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What are Quake bsp brushes?

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Can someone explain what the brushes are that are used in the quake bsp file (quake 2 or 3)? What I know is their convex volumes that are some how used for collision detection. I know when your''re in a leaf, their is a index into the brush list as well as an index into the face list. Wouldn''t the brush list be a set of planes that describe the geometry of the faces in that leaf? And if so, why would you need them if you already have the faces to that leaf. Originaly, when I heard of the term brush, I thought of them as they were being used in .map files. Were the brush defines the planes that make up the geometry (such as a box). But I am very confused by what they mean by brushes in this case. Also, anyone know what clip nodes are?

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