Death from above! Designing traps.

RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazedby the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
edited October 2006 in Critical Failures
Sometimes a good DM gets tired of throwing another handful of monsters at a party over and over again and decides to get a bit crafty, a bit devious, perhaps even a bit naughty, and will set up a cunning, vicious trap for the adventurers to discover, disarm and bypass safely - or not.

There are a number of useful resources available, but what are some of your favorite traps and/or puzzles you have created or encountered? What do you do when you create them? What makes for a good puzzle, and what makes for a bad one?

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Posts

  • FierceDeity666FierceDeity666 Registered User
    edited September 2006
    SELF LOCKING FRIDGE

    FierceDeity666 on
  • KarilmatKarilmat Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    1) Poisoned spike pit trap + 1 round delay filling up with water/acid/lava + Wall of Force or collapsable ceiling.

    2) Mind Fog + 1 round delayed Insanity/Confusion/Touch of Idiocy

    3) Back in 3.0, Mass Harm + delayed Magic Missles was fun

    Hmm...not coming up with anything else right now. I'll have to think on it.

    Karilmat on
  • NerissaNerissa Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    I think a truly GOOD trap has to be balanced:
    • It can't be obvious -- they have to be looking to find it
    • It can't be so well hidden that it's (practically) impossible to find, unless it's a plot hook
    • It has to be a challenge to get around, preferably something they need to think their way around, but a reasonably high skill roll works
    • It can't be next to impossible to get around
    • It should never be insta-death, there should always be a way to survive, even if you trip it
    • There should be incentive to NOT trip it... i.e. the party should never say "that wasn't so bad"

    Nerissa on
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  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Giants Bees and Honey?

    Oh I don't know.

    SUPERSUGA on
  • Alexan DriteAlexan Drite Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    The Book of Challenges.

    Actually, I remember throwing the first one ("A 'familiar' situation") at a party. It didn't really work, because half the party was goofing off and finding squirrels and stuff, the other half was filled with people who were not that good at role playing or doing stuff, the ranger just used animal empathy (which I completely forgot about), and the sorcerer was being a punk that night, deliberately trying to undermine the game. But other then that... it went well.

    So yeah, just be sure to watch for some things, otherwise a great book.

    Alexan Drite on
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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2006
    Okay, a bit more specific: What are good trap mechanisms you have used/encountered, and how did they tie into the current setting?

    What makes for a good puzzle in a PnP game?

    Rankenphile on
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  • GaddezGaddez Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    The absolutley most diabolical trap I ever concieved of was one I put some friends into during a Free form forum RP.

    Let's set the stage first. The party (consisting of a D&D mage, a D&D Druidess, an Amberite lady, a Skunktaur priestess of luck from a Final fantasy inspired gaming system, a Super hero, and a catgirl martial artist) are Stuck inside of an umbral realm in the far umbra of the worlds of darkness (basicly outer space of the spirit world)... which is collapsing in on itself.

    The party sets out to find the components they need to locate the artifact keeping them inside of the umbral realm, and discovers near a Grandfather Clock the size of the CN tower (complete with a gargantuan pendulum twice the length of a football field) the last one... attatched to a rather flimsy looking ward.

    The mage in the party, figuring he knows best, dispells the ward.

    Immediatley, everyone in the party gets hammered by a memory of somthing they felt truly guilty for, but twisted around so that the people who were wronged are screaming at them.

    Shaken, the party begins to move on... and gets hit again.

    Eventually, they manage to figure out that they're getting cockwhipped with Mind magic by the tower every time they hear the sound of the pendulum passing the midpoint of the swing.

    Thus, they stuff cotton in there ears and get as far from the tower as they can in order to escape the noise (the less they can hear the noise the less of an effect it has on them).

    Then they learn from the villain of the story that the tower is at the exact center of the umbral realm, and that if they don't hurry up and get to him, they'll be forced closer and closer to the tower, untill they are litterally crushed into the side of it and will be perpetually effected by the tower.

    Now, they did get out of there, but I still think that was one of the greatest traps ever designed. Perhaps not from a LOL U TAKE 2325364576D20 DAMAGEZ!!11! perspective, but from a roleplaying one?

    Oh yeah.

