It took a societal lockdown but, at last, I took the now-teenaged [barely] progeny to Hommlet. He seems to finally have achieved the requisite maturity to handle a [simplified] character sheet, so he actually rolled up characters for the first time; though he did complain that "it took like nine hours". He was off by a factor of 12 but nonetheless I took over once it got to equipping the newbs mostly because I wanted to break out my old quick n' dirty PC starting equipment rules.
Once in town, he recruited a few NPCs at the inn--wisely shunning Zert's advances but taking on the wily Furnok, the drunken Elmo, and the pedantic Spugnoir instead. At the moathouse he got past the frogs outside the gate and the huge spider in the tower without much trouble. Then the kiddo wandered straight to the giant lizard encounter where his druid does the ol' Animal Friendship thing. So now he has an awesome giant lizard friend. He even has the MU cast a sleep spell on it so that he can remove the obstruction (a shield) that's stuck in it's craw. (See/listen to GGNoRe for an explanation of this situation)
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This screws up--in a good way--the entire upper level of the moathouse. The bandits in room 7 are smart enough to know that they are just maybe up to taking on a small gang of novice adventurers, but are going to get slaughtered by a party of six accompanied by a voracious giant lizard. So they parley for their freedom and skip town. Two encounters out of the way thanks to one 1st level spell.
But we're not done yet. Now the PCs wander toward the pantry where a herd of giant rats are waiting to feed on them. Maybe you can justify giant rats hungry enough to see a smallish anthropomorphic creature like a halfling or a gnome as food, but are rats gonna attack a voracious, 25' long lizard? Hell no! They fled in terror, running down the stairs to the undercroft and triggering both green slimes hanging out on the ceiling. By the time the PCs catch up, the lizard has eaten 3 rats while 3 more are turning to slime and the rest have disappeared into the garbage heap. Two more moathouse encounters eliminated without an initiative roll.
Technically, this shouldn't have worked because the Giant Lizard is a 3 Hit Die creature and Animal Friendship, by Ed. 1 rules, only allows a 1st level druid to befriend a critter of 2HD or less. But, because I didn't have my 1e PHB on-hand, we were using the Castles & Crusades rules (basically 1.75 ed AD&D for those unfamiliar) which are not entirely clear on the matter.
That all happened two months ago and we've been playing almost non-stop ever since. It's a lot more fun playing in person than the online game I've been involved with since society broke down and we moved into our Omega Man bunker. But that's another post.