I ran a pickup OD&D game last night and generally had a good bit of fun. I ran the dungeon from Dungeon Crawl #1 and the PCs encountered the Mammon trap I wrote for Green Devil Face #2, which is always a fun encounter. A few thoughts stemming from play.
In The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, it says:
Generally, doors will not open by turning the handle or by a push. Doors must be forced open by strength, a roll of 1 or 2 indicating the door opens, although smaller and lighter characters may be required to roll a 1 to open doors. There can be up to three characters attempting to force open a door, but this will disallow them rapid reaction to anything awaiting them on the other side.Philotomy noted, I think wisely, that this makes the dungeon a bit more of a weird, underworld-ish environment. The problem is, in everything I run lately, players seem to have fantastically bad luck at this roll. Three PCs will sit there for two or three goes each before someone finally gets the door open, having made a ton of racket in so doing. Which makes their lives harder strategically, and I'm fine with that, but the actual act of bashing open doors gets a bit tedious and can slow down play.
I'm thinking of a variant rule where you roll a d6, and the number you rolled gives you the number of tries it takes you to open the door, with a 6 indicating that you are totally unsuccessful and need to make further attempts. A 1 or 2 will not give monsters around a general alert and will still require the monsters to roll surprise, while a 3, 4, or 5 will not allow a surprise roll and should draw an extra wandering monster check. This would keep the original rule's spirit in tact while not letting the game get stuck in a loop where the referee says "come on, roll a 1 or 2 already."
What's funny to me is that the other d6-based rules in OD&D all work fine because they are on my side of the screen (PC or referee's screen, either works). I roll a d6 or two practically every time the players ask me something, and they fail a tremendous number of hearing checks but it's the same if they blow it or nothing's on the other side of the door. So I say "You don't hear anything" an awful lot.
The other thing that's good to remember is that when you start putting random dungeon dressing in the game, it's fun what players will think to do with it. There were some empty rooms in the dungeon, and I rolled contents on the Ready Ref Sheets chart like I often do - and found upholstered chairs. The players were seeking assiduously through, so I rolled again and got a result of a knife, which I decided would effectively be a silver dagger for purposes of stabbing things that require silver weapons to hit.
For Empire of the Petal Throne fans, there was an encounter with several hlyss. Of course, the PCs outnumbered them and had missile weapons, which in OD&D is a fairly lethal combination, especially considering the one PC hit by a stinger made his saving throw.
On a final note, my update to initiative works pretty well. In addition to the d6 roll-off that I traditionally do when running OD&D, I instituted a rule where a weapon 2 classes longer (using Chainmail weapon ranks) gets first strike when closing for melee. It rewarded the one PC who picked a spear, and I liked that. It's a good way to differentiate weapons if you're not using variable damage dice.
For folks who don't have Chainmail, the OD&D and Holmes equipment lists both have weapons in order according to weapon rank: Dagger, Hand Axe, Mace, Sword, Battle Axe, Morning Star, Flail, Spear, Pole-Arm, Halberd, Two-Handed Sword, Lance, Pike.