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The Lord of the Rings Online

is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for Microsoft Windows and OS X set in a fantasy universe based upon J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings.... read more

Platforms PC
Themes Fantasy
Developers Turbine, Inc....
Status: Released
Release: 24-Apr-2007

is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for Microsoft Windows and OS X set in a fantasy universe based upon J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. It takes place during the time period of The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings Online was developed and is maintained by Turbine after Jeffrey Anderson secured the rights from Vivendi. Originally subscription-based, it is free-to-play, with a paid VIP subscription available that provides players various perks. Four of the more prominent are access to all game regions and content not part of an expansion pack, the ability to swiftly travel between major towns, the removal of the currency cap that would otherwise hamper the economic freedom of a player, and the ability to send currency through the mail system, and make cash-on-delivery payments.

It launched in North America, Australia, Japan, and Europe on April 24, 2007. Five expansion packs have been released as of 2013: Mines of Moria in 2008, Siege of Mirkwood in 2009, Rise of Isengard in 2011, Riders of Rohan in 2012, and Helm's Deep on November 20, 2013. In 2010, the NPD Group reported that the game was "the third most played massively multiplayer role-playing game" with Turbine citing their free-to-play model as the reason for the growing subscriber base.

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The game's milieu is based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. However, Turbine does not have rights to any other works in Tolkien's legendarium, such as The Silmarillion or The Children of Húrin. Much of the gameplay is typical of the MMO format: The player controls a character avatar which can be moved around the game world and interacts with other players, non-player (computer-controlled) characters (or "NPCs") and other entities in the virtual world. Camera angles can be switched between first-person and third-person options. Characters are improved by gaining levels. A character's level increases after it earns a set amount of experience points through the player versus environment (or "PvE") combat and storyline adventures. Characters' abilities are improved by increasing in level, but character skills must be purchased from specified NPCs after gaining a new level.

The main storyline (also known as the "Epic Quest Line") is presented as a series of "Books", which consist of series of quests called "Chapters". There were initially eight Books when the game was released, with new books added with each free content update.

Tolkien's Middle earth as represented in The Lord of the Rings Online implements magic in a different manner than other MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. There are only five "wizards" in the fictional world, none of which are player-controlled. Instead, there are active skills which require "power" (the equivalent of magic points). Some skills behave like magic (like healing or throwing a burning ember at an enemy), but are based on "lore". In addition, objects and artifacts are used to create effects similar to magic.

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As opposed to other role-playing video games, the equivalent of health or hit points in LOTRO is morale and can be raised via food, rest, music, and battle cries. The game also places a fair emphasis on cooking and farming in its crafting system, in consistency with the characterization of Hobbits in Tolkien's writings.

An important feature of The Lord of the Rings Online is the difficulty level of NPCs that are encountered by the player. In addition to NPC level, the other factor that determines how difficult they are to combat is a seven tiered system of difficulty indicators, that adjusts things such as the NPCs health and damage output. Depending on its difficulty, an NPC may be no threat to a player individually, or it may be impossible for a lone character to defeat without the aid of a full raid. The lower difficulty levels are the most commonly encountered in the games landscape, while the mid-range levels are generally either landscape boss NPCs that require a fellowship to defeat or are enemies encountered in a fellowship instance. The higher difficulty ratings are almost never encountered in the games regional landscape, and are generally found as either boss NPCs in group instances or challenging enemies in raid encounters (although these enemies are present on the landscape in the Ettenmoors PvP zone). In PvP and in some PvE zones and instances, there are NPCs that belong to the forces of the Free People's that fall somewhere on this same scale and are analogous to their evil counterparts in difficulty, but have different names and indicators. The seven difficulty indicators from weakest to strongest in ascending order are:

  • Swarm: The easiest difficulty NPC. These are usually found in large groups to balance out their individual weakness.

  • Normal: The most common difficulty NPC that is encountered on the landscape of the game. Normal difficulty NPCs generally spawn on their own or in small groups.

