Sunday, February 27, 2011

In which I discuss having thrown my son and heir into a sewer full of fish fiends......

So….how did it go ?

Well, once the initial chaos was resolved, which included the two time outs, once we got down to playing, the boys did as good a job of staying on focus as any sugar crazed marmoset….which is to say, pretty good for 10-12 year olds.

The game itself was much less chaotic than the previous game, likely because I had a much more manageable table size.  This run pretty much finished up the sewer crawl under an orcish city, and got the players finally squared with the local law by wiping out a pest problem that was interfering with  the local smugglin’ and thievin’ in his district, which was getting him leaned on by the smugglers and thrives who had him on payroll. Turns out a colony of fish fiends ( cut rate Kua-Toa) had set up shop and needed killin’.   Basically, they got killed, and the players managed to puzzle out that the reason that they had set up shop was that they were encouraged by competitors who wanted to cut in on the business and reduce competition.   See, the fish fiends swiped the stashed smuggled goods and stolen loot, and wacked any of the owners – they then traded the goods for more corpses, provided from the local gladiatorial stadium.  Sweet, heh ?

So, this run was mostly finding the actual lair of the fiends killing them, and finding clues at the end.  Well, too, one good brawl once back in town, involving the fighter who was wearing a skinned fishfiend chiefs head; see he wanrted to look badass, and he did, but he also learned that while looking bad ass will discourage some fights, in the kind of town they were in, it could also get you called out.  He won, and the orc bravo didn’t die, so the sherrif called it a fair fight.   Then, he ended up having to buy himself back out of a gladiatorial contract he signed, when he realized that this was a BAD idea.  Oh well, 200GP was a small price to pay for not fighting (say) a bulette with a dagger. 

Good fun seemed to be had by all, and all made level three.  Then, they hired on as caravan guards (stunningly original plot twist, I know) and finally left towm for more human lands. 

Friday, February 25, 2011


Survived the dungeon -as did all three of the kids.  Score:  four fish fiends, one smuggling ring, one Orc bully.  Loot:  750 gold, one +1 trident, and (ick) the fish fiend boss made into a swanky leather hat (Nice to know kids haven't changed since my dungeoncrawling days).

Details to come......

Thursday, February 24, 2011

And....another time out, followed by goblins.

Well, I'm enforcing another  strict time out now for snooping behind the GM screen......part of the punishment is that the other players get to say what your character is doing...heh...heh....heh

First time-out !

Wow.  One half hour into it, and I've given a time out !  You know, "go sit over there and be quiet" for constant arguing with the GM (that map is upside down!).

Never been able to do that to players, before !

Swords and Wizardry, my doom approacheth.

Wish me well !  I go now to run a spur of the moment game of S&W(C) for my ten year old son and his buddies......

Friday, February 18, 2011

1984: Red Stars and Rockets : Q&A

I thought I'd take a moment to clarify a key question.

Kobold said...

Oh wow, you've headed off in a different direction from where I thought you were going in your earlier post.
An atomic war that humanity could survive makes sense if you're limited to aircraft-dropped A-Bombs - even off honking great B-36s.
How did the UN remain viable and then become independent, if the traditional major donar, the US, was so locked in a Cold War? I would have thought that at the first sign of activism, the US would have walked, as was the fate of the League of Nations.
No trying to pick holes, except in a helpful way to strengthen the narrative.

Not a problem at all, it’s a great question, and one that I’m delighted to pontificate on, and greatly appreciate the input. Just note that I reserve the right to alter any of the dates as needed, and that this is just a first pass at a solution.

The practical gaming reason for the UNPD was because I wanted some more factions in addition to the the West and The East. Essentially, I'm postulating that a UN that was seen as more pliable by the west was less hamstrung but also allowed it to drift to neutrality while they were distracted; and that the main developing states suffered less than the two superpowers, allowing them more leverage in shaping the post-stalemate world. Essentially, no one had funding for the UN after 1951, but everyone had an interest in funding the Pacification Directorate as a way to grab breathing space (USA and USSR) or to keep the big boys from wrecking what was left of the world.

