CONAN AS A CHARACTER!
According to sources in the Mongoose game, Conan starts the game as a 1st level
character at age 15 when he participates at Venarium. He's a 2nd level Barbarian
by the time of The Frost Giant's Daughter
Down south, among the civilized lands, Conan picks up his third character level and becomes a multi-classed character. He's a 2nd level Barbarian/1st level Thief
during The Tower of the Elephant
By the time Conan travels across the continent, racing down the pier of Messantia, to begin his three year marauding career with Belit in the story, The Queen of the Black Coast
, Conan is a 6th level character: 5th level Barbarian/1st level Thief.
Note how Conan is not comfortable in the Heavy Armor bestowed upon him in the story Black Colossus
. In game terms, this is because Conan does not have the Heavy Armor feat. His levels as a Barbarian give him the Light and Medium Armor feats, so, at the time of that story, Conan suffers from the armor check penalty being applied to his attack rolls and all skill checks that involve moving. This is why Conan sheds the Heavy Armor in the story to armor that he is more accustomed to wearing.
After this story, Conan starts a period of selling his sword as a mercenary. He has picked up a level as a Pirate for his time at sea, and now he picks up a level as a Soldier. By the time of A Witch Shall Be Born
, Conan is a 12th level character: A 9th level Barbarian, 1st level Thief, 1st level Pirate, 1st level Soldier.
If you read the section about Advanced Characters on pages 11-12 of the 2nd edition rulebook, it makes sense that Conan, a legendary Zuagir Chieftain, would be 12th level (That commentary about character levels is only included in the 2nd edtion rulebook. You won't find it in the other Conan RPG rulebooks.
By the time of Howard's tales of Conan the King, such as The Hour of the Dragon
, the barbarian has attained the highest level in the game. He's a 20th level character: A 15th level Barbarian, 1st level Thief, 2nd level Pirate, and 2nd level Soldier.
One thing to take from the above, Game Masters, is to realize the number of years that Conan spends between levels. Although the game does not spell this out specifically--and GMs are always free to craft their own games to their own taste--most GMs will realize that the game is meant to be played at the lower levels, with PCs growing in levels much slower than they would in a standard 3.5E D&D game.
You can see this is various aspects of the game. Noting Conan's advancement, above, it takes the barbarian somewhere around 30 years or more--a life time, to make it to 20th level. Look at the Bestiary in the main rulebook, and specifically, look at the levels given to Picts on the Warpath (1st level Barbarians), Belit's Black Corsairs (2nd level Pirates), Turanian Light Cavalry (2nd level Soldiers), typical City Guardsmen (2nd level Soldiers), and the other humans listed in that section.
Picts are fierce, blood thirsty savages, and you might be surprised that in an average encounter, the Pict you face will only be a 1st level character. Remember, though, that a 1st level Barbarian is a fierce, amazingly tough character when compared to a normal person--a 1st level Commoner.
Speaking of Commoners, listed on page 351 of the 2E Core Rulebook Beastiary chapter, note how those characters max out at 10th level. Use that, and the level discussion on page 111-12 of that same book, and it will become clear to you that most of the Hyborian Age world is filled with characters in the level 1-10 range, with an emphasis on the lower levels.
Look at XP awarded in the Mongoose Mega-Adventure, Betrayer of Asgard. You'll see XP awards of 25 and 50 points! Which I think is about right to maintain the Hyborian Age as a low level, gritty, deadly world.
In my games, I do XP awards very simply. A foe is worth 100 XP per HD times character level. Therefore, a standard 1st level Pict is worth 1,000 XP. I will usually add in as a bonus, too, the number of Hit Points the foe had. So, the pict would be worth about 1,010 XP. A 2nd level Pict with 15 hit points would be worth 2,015 XP. And so on.
This seems extremely low for a D&D game, and for a D&D game, it is. What this does, though, is keep the PCs low level for a long time, giving slow progression, for the reasons I have explained above. Using this system, a man will have to defeat 10 foes to go up one level.
Another thing I want to draw your attention to is how Conan obtained his advancement, as shown above. Most of his levels he devoted to his original class, that of Barbarian. And, he took no more than 2 levels in any Mutli-Class. What he did was open up the skills so that he has no skill that requires double skill cost as a cross-class skill. That, and he got the minimum benefits from becoming first level in areas that are greatly different from his base Barbarian class.
Conan never gets higher than 1st level as a Thief, but he combines his Barbarian skill at Climb to help him in that endeavor. Conan is not a lock picker. He's more of a second-story man, entering homes in the hot Zamorian clime from the top, where victims keep open windows in order to catch the breeze.
The point here is that there is more way than one to skin a cat. Make the character levels work for you, in a combination that exactly fits the type of character that you want to create.
The way that Conan Multi-Classed is not the only way to Multi-Class, and it may not be the best strategy for every character (but it certainly works for Conan). It all depends on the player's goals with his character.