    Gaddez on
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  • ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Try watching the Cube films.

    ben0207 on
  • UndefinedMonkeyUndefinedMonkey Registered User
    edited September 2006
    Our DM threw a 10x10x10 gelatinous cube inside a 10x10x10 room at us once. It was eerie... the cube was completely transparent, but we could see little bits of armor and weaponry floating around inside of it. We thought it was some sort of strange anti-gravity trap and almost walked right into it, but one of the smarter party members chucked a dead body in first and watched it disintegrate.

    It really was a neat idea... it didn't show up on the rogue's Search roll, and there really wasn't a way of disarming it. We ended up going around instead.

    UndefinedMonkey on
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  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    ben0207 wrote:
    Try watching the Cube films.
    filmS? as in plural?


    There's more than one?

    Captain K on
  • SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Captain K wrote:
    ben0207 wrote:
    Try watching the Cube films.
    filmS? as in plural?


    There's more than one?

    Yes..... but you might be better of seeing just the first one.

    SanderJK on
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  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User
    edited September 2006
    Captain K wrote:
    ben0207 wrote:
    Try watching the Cube films.
    filmS? as in plural?


    There's more than one?

    There's the original, and then one or two crappy sequels by a different director.

    Aroused Bull on
  • ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Captain K wrote:
    ben0207 wrote:
    Try watching the Cube films.
    filmS? as in plural?


    There's more than one?

    There's the original, and then one or two crappy sequels by a different director.

    Especially avoid Hypercube, which is pure shit compressed to a disc.

    ben0207 on
  • ReynoldsReynolds Gone Fishin'Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    ben0207 wrote:
    Captain K wrote:
    ben0207 wrote:
    Try watching the Cube films.
    filmS? as in plural?


    There's more than one?

    There's the original, and then one or two crappy sequels by a different director.

    Especially avoid Hypercube, which is pure shit compressed to a disc.

    The third one brings back the original cube, it's a prequel. It's actually good. The second is only good for the special effects, worth one watch. But I've seen the first about three or four times.

    You should pick up some KoDT. There's a trap design in every issue for the last year or so. Pictures, description, usually generic system.

    Reynolds on
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  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User
    edited September 2006
    It's not one of mine, but I remember hearing about it somewhere: The party come to a room or corridor split by a wide chasm they must jump across. The chasm is artificial, and has a high ceiling as well as a long drop to the ground.
    When a player tries to jump across the chasm, they run into a reverse-gravity field halfway across and start to fall upwards until they smack into the (possibly spiked) ceiling. Then, they start to fall down again... I can't recall if they just fall until they hit the bottom of the chasm, or if they run into the gravity field again and are repeatedly slammed against the ceiling.

    Aroused Bull on
  • DeVryGuyDeVryGuy Registered User
    edited September 2006
    The Ultimate Anti-Dumb-Fighter trap. (From KODT)

    Basically, a stone door which has a sign that says "Only the strong may enter". To open it, you must make successive Strength checks starting at DC10 and increasing by 2 every round.

    Thing is, there isn't anything behind said door. When you push it open, you continually depress a giant spring behind it, when you fail a Strength check, or meerly get all the way to 20, it releases and slams you into the adjacent wall, dealing more damage the furth backwe you push it.

    DeVryGuy on
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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus premium Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    DeVryGuy wrote:
    The Ultimate Anti-Dumb-Fighter trap. (From KODT)

    Basically, a stone door which has a sign that says "Only the strong may enter". To open it, you must make successive Strength checks starting at DC10 and increasing by 2 every round.

    Thing is, there isn't anything behind said door. When you push it open, you continually depress a giant spring behind it, when you fail a Strength check, or meerly get all the way to 20, it releases and slams you into the adjacent wall, dealing more damage the furth backwe you push it.

    Ingenious.

    DarkPrimus on
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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2006
    DarkPrimus wrote:
    DeVryGuy wrote:
    The Ultimate Anti-Dumb-Fighter trap. (From KODT)

    Basically, a stone door which has a sign that says "Only the strong may enter". To open it, you must make successive Strength checks starting at DC10 and increasing by 2 every round.

    Thing is, there isn't anything behind said door. When you push it open, you continually depress a giant spring behind it, when you fail a Strength check, or meerly get all the way to 20, it releases and slams you into the adjacent wall, dealing more damage the furth backwe you push it.

    Ingenious.

    That's a fantastic trick, but what is the point to it? What is the reward for passing it?