  • Signature: A more difficult enemy than Normal NPCs, Signature's are usually enemy leaders or champions that are the goal of solo quests, or are encountered in large numbers in group instances.

  • Elite (Defender): A relatively strong NPC. These are sometimes seen on the games landscape, but are most commonly found as enemies in fellowship instances.

  • Master Elite (Master Defender): A strong NPC, which is rarely seen in the games regular landscape. These are commonly seen in group instances as the leader of a group of enemies, or the goal of a small fellowship quest.

  • Nemesis (Avenger): A very strong NPC, mostly seen in fellowship and raid instances with few exceptions.

  • Arch-Nemesis (Hero): The strongest difficulty NPC in the game. There is no set upper limit on how powerful these NPCs can be, but they are always the target of a large group of player characters. The only place these are encountered on the games ordinary landscape is during PvP.

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Other gameplay features include a fast travel system between discovered locations in-game, and a detailed quest log with a tracker and history of quests completed.


Player versus player (PvP) combat can be done by inviting another player to spar one-on-one, or in the major gameplay form called Monster Play or Player vs Monster Player (PvMP).

Monster Play is unlocked when a player's character reaches level 10; players can then play a monster of maximum level. Only one type of monster player is available for free players; others can be purchased individually, or completely unlocked by purchasing a subscription. These monster players (also known as creeps) have their own quests, titles, and deeds, and fight the Heroes (player characters of level 90 and above, and known as freeps, a portmanteau of the words "Free Peoples") in the Ettenmoors. Both heroes and monsters fight for the control of various keeps in the Ettenmoors, of which 5 are able to be taken. When one side holds two outposts (after a period of time the outpost will return to the NPC forces), they are able to go into the Delving of Frór, a dungeon area beneath the Ettenmoors. Outposts are smaller versions of keeps and require fewer people to overtake. As of the expansion Mines of Moria and Siege of Mirkwood, the amount of outposts required to enter the Delving of Frór has dropped to two, so that both the freeps and creeps can enter the delving of Frór simultaneously (5 outposts overall, 2 required to enter).

Both monster players and heroes gain ranks in the Ettenmoors through defeating the opposing side. Monsters receive infamy for killing a hero, and heroes receive renown for killing a monster player. There are 15 achievable ranks, starting at Footman, and ending at Captain-General (for heroes) or starting at Tracker and ending at Tyrant (for monster players). Gaining ranks allows the player to purchase specific equipment and armour (for heroes) or core upgrades, like health, armor and power (for monsters).

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Another aspect of PvMP is commendations. Both heroes and monster players receive commendations for completing quests or defeating an enemy player. Commendations can be used by monster players to buy various background statistic improvements, skills, and appearances. Heroes can use commendations to buy special PvMP rank armour and background statistic improvements.

Many players rely on raids or groups to gain Infamy or Renown for their character. In a raid or group, the points gained are divided between the different members, so while killing more quickly each player will gain less on average per kill. Often during a raid there will be one leader who gives directions to the rest of the raid over a voice program or the in-game voice application. Raids are most commonly found on larger servers, but exist on all servers.

While most players gain Infamy or Renown on their respective side through killing enemy players through small skirmishes, healing friendly players also contributes Renown orInfamy to the player. The higher ranks in the game are noted to take a period of months to years of consistent gaming to achieve. This lengthy time to achieve higher ranks is derived from the fact that the total Infamy or Renown amount required for achieving higher ranks rises exponentially with every rank achieved. The best example of this is: rank 6 requires a total of 35,500 Renown, however, rank 7 requires a total of 71,000 which is over twice the total to achieve rank 6.

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The concept of rank farming is an alternative route some players choose to use in order to accelerate the ranking process to faster access equipment and rank promotion buffs within the Ettenmoors that have a minimum rank requirement, though it is no longer allowed and considered an abuse of game mechanics. This concept is not unique toLOTRO and is seen in other games of the same genre. Most of this activity in LOTRO is achieved through the use of multiboxing with several copies of the game client run to utilise a multitude of reaver monster play characters. The reaver class went free-to-play early 2012 and has since most often been used in this type of play. Rank farming has had notable impact upon the PvP gaming community. An official statement released on August 28, 2013 by Turbine customer service has made rank farming a bannable offense. While the issue of fairness and sportsmanship has been raised for this style of play, Turbine has officially supported the multiboxing community in its official statements to date.


