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Name Cameos in Jeff's Games

ex post slarto

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Name Cameos in Jeff's Games

and other sources of names



1. talk.bizarre personalities

talk.bizarre was a newsgroup frequented by Jeff in the years leading up to the first Spiderweb games, and was the single largest source of names in Exile I. It was also used quite a bit in Exile II. At least a few of these folks served as beta testers as well.


Exile I:

  • Andrew Solberg
  • Ron Echeverri
  • Mr. X of X Industries (a.k.a. Xian)
  • Tom Boutell
  • Blair P. Houghton
  • Elspeth
  • Ty Nance
  • Starcap'n Ra
  • Crisper Than Thou
  • Sunshine on Leith
  • Yong-Mi Kim
  • Markian Gooley
  • C.J. Silverio
  • Zed
  • Kevin "Chevyn" McAuley
  • Gypsy
  • Miles O'Neal
  • Diane Wilson
  • Caitlin Burke
  • Josh "Doc" Hayes
  • Billbill (Bill and Bill)
  • Zvi Gilbert
  • J. Eric Townsend
  • Ken Johnson (Captian Johnson?)

Exile II:

  • Tom Limoncelli
  • Julian Waldby
  • Johnathan Vail
  • Paul Egli
  • Jenine Abarbanel
  • Nathan Torkington
  • Genevieve Williams
  • Kevin Schnitzius


  • M. Legare

Avernum 4:

  • Soren Ragsdale (Sorengard)


2. Rutgers math colleagues

A number of characters, mostly in Exile I, were named after grad school colleagues. Jeff quit his program after Exile I turned out to be a commercial success.


Exile I:

  • Tor Gunston '98
  • Carol Hamer '98
  • Rita Cskany '98
  • Aimee
  • J.R.
  • Tom Bohman '96
  • Marco Lenci '99

Exile II:

  • Marie-Cecile Vidican (Rutgers-related connection)


3. Society for Creative Anachronism friends

Source for several noteworthy names in Exile I.

  • Patrick Padraig
  • Hathwisa
  • Bevan
  • Anastasia


4. Television and film

Beginning in Exile II, Jeff has taken sets of NPC names from TV shows and occasionally movies. Comedy Central receives thanks in many readme's and shows up all over this list, especially early on.


Exile II:

  • Absolutely Fabulous
    • Eddy Monsoon, Patsy Stone, Saffron Monsoon, JustinOliver (Blosk)


  • Saturday Night Live
    • Gilda Radner, Dan AckroydLorraine Newman, Jane Curtin (The Castle)


  • 3rd Rock from the Sun
    • Kristen (Kirsten) Johnson, John Lithgow, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jane Curtin (The Castle)


  • Felix the Cat
    • Felix (Patrick's Tower)


Exile III:

  • Kids in the Hall
    • Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinley, Kevin McDonald, Scott Thompson (New Formello)


  • Babylon 5
    • IvanovaLondoG'KarDelenn (Golddale)


  • Laverne & Shirley
    • LaverneShirleyCarmineLennus (Lenny), Squiggus (Squiggy)


  • Trainspotting
    • SpudRentonBegbieSick Boy (Shayder)
    • Irvine Welsh (author of the book, also in Shayder)


Blades of Exile:

  • The Daily Show
    • Craig Kilborn, Lizz Winstead, A. Whitney Brown, Beth Littleford, Felix Unger (Blinlock)


  • South Park
    • Eric Cartman (Zaskiva); Kenny (added in BoA)


  • Titanic
    • James CameronLeonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet



  • Sports Night
    • Dan RydellDayna (Dana) Whitaker, Isaac Jaffee (Jaffe), Natley (Natalie) Hurley, Jeremy Godwin (Goodwin), Pixley, Aaron Sorkin (Pentil)


Geneforge 2:

  • Black Books
    • MannyBernard


  • The Office (UK)
    • BrentGarethDawnFinchy (Gheth)


