Honor Bound: Creme de la Creme 4—Protect a boarding school as a military bodyguard! [Ch 1-6, 263K words, updated May 8]

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Welcome to the Developer Diary thread for Honor Bound! This is a standalone school game that takes place three years after Royal Affairs, with a brand new player character - but instead of attending a school, you’re guarding it.

The story so far: I started working on this game in March 2023. I’m currently working on Chapter 10.

Play Chapter 6 on Dashingdon or on itch.io! They’re identical, but on itchio your progress persists if you accidentally close your tab. If you have a minute, I would dearly love to hear what you think of it, either here or on the anonymous feedback survey.

Honor Bound contains optional steamy encounters which should be discussed in more detail over here.

A readable alpha preview of Chapter 7 is now up for £6+ Patreon subscribers. and the fully playable version will be going up on Patreon on 4th June.

I also post (roughly) fortnightly progress updates here.

Update Log
May 2024
  • May 9: One of the Fiore romantic scene branches in Chapter 6 no longer crashes into Matia’s
  • May 8 (2): Matia’s Chapter 3 campfire conversation no longer repeats line about going to bed, continuity correction for Raffi’s Chapter 5 conversation after returning from the trip, various typo fixes
  • May 8 (1): Korzha romantic scene no longer crashes into Matia’s, Savarel steamy scene no longer repeats a section, various typo fixes
  • May 7: Chapter 6 added
April 2024
  • April 26: fix to Chapter 5 repeated Raffi dialogue
  • April 8: expanded a Chapter 6 scene (Patreon), typo fix (all)
  • April 2: Chapter 6 (Patreon), minor quiz and previous-game reminder fixes (all)
March 2024
  • March 27: various added options and tweaks, and quiz fix
  • March 12: re-fixed chapter skip bug introduced in last update
  • March 10: various bugfixes and edits
  • March 7: Chapter 5 romantic scene with Matia no longer triggers if you’re not in a romance; saying no to hanging out with Denario in Chapter 5 no longer leads to hanging out; Chapter 3 campfire scene with Matia should not result in repeated description of leaving to go to a tent; typo fixes
  • March 6: chapter skip fixes and clarity, worldstate quiz fixes
  • March 5: chapter skip/quiz and stat page fixes, clarified Korzha romance-end options, typo fixes
  • March 5: Chapter 5 added
February 2024
  • February 25: fixed variable bug (Patreon)
  • February 24: added some options to choices in Chapter 5 (Patreon)
  • February 21: typo fix, broken command fix (itch), obscure gender randomisation fix
  • February 20: minor fixes and tweaks including more conversation with Fiore if the PC is trans, and updated Royal Affairs quiz and references to reflect the RA expanded epilogue
  • February 6: Chapter 5 (Patreon), minor tweaks including dog additions
January 2024
  • January 2: Chapter 4 (public)
December 2023
  • December 18: minor fixes and tweaks
  • December 6: chapter skip fixes to Korzha addressing the PC and to some flirt/romance setting (public and Patreon), added more responses to stress for PCs and NPCs (public and Patreon), added a couple of Chapter 4 dialogue options (Patreon)
  • December 5: Chapter 4 (Patreon), polish and tweaks to Chapter 1-3, added more achievements, added option to tailor your character and early actions to skip to later chapters (all)
November 2023
  • November 9: recursion error and falling out of choice options fix (tentative); more substantial edits to anatomy and intimate scene descriptions
  • November 8: minor fixes and tweaks; lore addition to Chapter 2; some tweaks to intimate scene descriptions
  • November 7: Chapter 3 (public), various tweaks to earlier chapters including adjusted health thresholds (it is more likely that you’ll feel pain to a degree that bothers you)
October 2023
  • October 3: Chapter 3 (Patreon), minor Chapter 2 tweaks (public)
September 2023
  • September 22: minor tweaks and stat page fixes
  • September 6: minor tweaks, added options, and fixes
  • September 5: Chapter 2 (public); minor Chapter 1 and stat page tweaks
August 2023
  • August 29: minor fixes
  • August 14: minor fixes and tweaks
  • August 1: Chapter 2 (Patreon)
July 2023
  • July 19: Chapter 1 scene tweak
  • July 18: Royal Affairs continuity fix
  • July 12: fixed recursion error
  • July 10: fixes, additions, clarifications, tweaks to intro quiz, Royal Affairs continuity fix
  • July 5: minor fixes and tweaks
  • July 4: Chapter 1 (public)
June 2023
  • June 6: Chapter 1 (Patreon)

