I've decided to change couple of things at our Swords & Wizardry table.
The first is that every session now begins with an email explaining the set up to the night's session - the traditional background, so to speak. I use to do this face to face and it was less focused and more of a session recap then a prelude to a new session.
With the email (just a couple of brief paragraphs) it gets everyone prepared for what will happen at the start of the session. It gets people thinking and anticipating the game (hopefully more than they already do!). It also has gotten everyone at the table talking and planning right away as opposed to me recapping the previous session while table chat goes on.
It also helps me as GM prepare for the sandbox session.
In fact, this actually allows me to plan less pre-session making my job as GM easier as it lets me participate during the session more, reacting to the players actions on the spot. I think that's because I've narrowed the direction of an open ended sandbox and given the players a bit a direction to spark their action right off the bat instead of spending time and energy getting them to 'hook' onto something I hope they bite on. I know it sounds weird but that's how it's working for me. Believe me, the sessions are still open to anything goes once the dice start rolling but it gives me and the players the same starting point.
Here are the backgrounds I used for our last two sessions:
Session 52 background
Session 53 background
The second thing I've changed are experience points.
In my campaign, experience points are gained from treasure, monsters and the occasional completed 'quest' or plot point. Fairly traditional and by the book.
So instead of splitting monster xp gained in a session between all players, all players gain all experience from monsters killed. For example, last night the players as a group killed 5 ghouls at 60 xp each. In the past that would be 300 xp divided among five to seven players. That would give the PC's between 43 and 60 xp each. I have no problem with that method. However, considering that we've been playing for almost three years and the character's only range from level 3-5 the slow pace of advancement is becoming a campaign flaw. This hasn't stopped our players from expanding upon their 'characters' in the slightest, and it does make achieving a level quite an accomplishment. However, since our play is scattered from twice a month at best to even longer play-gaps, I thought advancing the pace of advancement an enhancement to our campaign and should help to keep things moving nicely.
Coin & gem treasure will still be divided between players based on gold piece value.
Players still have to be present to gain that experience though.