The more detailed discussion involving history and stuff.
I’d say that the cause is rooted in three different sources. First, I’d suggest that the more belligerent Stalinist USSR generated more pushback, and generated much less of the “fair play for Russia” support that was included in lots of the foundation of our UN. For instance, no extra seats in the assembly for soviet republics, and security council seating, etc. Specifically, one fundamental change involved restructuring in the Veto process; allowing a mechanism for overriding a great power veto. The short-term effect was to remove much of the later soviet influence on the structure of the UN, a process which was to be magnified by later events in point two, making it less of a pawn in superpower politics; conversely, it also allowed much more of a neutral attitude to pervade the administration due to a more complacent US policy which saw the UN as a benign alloy in the fight against world communism.

Second, in this timeline, the Korean war started abruptly about 18 months earlier , and while the USSR hadn’t walked out (as in this TL), their veto of the intervention resolution was blocked, at which point they did walk out. For a variety of reasons, mainly involving the production timetable of soviet nukes, north Korea was deprived of the support it had from the USSR, and the PRC – which was still on the ropes fighting the Nationalists. The Korean intervention effectively stopped the Northern offensive, and then occupied the North by late 1949. Occupation and moves towards reintegration of the two Koreas was a major factor in the eventual Soviet decision to attack western Europe. The reintegration of the Koreas was handled by a newly founded United Nations Pacification Directorate, which was largely handled by US commerce and Non-aligned nation UN administrators. Pay attention to this, it’s crucial. The UNPAD was created before the big war, and was seen by the US Government and populace as a wholly approved and safe pro democratic institution.

Finally, the UN was paralyzed by the onset of WW3, first in Europe, then in Asia. Initially, the NATO/SEATO block (also formed a bit earlier) passed an intervention resolution, specifically aimed at holding the fort in Asia while the “real war” in Europe was decided. While this was somewhat successful, the UN forces used in china lacked significant Strategic assets, and were resisted by the nationalists, and took horrendous casualties fighting the Red Chinese and Soviet support , rather souring the contributor nations (India, South America, Thailand) on fighting as proxies for either side. By ~1953, Both sides in the war were fought to exhaustion, and the UN was refusing to support either side with military forces. As the stalemate solidified, both sides needed some way to enforce the ceasefire without losing the war by further fighting – both sides desperately needed a respite, and with the main battlefields destroyed, any attempt to actively attack either homeland would likely win, but also ruin the victor. Plus, Stalin was dead (more on this later) A neutral and independent UN was the best and quickest answer, and was pushed for by the non-aligned nations who had gained in clout relative to the exhausted major powers. The UNPAD was brought in almost unilaterally by India and Brazil, and given freestanding funding and national status in the form of administering the wrecked and refugee choked Benelux area and given the mandate to police the European and Asian Exclusion zones. In reality, the UN as a whole largely collapsed by 1952; all that emerged from the war was what in many ways was a private corporation run by the remnants of the UN administration, and initially funded by the major non-aligned states plus the revenues of Benelux & eventually, much of Asia. This was what evolved into an independent supranational body with a remit to stop major conflicts on the earth, wherever possible. 

How does that work ?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

1984: Red Stars and Rockets, part II . A cold war solar system setting for Traveller.

It is 1984. Space travel is real, extensive and highly militarized. Nukes shove the big Orions between planets, Gemini and Soyuz duel in orbits across the solar system, and elite forces fight on mars and the moons of Jupiter. Space is the battlefield of the cold war where Nukes are allowed. What happened ?

A real atomic war happened. Sometime around 1950, with both sides tossing nasty little fission nukes and invading western Europe, China, the Mideast and etc.

In this timeline, in 1945, soviet forces captured SS Scientist Klaus Debner and much of his Nuclear weapons lab, research and prototypes. Stalin, already hard at work terrorizing Soviet science into replicating the Fat Man bomb, shoved this to the head of the queue and had a working micro nuke/dirty bomb by 1948. Accordingly, as the post war period began and the allies fell apart into east and west, Uncle Joe (having his own bomb, even if he misunderstood the American version) was much more aggressive and belligerent. Result: three to five years of ABC war in Europe ( spreading to China and Korea) with no clear winner, but several clear losers (Korea, China, Japan, Germany). Europe and SE Asia were essentially trashed, but the homelands of the two alliances ( USA and USSR) suffering significantly less damage (no ICBMs, and not too many ways to deliver bombs across intercontinental distances); both sides locked in a brutal stalemate, which has turned to space for resolution.