As a sneak peek before the first chapter went up, I made a short prologue which takes place several months before the start of the game. It isn’t part of the demo or full game, but instead is a little introduction to your MC, their situation, and the setting. Play the prologue here!

You’re a promising officer in the Teranese military, a force which has not seen major engagement in decades but which holds vast influence. Thanks to an injury, you’re no longer in the field. Thanks to the… complicated circumstances of that injury, you’ve been quietly reassigned.

Now you’re to be the bodyguard to the child of a famous scientist who is attending a wilderness boarding school for the children of the richest and most powerful figures of Teran society.

According to your mentor, it’s an easy assignment. The school sits close to your own hometown, so you’ll be familiar with the area; you can recover your health and get your career back on track. What could go wrong?

Bond with those around you or impress with aloof competence. Be a kind, trusted confidante to your charge, or a strict, stern caretaker. Work hard for glowing reports from your charge, your military superiors, or the Headteacher to get your life back on track - or risk it all as you uncover secrets that put you and everyone around you in peril.

  • Play as male, female, or non-binary; cis or trans; gay, straight, or bisexual; asexual and/or aromantic; allosexual and/or alloromantic; monogamous or polyamorous

  • Play a junior officer in your 20s, a mid-ranking officer in your 30s, or a senior officer in your 40s

  • Befriend or romance a severe military officer, a bold, easygoing outdoors expert, a determined and overworked priest, an earnest but airheaded fellow bodyguard, or the anxious, serious widowed parent of your charge

  • Shape the school life of your teenage charge: encourage her to make friends or sabotage her rivals, let her slack off or push her to achieve

  • Protect the school, town, and your charge from natural disasters and criminals, or use chaos to further your agendas. Build a warm community, stand apart to focus on yourself, or push tensions higher in a place where gossip is rife

  • Negotiate a cushy promotion, or open other doors, through heroic or devious actions. Or become such a disaster that only bandits will give you the time of day

  • Unearth and thwart shadowy schemes, or enact them yourself for your own ends

This tightly-knit desert boarding school is a sanctuary for artists and scientists of the future to flourish. But as danger closes in, how far will you go for your ambitions, your commanders, and your country?

Setting

Setting Notes:

Teran is an archipelago far to the west of Westerlin with a generally warm climate that varies between semi-arid plains, mountain ranges, temperate rainforests, and subtropical jungles. Unlike other powerful countries nearby, Teran is run by a President and Parliament. The President recognises individuals with the title Honored or the higher level title Esteemed. These titles are awarded for exceptional achievements contributing to the public good.

The Teranese Military is a hugely important influence in Teran, regardless of who the President is. For centuries Teran has had mandatory two years’ military service known as Teranese Service for almost everyone aged between ages 18-20 which involves basic training and assignment across the Teranese islands or the mainland. The army has not been involved in a major operation for around fifty years.

The Church of Teran is polytheistic and worships a large number of deities representing abstract concepts and elements of the natural world (eg. Elene is the deity of the sun, Alvir is the deity of protection, etc). Tenets include valuing personal ambition and striving, wonder and curiosity, and harmonic unity.

Unlike some other countries in the Creme de la Creme world, polyamorous marriages are legally supported.

Read more about Teran and Ozera here!

