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How in the h e double hockey sticks am I supposed to use unless? Can I use it with if macros? can I use it with history macros? can I use it with either macros? I would like to use it if it can do what I think it can do but I really don't understand how even after reading and rereading and rereading the Harlowe 2.0.1 guide.

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You use (unless:) exactly as you would (if:). The only difference is that the evaluated statement is reversed: if it's true it becomes false and vice versa. For example, all of the following statements are roughly equivalent: 

(if: $var is false)
(if: not $var)
(unless: $var)
(unless: $var is true)