Last night I ran a game of Flying Swordsmen for Justin (DM of our fortnightly Vaults of Ur game), Josh, and Pat (both of the old Board Game Group).
It was a chance for me to try out a different initiative system for the game. The original one didn't work so well, and the way we did it last night was fine, but there's still something that calls to all of us about having varied weapon/spell speeds. So there are still some bugs to work out for the planned revision.
I had them start their characters at 3rd level. Dragon Fist, the game I cloned, started at 3rd level. I realized why. The 1st level characters just don't have enough oomph to feel like competent martial artists. There also seems to be some relevance in JB's "stages of exploration" posts. Warning, they're a long read. Even by JB standards. Flying Swordsmen is not a game of dungeon crawling. Sure, there will be hazard sites to explore, but that's not the main focus of the game. The XP system is designed differently than standard D&D (more combat XP, and lots of XP for non-combat challenges, but none for loot).
When I was putting together Flying Swordsmen, though, the question that came up several times was "Why start at 3rd level in a 10 level game? That's cutting out two levels of play." So I think the solution will be to go ahead and start everyone at 3rd level as in Dragon Fist (keeping 1st and 2nd level for flunky NPCs), but add on an 11th and 12th level above what was in Dragon Fist.
Anyway, I've got two weeks to think of another initiative method to try out. The guys had some good suggestions, so I'll see if I can work anything out of their ideas.
And if any of the guys want to write up play reports or draw some pictures, I'll happily post them here and award some bonus XP, as in our Ur games.