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Random Encounters (Skyrim)

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Maiq the liar
M'aiq the Liar is one of multiple random encounters.
TrippetAdded by Trippet

Random encounters are world events that can happen in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim when the player enters an area.

Instead of having set locations for each creature to spawn, the game generates an encounter based on decisions the player has made, the status the player has with a specific faction, the player's level, and so on.

Random encounters can occur at a large number of pre-fixed locations scattered around the game world. Different encounters can occur at the same location, if it is revisited after some time has passed. Additionally, most encounters can occur several times in one playthrough of the game; even encounters that involve unique characters may occur more than once.

Some random encounters happen for role-playing purposes only and won't affect the player, such as a hunter chasing a fox or M'aiq the Liar commenting on the world. Others will begin quests, such as finding Alik'r warriors interrogating Redguard females. There are also encounters that will spawn a hostile group that will attack the Dragonborn.

There are a total of 95 Random Encounters in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. [1] Not all can be encountered in the one game, as some counteract each other, depending on Quest choices. More encounters are included when add-ons like The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard have been installed.

FarmerCow
A farmer leading a painted cow to a giant is another random encounter.
Lord EvilAdded by Lord Evil
Notably, most enemies that are unique to random encounters (e.g. Scavengers, robbers, assassins, werewolves, vampires, rival adventurers, bandits dressed as imperial soldiers, etc.) level with the player, and can be unusually powerful opponents at higher levels.

While most random encounter characters disappear once the player leaves the area, some random encounter NPCs including the Revelers, the Frightened Woman, and Sond and Bottar will travel to the nearest farm or mill after the encounter occurs, where they will take up residence as laborers and can be found for the rest of the game.

Random encounters are not limited to the wilderness of Skyrim, as they can occur inside various buildings, such as the Vilemyr Inn.

Quest related random encountersEdit

  • "Scene" means that it takes place only in the one location (usually an unmarked location).
  • "Moving" means that it can occur anywhere in the wilderness.
World Encounter Description Moving Encounter/Scene Prerequisites
Redguard Interrogation Alik'r warriors interrogating a female Redguard about her identity in Whiterun, around the gates. Moving Happens during In My Time Of Need. (Has been seen before initiating and after completing the quest.)
Cannibal's Feast A Cannibal beside a dead body who recognizes the Dragonborn as the champion of Namira. Moving Only occurs after completing The Taste of Death.
Boethiah's Calling A Boethiah Cultist attacks the Dragonborn. He carries the book Boethiah's Proving that leads to the quest Boethiah's Calling. Moving The cultist will appear only if the Dragonborn is level 30 or above.
Maven's Revenge Hired Thug attacks Louis Letrush. Moving If Maven Black-Briar is informed about Louis Letrush's plans during Promises to Keep.
Louis' Revenge Hired Thug will come in the name of Louis Letrush to take revenge. Moving The Dragonborn double-crosses Louis Letrush in order to keep Frost during Promises to Keep.
Stop, Thief! A Thief tries to pick a lock to a house or store, usually getting caught and attacked by guards. Can happen in any town, but most often in Riften. Moving Randomly after joining the Thieves guild.
Love Triangle Hired thugs contracted by either Sven or Faendal take revenge. Moving Completion of Deliver Sven's Letter to Camilla or Faendal's Letter.
We Know... A Courier delivers a Mysterious Note which starts the quest With Friends Like These... Moving Completion of Innocence Lost.
Wedding Guests A Noble on a Horse with an escort travelling to the wedding reception of Vittoria Vici. Moving Any time before Bound Until Death.
Wedding Guests 2 Two Nobles, (a man and his wife)  are both on their way with valuable gifts to Vittoria Vici's wedding. They have an Imperial guard who may attack on sight, or after you say you're going to rob them. Moving Any time before Bound Until Death.
The Frightened Woman A Frightened Woman who was kidnapped by Bandits but managed to escape. She asks the Dragonborn to help by killing the Bandits in Mistwatch which starts the quest Forgetting about Fjola Moving None
By Azura! A Dunmer named Faldrus is found on a pilgrimage to Azura's Shrine. Speaking to him gives the option to travel with him and ultimately begin The Black Star. Moving Only occurs before The Black Star.
The Bandit Dare An Argonian will approach the Dragonborn and explain that you met during A Night to Remember during your drunken night with Sam, claiming you offered him 10,000 septims to break into a bandit camp and steal a hat from the chief. If the player does not give him the gold, he will become hostile and attack.

