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Lore tests too difficult?

I’ve been reading through the published scenarios, and I could not help but notice that almost every time a Lore Test is required, it seems to have some absurdly high Difficulty rating, like D3 or D4. By contrast, whenever a Survival or Athletics or Acrobatics Test or whatever is called for, the Difficulty is typically D1 or D2, and only rarely D3 or above. My understanding is that most Tests are supposed to be around D1, with higher ones scaling up when truly heroic or desperate feats are attempted. All of this is ok if the PCs are more combat/action oriented, but what if there is someone who really wants to focus on Lore? It seems unfair to them that their main thing is always so difficult.

In quite a few official scenarios, I have the impression that the developers of those scenarios are not that well versed in the Conan 2d20 rules at all.
For example, not using Obtain Information Momentum spends to get more specific information after a D1 or D2 Lore test, but setting Lore tests at D3 or D4.
That is “D&D-like DC-thinking”, but does not really use the Momentum feature the 2d20 system is build around.

There might be some very obscure facts that are not to be easily discovered, and in those cases a higher Difficulty is justified - prompting the Lore test to be performed with some assistance by several characters .

Though, for some of those tests I like to use the “extended task” concept found in Infinity, STA, etc. - You set a Difficulty, set several steps to be reached by Breakthroughs, set a Workload stress track and maybe due to complexity some Resistance, and then use the Lore Expertise + 2 as the damage dice against the Workload stress track.

This would be a “research project” that might allow making one test per hour or per several hours, so things will happen while this is worked on. And that is the problem. In STA or Infinity people are nearly aways in telecommunication contact with each other, everyone can get involved on a moment’s notice, but in Conan sitting in a musty old library for several days while somewhere else the rest of the group is fighting for their lives, that is usually not a good idea.

So I very rarely use this extended task approach, because in Conan you need direct response and get things moving more swiftly. You really don’t want to be Nanoc the Librarian sitting all day indoors surrounded by old tomes, while Anonc the Axewielder is cutting down ancient horrors left and right.

That is why I use Momentum spends, and for some of the more obscure information you might need to spend 2 Momentum to get those. That can still mean, you only succeed on the most trivial informations and don’t get the specific ones, due to lack of Momentum. But the Difficulty is at D1 or D2 less frustrating.


Perhaps the Lore tests are difficult because they assume everyone in the group will help with the roll…? (I mean, everyone is going to want to check if their guy just happens to know something, at least in my group of players.)

They most likely won’t. - Even if you are assisting, rolling only 1d20, have NO Expertise in the skill test you are assisting means having a Complication Range of 19-20, so 10% chance of a Complication - per die.
That is why, usually, only at least somewhat proficient characters will assist. You can easily make matters much worse if you don’t know a thing about the skill you are trying to help with.

Ah, good point. I was thinking that it would be like they were in a squad and would just be giving extra dice to the character with the best Lore TN.

That is not how Squads work.
In a Squad made up of one Toughened or Nemesy NPC and four Minion NPCs, the leader rolls against their TN and Focus, but the TN and Focus of the Minions in the Squad might be vastly different.

Example: during a storm a captain (Toughened, Coordination 11, Sailing Expertise 3, Focus 3) and a few of his sailors (Minions, Coordination 8, Sailing Expertise 1, Focus 1) try to turn the ship away from some reefs. The captain rolls 2d20 against TN 14 (3), the four sailors roll 4d20 against TN 9(1).

And if you form a Squad with Minions who don’t even have any Expertise in the relevant skill, for NPCs on a Lore test, that would be having no entry in the Knowledge field, then they are untrained and as such have the higher risk for Complications.

Only in a Mob with Minion NPCs of the very same type you roll against the same TN and Focus, because they all have the identical stats. But, really, they all could have different stats and still form a Mob or a Squad. - Practically, a Squad leader is a Toughened or Nemesis NPC or a PC, an has usually a better TN and Focus than the simple troopers in the Squad.