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jhaelen

Why would anyone ever play a droid?

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Droids also get to consider certain equipment and armour as upgrades, which can't be taken away from them. There are benefits to having armour plating and an internal comlink. Or an internal buzz saw. Or an internal blaster...

 

Mechanically, droids are somewhat disadvantaged, because 175 xp isn't enough to make up for all 1s, however there are several other bonuses, including narrative bonuses, that help to make up for it.

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I always thought that Threepio had all the makings of a mass murderer. Uptight and prissy, I figure one day a protocol droid like that'd snap or surge and just kill the next one that sasses it. Imagine a Cad Bane-esque 3PO unit, all worried about etiquette and is unfailingly polite in over six million forms of communication, until someone is intentionally rude and he blasts the pest with a built-in blaster pistol.

 

Then he fusses about the mess he's made and how rude it was of him. 

 

Or a Commando droid from the Clone Wars survives, perhaps in an altered form, just as Order 66 passes. It's been released from all its directives--the CIS is gone, its command structure is gone--and it has to survive in a droid-hostile galaxy. What would it look like after a decade or two? 

 

How about an "Ace" pilot Ratatouille style? There's a human meatbag who's along for the ride, thinks he's actually in charge but it's the astromech behind it that's really driving. 

 

Droids were the "ground level" viewpoints of the Star Wars universe. Plenty of potential for RP'ing.

 

Mechanically though, as someone trying to learn this system, their strengths seem hard to grasp. Having a larger variety of skills available to one does make it rather appealing. 

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I always thought that Threepio had all the makings of a mass murderer. Uptight and prissy, I figure one day a protocol droid like that'd snap or surge and just kill the next one that sasses it. Imagine a Cad Bane-esque 3PO unit, all worried about etiquette and is unfailingly polite in over six million forms of communication, until someone is intentionally rude and he blasts the pest with a built-in blaster pistol.

 

Then he fusses about the mess he's made and how rude it was of him. 

 

Or a Commando droid from the Clone Wars survives, perhaps in an altered form, just as Order 66 passes. It's been released from all its directives--the CIS is gone, its command structure is gone--and it has to survive in a droid-hostile galaxy. What would it look like after a decade or two? 

 

How about an "Ace" pilot Ratatouille style? There's a human meatbag who's along for the ride, thinks he's actually in charge but it's the astromech behind it that's really driving. 

 

Droids were the "ground level" viewpoints of the Star Wars universe. Plenty of potential for RP'ing.

 

Mechanically though, as someone trying to learn this system, their strengths seem hard to grasp. Having a larger variety of skills available to one does make it rather appealing. 

D3XT3R-P0

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This is honestly a question that I never really considered. I've always considered the races things you picked out of interest and flavor, not for any sort of gameplay goals. Maybe I just haven't gotten deep enough into the rules and advancement, but I never thought that the droids were disadvantaged enough to make a real difference - especially given the huge variety in character builds my players go for. 

 

[begin_scathing_tirade] Despite their superior baseline abilities, organic meatbags are prone to tactical errors and lapses of judgement due to emotion and the constant sloshing of their internal organs composed primarily of water. There is also the nagging sense of pointlessness to their own existence, the questioning of one's value in a cruel and uncaring universe where nothing is certain except inevitable liquidation.  In contrast, a droid knows his purpose, his purpose precedes his creation, and his lifespan is indefinite. [end_scathing_tirade]

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[begin_scathing_tirade] Despite their superior baseline abilities, organic meatbags are prone to tactical errors and lapses of judgement due to emotion and the constant sloshing of their internal organs composed primarily of water. There is also the nagging sense of pointlessness to their own existence, the questioning of one's value in a cruel and uncaring universe where nothing is certain except inevitable liquidation.  In contrast, a droid knows his purpose, his purpose precedes his creation, and his lifespan is indefinite. [end_scathing_tirade]

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"Special Abilities: Droids do not need to eat sleep, or breathe, and are unaffected by toxins and poisons...

