Bri's Battle Blog

a favorite

 Perhaps one of the earliest books related to "War Gaming", or at least recreating historical battles with model figures.  It's available for free on Google books as a pdf or epub file.  it's really a  delight, with wonderful illustrations of the sort of German import "bleisoldaten" painted pewter figures common in American toy stores from before the Civil War until the First World War.  Notice they are usually colored and designed for European armies, which is part of the imaginary fun!





tHE BIG mAP

 Here is the great big map of Ornria.  

The campaigns of the Fabulouth Armee of the  Second Polyester Freestate, and it's nemesis the Blackguard Hordes of Oppressorbad, all take place on this lovely diskworld full of dinosaurs, interwar tanks, pre-dreadnaughts, and biplanes, Chocolotl, paper, lead, and plaster are the great trade items that make the world go round...and cans of coffeecola...



makin' molds for makin' armies.

 So, I have a lot of models backed up that I intend to make lead castings of to fill out my various wargame armies.  So have been spending time with silicone and cornstarch working up the casting molds.  Tanks, infantry, comic book flats, a fuel truck and officer staff car...  a gulash cannon, heavy guns, and armored cars to fight the wars of Ornria...  so. many. molds.









alternate or House rules for Battletech (3025 campaign).

 

Battletech rule variant: HAND HELD WEAPONS.


During the Star League period battlemechs were much more sophisticated, but the Succession Wars has seen a collapse of industry and technology. This is a given, of course, and can be seen in many areas of daily life as well as on the battlefield. One specific instance in the devolution of weapons technology is in the field of hand-held weapons. In the early years of mech design, one of the key features leading to the adoption and acceptance of the battlemech as a weapons platform was it's adaptability, and weapons were no exception. Early mech weapons were styled after the infantry fire arms of the period, being self contained, but with power and data couples built into the handles, individual weapons were easily used by a variety of mechs, and an individual mech could easily tailor itself to mission needs simply by picking out the appropriate laser, autocannon, or missile launcher exactly as it's infantryman counterpart did.

The Periphery wars however, showed up two key deficiencies of the concept, though they were little regarded at the time. The first was mechanical, hand held weapons were hardened with armor and built of durable materials, but final piece weight limited the amount of protective measures that could be packed into them leading to easy damage or jamming in true combat field conditions. Not critical during Star League days as repair and replacement was cheap and easy, in the centuries since the widespread destruction of production facilities and critical component manufactures has made “throw away” weapons impractically expensive. (Missile technology and munitions quality in the intervening centuries reflects this trend also...guidance that once made missile attacks deadly has been lost, and “missiles” today are more accurately compared to primitive ordnance rockets. This led manufacturers to “build in” weapons onto the frame of the 'mech itself where greater use could be made of armor and redundancy measures making for tougher, more durable battle weapons at the cost of flexibility.

This ties in with the second drawback of hand held weapons, what was once practical; the ability to let go of a mech's primary fighting guns. Even light damage or physical attacks on the arm or hand of a 'mech could lead to accidentally ejecting (dropping) the heavy hand carried weapon, making it available to be turned on it's owner just by picking it up. Dropping also became the cause of many weapon failures (jams). Worse still, Mechwarriors in a tight spot might choose to loose the weapon intentionally to increase speed, especially true when forces were experiencing reverses and 'Mech Units chose to flee the field. By the Second Succession War the great house militaries had passed orders requiring 'mechs to fix their weapons permanently, and the surviving manufacturers refitted and retooled production mechs to eliminate or permanently fasten hand held weaponry. Hand held weapons do still exist however, in limited numbers. Many come from ancient Star League caches, and a tiny number of copies come from minor factories throughout the inner sphere.


Rules;

The table below lists weapons that are available in Hand-Carried Format, as well as their important statistics.

To carry and use a hand-held weapon a mech must have a hand and all hand and arm actuators present. Damage to actuators heavily impacts weapon use; hand actuator damage give a -4 to hit and taking a hit on one requires a piloting skill roll at -2 to maintain hold of the weapon. Arm actuator damage gives a -3 to hit and taking a arm actuator hit requires a pilot skill roll at -1 to maintain hold of the weapon. Shoulder actuator damage adds a -2 to hit, and taking Shoulder Actuator damage requires a pilot skill roll to maintain hold of the weapon.

