Three goals are constant—fun, character survival, and improvement. Each of these should be possible in a single game session.
Everyone gathered around an AD&D game table is playing a game. Games are entertainment, and entertainment is supposed to be fun. If the players don't have a good time playing in AD&D game sessions, it shows.
Therefore, one of the goals of the AD&D game is to have fun. Much of the pressure to provide this elusive quality rests on the DM's shoulders, but the players can also contribute. When they do, players should be rewarded with experience points since they are making the game a good experience for all. The DM who doles out awards for adding to the fun will find more players making the effort to contribute.
To give out experience points for fun the DM should consider the following:
1. Did the player actively get involved in the game? A player who does nothing but tell one funny joke during the course of the game isn't really participating. The DM should be careful, however, not to penalize players who are naturally shy. Involvement should be measured against a player's personality.
2. Did the player make the game fun for others or make fun at their expense? The second is not really deserving of any reward.
3. Was the player disrupting or interfering with the flow of the game? This is seldom enjoyable and tends to get on everyone's nerves quickly.
4. Was the player argumentative or a "rules lawyer?" These are players who can quote every rule in the game and try to use even the most obscure rules to their advantage, often to the detriment of the spirit of the game. This is definitely not fun for the DM, but the DM should allow a reasonable amount of disagreement with his decisions. Players will want (and should be allowed) to argue their views from time to time. However, rules arguments properly belong outside the actual game session. The DM should make a ruling for the moment and then hear appeals to his decision after the adventure. This way the game is not interrupted.
Although having a character live from game session to game session is a reward in itself, a player should also receive experience points when his character survives. Since there are many ways to bring a dead character back into the game, the threat of death, while present, loses some of its sting. Players should be encouraged to try to keep their characters alive, instead of relying on resurrections and wishes. To this end, a small reward for making it through a game session is useful. It is a direct way of telling a player that he played well.
The amount given for survival should be balanced against what happened during the adventure. Player characters who survived because they did nothing dangerous or who have so many powers and hit points that they're nearly invulnerable do not deserve as many experience points as the character who survived sure death through the use of his wits. Likewise, characters who survived by sheer luck deserve less than those who survived because of sound strategy and tactics.
Experience points are one measure of a character's improvement, and they translate directly into game mechanics. However, players should also improve by trying to play more intelligently at each session. As the players learn more about the game, the campaign, and role-playing, this should be reflected in their experience points. When a player thinks up a really good idea—solves a difficult puzzle, has his character talk the group out of a tight situation, or just finds a novel way around a problem—that's worth experience points. Players should be encouraged to use their brains and get involved.