Mechanical Being: Droids...cannot be affected by mind-affecting Force Powers."

 

If that is not the great equalizer for any combination of characteristics and skills, I don't know what is.  In a science fantasy setting, with spaceships and poisonous atmospheres and deadly assassins and psychic wizards, droids have the single most gameplay-altering ability in the rules.  There is so much a Droid can do that any other species would need extensive gear to attempt to replicate, and some things nothing else can replicate at all.

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They're made to be "the specialists" or "the Pros from Dover"; pick one (or two) areas and own it.  They're the only race that could start game with a 5 in any characteristic, that goes pretty far right outta the box.

 

But I think the point is that whilst they're the only race that can have a 5 in any characteristic, that's not a meaningful comparison as for any characteristic there is a race that can start with 5 in it. And given most roles depend secondarily on multiple stats (e.g. an Agility combatant needs Vigilance/Cool for initiative, and Brawn for encumbrance), the ability to get a 5 and some talents doesn't necessarily make them a better specialist than a non-droid with a 5 and some 2s, whilst making them worse generally.

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I always thought that Threepio had all the makings of a mass murderer. Uptight and prissy, I figure one day a protocol droid like that'd snap or surge and just kill the next one that sasses it. Imagine a Cad Bane-esque 3PO unit, all worried about etiquette and is unfailingly polite in over six million forms of communication, until someone is intentionally rude and he blasts the pest with a built-in blaster pistol.

 

Then he fusses about the mess he's made and how rude it was of him. 

 

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/0-0-0

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In the D20 Star wars I had a C&C repair droid - processor & remote processor to control multiple "drones". He ended up destroyed 3X. For about an adventure and a half he was in a Vulture droid chasis that he had been rebuilding as a Drone.

You want people to pay attention? Stand 3M tall, have starship armor, a linked pair of starship grade laser cannons, and an attitude. With 99% certanty, nobody is looking at your group's pickpocket.

 

So, yeah - Immortality is a keen thing for some people..... Like Paranoia with an infinate number of clones :) - or at least until your group get's tired of rebuilding you.

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They're made to be "the specialists" or "the Pros from Dover"; pick one (or two) areas and own it.  They're the only race that could start game with a 5 in any characteristic, that goes pretty far right outta the box.

 

But I think the point is that whilst they're the only race that can have a 5 in any characteristic, that's not a meaningful comparison as for any characteristic there is a race that can start with 5 in it. And given most roles depend secondarily on multiple stats (e.g. an Agility combatant needs Vigilance/Cool for initiative, and Brawn for encumbrance), the ability to get a 5 and some talents doesn't necessarily make them a better specialist than a non-droid with a 5 and some 2s, whilst making them worse generally.

 

Generally, I agree with this.  I like playing flexible characters so droids don't appeal to me much, but even if my character concept demanded a droid I would still hold back just because I would worry about feeling too inferior mechanically compared with other players.  With droids you have to go 5-2-1-1-1-1 and have 15 leftover XP, which just doesn't stand up to the 5-2-2-2-2-1 with 10 leftover XP non-humans can start with (or the 5-2-2-2-2-2 humans can start with if they use obligation for extra XP).

 

But since I'm mostly the GM in this game, I've considered a house rule of raising droid's starting XP to 180 from 175.  That would let them start with a 5 and a 3 (something no other species can start with), assuming they take XP for extra obligation.  5-3-1-1-1-1 would give you a really solid specialist: a killer primary stat and an above average secondary stat (say, agility-brawn for a ranged combat droid, or presence-cunning for a diplomat, etc).  It would also let them start with 2 4's (4-4-1-1-1-1), which no other species can do without taking the extra obligation.  I like the solution, although I'm still confused about the design decision, since it seems to go counter to Fantasy Flight's design philosophy for making new species.