All penalties for actuator damage are cumulative, so a mech whose hand and upper arm actuator are hit would have a -7 to hit, making most shots impossible.

Carrying a hand held weapon penalizes running speed and jumping by one.

Jumping while carrying a hand held weapon requires a pilot skill roll to avoid dropping it on landing. Failure means the weapon is dropped in the landing hex.

Hand Held weapons have a reliability rating. When a hand-held is dropped this number or lower must be rolled for the weapon to remain functional. Failure means the weapon was damaged/jammed and is subject to the same repair rules as normal weapons of it's type.

Most Hand held weapons have a limited number of shots, the table shows how many shots are carried in the weapons magazine. When these are exhausted the magazine must be replaced before the weapon can be fired again. Magazines (also called “clips”) can be loaded by techs in the same way as they reload normal Battletech weaponry. Clips can be carried externally on a battlemech hanging from exterior hard points. Clips may be changed by a mech only if it has two fully functioning hands.

The location of a clip must be noted, and a clip is potentially hit when that location takes a hit. When a clip location is hit roll a pilot skill roll, failure indicates the clip has exploded and the clip's worth of damage is applied to the location in question. Energy weapons do not have magazines and rely on power feeds built into the 'mechs hand, these feeds fail if the weapon fails it's saving throw, and the weapon can only be repaired as per a weapon critical hit, further having an energy weapon knocked out of the hand will lead to a “blowback”, automatically giving one critical hit to that arm and doing 2 points of internal structure damage.

 


* Treat as a bi-pod weapon, Mech must be prone to fire.

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Coining stuff for the Baconbach Campaign


The Coins of Aerovian Continent.

 



One of my biggest irritations with the D&D system is it’s hideous “gold point” system, that reflects nothing of actual monetary practice in Europe from 400-1600. This makes developing any kind of background economy very difficult, and disrupts and undermines what should be the main story telling features of quasi-medieval fantasy economies. In a game where treasure accumulation is an important measure of character success, having a rational background to the money system is important; after all what separates a serf, from a kulak, from a merchant, from a lord is the same thing that divides 1stlevel characters from 9th level characters; money.

More importantly, it defines the resources that money can command. In the actual middle ages there were a number long term trends; inflation, depreciation, and so on that can be overlooked, but only if you see the long term consistency; Land is wealth, the cost of armor and weapons makes those who have them rare and powerful, trade is dangerous because it requires large investments with huge amounts of risk.

The currencies of the middle ages descend from late Roman times, and they were already economic chaos, various reforms following reform as the Empire bled itself of metal to pay for the armies, bribe barbarians, build churches and fill them with treasures, bribe barbarians, build  monasteries and fill them with treasure, bribe barbarians, build city walls, bribe barbarians, and build ships to try and hold the economic and military Roman world together, all while dealing with a manpower drain to monasteries, disease, and war. Over the few final Roman centuries a whole smorgasbord of coins were minted and melted, and reminted, some by towns, some by emperors, some by desperate generals, and what began as a simple system of As and Denier bushed out into a bewildering fecund forest of metal.

D&D reduces this amazing variety to a decimal system and introduces coins in metals that were almost never seen. Platinum was unknown to the middle ages in Europe (when conquistadors first encountered it in South America they tossed it back into the rivers they were panning, hoping it would mature into silver). Copper was never coined, though some bronze coins were molded in the late Roman Empire, and in dark age England. By the year 1000, the usual start date for middle ages, they were effectively gone from European commerce. (except when they weren’t, China and Asia pumped some in from time to time).

Medieval Europe relied on three major kinds of coins descended from Roman models; a large denomination coin, the Shilling , the everyday silver coin that most people would be familiar with called the Penny, and an occasional Gold large denomination coin called an Ecu or Noble. A Few types of Shilling were minted in limited areas of Spain from Electrum..but that was a rarity. Later in the middle ages the richest cities would counter inflation with an even larger coin; The famous Florins and Ducats and Byzants based on imported coin type from the rich east, these coins were needed by spice and cloth merchants to pay for ship loads of goods, and by kings to hire the very large “state” armies of the many 15th century wars. .

All these coins were essentially bullion guaranteed by the issuing authority; often a king, sometimes a town, or a bishop, or a baron even...but effectively interchangeable pence to penny, shilling to sou. Florin to Mark.