  • The Wire
    • KimaMacnultyBunk (Loyalist Encampment)


Blades of Avernum:

  • The Daily Show (again)
    • Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Steve CarrellSamanthaCorddryHelmsWalls (Seleucia)


Geneforge 3:

  • Arrested Development
    • Michael BluthGob Bluth, Tobias Funke, Maeby Funke (Dhonal's Keep East Docks)


Avernum 4:

  • Lonesome Dove
    • Pea Eye Parker, Lorena Parker, Woodrow F. CallBolivarAugustus McCrae (Silvar)


  • Horror/suspense film characters
    • Carrie
    • Jason Vorhees
    • Gunderson (innkeeper)


Geneforge 4:

  • Veronica Mars
    • Veronica MarsDuncan Kane


Geneforge 5:

  • Mythbusters
    • Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman


Avernum 6:

  • Mad Men
    • Joan Halloway (Holloway), Roger Stirling (Sterling), Freddy Rumson (Rumsen), Peggy Olssson (Olson) (Fort Draco raiders)


5. Girlfriends

Some or all of the provinces (and possibly other locations) in Exile III were named after Jeff's girlfriends. This was apparently stated by Jeff someplace. To wit:

  • Mariann Krizsan
  • Monoroe (Shirley Monroe)
  • Sharimik (Shari Moskow?)
  • Karnold (K. Arnold?)
  • Bigail (Abigail?)
  • Shayder (Shaynee Snider?)
  • Footracer (Tracey?)


6. Authors and editors

It's unclear if these were intended as a deliberate tribute, or whether books and other written works were simply a convenient source of names that had just the right ring to them.


Exile I:

  • General authors
    • Christopher Marlowe, Samuel Johnson (Bargha)
    • Arthur Leo Zagat (Spire), Roberta Rogow, Cynthia Felice (Bargha; all three are SF authors)
    • Bill Maher, John Cleese (Bargha; comics but also authors of books in 1993-1994)
    • John Calder, publisher of some Nathaniel Hawthorne works (Bargha; see fictional characters below)


Exile II:

  • General authors
    • Thomas Gibbon, Tom StoppardOrson Welles, John Locke


Blades of Exile:

  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • DC Comics Bigwigs, Editors, Artists, and Writers
    • Paul Levitz, Richard BruningLillian Laserson, Dave McKean, Dorothy Crouch, Bruce BristowAxel Alonso (VoDT); Robbin Brosterman, Lillian Laserson, Joan HiltyStephano Gaudiano, Chuck Kim, Ray Houlihan, Michael Zulli (ASR); Jenette Kahn (both); Abe Ocampo, Sheldon MayerKimzahn (Timothy Zahn) (ZKR)


Geneforge 3:

  • SF authors
    • Michael Swanwick, Mike Resnick, Connie Willis


Avernum 4:

  • New York Times writers
    • Paul Krugman, Joe Conason


Geneforge 4:

  • New York Times writers
    • Jay Mouawad, Louis Uchitelle, Kate Zernike, Martin Fackler, Michael BarbaroKirk Johnson, Rachel Swarns, Ian Urbina, George Vecsey, Lynn ZinserSabrina Tavernise, Randal ArchibaldManohla Dargis


Geneforge 5:

  • The Onion A.V. Club writers
    • Tasha Robinson, Genevieve Koski, Josh Modell


  • The Seattle Stranger contributors
    • A. Birch Steen, Megan Seling, Brendan Kiley, David Schmader, Charles Mudede, Dan Savage


7. Literary characters

Books became a consistent source for characters, alongside TV and film.


