The thing is I know this, you know, all old players know this, but new players treat games mostly by mechanics they can offer. Those new players who log and play only with mechanics I ignore (unless they want something from me) but I spent much time with those new players who most were interested in roleplaying and even sometimes were great in this and I could spent long time. First and second group mostly log only few times and never return. The issue is somehow we can't even attract those who log for roleplay.If you have to be high level, perfect attributes, lvl 9 gem set to be immersed in the world of Illarion, then you will not find it fun. Unless you enjoy PGing and Min/Maxing.
Old characters offer them short term works (bring wood logs, ores etc) or long term jobs (as servants, apprentices, squires, pages, students etc.) as ways to RP/earn coins/get skills. Only towns officials never offer jobs (unless for some coppers/silvers for several real months). I think in this whole matter problem might lies in mechanics, not in old characters activity.