 

Fantasy Flight has made it pretty clear that for the vast majority of their species, they take human stats, subtract one from one stat, add one to one stat, subtract 10 XP to make up for that (since it costs 10XP more to get that stat from 2 to 3 than it does to get the other from 1 to 2), add or subtract a few wounds and strain, tweak the starting skills and abilities (generally two skills or one skill and the equivalent of a 5-XP talent).  A few species break from this mold, but not many, and those species tend to have fairly exceptional starting abilities, such as Trandoshian regeneration and claws.  Droids seem to be an outlier here.

 

If we try to build a non-human stat block with a droid, we'll have 45XP left over instead of 100.  So the question here is, essentially, do the droid's abilities equal 55XP.  They do get an extra skill over and above the typical two (or one plus talent or equivalent) of most species, so that's worth 5 (unless you really wanted that cross-class skill, but if you're a droid you probably don't).  Which means the force resistance and lack of a need to eat or breathe is worth 50XP.  That seems like a lot to me.

 

Note: I'm not asking why anyone would every play a droid, I'm asking whether droids are mechanically balanced with the other species, which, for the most part, seem comparable (and this in a game with, in my experience, quite exceptional balance for a game of its kind).  I'm also curious why the devs built them this way when it so clearly strays from their typical design philosophy.

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They're made to be "the specialists" or "the Pros from Dover"; pick one (or two) areas and own it.  They're the only race that could start game with a 5 in any characteristic, that goes pretty far right outta the box.

 

But I think the point is that whilst they're the only race that can have a 5 in any characteristic, that's not a meaningful comparison as for any characteristic there is a race that can start with 5 in it. And given most roles depend secondarily on multiple stats (e.g. an Agility combatant needs Vigilance/Cool for initiative, and Brawn for encumbrance), the ability to get a 5 and some talents doesn't necessarily make them a better specialist than a non-droid with a 5 and some 2s, whilst making them worse generally.

 

Generally, I agree with this.  I like playing flexible characters so droids don't appeal to me much, but even if my character concept demanded a droid I would still hold back just because I would worry about feeling too inferior mechanically compared with other players.  With droids you have to go 5-2-1-1-1-1 and have 15 leftover XP, which just doesn't stand up to the 5-2-2-2-2-1 with 10 leftover XP non-humans can start with (or the 5-2-2-2-2-2 humans can start with if they use obligation for extra XP).

 

But since I'm mostly the GM in this game, I've considered a house rule of raising droid's starting XP to 180 from 175.  That would let them start with a 5 and a 3 (something no other species can start with), assuming they take XP for extra obligation.  5-3-1-1-1-1 would give you a really solid specialist: a killer primary stat and an above average secondary stat (say, agility-brawn for a ranged combat droid, or presence-cunning for a diplomat, etc).  It would also let them start with 2 4's (4-4-1-1-1-1), which no other species can do without taking the extra obligation.  I like the solution, although I'm still confused about the design decision, since it seems to go counter to Fantasy Flight's design philosophy for making new species.

 

Fantasy Flight has made it pretty clear that for the vast majority of their species, they take human stats, subtract one from one stat, add one to one stat, subtract 10 XP to make up for that (since it costs 10XP more to get that stat from 2 to 3 than it does to get the other from 1 to 2), add or subtract a few wounds and strain, tweak the starting skills and abilities (generally two skills or one skill and the equivalent of a 5-XP talent).  A few species break from this mold, but not many, and those species tend to have fairly exceptional starting abilities, such as Trandoshian regeneration and claws.  Droids seem to be an outlier here.

 

If we try to build a non-human stat block with a droid, we'll have 45XP left over instead of 100.  So the question here is, essentially, do the droid's abilities equal 55XP.  They do get an extra skill over and above the typical two (or one plus talent or equivalent) of most species, so that's worth 5 (unless you really wanted that cross-class skill, but if you're a droid you probably don't).  Which means the force resistance and lack of a need to eat or breathe is worth 50XP.  That seems like a lot to me.