Deeds can give the player turbine points. With turbine points (TP) a player is able to buy items, mounts, quest packs, and more from the LOTRO Store. Therefore, in theory a person can remain completely free to play if they complete enough deeds. However, the best way to obtain TP is to farm reputation items. Reaching kindred with a reputation faction awards a player 50 TP total.

There are several types of deeds in the game. The most common deeds that players will encounter are regional deeds, which are those that can be found in every one of the game's landscape regions. These deeds are divided into four categories, which are: Explorer, slayer, lore and reputation. Players can only complete the deeds for a given region if they have access to that regions content through their subscription. The next type of deeds in-game are those which involve either the players class, race, or epic story quests. Class deeds are unlocked by using the character's skills. The race deeds category includes deeds that are completed by defeating large numbers of foes that are an enemy of the player's chosen race. Epic story deeds are those deeds which are advanced by completing each book of the Epic Quest line. Another category of deeds is labelled Skirmish, and these are earned by either defeating unique foes in skirmish mode or large numbers of enemy lieutenants that are commonly encountered in said skirmishes. The Instance Deed page log keeps track of those deeds which involve fellowship instances the player engages in, and are similar to landscape deeds in that they include slayer, lore, and explorer deeds. The last deed category is those which fall under the hobby deed panel, which currently includes only a handful of fishing deeds.

In addition to the different categories of deeds that are found in the players deed log, there are also deeds which are known as either Hidden or 'Meta' Deeds. These two special types of deeds can be found in any deed category, but are much more difficult to achieve than regular deeds. Meta-Deeds are those that are completed by finishing a set of other deeds, and sometimes reward highly valuable items such as unique mounts and titles. Hidden deeds are those deeds which do not display themselves in the deed tracker for the player to keep track of.

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Titles have no direct impact on gameplay. Instead they provide another means of customization by adding additional information to a character's name. Some titles are common while others can be difficult to obtain. Each character starts with one title that indicates their origin. Titles are earned by completing deeds and quests and by mastering tiers in professions. Only one title can be active at a time. Characters who are ranked in the Ettenmoors can also have a prefix to signify their rank. It is also possible to receive a title of Kinship rank. Some titles are harder to get than others, such as meta deeds which require many other deeds to be done before the title is given.


Each character has the ability to equip traits earned during the game. Traits give characters a myriad of different bonuses and abilities. Any trait combination can be equipped as long as they have enough trait slots. The number of free trait slots depends on their level. The first virtue trait slot is available at level 7, for example. Virtue, class and racial traits offer a maximum of five slots, and legendary traits offer three slots. Traits can be easily changed by visiting a bard found in most towns, and equipping traits costs a certain amount of money.

Types of traits include:

  • Virtue: Virtue traits are common amongst all races and classes and can be earned by completing general goals, such as killing a set number of monsters, or completing enough quests in an area. These traits generally improve stats, resistances and total morale and power, including regeneration. There are a large variety of goals, and each has multiple levels that can be earned during the course of the game.

  • Class: Class traits are specific to a certain class. These are generally earned by using a class skill or power often enough, or meeting certain conditions with these skills often enough, such as achieving enough critical strikes with a certain skill. These skills improve the power of certain abilities and often give an additional passive bonus to character statistics.

  • Racial: Racial traits are specific to each of the races. These traits confer special abilities or improvements, and only a relatively limited number can be used at one time.

  • Legendary: Legendary traits confer rare bonuses. They are obtained by collecting class-specific books and their pages which drop from specific enemies, from a series of level 45 class-specific quests, or from combining five class traits of a single type.

