Baldur's Gate Settlement in Faerûn | World Anvil

Baldur's Gate

Baldur's Gate (also known as The Gate and Gray Harbor) is the second-largest city-state on the Sword Coast. It is a densely populated trading city, and highly influential in the region. Although the city has a long history of neutrality, it is a member of the Lords' Alliance.   The city possesses two peacekeeping formations: the Watch, who are a civil constabulary; and the Flaming Fist, who are a permanently employed mercenary company who act as both a guard force and military. Despite the high crime rate and poor living conditions in the city, its population is usually more hospitable to visitors than many other settlements.

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The largest race present in Baldur's Gate is humans, who dominate the city demographically. Of course, like most cities in the Sword Coast, there exists a wide variety of other races present. Aside from humans, the most populous races are elves (including some drow) and dwarves. Generally speaking, older neighbourhoods like those in the Upper and Lower City are diverse and racially integrated, while newer neighbourhoods in the Outer City experienced some division along racial lines.

The Lower and Outer City are home to many working- and lower-class people, often working in or around the docks transporting goods to and from ships. However, the core of the Baldurian economy is the tradespeople who work in these areas in such professions as tanners, smiths, and tailors. The Upper City is home to the wealthy and elite of Baldur's Gate, and is one of the most extravagant places in the Sword Coast. However, the most elite group of families was strictly limited to a small number of human families, as well as a single specific dwarven family.

Adventurers often find a home in Baldur's Gate, drawn by tales of fortune and glory. They can be found in any of the three sections of the city at various taverns, inns, blacksmiths, and libraries.


The Council of Four is the ruling body of Baldur's Gate. It is comprised of four Dukes, who are elected for life (or until retirement) by the Parliament of Peers. One of these Dukes, also selected by the Parliament, is the Grand Duke, with the power to break any tie within the Council of Four. The Council of Four dates back to the years after the disappearance of Balduran, when four sea captains were installed as leaders following a tax revolt. The Dukes were originally elected by the population of the city, but following Grand Duke Valarken's attempted coup in the mid-15th century DR, the Parliament of Peers now selects any prospective Duke.

The Parliament of Peers was created after the attempted coup by Valarken, and acts as the city's legislative body. The body advises the Council of Four based on decisions or recommendations voted on by the Parliament, but ultimately the decisionmaking process is in the hands of the Dukes. Seats in the Parliament are typically hereditary, with Approximately three-quarters of the Peers coming from patriar families in the Upper City, and the rest from the Lower City. There are no methods to remove a Peer from the Parliament, and it can create new seats through unanimous consent. There are approximately fifty members of the Parliament of Peers, who meet in the High Hall (usually with twenty to thirty present) to discuss matters.

The Council of Four appoint five Officers of the City to act as deputies and bureaucrats that oversee city services. The Harbormaster operates the Gray Harbor, assigning tariffs and maintaining records on all ships and shipments that pass through the city. The High Constable and Master of Walls oversees the Watch Citadel as its Castellan. The Master of Drains and Underways is concerned with the operations of the city's drains, pumps, sewers, waterways, and aqueducts. The Master of Cobbles is responsible for all road and bridge construction and maintenance in the city. Finally, the Purse Master collects taxes, invests funds, conducts payroll, and oversees the Bailiff of the Wide.

Historically, the Watch has been the primary policing and law enforcement force of Baldur's Gate. Following the assassination of Duke Abdel Adrian in 1482 DR, they were mostly replaced in that role by the Flaming Fist Mercenary Company. Previously, the Flaming Fist had served an equal capacity with the Watch, but now their duties are separated. The Watch is now concentrated in the Upper City, and is generally well funded and equipped. The Flaming Fist handles law enforcement duties in the rest of the city on a permanent contract, and acts as the city's military in times of crisis. The Flaming Fist is commanded by the Marshal of the Flaming Fist, who is typically also the Grand Duke of the city - and if not that, at least a Duke.

Crime and corruption is a major element of politics and life in Baldur's Gate. The largest criminal organisation within the city is "the Guild", a simply named thieves guild that has most of the city's government in its pocket. Virtually all of the Parliament of Peers take bribes, and the Council of Four is no stranger to corruption either. Lower-ranking officials, such as guards, are also known to be corrupt - the Flaming Fist moreso than the Watch.