More hot clashes follow as the space race starts up in 1953, and is even more frenzied, makeshift, and armed. By 1984, the earthside damage from two orbital wars and a series of smaller orbital clashes across the 1960's has lead to demilitarization of CisLunar space, administered by a very different United Nations. Beyond that, as the sea dogs of Elizabetan England said, " no peace beyond the line !"

Meanwhile, at home
Earth is not a nice place to live; the situation is like the present day Koreas writ huge. The DMZ in this timeline is across central Germany down to the Adriatic, and across current Iraq and Iran and Afganistan, as far as what is now the Pakistani border. The USA has become a fortress state, with a permanent wartime economy, facing the fortress state of the Soviet Union across fortified continental demilitarized zones marking the last lines of the still unresolved war.

And that's not all....
The mid to late 1950’s were marked by massive third world crop failures and famines due to climate alteration from the wars. Relief, when offered, usually resulted in amalgamation with the helper – and even then was often unsuccessful. As a result, a lifeboat strategy adopted by both east and west. Nations worldwide collapsed in anarchy and rioting. Emigration, famine and war have combined to significantly reduce Europe’s population; in particular, the UK experienced a massive wave of emigration to the commonwealth countries, especially Australia) in addition to the mass evacuations of 1952-53

Another Big change
Due to the need to keep buffers between the East and the West, and to attempt to administer wrecked countries the United nations has essentially been absorbed by its own Peacekeeping Authority Directorate (UNPAD, or PD) (created in the early war years in aresponse to the 1949 Korean conflict).  It has become an aggressively neutral and extranational organization, initially responsible for policing the Asian and European Exclusion zones (the DMZ’s). It has moved all offices to the old Benelux region, and holds national jurisdiction over the refugee choked lands therein.
The First and second orbital wars resulted in the treaty of new Dehli (1963), demilitarizing and internationalizing cis lunar space adding it to the jurisdiction of the UNPAD. Post 1968, after the UNPAD concentrates on orbital policing, CisLunar space is off limits to any non UN craft or satellite except for transit. Yes, this means that they own all the satellites; the orbital "cleaning" of 1968 surprised all powers, and resulted in the UNPAD gaining complete control of LEO. However, extralunar space, and the rest of the Solar system is wide open. Ground and sub orbital combat is common on the moon, mars and in Jovian space. Skirmishes and suborbital clashes along the bamboo curtain, and Mitteleuropa are common.

More to come !

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

1984: Red Stars and Rockets. A cold war solar system for Traveller.

1984: Red Stars and Rockets*
A retro-gritty setting for Traveller, exploring a lower tech, nonFTL cold war solar system.

( * Alternately, "Reds and Rockets", "Blows against the Evil Empire", "Spaceforce 1984" . any preferences ? )
What if: Most of the dreams of solar system travelling ships designed by the buzz-cut engineers of the 1950’s came true on the timelines they planned ? What if: Man on the Moon by 1960, moonbase by 1965, mars by 1970, inner and outer planets exploration by the 1980’s. What if the engine that drove this wasn’t science or exploration, but rather the conflict of a simmering cold war, and the death struggle between the two superpowers and their ideologies ?

It is 1984. Space travel is real, extensive and highly militarized. Nukes shove the big Orions between planets, Gemini and Soyuz duel in orbits across the solar system, and elite forces fight on mars and the moons of Jupiter. Space is the battlefield of the cold war where Nukes are allowed. What happened ?

Having a few spare minutes last night, I actually got some writing done, so lookout world, here it comes !
You'll note my ongoing projects list includes "Red star and Rockets", billed as a retro traveller setting. In fact, what I'm hoping to create is a gritty late cold war in space, inspired by some plans for Orion Nuclear Space Battleships and a recent reread of the book "Blind mans Bluff", an excellent history of the cold war from the point of view of the submariners of USA and USSR.

The overall goal is to try to build the setting with minimal “magitech” intrusion (Such as the old chestnut of Nikolii Tesla  and/or zero point energy), producing a timeline that may push the envelope of likelihood, but not puncture it.

Consider it as rather like the endless “what if every single plan from WWII germany worked, was practical, successful, and could be put into actual production” alternate histories. Only (hopefully) not as ridiculous as the idea of a corrupt, broken, bankrupt economically crippled and war torn medium sized nation (Nazi Germany) suddenly producing and deploying orbital stations, next generation aircraft carriers and battleships, Antarctic bases and nuclear weapons (up to and including first generation fusion devices), land cruisers, supertanks, orbital bombers, stealthed jet interceptors and flying disks… two years. (Luftwaffe 1946 I’m looking at you, here).  The focus would be on what would logically follow given the hard nosed plans of the actual engineers  rather than this would be cool.(because, in fact, their plans were pretty damn cool.)