Major Befriendable and Romanceable Characters

Major Befriendable and Romanceable Characters:

  • Honored Fiore Roldan (35): a serious-minded, protective widowed single parent (gender-selectable: trans man (he/him), trans woman (she/her), transfem (they/them)

  • Captain Varenn Korzha (41): a severe military officer and science teacher who does not suffer fools gladly (gender-selectable: cis man (he/him), cis woman (she/her), agender (they/them)

  • Matia Frasada (44): a brash, outgoing former explorer turned supplies manager (gender-selectable: trans man (he/him), trans woman (she/her), genderqueer (they/them)

  • Raffi Claudian (25): an easily-led but physically competent bodyguard from a private company (gender-selectable: cis man (he/him), cis woman (she/her), transmasc (they/them)

  • Savarel Lopes (28): a warm, principled field medic turned priest with a stubborn streak (gender-selectable: cis man (he/him), cis woman (she/her), agender (they/them)

Polyamory-related spoilers

Each character can be romanced monogamously, and in addition:

  • Matia and Korzha can be romanced in a poly triad
  • Fiore and Savarel can be romanced in a poly triad
  • Raffi can be romanced in an open relationship, but is not compatible with the other major characters except Denario (in some cases)
  • Savarel and Denario can be romanced in a poly V
  • You can cheat on some romanceable characters with Denario
Other Characters

Other Characters:

Students:

  • Catarina Roldan (14, she/her): an ambitious, tenacious young teenager with a flair for math; your charge

  • Simone Morarre (14, she/her): a keen, chatty science enthusiast, daughter of a famous actor

  • Andie Malone (13, they/them): a quiet, shy student originally from a farm, on a music scholarship

  • Pietro Landris (13, he/him): a languid, glamorous layabout from a financial family

  • Viola de Luca (14, she/her): the stormy, silent child of coffee-export magnates

  • Elian Rodriguez (14, they/them): an aspiring illustrator and grandchild of military heroes

Teachers:

  • Kass Quintal (50s, she/her): Headteacher of Ozera School, and famed sculptor; married to Doria

  • Doria Quintal (60s, she/her): Deputy Head and music teacher at Ozera School; married to Kass

  • Diego (30s, he/him): Fine Art teacher, did very badly in Teranese Service

  • Henriette (20s, she/her): Maths teacher, ambitious and intense; originally from Westerlin

  • Tibor (50s, he/him): Fibre Arts teacher, flamboyant and eccentric

In Town:

  • Mayor Abril Tedesco (40s, they/them): Mayor of Elene’s Prospect

  • Sheriff Beniam Ruiz (50s, he/him): sheriff of Elene’s Prospect

  • Honored Lidia Dimir (40s, she/her): local dignitary and owner of a manor house on the edge of town

  • Giorgia and Roland Frasada (80s, she/her and he/him respectively): Matia’s parents

  • Dr Altomare (50s, they/them): the town doctor

Elsewhere:

  • Denario Vecoli (the same age as the PC): a childhood friend of yours, now in a tricky spot

  • Field Marshal Mathilde Alva (60s, she/her): your grandboss and mentor

  • Field Marshal Izan Mandriotti (60s, he/him): colleague and friend of Alva

Timeline

Some historical events are yet to be added, such as the events surrounding Revekah Vasile’s imprisonment in Westerlin, but here is a selection of important recent events in the Creme de la Creme universe:

1761: Honor Bound starts
1758: Princess Josiane of Westerlin gets engaged to Lady Yael Forster
1757: Zaledo gains universal suffrage
1757: Royal Affairs PC starts attending Archambault Academy
1756: Fiore Roldan awarded Honored title
1755: Noblesse Oblige PC moves to the Isle of Teteriuk
1755: Rosario del Quiros marries Potentate Darian of Jezhan or the Creme de la Creme PC
1753: Creme de la Creme PC starts attending Gallatin College
1751: Ozera School founded
1747: Catarina Roldan born
1746: King Georges of Westerlin dies
1744: Prince Oliver of Westerlin born
1739/40: Royal Affairs PC and other Royal Affairs students born
1736: Queen Estell III crowned
1735: Princess Josiane of Westerlin born
1735/6: Creme de la Creme PC and other Creme de la Creme students born; Raffi Claudian born
1734: Emil/Emily/Emile Karson born
1733: Noblesse Oblige PC, Pascha Boroi, Tomi Danelak, Savarel Lopes born
1730: Rys Nectaria born
1726-1729: Dahaikan Secession
1726: Fiore Roldan born
1720: Varenn Korzha born
1717: Matia Frasada born
1712: Queen Estell of Westerlin, King Georges of Westerlin, Fabien de Cadaret born
1652: Timothy Linwood attempts to assassinate King Gian of Westerlin, leading to the Linwood-Philippe exiles
1485: Teranese Revolution and formation of the Church of Teran

