I'm currently re-keying Quasketon, for a party of First Level newcomers (my teenage son and his mates who know little of Old-School D&D). I have a few problems with it to be honest, partly because it isn't, in fact a great Level 1 dungeon. I'll come back to my other main problem in a different post. But this does hark back to what I was posting a couple of days ago about 'The Haunted Keep' skeleton or shell or whatever in the Moldvay Basic rulebook. Quasketon doesn't work for a 'beginning' dungeon.
It's pegged as 'for a party of 3-8 adventurers (player characters and henchmen or hirelings) of up to the third level of experience... the carrying of one or two useful magic items will likewise be of great help...'.
Now I'd say it's probably a Level1-2 dungeon. If your 3-8 adventurers (say, 4 PCs and 4 hirelings?) have reached about 6,000XP and have perhaps started to go up in level (Thieves & Clerics, I'm looking at you) - and gained a few magic items then perhaps as it stands it's OK. Don't get me started on 'Keep on the Borderlands', that's even worse for First Level PCs but at least they can run away - there's nowhere to run from Quasketon.
But is it possible to run it all as 'Level 1'? If the lower level isn't made too spectacularly dangerous can it be survivable for First Level characters? Alternatively is there a way of using information in B1 as a bigger Level 1 setting so that the players can gain some experience and potentially get their hands on a magic item or two, before they even get into the caverns?
Hence the title. I haven't heard of anyone picking up on this part of the 'Background':
A single tower was constructed above ground for lookout purposes, even though there was little to see other than a hilly, forested wilderness for miles around (p.6).
A tower, with a small number of monsters (especially if those monsters have access to the odd magic item), might be just the starting-point the party needs. Instead of the Quasketon build-up (with its faintly ridiculous 'and you have a map with a Q on it so you thought you'd go adventuring...') the party instead finds itself forming over the tale of some trappers come back from the woods who report monsters up near the Old Watchtower...
So, when I've finished keying Quasketon, I shall devote a little time to 'The Tower of Zelligar', AKA 'the Old Watchtower' - a Level 1 lair in the forest that the party can go and trash. This could even provide a more believable starting-point, if a very little is known of the history of the complex. "What if the Old Watchtower up in the forest is in fact the Tower of Zelligar? That would mean that the fabled stronghold was very close by... ".But that might require a little research on behalf of the party, which will be subject of my next post, I'm sure.