In other gaming-related news, here's a brief summary of my gaming activities over the past two months.
- One of my friends has been running a regular Pokémon game using the Pokémon Tabletop United ruleset. It is, to use the favorite expression of one of my fellow players, a shitshow.
- I finally got a chance to run Halberd. Character creation was indeed fast, and play was similarly fast; the downside is that the rules are so loosely written and sparse (to the point of lacking equipment prices aside from weapons and armor) that I had to make a lot up on the spot. Way too much for my comfort. Sadly, I will probably not be running this one again, though I'm glad I gave it a shot.
- I bought Underground, a fairly obscure 1993 pseudo-cyberpunk/pseudo-superhero game by Ray Winninger. The art and the setting are amazing, but the system will take some figuring out; worst case scenario, I might end up chucking the system and running the setting using Savage Worlds. The PDF is available at DriveThruRPG (at full cover price, though it's currently discounted to $12.50) for anyone who's interested.
- On a related note, I was dismayed to find that there was no PDF of the character sheet available online. I sent a request in to the DTRPG people, and they soon provided one and made it publicly available - a huge "thank you" to Steve W. for doing so!
- I finally got to run AD&D 2nd Edition again after having zero opportunities to do so during the semester. Even better, this was a long session, lasting from around 7:00pm to 2:00am, though we hung out and talked until well past 4:30am. One of my best friends - who was unable to attend any other games this semester, due to an especially harrowing calculus class - was even able to attend, and I got one of my friends who had previously sworn off the system (as well as most fantasy games) to agree to play. Fun was had by all, although...
- I used Alexis' XP system once again, as I had done with my original "comeback" session detailed here. The issue that cropped up was one of balance; the players breezed through enemies that had previously given most of them a great deal of trouble (and resulted in one TPK). They also played smart, which meant that the elven thief with 19 Dexterity was up on the roof shooting two arrows per round, and went from 2nd to 3rd level in a single session. Meanwhile, my friend who I convinced to rejoin - playing a fighter with 18 Dexterity and good armor - had rotten luck with the dice, meaning that he could neither deal nor receive damage in most of the fights, and therefore got very little experience. As much as I like Alexis' XP system, my players demand a more balanced awarding of XP, so I will probably go with the individual class-based awards in the 2nd Edition Dungeon Master Guide.
- This will also be necessary because I might soon be running a group of my two best friends and some of their LGBTQ+ friends - a veritable "Queer D&D" as they call it - and they plan to focus more on exploration and social stuff. Since a common complaint in my games is that it takes forever to level up (an issue of monster balance; either they breeze through and get very little XP, or they struggle and nearly get wiped out), I'll have to keep XP from non-combat-related achievements in mind. I also bought a very nice, discontinued Chessex vinyl mat to use as a wilderness map as they explore.
- Finally, I managed to get my gray-market PDF of the HackMaster 4th Edition Player's Handbook printed and bound at a local copy shop. I realize that actually running this would require my violating part of the Player Code of Conduct (no distributing scanned or photocopied HM books), but since 4e is no longer legally available new in any form, I don't feel bad about it.