How to spend xp

I noticed that as a player it’s often worth it more to stack up on talents than to buy attributes or heaven forbid skills. Focus seems to be the last thing you actually want to spend xp on.

Is this how everybody feels players spend their xp? Is this optimal or suboptimal (if such matters since players in Conan from what we saw start very competent).

We noticed that once you spend a few thousand xp in “combat related stuff”, the characters become combat monsters. I read in another thread that this happens quite often and it “hard” for the GM to counter without good preparation or going after players their weak spots. Does it help a GM a lot if players don’t spend their xp like that?

Basically, I’m trying to get an idea how people spend their xp and if spending it “logically” prolongs the life expectancy of a campaign. We are now 4 sessions in and we are already, quite strong and I presume that is not going to change the more xp we get.

Thank you for your feedback on how you experienced players spending xp, or how you spend xp as a player.

Conan PCs start out quite competent in the first place. If you add some Talents to their starting collection, they soon become very competent. That is intentional, as Conan characters are supposed to be rather good at what they do.

But, not every PC will be a combat oriented character. You get your thieves, sages, healers, sorcerers and social characters. They will invest in Talents for their fields of expertise and become quite competent in those areas, but often not that competent in combat capabilities at all.

As often with RPG, in which you can create a “combat monster” PC, opponents that might challenge a maxed-out combat character will often outright kill less combat-optimized character types. This is not unique to Conan 2d20, though.

It is often the best idea to buy up some Talents for 200 (root or 1st tier), 400 (2nd tier) or 600 (3rd tier) XP, instead of raising skills for 200 XP for rank 1, 400 XP for rank 2, etc. or attributes for 100 XP per new value in your attribute.

Focus is one of the least attractive stats to raise after character creation. Only if you raise a skill you didn’t have in the first place to Expertise 1, you should raise Focus to 1 as well, as this allows you a double success on spending a Fortune point. Else there is often not much point to buy up Focus.
There are a few Talents that have an Effect based on the Focus in the associated skill, so for those it might still be a consideration to raise the Focus, too.

1 - Characters are strong. Very strong in their area of expertise. I’ve found that challenging them where they’re not as strong can work but never underestimate the power of wise Doom spends.

2 - Over a few games I’ve found that XP tends to go - low hanging fruit are first. 1st rank Talents can be gotten dirt cheap with the discount for skills. However a few games in those that the players are interested in are gone and they get much more expensive. At that point skills start looking better and better. Expertise usually before Focuses for the better TN and the Talent discount but some Talents benefit from the Focus.

My last campaign ran for about 30 sessions, my current one just had 14. The characters are strong for sure but nothing the system can’t handle but it needs to be used properly.

Often I’ve seen folks complain that their 4 or 5 enemies go down too quickly. Yes, yes they do. The encounter guidelines are for an average encounter and recommend 1.5 to 2 Toughened NPCs per PC. If you’re only throwing 4 or so Toughened enemies against a group of PCs, your NPCs are not long for this world.

My players seemed to primarily increase skill expertise and focus first before looking at the talents of those skills.

Then they like to make it a bit harder for their characters, as being able to re-roll a Complication, reduce Difficulties, add bonus Momentum, etc. does make all the difference.

It is not significant, but if you plan to increase your focus eventually it makes sense mathematically to buy it before you get talents in an area. For instance, if a player plans to get four talents in a new area, buying one focus first for 200xp will save 100. Some talents like command use focus as courage soak that can be granted to others. 0-1 and 1-2 are relatively cheap buys. If you are planning to actively use a skill getting that minimum focus of 1 seems like a wise choice.

Getting a focus to 1 always makes sense if you are buying the skill after character creation, if only for the fact to be able to spend a fortune point for 2 instead of 1 success.

Buying it higher than that seems very situational and xp wise not worth it, unless it gives something for having higher values (courage soak, …) and you deem that valuable enough.