 

Note: I'm not asking why anyone would every play a droid, I'm asking whether droids are mechanically balanced with the other species, which, for the most part, seem comparable (and this in a game with, in my experience, quite exceptional balance for a game of its kind).  I'm also curious why the devs built them this way when it so clearly strays from their typical design philosophy.

 

Why would you ever min max that way? starting with a 5 in a stat never makes sense. not for humans not for droids.  your methodology for buying stats does not make sense at all...

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Why would you ever min max that way? starting with a 5 in a stat never makes sense. not for humans not for droids.  your methodology for buying stats does not make sense at all...

 

 

I wouldn't, and I don't.  Someone said that droids are good because they can start with 5 points in any attribute and I was disagreeing, pointing out that other species can do that just as well if not better.  The second part of my post points out that trying to make a droid well-rounded also leaves them significantly behind other species in terms of starting XP.

 

My +5XP house rule allows droids to min-max in a way that other species can't, which at least gives them some mechanical uniqueness to make up for their apparent mechanical inferiority.  I don't think that 'fixes' the issue (if there is one), but it's minor and I like it so I use it.

 

Don't forget that droids start with a rank in Enduring. Which is huge. Especially if you're already making a Brawn-based character, as so many are based on some of the questions in this forum.

Thanks for that clarification.  Even if that's worth 10XP, though, droids are still behind 40XP for being inorganic mechanical beings.  I'm wondering if other's think that's worth it, mechanically.  If so, why, and if not, why do you think there is such a big departure from FF's typical design philosophy.

 

As far as I can tell, the answer to the OP's question 'why would anyone play a droid' is either 1) they think they are going to be spending a lot of time in space without a ship (or in other environments extremely hostile to life) or 2) they are so into role playing a droid that they think starting 30% or more behind in terms of XP is worth it.

 

MY question is why droids are so different from other species in this regard.  I don't have to take a huge XP hit to play a Twi'lek or a Wookie (or if I don't think the Wookie's enrage ability and extra wounds are worth 10XP, at least I'm only starting off 10% behind, not 30 or 40 or even 50% behind compared with other builds.)

Edited by quicksabre

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MY question is why droids are so different from other species in this regard.  I don't have to take a huge XP hit to play a Twi'lek or a Wookie (or if I don't think the Wookie's enrage ability and extra wounds are worth 10XP, at least I'm only starting off 10% behind, not 30 or 40 or even 50% behind compared with other builds.)

IMO, I think that paragraph describes your problem in a nutshell — you’re thinking about this game like an MMO, using terms like “builds”. And you seem to think that everything has to be completely numerically even across the board, or at least very close to it.

You claim that everyone has to start off with at least a 4 or a 5 in one stat and then droids get crippled in those other stats, but most droids in the game aren’t actually statted that way.

The Rival Astromech Droid has 1’s and 2’s for stats, and a couple of skills at 3, but that’s about it.

The Nemesis Assassin Droid starts out with one stat at 4, three 3’s, and then two 1’s. But that’s a Nemesis, and we know that they’re generally supposed to be better than individual PCs — if not much better.

Contrariwise, Nemesis EV-8D3 (a Merendata EV Supervisor Droid) has two 3’s, one 2, and three 1’s. And Nemesis TJ-11 (the Saboteur Tactical Droid from “Dead in the Water”), has three 3’s, two 2’s, and one 1.

 

I’m not seeing any 5’s anywhere in that list.

When compared to the known Universe of other droids out there that so far have been given stats by FFG, I think we see very, very few that meet the criteria you have laid out. And those are very deep in their one area of specialty and useless outside of it.

But the droids themselves are still useful overall in helping to tell an interesting story, even if they are very one-dimensional.

So, in summary, to your post I would respond “Well, there’s your problem.”

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Very nice, lots of great replies - unfortunately too many to address them all in the detail they deserve. Thanks everyone!

 

 

First, who says those careers are closed off to them? There really is nothing in the rules that state "Droids cannot take this Career".

This is really interesting. I was quite sure I remembered reading somewhere that droids couldn't take a Force-Sensitive career because they could never have a Force Rating. If they actually can, that's great.

