So, I don't think I've ever written a blog post in response to a tweet before.
Now personally, I love the razor-sharp nonsense players come up with when they only have a hit point or two to their name. Levels 1-3 are a pretty sweet, as far as I'm concerned. But sometimes folks don't want to play such feeble characters. Here's two quickie solutions.
The Old SolutionStart above 1st level. You are allowed to do this! It's your dang campaign! As a kid I played in numerous campaigns where we just started at 3rd or 4th level. The sly did not fall. Later we wised up and realized that with the various XP charts, the smart way to do this is to start everyone out with the same XP amount. We usually went for 10,000 or 15,000 XP. Obviously, this robs the game of the initial rat-killing ogre-fleeing terrors, but we had a lot of fun this way. We didn't alter starting money or give anyone free magic items, but there's no reason why you couldn't sprinkle a few goodies among the party.
My New IdeaThis is a new concept that popped into my head when I read Fiona's tweet. The point is to give lower level characters a little extra survivability, while still requiring players to grub their way through the basic levels.
When death comes knocking for a PC, the player is allowed a roll to save their bacon. The roll is over you level on a d6, so after level 5 this won't help anymore. If you save, then either pick or randomly determine from this list:
A Lucky Coincidence means the final stroke fails to land at all, but the DM is free to introduce some sort of new complication, like you were saved at the last moment by a bounty hunter who wants to take you in alive. Equipment Sacrificed means your shield is shattered under the blow, your magic sword breaks, your backpack full of treasure ends up in the acid pit instead of you, etc. The player must give up something of actual value here, not just some random stuff they purchased. Debilitating Injury means the PC was struck down, but is severely wounded rather than killed. They won't be of much use to anyone until they have 2d6 weeks to recover someplace safe and even then they will have a lasting injury, either an ungly scar or a limp or something.
DMs trying this method may want to track the players' use of these three escape routes. Maybe you only one to allow one of each type per level or something like that.