Prerequisites for permission to purchase new talents

With 2 sessions of Conan under my belt, i’m doing what’s about every Conan RPGamer has probably done before me : i’m contemplating the list of all those great talents i’m going to be able to purchase with that formidable amount of experience points i’ve gathered so far (675 Yeah !). The awaited downtime phase will probably occur at the end of our next session. I feel like when you’re hungry and you sit at a good restaurant, a beautiful waitress comes and gives you the menu with a nice smile and you just know that you’re going to have a good time.

So…I find myself at a table with my beloved DM, Amra - praise be his name- and naturally, i’m gloating about all those great talents i’m going to purchase and how in no time my fantastic bossonian archer will reach semi-god status when, to my great astonishment he said : ‘’ Sure man, sure…as long as you can justify it…‘’
Of course, upon hearing this, i immediately and energically replied : ‘’ Er…but…just…i mean…er…‘’

After regaining my composure, i finally managed to ask : ‘’ O Powerful Amra, what do you mean exactly by justifying it ? ‘’
And He said : ‘’ Thou shalt roll at least one test in the skill associated with the talent you covet ‘’
So, i was like : no problem…and i went home.

But now, i’m wondering… :thinking:…I mean, i’ve been a RPGamer for decades now, and so are ALL of the 4 other players. We’re all very new to Conan, including our DM, but certainly not new to RPGs.
I kinda know where this is going…

So, here is what i foresee for this next session.

At the first sight of a combat, instead of grabbing her bossonian longbow, my character will draw her broadsword and grab her spiked shield and run for the clash. I got to be sure to get at least one melee roll. Then, to be sure to get to roll a parry test, my character might even stop moving to help the opponent getting at least one success. Then, after the parry, i will simply accept to take a blow so i can lose some vigor and be entitled to roll for resistance, and so on…

Now imagine this multiplied by 5 because each player will want to be able to get the talents they really want…

I’m 100% sure that our DM doesn’t mean to frustrate or annoy his players in any way. Not at all. And you know what, i think he’s got a point since i can really figure out some situations (very specific though) where, as a DM, i personally would not allow the purchase of some talents.

But in our case, i’ve got the feeling that this legitimate desire for realism goes to far.

After all, as great poster FrankF brilliantly put it in another topic :

Conan is NOT “realistic” at all, it is the cinematic, high-action, larger than life type of combat action that you see in novels, comics, movies etc.

So, what’s your take on all this ? Maybe it’s just me worrying for nothing (it wouldn’t be the first time).

What would you suggest as alternate solutions (if any) ? How would you handle this ?


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Not really. It is not according to the rules as written, but might be a house rule for your campaign.

The Downtime can take between a few days to a year or many years, as the next adventure might be set at a different time, season of the year, at a very different place, far away from the last adventure.

Of course during that time, you had ample time to learn whatever you wanted.

It is only if a campaign is set up for Downtimes very close in time and space to the end of the last adventure, that for plausibility reasons the GM might disallow learning or improving some Skill or Talent acquisition. (Like learning Sailing while in the Shemite part of the Eastern Desert.).

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Funny that you mention this as it is exactly what i had in mind : how a youg seeker from Iranistan desert who has virtually never seen the sea could possibly learn sailing talents.


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That’s absolutely something to talk to your GM about. Personally, if one of my players wants a talent even if their only reason is “this sounds cool” then I let them buy it. We’re all taking time out of our lives to have fun kicking ■■■ and being larger than life for a few hours. I’m not going for realism or “well it doesn’t make sense for you to pick up X talent”. Does it sound fun? Does the player think it will be fun? That’s literally the only justification I need.

So that is definitely something to talk to your GM about. You want to make sure everyone at the table is on the same page or the fun is going to dissipate.

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It’s a house rule, but it’s a good one. I don’t think it should require testing that skill, but you could say your character is practicing his swordplay when he’s on watch or shooting arrows for half an hour when he wakes up. You gain an expertise level in Linguistic and all of a sudden you can speak a new language? Same thing, maybe your character carries small book and studies that language by the fireplace every night or so.

Yes, in Conan, you usually don’t play out the daily routines all characters perform. So if your not so combat oriented character practiced parrying with the combat veteran character, this is good justification to raise the Parry skill even without having any situation where the character needed to make a (probably untrained) Parry test recently.
Conan is not a “learning by doing” system like Runequest / BRP.
As you can only improve Skills and Talents during the Downtime phase anyway, and as Downtime is an unspecified amount of time, you can nearly always justify having trained, practiced, studied new skills, acquired Talents, etc.
(Though, as I said, some situations, like a campaign set in the desert, where the adventure before the Downtime and the one after the Downtime will continue to be set in the desert might make it harder to explain how one would have had the chance to improve Sailing. But those are fringe cases. - If the player thinks it is wise to spend XP on Sailing in an all-desert campaign, well, that is the player’s decision.)