I used to track XP very diligently. Now, I couldn't care less. For one thing, XP is very arbitrary. What earns XP? Only combat? Why? What if you play in a low-combat, high role-play game, will you then level up less often? If a DM can decide how many XP (0-4) should be attributed per encounter, why not simply allow him to decide when the PCs level up? I do the latter. I let the PCs level up to spice things up, once in a while. There might have been more or less combat, RP, etc..., who cares, really?
On the matter of new PCs, I let them in at the level of the players. Consequence for death? Man, all players I've played with care
about their PC. They don't like losing one. It's punishment enough to have one die. No need to rub it in, IMO.
Sir Robilar wrote:
I'm planing to use a modified rule from Adventurer Conqueror King that I really like:
When a character spends his gold for nothing of actual value (ale, whores, giving it to the poor, giving it to random strangers, throwing it in the sea) they gain a reservoir of XP that their next character starts with. That reservoir is 1 tenth of the gold they spend. So if they spend 100 gp "for nothing", their next character starts with 10 XP and thus first level. This counts only for their next character, not all future characters. If they spend 500, they can start at Level 2, and so on. Also, the maximum that they can invest in this way will never bring them above their current character's level.
This is kind of a weird rule, and I would run it by my players to see if they like it before houseruling it in, if I were you. If your players like to be immersed in your game-world, this rule might irk them, as useless spending of money would meta-buy XP for other PCs who are not even rolled up yet. It also pushes the players to spend money for no other reason than to buy XP, which again is a metagame reason. From a RP standpoint, why do you wish to push all PCs to throw their money away? Because let's face it that's what's going to happen, all players will want to have a pool of passive XPs to allow a new PC to be of equivalent level with their own PC in case their PC dies. So your game is going to include some whacky spending sprees, that make no real sense from the PC's perspective, only from the player's perspective.
If you want to allow your players to start at the same level as the others, simply... Allow it. If you want your PCs to have less money, simply have them find less. But buying XP for others PCs with money seems like a weird recipee to me.