I ran a game of Dungeon Crawl Classics a while back, which is an OGL game inspired by 1e AD&D (and a bit more on the lethal side). They had an interesting mechanism for starting the game, which is that all of the characters start at level 0 (as commoners basically) and each player actually starts the game with four characters. The reason you start the game with four characters is that your level 0 peasants are expected to die horribly. In the first session, for example, you may grab your pitchforks or whatever is at hand and decide to go check out that old haunted tower on the hill to see why there have been noises coming from it at night. Whichever character you have that survive this brave but foolhardy expedition attains level 1 and then becomes your actual PC for the rest of the campaign.