FAQ

For more general FAQs, please check this post.

How was my character injured?

You can choose the circumstances of your injury, what part of your body was injured, and what went wrong on your last assignment. In total there are 18 unique situations in which your injury happened!

What are the age brackets I can play?
The youngest bracket is 25-29 inclusive. The middle is 30-39 inclusive. The oldest is 40-49 inclusive. Befriendable and romanceable characters, as well as other characters in the game, will have variations in behaviour and dialogue based on your age bracket.

Are the romances restricted by age?
No, you can romance characters regardless of your and their ages. The biggest age gaps are between the youngest MC and Matia (widest possible gap 19 years) and the oldest MC and Raffi (widest possible gap 24 years).

What characters from previous games in the series will appear?
I have made plans for some character appearances and have already written some references to the characters and events in previous games. While the game is in progress I’m remaining cagey about exactly who will show up because it’s a delicate juggling act between feeling natural (especially since it’s a different country) and giving players exciting moments of seeing characters they like onscreen or discussed.

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I am thrilled to see this emerge into the wild, Hannah!

I love the world you have built, and every time you lead us back for more, I find new experiences and surprises.

I assume this is the “Hot Springs” project?

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Thank you so much :sparkling_heart: It’s really felt like going on holiday to “travel” to a different part of the setting after two games set in Westerlin.

It is indeed Project Hotsprings! The hotsprings do not play a huge role, but they do exist (a little later on than I’ve written so far) and the PC will get a chance to enjoy a well-earned soak in them. One of a few personal wish-fulfilment elements that I’ve given myself licence to include! Many MCs - and authors, if they’re so inclined - could do with a spa holiday, I feel.

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You have my heart for letting me play and romance people aged 30+ years. I also love that the RO gender selection seems to promise variability and that more than one RO is canonically trans.

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A story about an elite boarding school, but this time I’m not a teenage student? I love it already!

I will have to take a better look at this later … just woke up and feeling woozy … but I saw this and I wanted to drop a note to say it sounds absolutely amazing!

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As someone who will enter their 30s next year, I appreciate the age group variety choices. Excited to follow and play another project of yours! Can’t wait!

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Yay, it’s here!

Stoffs

I’m inside my head; trust me, you want NONE of this. >_>

Repeat after me: there’s no such thing as a milkrun.

Well, we’re fucked.

Then they shall suffer me unhappily. :stuck_out_tongue:

Ah, mum’s cooking! Brings back memories.

This sentence fragment doesn’t really work; I infer that you were trying to communicate both that she’s a blonde and that she’s gotten greyer since the last time we saw her, but the sentence just sort of breaks down. May I suggest something like “More of her blonde hair has turned gray since you last saw her;”, or along those lines?

Missing apostrophe.

Again. This feels like a coding thing, so you might want to check it’s working fine in the game itself.

Boooo, it’s over. :frowning_face:

Guess now I wait for the rest. :smile:

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I love the trans rep in this but wonder about the choice to make the male counterpart for Raffi cis when the female is trans when Fiore and Matia both versions of themselves are trans. Sorry if its answered in game, I haven’t read the prologue yet.

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Thank you for mentioning - that was actually a typo, apologies. I have edited!