Moving

Only occurs after completing A Night to Remember.
The Fan Balbus is a food fan, as well as a snooty guy, who gathers rare ingredients in hopes of presenting them to The Gourmet. After completing Recipe for Disaster, the Dragonborn can impersonate The Gourmet to receive his gift from Balbus. Moving None
Dwemer Ruin Sond and Bottar, a pair of children who will mark the location of Deep Folk Crossing for the price of 1 gold. Moving None
Vampire Ambush Two or three Vigilants of Stendarr will be standing in the open next to dead bodies. They will call the Dragonborn to come closer before revealing the fact that they are vampires in disguise. Moving Dawnguard add-on installed.
Mysterious Traveller During the night,  an NPC named 'Traveler' will appear in a hold. If talked to, he will say "Die, Dawnguard!", summon a gargoyle, and attack the Dragonborn. Any Hold. Dawnguard add-on installed.
Babette's Snack Babette, a Dark Brotherhood member and vampire taking the form of a child, will appear at night standing by a corpse. If asked what she's doing, she'll explain that while Nazir cooks at the Sanctuary, she has more "refined tastes" and was looking for a snack. She'll then return to the Sanctuary. Moving Dawnguard add-on installed and must be a member of the Dark Brotherhood.
Taron Dreth's Treachery Taron Dreth, author of the book The Aetherium Wars, can be seen wandering with his three bodyguards. If the Dragonborn has one of the three aetherium items crafted at the Aetherium Forge during the quest Lost to the Ages, he will ask where the Dragonborn got them. Any response to Taron's query will lead to him saying "You know too much!", after which he and his bodyguards will attack. If the Dragonborn does not have an aetherium item at the time, talking to Taron and mentioning Katria will also lead to him attacking. Moving Dawnguard add-on installed and after completing Lost to the Ages.

