I did my prep, I prepared some encounters, wrote down a recap, some names, some plot hooks, a small map.
In the game, a group consisting of Drachius, an Oracle of Oghma, his "bodyguard" monk Šen (or Shen) and their dwarven wilderness guide master Mossbeard explore Faerun with the quest to "catalogue the flora and fauna of the world". Drachius' player is keeping a notebook into which he's drawing bugs, monsters and magic mushrooms they come across. He's calling it the Oghmanomicon. I've taken his notebook home with me yesterday and he has a surprise in store for him the next time.
It feels like I'm learning to GM for the first time again. It's hard but I'm determined to pull through. I have set a goal for myself: get the party to level 7 at least. At the current pace, that would mean something between 9 and 19 more sessions. Let's say 14 on average. With our group that could be anywhere between 7 and 27 weeks, again, let's say 17 on average. Which means 4 months. Which means wrapping up around January or February, which is good, since I should be writing my diploma by then.
Lots of witches in the above paragraph.
I will be experimenting along the way, trying to find the right tools and principles, the right tricks and moves. My biggest problem now is that I can't really prep too much in advance (whereas D&D is definitely a game where you should prep in advance), because it's a very sandboxy game. But not in the oldschool definition where I would ready a map full of dungeons and let them explore, but because we simply have a map of Faerun in front of us and we're just doing whatever seems to be in need of doing then. Which means I have to pull stuff out of thin air. I have no problem with that and I think I'm fairly decent at it, but as mentioned above, D&D is not the kind of game where you want to be pulling stuff out of your ass all the time.
The Forgotten Realms campaign guide helps, since it has lots of info, but I hate flipping through books during a game. Books should really be banned at the table.
As a Post Scriptum, I'm feeling more and more that my favourite way to GM D&D would be the old-school way. As the OSR Primer puts is:
1. Rulings not Rules.
2. Player skill, not character abilities.
3. Heroic, not superhero.
4. Forget game balance.