I will respond to everyone else properly tomorrow but just saw this and wanted to clarify, thank you so much to all for your comments :heart:

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The prologue was SO fun! I’ve loved all of your work and can’t wait to watch this project unfold, the sense of character is already so strong from just a few choices!!

If I have any friction, it’s that it’s a little hard to engage with the choice about your coworkers not checking in on you when the circumstances of your actions/accident is such a mystery – but that felt like a minor detail overall, so I just tried to think abt it as generally as possible.

Again, so so excited for this new concept and already emotional abt the bond we’ll get to have with Catarina & Fiore :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Yeah, multiple choice mystery past has that problem. It pops up again when you’re told it wasn’t your fault. Wasn’t it? Or was it? Why won’t anybody tell me what IT was?! :sob:

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There goes my hope of Raffi starting out as a cisgender man, who questions his gender throughout the story, and you get the choice of helping him come to terms with his feelings. Hyped myself up over nothing :laughing:

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My feelings exactly! It definitely works as a hook, just have to get creative with my thought process for the answers

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@HarrisPS loved the little prologue demo and it did spark questions on how much of the unknown from the event will we get to see or get anwsers to in the true demo that will come later on?

Might have more questions lol but got to work and eventually replay it before asking more.

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I would like more information on the political system and situation.

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And so it begins! The latest saga in the Creme series is finally here! Congratulations on the launch of “Hotsprings Project”. There will always be new things to discover, and I like that! Moreover, it’s an interesting mix of new and old stuff, and character variety is solid. And we now have a disciple of sorts. I can’t wait to see where this goes!

I probably already know, but I won’t reveal for spoilerly reasons. Mavericks again, as usual.

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Seems to be very interesting. And I do like the different backgrounds. Can’t wait to see the new school and do some investigation.

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I’m super intrigued and can’t wait to know more!! I’ve accepted that—much to my surprise—taking care of kids is something I find uniquely enjoyable in IFs. All the students sound so darling, especially our charge :pleading_face:

I like the mystery behind our accident, especially the option to say “Not that I blame them”. I love playing characters who are strict, stoic, and hard on themselves, sooo I will probably pick something that was my character’s fault, when we get the chance :laughing:

I’m super attached to Alva already, so I can’t wait to meet the other characters! This setting seems so warm and cozy, somehow? Maybe it’s the hot springs and the rain forest—either way, very very excited!!

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@feurio a wider age of ROs was definitely something I had in mind when I knew I wanted to write a game with a protagonist who isn’t a teen or a young adult, so I’m very pleased you’re liking there being ROs aged 30+! Thank you for the kind thoughts about canon trans ROs :heart: On a personal level it means a lot to me to include them (and binary trans options for the MC) after being less confident about doing so in earlier games.

@AletheiaKnights Thank you so much and I hope the wooziness passes! I am really happy about keeping a school setting while not having the PC be a young person studying there. All the ideas I had around this time had that in common, though this was the only one that involves being a bodyguard! While I was outlining the concept, I read this article by Brandon Taylor about campus fiction that delighted me, particularly this quote:

What I love about campus fiction is that is provides a world in miniature whose rules and laws and rigors can be stand-ins for the rules, laws, and rigors of the broader world. The other thing I love about campus fiction is that it often provides a crucible for conflict and drama that might not occur elsewhere. Because a campus often draws people into relation who might not otherwise have been in such relations.

It helped me draw together the different games in the Creme de la Creme series in my mind even though Noblesse Oblige is very different to the others, and this one will be different in other ways.

@starpendle Thank you, I’m really glad! I have been writing a lot of MCs and ROs in their late teens and early 20s for the last few years and it is really fun to branch out!

Hahaha! Korzha has a good Long-Suffering Austere Look which I’m sure they will deploy a lot in your playthrough.

@vignatic I’m delighted, thank you very much!

Grouping these together as they’re on a similar theme:

Awww I entirely understand!

That entirely makes sense. I was wanting to keep things mysterious for the prologue/extra tidbit BUT it will be revealed fairly early on in the demo when it’s up.