Complete listEdit

World Encounter Description Moving Encounter/Scene Prerequisites
Bandit Battle Two bandits and a bandit leader are about to kill another bandit. Scene None.
Elk Hunters Two hunters chase after an elk. They then patrol the area. Moving None.
Dragon vs Giant A Dragon and a Giant battle. Moving Dragon Rising must be completed.
Dragon Duel Two dragons battle each other Moving Dragon Rising must be completed
Dragon Attack! A dragon attacks the Dragonborn. Moving Dragon Rising must be completed.
Orcs vs Forsworn Five Forsworn battle three Orcs. Moving Occurs only in The Reach.
Animals vs Bandit A bandit is battling against a wild animal. Scene None
Giant vs Bandits Four Bandits battle against two Giants and a mammoth. Moving Only in The Pale and Whiterun Holds.
Dragon Flight A dragon flies past without attacking (unless provoked). Moving Dragon Rising must be completed.
Imperials and Captured Stormcloak Three Imperial soldiers lead a Stormcloak prisoner. Moving Only on Roads.
Alduin's Emissary A dragon flies to the nearest Dragon Lair and surveys the landscape. Moving Dragon Rising must be completed.
Sabre Cats hunting a mammoth Two Sabre Cats attack a mammoth. Moving The Pale/Whiterun Hold only.
Wolves hunting Elk Two Wolves attack two Elks. Moving None.
Spriggans vs Trolls Two Spriggan battle a Troll. Moving Level 12 or higher. (Occurs: The Pale, Winterhold Hold, Whiterun, and Eastmarch.
Atronach Mis-summoned A (random type) of Atronach is seen wandering the landscape. Moving None.
Orcs hunting Elks Two Orc Hunters chase after an elk, then patrol the area. Moving None.
Imperial Impersonators Three bandits wear the armor of a few dead soldiers lying close by. Scene None.
Imperial An "Imperial" wearing heavy armor and wielding two swords attacks. Possibly a result of recently freeing Stormcloak Prisoners. Moving Recently freeing Stormcloak Prisoners.
Witch vs Atronach A (random type) Atronach is battling a Witch Moving (Level 5 or higher)
Warlock vs Bandits A Conjurer battles three bandits. Moving (Level 5 or higher)
Imperials vs Stormcloaks Three Imperial Soldiers fight three Stormcloak Soldiers. Moving None.
The Scavenger A scavenger loots from the corpses of dead soldiers in a battlefield. Scene None.
A Good Death An Old Orc is seeking for an honorable death. Moving None.
Hey! You there! Take this! A Fugitive approaches, gives an item to the Dragonborn, and runs. A Hunter then appears asking about him. The player can lie, tell the truth, keep the item, or return it to the hunter. Alternatively, if the hunter spots the Fugitive before speaking with the Dragonborn, he will just start attacking the Fugitive. Moving None.
Imperial Scout Patrol Imperial Soldiers marching towards an Imperial Camp. Moving None.
Stormcloak Scout Patrol Stormcloak Soldiers marching towards a Stormcloak Camp. Moving None.
Courier on the Run A Courier is spotted dashing between settlements. Moving None.
College Application Denied A despondent young mage gives his Staff of Resurrection and Black Soul Gem after speaking to the Dragonborn, dejected that he could not get into the College of Winterhold. Scene Level 15 or higher.
The Aspiring Mage An Aspiring Mage is found practicing magic. The player will have the option to persuade, intimidate or buy a Staff of Reanimation carried by the Mage. Moving None.
Thalmor and Captured Prisoner A Thalmor Justiciar and Thalmor guards escorting a prisoner. Speaking to the Justiciar will reveal that the prisoner is a follower of Talos. Trying to speak again with the Justiciar will lead to him thinking that the Dragonborn is a heretic and all of them will attack. Moving Roads Only.
Thalmor vs Stormcloaks Three Thalmor battle against three Stormcloaks. Moving None.
Thalmor vs You Three Thalmor attack the Dragonborn. (There will be a note ordering this attack) Moving None.
M'aiq the Liar M'aiq the Liar shares his wisdom with the player. Moving None.
Bounty Hunters vs You Three bounty hunters attack the Dragonborn. (Note ordering attack can be found on bodies) Moving None, officially, but see Shadowmarks.
Hidden Treasure Hunt Find the corpse of a dead Treasure Hunter with a letter leading you to a nearby (randomized) dungeon, and a valuable item inside a large treasure chest. (Note: Radiant Story) Scene None, but unrelated to Treasure Maps Side Quest.
Bard at Rest Talsgar the Wanderer has stopped for a rest in the wilderness. The player may request a song from him. Scene None.
Bard attacked by Bandits Talsgar the Wanderer is being attacked by bandits. Scene None.
Bard Traveling Talsgar the Wanderer is walking to the nearest settlement. Moving Roads only.
On the way to a Wedding A pair of guests are traveling with a bodyguard to attend Vittoria Vici's wedding in Solitude. Moving Bound Until Death not completed. Roads only.
Lost After the Wedding A pair of guests have become lost whilst returning home from the wedding. Moving Bound Until Death completed (Roads only).
Revenge of Louis Letrush A Thug is sent by Louis Letrush to attack the Dragonborn. Moving Side Quest Promises to Keep completed, but the player kept Frost.
The End of Louis Letrush A Thug and Louis Letrush are fighting in the wilderness. Moving Side Quest Promises to Keep completed, and delivered Frost, but told Maven about it.
Ramblings of a Mad Woman A madwoman approaches you, mumbling nonsense. She mentions the Blue Palace. If the player has completed the quest, she also talks about the Wabbajack. Scene The Mind of Madness quest complete (for different conversation topics).
The Drunken Dare Somebody from your drunken night with Sanguine approaches and asks you for some money you owe them. Options: Pay, flee, fight. Scene A Night to Remember completed.
The Drunkard A drunk Orc that is hostile. His inventory will hold 8-25 alcoholic drinks. Moving None.
Spriggans vs Lumberjacks Two Spriggans are battling against two Hunters in the wilderness. Moving (Level 8 or higher).
Pain in the Neck A Hunter has been bitten by a vampire and asks for help. You can cure his disease and/or ask where the (nearest) vampire den is. Moving None.
Looking to join the Imperials A Dunmer Farmer is on his way to sign up with the Imperial Legion in Solitude. Moving None.
Looking to join the Stormcloaks A Redguard Farmer is on his way to sign up with the Stormcloaks in Windhelm.