Secondarily, I want to severely limit anachronistic alternate future references. After the divergence point everything starts changing, so no, we wont see the same people born afterwards in New and Different Jobs for yuks as many alt histories love(“Justin Bieber, Space ranger”, then, is right out, although Richard Nixon, Spy hunter has some shine….)..

One rule in the SF business is that one is allowed three free handwaves (a.k.a. lies, damned lies, and FTL). What would those be for this setting ?
  1.  Improvement in cold war materials technology which would allow most designs for nuclear population to be produced and deployed, in particular: Orions, Salt NERVA.
  2. A survivable, low grade nuclear war in 1950’s, and much warmer cold war as a result.
  3. Major advances in “man in microgravity” handling.
Scientifically, I may add a solar system consistent with 1960’s knowledge –mainly with regard to Jupiter, cause I like it better with less radiation (unlike RRS Earth, which has somewhat more).  Finally, and this is just for my own dogheaded preferences, for a change, lets posit a space based military force without nautical Hornbloweresque wooden ships and iron men Space Navy sensibilities ‘fer heavens sake. The United States Aerospace Force vs. the Soviet Rocket Forces. No cruisers, admirals, dreadnaughts, marines, bridge, boatwains, etc.

Game Parameters
  • A few BIG ships and lots of Small Ships. Most player type ships will use smallcraft rules.
  • Reaction/nuclear propulsion for the big ones, reaction for the small ones.
  • No Grav. tech
  • Minimal Stealth.
  • Chargen focuses on the spaceforces of the various factions, plus some civilian agencies.( Western, Soviet,UN, Non-aligned, UNASA and “other”.)
  • Tech is solidly 1980's, but focused on defense production, with much less consumer development.

More to come.  some history.  Stuff.

Feel free to comment.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ayme Nott ded......

Nor am I missing, burned out or otherwise gone.  I am, however switching jobs, and rolling up loose ends at the old one. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Traveller Hellhole Monday: Corrosive atmosphere, 10 Billion population = resort planet ?

So, one of the more persistent criticisms of PlanGen in Traveller is the old "overpopulated hellhole" canard. Specifically, that one can generate Huge populations on profoundly uninhabitable planets. Specifically, Venus (ATM B or C, depending) with 10,000,000,000 inhabitants. Orbital habitats don't seem to be a good enough explanation for serious rules lawyers: they technically "aren't on the planet", and are rather fragile compared to surface based habitats. However, some serious science thought has been put into exactly this issue -and suggest that Venus may actually be the best bet for extraterran settlement - and could support massive populations. How ?

TL:DR version, at 50Km altitude on Venus, conditions are 1psi, temp 0-30c , good abundance of basic earth life elements : (C, H2, O2, Ni ), and lots of solar power opportunities. The basic atmos is unbreathable, but in that mix of atmosphere, normal breathing air  (O/N)is a lifting gas ! Build a huge zeppelin protected against the sulfuric acid atmospheric component (easy, really), and live inside.  Serious golden age Sci Fi. And since OTU Traveller has Gravitics good enough for floating palaces at Imperial tech levels (12+, IIRC), one doesn't even need the lift provided by the breathable atmosphere except, perhaps, as a backup !

Cool, huh ?

And given that the living space is very thick (probably a kilometer or two before any bad effects of pressure or lack thereof show, there's room for LOTS of people in floating archeologies.  So we have these elegant bubbles floating serenely across the sky, occasionally spawning smaller bubbles, using resources drawn from various atmospheric depths as well as the hellish surface of the planet - which is a mine head, only.  No one lives there, they just commute in, oh, I don;t know.  Armored flying submarines and ground hugging mecha ?

Tell me there isn't a campaign in that.
The linked paper is actually 7 years old at this point: I'm mildly embarrassed that we didn't find this in the play test discussions about habitable worlds. Quite a bit of opinionizing could have been avoided...perhaps. (There was at least one content area "expert source" there that would have argued with his own shadow, as is required in any gaming forum.)
Now, if I can just get some real numbers on the other issue - how long (in actual years) a small world can hold a standard atmosphere ?