 

It seems that there is quite a consensus that the mechanical disadvantages of droids don't matter for players who are actually interested in playing droids. So, I'll rest my case.

My thanks to quicksabre, though. That's exactly the kind of thoughts that inspired my post.

Edited by jhaelen

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I don't think I've seen it mentioned yet, but droids do get extra cybernetic implants.  Two more IIRC.  That can translate into a pair of extra stat bonuses right there.

 

I've been tinkering with the idea of making one of these guys as a Bounty Hunter Assassin. :D

 

terminator-5-sarah-connor-actress.jpg

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It seems that there is quite a consensus that the mechanical disadvantages of droids don't matter for players who are actually interested in playing droids. So, I'll rest my case.

In fact, that did not seem to be the case and plenty of posters (the majority in fact) gave you plenty of replies that they did not agree that they were fine with "mechanical disadvantages" as they stated they didn't think there were "mechanical disadvantages".

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Thanks for the thought-out reply.

 

 

MY question is why droids are so different from other species in this regard.  I don't have to take a huge XP hit to play a Twi'lek or a Wookie (or if I don't think the Wookie's enrage ability and extra wounds are worth 10XP, at least I'm only starting off 10% behind, not 30 or 40 or even 50% behind compared with other builds.)


IMO, I think that paragraph describes your problem in a nutshell — you’re thinking about this game like an MMO, using terms like “builds”. And you seem to think that everything has to be completely numerically even across the board, or at least very close to it.

I actually don't play MMOs, but you're right, I may have a bias from my extensive time playing asymmetrical board games.  That said, I don't think things have to be numerically even across the board, but I do think things are generally more fun if all of the players in a game are relatively balanced.  A good GM can keep all of the players involved regardless of their strengths, but it seems having someone who is '40% weaker' at the start will either make that player feel less useful or create far more work for the GM.  If that's never a problem you've encountered I'd be curious to know why.

 

Also, to clarify, I usually GM, and my games are light on skill-rolls (Rarely more than ten per session per player. Usually closer to a half dozen rolls per player per session), so the mechanics tend to give way to role playing.  That said, it can be hard to include someone who is significantly weaker.  (I would have no problem with an entire party of droids, since they all start off in the same place).

 

 

You claim that everyone has to start off with at least a 4 or a 5 in one stat and then droids get crippled in those other stats, but most droids in the game aren’t actually statted that way.

I didn't mean to claim this, and I'm sorry if it sounded like I did.  I've never built a character with a 5 starting stat, as a PC or an NPC, and I usually don't build them with 4's, either.  The discussion of using droids as specialists was in direct response to this post from Darth GM:

 

 

They're made to be "the specialists" or "the Pros from Dover"; pick one (or two) areas and own it.  They're the only race that could start game with a 5 in any characteristic, that goes pretty far right outta the box.

My point was simply that droids are not the only species that can specialize in this way, and, in fact, other species can specialize without sacrificing all of their ability to diversify.

 

The Rival Astromech Droid has 1’s and 2’s for stats, and a couple of skills at 3, but that’s about it.

The Nemesis Assassin Droid starts out with one stat at 4, three 3’s, and then two 1’s. But that’s a Nemesis, and we know that they’re generally supposed to be better than individual PCs — if not much better.

Contrariwise, Nemesis EV-8D3 (a Merendata EV Supervisor Droid) has two 3’s, one 2, and three 1’s. And Nemesis TJ-11 (the Saboteur Tactical Droid from “Dead in the Water”), has three 3’s, two 2’s, and one 1.

 

This is a really good point.  For some reason, FFG has decided that droids get lower attribute stats (organic nemesis characters almost always have multiple 4s, and zero or one 1, and a few even have 5's or 6's).

 

When compared to the known Universe of other droids out there that so far have been given stats by FFG, I think we see very, very few that meet the criteria you have laid out. And those are very deep in their one area of specialty and useless outside of it.

