Granted someone CAN grind their way up to HM very fast (faster in some guilds than others) But the amount of IRL time spent on a player might be equal between someone who takes 2 months and someone who takes a week. Many people don't play for hours a day. Some only play an hour a week, and most even less than that.
The reward is scaled in that sense. You either put in the time or you didn't.
My proposal is less grand than how the idea is evolving. I propose a simple retirement plan. Others would like a much larger RP retirement (which is cool too, just don't stuff this Hall of Legends/Villians in a backwards area where no one sees it, EG Dinty Moore's place where you used to be able to read peoples stories).
Let's not be too reserved with who gets this benefit. Because one of the real benefits I see is that large and powerful characters get erased from the mud with the IRL player starting again.
Side note, you could have retirees be enshrined in their armour. One could examine their armour and so someone who retires with Slims Iron Breastplate looks poor but someone with Duncans Tri-runed Laen looks heroic.
Benefit of this would be the destruction of whole suits of armour, giving tinkers more work and less armour congestion on the mud.
All the retirement ideas in my eyes focus around two points.
First, that Darke regains and maintains a higher population of mortals than Highmortals.
Second, to encourage players to voluntarily delete their characters they are given some residual "glory."
P.S. Bare in mind, a player would elect to retire, it is by no means required. Just as a player chooses to hiatus, starting at 30 overall.