Alternative Conan Skill Focuses

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like the Skill Focus mechanic in Conan. When you purchase the first Skill Focus (0 -> 1), you actually gain no benefit, except for a discount on related Talents. Compare this to Star Trek Adventures. In STA, you don’t purchase Focus ranks. Instead, Focuses are a narrative description of some field of expertise. This is one of the main mechanics where you can really put some flavor in your character.

My thinking is this:

  • There are no Skill Focus values anymore.
  • You only purchase Skill Expertise.
  • When making a Skill test, only a 1 counts as a double success.

Now the new Skill Focuses:

  • Your character stars with 6 Skill Focuses, e.g. Swords, Haggle, Consume Alcohol, Triage, Navigation, Pickpocketing.
  • When you make any Skill test, check if one of your Focuses applies. If so, each d20 that rolls equal or below your Skill Expertise creates one additional success.
  • You can purchase new Skill Focuses 500 XP (first estimate, I have to properly calculate the value)
  • You can have a maximum of 10 Focuses (maybe). High Intelligence possible increases your maximum number of Focuses you can have.
  • Talents that require a Skill Focus now require an appropriate Skill Expertise instead.

This is of course a very rough concept and has to be playtested first. Do you think something like this could work? Or do you prefer the old system?

Bad idea. STA uses a different focus mechanic because STA only has six very broad skills which are not linked to any of the six attributes. Focus is used to describe the abilities and the knowledge of a character in a level of detail which is needed in a SciFi setting. There are so many “potential skills” but only six real skills that the GM can decide to forbid you a certain skill test because you lack the right focus. STA is extremely narrative.
Conan however has many skills each linked to a single attribute and each with a talent tree of its own. Here the skills are much more complex, because all three aspects (expertise, focus and talents) are vital. Using the STA focus mechanic would make many talents obsolete. Because of the many distinct skills in Conan and its pseudo pre-medieval setting the Focus mechanic can kept simple. You do not need a named focus to be good in something because the combination of skill expertise, skill focus and talents already tell you this.
An example: Your character is a very good climber. In STA they would have high Fitness, high Security(?) and the focus Climbing, in Conan they would have high Brawn, expertise and focus in Athletics and the Human Spider talent.
It is more complex than the focus mechanic from STA, but Conan is generally much more complex than STA.


I have to agree with Carafang. I would also add in STA, you enjoy a fully realized character at the peek of their capabilities right from the start; IN Conan, while starting characters are capable, they have a long way to go before they fully realize their potential.


That is a good point actually.

Thanks for your input!