So I'll be running Labyrinth Lord tomorrow, for the first time. Though, of course, it's not at all like running a game for the first time, as it's just like the D&D of my childhood! I spent yesterday evening drawing up a dungeon map and stocking it.
I drew the dungeon completely freestyle, on un-gridded paper, which I found had a remarkably freeing effect. In fact I was struck by what a pleasurable experience it is, to sketch out rooms and corridors with no preconceived idea of "what should go where", only a rough idea of how many rooms I wanted (about 25 in this case). I ended up, by mistake (due to low lighting), drawing the whole map in purple, but that only adds to its charm I think. And I even coloured in the "bits between the rooms" (for want of a more specific word!), which I never normally do with maps. A thoroughly enjoyable exercise, and one which revealed to me something of the creative / artistic nature of the process of dungeon design.
The stocking was equally fun. I had a few ideas for encounters or areas that I wanted to include, but the rest I trusted to the luck of the 1d6 room contents roll. One thing that particularly impressed me in the process of making an adventure for Labyrinth Lord was the ease of creating new monsters. I found it equally as easy to create a new creature as I did to look one up in the book, which led to several new beasts just in this small one-level (so far) dungeon. The time from imagining what the monster would look like and how it would behave to having its stats written down was not more than a minute or two, which I find very impressive - compare that to the same process in more modern RPGs (d20 system anyone?). Partly, of course, this was helped by a latent but intimate familiarity with the game from years of childhood play, but I found the combination of a simple basis for a monster (HD, AC, Save as, Attacks / damage) plus the freeform "and then make up whatever rules you like for its special abilities" works a whole lot better than in more rules-heavy games.
I just hope we have as much fun playing the dungeon as I did making it! I'm very much looking forward to playing the classic game again and seeing it with adult eyes.