First of all,
RIFTS is a logistical headache. Combing through Madhaven, I found references to things that required me to have access to RIFTS Africa, RIFTS Dark Conversions, RIFTS Sourcebook One, and whatever book has Glitter Boy Killers in it. Luckily, I happen to have a pretty expansive RIFTS library, as does Steven, but still, it's kind of a pain in the ass.
RIFTS combat is slooooooooooow. A chunk of the evening was spent fighting a combat that took less than 45 seconds of in-game time. I tried to compensate for this by describing things as vividly as possible- the sounds, sights, physical sensations of combat. I tried to bring my descriptive A game and the players seemed pretty entertained. Still power creep in RIFTS is evident. Combat using weapons from the core book against monsters from World Book 29? Yeesh.
RIFTS experience system is... yeah, you guys want to call B/X D&D bean counting? Bitch, you haven't counted beans until you've awarded experience in a Palladium game. The system is based on things PCs did during the session, which I like, but it's highly micromanage-y, is utterly arbitrary, and the chunks of points characters get for things are mostly small. I think I'm probably going to handwave it for the most part. There's no way I'm going to track every "clever but futile idea" each player has during every session of the campaign.
Now, it may seem like I have nothing but gripes, but I actually really enjoyed the session. I tried to make it vividly descriptive and I tried to keep combat fun despite how much of a time sink it was. I have a lot of ideas for the various ruins, the factions within Madhaven, and the delightful fun I can have with the overall psychic spookiness of the place. Madhaven will be my sandbox with many "dungeons" and locations inside of it.
...and, let's face it: RIFTS has some balls out cool shit, and my players know how to be cool with it. We had a Juicer jump off a moving motorcycle to try and Superman-punch a giant wolf with his forearm mounted vibroblades. We had dudes whipping around in hovercycles loosing plasma bolts and fire spells in a moving battle. Giant wolf jumping at you? Have your amphibious genetically engineered mount tail slap that mofo right out of the air.
We haven't even gotten to the meat of the campaign, the urban core of Madhaven. I have a lot of ideas for what's going on in, around, and under the city and the PCs will be able to explore or ignore at their leisure.
I'm disappointed that I won't be able to run it next week, but I will enjoy being at KantCon. This campaign will give me something to look forward to afterward, though.