Industry & Trade

The heart of the Baldurian economy is the Gray Harbor. It handles volumes of ships exceeding even those of Calimshan, being a preferred port for ships plying the Sea of Swords and River Chionthar. The business of trade has also created a cosmopolitan attitude in the city, accepting anyone who had the coin to do business. Aside from being a port of call for many vessels, Baldur's Gate's other industries include finance, fishing, shipbuilding, and textiles.

Baldur's Gate does not mint its own currency, and accepts the typical coins found across the Sword Coast - copper, silver, electrum, gold, and platinum coins. Instead, the city mints trade bars for use in bulk purchases. Due to the amount of trade bars that the city ouputs, it is capable of setting the value of trade bars across the region.

Although the city's current government was instituted due to a tax revolt, the original four Dukes quickly re-implemented a number of taxes. Baldurians are very cognizant of this fact, with a common saying being "the insult to history is history". All who enter the city must pay a 2 copper piece tax per person if they are on foot or horse, or 1 silver piece if they are hauling carts or wagons. Ships do not pay a landing tax, but instead pay a 1 gold piece fee for every day they are loading or unloading cargo. Upon leaving the city, anyone with a handcart or litter must pay a 1 silver piece exit tax, otherwise anyone else pays 1 copper piece. Anyone who can't pay the exit tax is turned back from the gate, or their goods partially seized as payment. Those passing through the fortress of Wyrm's Rock to cross the river are required to pay a 5 copper piece toll.

In order to sell goods in the Wide, merchants are required to pay a fee equal to half the cost that it would be to take the goods outside the city. The payment of this fee grants them a stall space in the Wide, so merchants typically attempt to sell all their goods each day to avoid paying city exit fees.

There are additional taxes that must be paid by residents of the city and merchants selling goods, such as a biannual property tax and a tax for selling goods within any fortification controlled by the city, but these are not standardised. Upper City residents are usually able to negotiate favourable tax deals with the city, and many merchants resort to smuggling goods to avoid what they perceive as onerous or punitive taxation.


Upper City

The Upper City is the domain of the wealthy and elite of Baldur's Gate. The patriar families have their estates in the Upper City, which is well-patrolled by the elite Watch. The streets of this part of the city are kept clean, magically illuminated, and decorated with sculptures and flowers. The Upper City is subject to a curfew after dark, and anyone travelling in it requires a Watch-issued token or a patriar's vouchsafe.

The Citadel Streets are the northernmost part of the Upper City, dominated by the eponymous Watch Citadel. It is a large, heavily guarded fortress that the Watch is based in. Members of the Watch can be found in this neighbourhood coming and going from patrols, training, and maintenance. This neighbourhood also includes the High Hall, a large building that the Parliament of Peers and the Council of Four meet in.

The Temples neighbourhood is the location of, as the name suggests, many of the temples of Baldur's Gate. The most prominent of these temples is the High House of Wonders, the largest Gondian temple on the Sword Coast. It is home to countless inventions, great and small, useful and useless. Priests and clerics can often be seen in this neighbourhood proselytising their faith to the people, but the lower class are rarely seen among their congregations.

The Manorborn neighbourhood is where most of the impressive residences of the city's patriar families are located. Many of the people that live here can trace their lineage back to those who gained their wealth from Balduran himself, over four centuries ago. As a sign of their wealth, the estates of the patriar families are nearly palatial in design, even if the interiors sometimes leave much to be desired.

The Wide is the main market and civic space of the city. Every morning, the Wide is filled with all kinds of merchants selling whatever wares they can to the thousands of people that visit the neighbourhoods each day. In order to maintain a respectful decorum befitting the Upper City, street music and other noisy activities are strictly prohibited in the Wide, except during holidays and festivals. Any merchant that is not operating in a licensed and taxed establishment is only permitted to operate in the Wide.

Lower City

The Lower City of Baldur's Gate is densely packed into whatever space it can find. Narrow cobblestone roads span the short distance between stacked tenements, many of which look like they could tumble at any moment. Although busy and lively during the day, at night the neighbourhood turns eerily quiet. Crime is rampant in the Lower City, from thievery to murder. Although the Flaming Fist regularly patrols this neighbourhood, there is little they can do to stop opportunistic crime away from a communally-maintained streetlight. Those travelling at night are urged to be well armed and hire a lamp lad or lass.