Moving

None.
Vigilants vs Atronach Three Vigilants of Stendarr battling against an Atronach. Sometimes one Vigilant will kill the atronach, but its body will remain, but not be lit by fire, after exploding. Scene None.
Vigilants vs Vampire Two Vigilants of Stendarr battling against a Vampire. Scene Only occurs between 10:00 pm and 5:00 am.
Vigilant vs Skeletons A Vigilant of Stendarr battles against three skeletons. Scene None.
Vigilants on Patrol Two Vigilants of Stendarr are en route to the Hall of the Vigilant. Moving None.
Dead Woman's Pendant A woman's corpse on the ground has a note mentioning a stolen pendant. The item in question can be found on one of two nearby bandits. Scene None.
Finding the Gourmet A traveler named Balbus is seeking the most famous chef in all of Skyrim. If the quest is completed, one can pose as the Gourmet (with the correct identification papers taken from the quest). Reward: A Daedra Heart, Troll Fat, A Spider Egg, and Balbus' prized fork. Scene Completed Recipe for Disaster.
Forsworn vs Merchant Three Forsworn battle against a merchant and a horse. If the merchant survives, the player can barter with him. Moving Only in The Reach.
Forsworn vs Soldiers Three Forsworn fight two Imperial Soldiers. Moving Only in The Reach.
Bandits vs Traveling Merchant Two bandits battle against a merchant and a horse. If you defeat the bandits, the player can barter with him. Moving None.
Faldus the Pilgrim A Dunmer named Faldus is traveling to Azura's Shrine, and the player receives an objective to travel there, as an introduction to the Black Star quest. Moving None.
Sharing a bite to eat A beggar is close to a corpse. If completed The Taste of Death, the Dragonborn recognizes the beggar as a Namira Cultist, who offers a bite of this feast. Scene Share the meal only after completion of The Taste of Death.
Necromancers vs You Two necromancers attempt to kill the Dragonborn. If the quest The Black Star is completed, there will be a note on one of the bodies ordering them to avenge the death of Malyn Varen. Scene The Black Star is complete.
Kynareth's Pilgrim Once the Gildergreen is restored, pilgrims begin travelling to Whiterun to see it. One of them passes the Dragonborn in his/her travels. Moving The Blessings of Nature.
Peryite's Pilgrim Before starting The Only Cure, the Dragonborn may encounter an Afflicted, a refugee with pox fleeing from Bthardamz. You receive an objective to travel there. Scene Level 10 or higher. Does not happen after The Only Cure has been initiated.
Afflicted vs You Afflicted Refugees spot and attack the Dragonborn. Scene Level 10 or higher. The Only Cure must be completed.
A Disturbed Spriggan The corpse of a hunter is close to a live Spriggan, which attacks the Dragonborn. Scene Level 8 or Higher.
Dragon Attack Aftermath The Dragonborn stumbles upon a cart and three charred corpses after a Dragon attack. Scene Dragon Rising completed.
Roaming Ice Wraiths Ice Wraiths are winding through the air. They attack the Dragonborn as he/she nears them. Scene Level 10 or higher. Only occurs in Haafingar, The Pale, and Winterhold Hold.
Spriggan vs Hagraven A Spriggan battles a Hagraven in the wilderness. Scene Level 20 or Higher.
A Hunter's Best Friend Meet a Hunter and his dog wandering in the wilderness. Scene None.
Ice Wraiths vs Bandits Ice Wraiths battling bandits in the snow. Moving Level 10 or higher. Occurs only in Haafingar, The Pale, and Winterhold Hold.
Dog vs Wolves A Stray Dog is battling against two Wolves. If the player kills the wolves and the dog survives, he can become a follower. Moving None.
Dead Bandit/Live Horse A bandit's corpse is lying on the ground, and a horse is wandering nearby. The player may use this horse as a steed. Scene None.
Dueling Wizards A Frost Mage and a Fire Mage are battling in the wilderness. Scene None.
Mistwatch Escapee A prisoner has escaped from Mistwatch; he informs the Dragonborn where this fortification is. Scene Mistwatch must not have been discovered yet.
Thieves Guild Holdup A member of the Thieves Guild holds the Dragonborn up for some gold. Can be avoided if a member of the guild. Scene Taking Care of Business complete, avoids this.
Alik'r Accusation Two Alik'r accosting a woman. Scene Occurs before or during the Side Quest In My Time of Need, but not after.
