Which Fantasy Rpg system(systems?) is your favorite, and why ?


Other RPGs


The past five years I ve been searching for the perfect system
(I don't think it exists and I'll either have to make something on my own or use a patchwork of existing ones, but thats not the issue right now)

Discovering new ones, getting excited, reading the rules (most often than not eventually play-testing said rules; because its not easy to find non d20 people for a group and people whine a lot) and then all over again.

Can't say I complain because maybe in the end of the day I enjoy the journey too much. :)

In any case what I am gravitating towards recently is:

[And I've made threads about those before here. Either a High Fantasy version of Mythras (or the d100 system in general) or a High Fantasy version of rules for the Ubiquity system (from Desolation and other settings more specifically) ]

But Shaintar came into my attention as well and made me think if
Savage Worlds is the way to go..

But as I am always open to conversations (academic or otherwise):

your system of choice for your - preferably High Fantasy- Homebrew Worlds?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Right now, I'm loving Dungeon World.

It's a rules-light RPG using the Powered by the Apocalypse game engine that recreates some of the look-and-feel of early D&D.

You can use the rules to play high fantasy, gritty low fantasy, or anything in between. The rules are designed to keep the story moving forward and keeping the focus squarely on the PCs.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I prefer game systems that are hyperspecialized into covering their specific material.

Therefore, I love Pendragon to play in Author's Britain.
Next on the list would be Artesia to play in that setting.
I also love me some Blade of the Iron Throne when I need to get my Conan on.
I haven't actually run a session of it yet, but from reading through The One Ring, I'm excited to run a Middle Earth campaign.

Any sort of "generic" game, for me, would have to scratch a thematic itch to which the game is specialized for:

So I like Dungeon Crawl Classics when I want a whiz-bang old-school blender-of-death full of randomness and weirdness.
I like Torchbearer when I want to experience the grind of a roguelike, and that drowning feeling that dungeon-exploration can give.
My favorite system for high fantasy one-shots where we just have some fun being awesome and then dropping the game? 13th Age

So, it really depends on what you're trying to do.

I think the "truly generic" systems (like D&D, etc.) compromise too much, and don't really solve any specific gaming situation very well. I'd much rather use the right tool for the job, rather than pretend my swiss army knife is the only tool I'll ever need.


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I'm on a huge OSR kick at the moment, alternating playing/GMing a Swords & Wizardry White Box/White Star mash up campaign. I guess I'm saying I go old school for my ideal fantasy system, but an ascending AC option is a must.

Honestly though, if you've got a high fantasy homebrew world that you've spent time creating and want to give everyone a great play experience of it at the table (been there, still there) I'd worry less about finding an ideal RPG system than adapting your personal table play style to favorite system of the players at your table. (Hope that made sense, feel free to ask for clarifications.)


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Erik Freund wrote:

I prefer game systems that are hyperspecialized into covering their specific material.

Therefore, I love Pendragon to play in Author's Britain.
Next on the list would be Artesia to play in that setting.
I also love me some Blade of the Iron Throne when I need to get my Conan on.
I haven't actually run a session of it yet, but from reading through The One Ring, I'm excited to run a Middle Earth campaign.

Any sort of "generic" game, for me, would have to scratch a thematic itch to which the game is specialized for:

So I like Dungeon Crawl Classics when I want a whiz-bang old-school blender-of-death full of randomness and weirdness.
I like Torchbearer when I want to experience the grind of a roguelike, and that drowning feeling that dungeon-exploration can give.
My favorite system for high fantasy one-shots where we just have some fun being awesome and then dropping the game? 13th Age

So, it really depends on what you're trying to do.

I think the "truly generic" systems (like D&D, etc.) compromise too much, and don't really solve any specific gaming situation very well. I'd much rather use the right tool for the job, rather than pretend my swiss army knife is the only tool I'll ever need.

In truth we are very much alike from what you' ve replied.

The 'perfect' system search is for my home-brew world which started as a 3.5 customization but d20 can't cover it anymore. The World is unique and different in many ways, hence the whole patchwork idea and yeah generic systems don't cover it. I don't think.


