So... when do Conan PCs start being powerful?

I’ve read a lot about how Conan PCs get very powerful very quickly. To help postpone this, I started a game using the Shadows of the Past rules.

Now, 30 sessions and over 4,500 XP into the game, I have PCs that are getting wrecked by minions.

We are in the middle of a fight at the moment with skeletal warriors (from the core book) and almost all the PCs have taken stress and one was very close to taking harm. After the last session I was talking to some of the players and I said something like “these minions’ attack skill is only 11/2” and two of the players said “that’s better than me!”

I have been telling the players not to pump too much XP into combat skills, but maybe I’ve been saying that too much?

Do I need to straight-up tell players to stop spending XP on talents and boost their ability scores?

Any advice?

Note: I also posted this question on r/2d20games.

That is fine as long as the group has some PCs with decent combat skills. But apparently, the group has no real dedicated close combat and ranged combat character or else at the very solid number of 4500 XP they should have wiped a horde of Minions in a handful of rounds without breaking a sweat.

And, yes, that is even with the Shadows of the Past rules, as you can start with TN 15 / 3 Focus in your most important skills - and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t and wouldn’t start at that.

In “regular” Conan groups, you can start with Attribute 14 and Skill 5 / 5, so have TN 15 / 5 Focus.
That is for starting PCs at 0 XP. And that is quite powerful from the start.

At 4500 XP the PCs are more competent than street-level superheroes.
At 9000 XP the PCs are scarily competent, like super-soldiers or other high-powered superheroes.
If you play beyond 12000 or 15000 XP, the PCs have EVERYTHING maxed-out and EVERY Talent they might want (not really need) for their individual role or function in the group.

It is already hard to challenge a group at a few thousand XP, but about 5000+ XP this becomes really hard work for the GM.

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Taking some stress is trivial at best, it recovers quickly and if you need to in combat just spend a Fortune to completely clear the track.

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Gosh. My players are so over powered with the standard character generation that they deal with Nemeses in a few turns.

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I would totallly agree here with FrankF in measuring the power level of Conan PC’s.

I did play the campaign “Shadow of the Sorcerer” with a group of new created characters and I struggled from the beginning with challenging the characters. In had only few scenes where it was really close for them.

The first Nemesis in the campaign should not die in the first encounter and that was hard to manage for me.

There even was a scene where the characters should get captured but the fighters should have a chance to shine too. So my barbarian PC (classical cimmerian combat character) slaughtered a whole band of pirate minions even spiced up with some toughened opponents. And I had to delay a few times the Nemesis coming in to end the fight as wanted in the adventure book. I just had to fear he would have slaughtered the Nemesis too. :conan:
So I would say its a system that makes up for playing a pulp style game. Having your characters slaughter through hordes of minions (well like Conan did in some of the stories too).