That’s pretty much the scene; three kinds of coins ultimately amounting to no more than bouillon guaranteed with the King’s mark. Which was why kings liked them...they could cheat and debase the coin a tad, and it, like the dollar, would still spend as it’s face value since it be reckoned as if it were bouillon. To counter the kings and barons, bankers and merchants would use a touchstone; a bit of slate upon which a coin was rubbed, the lines being compared to the color of known quantities, detecting (hopefully) the cheats.

Real medieval coinage is based on the value of a pound of silver. One pound of Silver divided evenly into 20 portions (or sometimes 22 or 24, this isn’t an exact science here)- the Shilling/Sou/or Roman Soldus… itself divided into 12 silver pennies. The penny was the main coin of European transaction.

There were many other coins, but all based on multiples of one of these two; larger values minted in gold like the Noble (6 shillings), or smaller ones (usually in silver as well) like the haypenny. Notice the 12 and 20 relationship? That's because dividing coins this way is easier. A circle can be bisected easily by eye three times to produce 6 surprisingly precise equal parts, 5 is a much harder division to get right...and people get fussy when you give them “short change”.

D&D coinage is based on a decimal accounting, it’s easier book keeping, but it isn’t right. And it’s bugged me for years. I keeps the system locked into the computer like tyranny of sameness, reducing a perplexing, ambiguous, and colorful riot of names and values into mere “gold points” so bland and uninteresting and patterned that one may as well be playing a video game, and an old one at that.  

    my desire is to make regions distinct with their own coins so that a breath of wonder and suggestion of depth comes into the game.  Also age; hoards of coins that are very old being distinguished from what is current, and that from what was brought from far away...

So, what to do? I’ve tried developing conversion tables, to turn the D&D gold points into reasonable facsimiles of Deniers and Ecus and Solidos and whatnot. That totally failed. It would require rewriting every rule book and treasure table to be functional on the fly. I don’t have the oomph for that. So my new compromise is this; a simple name change table, allowing the complexity of unique coins from different regions without having to engage in crazy conversion tables.  Later I'll compose a similar one for the ancient past, and for places farther away...

Excited, Thrilled, Golly-Gee-Whizzed, and Titterpated too!

 Been a while since I made a good Battletech post.  I just finished Mr. Pardoe's recent novella "Divided We Fall".  It's a great BT yarn, exciting, fast moving, engaging, and a real page turner.  Also it has a special charm for me, as, in it,  I am one of the  fans Mr. Pardoe honors with an official alter ego in the Battletech Universe.

      I've loved the game since it was first shown to me in 1987...  Ah, High School, a terrible time in many respects, but my first friends were made over games of Battletech, and the universe has had my, sometimes near obsessive, attention ever since.  Lord knows how much mayhem my imaginary other world self has caused, though I take pride in knowing I've always done all I could to minimize casualties, avoid the Civvies, and uphold the Aries Conventions...  

  


 

     I couldn't be more jazzed that a  Character with my name is now a Cannonical part of the Universe; Brianne Elizabeth Lyons (Battletech Me) is a Colonel in Wolf's Dragoons!  the best of the best!  assigned to Logistics, which is exciting to me because I love thinking about Battletech logistics and strategic problems, and always imagined myself in that universe doing Operational Planning more than tactical field work.   And, to boot, the Character pilots one of my favorite of all Battlemechs; the Urbanmech.  I couldn't have asked for a more delightful and perfect representation, and it was all unasked, making it all the sweeter!  Thank you Mr. P!  You made one of my dreams a reality! 


  Anyhow, in the real world I've never quite felt comfortable with other super fans of the franchise, being a transwoman kinda has it's complications, even if they are usually inner ones, and I've shunned the community for the most part.  It certainly doesn't help that the one tournament I entered; Amigocon '89, was ruined for me when I had to abandon the game because my Dad showed up and made me leave as we entered the final heat.  I am sure I would have placed, but the cost to my familial relationships would have been severe...  You know when you are really "in the zone" on something?  you can see a few moves ahead, you know exactly what to do, and how to do it, and you can feel the victory in your fist?  yeah, it's a rare exhilaration, I've felt it a few times, some hard fought chess games, and a couple of really busy Battletech games...  And that day I totally had it.  my Lance of Mediums; my Griffin, my pals playing an Assassin, a Centurion, and a Hunchback, we'd bested Warhammers, Riflemen, Marauders, and were still in good shape, fighting on a neat underground terrain board, using first rate tactics; scooting and shooting with care...  it was a good free for all, and I would give my eyeteeth to see how it would have ended if I'd been allowed to stay and finish.  it's my third greatest regret in my life.  Well, that's all ancient history and water under the bridge as they say.

