We didn't really get to play much this week... it was one of those "set up" sessions that can sometimes be a necessary evil in the campaign. We have returned to the original fantasy world and set up the characters, starting city, etc. We'll be ready to rock next week.
I have decided to allow the AD&D monk into my game, but the class is on a probation of sorts; if I decide the class is too wonky or causes too many headaches, the character will be converted into a fighter specialized in monk weapons or some similar solution. However, I am to give the old school monk a good, honest try. (I have no experience with the monk class in any pre-d20 incarnation.) The party consists of a monk, a cleric, an assassin, a bard, and a thief... the party definitely has a new focus, since everyone but the cleric is capable of using thief skills in some capacity. The bard is my own re-written version of the class, as posted in December.
I'm excited to further develop a different region of the original campaign world. I've added a very slight Middle Eastern flavor to it, but I would still call this region "Western" for the most part. It will be a welcome change from some of the gonzo factor we've played through for the past several months.
Another change is that I am moving from total sandbox to semi-sandbox, partially at the suggestion of one of my players, who recognizes that I no longer have as much free time as I did just a few months ago. (Though I shall have an abundance come May!) I will throw out a few hooks rather than rely entirely on player volition to drive the campaign, though I won't use any "invisible walls"... if I have to improvise more than I did previously, so be it.
Oh, two final changes to the game... firstly, I have finally rendered alignment officially vestigial to mortals. The only creatures in my game who are truly aligned are creatures from other planes of existence (The Nine Hells, Seven Heavens, Pandemonium, etc.) and powerful characters who have sworn allegiance to aligned powers. (The higher the level, the stronger they radiate when detection spells are employed)
The second change is that I have dumped the skill system I tacked on from the old version of Hackmaster. Aside from one character who took First Aid, nobody ever used their skills and I found they added nothing to the game. I am simply assuming that characters have "invisible" skills implied by their class; the cleric knows theology, demons, undead, and medicine, while the monk knows how to repair clothes and has a little knowledge of herbalism, etc.
All in all, I am looking forward to next week's game session. Huzzah!