The open-table campaign has been through a lot of sandboxing, including a few published pieces and parts slid together to culminate in a few original sessions. Most recently, I've modified a couple adventures to fit the story.
Man, that's intensive.
Today I went back to basics: I ran a module with some scaled-up monsters and just the barest storyline adjustments to the "how & why you're here".
It was nice to take less than 3 hours to prep the day before. It was wonderful to not stress about it for the hour-long drive to the FLGS. It was nice to feel more secure in where things were going (and yes, I had pegged the group's route). It was even nice to run with the new screen, despite my ambivalence about screens. And it was nice - if a little bittersweet - to hear the surprise in players' voices when they expressed their enjoyment after the fact.
We all have our niches, right? I've suspected I'd been running off the rails when left to my own devices, and my players have been awesomely patient with me, but I think I've confirmed my sweet spot.
Let's do this thing! Game on!
...This week's choice, by the by, was to hearken back to the early line, via People of the Pit, with tweaks to the cultists' stats to stand up to a mixed party of 0-lvl to 5th. The cultists are strikingly similar to the Hollow Men, given to us in the core book -- and those similarities correlate nicely with the sandbox.