Some good fiction led me to this : "Clever Mongoose", and no relation to the present publisher of Traveller: a ripping SF yarn with floating cities, high tech zombies, conspiracies, and alien invasion all with a steam punk scavenger tech sensibility and a high tech background.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reviewsday Tuesday. Spinters of faith part 1: Railroad or Sandbox ?

Reviewsday Tuesday Presents:

Splinters of faith, Adventure 1: It started with a chicken.
Gary Schotter & Jeff Harkness.
 Frog God Games. 2010(ish)

Caveat: FGG sent me a bunch of free and unsolicited PDF product after I wrote a raving fanboy squeeee about Swords and Wizardry, Complete edition. All he requested was a fair review, which I hope to provide, but be aware that I did not pay for this, so that will color any comments I have.  See, maybe it's me, but whenever I buy something, I always read it with an eye to “Did I just waste X dollars that I could have spent more enjoyably on Beer.”. Needless to say, anything involving beer being wasted, even potentially, can inspire some serious nerd rage, which these kind of reviews will lack.

First question: was it worth the Beer ? Absolutely, as it was free. The only way to up its Product to Beer rating would be for FGG to send me Beer with the PDFs (are you listening ?). Would it have been worth the beer if I paid for it ? Read on.

SOF:ISWAC capsule review for the attentionally challenged.

Splinters of faith (SOF) is the first part of a ten part adventure series, intending to start players at level one, and work up from there, probably to level ten; oh yes, and save the world, while they are at it. They visit a village, get some well intentioned but incorrect information about a chicken, deal with the real problem, and discover a dangerous way to kill some time with a bunch of ghouls and such. Ideally, they realize that this Is Part Of Somthing Bigger and More Important than the chicken or their loot from the crypt.

So, okay, I liked it, although I may not have ever bought it on my own, mainly because there are so many damned modules, and I'm a snob (see note at the end) . Note that I did read it all the way thru (which says a lot) , and am very tempted to use it as a start to running D&D for my son and his overly sugared up friends.
It is easy to run as a basic railroad style “ read the backstory to the players via a bard, ancient tome or annoyingly intrusive wizard buddy of dad’s or something , and send them to save the worlds by visiting a bunch of places”; or, and this is key, a spooky mystery with threads buried throughout the more mundane bits of a campaign.

Regardless, it’s a nice module with a village, some wilderness and a nice crypt full of undead. It should challenge beginning characters, and actually hose them if they are really stupid. Otherwise, they’ll likely win, but know they’ve been in a fight. Which, really, is the point of adventures, right ? 'cause:

As his vision faded and filled with the sight of the Lord of the Nazgul standing over the bodies of Glorfindel and Aragorn, Frodo surrendered to despair and cast himself into the foaming river, the ring slipping from his drowning fingers. It was lost again, but still whole and would soon find its master; nothing now would stop the tide of darknesss, nothing but the worlds end."

Is depressing.

More stuff, lots o' blather and actual information occasionally .

Objective part:
What you get: a 16 page PDF, with some nice cover art which can be used to illustrate why elves are not nice benevolent angels like Frodo thought (Read the Hobbit again, and pay attention). The title is great: juxtaposing portentous (not pretentious. Look it up) phrases like “splinters of faith“ and the word “chicken” is always good postmodern fun. Actual text starts on page 4, and as foretold in prophesy, the last page is OGL stuff. So, twelve pages of actual stuff. Art isn’t excessive, and seems evocative; lots of maps (IE real content) are included. The campaign back story runs to page 9 before we get to the part that the players are in. The module can either be run as a one off (although it will lack some resolution, sometimes life is like that, and at least you get some cool stuff and a good ghost story), or as part of an organized campaign To Save The World By Remaking an Artifact.

I should mention that I'm reviewing the version for swords and wizardry, presumably the complete edition. This is great, and really convenient as it is the rules I want to run, and gush about. Probably why they sent me this one instead of the pathfinder version. Clever lads, them Frog Gods. That's about all I have to say about that, except that it nicely shows a wonderful benefit  of the rules lite and OSR approach to gaming: minimalist stat blocks. Let me say this here, MINIMAL stats and technical rules exposition  REALLY Helps Make the text more READBLE. No kidding. I have to read statistics books and software manuals for a living, so when relaxing, too much techtech makes my eyes threaten mutiny .
The Subjective stuff (aka dogheaded opinions)
Okay, it has an epic backstory, an evil icklord, and a McGuffin scavenger hunt. Pretty straightforward, and honestly, nothing new or surprising. The task (fix the mcguffin, stop the baddie) is cryptically spelled out on the door to the tomb, in case the bad guy comes back. Why they went with poetry and not a big skull and trefoil logo with warnings and instructions in in seven languages and stick figures is a mystery, but that’s priests for ya.