The Bloomridge neighbourhood is the wealthiest of the Lower City. Wealthy merchants, landlords, and ship captains live here, attempting to live as similarly to the patriar families of the Upper City as they can. While the wealthy live in small manors - sometimes built after multiple smaller buildings were demolished - the less wealthy instead live in expensive upper floor apartments with colourful rooftop terraces or balconies.

In contrast, Brampton is the poorest of the Lower City neighbourhoods. Few of its denizens ever enter the Upper City, even as servants, and instead rely upon a less legal economy to get by. Smuggling is particularly popular in Brampton, as untaxed goods are easily brought in from Rivington.

The Eastway neighbourhood, home to the Basilisk gate, is where most overland travel to the city enters. Huge numbers of travelers and merchants enter through the gate each day, and the economy of the neighbourhood caters to them. It is also where many Outer City residents come to buy more reasonably priced supplies than the Wide in the Upper City. Due to the large number of foreigners, the district is also a prime target for those who would take advantage of them, like thieves, pickpockets, and more violent criminals.

Heapside is the most residential of the Lower City districts, and is home to many of the city's professionals and craftsmen. Without wealthy residences and few shops, Heapside has a reputation for being reasonably safe - for the Lower City, that is.

The Seatower of Balduran dominates the eponymous Seatower neighbourhood. The headquarters of the Flaming Fist is located on an island in Gray Harbor, connected to the city by a single, heavily-guarded bridge. Many of the members of the Flaming Fist and their families live in Seatower, and the real estate near the Seatower bridge tends to be hotly contested by the various businesses that want the money of off-duty Fist mercenaries. The neighbourhood's economy can be directly tracked to Flaming Fist paydays, swelling on each one and slowly contracting in the following days.

The Steeps is the neighbourhood that sees most of the traffic from the Upper City, due to its position around Baldur's Gate (the gate the city is named for). The neighbourhood has plenty of storefronts that cater to both the Lower and Upper City. Due to the regular venturing of patriars into the Steeps, it is more heavily patrolled by the Flaming Fist.

Outer City

The Outer City is the newest part of Baldur's Gate, located entirely outside the walls of the city - thus its name. City authorities only venture into the Outer City to collect taxes, and otherwise generally leave it be, for better and mostly for worse. The residents of the Outer City are instead forced to rely on each other or the Guild (if they can afford it) for protection. Many of the noisy and foul-smelling businesses that are prohibited from operating inside the city, such as butchers, smiths, and animal breeders, ply their trade in the Outer City instead. Animal stabling is popular in all parts of the Outer City, as any animal larger than a peacock is prohibited from passing through the city gates.

Blackgate is the only Outer City neighbourhood beyond the northwestern Black Dragon Gate, and services travellers coming and going along the Trade Way to Waterdeep. It is home to huge stables, as well as dwarven blacksmiths that draw even those from the Upper City with their skill. Due to its small size and isolation, Blackgate has a relatively lower crime rate than the rest of the Outer City.

Little Calimshan is a walled community some distance from the walls of Baldur's Gate. As the name suggests, it is home to a large number of ethnic Calishite humans, refugees or the descents of such from their homeland. While wealthier than the rest of the Outer City, they fiercely resist outside intrusion into what they see as their home, recalling the times when they were forcibly evicted from the Lower City by authorities.

Norchapel is perhaps the wealthiest neighbourhood of the Outer City, as well as the safest. Those that live here are able to pay regular protection money to the Guild, who provide a level of safety and security equal to some parts of the Lower City.

The neighbourhood of Rivington is the furthest from the city, and the only one on the south bank of the River Chionthar. It is home to anglers and mills, and is the first place anyone arriving via the Coast Way from the Friendly Arm Inn will see. Rivington is also a hub for smuggling untaxed goods into the city, owing to its distance and easy unguarded access to the river.

Sow's Foot is the most diverse neighbourhood of the Outer City, with races ranging from lizardfolk to deep gnomes living there. The largest building in the neighbourhood is Hamhock's Slaughterhouse, which is also the largest slaughterhouse in Baldur's Gate.

Stonyeyes is located just beyond the Basilisk Gate, and is full of stables and stockyards. A large number of the residents of Stonyeyes work within the city walls, and most of the rest work at the stables that dot the neighbourhood.