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Erik Freund wrote:

I prefer game systems that are hyperspecialized into covering their specific material.

Therefore, I love Pendragon to play in Author's Britain.
Next on the list would be Artesia to play in that setting.
I also love me some Blade of the Iron Throne when I need to get my Conan on.
I haven't actually run a session of it yet, but from reading through The One Ring, I'm excited to run a Middle Earth campaign.

Similar approach from here. Various versions of D&D/PF as a fallback for kind of generic fantasy, but my favorite systems are more specialized.

I've wanted to try The One Ring for awhile.
For Conan-style stuff, I liked Barbarians of Lemuria.

Amber is hands down my favorite, though I haven't had the chance to play it in years. It takes the right group to work well, but it's more immersive than anything else I've done, while still remaining a game. And the particular combination of truly epic fantasy and dysfunctional family reunion works surprisingly well.


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I like D&D5e - because it feels most like the game I played as a child.

I also am liking T&T seventh edition, which does not feel like the T&T I played as a child, but is a clean system in my opinion.


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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay had a few issues but the first edition was for me the most fun to DM and play. The career system was really interesting and represented a wholy different style of profression, magic used MPs to limit usage and the critical hit tables were brutally hilarious. Combined with this the first three modules of the enemy within campaign are seen as being some of the best in the industry, particularly for their time.

It's well worth taking a look.

I also agree that 5e is probably the best system on the market at the moment. It has the balance of simplicity while having a robust stystem and the maths works really welll for me. Very satisfying.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

@stroVal wrote:
The 'perfect' system search is for my home-brew world which started as a 3.5 customization but d20 can't cover it anymore. The World is unique and different in many ways, hence the whole patchwork idea and yeah generic systems don't cover it. I don't think.

What do you do in your homebrew world?

- Is it a lot of high-courtly intrigue?
- A lot of spelunking lost tombs?
- Commanding armies across the battlefield?
- Surviving the gutters and alleyways of the ghetto?
- Climb on the back of kaiju and rock out like Shadows of the Colossus?
- Struggle against the inner darkness, wondering if you are still human at heart?
- Invent and build new airships, trying to move the world into a new era of steampunkery?
- Struggle to survive, carefully counting rations in the bleak nuclear winter of the zombie apocalypse?
- Study ancient manuscripts searching for the truth while barely holding on to your own sanity?
- Do a lot of exploring of the wilderness?

And I don't mean "the characters do it", but I mean "what do you lavishly spend your tabletop time on?"

For example, in both Conan and Middle Earth, the group traveled a lot, traveled all across and over the world. But in the Conan stories, that was so inconsequential to the plotline, the travel would be over in two sentences (or less!) of Howard's prose. Yet in Middle Earth, travel is so important and fundamental to the tale that Tolkien spends page after page going over the finer details of camping, the songs that they sing, and the (otherwise irrelevant) legends of the places they pass. It's all a matter of emphasis.

What emphasis do you want your spent-table-time to have for games played in your homebrew world?

What tone do you take?

- Crime-drama-style grim-in-gritty?
- Greek-style methodologically epic?
- World-of-Warcraft-style modern high fantasy?
- Realistic to a specific earth-historical period?
- (this is not an attempt at an exhaustive list)

And, looking forward, what tone do you want to take, and what shortcoming are you most looking to overcome?

The answers to these sorts of questions, in my mind, would strongly matter to determine which games (or systems from games) would be best to represent the sessions you want to run?

(And I would put the emphasis on "sessions you want to run in your homebrew world" rather than simply "your homebrew world")


Erik Freund wrote:
@stroVal wrote:
The 'perfect' system search is for my home-brew world which started as a 3.5 customization but d20 can't cover it anymore. The World is unique and different in many ways, hence the whole patchwork idea and yeah generic systems don't cover it. I don't think.

What do you do in your homebrew world?