The actual play parts consist of one village, a small extra-dungeon wilderness, and a small but evil-encrusted barrow. One moves from the mundane (kill the fox that is eating chickens) to the surprise (oh, look, it isn’t a chicken) to the dangerous and spooky (Where does this go….oh man, so that’s why they are here…). The village is good and mood setting, the interim setting is an expected surprise, and the crypt is a very nice small dungeon which actually makes sense if you you know the backstory. If not, it’s a good undead fight, with clues that something very odd happened here. This is crucial to the point of the module. It’s the gateway to a long epic campaign, which always means, how to keep the players on script without chains and whips ? SOF1 has an unusual, and, I hope, intentional, approach to resolving this dilemma.

A digression about the Backstory:
Interestingly, apart from some cryptic poetry (in a crypt –get it ?) Most of the backstory is unavailable to the players without him tediously reading it to them : “The ghoul in life was an unspeakably evil man, servant of the big bad dude who was, as you all know, imprisoned here by and artifact of great puissance which was forged by the elder blah blah blah.)”. So, one can just hand them the backstory (ADD module XYZ123 style) , but me, I think that this lack of explicit exposition is a feature, not a bug.

In other words, the players should at most get the impression that something very odd, unpleasant and unfinished has happened here, and possibly something that is hidden in their histories –or lost. The module states that the players should have a definite feeling that the McGuffin needs to be reforged. Me, I’d play it as a Close Encounters like compulsion , or at least an itch to find out what the heck happened there.  At the very least they may be motivated to find out who the heck killed and left after having robbed the.....oh wait, spoiler. Buy it yourself, since I didn't have to, so they can make money. Geeze, what is it with you kids these days ?

So what’s the solution to running it as part of a  campaign ? Like I said, one can vomit forth the backstory and then highlight the cryptic poetry so they know what there mission is, or, alternately, and I like this, it is VERY easy to leave them baffled.

My opinion of a good horror story (which this is, with  a dark claustrophobic settings, Dark Lords and a side order of cannibalism, entombment and betrayal) is that you spend most of it going "WTF ?  Seriously, what was that about ?", then, "Oh gosh  ! I think its.... ", until you get to  "AAAAAAAAA we're screwed !".  This is an excellent vehicle for that kind of start to a campaign.

 The module claims that the following installments can be linear or in any order, and that suggests to me that the whole plot can be buried and only slowly uncovered between the lines of normal adventuring. At which point you start to discover that there’s something you should have done, and maybe you didn’t, and perhaps its not too late to make it right…..

Or, if your players hate to think, or don’t have lots of time, or just want to play epic mcGuffin hunt, one can easily give them the tour guide and a reservation on the Acheson, Topeka and Dungeoncrawl Railroad. Don’t knock it, kids, it can be a very fun style of adventure if you know what it is going in. Sandbox is not the only way.

 The Note at the end:
Confession: I never have liked adventure modules. This is an adventure module. Bear with me before I draw any conclusions. See, in the classic D&D era I snootily avoided them, proclaiming “why buy imagination that I already have in spades”; and then went on to run whatever, often as not no less derivative, railroady, unjustifiable and confused as any AD&D XYZ123 module. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Possibly it was because I was cheaper then, being a highschool/college student, and plus, too, there was always the onerous amounts of beer and textbooks to pay for. So, I didn’t get a lot. Some classics, yes, and I always was a sucker for sandbox or city modules. But basically, I’ve always been a roll yer own kinda DM.
Now, however, I find time limits press upon me, and my gaming group. The time needed to build up a decent adventure is scarce, valuable, and often disrupted by (insert beer reference here) and family, too. So, my secret shame has been shopping for and using modules, pregens and etc.

This looks like a good mix of prebuilt and DIY....sort of like a module from IKEA ?  Oh well.  There goes any hope of beer from FGG.....