Times have changed since the late 80s... in the real world and in the game world.  The Dragoons have  a new logo...classic mech designs are re-imagined, and the clans have come, changing everything, everything except the one eternal truth; there will always be war so long as humanity remains...human.

More DM-ing in the Town of Rosewich and environs.

      Svobod the Mule smiled to himself.  Things had sure turned for the better.  He couldn't help a satisified grunt as he stretched slowly and extended his muzzle into the trough for a breakfast of good oats.  These new friends were first rate folks, and he'd decided he'd look after them.  


     Munching away, his mind turned back to the old witch, one of a long line of cruel, dumb, and selfish "owners" who'd come into his life since the old Poopseller had passed, Bless his soul.  The witch was the worst, tying him up in that Barrow while she rummaged for something called the Table service of King Jaques, bah, the gelly cube that ate her did the world a favor.

     Why are hoomans so silly anyway?  I mean, they take the God's good oats, beat them, crush them up, dry them out, THEN put them back in water, heat them till they boil in an iron pot, THEN put them into yet another bowl, and wait for them to cool off again, and all that takes time and effort,mind you,  before they finally eat, which they have to do out of special little magic tableware?  what nonsense!  Svobod snorted so hard oats flew up his nose.

       Well at least these new ones were good fellows, it's nice to spend the night in a warm barn with nice smelling straw, the grooming girl does a good straw rub-down, the other stalls have interesting horses from all over with all kinds of horse-gossip, the oats are first rate...and not a whip or chain in sight.  No...these new adventurers were under his protection now...  if only they'd stop calling him Francis...a girl's name...so demeaning. 


Dungeonmastering Day.

 Got to run the Eldorath/Baconbach D&D game with Scott and Raven today.  

The party consisting of ; Helin Fiter -the student of Rustfus Ranquesoc who directed him into the service of St.Botewes.  Lighter Graves- a youthful tough and gruff prestidigitator of amateur accomplishments, but great potential.  Once a student of the hedgewitch Gundabarda, but since her death, a masterless youth seeking adventure.  their friend Sylvester; an enchanted sentient bedsheet, whose principle combat skill is impersonating a halloween ghost, but is kindhearted, sweet, and has hidden talents where magics are concerned.  The party is joined by Carbunkle, a childhood friend of Helin's haling from Oldsoc Village.  Carbunkle's passion is pretzles, he's a journeyman pretzle baker, but his old master having passed and unwilling to work for the new, has taken up adventuring to make the money to open his own bakery.  He's a nice asset to the gang as he is pretty muscley after an apprenticeship hefting bags of flour and hand kneading dough every morning for years. He's also a good natured and dependable friend.  

These brave souls are exploring an old barrow about an hour's walk from town, a place that has been a nuisance to travellers on the king's highway, just enough for Sir Sangramore to bother hiring some very inexpensive and expendable amateur dungeoneers to look into it.  It is said to be the burial mound of Aelpas, and ancient Wizard King of the Vertimorci Tribe in the days before the Remian Elves came to Aerovia.  But how much faith can one place in a legend attested to in only one line of the few scraps remaining of a lost book of Aerovian History?

Well today's adventure saw the gang explore a new room, discover some gems that turned out to be glass, fight rats, befriend a placid mining mule (now named Francis)  who, unknown to the party,  can see in the dark and has a fine sense of direction, and little tolerance for abuse.  They were pleased at the discovery of a gargoyle that spouts a stream of quicksilver, encountered a room with yellow fungus and a nice tapestry, and happily, had no encounters with the dreaded Pickwicky.

     In town they got taken for a large sum of money by the town's Banker-Merchant in a sour deal for a great Tapestry (of the baker of Wooton Major), discovered the humility of the penitents crawl to the crypt under the vault of the cathedral, and it's magical healing, and enjoyed the warm comforts of the Cracked Cask.  

