Time & again over the years I've heard from various gamers that Mayfair Games Role Aids series never created any low level adventures. This is pure manure with Stephen T. Bourne, & Martin F. King's module 'Evil Ruins'. The striking cover art by Boris Vallejo has absolutely nothing to do with the module's adventure plot. The PC's are hired to clear out an ancient Saxon/Celtic castle.
Evil Ruins is an adventure from another era & it shows it in everything the module embodies. For me this is part of its charm & wit with many Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual favorites taking center stage whist an evil wizard lurks in the shadows.
Even though Evil Ruins is a basic module there's an advanced plot lurking in the background & several solid Arthurian leads that can be used to weave the module into your home campaign. For my money with the way that 'Evil Ruins' plays out I would reskin it over to the classic AD&D Greyhawk setting.
Because 'Evil Ruins' clocks in at thirty four pages it has the potential to be used to kick off an easily established low level Arthurian campaign. Even though it comes off as nothing special with a bit of work Evil Ruins could be reworked into a completely weird late post Greco Roman/English post occupation Saxon campaign. 'Evil Ruins' even includes a small grouping of towns,villages, and even an inn with a black smith. The history of the castle lends itself to all manner of campaign expansion; "Four hundred years before this adventure, the castle of Tintagel was the main northern outpost of the ancient Saxon Kings. It was built on the north shore of Cornwall, in the West Country of England. The castle belonged to Godwin, First Lord of the Realm and personal retainer of the King of the Gold Swords, Leefrick. Godwin played a crucial role in assisting Leefrick retain control of the realm after years of anarchy."
'Evil Ruins' isn't spectacular but with a bit of elbow grease this can go from being a four star module into a full on five star campaign starter. I would ruin Evil Ruins with either OSRIC or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. Evil Ruins could even be run with the Lion & Dragon rpg. The module's castle is an Elven haunted ruin & the local authorities call in the PC's to clear it out.
For Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 'Evil Ruins' becomes something else entirely. The module can be run from the ground up as a time lost portal in the Keltic countryside that leads to a Saxon England of Arthurian times. The PC's become embroiled in the power struggles of a time lost castle but in actuality. The castle is very real in the back bay of Keltic lands. This approach reflects the writings of Clark Ashton Smith approach. 'Evil Ruins' outcome affects the ruins of the castle in the present. Clever DM's will see what I mean with the module having further use as double location in present day Hyperborea.
'Evil Ruins' isn't perfect but with a little work 'Evil Ruins' could be used to jump start an OSR or old school campaign & keep it going for years.