    I'm building an ancient, abandoned and very, very forgotten temple, and have a couple neat traps already set up - my current favorite is a balancing floor - it only triggers once there are heroes on both sides of the floor, and it causes them to have to work together to keep from having everything tilt and dump them into a pit. As far as puzzles, I have one where they have to keep dumping water into a vertical bucket conveyor belt to raise the next guy up. But I'm looking for more tricks and traps to throw in their way, but still be passable with a reward on the other side.

    Rankenphile on
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  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User
    edited September 2006
    Why would the party need a reward for successfuly passing a trap? Especially since the trick to that trap is that it cannot be passed?

    Aroused Bull on
  • DeVryGuyDeVryGuy Registered User
    edited September 2006
    Well if they manage not to die, they get XP, which is pretty much the only reward you get for surviving traps. Unless of course the trap is to protect treasure instead of kill people you don't want in your dungeon

    DeVryGuy on
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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2006
    Why would the party need a reward for successfuly passing a trap? Especially since the trick to that trap is that it cannot be passed?

    The reward for passing a trap is usually staying alive beyond the trap and being able to further navigate the dungeon. While very, very clever and potentially hilarious, that particular trap doesn't really offer much as a barrier or hindrance as much as it does just a rather cruel thing to do to a group.

    edit: I mean, why would someone put a trap like that in their temple in the first place?

    Rankenphile on
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  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User
    edited September 2006
    Who said it was a temple? It could be the complex of a wizard with a cruel sense of humour.
    The trap may not offer a direct barrier or hindrance, but if the party fall for it, then it has served its purpose and harmed the intruders.

    Aroused Bull on
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    edited September 2006
    Grimfang's Traps is the greatest book ever.

    One of the traps: one of those coin-operated peephole "movie" things.

    Only the lady stripper is a Medusa.

    Echo on
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  • MinionOfCthulhuMinionOfCthulhu Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    If you really like traps, I suggest you check out Traps & Treachery I and II. They're pretty awesome; there's about 150 traps of various sorts in each, not to mention some prestige classes, riddles, and poisons galore, from simple traps to magical traps to all sorts of stuff. My friend has my copies though, damn him.

    MinionOfCthulhu on
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  • Just_Bri_ThanksJust_Bri_Thanks Seething with rage from a handbasket.Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited September 2006
    If you really like traps, I suggest you check out Traps & Treachery I and II. They're pretty awesome; there's about 150 traps of various sorts in each, not to mention some prestige classes, riddles, and poisons galore, from simple traps to magical traps to all sorts of stuff. My friend has my copies though, damn him.

    Prestiege classes are a blasphemy against whatever almighty you recognise and a crime against RP.

    Just_Bri_Thanks on
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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2006
    Hmmm, I'll check them out.

    Although I do sort of dislike prestige classes, myself, but I'm always interested in cleverly engineered traps and mischevious devices.

    Rankenphile on
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  • PkmoutlPkmoutl Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Why would the party need a reward for successfuly passing a trap? Especially since the trick to that trap is that it cannot be passed?

    The reward for passing a trap is usually staying alive beyond the trap and being able to further navigate the dungeon. While very, very clever and potentially hilarious, that particular trap doesn't really offer much as a barrier or hindrance as much as it does just a rather cruel thing to do to a group.

    edit: I mean, why would someone put a trap like that in their temple in the first place?

    The point behind traps is not to have some fuckass reward in it, but to impede characters from going on. That's why they put traps in tombs. They don't count on anyone getting past it. If they did, then they didn't fucking design it right, now did they? The idea of a trap is not to be a pesky little thing, it's to KILL THE INTRUDERS.

    And Echo, it's Grimtooth. I have most of them, and yes, they have some of the best traps in there. One of my favorites has a pressure plate on the floor and a door at the other end of the room. Now, the trap is a multi-functioning trap. The first time someone steps on the pressure plate, it opens the secret door at the other end of the room. As soon as they step off it, the door shuts. The second time someone steps on it, it releases a Fire Trap or equivalent when the door opens. As soon as the trap is sprung, the door shuts. The third time someone steps on the plate, the door swings open, and the counterweight for the door falls through the ceiling and hits whoever is stepping on the plate.

    So I used this once.