More would have been done, but my teeth began to buzz (the Aura warning of my migraines) and I decided to pack up and flee for home.  good thing too, the winds are roaring outside, and that pretty typically gives me the kind of migraine I have tonight.  Still, a nap and my brain pills has broken the worst of the pain, leaving me feeling like I've been swimming in a river for hours. 

Spending time with my friends makes this a great day, no matter what.




chicken paintings

 So, some friends painted a mural for the state fair...  but there always seems to be a chicken display placed in the way.  for some reason the idea was both maddening, and kind of interesting.  I decided to incorporate the chickens into other paintings...and it amuses me.

























Hidebehind Creek and Muskturtle Bend RR.

So, I found some pictures hiding in my desktop folders of the Hide Behind creek RR project I kinda sorta have abandoned.  It's a walmart toy train set I intended to use for both a Christmas layout AND for wargaming a fictional Civil War campaign in the Hidebehind Creek valley of the fictional border state of Franklin...  got kind of derailed..but maybe I'll take it up again sometime.  the train runs allright on the three rail O gauge track, but while it does fine on Marx turnouts, it can't handle the lionel ones, too shallow.  it definitely isn't very strong at pulling, three cars, including the tender are about it's maximum on level track.  I have an idea for up-powering it.  at ten dollars a train set, you could bash a couple together, hide more powerful battery pack in the tender and use a second motor to give the engine some power...maybe.     so the engine was brush painted with an alkyd oil paint for the blue boiler as an experiment, but the purple was sprayed on.  the yellow was also a rattlecan paint.  decals would have cost money, so I just printed paper and cut out the "lables" or stickers and glued them on, sealing the whole with a spray krylon. 
the little house in the picture here is a cut up and reassembled BMC gettysburg playset "headquarters" building.  I used some old green "dish scrubby" with a few dots of paint for "flowers"...to make the plants around the base of it.

Dungeonmastering!

 Yesterday was fantastic! 

 I got to reprise my love of Dungeon mastering low level Old School Dungeons and Dragons. 

 I introduced my dear friends Scott and Raven to my Eldorath campaign world, a place I've been developing since High School in the late 80s.  The characters began in the Barony of Baconbach, a place I've been using for Knightly Fightly wargames in recent years. 

and the Characters are now based in the regional mercantile metropolis of Rosewich, recently annexed by the Barons of Baconbach.


 

The experience was carefully planned by Scott to be totally social distance appropriate (none of us are healthy enough to risk Covid, and our families are even worse risks) so Scott set up video equipment to project the small erasable game board I had, and the plastic fantasy figures (toys) to keep track of the locations of various characters, which was both easy to use and really helped narrate things clearly while keeping us at totally separate tables.  I feared masks would make DM-ing difficult, but they were not a problem at all, so we were able to get the social immediacy you need for a good game and still maintain safety.  Kudos to Scott and Raven for the brilliant plan.  It indeed deserved to have a tail stuck to it and be called a weasel.


Scott wrote up a precis of the adventure a dungeon crawl in a small barrow dungeon, and I'll share it here so you can enjoy the flavor of our game;

Today began the adventures of Hēlin Fitor and Lighter Graves, cleric and wizard out to explore the lands of Baconbach.

We were met by an unarmored noble, who promised us both 20gp to explore a nearby dungeon. We would later meet at the small town of Rosewich to collect after we made a report of the contents.

With that we gathered our supplies and ventured within, encountering fire beetles feasting on the corpse of a badger. At first, we attempted to catch one in a bag to be sold as spell components to the local apothecary, but they proved too quick—at first. Three dead beetles and one live one in a sack later, we returned to town to sell out new treasure. The Apothecary was receptive to the beetle and offered store credit—which was immediately depleted on replenishing my spell components for my Magic Missile spell (special mistletoe).

We enocountered a sheet named Silvester, who enjoys butterflies, who joined the party, becoming a guide of sorts. Silvester was able to tell if items were magic, and this proved useful. 

Exploring to the south led us to an alcove with a grinning unicorn carved into the keystone of the arch. It was a dead-end, containing a skeleton, which, once poked, animated and requested in a spanish accent some water, which Fitor offered from his waterskin. The skeleton acccepted, uttering only "Gracias" and picked a green emerald from its nares. It then collapsed into a disanimated pile of bones.

