We finished our fledgling DM's dungeon last PM and a good time was had by all. It was a nice blend of classic tropes and atypical challenges that put in me in mind of some of my RMAs.
Without going into spoiler-ish details (she is submitting this for the 2012 One Page Dungeon Contest), the premise of the crawl is very simple: A demented nobleman had once created a vicious "funhouse" to torment those who had offended him. The Earl is now long gone, but there are rumors of treasure to be found within. Our group of thrill-seeking 2nd-3rd level PCs needed no more hook than that to head straight off into the woods seeking the place. Suffice it to say we found the dungeon and quickly discovered the real challenge wasn't just getting through it, it was getting back out!
Overall, I was intensely pleased with how we –a group of experienced players– found ourselves challenged. The nature of the challenges we faced were nasty. Many of the "monsters" we encountered were normal, but dangerous, critters like snakes (among others). Because we were trapped in the place, we also faced keeping careful track of things like torches and rations (and water!). Our DM had us use counters like M&Ms for consumables. By the end, our cleric was using Purify Food & Drink on what we'd killed to extend our rations!
There were many fun fights, but extremely scary as some involved "Save or Die" situations. We'd been given a few options to make them slightly more survivable (the option to purchase potions when we were in town, etc.), but we ran as much as we fought: because the goal wasn't combat. She also let us try nutty stuff like leeching poison from a wound after a failed save. Some DMs might not have been so lenient, but we HAD the leeches right there, after all! Such improvisation and off the wall ideas are a hallmark of fun gameplay, IMO.
In the end, we found lots of loot (more than we could comfortably carry) and –we hoped– the means to get out. We then had a race to the surface where we picked our battles and concentrated on getting out before our rations were gone or we were killed in an unnecessary fight. When we stumbled into the daylight with packs full of swag, we felt like we had really earned it. We'd left more than we took (though we tried to get the most valuable stuff first). No one had quite died, but by the gods, it had been a near thing for all of us, and it made the finish all the sweeter.
This was one of the best classic style, resource-intensive crawls I'd played in for a long time. People who say they want an "old-school" adventure and care about things like rations or encumbrance should definitely look for this one among this year's contest entries. I think if she'd been a little more experienced DM she could have made it even more of a nail-biter, but it's hard to imagine how. So kudos to our GMs first trip behind the screen. Here's hoping to see you there more in the near future!