So I finally got my weekend game together. I used a level I've been wanting to run, stocked with some appropriate nasties for new PCs. Things went well, and the game was enjoyable, with my pretty average number of 1 PC death in an evening. (Lets you know you're doing it right.)
1. I used Points of Light for the setting, specifically the Wildlands. This paid off richly, as I had decided the dungeon level we were using would be beneath the ruins of Gervonium. I love any setting where I'm able to basically plug in the idea of "this was an old Roman camp city." A group of goblins guarding one of the dungeon entrances turned out to be pretty interesting in itself.
2. The rules were Labyrinth Lord. I enjoyed that a lot, although I think I'd prefer to stay away from thieves – by doing without them we kept the exploration pretty focused. The rules are not perfectly organized, but being more systematic than OD&D helped a lot, as did the fact that one of the players had the LL rules in a binder. (This made for more copies of the rules at the table than players: one on my laptop, one in a player's binder, one I had printed at FedEx Kinko's with a nice coil bind to lay flat, and one official Lulu printing, with two players and me, the GM.)
2a. However, I'm still the GM, or the referee, or even the DM. I don't think of myself as the Labyrinth Lord, and object to titles other than "referee," "game master," "game moderator" or "dungeon master".
3. One of the things I love about old school sensibility is the sense of freedom. I like sketching things and then letting player interaction, with a healthy dollop of common sense, determine some details – like an acid bath full of gold coins, which the players managed to scour for a drain that worked. Since it was a perfectly good solution, it functioned – they still had to seek out a way to get the rest of the acid off the coins, which led to one PC burning his fingers to the point where he couldn't accurately wield weapons the rest of the day.
4. We got pretty quickly to my favorite bit in the level. The PCs fell for a teleport trap that took away the ability to quickly enter and leave the dungeon for a significant chunk of the evening.
5. Jeff Rients's chart for reaching zero HP, from Fight On! #3, has cemented its status as my favorite bit of chart to come out of the old school renaissance.