Having recently come out of a long term Conan game, here are some simple house rules I adopted for the sake of good game pacing so PCs don’t become overly powerful and Talent-heavy until late in the game.
Use the ‘Shadows of the Past’ generation method and then give the players 2100 xp to spend after they have done that. It makes for decent enough characters who are not already overly accomplished and who have to strive, survive and succeed in your game before they start making it look easy.
I don’t know what everyone’s Hyborian Age tends to be like, but I put a caveat in that if a character has no skill in Melee or Parry they must spend to get to at least lvl. 1 Expertise and Focus in these with this 2100 xp.
Make the XP costs for these a cumulative 200 per level of the Talent - so a starting ‘top of the tree’ Talent costs 200, the next one down 400, then 600, etc.
Do not have XP reduction for Focus. This really does get silly in very focussed character builds and allows characters to gallop to the end of Talent trees VERY early in the game if they so choose - making non-ultra-specialists feel cheated by comparison.
Make every Talent require a Focus in the parent Skill equal to it’s level in the tree. This means even basic Talents require 1 Focus. This makes Focus mean something other than ‘crit range’ - it is after all described as being the basis for '“secret techniques” in the Skill. For Talents beyond 5 steps in a tree - just keep the prerequisite at 5.
Good lord - completely revise the gold costs of most things. 5 mules buys you a top of the line warship, and a dagger costs the same as a full-on broadsword. This does not make for a sensible campaign…
BROKEN & ODD WEAPONS
NEVER allow a weapon to have Hidden and multiple levels of Unforgiving or Vicious. The top end of the Stealth Talents become a way of guaranteeing ridiculous damage output with the likes of a Seax that would make even a Forest Dragon weep from the blows.
For the sake of historical accuracy (with the purpose of the Katar being useful vs. armour) and the game balance issue with Seaxs and assassination, I revised the two weapons to have these stats so as not to make daggers and other short melee weapons obsolete;
Katar - 3[CD] damage, Reach 1, Parrying & Piercing 1
Seax - 3[CD]damage, Reach 1, Parrying & Unforgiving 2
Please feel free to adopt and/or comment. These have stood up to a lengthy playtest and will help if you are seeing as I did, tool much disparity in long campaigns between combat wombats and less focussed individuals or other one-trick-pony characters.