Exile I:

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne's works
    • Hester Prynne (Bargha), Eustace Bright (Spire)
    • Samuel Johnson (Bargha; an author as well as a character in a Hawthorne book)


Exile III:

  • Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
    • The "Unspecified Services" organization name


Blades of Exile:

  • DC Comics, mostly involved in Crisis on Infinite Slarties Earths
    • Maria [several possible], Penelope Black, Bradley Covington (VoDT); Stone [family], Smith [several possible], MayaCaroline Dean, Eric O'GradyHelena [several possible], Luna Nurblin (ASR); Vale [several possible], Edward [several possible] (ZKR)


Note: the Crisis event involved a massive number of characters, so name overlaps would be expected; I consider these likely only because they are in the same context as the clearly evidenced list of DC editors in the above category.



  • Chekhov's plays
    • Maria "Masha" Kulygina, Vassily Solyony, Nikolaj Tuzenbach, Aleksandr VershininFerapont (The Three Sisters)
    • Konstantin Treplev (Treplyov) (The Seagull)
    • Mikhail Astrov, Aleksandr SerabryakovSofya Serabryakov, Ilya Telegin (Uncle Vanya)
    • AnyaVarya, Leonid Gayev (The Cherry Orchard)
    • Nikolai Ivanov, Michael BorkinAvdotyaGavrila (Ivanov)


Geneforge 3:

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
    • Jonathan StrangeArabella Strange, Gilbert NorrellSusanna Clarke


Avernum 4:

  • Wicked
    • Elphaba


  • Emperor of Ocean Park
    • Kimmer Madison, Talcott "Misha" Garland, Mariah Garland, Oliver Garland


Geneforge 4:

  • Watchmen
    • Dave Gibbons, Adrian Veidt, Fred Motz


  • Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle
    • Jack ShaftoeEliza of Qwghlm, Moseh de la Cruz


Avernum 5:

  • The Skin of Our Teeth, by Thornton Wilder
    • George Antrobus, Lilly SabinaMaggie Antrobus


  • Kurt Vonnegut's novels
    • Kilgore Trout, George Pefko, Norman Fuller


Geneforge 5:

  • Bleak House, by Charles Dickens
    • Harold Skimpole, John Jarndyce, William Guppy, Richard Carstone


  • Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
    • Lenar HoytBrawne Lamia, Martin Silenus


  • Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
    • Erasmus (Erasmas), OroloSammann


Avernum 6:

  • Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett
    • VladimirEstragon


  • King Lear, by Shakespeare
    • ReganEdgarEdmund (Almaria)
    • possibly also Noam and Tardiff, critics who wrote about Lear


  • The Stand, by Stephen King
    • Nick Andros, William HapscombStuart Redman, Frannie Goldsmith (Fort Duvno)



  • Les Miserables
    • CosetteEponineVaroche (Gavroche)


8. Musicians

An occasional but clear presence. Jeff frequently gives shout-outs to the bands he listens to while programming in his readme's, so it seems possible there are more references we haven't caught.


Exile II:

  • Tori Amos
  • Melissa Ethridge (Etheridge)

Avernum 4:

  • Sleater-Kinney
    • Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss, Sleater-Kinney


Avernum 6:

  • Neko, Case (Webbed Woods)


Avernum EFTP:

  • The New Pornographers
    • Carl NewmanNeko Case, Kurt Dahle, Dan Bejar, Kathryn Calder


9. Comedians

The Exile I entries are questionable, since Jeff did not use very many produced-content sources for names in that game, but they are comedians who seem to fit perfectly with Jeff's sense of humor (as well as the Scorched Earth Party).


Exile I:

  • Bill Maher
  • John Cleese


Avernum 4:

  • Dave Chapelle
  • Redd Fox
  • David Cross
  • Patton Oswalt
  • Sarah Silverman
  • Terry Gilliam


10. EverQuest (and the Chaos Justice guild)

A major name source around the Avernum 4 era. Jeff gave us a lead on this one. There are a surprising number of trails for this on the web, despite the timeframe being a decade ago. Most of these names came from other characters in his guild, or who raided with his guild, though there are a few from raid targets as well.