@Valixon this may be of interest to you as well:

Here is the text of a post about the circumstances of your injury that I made on Tumblr in response to a similar comment! tl;dr: there are eighteen unique ways in which you ended up in hospital, with varying degrees of how much it was your fault, and ingame you’ll be able to decide how you feel about everything with more context (not really spoilery, just a bit long):

Notes on the MC's circumstances

It is intentionally vague in the prologue, but the circumstances of the injury were complicated and involve an error, a lapse of judgement on the MC’s part, or political difficulties, which means punishment may be on the cards. That’s what Alva is talking about when she mentions that she’s been arguing with other higher-ups about the situation.

I’ve left it vague for now because the prologue is intended as a selection of hint-dropping and to introduce some elements of the game rather than how it’ll be in the full game and demo.

That said! In the first chapter you’ll be able to choose the details of what happened, in which the options vary depending on your original assignment. eg: if you were a field medic, you’ll choose between a set, if you were a trainer you’ll choose between another set, etc. Some are more of an obvious misstep than others; some are unlucky situations where the MC was blamed. Plus you will be able to choose from various nuances of how your MC feels about everything.

There are eighteen unique options in total for what exactly went wrong!

Awww that’s lovely and exciting! I have really enjoyed writing them both (together and separately) so far. I will add that you will definitely get to bond if you want… and if others want, you will also definitely get the chance to trash your relationships with them outrageously :eyes:

@Leinco ahh I’m really sorry about the confusion! Maybe one day I’ll write something like that story :heart: (games about trans characters going through transition in this space are rare, but if you haven’t played The Sea Eternal, there is a character going through a similar situation to that.) You will be able to chat with Fiore and Matia about their experiences (and share yours with similarities and differences, if you’re playing a trans MC).

@RockmanX Thank you so much, I’m really glad you’re liking the look of it! :smile:

@Dpwjeremy I’ve really enjoyed writing about the school - it’s a different atmosphere to Gallatin or Archambault, but with plenty of school dramas along with it!

@spiral_fracture I have had a ton of fun writing the students so far! You’ll get to know Catarina and Simone in Chapter 1 and I’ve been writing the others more in Chapter 2. I really like how they bounce off each other (and cause drama situations, haha).

You will definitely get the chance for something like that and there are also a lot of chances to refuse help or try to push through things alone in a strict/hard-on-yourself way… I think you will enjoy sinking into some stoic struggles.

I’m excited that that’s coming across already! There is a lot in this game about decisions to involve yourself in/stand apart from/drive wedges into (sometimes) cosy, small communities, figuring out how your character relates to them, and choosing what they prioritise. My goal is for various different options to feel satisfying, both on a small scale and with the wider plot! Hmm, I veered onto themes rather than atmosphere there… but for me they feel quite linked.

@11110 I am planning to make a big post more about politics and history in a bit, but in the meantime there’s a post on the Royal Affairs thread about what’s been established ingame which may be of interest. In general right now, things are stable and prosperous in Teran. The President has been in term for eight years (a term is five years, and there isn’t a limit on how long they can be in office). There’s a large, sprawling belt of islands off the Teranese mainland between Teran and Zaledo. Many are ruled by Teran and have been considered part of Teran for many centuries; some are independent, some unclaimed, and some, which are closer to Zaledo are ruled by Zaledo. The last time there was a large-scale military operation was about fifty years ago, when Dahaika, one of the sets of islands, successfully seceded. The two countries are now coolly civil towards each other.

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I’ve always considered Noblesse Oblige a school story, partly because some of my favorite bits take place during Pascha’s lessons, and partly because Pascha’s backstory is basically the undiluted essence of dark academia.

One of my very favorite games last year was Professor of Magical Studies, partly because, although the PC is still a relatively young adult, it’s a school story told from a more mature perspective. And I’m thrilled to get to experience this new school setting as an intimate outsider. I actually spent a lot of time imagining what Archambault was like from Asher’s perspective, so I was perfectly primed to be intrigued by this premise.

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