- Is it a lot of high-courtly intrigue?
- A lot of spelunking lost tombs?
- Commanding armies across the battlefield?
- Surviving the gutters and alleyways of the ghetto?
- Climb on the back of kaiju and rock out like Shadows of the Colossus?
- Struggle against the inner darkness, wondering if you are still human at heart?
- Invent and build new airships, trying to move the world into a new era of steampunkery?
- Struggle to survive, carefully counting rations in the bleak nuclear winter of the zombie apocalypse?
- Study ancient manuscripts searching for the truth while barely holding on to your own sanity?
- Do a lot of exploring of the wilderness?

And I don't mean "the characters do it", but I mean "what do you lavishly spend your tabletop time on?"

For example, in both Conan and Middle Earth, the group traveled a lot, traveled all across and over the world. But in the Conan stories, that was so inconsequential to the plotline, the travel would be over in two sentences (or less!) of Howard's prose. Yet in Middle Earth, travel is so important and fundamental to the tale that Tolkien spends page after page going over the finer details of camping, the songs that they sing, and the (otherwise irrelevant) legends of the places they pass. It's all a matter of emphasis.

What emphasis do you want your spent-table-time to have for games played in your homebrew world?

What tone do you take?

- Crime-drama-style grim-in-gritty?
- Greek-style methodologically epic?
- World-of-Warcraft-style modern high fantasy?
- Realistic to a specific earth-historical period?
- (this is not an attempt at an exhaustive list)

And, looking forward, what tone do you want to take, and...

I would say none of the above with a healthy mix of some of the genre conventions you mentioned. *

The closest parallels I eventually found in feel (and say eventually because the world had been in my mind and seen the light of day in sessions, bit by bit, since my late teens before I read those) would be Tiganna and Earthsea but with D&D elements.

Its mostly an Archipelago. Focus is mostly on humanoid species (or sentient dragons and sea-creatures)

*=0kay,mostly 'none of the above'. Exploration. Exploration and the sandbox approach are very important for me. As my players explore I find out more about the world with them. I love that.
In a way we are writing a story together. And we have barely scratched the surface after all those years (pun intended)
Kinda like a High Fantasy NoMansSky without the game engine and publicity issues...

There is a clear progression of magic and tech (a few centuries ago humans were more like an ancient Greek society with magic whereas now they reached a pseudo Byzantine stage but with elements from the Renaissance and magic is really shaping and advancing society and tech)

But depending on the culture and area there are differences (under-wave dwellers are a whole different deal)

Sea Elves ie are more advanced than land-bound ones (even though the later will not necessary admit that) and possibly the first to have come out of the sea walked on two legs and eventually realized it was a bad idea and went back :p

But I am interested in a meaningful magical system (lately I lean towards free-form) that really does the various traditions but also the pure imagination and creativity of mages justice and a battle system that takes into account modular design (called shots, racial armour as well as armour for each location)and dueling but at the same time allows for the cinematic and heroic and not only the sand and sandal gritty.

My players once described it as: It is like a fairy tale and a novel in parts, but also Epic and serious without shunning away from modern ideas (talking about the 'direction' of combat and what heroes could do).

And I feel really lucky for managing that. But while it is more or less what I wanted to convey and I guess I can do it with whatever system I work with; I did realize through the years that some systems give a helping hand towards that, whilst others don't.

And it needs to do all that and remain relatively lite (or at least medium crunch) because as I grow older I get tired of crunchy systems (and have less and less free time for notes and designing and all the GM work) but at the same time diceless or FATE influenced ones don't really mesh with the way I think.

Its a tall order finding and combining all those elements. I won't deny it.For some, it seems futile even...

In any case that is a whole other discussion that I am willing to engage in- in detail- but preferably via a later post or possibly message as I am experiencing issues with my cellphone and connectivity at the moment, I hope you understand.

:)

For now I really wanted to know what most people on the forums prefer for the genre of High Fantasy.


thejeff wrote:
Erik Freund wrote:

I prefer game systems that are hyperspecialized into covering their specific material.

Therefore, I love Pendragon to play in Author's Britain.
Next on the list would be Artesia to play in that setting.
I also love me some Blade of the Iron Throne when I need to get my Conan on.
I haven't actually run a session of it yet, but from reading through The One Ring, I'm excited to run a Middle Earth campaign.

