If you're willing to replace actual, mechanical levels with an abstraction of them, I think HeroQuest fits the bill:
A brief introduction to HeroQuest
HeroQuest is classless and levelless, using rated "Traits" that represent aspects of your character, such as possessions, skills or flaws, or even a group thereof. For example a vampire hunter's character sheet could look like
- Wielder of the Vampire Killer 17ш2
- Trouble with Authority 13
- Incredible Jumps 19
- Trained in Tracking 4ш
So "Wielder of the Vampire Killer" could be used as much to represent combat ability as a symbol of status or ties to the Belmont Family depending on the situation.
Tests are simple. Roll a d20, if it's under your rating, it's a success, a failure otherwise. 1s are Critical Successes, 20s are Critical Failures. Now, the important part:
You probably have noticed the ш symbol in some of the numbers above. Well, it's actually supposed to be a rune and look like this:
ш but the font makes it a little weird. Anyway...
Each time a trait is bumped past 20, it goes back to 1 and the character acquires a Mastery (numbered after the symbol: ш2, ш3, …). A Mastery raises the success level of a test by one rank or lowers the success level of the opposition, with the differences between success levels determining the Outcome of a Contest. Opposing Masteries thus cancel each other out.
HeroQuest: The MMORPG
As this is a generic system, HeroQuest is sold as being able to model any of the usual genres associated to RPGs. Superheroes, Hard Sci-Fi, Road Movie, you name it. In those genres, the book tells us, the margin of competence between the best and the worst of the dramatis personae is such that high masteries are rarely seen: Superheroes are high above human levels of competence, but since they're mainly confronted to Supervillains, there's no point in accounting for high masteries that will be cancelled out by the opposition most of the time (Void Master 10ш5 vs Sorcerer Supreme 12ш4 is basically the same as Trucker 15ш vs Bar Brawler 17).
In our case, though, we want to model the gap that exists between a high level character and a newbie with 5 hours of game, so we'll keep counting the Masteries.
Now, all we have to do is assimilate the character's class and level as a single trait and we have a basic MMORPG character.
- Cowren Spiritist 17
- Alchemy 15
- On good terms with the Raptor Tribe 13
- Halfling Fellknight 5ш4
- Full set of Diamond Dragon Armor 4ш3
- Revered by the Knights of the Pale Order 15ш3
- Smithing 17ш3
- Enchanting 20ш2
- KOS with the Confederation 1ш4
- Officer of the Roxxors Forever 18ш3
Pit one against the other. Even in the case of a failure vs. success (which should be the most common outcome with their numbers), Fal'kon's masteries will bump it to a clear win, which is only logical considering the gap in in-game power of their avatars.
The important thing here is that the first Trait abstracts 60% of your character. In a real MMORPG, a level 85 Fellknight has 450 Dexterity, 520 Strength, a Passive Skill that absorbs the souls of his enemies for bonus Mana and many other details, all of which are abstracted under the one trait. The armor gets its own trait as it implies other things, such as pure bragging rights in the right circles and an advantage in contests against other level 85 characters who haven't raided as much.
As a bonus, you can see that modeling Guild Status, Crafting skills or Faction Standings is done just as easily, which allows for depth of character while remaining simple.