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A fellowship is a band of up to six characters, created to complete quests and to pursue group hunts. The fellowship is what fulfills the role of 'parties' in other MMORPG games, as it can be formed and disbanded by the leader at any time. Fellowships are an integral part of the game, as they are necessary to engage in difficult group instances that players will encounter. All players in a fellowship can communicate with each other in the fellowship chat panel, where a conversation is seen by all fellowship members. All members of the fellowship will be displayed on the left hand side of every players screen (unless it has been adjusted otherwise), so that the status of every member can be monitored. Members in a fellowship will also appear to each other as green dots on regional maps, which allows for easy location when not in combat. When in a fellowship, members can enter into the same instance as each other from the instance join panel, or they can be summoned by special abilities. There are several easily identifiable icons that can be placed over every players head by the fellowship leader so that members who are strategic in an instance or other mission can be easily located. The fellowship leader also has the ability to invite or dismiss a member at any time. A fellowship can also be transformed into a 'raid', which can be composed of up to four separate fellowships and can contain anywhere from 6 to 24 players.

Fellowships (including those found in raids) can use the Fellowship Maneuver system to perform special group moves. Fellowship Maneuvers occur randomly and require that the target be stunned or knocked down, in any group encounter with a 'signature' or higher enemy. Burglars and Guardians also have special skills that can initiate FMs when triggered. When the FM is initiated, every player within the area will get a color wheel on their screen to choose one of four skill contributions. These skill contributions are Ent's Strength, which deals direct damage, Stallions Spirit, which restores power, Spider's Guile, which deals direct and periodic damage, and Eagle's Cry, which restores lost morale. Every player can select one of these four contributions when a Fellowship Maneuver has been engaged, and the effect upon the target(s) intensifies the more that it has been selected. There are also Fellowship Maneuver's which can be selected by a fellowship leader or assistant which confer unique bonuses. There are dozens of these unique FM combinations, which are designed for different situations and fellowship sizes. These Maneuver's must be followed as they are designated or else they will not be utilized.

Monster Players in the game can also join Fellowships, though they are named Warbands instead. Players who are playing as Monster Characters in a PvP zone also gain access to the Fellowship Maneuver panel. Although the same principles apply, they are instead renamed Warband Maneuvers. The four contributions that can be made are Troll's Brutality, which deals direct damage to a target, Spiders Venom, which deals direct and periodic damage, Wight's Rot, which deals direct damage and saps power from the target, and Fell-Spirit's Terror which deals direct damage and saps morale.

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Music System

In keeping with Tolkien's heavy use of song and music in his books, LoTRO has a rich player music sub-system akin to MIDI that has been the subject of a Harvardanthropological study.

Characters that reach level 5 can learn to play the lute and, depending on their class, other instruments. Minstrels can learn to play all of the instruments and to teach other players, of all classes, to play them. The following instruments can be played in game: Bagpipes, Clarinet, Cowbell, Drum, Harp, Horn, Lute, Pibgorn, and Theorbo.

Using keyboard macros, instruments can be played in real time on three octaves and abc notation, with the music broadcast to nearby players who have not disabled hearing it. Players can also play pre-set pieces from user-created .ABC script files using the game's music notation, similar to MIDI files.

Players often hold impromptu public performances, in solo or as bands at places such as The Prancing Pony Inn in Bree. Communities also regularly organize music events and mini concerts such as "Weatherstock": Woodstock above Weathertop.


Upon reaching Level 15, players can purchase a house in various instanced neighborhoods in the game's racial starting regions. These houses have different architectural styles depending on racial base (Man, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit) and can be decorated (similarly to The Sims) via item hooks using cosmetic (and functional) decorations obtained through questing, shops and in-game events and can be visited by all players if the owner sets it so.

Houses come in 3 different sizes that determine the amount of decorations which can be placed as well as the amount of item storage. Pricing depends on house location and its size, and weekly maintenance rent to stay open. If a player fails to pay rent, the house is simply closed to visiting with all its items intact and can be accessed once again by paying rent.