    The party goes in, and the door out locks behind them. They start searching the room for a secret door. Now, the members of the party present in the room are the Cleric, the Rogue and one of the Magic-types. The Rogue steps on the plate, and the door opens. Behind the door is the key to the door to get out of the room. They all rush for the door, and it slams shut before they can reach it. So they go into a discussion about who should open it. The magic-type is out because he's got a low Dex and no armor, should there be something else behind the door. So the Cleric outbids the Rogue on the basis that he has better armor and more HP than she does.

    So he stands next to the door, she hits the plate, and BOOM! He takes a shitload of damage, and the door shuts. Now the Rogue and the magic-type are on the floor, peeing themselves with laughter. The rest of the party are outside the door, wondering what the hell is going on. So the Cleric gets up, hits himself with a Cure Light Wounds and says, "Okay, if this is so fucking funny, you go stand by the door, and I'll step on the god damn plate!" So the Rogue and he switch places. He steps on the plate, the door swings open, and he gets beaned in the head by the counterweight. He goes out like a light. They unlock the door, and the rest of the party rush in. The Druid heals the Cleric, who wakes up and says,

    "SO DID WE GET THE FUCKING KEY?"

    Pkmoutl on
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  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2006
    The MERP source book for Isengard had Saruman's tower lined with fun traps. The best one was an ornate door leading to his treasury. The trick was that no key for the door existed and any attempt to pick the lock would set off the trap. The door was on a simple catch and would open with a sharp pull for anyone who tried it, but of course no-one is just going to go up and try that.

    Bogart on
  • AndorienAndorien Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    I recall a rather devious trap (could be used in any game really).

    You have a single, somewhat large room filled with bones, corpses, etc. Line the walls with whatever deadly looking devices you like. There is a single entrance/exit in the room. On the far wall from the door is a clock with a button under it.

    When the adventurers enter the room, the door closes and locks behind them, and the clock begins to tick down. Should one of the adventurers hit the button, the clock will reset and count down from the beginning.

    Most likely, one of them will hit the button before the clock finishes its first count down, and the rest of the party will search the room while one of them keeps mashing the button. There is no way to open the door, and the room contains no other way out.

    Should the clock finish its count down, the door will slid open.

    Andorien on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2006
    That is awesome.

    Rankenphile on
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  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User
    edited September 2006
    That's from the D&D official website, I believe. They have a number of cool traps on there.

    Aroused Bull on
  • ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    DarkPrimus wrote:
    DeVryGuy wrote:
    The Ultimate Anti-Dumb-Fighter trap. (From KODT)

    Basically, a stone door which has a sign that says "Only the strong may enter". To open it, you must make successive Strength checks starting at DC10 and increasing by 2 every round.

    Thing is, there isn't anything behind said door. When you push it open, you continually depress a giant spring behind it, when you fail a Strength check, or meerly get all the way to 20, it releases and slams you into the adjacent wall, dealing more damage the furth backwe you push it.

    Ingenious.

    That's a fantastic trick, but what is the point to it? What is the reward for passing it?

    Perhaps the way the party need to go is behind a collapsible but perfectly normal looking wall, and the only way to break it down is by throwing a fighter through it at full power. So they need to charge up the spring fully, toally buff up the fighter then release the trap, so he gets thrown through the opposite wall mostly unharmed and the rest get a way forward.

    ben0207 on
  • Conditional_AxeConditional_Axe Registered User
    edited September 2006
    Andorien wrote:
    I recall a rather devious trap (could be used in any game really).

    You have a single, somewhat large room filled with bones, corpses, etc. Line the walls with whatever deadly looking devices you like. There is a single entrance/exit in the room. On the far wall from the door is a clock with a button under it.

    When the adventurers enter the room, the door closes and locks behind them, and the clock begins to tick down. Should one of the adventurers hit the button, the clock will reset and count down from the beginning.

    Most likely, one of them will hit the button before the clock finishes its first count down, and the rest of the party will search the room while one of them keeps mashing the button. There is no way to open the door, and the room contains no other way out.

    Should the clock finish its count down, the door will slid open.
    this is my favorite trap of all time. and every time i use it, my players fall for it. even the ones who have seen it before.

    Conditional_Axe on
  • SUPERSUGASUPERSUGA Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Andorien wrote:
    I recall a rather devious trap (could be used in any game really).

    You have a single, somewhat large room filled with bones, corpses, etc. Line the walls with whatever deadly looking devices you like. There is a single entrance/exit in the room. On the far wall from the door is a clock with a button under it.