Similar approach from here. Various versions of D&D/PF as a fallback for kind of generic fantasy, but my favorite systems are more specialized.

I've wanted to try The One Ring for awhile.
For Conan-style stuff, I liked Barbarians of Lemuria.

Amber is hands down my favorite, though I haven't had the chance to play it in years. It takes the right group to work well, but it's more immersive than anything else I've done, while still remaining a game. And the particular combination of truly epic fantasy and dysfunctional family reunion works surprisingly well.

I must say Amber sounds interesting and intriguing but makes me skeptical at the same time. As a gamer; having a physical means to simulate checks (dice, cards etc) is hardwired in my brain..


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Erik Freund wrote:

Any sort of "generic" game, for me, would have to scratch a thematic itch to which the game is specialized for:

So I like Dungeon Crawl Classics when I want a whiz-bang old-school blender-of-death full of randomness and weirdness.
I like Torchbearer when I want to experience the grind of a roguelike, and that drowning feeling that dungeon-exploration can give.
My favorite system for high fantasy one-shots where we just have some fun being awesome and then dropping the game? 13th Age

To an extent that's my position, as what I'd say is that I like games that specialise in a particular type of game. Pendragon for instance is excellent for Arthurian Romance, larger-than-life heroes whose fighting skills mean they're only really threatened by similar characters and whose personality plays a significant part in their stories; which also covers a game of Greek heroes, or Romance of the Three Kingdoms, or Charlemagne's Paladins, or the Mahabharata.

The One Ring (which I've both run and played and consider excellent) also did a very nice job of a semi-historical 'Viking traveller' game where they were travelling through Rus to Mickelgard as traders and perhaps to seek service in the Varangian Guard, and I've got an idea for using it to make a 19th century African explorer game where the difficulties of travel and meeting strangers are more significant that combat.


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Fantasy:
D&D 5E: Low rules complexity, easy to GM, great to teach new players

Pathfinder: Moderate-high rules complexity, allows great customization/options for GMs & Players, allows you to create any fantasy campaign you can imagine

Space Fantasy

Starfinder: Pending game release, but looks promising for me to be able to finally run a decent Dragonstar and WH40K campaign.


@stroVal wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Amber is hands down my favorite, though I haven't had the chance to play it in years. It takes the right group to work well, but it's more immersive than anything else I've done, while still remaining a game. And the particular combination of truly epic fantasy and dysfunctional family reunion works surprisingly well.
I must say Amber sounds interesting and intriguing but makes me skeptical at the same time. As a gamer; having a physical means to simulate checks (dice, cards etc) is hardwired in my brain..

It's definitely a very different game and that's part of it. Still, it's more mechanical than you might expect, with both character build and tactics being quite important.

It's also very different in that it's not a party based game. Characters can literally go anywhere they can imagine on a whim and are powerful and rounded enough to handle all but the biggest problems on their own. Those biggest problems are often each other.


thejeff wrote:
@stroVal wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Amber is hands down my favorite, though I haven't had the chance to play it in years. It takes the right group to work well, but it's more immersive than anything else I've done, while still remaining a game. And the particular combination of truly epic fantasy and dysfunctional family reunion works surprisingly well.
I must say Amber sounds interesting and intriguing but makes me skeptical at the same time. As a gamer; having a physical means to simulate checks (dice, cards etc) is hardwired in my brain..

It's definitely a very different game and that's part of it. Still, it's more mechanical than you might expect, with both character build and tactics being quite important.

It's also very different in that it's not a party based game. Characters can literally go anywhere they can imagine on a whim and are powerful and rounded enough to handle all but the biggest problems on their own. Those biggest problems are often each other.

I see. Although that puts a bit of more strain on the GM to divide 'spotlight' moments between scattered characters.. I am curious as to how the system handles that or at least the recommendations of play / narration the book gives.


It certainly does. There's definitely more downtime than in many games. The other side of that though is that when it's your turn as a player the focus is very much on you. That's part of what makes it so intense.

