is stressing out over the issue. A change in style would alleviate this problem for the DM (along with a whole host of others issues). Again, assuming your DM falls into those categories. If he or she doesn't, then I'd struggle to imagine what the real problem is, except that it sounds very personal and not game-related.

I would recommend as others have that you speak to the DM as frankly as you have posted above. A direct, out-of-game conversation between two mature friends (I hope) is no substitute for advice given by a bunch of strangers on the forums. If your DM would like to learn how to structure his or her game prep so that player absenteeism really isn't an issue, feel free to direct said DM my way. I'm happy to help.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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if he's running it every weekend and it goes that long, he has to be willing to have absences, if he can't deal with it then he isn't going to have anybody left to play

it seems unreasonable to me, to expect perfect attendance on a weekly game when there are so many things that can happen in people's lives

it has to start with him, I'm pretty reasonable about people not being around, sometimes their character would be there as an NPC (I turned my friend's warlord into a lazy warlord when he couldn't make it) or sometimes their character just spent the whole session "in the can" but then I am not a very serious DM

in your case he probably feels like he is putting a lot more into it than you are and if he wants you to be there more thats fine, but he is pushing it to an extreme making it all or nothing, which is not a reasonable request to make of you. you're going to have to tell him as much, that you'll do your best to be there every week but he shouldn't be putting more pressure on you than on the other players, maybe it should be bi-weekly, maybe then he will have more time to prepare and will stress out less
Player attendance from a planning perspective only becomes really important if the DM is counting on certain characters being present due to a predetermined plot. "I planned to have a big scene between Mr. NPC and Ragnar. Ragnar's player can't make it to the game. I'm boned!" When the DM has a story to tell and story arcs based upon specific characters, if those characters aren't there due to PC death, change of character ("I'm bored with Ragnar..."), or player absenteeism, it can ruin a gaming session. Or, it could mean that encounters are scaled a certain way and too few players means that it will be too hard or fall flat due to having to strip out the bells and whistles. Does your game fall into these categories?

A location- or situation-based game without a predetermined plot does not suffer from this problem. Players can come and go and it doesn't really matter because you're creating the story as you play rather than before you play. Characters can be written in and out with no real issues. Of course, this is DMing advice more than player advice, but perhaps this gives you some perspective as to why your DM is stressing out over the issue. A change in style would alleviate this problem for the DM (along with a whole host of others issues). Again, assuming your DM falls into those categories. If he or she doesn't, then I'd struggle to imagine what the real problem is, except that it sounds very personal and not game-related.

I would recommend as others have that you speak to the DM as frankly as you have posted above. A direct, out-of-game conversation between two mature friends (I hope) is no substitute for advice given by a bunch of strangers on the forums. If your DM would like to learn how to structure his or her game prep so that player absenteeism really isn't an issue, feel free to direct said DM my way. I'm happy to help.


Yeah we can't play if someone cannot be there because there are only 4 of us including the DM.
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Player attendance from a planning perspective only becomes really important if the DM is counting on certain characters being present due to a predetermined plot. "I planned to have a big scene between Mr. NPC and Ragnar. Ragnar's player can't make it to the game. I'm boned!" When the DM has a story to tell and story arcs based upon specific characters, if those characters aren't there due to PC death, change of character ("I'm bored with Ragnar..."), or player absenteeism, it can ruin a gaming session. Or, it could mean that encounters are scaled a certain way and too few players means that it will be too hard or fall flat due to having to strip out the bells and whistles. Does your game fall into these categories?

A location- or situation-based game without a predetermined plot does not suffer from this problem. Players can come and go and it doesn't really matter because you're creating the story as you play rather than before you play. Characters can be written in and out with no real issues. Of course, this is DMing advice more than player advice, but perhaps this gives you some perspective as to why your DM is stressing out over the issue. A change in style would alleviate this problem for the DM (along with a whole host of others issues). Again, assuming your DM falls into those categories. If he or she doesn't, then I'd struggle to imagine what the real problem is, except that it sounds very personal and not game-related.

I would recommend as others have that you speak to the DM as frankly as you have posted above. A direct, out-of-game conversation between two mature friends (I hope) is no substitute for advice given by a bunch of strangers on the forums. If your DM would like to learn how to structure his or her game prep so that player absenteeism really isn't an issue, feel free to direct said DM my way. I'm happy to help.



