I just saw a blog post by Mike Mearls, Build Your Adventures in OD&D, where he suggests doing the initial design work for 4e adventures as if the adventure was being written for OD&D. According to Mike, because OD&D characters and monsters are simple without a lot of flashy powers and abilities to steal the show, designing for OD&D leaves the designer “with only one option for making a dungeon or adventure interesting: Compelling locations, mysteries, puzzles, weird phenomena, *stuff* that the PCs can poke, prod, and inspect.” In other words, this approach forces designers to create a dungeon (or other adventure setting) that is interesting in and of itself, instead of slipping into dependence on tactical combat as the sole major source of interest.
I don’t often agree with Mike these days, but I think he has a good idea here. An idea that almost every published adventure I’ve seen for 4e could have really benefited from. For those 4e GMs who would like to try this but don’t own a copy of OD&D, either Swords & Wizardry or Microlite74 would probably do just as well.