My first thought when playing Ruins of the Undercity was "Wow, this is a great game." Then it occurred to me, isn't it Basic/Expert that's the good game?
My second thought was dying at zero hit points is harsh. We have some level 2 characters, but nearly a dozen have died!
But this isn't really about Ruins - I'll be talking about that once we've sussed out a little more of the upper levels. . .
It uses tables, although altered, that are similar in structure to the tables in the Dungeon Master's Guide for solo play. These tables work like so:
Chamber->Size->Exits->Exit location->Door table->Lighting->Content
Trap->Type of trap
Wandering monster->Roll for level->Roll for type->Roll for number encountered
This isn't vague, it's very specific. Yes, Room and chamber are reversed from their classical use.
Is it necessary to have all these rolls? It's a lot of rolling, and takes a lot of time.
This type of gaming is essentially gambling. Here are the important rolls - the ones where some gambling rides on the outcome.
Type of corridor structure
Is the door dangerous (the type/locked rolls) and what's behind it.
The content of the room
The type of trap (and the roll to disarm it)
and The type of monster.
Although the rest of the rolls provide information about the environment, there is little to nothing riding on them the majority of the time. The majority of the rolls simply provide minor detail and take up a great bit of time.
Other games do this same process - Munchkin! is the most well known. It's been modified so far away from the root that any similarities are thematic only. Is there a good solution to this?
Minds are working on the problem.