I think he mostly keeps the game in a free-flowing state just with a few ideas of where he might take the plot. On rare occasions he does have specific plans for certain characters though. Maybe I'll just talk to him and emphasize that I don't mind playing a character that isn't central to the plot, just a guy along for the ride.

I agree with you that if it isn't that then maybe something else was bothering him... I'm not really sure what it would be though since we still hang out fairly often in other situations.
In any case thanks for the advice, you at least gave me the confidence that there should be a way to do this that would work out for everyone. Hopefully he will be open to that. 
Yeah we can't play if someone cannot be there because there are only 4 of us including the DM.



As a matter of preference it may not be ideal, but it's very easy to DM for 1 or 2 players. Much like any party that is lacking in roles, you simply have to remember not to play as if you had those resources available. Now you have to sneak past the orcs rather than fight them. That can be just as engaging as a game with a full group, since not every problem need be solved with smashing.

But again, that'll come down to preference. 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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@LolaBonne
Is that because you don't want people to miss out or because it is difficult to change the game to accomadate the missing person? I personally wouldn't mind if a game had to progress a bit without me and just have people fill me in later but I know some would be a little upset by that.



Some of the first, but more of the second.
I think he mostly keeps the game in a free-flowing state just with a few ideas of where he might take the plot. On rare occasions he does have specific plans for certain characters though. Maybe I'll just talk to him and emphasize that I don't mind playing a character that isn't central to the plot, just a guy along for the ride.

I agree with you that if it isn't that then maybe something else was bothering him... I'm not really sure what it would be though since we still hang out fairly often in other situations.
In any case thanks for the advice, you at least gave me the confidence that there should be a way to do this that would work out for everyone. Hopefully he will be open to that. 



That he has a plot in mind is part of the issue. This is a particular style of gaming and it can be problematic when it comes to player absenteeism as I mentioned above. It's akin to the director calling "Action!" and the important actors are nowhere to be found. It's frustrating and halts the game.

Now imagine if the game didn't have a plot at all and was just a location, say, a dungeon. Does it really matter who goes and explores that location from week to week? Probably not. While he may certainly want to game with his buddies in this dungeon, it's not strictly necessary and quite a bit easier to swallow than having to sideline a plot he's been imagining all week because somebody had a date.

That being said, it does sound like there is an unspoken objection coming from this DM. A direct conversation is definitely warranted.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I think because he's a friend he doesn't feet as constrained to hold back as he might with someone who is more of a stranger.  All you can do is tell him you are trying to make it and you are giving notice when you can't.  Letting him know that an 8+ hour session is often more than you can fit into the schedule. 

Planting the seed that shorter sessions might help the situation may bare bear fruit as he has time to think about it.
Yeah we can't play if someone cannot be there because there are only 4 of us including the DM.



As a matter of preference it may not be ideal, but it's very easy to DM for 1 or 2 players. Much like any party that is lacking in roles, you simply have to remember not to play as if you had those resources available. Now you have to sneak past the orcs rather than fight them. That can be just as engaging as a game with a full group, since not every problem need be solved with smashing.

But again, that'll come down to preference. 


We're a pretty combat-oriented group and in the past when someone in our group couldn't make it we'd have someone else play that sheet. Now said person doesn't have time to come and play so we do not include them but yeah I guess you could play with just two others but it would be less fun in my opinion. We just don't though because we don't have a set night we play. We talk about who is free when and then plan around that. But anyway, we never counted on that one that missed a lot because we knew when we let him play he would be on and off. Honestly, we wish we had another player.
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We're a pretty combat-oriented group and in the past when someone in our group couldn't make it we'd have someone else play that sheet. Now said person doesn't have time to come and play so we do not include them but yeah I guess you could play with just two others but it would be less fun in my opinion. We just don't though because we don't have a set night we play. We talk about who is free when and then plan around that. But anyway, we never counted on that one that missed a lot because we knew when we let him play he would be on and off. Honestly, we wish we had another player.



An online game might be a good fit for you. It increases your circles and it's frankly more convenient for many people to play that way as there is no need to drive anywhere.

My groups are very combat-oriented too (in addition to being in-character interaction oriented and shared storytelling oriented and...) and I've run a campaign with just 2 players for over a year, online to boot. It was great fun and we had epic battles every session. The game is very adaptable in that regard. Of course, that doesn't help if you just don't like games with small numbers of people. It is possible though and I found it quite nice in some regards because there was more spotlight time for each player.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Gaming is for fun.  But real live always comes first.

Kids, Significant others, family, work, etc these things comes first.