Tumbledown is located a short distance from Cliffgate, atop the cliffs that overlook the River Chionthar. Perpetually foggy, it hosts the Cliffside Cemetary - the largest cemetary outside the city walls.

The neighbourhood of Twin Songs is notable for the enormous diversity of religious shrines and places of worship. Any deity can be found in worship here, even ones that are traditionally banned, such as the Dead Three. However, clerics with divine magic are few and far between in Twin Songs, as those with the means usually try to live in the Temples in the Upper City.

Whitkeep is named for the Whitkeep Hostel, a white manor house at its middle. The manor houses the largest enclave of gnomes in Baldur's Gate, who are generally free-spirited, artistic, and radical in their ideas. The neighbourhood is also home to a large number of tanneries, that give it an omnipresent odour.

Wyrm's Crossing is the only bridge that spans the River Chionthar close to Baldur's Gate, and is so large that a residential and commercial neighbourhood has sprung up on it. Wyrm's Crossing has a reputation as a home for the city's riffraff, with plenty of seedy taverns and gambling halls. Even moreso than the rest of the Outer City, travellers are routinely robbed or attacked on the bridge. The middle of the bridge is dominated by the fortress of Wyrm's Rock, which is manned by the Flaming Fist. Twin drawbridges guard both sides of it, which are raised at night. The Fist doesn't patrol past them particularly well, but heavily guards the fortress itself

Guilds and Factions

Professional guilds are common in Baldur's Gate, with nearly ninety present as of 1494 DR. They represent the various professions in the city, such as loremasters, metalworkers, financiers, seafarers, and many more. Each guild follows a charter that sets out its rights and responsibilities, but guilds protect their members in other, more informal ways. Crossing a guild member tends to lead to ostracisation by the rest of that guild. While the guilds that operate inside the city walls are regulated by the city government, illegal guilds are common in the Outer City.

Due to the violence and crime that so often plagues Baldur's Gate, many citizens have banded together in 'crews' for mutual protection or interest. Crews act like gangs in other cities, with members taking sides in tavern brawls and guarding each others' stores while the owner is away. Crews also participate in the practice of burl, where members are obliged to take in and hide other members fleeing the Flaming Fist or other dangers. Crews are associated with guilds or neighbourhoods as a whole. One particularly notable crew for travellers is the Gateguides, consisting primarily of teenage lantern bearers to guide foreigners through the city with their lanterns. They are on friendly terms with the other crews, who give them protection.

One cannot speak of Baldur's Gate without also speaking of the Guild. The Guild created a monopoly over the criminal organisations of the city in the 15th century DR, and now controls virtually all crime (directly or indirectly) within the city. Many members of the Flaming Fist, the Watch, the Parliament of Peers, and even the Dukes themselves are in the pocket of the Guild, and little gets done without its guildmaster, "Nine-Fingers", approval. The Guild is centered in the Lower City, where the Flaming Fist struggles to patrol, but it also operates in the Outer and Upper Cities. Each neighbourhood of the city is run by a kingpin, who oversees Guild activity under their purview.



At some point prior to 0 DR, the plateau that became Baldur's Gate was ruled by a hill giant named Lok. Following his death, a small fishing village called Loklee sprung up to take advantage of the location's natural harbour. Although it is not confirmed, it is widely believed in legend that the mortal Bhaal performed his first murder in a back alley of Loklee, some time prior to his ascension to godhood in -359 DR. As Loklee grew, it became popular among criminals as a safe and hidden meeting place for each other. One particular brand of criminal was the "ghost lighter", who lured ships in fog to beach themselves, then loot the helpless vessels. The harbour itself became known as Gray Harbor, and in time even became popular among legitimate sailors.


In 227 DR, an adventurer named Orluth Tshahvur constructed a keep a short distance north of Loklee in order to protect nearby human settlements from monsters. This defensive agreement quickly expanded, and when Orluth died in 242 DR, his son, Arlsar, proclaimed his rule over the newly-established kingdom of Shavinar. King Arlsar was a poor ruler, abandoning most of the hillforts in the region and refusing to hire or train new warriors in order to save money for himself. He was murdered in 256 DR by merchants, which was followed by a period of squabbling petty kings that barely ruled for months at a time. This was brought to an end by a local wizard, who killed every one of the merchant power brokers and all but one of Arlsar's heirs. This left Shavinar to King Kondarar, who spent the rest of his life battling monsters. However, the kingdom was destroyed in 277 DR when it was overrun by trolls. Despite this, the village of Loklee and Gray Harbor continued to prosper.

