Character Progression and Game Longevity Houserule

Hello everyone. I was one of the original play-testers and have been running multiple Conan campaigns since the first pdf’s were available to KS backers.

What those credentials have given me the opportunity to see is the quite rapid and fairly easily ‘munchkined’ aspects of the xp progression system in the game. When the playtesting was going on, long term progression was not really stress tested as stock or beginner characters tended to be predominantly used, so this isn’t something I became aware of until somewhat later.

With the low cost of Talents, the significant costs reduction from Focus that specialists can enjoy and the variable power level of beginner characters due to scaling progression costs of Stats, Skills and Talents, it has become clear to my groups that making a character who isn’t an ultra-specialist is not cost effective in terms of xp and progression later.

To remedy this, I have instigated the following variation to the system of xp progression;

  1. Stat progression: unchanged
  2. Skill Expertise and Focus Progression: unchanged
  3. Talent progression;
    Basic Talents cost 200 and each step from that one costs +200 (so 400, not 200 for a second talent in a tree).
    Talents do not attract a Focus cost reduction.
    Talents require a Focus prerequisite equal to their level in the Talent tree (basic 200 xp Talent requires Focus 1, ‘next step’ Talent requires Focus 2, etc…)

In addition, with starter characters, the Normal option as I have mentioned can punish generalists, so I have found the following houserule works to alleviate that;

  • Have PCs make a ‘Shadows of the Past’ character
  • Allow them to spend 2000 XP after character generation using the above houserules on XP spend.

This makes much more equitable characters and still allows for those who invest in a high Stat, access to the Bloodline Talent (which naturally they get for free).

I continue to monitor the effect of this system modification on both my games, but it has thusfar proven to be a good way to deal with both character generation fairness and long-running campaign progression.

I hope for those of you having issues in that regard, this is helpful.


It’s funny that you should post this because I had a similar discussion yesterday with one of my players. The discussion was primarily a comparison between a highly specialized and a generalist character. In the adventure we played, the generalist character was more useful than the specialist, but this will normalize over time because at some point there is going to be an adventure where the specialist can truly shine.

Anyway, since everything is basically free during character creation, making a highly specialized character saves large amounts of XP, mostly because you can grab talents that are deep in a tree and thus are expensive.

We do not have much character progression yet, but I will keep an eye out.

I also have concern on the progression as well. For 6 sessions I gave 1400xp and after the first downtime with 1200xp they got a lot of talents and boosts.

I guess time will tell if this “default” model with 100-300xp per session is suitable for long campaigns.