The session did not go well last night. I think I got a little trigger happy with the save or die stuff. We lost the thief, and the player was pretty rankled about it and said she did not want to make a new character. The party offered to raise her using the enormous treasure trove found when they killed the lurker last week. One of the other players commented that he likes 3rd edition better because its more difficult to die.
I remain unapologetic. AD&D 1st edition is deadly. Adventuring is supposed to be deadly. Yes, sometimes characters die because they miss a Find Traps roll and then fail a saving throw.
Think about finding 7,000 gold pieces... more money than any commoner will ever see. This is literally enough money to never have to work again, should you be content with a modest existence. Do you think treasure like that is earned easily? If it was, it would've been taken long ago.
The thing is, the upper levels of experience are not guaranteed... there are very few high level characters in my world because crawling around in dungeons full of traps and monsters is a great way to get killed. Doing it over and over virtually guarantees that you're going to die at some point.
I have the feeling that these two players will eventually drop out. I don't want them to, obviously, because they are my friends and I don't really get the chance to socialize with them away from the table.
A few other things:
-I'm not using skills next time I run AD&D. Rather, I'm going to base what you can attempt based on your class. Druids have nature lore, and probably know something about medicinal healing, for instance. Everyone can ride a horse. Everyone can try to start a fire. Magic-users and clerics probably know something about demons, and so on and so forth. Basically, you ask "Can I do this? Do I know this?" and I will answer "yes, definitely" "roll some dice" or "no."
-I'm probably not going to use specialization as written. I think it needs to be cleaned up a little
-I think the barbarian would be a more viable character class if we shortened his list of special abilities but also gave him a more reasonable experience table.
These last few points are something to consider for a future campaign.