Balduran and the Tax Revolt

Some time around the mid 1000s DR, the explorer Balduran set out from his home village of Gray Harbor on expeditions far to the west, across the Trackless Sea. On one of these expeditions, Balduran and his crew discovered the continent of Anchorome, far beyond even the isle of Evermeet. Upon his return to Gray Harbor, his ships were laden with wealth of all kinds. Balduran gave this new wealth freely to family, friends, and the inhabitants of Gray Harbor, but spent a substantial portion of it to construct a large stone wall to keep monsters away from the village. However, sometime after Balduran commenced construction of the wall, he set out on a second expedition to Anchorome, but disappeared.

The wall was eventually finished by local farmers, who instead used it to protect their homesteads in Loklee rather than Gray Harbor. The changing of the wall's design caused outrage amongst the sailors, captains, and associates of Balduran in Gray Harbor, who viewed it as a betrayal of his legacy. Loklee became known as Old Town (the modern Upper City), and became wealthy by taxing carts exiting Gray Harbor. Eventually, the anger of the sailors and seamen boiled over, and they stormed the Old Town. Before they were able to breach the High Hall and deal with the Old Town landowners as they saw fit, the four most senior captains instead persuaded the mob to allow the landowners to surrender. A truce was negotiated, the terms of which involved installing the four sea captains as the "Dukes" of the city, a name initially decided in jest. The head of the four Dukes was named the Grand Duke. During the tax dispute, the residents of Gray Harbor often argued that the landowners of the Old Town had no right to regulate travel through their gate, as it was "Baldur's Gate". The phrase became so common, that the two regions together began to be referred to as that.

Baldur's Gate

The founding of the nation of Amn to Baldur's Gate's south provided the city with immense opportunities for trade, given its strategic position as a safe harbour. With an influx of wealth, the city's walls were expanded to encompass Gray Harbor, now referred to as the Lower City. When the Black Horde ravaged the Sword Coast in 1235 DR, Baldur's gate sent a company of its militia, the Company of the Crescent Blade, to attack the horde before it could threaten the city. The company's commander, Eldrith, was incredibly skilled, and was able to rout the orcs in a single battle. However, when the Dukes would not let her pursue and destroy the orcs, she disobeyed, attackign again. This time, however, her tired force was overwhelmed and she barely managed to escape with only a few survivors. Upon her return to the city, she was barred entry by the Dukes. Infuriated, she attempted to lay siege to the city, but her company was slain almost entirely. She retreated once again, and eventually was executed in a volley of crossbow bolts.

In 1325 DR, Baldur's Gate was one of the founding members of the Lords' Alliance. They were one of the main drivers behind it, using it to improve their position against their economic and military rivals in Amn. Over the years, the city would commit troops to several actions conducted by the Lords' Alliance, such as the campaigns against Luskan in 1358 and 1361 DR.

The year 1330 DR saw the founding of the Flaming Fist Mercenary Company by Grand Duke Eltan of Baldur's Gate. They gained fame during the Tethyrian Interregnum and the Horde Wars, during the 1340s to 1360s DR. The Flaming Fist also established outposts on the Chultan peninsula for exploration and trade purposes. When the Amnian Golden Legion discovered Maztica in 1361 DR, Grand Duke Eltan immediately dispatched a Flaming Fist expedition to the continent. Although the expedition was severely depleted by storms and attacks, it was able to establish Fort Flame and receive reinforcements from Baldur's Gate in 1366 DR.

The Iron Crisis

In 1368 DR, Baldur's Gate was engulfed in a conspiracy by the Bhaalspawn Sarevok Anchev to spark a war between the city and Amn, in order to place him as a Duke. However, his machinations were defeated by Abdel Adrian, another Bhaalspawn. Later that same year, the Shining Crusade caused a refugee crisis in the city, which hired the Flaming Fist to join a coalition of forces from Waterdeep and Daggerford. The Coalition armies fought the Shining Crusade along the Trade Way, culminating in their victory at the Siege of Dragonspear. Three years later in 1372 DR, an orc horde was defeated by the Flaming Fist as they assaulted the city. In 1374 DR, Eldrith returned as an undead spirit and formed an alliance to take revenge on the city. However, she was defeated by a trio of adventurers. Her disciple would later be defeated in 1376 DR by a different group of adventurers.