It sucks when a player misses a ton of games.  But that is how things go.

Talk to him about the issue, he may have more to say than you.  Try to listen to what your friend says.  Then when they are done talk to them about your feelings.

When we play Dwarves caving in goblins skulls its hard to think about feeling and stuff.  But communication is how pretty much everything works.
I can totally understand where both you and your DM are coming from so I hope some of my insight might help.

I am currently involved in two games.  One that I've been running where we meet based on everyone's schedule, mine included, and one that a friend of mine is running.  The one that I run gets together about once a month depending on schedules.  One of the major problems for this is that I travel a lot for my job.  Sometimes I am gone for two months straight, so the game I run is infrequent, and even when I am home it is hard to match up everyones schedules so we often times will do the best we can and play missing one or two people from time to time.

As for understanding where your DM is coming from, many years ago before I understood that a strict plot line only works if you railroad your players, in which case it is a much less fun game for everyone, I always had a big plan for adventures.  It became very difficult because I tried to include all my players characters into the plot.  If someone didn't show it could end up making a lot of extra work for me, and it did seem like that person didn't care about the fact that it gave me problems.  I've grown since then as a person and a DM and hopefully your friend will too.

As for your side, as I stated before I travel a lot.  The group my friend runs meets about every two weeks.  Typically on a Saturday and we play for over 8 hours.  Now fortunately even when I'm out of the country my job is normally Monday through Friday so since I can't be there in person, my friend lets me Skype into the session.  I call his computer and he aims his webcam at the game table so that I can see what's going on.

We've done this a couple times now and it has it's challenges, but for the most part it works wonderfully.  He still gets to have all his players there and I don't miss out on the action.  Don't know if this is a possibility for you but it is a suggestion.

If that doesn't work I agree with the others above that communication is the key to resolving the situation.
It generally helps, and is a good idea, that if you can't make it to a game consistantly that you ensure that you are not playign a character who's role to the story or group is critical. Basically you need to assume a more minor role so that the group can handle your absense.

Second, you should ideally work with another player who can take over your character and run him for you when you are not there, with a basic outline of how you want him handled, ussually your character stays out of the limelight and does just support when the group needs him.
... He has one every weekend and they generally last about 8+ hours. ... until recently I was playing maybe once every couple weeks and then he pulled me aside to tell me it was too much of a stress not to know if my character would be a consistent part of the campaign and that I had to either make a commitment to be there each week or not at all.

 



Sorry for the snippage, but those 2 lines cannot be stressed enough (it seems many of the previous posters had missed this.

Look at it this way:
if you show up and then miss the following 2-3 weeks and then show up again (rinse and repeat), you are effectively missing 60-75% of the sessions. And given how long the sessions are, you are basically missing 16-24 hours worth of game time in between the sessions when you show up.
This is COMPLETELY different from a person who misses the occasional session and should not be treated the same way.
So, from the DM point of view, i completely understand what he's saying: it would be easier if you weren't there. 


But, there may be other solutions.
If showing up weekly is hard for you, then maybe recommend to him/the group that you switch to a biweekly schedule.

If the actual duration of the session is the real issue, then I see 2 options:
One is that you just show up late/leave early so you can still game and get your errands done.
The other option is to talk to him about revising the times or shortening the schedule.

FWIW, my group recently did the second, we used to 'play' from noon - 930 on sunday. People would show up at noon with food and start eating. We got to eat and socialize before the game. Then we started gaming around 1:30, took a dinner break from about 5:30 -7, and then played a few more hours. It was a good fun day, but hte hours became cumbersome, so we agreed to cut the hours down to 1-6, people eat on their own and show up at 1 ready to roll dice, and we don't take food breaks (we still have snacks, of course). Overall, we get about the same amount of gaming in, but we cut a 9 hour day into a 5 hour one.

One last thing though, i would still only recommend that you get the schedule switched if you can actually commit to the new schedule... 
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
First off, thanks so much for all the replies guys, I will definitely talk to my DM.
I know that switching the schedule will not be so much of an option in his eyes but hopefully asking to play more of a minor roll overall could work, or have someone else who is authorized to manage my character.

@Onikani
I can totally get where you are coming from for a game with a more structured plotline but as I've said my DM tends to keep it pretty open. What is the difficulty in having someone who only shows up some of the time if the DM knows that they don't need to work that character into the plot?
Or, if you want to go in a completely different direction: maybe you could roll a new celestial character that the party only summons in case of emergencies, so that any session with you participating could start in media res one of those emergencies and your celestial happens to stick around for a while before being dismissed or something?