Having determined that nothing else of interest was in evidence, we turned north and explored there.

Upon returning to the room where we met Silvester, we listened carefully at the door to the north. Raven's character thought there was a sound of something moving amonst metal, trying to be quiet. We opened the door, and were surprised and the wizard was knocked down by a cross, talking pig which carried a silver spoon for a weapon.

After everyone recovered, an argument ensued. The DM used the word oleaginous, so I'm repeating it here; indications were clear this pig was not to be trusted. Slippery fellow, though perhaps not as well as he might have thought himself, as shall be seen.

He gave the name of Pickywiggy Boldpants and joined the party, filling the role of a thief.

After progressing into a room filled with rotting shipping barrels, the sound of sobbing was heard, emerging from the only intact barrel. This proved to be a dish, which, as soon as Hēlin freed the dish from the barrel, caused the silver spoon Pickywiggy had brandished as a weapon to speak: "Marsha? Is that you?"

The dish also spoke: "Jaughn!"

They seemed to require each others company, but Pickywiggy declined at first to part with the spoon, claiming value well beyond the copper, then gold pieces offered.

A brief battle ensued, and this time, we caught the pig in a burlap sack until he consented to accept the 2 gp payment offered. Once he agreed, he surrendered the spoon,   took the 1gp (the second to be delivered in town), but he ran off as soon as he was released from the bag, claiming we had not seen the last of him.

The Dish and Spoon were then married by the cleric, and stored in a backpack together. We have no idea what to do with them at this point. I'm pretty sure it makes small sense to sell sentient silverware.

Digging through some offal with a gigantic rib netted the party a ring (which Silvester suggested was ordinary), and we then encountered a basin with water tricking into it. It seemed ... clear enough, so Hēlin filled his waterskin and sipped it, and promptly fell into a deep sleep which lasted an hour.

After rousing from slumber, the party left the dungeon to rest and prepare for their next foray.

Treasure:

  1. 1100 cp (tithed to the church in town)
  2. 10 £c. (banked)
  3. green emerald mucolith (yet to be appraised)
  4. ring with a gem set in it (also yet to be appraised).   

The sheet, named Sylvester is a magical bed sheet with a curious back story; he was the winding sheet of a powerful wizard whose dying magical powers seem to have seeped into the cloth and given it life, he's a kind heart-ed, child like, and even a bit dim (sheets are not known for intellectual pursuits after all) fellow, whose one combat skill is taking the form of a charlie brown ghost and going "boo". 

     The dish and the spoon had tried to run away together, hiding in a barrel of dishes going to Rosewich.  Thier origin seems to be in a pewter-ers work hut. Fearing sale and separation they fled. Sadly bandits attacked their caravan and stashed the barrels in the barrow dungeon where they were found. Though completely distracted with one another now, they are kind people, and have some talents that the future shall reveal.

and lastly, Pickwiggy, an unpleasant cad whose love of stealing boysenberry pies from windowsills led him to rob one from the local and powerful witch Ogenhilda, she, naturally took umbrage at this and cursed the odious footpad with life in the body of a pig.

Things I'mma doin'

Hey there all, Here's a bit of update. I got a backdrop made for the table, hopefully it will help make my pictures better. and the Benton Hussars are drying, tomorrow I can put the gloss coat of polyeurethane on them, and make a box. I think I should play a practice game of A Gentleman's War with them, to try them out, ASAP!

the backdrop was done with spraypaint on cardboard, easy peasy thing. brown sprayed on first. Then I masked with paper bag torn into shreds and some twigs.  then the sky was sprayed on, silver first, then light blue, purple, and white just randomly blasted on at the same time, darker towards top.

the hussars are, of course, my home casts, from home made silicone molds.

 


 

Warplay accessories

 wanted to use a spinner to randomly give movement points.  also some paperwork and cards, just ideas in progress for the civil war game. the idea with the card is to shuffle all the units in a deck, then turn the card over, some have the unit that moves next, others have random effects that modify the battle conditions.




Monday Night Painting

Still painting on the Benton Hussars.  got the faces done, so pretty nearly there, dark blues, the flag, and the odds and  ends details.  maybe one more day on it should do the trick?





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