Murder in Baldur's Gate

Although the Spellplague caused major devastation across Toril, Baldur's Gate was unaffected. It proclaimed itself an "open city", taking in any refugees that could make their way there. The population of the city tripled towards the end of the 14th century DR, and many of the newcomers built houses outside the walls of the city. This ramshackle district became known as the Outer City. The mid-15th century DR saw an attempted coup by Grand Duke Valarken kill two other Dukes, but fail to kill Duke Dillard Portyr before his group was stopped by the Flaming Fist and the Watch, fleeing the city. With only one Duke surviving, the city underwent a political reform. An advisory body of trusted citizens, the Parliament of Peers, would elect all future Dukes, and advise them on the city's matters. Abdel Adrian, perhaps the greatest hero of Baldur's Gate, was elected as a replacement Duke and Marshal of the Flaming Fist.

By the time of the Second Sundering, Baldur's Gate was perhaps the most influential and wealthy city on the Sword Coast, and some argue Faerûn as a whole. It maintained friendly relations with Elturgard and the Lords' Alliance, and its traditional rival of Amn was experiencing disunity among its ruling councillors. In 1482 DR, Duke Abdel Adrian was giving a speech during Returning Day when he was attacked by a man named Viekang. Vieking, a fellow Bhaalspawn, was able to assassinate the Duke, and became an avatar of the long-dead Bhaal. Although Viekang caused many deaths and severe damage to the Wide, he was eventually killed by the Watch and a band of nearby adventurers.

With the assassination of a Duke and the city's second greatest hero (after Balduran himself), the government used the Guild, the main thieves' guild in the city, as a scapegoat. The Flaming Fist was also elevated to the main defence force of the city, and the Watch concentrated in the Upper City to defend its wealthiest residents. The Guild struck back at the government, causing an escalating series of incidents, including robberies, kidnapping, and riots. After an explosion in Bloomridge, the Grand Dukes ordered martial law throughout the city. However, the adventurers that had helped slay Viekang discovered that the chaos in the city had been orchestrated by Duke Torlin Silvershield, as part of a plot to blow up the Parliament of Peers with a massive amount of smokepowder. Duke Silvershield saw the Parliament as corrupt and under the sway of the Guild, and unable to cleasne the corruption through legal channels, instead turned to mass murder. He would blow up the Parlament and blame it on an escalation by the Guild, and the new Parliament would steadfastly work against the corruption. However, the adventurers were able to stop Duke Silvershield, even as he became the first Chosen of the newly-resurrected Bhaal.

Current Events

Baldur's Gate saw more refugees from the city of Elturel in 1494 DR, as the capital of Elturgard was drawn into Avernus. A cult of the Dead Three was hired by Duke Thalamra Vanthampur, a secret devil worshipper, to cause chaos as she attempted to find the Shield of the Hidden Lord. With it, she believed, she would be able to draw Baldur's Gate into Avernus as Elturel had. However, she was killed by a group of adventurers investigating the cult.


  • Baldur's Gate
Alternative Name(s)
The Gate, Gray Harbor
Large city
Inhabitant Demonym
Location under
Owning Organization
Characters in Location
Major Industries
Banking, fishing, shipbuilding, and textiles
Exotic goods, grain, livestock, ore, stone, and timber
Dyes, finished goods, fish, lamp oil, nautical supplies, textiles, trade-coinage
Faction Benefits in Baldur's Gate
Emerald Enclave
  • Meeting place (Insight Park)
  • Animal care
  • Spy network
  • Safe houses
  • Fences
  • Cheaper consumables
  • Spy network
Lords' Alliance
  • Headquarters (High Hall)
  • Housing (High Hall and Watch Citadel)
  • Armory
  • Official assistance
  • Fast travel
  • Legal immunity
  • Land grants
Order of the Gauntlet
  • Meeting place (any temple)
  • Divine aid
  • Religious relics
  • Fast travel
  • Mercenaries
  • Loans


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