For the past few weeks, I have been using experience more or less as it was written. After six sessions, the thief and cleric are already third level, the fighter and magic-user should be 2nd level (the players will be awarded the experience their characters earned while they were away... we allow "sock puppets" in my game), and the barbarian and new druid are still at 1st. Usually I award a little bonus to each character for a generally entertaining evening. This award is only for players who are actually present; sock puppets miss out on this. So far the award has been 100 xp here and there... I will have to ratchet it up as characters level, else it becomes meaningless once they hit 3rd and beyond.
Recently I was reading the Palladium Fantasy rulebook, and I am mulling over the subjective experience tables presented in it. (A side note- some of the advice in the Palladium RPG book is surprisingly well grounded, particularly the part about accepting character death and playing characters with average or low ability scores.) Perhaps if experience were divorced from combat, it would cause the players to pick their battles more carefully... there would be less of a "got to kill them all" mentality. (This hasn't actually been a problem in this campaign, but I've noticed it tends to creep into D&D games in general.)
Now, the downside of the Palladium experience system is that I'd have to rescale or adapt it to AD&D1. The other problem is that, as written, it could lead to a lot of one-upmanship. (Then again, that might be kind of cool...)
This is just something to think about... I actually find that the experience rules as written have been working okay so far. However, this might be skewed because the characters managed to kill a very high level monster and find its abundant treasure trove, so the characters might have a lot more experience than they "should." (You will also recall that this encounter killed one of them and would've killed several more if not for an incredibly lucky bend bars/lift gates roll...)
Readers, if you would care to comment, are you familiar with the Palladium experience system? How do you feel about it? Has anyone else tried to replace the D&D experience system with something subjective?
I might be overthinking this. Timeshadows suggested a very simple experience system that I might want to experiment with.