I'd have to dig back to through the book to know what they actually gave for advice. One thing that did help was that when PCs did meet up, they often had much to talk about in character - information sharing and hiding, plotting, etc. That often let the GM move to focus on others.


thejeff wrote:

It certainly does. There's definitely more downtime than in many games. The other side of that though is that when it's your turn as a player the focus is very much on you. That's part of what makes it so intense.

I'd have to dig back to through the book to know what they actually gave for advice. One thing that did help was that when PCs did meet up, they often had much to talk about in character - information sharing and hiding, plotting, etc. That often let the GM move to focus on others.

By move on, you mean speed things up or just let them role-play 'off screen' ?


@stroVal wrote:
thejeff wrote:

It certainly does. There's definitely more downtime than in many games. The other side of that though is that when it's your turn as a player the focus is very much on you. That's part of what makes it so intense.

I'd have to dig back to through the book to know what they actually gave for advice. One thing that did help was that when PCs did meet up, they often had much to talk about in character - information sharing and hiding, plotting, etc. That often let the GM move to focus on others.

By move on, you mean speed thing up or just let them role-play 'off screen' ?

Let them keep going and role play between themselves, while the GM gives someone else his attention. The non-party nature pushes you to keep things in character rather than doing "information dumps" or the like.


Anima Beyond Fantasy for me. It's very numbers-intensive (it has Rolemaster in its pedigree), and not particularly new-player-friendly. The fact that the rules began in Spanish and were by-and-large brute force translated into English does not help. But once you get past that...

Once you're familiar with how it works, it's very intuitive and logical. Of course, the game handles [this adjudication] in this manner or [that form of action] in that manner because it makes the most sense. Your method of actually preventing being hit in the first place is blocking or dodging. Armor is DR and only comes into play once you've abjectly failed at defending yourself (but you can also use it as a valid primary defense if you so choose). Martial Arts and Ki techniques are among the most robust things in this game. You don't primarily prepare your spells in advance, but if that's the sort of spellcaster you want, it's an option, too. There's absolutely no Christmas Tree effect (especially since the game didn't even get magic items until the seventh book, anyway), so if you've ever wanted to play a heroic character instead of "Gear, the Magical Bag of Loot (and the fleshy meatbag that carries him around)", you're golden.

And most especially of all, no damned alignment. Heroes and villains, lawful and unlawful types, but no overarching system to constrain them or limit their actions or decree for poorly considered whims what sorts of abilities people of certain beliefs and behaviors are and are not allowed to have.


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For generic fantasy, I usually play Pathfinder or D&D 5E.

My regular group's default system was v.3.5 for about a decade (none of us much liked 4E), then we switched to PF about 3 years ago. (This was largely due to the fact that Green Ronin was shifting to PF for continuing support for Freeport, which I was running at the time.) The new homebrew campaign I started this year was originally conceived in 3E, and is finally being run in PF, so it was designed with those systems' tropes in mind (like the Tarrasque, which is a key element in the back story).

I've started running D&D 5E for my kids because it's a much less complex system, but still captures the feel of old-school D&D pretty well. Because of the work load of my main (adult) game, I'm running modules (Lost Mine of Phandelver and Tales from the Yawning Portal) instead of crafting my own adventures. (Someday, I want to try running Expedition to the Barrier Peaks using 5E, but that conversion will require more system mastery than I have right now.)

Other systems that I enjoy playing and/or running include:

Big Eyes Small Mouth: This system was designed to handle any kind of anime adventure, but because that includes almost any genre, it also works well as a rules-light system for non-anime games. I've run D&D-style fantasy in 2E, and have been running a solo Greek myth-based game for my wife in 3E for the past several years.

Earthdawn: I've never run it, but have played brief campaigns in 2E and 3E, and will be trying 4E whenever my wife gets around to restarting her campaign. The system is a bit on the arcane side at times, but has some interesting quirks that distinguish it from other fantasy games (you raise talents and levels in order to level, instead of the other way around; and the world's metaphysics give Legend Points [XP] an in-game explanation).

Cinematic Unisystem: Some of my all-time favorite PCs were in a long-running Buffy/Angel game that I played in some years ago. The system is simple but pretty robust, and could easily be adapted for other fantasy/horror settings. I've only GMed a couple of B/A sessions myself, but have had ideas for a Ghosts of Albion mini-campaign bouncing around my heard since that version of Unisystem came out.


