Starting Level of Experience for Player Characters-

Creating the Player Character - - - -
DMG - - - *h*

As a general rule the greatest thrill for any neophyte player will be the first adventure,
when he or she doesnít hove any real idea of what is happening,
how powerful any encountered monster is,
or what rewards will be gained from the adventure.
This assumes survival,
and you should gear your dungeon to accommodate 1st level players.
If your campaign has a mixture of experienced and inexperienced players,
you should arrange for the two groups to adventure separately,
possibly in separate dungeons, at first.
Allow the novice players to learn for themselves,
and give experienced players tougher situations to face,
for they already understand most of what is happening
-- quite unlike true 1st level adventurers of the would-be sort,
were such persons actually to exist.

If you have an existing campaign,
with the majority of the players being already above 1st level,
it might be better to allow the few newcomers to begin at 2nd level ot even 3rd or 4th in order to give them a survival chance when the group sets off for some lower dungeon level.
I do not personally favor granting unearned experience level(s) except in extreme circumstances such as just mentioned,
for it tends to rob the new player of the real enjoyment he or she would normally feel upon actually gaining levels of experience by dint of cleverness, risk, and hard fighting.

It has been called to my attention that new players will sometimes become bored and discouraged with the struggle to advance in level of experience,
for they do not have any actual comprehension of what it is like to be a powerful character of high level.
In a well planned and well judged campaign this is not too likely to happen,
for the superior DM will have just enough treasure to whet the appetite of players,
while keeping them lean and hungry still,
and always after that carrot just ahead.
And one playerís growing ennui can often be dissipated by rivalry, i.e.,
he or she fails to go on an adventure,
and those who did play not only had an exciting time but brought back a rich haul as well.
Thus, in my opinion, a challenging campaign and careful refereeing should obviate the need for immediate bestowal of levels of experience to maintain interest in the game.

However, whatever the circumstances,
if some problem such as this exists,
it has been further suggested that allowing relatively new players to participate in a modular campaign game
(assuring new players of characters of higher level)
would often whet their appetites for continued play at lower level,
for they can then grasp what it will be like should they actually succeed in attaining proficiency on their own by working up their original characters and gaining high levels of experience.
This reasoning seems sound,
and provided there is a separation of the two campaigns,
and the one isnít begun until new players have had some number of expeditions as 1st level characters,
it is not destructive to the game as a whole.

Originally Posted by ScottyG
Gary, it seems like you would often be DMing for parties with a wide range in levels. with Joe Newbie coming in and playing with Ernie and Rob, who have been playing daily for a year. Did you run different sessions for different level ranges, or did you mix the new PCs in with the existing group?

Scotty, just so!

Whenever possible I ran the less-experienced players alone or with lower-level "flunkie" PCs of the veterans of the group, giving them a chance to get full XPs instead of the half limit if played in addition to their "masters."

The newbies actually often preferred to be along as assistants to the high-level PCs, even though I had by then developed the "XP shares by level" method, where all levels of the party were added and the total XPs for the adventure divided by that number and then shared up accordingly--multi-class levels counting as half-levels added to the main one (for instance a F/MU/T of 4-4-5 would have 9 share levels [2+2+5]). Then Robilar and Tenser were involved, the kills and loot were usually great.

Christmas Cheer,

Originally Posted by haakon1
Did you always start at 1st level? I always have, but I've had DM's who say bring in new characters at the level everyone else is already at, and I know DM's in 3.5 often start at 2nd or higher. That feels wrong to me as a player and as a DM. :\

Real noobs always began at 1st level. More experienced players that were joining up with the main regulars for some special adventure might begin with new PCs of 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th level. They were not missing anything, certainly, as they had already worked one or more PCs to that level and above.

Having a higher starting level often makes the difference of being able to actively participate in play