Dwemer Junk Peddlers Two children offer to sell the Dragonborn some Dwemer artifacts. They also point the Dragonborn to a Dwemer Point of Interest (Secondary Location). Scene Only occurs in The Reach.
Blood Horker's Revenge The Blood Horkers from the Side Quest Rise in the East attack the Dragonborn. Scene Rise in the East completed.
Drinking Companions Three Revelers toasting and inviting the Dragonborn to a Honningbrew Mead. If the Dragonborn shares his/her own Honningbrew Mead with the drunks, then the Revelers will give the player a Charmed Necklace. If the player tries to share Black-Briar Mead, the Revelers will state their hatred for Black-Briar Mead and become bitter to the Dragonborn. Scene None.
Vampire's Trick The player sees a vampire attacking an innocent. Approach, and the "victim" is actually the vampire's Thrall. Both attack. Scene Only occurs between 10:00pm and 4:00am, prior to Laid to Rest. Afterwards, occurs anywhere by Hjaalmarch.
Vampires vs You Two vampires attack the Dragonborn. Scene Only occurs between 10:00pm and 4:00am, prior to Laid to Rest. Afterwards, occurs anywhere by Hjaalmarch.
The Companions Hunt (I) Vilkas and Ria are out hunting Sabre Cats. Moving After completion of all Companion Quests. Does not occur in Whiterun Hold.
The Companions Hunt (II) Skjor, Aela and Njada are out hunting a mammoth. Moving After beginning the Companion Quests. Does not occur in Whiterun Hold. After the quest The Silver Hand, Skjor is dead.
The Companions Hunt (III) Farkas, Athis, and Torvar are out hunting Bears. Moving After completion of all Companion Quests. Does not occur in Whiterun Hold.
Wolf Hunt A fellow from Cragslane Cavern in Eastmarch attempted to retrieve pit wolves that have bolted from their pens. He is found dead, with the pit wolves nearby. The note reveals the location of Cragslane Cavern. Scene None.
Bounty Killer A Bounty Collector approaches the Dragonborn in the wilderness and offers the chance to pay off the Bounty for a raised price (the actual price depends on the Dragonborn's bounty). Choose to pay, flee, or kill. Scene Have a Bounty of more than 1000 GoldIcon in any Hold.
Burned Crops Meet two Farmers displaced after a recent Dragon attack. The player may give them gold if he/she wishes. Moving Must be at least level 4. Roads Only.
The Nobles Two noblemen are walking along the road escorted by two soldiers. Moving Roads only.
The Thalmor Three Thalmor are walking along the road, eventually reaching the Thalmor Embassy. Moving Roads only.
The Stormcloaks Three Stormcloaks are walking along the road, eventually reaching the nearest city. Moving Roads only. The Hold must be in Stormcloak's control.
The Imperials Three Imperials are walking along the road, eventually reaching the nearest city. Moving Roads only. The Hold must be in Imperial control.
The Adventurer A mercenary adventurer is walking toward a nearby dungeon. The player may speak to the mercenary and get him to reveal the location of the dungeon, which appears on your world map. Moving Level 5 and higher (roads only).
The Taunting Adventurer An adventurer taunts you on the road, spoiling for a fight. The player may oblige, or talk his/her way out of it. Moving Roads only.
Not Your Courier A Courier is on the road, traveling to a nearby inn to deliver a message. The player can steal the note (or kill the Courier), which hints at random treasure inside a random nearby dungeon. Moving Roads only (Starts a radiant, miscellaneous quest).
Skooma Dealer A Skooma dealer offers the Dragonborn some of his stock. You can purchase or use intimidation to get your fix. He will attack if the player expresses doubts about the legality of the transaction. Moving Roads only.
Skooma Dealer vs Troll A Skooma dealer battles a troll. The dealer will most likely be killed unless the Dragonborn helps him/her. Afterwards you can purchase or use intimidation as normal. No additional reward is given for saving the dealer. Moving Roads only.
A Giant's Painted Cow A Giant is walking along the road with a painted cow close by. He heads to the nearest (random) Giant's Camp. Moving Roads only.
A Farmer's Painted Cow A farmer is leading a painted cow along the road to a (random) Giant's camp. This is part of a ritual so the giants and farmers live harmoniously together. If you follow the farmer to the camp, you'll likely see him attacked by both Giants and Mammoths. Moving Roads only.