    When the adventurers enter the room, the door closes and locks behind them, and the clock begins to tick down. Should one of the adventurers hit the button, the clock will reset and count down from the beginning.

    Most likely, one of them will hit the button before the clock finishes its first count down, and the rest of the party will search the room while one of them keeps mashing the button. There is no way to open the door, and the room contains no other way out.

    Should the clock finish its count down, the door will slid open.
    this is my favorite trap of all time. and every time i use it, my players fall for it. even the ones who have seen it before.

    Indeed, this is a great little puzzle. For a twist add a similar room later on in the dungeon with an identical clock, hourglass or whatever you were using. In this room, though, the door is already unlocked and touching the button/clock/hourglass triggers some nasty trap.

    SUPERSUGA on
  • Burnt out mageBurnt out mage Registered User
    edited September 2006
    This is a trap I came up with for an Aberrant campaign a while back.

    The players enter a 30ft cube room, on the other side of the rom they can see a archway leading off in the direction they want to go. On one of the walls is a huge image of a closed eye although a decent spot check reveals it is in fact moving very slightly now and again as if alive. Now the floor of the room is full of metal poles of varying height ranging from about ankle to waist height, there are loads of them in the room all sticking out of the floor at various angles generally getting in the way of anybody trying to move through the room and each one has a tiny bell attached to the top. The players had to make checks going through the room to avoid bumping a post and ringing a bell (I let them make either balance, or tumble or move silently depending on what they were best at and what made sense for the character).
    If a bell gets rung the giant eye opens and the gravity in the room reverses everybody falls to the ceiling taking damage, the best part is when a second later all the metal tubes fall on them revealing they were hollow tubes that were left on top of metal spikes that now cover the floor. the party now have only a round or two to climp up the walls and out of the room (the doors are now 20ft up by the ceilling) before the eye closes returning gravity to normal and sending everybody in the room falling 30ft onto a bed of spikes.

    Burnt out mage on
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    edited September 2006
    Ooh. Nasty. :^:

    Echo on
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  • Burnt out mageBurnt out mage Registered User
    edited October 2006
    In the same dungeon lots of (amost 50%) the doors had exactly the same trap on them. Fake door with contact poison on the handle paralyzes, at the same time turning the handle triggers a trap door just in front of the door with a pit of spikes underneath.

    Not really a trap but one time as my BBEG was running away fron the party I had him leave a sliced apple in the room as he left. The party burst through the door and I describe an empty room with an open door on the otherside from which they can hear the sound of footsteps running away. Then as an almost throwaway comment I say oh yeah andtheres an apple lying on the floor looks like something sliced it in half. This really freaks out the party who insist on casting detect magic, searching for traps, checking the apple to see if they can figure out if a blade or spell cut it! It gave me the idea that one of these days I'm going to have a room with an innocent item in it like a rubber duck on a pedestal or something and whilst the party are busy examining it the room starts to fill with gas or the walls start to silently move in.

    Burnt out mage on
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    edited October 2006
    I once had a medium-sized rock in the middle of the road while my players traveled from A to B.

    Cue instant "I draw my sword!"

    Echo on
    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
  • tehmarkentehmarken BrooklynRegistered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Andorien wrote:
    I recall a rather devious trap (could be used in any game really).

    You have a single, somewhat large room filled with bones, corpses, etc. Line the walls with whatever deadly looking devices you like. There is a single entrance/exit in the room. On the far wall from the door is a clock with a button under it.

    When the adventurers enter the room, the door closes and locks behind them, and the clock begins to tick down. Should one of the adventurers hit the button, the clock will reset and count down from the beginning.

    Most likely, one of them will hit the button before the clock finishes its first count down, and the rest of the party will search the room while one of them keeps mashing the button. There is no way to open the door, and the room contains no other way out.

    Should the clock finish its count down, the door will slid open.

    This is pure genius.

    tehmarken on
  • piLpiL Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    I think the DM stole it from a KODT, but we once had a wizard fall prey to this trick:

    There's a long horizontal tunnel. The wizard starts climbing through there's a bend, and he continues onward. Forward is pitch darkness that even dark vision can't pierce. As he touches the darkness he's annhilated.

    This is fairly straight forward and silly, except we lost six people to it (we used to play twelve to sixteen player games :| at the comic book shop I frequented)

    piL on
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