Geneforge 3:

  • Meraia, Tuona, Muram
  • Barxt (raid target)


Avernum 4:

  • Kabraxaz, Nociduas, Abisynthe, Trysbrina, Lyun, Uggluk, Imiriel, Sinedin, Tuona, Kasaz, Zarbonn, Kragg
  • Keldovan, Hanvar (raid targets)


11. World of Warcraft

Jeff has talked about WoW even more than EverQuest, and mentioned it in more readme's. Many names, especially in Avernum 4 and beyond, sound like they could easily have come from WoW characters. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find reliable googleable material the way I was for Chaos Justice, but it's a safe bet that this was a prodigious source for names for a number of games.


12. Nearby locations

Mainly a source in Exile III, which of course required naming more small friendly towns than any other SW game.


Exile III:

  • Golddale (Silverdale), a town Jeff was once associated with
  • Port Townsend
  • Bremerton
  • Poulsbo
  • Colfax
  • Gorst


Geneforge 5:

  • Zoka, a Seattle donut shop (also has a readme callout)


13. Spiderweb affiliates

Hat tips to people who've been there for Spiderweb.


Exile III:

  • Jordan Bojar of Foglio studios


  • Phil Foglio


  • Brent Heustess, beta tester

Geneforge 4:

  • Reiner, tileset creator
  • Paul Ellsworth, beta tester


14. Family

The first was stated by Jeff; his immediate family receives frequent use, but he has said sometimes that he just likes the names.


Exile I:

  • Elmer, Jeff's grandfather


  • Mariann Krizsan, Jeff's radiant wife
  • Cordelia, Jeff's daughter, but also a favourite name of his
  • Miranda, Jeff's daughter, but also a favourite name of his


15. Other friends

Some of these are simple Facebook speculation, but the source of one rather important name, Erika Redmark, was supplied by Jeff.


Exile I:

  • Erika, a high school friend
  • Jennifer Rippel (?)
  • Shaynee Snider (?)

Exile II:

  • Prazac, a high school friend
  • Tina Mancuso (?)

Avernum 4:

  • Lark Griffin (?)

Geneforge 4:

  • Sharon Crowley (?)


16. Miscellaneous

Name sources that don't fit into the above categories, but seem likely due to unusual similarities (Zanthia) or Jeff's background (Sylow, Moon).


Exile I:

  • Sylow, a Norwegian mathematician
  • Zanthia, the alchemist protagonist of The Legend of Kyrandia 2
  • Exile, name of a one-way transport mechanism in Julian May's Saga of Pliocene Exile (cited by Jeff as inspiration; related inspiration from Robert Silverberg's short story "Hawksbill Station")

Exile III:

  • Moon, a town in Ultima 3
  • Malloc and Calloc (towns), C functions


Blades of Exile:

  • Newsworthy figures of the time
    • Steve Forbes, Chelsea Clinton, Michele Aboro, Welde, Madeleine Albright (ASR Willow)


Geneforge 3:

  • Galileo Galilei's family
    • Maria CelesteVincenzio Galilei, Sestilia Bocchineri


  • Alcholic beverages
    • Sauza tequila, Macallan single malt whiskey, Maker's Mark bourbon, Bailey's Irish cream, Captain Morgan rum, the Aunt Agatha mixed drink


Avernum 6:

  • Djokov and Baghdatis, pro tennis players

Avernum 2 CS:

  • Morrigan, Celtic warrior goddess
  • Venus Castinan, aspect of goddess related to non-male-performing men


17. Names from the news

In the Geneforge and Second Trilogy years, googling a set of names from the same town often turns up a newspaper or magazine of the appropriate era, and it's sometimes one local to Seattle. It's unlikely that this is always a coincidence, but in many cases the names are so common that it's not really possible to establish a definitive tie, either.


18. Name generators

You may have noticed that the most recent SW release, the Avadon and Avernum Remake series, do not show up on this list very much, even though the Avadon games involve a real slew of new names. Googling those names doesn't turn up much. However, googling those names often turns up name generator name lists. I'd wager Spiderweb is using a relatively nice name generator, and probably one that generates names of particular linguistic backgrounds, as we've seen a few clusters of names that closely resemble common Slavic names, to take one example.