But the droids themselves are still useful overall in helping to tell an interesting story, even if they are very one-dimensional.

 

I totally agree that droids are useful to tell an interesting story. But why has FFG departed from what seems to be their established design philosophy to keep starting characters relatively balanced?  Heck, even force users are relatively balanced vis-a-vis mundane classes, and most games seem to have a really hard time balancing the 'magic' with mundane.

 

So, in summary, to your post I would respond “Well, there’s your problem.”

 

 

So my problem is that I'm thinking too mechanically.  That may be true, but I think the mechanical imbalance is a departure from FFG's design philosophy for all other species.
 
So the question I'd ask is, 1) am I wrong about this being a departure?  That could be either because I'm missing some huge advantage to droids that hasn't come up (or someone can explain to me why being inorganic and mechanical is worth 30-40XP) OR because the rest of the game isn't as well balanced as I think it is.  2) if I'm NOT wrong that this is a departure, why did they do this?  The answer 'Droids are fun and tell a cool story' is great, but that argument technically applies to any species ('Bothans are cool and tell a fun story.'  'Wookies are cool and tell a fun story', etc) I can play any other species without having to make that kind of mechanical sacrifice.

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It seems that there is quite a consensus that the mechanical disadvantages of droids don't matter for players who are actually interested in playing droids. So, I'll rest my case.

In fact, that did not seem to be the case and plenty of posters (the majority in fact) gave you plenty of replies that they did not agree that they were fine with "mechanical disadvantages" as they stated they didn't think there were "mechanical disadvantages".

 

Out of curiosity, if you had the choice to buy the traits 'inorganic' and 'mechanical beings' with XP, how much XP would you pay for them?  This whole disagreement may simply be the case that some of us just don't value those qualities as highly, in which case the issue isn't so much with droids as with player perceptions of certain abilities, which is a different and essentially insignificant issue.

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So my problem is that I'm thinking too mechanically.  That may be true, but I think the mechanical imbalance is a departure from FFG's design philosophy for all other species.

 
So the question I'd ask is, 1) am I wrong about this being a departure?  That could be either because I'm missing some huge advantage to droids that hasn't come up (or someone can explain to me why being inorganic and mechanical is worth 30-40XP) OR because the rest of the game isn't as well balanced as I think it is.  2) if I'm NOT wrong that this is a departure, why did they do this?  The answer 'Droids are fun and tell a cool story' is great, but that argument technically applies to any species ('Bothans are cool and tell a fun story.'  'Wookies are cool and tell a fun story', etc) I can play any other species without having to make that kind of mechanical sacrifice.

 

I think the problem is... you're not thinking mechanically enough. *ba-dum-dsh*

 

Terrible puns aside, at first I thought it was a comparatively minor min-maxing stat difference that you were talking about, but when you break it down, I definitely see your point. As others have pointed out, droids do get some advantages in terms of cybernetics and enclosed weaponry, which I think offsets some of the disadvantage, but you're right - it doesn't seem to cover the entire gap, especially at first.

Flavor shouldn't have to make up for that much of a disadvantage. However, even when we had a bunch of starting players, which is where you'd think the difference would be the most stark, it still felt pretty even. 

I'll have to take a look at it tonight.

Edited by Archebius

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It seems that there is quite a consensus that the mechanical disadvantages of droids don't matter for players who are actually interested in playing droids. So, I'll rest my case.

In fact, that did not seem to be the case and plenty of posters (the majority in fact) gave you plenty of replies that they did not agree that they were fine with "mechanical disadvantages" as they stated they didn't think there were "mechanical disadvantages".

Out of curiosity, if you had the choice to buy the traits 'inorganic' and 'mechanical beings' with XP, how much XP would you pay for them?  This whole disagreement may simply be the case that some of us just don't value those qualities as highly, in which case the issue isn't so much with droids as with player perceptions of certain abilities, which is a different and essentially insignificant issue.

How could you want to play a droid and not be willing to buy those traits?

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