The largest house is reserved to kinships (player guilds) and can be purchased once a kinship reaches 3 months old. Players can own 1 personal house per server that shared by all characters of the player in the per server. Aside from the houses themselves, players gain the ability to teleport to their personal homes and kinship houses, as well as access the various shops in the neighborhood with a discount if the player owns or is part of a kinship house in the same neighborhood.

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Reputation is the measure of how well acquainted a player is with a specific group or faction of NPCs. There are various factions in The Lord of the Rings Online that a player can become acquainted with in their travels. Reputation for these different factions may be gained by completing quests, defeating specific mobs, crafting items, and completing deeds. Many of the original reputation factions as well as those in the Mines of Moria expansion also accepted reputation items that were either collected from defeated NPCs or gained by completing deeds. However, since the Siege of Mirkwood expansion no new faction in the game has had this feature added, although a system of 'daily quests' was created that allow the player to gain a steady source of reputation in the absence of reputation items.

There are two kinds of factions in the game, which are 'Reputation Factions' and 'Crafting Guilds'. Reputation Factions are factions that generally only inhabit a specific region of the game, such as the Men of Bree who are present in Bree-land. Reputation Factions each have a main location where the player can purchase goods ans services from the faction's vendors, some of which are only accessible at higher reputation levels. Some factions also possess a vendor where the player can barter faction-specific items awarded from quests or instances for unique items such as armor or weaponry. The ability to gain reputation with Reputation Factions is open to all players who have purchased the content for the region these factions are present in. Crafting Guild factions however, are available only to player's who belong to a specific crafting vocation, and a player can only gain reputation with any one of the several Crafting Guild factions at any one time. Crafting Guild factions also have locations that the player can visit to barter for guild-unique goods, including valuable crafting recipes for specific vocations.

There are several levels of reputation that a player can achieve with any faction. The default starting point for most factions is neutral, although reputation with the Lossoth of Forochel begins one level below this. The Reputation Faction levels after neutral are Acquaintance at 10,000 reputation points, Friend at 30,000 points, Ally at 55,000 points, and Kindred at 85,000 points. The Crafting Guild factions also follow the same level of reputation, although the title's differ. A Guild member who is at neutral level is called a Guild Initiate, an acquaintance member is an Apprentice of the Guild, a friend is a Journeyman of the Guild, an ally is an Expert of the Guild, and a kindred level member is an Artisan of the Guild. In addition to these tiers of reputation for Crafting Guilds, there is a further three levels that the player can achieve named Master of the Guild at 130,000 points, Eastemnet Master of the Guild at 190,000 points, and Westemnet Master of the Guild at 280,000. As the player progresses up these tiers in either Reputation Factions or Crafting Guilds, they gain access to more valuable goods and services from the factions vendors. These upgrades include things such as travel discounts and special reputation mounts for Reputation Factions, and access to higher tier crafting recipes from Crafting Guilds.

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As of the Helm's Deep Expansion, the latest events in The Lord of the Rings Online are set in the latter part of The Two Towers. The player starts simultaneously with Frodo and company leaving The Shire. Each Region of Middle-earth is represented as being permanently "frozen" at a certain point of time. For example, it is always September of the Year 3018 of the Third Age in the Shire, December 3018 in Rivendell, February 3019 in Lothlórien, etc. The timeline moves on and is currently set at the Fellowship's breakup at the shores of Nen Hithoel, and the subsequent chase by the three hunters across the plains of Rohan and into Fangorn Forest following the trail of Merry and Pippin.

In the initial release, only the area of Eriador was available. Eriador was further divided into Ered Luin, The Shire, Bree-land (this included the area around Bree, the Old Forestand the Barrow-downs), the North Downs (lands to the east and south of Fornost), the Lone-lands (the area around Amon Sûl), the Trollshaws (the area surrounding Rivendell), the Misty Mountains (then excluding Goblin Town), Angmar and the Ettenmoors. There have been three new major regions added to the game since launch and before the first expansion. The Shores of Evendim update added the region surrounding Lake Evendim and Annúminas, about 100 miles north of the Shire. Book 13, Doom of the Last Kingadded Forochel, a snowy tundra at the edge of the ice bay. With the release of the Mines of Moria expansion, Turbine also released Book 15, the last free update, containingEregion. Other books have added areas such as player housing, or expanded already existing zones, such as the addition of Goblin Town and the High Pass to the Misty Mountains, and Tal Bruinen to the Trollshaws.

