This is a continuation on how to handle ECL characters for a game that starts at low level. One suggestion I had was to dock the character with ECL a portion of their XP until their level (with ECL) was in line with the level of the other players.
So, for instance, you could dock a character 50% XP until they had "paid" for the ECL. Once they paid for the ECL, you reset their XP to "recover" the docked XP and start adding their ECL + class level for effective level on the charts.
An example might make this more clear:
Assume the dock penalty is 50%. Bob is a human and Sam is an ECL+1 planetouched human.
The two characters are awarded 1000 XP
Bob gets his full 1000 and is now 2nd level. Sam gets 500 and is still first level.
They get another 1000 XP
Bob is at 2000 XP, still 3rd level. Sam is now at 1000 XP and makes 2nd level and is still getting XP at 50%
They get 4000 XP:
Bob is at 6K XP and hits 4th level. Sam is at 3000 XP and makes 3rd level. Furthermore, he is now one full level behind Bob and no longer pays the XP penalty.
At this point, we convert Sam to the normal method of tracking XP for ECL characters: he gets his "docked" XP back and now has 6000 XP (like Bob) just considers his character level as the class level (3) + the ECL level (1). Or, could just continue as if he lost the 3000XP and doesn't have an ECL but that favors the character with ECL since by later levels,the lost 3000XP is a lot less than one level.
I worked up a chart of ECL versus dock amount to determine how many levels it takes before the character with ECL has "paid for" his ECL. The chart shows at what level for folks without ECL the ECL character has paid for his ECL. (I.e., at level of Bob has Sam paid for his ECL. For example, for ECL 2, 25% dock, Bob will be level 14 and Sam level 12 before Sam has paid for his ECL. For ECL 2 and 50% dock, Bob will be level 6 and Sam level 4 before he has paid for his ECL.)
So, 25% is probably too low a penalty. Takes forever to pay back your ECL.
But 50% or 75% is probably okay. 75% is probably frustrating for the character with high ECL but it is a way to allow very high ECLs and if their ECL is giving them extra HP and BAB then they certainly are getting quite the benefit compared to some first level toon.
I'd suggest 50% dock if the ECLs in the draft are 1 or 2; that way they will have paid for it by level 7 which could still be over a year into the campaign. If there are higher ECLs, it needs to be a higher dock otherwise they may never pay for it during the game.