My players were used to 5e so I did some explaining on how the tomb isn't balanced for their level one characters, furthermore, I tried out gold as XP and gave them an NPC hireling and a donkey as possible secondary resources.
1st PartyThis party of three made their way to the tomb with Gabe, a local youth who has agreed to stash and transport the party's treasure for a flat fee. Featured in the party was a Tabaxi Monk, a Goblin Bard, and a Human Barbarian. They were definitely more cavalier with encounters. They triggered quite a few traps but learned to start avoiding them once they entered the true tomb. There was a fight against the black pudding which they smartly kited around to avoid the lethal nature of its pseudopods. One player did some cool shenanigans with the ring that lets you remove your eye and see through it by combining it with mage hand. There was almost a TPK as the players attempted to face the Stone Cobra Guardian head on. Following their near-death experience, they took advantage of the bottomless pit and stealth to dispatch the guardian. The dungeon barnacles stumped them for a bit so they continued on towards the goblin pits. At this point, things went poorly. The goblins moved in numbers the party wasn't well prepared for, forcing the party to use oil and firebombs to keep them at bay while retreating. With a sizable haul of treasure retrieved the party voted to head back to town and sell their treasure for more efficient resources. At this point, we ended the session. (This was the only party that made use of the hireling and sent him out ahead to get some gold safely out of the dungeon.)
This party of three featured an Elf Barbarian, a Human Wizard, and an Elf Rogue. This party was much more cautious about traps and were only seriously hurt by the lightning trap. They briefly encountered the Basilisk but chose to take an alternative path to avoid such a dangerous creature. They briefly split the party and the hidden mummy claws almost killed the rogue. The black pudding was trapped in the tomb it came from due to the wizard setting off a minor cave in with some spells. Upon reaching the Stone Cobra Guardian they made a few exploratory attempts to test its strength and opted for the stealth+push off cliff combo right away. After defeating the Guardian and reaching the dungeon barnacles we called it for the night.
Tomb of the Serpent King: The 1st group enjoyed the dungeon and being able to solve problems creatively. The stand out encounter for them was definitely the fight and later toppling of the Stone Cobra Guardian. They took a route that completely avoided the Basilisk so they never got to experience that section of the dungeon. The 2nd group enjoyed the camaraderie and seemed slightly disappointed that combat was almost always solved by wit rather than fisticuffs. I'm hoping to finish the dungeon sometime down the line and expose the players to the other weird things within.
5E Character Creation Hack: All the players seemed to appreciate the fast rolling nature of the 5E Templates. One of the players wanted to switch out weapons for their background and another wanted more choices than the given 6.
Gold as Experience: This one didn't elicit any specific reactions. It did encourage more exploration and planning on how to exit the dungeon safely. More importantly, it kept them away from the mindset of dungeons having a final boss.
Overall: I enjoyed myself immensely and might try a simpler system next time.