Originally only players who purchased the Mines of Moria Expansion had access to Moria and Lothlórien. This type of expansion was continued with the release of Siege of Mirkwood, the region of south Mirkwood including Dol Guldur and the storyline continuation Book 9 to those who purchased the game. With the addition of the Region ofEnedwaith in 2010, the game returned its attention to the lands west of the Misty Mountains (although it was added under Eriador in error). As a result, Turbine revised its approach to expansion in the Update following in November: all players could now visit expansion regions, but those playing for free were still barred from most of its content until said purchase was made. This approach was continued with the Rise of Isengard expansion, where the Regions of Dunland, The Gap of Rohan, and Isengard could be visited by all players. Crossing the mountains again, Update 6 added the area around the Anduin south of Lothlórien. With the Riders of Rohan expansion, the areas of The Wold, the Eastwall, Eastemnet and the Eaves of Fangorn were added as well. Turbine has stated that their intention is to eventually fill in the entirety of Middle-earth, while prioritizing the areas visited by the Fellowship.

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The Lord of the Rings Online is divided into 25 distinct regions that each possess their own dynamic content and storyline. These regions fall into either Eriador, Rhovanion orGondor, the three geographical areas that are currently accessible in the game. Turbine has not added new areas, for instance Enedwaith is wrongly classified under Eriador andRohan is considered to be a part of Rhovanion, rather than a part of Gondor or a separate area. Every region in the game has an established level range, in which the vast majority of NPCs will spawn at or near. These level ranges tend to be very broad, and the regions main quest line will guide the players through the region in progression from lowest level to highest level. Every region contains Player vs. Environment, or PvE content. The only in-game region that player's can participate in Player vs. Player, or PvP action is the Ettenmoors, which also contains PvE content. Every region in-game also has some form of 'capital', which is the largest settlement in the region. Examples of these capitals are the town of 'Bree' in Bree-land and the village of 'Aughaire' in Angmar.

Every in-game region is sub-divided into several distinct areas, which each have their own landscape aesthetic and set NPCs that will spawn only in that area. These areas can take on many distinct appearances, sometimes in contrast to the majority of the region in which they are set—a swamp, a forest, open plains, a hilly region, or a lake. Generally, these areas will each possess a settlement or other form of 'quest hub' that the player will receive quests from. These quest hubs serve as a base that the player can return to purchase supplies or services, as well as either accept or finish quests from friendly NPCs. Occasionally, there are smaller quest hubs present in a given area such as a small camp or even a lone NPC that can be interacted with. Sometimes, a region will contain a smaller 'area map', which is a highly detailed overview of a specific settlement or area that is not detailed enough on the regional map for its given importance. These area maps include the starter areas of Archet and Thorin's Gate, as well as settlements such as Bree and Snowbourn.

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Sierra On-Line first announced the development of a licensed Middle-earth MMORPG in 1998. Sierra had financial troubles in 1999 and replaced the staff working on the game. Sierra continued to confirm development of the MMORPG but did not release any development details.

Vivendi Universal Games, the parent company of Sierra, secured eight-year rights to produce computer and video games based on The Lord of the Rings books in 2001. Vivendi announced an agreement with Turbine in 2003 to produce Middle-earth Online (at that time expected to be released in 2004). In March 2005, Turbine announced that it bought the rights to make an MMORPG based on Tolkien's literature and that Turbine would publish The Lord of the Rings Online instead of Vivendi.

A closed beta was announced on September 8, 2006. An open beta began on March 30, 2007, and was open to all who pre-ordered the game's Founders Club edition. On April 6, 2007, the beta opened to the public.

In January 2014 it was announced that the license for The Lord of the Rings Online has been renewed to 2017.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article The Lord of the Rings Online, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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