I ran Stonehell again last night. It went well: the PCs hired two clerics in the keep to investigate the Quiet Halls, and they actually turned the Bone Thing which had some of the best treasure thus far. They both failed to turn skeletons, who killed one of the clerics (he was laid to rest properly on one of the biers) and a crypt thing was fought off successfully, though it involved a burning door and some smoke inhalation.
After that, there was some adventurous touching of teleport glyphs, which led them ultimately to the third level and the obelisks that bring fresh air into the dungeon. They were close enough to get up to the stairs, which led (through two hobgoblins) to a part of level one they hadn't seen before. There was a fight with kobold slavers, which killed the other cleric but won the freedom of the slaves, two of whom became new henchmen-types.
- There haven't been PC fatalities in a while. This is for two reasons: they keep making saving throws, and they haven't been outnumbered in a fight since the first session.
- Swords & Wizardry has an omission from the OD&D rules that I consider pretty serious: magic-users don't have the ability to make scrolls. I've found in running OD&D and Holmes that this really makes M-Us much more useful at low levels, where scrolls are basically bonus spells in return for time and money.
- I've found that giving +1 to damage for a natural 20 keeps the "critical" hit exciting without overdoing things and making the game too swingy. At higher levels I may increase it but for low levels I'm really liking this as a simple method.
- The treasure the PCs found was really quite excellent and re-affirmed my feelings on 1GP=1XP. It rewards exploration much more than fighting.
- I liked how the PCs shifted tack on Stonehell's kobolds once they found the slave market. The whole adventure really reinforced how well Stonehell is actually built as a dungeon, between wondrous things and great monster factionalism.
- I'm so used to thief skills at level 1 sucking that I was surprised when the party thief actually found a trap on a treasure chest.
- I've come to hate making up names on the fly. So I've resorted to naming NPCs with interesting names from the backers list in Swords & Wizardry Complete. RIP Kimmo and Diogo. Hopefully Thaldon and Bracton have better luck. Seriously, any good naming lists out there?