Got quite a bit of feedback on my last post in a very short time, and I can already see that people are not quite grokking my beef. let me just elaborate a little bit (and thank you for your indulgence):
RE: Slow Advancement = Normal Advancement
I understand that Holmes D&D is very specific in terms of loooong advancement times (i.e. many sessions between advancing). B/X does not specify a "fairly slow rate of advancement" and (I would say) implies a shorter time between levels...in design if not in outright text (see page B61). Part of B/X play (the "X" part) is definitely geared towards adventuring outside the dungeon and taking your games to other realms of adventure (including establishment of strongholds)...three years to reach Name level is waaay outside of my "acceptable limits" for advancement. Three years to get to the additional content? That's just crazy.
RE: Awarding XP for Hours Played
This is the absolute LAST thing I want to do. Reward systems shape behavior...I want players playing smarter, not just "showing up" to the game. I don't ever want to get in the habit of rewarding someone for sitting down at the table...folks have to do something!
RE: Awarding XP for "Mission Objectives"
Similar to the last note, I want to reward creativity...and mission objectives tend to put players on directional courses (i.e. they have the ability to railroad player behavior, even without railroading player action). For this reason, I don't like "mission objectives." I don't mind handing out the occasional XP bonuses for good play, but I want players to know up front what actions accumulate XP (for example, defeating monsters and acquiring loot), and then give them their own method of accomplishing those generic tasks. It's easy for mission objectives to become too specific.
RE: Re-Vamping the System
Re-doing the XP tables for monsters, changing D&D to a "silver standard" instead of gold...all this is, frankly, more work than I want to do. And re-calibrating the economy to make it more "medieval realistic" is definitely out of the question...I don't care that plate mail in B/X costs 60gp and leather armor costs 20gp...a rich adventurer (like any PC above 2nd level or so) should be able to afford whatever personal equipment he/she wants! My main concern is with requiring PCs to figure out ways to haul TONS and TONS of treasure.
I don't think Moldvay's Castle Amber is an aberration of adventure design...I think he stocks his adventure with the proper amount of treasure for a group of adventurers of the suggested numbers (6-10) or the suggested levels (3rd to 6th). He is working with the rules, and it won't take more than six or eight medium length sessions to get through the entire module...and the lower level characters will gain MULTIPLE levels during their stint in Castle Amber (I know, having run this module before). Higher level characters (6th) should still get one, or close to one, full level for completing it...and with weekly sessions, that still leaves at least 44 weeks of the year left over. Enough for 5 or 6 more (similar length) adventures with similar level advancement (i.e. 5 or 6 levels per year).
The PROBLEM with this is that he does it, by stocking the dungeon with a quarter million gold coins worth of treasure. Sometimes this is a single expensive piece of jewelry, sometimes it's 10,000 copper pieces (equal to 1,000 gp in value, but not in bulk/weight). Yes, for converting White Plume Mountain to B/X, I should have upped the treasure amount 5 or 6 times...but how the hell are PCs going to carry that much treasure out of the dungeon? Yes, that IS an interesting "challenge to the intellect;" but it is NOT the kind of challenge I'm interested in throwing at my players...compared to the frictionless room, the heat induction plates, the inverted ziggurat, the boiling bubble, or the mud cavern. The latter challenges are much more interesting, but the way the B/X game is written, the "treasure haul" challenge is going to be a large part of any adventure for characters of 5th level or higher...and it is a challenge that will be happening over and over again!
Reducing the amount of XP needed to advance seems the easiest solution to the dilemma, and the one I will probably end up taking. This is a subject I've found myself returning to (in my head anyway) repeatedly the last few months as I've considered level/advancement design for new role-playing games I'm considering.