Ya, lots of chatting in the blogs about how level 1 D&D magic users are hard to play and how it's all a meat grinder. I have no problem with that, I've run monty haul campaigns and cakewalks and they are no fun. No stakes. I'd happily play a level 1 magic user as long as the game was fun and the DM was good. Now since I support this opinion it's impossible for me to act in any other way because this is the internet and everyone has to pick a side. Well screw that. Just because I see this as a good thing in OD&D, I don't have to think that that's the only way to play the game.
In Beacon, level 1 isn't nearly as 'hard' as it is in OD&D. Firstly you get a pile more hit points - Strength score + 1d6 HP to start. Even the weakest possible PC would have 4 hp to start, and the toughest possible dwarven fighter would have 27! Maybe that's too much, but it sure makes it easier for the players starting out and it means you are most likely going to survive first level unless you are very unlucky or you charge ahead blindly all the time. And it's not like I didn't kill some PCs in the play test either. First level Beacon isn't hard, but it's not a cakewalk.
So I'm of the opinion that this Beacon low level game is working - working for me anyway. The play test we've been running has characters up to level 3 now and despite a couple little grumbles, I think that the characters are pretty capable but not overpowered. Really it comes down to what you throw at them at first level, and I'd have no problem throwing a half dozen goblins or a couple of giant frogs at them. I think it's working for the players too, they seem to have enough to do that they aren't pulling 15 minute adventure days - but have also learned that if they don't ration their resources they are not immune to loosing half the party or flirting with a TPK.
So does this mean I'm not old sckool? Well I think a lot of my game preferences are OSR certified even if I run a d20 system. I like descriptive actions, random encounters, unbalanced encounters and resource management. I'll kill your PC, I'll kill them dead. I just hope I don't loose any readers because I didn't make everything into charts or subscribe to the meat-grinder chargen philosophy.