It seemed like all of the less-out-there ideas had already been covered

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Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

I can totally get where you are coming from for a game with a more structured plotline but as I've said my DM tends to keep it pretty open. What is the difficulty in having someone who only shows up some of the time if the DM knows that they don't need to work that character into the plot?



There may be more of a plot there than you realize. I used to run plotted games and nobody ever knew it. (I don't do this anymore. Too much work plus nontransferable skills.)

Or, if you want to go in a completely different direction: maybe you could roll a new celestial character that the party only summons in case of emergencies, so that any session with you participating could start in media res one of those emergencies and your celestial happens to stick around for a while before being dismissed or something?

It seemed like all of the less-out-there ideas had already been covered



I like that idea. It requires the group to buy in, but I know I'd be up for it if it were suggested, if only for the promise of action every time you show up.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Can be irking not have a char on a continued story, especially when last session ends in a dungeon. Then like figuring out why his missing suddenly can be confusing. We fixed this problem for our dm. We crawl into Handy Havor sack when not present. We crawl back out when we show up. Problem fixed. LOL
Can be irking not have a char on a continued story, especially when last session ends in a dungeon. Then like figuring out why his missing suddenly can be confusing. We fixed this problem for our dm. We crawl into Handy Havor sack when not present. We crawl back out when we show up. Problem fixed. LOL



Maybe you should just use Pokeballs.
Try crawling out of a handy sack in middle of an encounter. Its not easy you know. Damn pc's sometimes unstrab bag and throw you into middle of mobs. When u crawl out, take a beating. Bastards.
It isn't always a matter of your character being there or not effecting the plot, but that of the DM's preperation.

Adding a character to an encounter will make it too easy, taking a character away will make it too hard, and the DM preparing these encounters in advance will be understandably frustrated when he has to change encounters on the fly, or be unable to properly prepare in advance, to account for the added or missing PC. 

If you are going to be there or not is somethign the DM needs to know in advance. If you commit to be there and at the last minute are calling to say you can't make it, then the DM will be understandably frustrated, (and the same if you show when they weren't expecting you)

Being able to say in advance if you will be able to make it or not would go along way to reduce the DM's frustration as he can prepare accordingly.

The second solution is to see if someone in the party is able to play your character in your absence, so that he doesn't leave the group. This would minimize your absence and not need to be accounted for in the plot.
  
The guy is a great friend and we hang out at least weekly but I don't always have time to make it to his games. He has one every weekend and they generally last about 8+ hours. I love playing but the games are long and I pretty much need to have my whole day free in order to attend. So until recently I was playing maybe once every couple weeks and then he pulled me aside to tell me it was too much of a stress not to know if my character would be a consistent part of the campaign and that I had to either make a commitment to be there each week or not at all.

I was honestly kindof surprised, I know that I am the one that misses the most games out of all the people in the group (usually around 5 of us) but other people seem to miss some here and there and it never hindered the game, we just went along without them.  

Is this a common thing for DM's to feel? I've never been one myself so I guess I don't understand why it's so stressful.
It seems like he could just allow me to play a more generic character who doesn't matter too much to the story and it should be all fine and dandy.

I guess I'm just wondering if he's being a little unreasonable about it or if I was actually putting stress on the game. I'd still like to play when I'm available if possible so any advice would be much appreciated.
 

1. If you agreed to be part of the group, you do have a obligation to meet them on most occasion.

2. You have a life, so does the rest of them, and they make the time.

3. Missing one or two once in a while is acceptable, we all have lives that is important.

4. If the storyline depends heavily on everyone, the whole group suffers as a while.

5. The GM is in his right to ask you if you will meet more often.
Based on your response, it is his right (and the group if he will include a group vote) to keep you as an occasional member or boot you out.
It is not personal.

6. It would be better to think of the group's well being and tell them that you cannot meet and have them find a new player in your place. That way you are putting them in front and they wil respect you more so for being a great friend.

 

 
Play a wizard. Teleport in when you can play. Teleport out at the end of every session. Tell everyone 'There are questions. Questions that need answering."

My best advice would be to show up a little early on the days you CAN play, so you can work out with the DM how to get you back in the game.

Drop a text when you can't play to let him know what you might do.

At any rate, the DM shouldn't be mad, just frustrated... unless you tell him you'll be showing and don't show up.

A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
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