The Headless Horseman Rides a horse to Hamvir's Rest. Head lies with its helmet in the graveyard there. Moving Occurs between 10:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M.
A Hired Assassin A Dark Brotherhood assassin tries to kill you. The assassin is generic, not from the sanctuary. This random can happen even if the Dragonborn joins the Dark Brotherhood, and can even occur after their questline if completed. (Cannot loot the assassin's armor) Moving Roads only.
Stick 'em up A Thief will attempt to rob the Dragonborn. A successful persuasion or intimidation will dissuade him from the assault. There is also an additional dialog option to avoid any trouble, only possible if the Dragonborn has joined the Thieves Guild. If the player is wearing any piece of Nightingale Armor, the Thief will instead give the player a sum of gold. Moving Roads only.
Milk Drinker! A lone warrior that calls the Dragonborn "milk drinker". The warrior can be persuaded or intimidated but it's likely that he/she will start attacking. This is the only known character who can wear a piece of Daedric Armor. This NPC's name is generally their race. (e.x. simply just "Orc") Moving Roads/Inns
Ghost in Need A ghost can be found while exploring. It doesn't say anything when talked to. If followed, it will lead you to its grave site which is being ransacked by bandits. Scene Must be night.
Breton (Heavy Mage) A lone Breton wearing high level Heavy Armor (usually Ebony) will start to attack you without cause. Uses mid- to high-level destruction spells, or steel dagger up close. Moving None
Peddler A lone peddler riding a horse through the wilderness. The player may buy several alchemy ingredients, soul gems, and ores from him, or loot them from his dead body. Moving None
Peddler and bandit A lone peddler on a horse being attacked by a bandit. He can be saved or looted from if he dies. Has several apothecary ingredients, soul gems and ores. Moving None
Peddler and Forsworn A lone peddler on a horse being attacked by three forsworn. Can be saved or looted. Moving Must be in the Reach.
Troll vs wolves Two wolves attack a troll. Moving None
Talsgar the Wanderer Talsgar the Wanderer, a travelling bard, will sing a song if the Dragonborn gives him gold. Moving Roads/Woods/Inns
Mage Student A mage will walk up to the Dragonborn and ask to teach him how to properly cast wards and ask for a demonstration. Once finished, the mage thanks the Dragonborn and walk away. Moving Towns only.
Hunter Werewolf A hunter, when neared, transforms into a werewolf and becomes hostile toward the player. This mostly occurs around Falkreath. Werewolves can also be traveling in packs. Moving Dawnguard add-on installed.
Dueling with a wizard A wizard approaches the Dragonborn, challenging him/her to a duel. The duel cannot be avoided. Moving He can only be encountered in towns, and the Dragonborn must have a mage skill (enchanting doesn't count) above lvl 50.
Gift from a Friend Any NPC whom you have a good disposition with may approach you and hand you a gift. Moving - Any settlement Level 5
Morag Tong A group of Morag Tong assassins will appear and attack the player if they are a member of the Dark Brotherhood. The execution orders can be found on their corpses. Solstheim Dragonborn DLC, and Dark Brotherhood membership. 
Riding Hunter A hunter riding a horse. If a wild animal is nearby, he will get off the horse and attack the animal. Moving Roads Only

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

Start a Discussion Discussions about Random Encounters (Skyrim)

  • What's some of your worst random encounters to date?

    23 messages
    • I reckon mine was pretty cool just not as exciting as the rest. Anyway...... I'm doing the civil was quests for the stormcloaks at level 7  w...
    • For me, A courier popped out of nowhere when i was fighting a legendary dragon, plus 20 bandits.
  • The most interesting random encounters you had?

    47 messages
    • In the far North on the way to Vampire HQ, in a blinding snow storm, down the road ... a chicken comes marching!
    • Yesterday I was caught in the middle of a Goblin war. Two rival tribes attacked each other near Whiterun and I got owned by them. Then whe...
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