Not so great a title, but I've not named the campaign yet, so you get a wonky title to the blog post.
For those of you who can't recall, and who can blame you, as I'm not the most dedicated poster...a while back I restarted a sandbox game using the 3.x D&D rules as the skeleton (albeit a beefy one.) When we picked the campaign up, I ran it primarily as 3.x with Pathfinder character building, giving the players more options, but as time has gone on, I have implemented many more Pathfinder rules and have been moving more toward what I feel an old school sandbox should feel like under a more modern rules set.
Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying I'm doing it right, by any means. Hell, I'm nowhere near the level of cool of the West Marches, if you ask me.
I have tried to work in the spirit of old school, however. I started this by concentrating on Reactionary DMing. This is nothing new, and I'm not trying to put a label to what most people just call "DMing," but my last campaign was an almost-weekly 57 session adventure path, using the first adventure path published by WotC under the 3.x rules (including The Sunless Citadel, The Forge of Fury, etc.) Sure, I tweaked the thing hard, and there were side quests and character development scenarios that weren't in the booklets, but pretty much everything else was cruise control for me.
I think this made me lazy. I'm a heavy-prep DM. I like to prepare. I like to have all possibilities covered, and since I prefer the 3.x rules, I like to have stat blocks ready when needed. With this new campaign, however, I'm willing to relax on that a little. I'm not gonna fret if the current course of action is abandoned, or if an NPC dies that maybe shouldn't have. I had almost forgotten what winging it felt like, because I was always concerned with keeping my players entertained. Everything was described as richly as I could manage. I would fill a whole notebook, sometimes 2, during the course of a campaign with session notes so that I was ready with this description or that, trying to cover every possibility...and that doesn't include my setting notes.
Anyway, I'm not gonna harsh on one style or the other, both are a great deal of fun to me, but I do like running this game loosey-goosey, not immediately giving the players anything, but waiting for what they want, then reacting accordingly, giving information as needed. It's been a few years since I ran a game like that, but it doesn't feel clunky. It just feels fun.
So far, I'm reacting, the players are exploring (YeY!), and it seems that good times are had by all.