New players joining a higher-level game

I’m looking for examples of how you handle the following situation: a new player joins your game and the characters are already higher level, say 7+ “Conquerors”. At these levels and above, playing a 1st level character is likely to be both extremely deadly and potentially boring for a low-level character as the existing group is probably involved with many activities outside of adventuring.

The new player won’t have any experience in reserve, so they will not be able to use those rules for their new character.

Is their only choice to roll a new 1st level character or take over an existing henchman as their PC? Do you house-rule something else entirely?

I pushed for the inclusion of the rules for starting characters found at the end of ACKS, and find them to be awesome in generating characters that are powerful but as varied as those generated through play.

That said, if I were in your group I'd enjoy playing a 1st level character even as the rest of the group is higher level. I'd make a character with an in-game reason to be useful to the party - if they're involved in activities outside adventuring, maybe my character would be involved with those activities and come along just as they realize they need someone with a legitimate claim to the bloodline that owns the land their mine is located on, for example. And the fact that combat would be super deadly for me would enhance the fun; my character wouldn't be able to contribute much directly, perhaps, but having a player ready to make dice rolls and decisions for henchmen etc. is always useful. I think one strength of ACKS and the old-school approach is that there is a lot of leeway for creative problem-solving by the players, which doesn't depend as much on the character's level.

Because of the curve of experience points, a 1st level character won't go on many adventures with 7th level ones before the gap starts closing dramatically. Note, too, that the party can make decisions about how to advance its members by deciding how to allocate the treasure brought back to civilization is allocated; if a new character is given the entire haul a group of conquerors earns, they might only face a single session of deadly danger before they gain some more hit points.

It never occurred to me that the XP generated by loot would be divied up based on who got the loot. I’ll have to give that option to my players.

Doesnt that contradict the rules on page 114:

The totals for each monster defeated are calculated and added
to the value of all XP from treasure, and the sum for all XP is
divided among all surviving party members and henchmen
evenly, with henchmen receiving a ½ share each.

Otherwise Henchmen would get dramatically less XP from gold (half of the meager 15%)

I stand corrected - the house rule/interpretation of OD&D I'd been playing with in Mike Mornard's campaign didn't specify even distribution of treasure/XP, and I forgot that we'd specified it in ACKS.