This document is not complete -- it is a work in progress, and we'd love your help in continuing to expand it! If you have any ideas or see names that look familiar, please feel free to post in this thread. Some other names we are currently suspicious of, but don't feel confident enough about to include in the main list, are below.




Linda (Linda Strout? no -- most likely predates her)

Strout (G1 Servile, A4 Fort Monastery resident -- Linda Strout? -- unclear)


Bernie ("the Chart")



Skunky Joe

Etunimdiam (G4 gazer) -- sounds like "et unum diem", Latin for "and a day" -- has an xbox live account listed under Seattle, WA

Skarp (A5 Exodus) -- Seattle WA band.

Elinor, Klivans, Haedrich (ASR Selathni) -- cookbook authors; Vonnegut in same town

Commander Wallace and Craftmaster Pynchon in Zhethron's Keep (Av3) -- see thread

Potential Slithzerikai inspiration in the Sleeth of Gamma World (tabletop RPG)

SIMS (F. Paul Wilson novel) as potential inspiration for Serviles

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[X1-6] Solberg = Andrew Solberg, usenet poster & E1 beta tester

That was a real name? Hehe... there have been several (non-real) Solbergs on Spiderweb since, and one of them is tied to a pretty infamous plagiarism incident back in the day.


By the way, the Foglios have two characters in their famous Steampunk fantasy Girl Genius named "General Krizsan" and "Professor Vogel", and I wouldn't be surprised if that's on purpose too. But this list is for cameos in Spiderweb games, not the Vogels appearing in other cameos.


I think there were more Krizsan references in the series than those two - IIRC there was a well-off/military/aristocratic family who were both the namesake of the province and the family of the exiled Krizsan.


Also, http://pied-piper.er.../2018/p5#000114 :

On the subject of ex-wives, all the provinces of Valorim are supposed to be named after women with whom Jeff was involved. Mariann Krizsan is his wife and Gale is Shirley once and current surname.


—Alorael, who isn't so sure about Footracer. Maybe Jeff had a brief fling with fitness once before coming to his senses?



[X3] Malloc & Calloc (towns) = C functions

Giving me meme reversal: Now whenever I read about the C functions, I think of the towns.

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The voice of the spiders? Me and my ex-wife' date=' Shirley Monroe. The monster getting hit sounds in Exiles I-II was her too. The "Mmmmmm" sound in Exile III (when you get food) is me. Mmmmmmm. No helium. It's a natural skill.[/quote']


Note that Gale is not a province, but a town in Monroe. A slip.




I'm not even sure about Karnold, Midori, Footracer and Bigail. For the most famous cameo series in Exile 3, two out of six is a poor statistic. Did Jeff ever claim this theme himself, or was it simply inferred from the two known references?

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I think there were more Krizsan references in the series than those two

IIRC there was a well-off/military/aristocratic family who were both the namesake of the province and the family of the exiled Krizsan.

General Gabor Krizsan is the one who named the province.


I'm not even sure about Karnold, Midori, Footracer and Bigail. For the most famous cameo series in Exile 3, two out of six is a poor statistic. Did Jeff ever claim this theme himself, or was it simply inferred from the two known references?

Well, Midori and Footracer are names that get reused, which is suspicious. Midori is a lich in X2 and someone named Footracer appears in G5.



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Monoroe is fairly obvious after Krizsan. I suspect that somebody noticed those two, posted about them which specifying "two", and then somebody else leapt to the conclusion that it applied to all six and posted it.


I mean, "Bigail"? That's a crappy name.

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Originally Posted By: Slarty
Monoroe is fairly obvious after Krizsan. I suspect that somebody noticed those two, posted about them which specifying "two", and then somebody else leapt to the conclusion that it applied to all six and posted it.

And once posted, such things become known facts and are repeated for ever and ever, occasionally garbled along the way.

