My post the other day generate a lot of discussion, here and on Google+. Some people have some negative feelings about what I called "bootstrapping" low-level PCs. That is, high level guys providing gear, escort, support, extra shares of treasure, etc. to get those low-level guys to level up faster.
Although my remarks were related to class-and-level games, it inevitably got mixed together with point-buy GURPS since I play that and many of the commentors do as well.
But let's say, in a class-and-level game, you want to discourage low-level guys from wanting to pal around with high level guys on their early adventures and discourage high-level guys from trying to smooth the path too much. What can you do?
Here is what I've come up with.
Divide all gold XP regardless of shares - if the groups hauls home 2000 gp for 4 members, levels 4, 3,, 2, and 1 and the first three toss all the gold to the last guy . . . too bad. They all still get 500 xp for it instead of 0, 0, 0, and 2000. The lack of division doesn't matter, the reward is for the finding and bringing back and the finding and bringing back is equally shared.*
Divide XP by level - A pretty brutal approach, but divide out XP by level. If the 4-3-2-1 team above split that gold XP, it would be 4+3+2+1 = 10 shares at 200 each. 4th level guy gets 800, 3rd 600, 2nd 400, and 1st 200 xp. I call this brutal because it means slower-level character types will always lag behind faster-leveling types and this method reinforces that level after level. Rich get richer, poor get richer much more slowly than before.
Go All DMG On Them - Use the AD&D rule about dividing too-low level monster XP (p. 84-85); this will reduce the value of monsters slain (and possibly treasure gained.) You'll still survive longer when your 1st level guys go adventuring with Jack's 8th level cleric, but you won't get much XP and will level more slowly for doing so.
Defacto Henchmen - If a character is at least X levels below the average party level, or at least Y levels below the highest party member's level, then, like NPC henchmen, they get 1/2 XP. The XP is still divided normally (so that 4-man group would get 500 xp each) and then the defacto henchmen would get half of that (250 xp each). Setting this to 3+ levels is probably okay in old editions of D&D, since the party would still fit into the generally 3-level range of suggested levels in modules.
You can also put a level cap on this - once you reach level Z, it doesn't matter anymore. Let's say that's 5th level. Once you hit 5th level, you gain full XP even if you go adventuring with Lord Lordington the 9th level fighter. You're not going to pull as much weight as him but you've reach some minimal level of ability. Now you're just taking extra risks. Have fun in White Plume Mountain, Mister.
Any and all of those tricks can discourage people from trying to bootstrap, if you're opposed to it.
Me, I'm not - it makes a lot of game-world sense as well as meta-game sense. And while being level 1 is really fun, you don't always want to spend a lot of time there. But if the group wants to discourage it, those are some game-mechanical ways to do it in a class-and-level system.
* This came up elsewhere - isn't this the RAW? In Basic Set D&D, it is - and page 4 of B2 The Keep on the Borderlands makes this explicit. But Holmes Basic says differently on page 11, merely saying treasure (and thus experience) is "usually" divided evenly, even singling out thieves stealing extra gold and not dividing the experience up with the others. OD&D doesn't have an example of multiple PCs earning experience that I can find. So while the editions moved towards dividing it evenly, the RAW wasn't consistent cross-edition back in the day.