I really want to like Earthdawn. The world is fascinating. I love the way they tie so many fantasy RPG tropes into the setting and give them justifications.

I can't stand the actual mechanics.


thejeff wrote:
@stroVal wrote:
thejeff wrote:

It certainly does. There's definitely more downtime than in many games. The other side of that though is that when it's your turn as a player the focus is very much on you. That's part of what makes it so intense.

I'd have to dig back to through the book to know what they actually gave for advice. One thing that did help was that when PCs did meet up, they often had much to talk about in character - information sharing and hiding, plotting, etc. That often let the GM move to focus on others.

By move on, you mean speed thing up or just let them role-play 'off screen' ?

Let them keep going and role play between themselves, while the GM gives someone else his attention. The non-party nature pushes you to keep things in character rather than doing "information dumps" or the like.

Τrue and in essence that sort of thing happens in games anyway mind you; but doesn't the GM need to witness those conversations as they contribute towards character growth?

I am not talking about monitoring and ruling with an iron fist but at the same time leaving them on their own for a long period of time sounds like a waste. Although it does depend on the conversation I guess..

My two cents: character evolution needs to be seen/experienced by the GameMaster so that it's worked and embedded in the overall narrative, and not to mention also in order to make sure its rewarded in some way (by the system or homebrew rules).

Although now I am even more intrigued to see what you mean exactly and how that is materialized in play :)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ars Magica.


Tectorman wrote:

Anima Beyond Fantasy for me. It's very numbers-intensive (it has Rolemaster in its pedigree), and not particularly new-player-friendly. The fact that the rules began in Spanish and were by-and-large brute force translated into English does not help. But once you get past that...

Once you're familiar with how it works, it's very intuitive and logical. Of course, the game handles [this adjudication] in this manner or [that form of action] in that manner because it makes the most sense. Your method of actually preventing being hit in the first place is blocking or dodging. Armor is DR and only comes into play once you've abjectly failed at defending yourself (but you can also use it as a valid primary defense if you so choose). Martial Arts and Ki techniques are among the most robust things in this game. You don't primarily prepare your spells in advance, but if that's the sort of spellcaster you want, it's an option, too. There's absolutely no Christmas Tree effect (especially since the game didn't even get magic items until the seventh book, anyway), so if you've ever wanted to play a heroic character instead of "Gear, the Magical Bag of Loot (and the fleshy meatbag that carries him around)", you're golden.

And most especially of all, no damned alignment. Heroes and villains, lawful and unlawful types, but no overarching system to constrain them or limit their actions or decree for poorly considered whims what sorts of abilities people of certain beliefs and behaviors are and are not allowed to have.

I ve had my eye on Anima for years. At some point I need to check it out. But I would prefer if someone else run it for me...


Gorbacz wrote:
Ars Magica.

Renowned for its magic system. Btw is there a non pseudo-historical campaign expansion for it? I hear it takes place on Earth in all versions..


thejeff wrote:

I really want to like Earthdawn. The world is fascinating. I love the way they tie so many fantasy RPG tropes into the setting and give them justifications.

I can't stand the actual mechanics.

Interesting that you say that, because without playing it and just by looking at the books (so in no way is mine an informed opinion) I thought the same. That I would love the setting but not the rules so much. It also gave me a Dinotopia vibe.


I tried to like Alternity, and I am, at least so far, not interested in Starfinder

I prefer the simplicity and non-leveling aspects of Traveller for sci-fi role playing


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thejeff wrote:

I really want to like Earthdawn. The world is fascinating. I love the way they tie so many fantasy RPG tropes into the setting and give them justifications.

I can't stand the actual mechanics.

It was the first tabletop RPG my wife ever played, and she had a couple of exceptional GMs for some long-term campaigns, so it will always be one of her faves. It was also the system she was most comfortable with when she finally got up the nerve to try GMing herself a few years ago. She's played it far more than I have, so while I enjoy playing it (and am eager for her to run more of it), it's never been a system that I would choose to run myself.

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