I'm liable to do that myself - for example, I nearly pointed to another post as support for "Midori" being such a cameo, before actually reading the link.
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Well, I'm not from Scandinavia or Iceland (where just about all your examples are from), and neither is Jeff. Bjorn is most definitely an uncommon where we're from, though I can't speak for you, I suppose. It's also a funny name, probably since a 'b' followed by a 'j' is so uncommon in the English language. Though now that you've made me analyze it, it's not funny anymore. frown

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Originally Posted By: SupaNik
Xelgion, please edit your signature to remove the blank lines. Thank you.

Sorry, the mods beat you to it, move faster if you want the job.

Originally Posted By: The Almighty Doer of Stuff
I'm born and raised in Massachusetts, though. I believe the J is pronounced sort of like the Y in "yes", but I could be wrong.

No, it is pronounced like a y, but this does not apply for all Massachusetts names, "Jonathan" is not pronounced "Yonathan".
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Originally Posted By: Ackrovan
Shaftoe, Eliza and Moseh are characters from a book by Neal Stephenson, but I don't know what.

Moseh is in The Confusion and The System of the World, and Jack Shaftoe and Eliza in those and the preceding Quicksilver as well. There are at least six other characters with the surname Shaftoe and a speaking role in the Baroque Cycle books or in Cryptonomicon, but I think the reference is to Jack.

—Alorael, who will grudgingly not argue that the vahnatai are collectively a reference to the Greys.
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Originally Posted By: Vinegar and Engine Oil
—Alorael, who will grudgingly not argue that the vahnatai are collectively a reference to the Greys.

Are the Greys from one of Stephenson's books too? I've only read Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, Quicksilver and Confusion so far.
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*check's Aran's location on a globe using poor knowledge of latitude and longitude*


Ah, well here in America, Greys are the generic alien. I don't really know much about it either, it seems to just be a name given to the grey, big eyed, skinny aliens that everyone seems to like to report in their crazy abduction descriptions here. Now they're used in movies and TV a lot, surely you've seen this type of alien before somewhere.

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Why not? But I don't think the name matches very well, and it's thematically inappropriate. She's also a more major character than the other cameos tend to be. The Patrick Pearse connection is also too strained; it's really just a first name and last initial. I think the name is more intended to be silly on its own, since it's essentially "Patrick Patrick." Aimee is too generic a given name to mean anything in isolation.


—Alorael, who actually wouldn't be surprised if the Greys appeared in Stephenson's books somewhere. They're the kind of wacko conspiracy theory fodder that he seems to get a kick out of.

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So in the course of googling groups of names from the same town together, I think I've discovered the major source Jeff uses for random names.


News. Despite the fact that I've never googled anything but names, I frequently get in the top 5 results an article from a Seattle newspaper that mentions all of the names I am searching for at some point. They may be first or last names, they may be together or seperate; frequently they are part of a list.


This happens with other news sources too, but the fact that Seattle comes up more often than any other location can't be a coincidence. It also makes sense given the number of names we see, that immediately call up a strong association to a particular celebrity or historical figure, but which we aren't used to hearing otherwise. Winslet. Tycho.


I haven't recorded any of these instances because the name sources are essentially random and uninteresting.


This method does not seem to have been used much in the Exile days, which makes sense; most of the random, whitebread townspeople had random, whitebread names. Some of the more memorable characters seem to have come from the talk.bizarre usenet group.


Finally, major characters appear to have mostly unique names. This is obvious for, say, Khyryk or Litalia, but it appears to be true of older ones also. Exile 1 is unclear here, as Solberg and 'X' come from usenet and some others, like Linda, are suspicious.


Take a look at the first post if you haven't lately -- LOTS of updates.

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As I said, there is a mage in Zaskiva named Stan, who is friends with Cartman and Kenny. I don't know why Kyle is missing, but Stan is definitely there.


Also, your first contact in ASR is Vonnegut. I believe Jeff is a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, so the character is probably named after him.

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