Anyway, while re-reading Holmes I noticed a couple of interesting bits I'd forgotten. First is that, while Holmes adopts a Supplement I-descended "experience points for monsters overcome table" (rather than the LBBs' 100 XP per Hit Die), he also includes a sliding scale for XP based on the comparative hit dice of a monster vs. the level of the character who defeats it, just as in the LBBs:
If a defeated monster is lower in level than the character who overcomes him, less experience is gained. The experience points for the kill are multiplied by a fraction: monster's level/character's level. For example, of a third level fighting man killed a first level orc he generates 1/3 the experience points. The Dungeon Master usually takes all experience earned by the party, treasure and monsters defeated, and divides it equally among all surviving members of the expedition.This guideline did in fact make it into AD&D as well, although it's less specific in its application and, in my experience anyway, no one ever used it. The rule is not present in Moldvay (or Mentzer) and a version of it is present in WotC's D&D III in the form of the Challenge Rating system.
Holmes later notes that
it should take a group of players 6 to 12 adventures before any of their characters are able to gain sufficient experience to attain second level. This guideline will hold true for successive levels. Note that it is assumed that the 6 to 12 adventures are ones in which a fair amount of treasure was brought back -- some 10% to 20% of adventures will likely prove relatively profitless for one reason or another.Sounds like Holmes was talking about my Dwimmermount campaign! More seriously, this is a fascinating guideline and speaks powerfully about how assumptions about D&D have changed over the years. I can't imagine any new edition of the game being produced that assumed such a slow pace of advancement. Neither AD&D nor Moldvay made such an assumption and certainly no contemporary claimant to the name Dungeons & Dragons does.
I'm admittedly biased on this score as Holmes's guideline is very close to the pace I've used -- about 7 sessions per level -- but, even so, I think there's much to be said in favor of a slower rate of advancement than is typical nowadays, even among old school gamers. I don't use the proportional XP values for monsters defeated, mostly because so little of the PCs' XP comes from monsters (most of it is from treasure), but, taken together, the two guidelines I've discussed here do lead to a very different style of play and I can't help but wonder whether or not the subsequent development of the game might have been different had a slower, steadier approach to XP gain and level increases remained the standard.