The % problem with negative stat thrall perks

So I did a little analysis of the thrall perks today, it’s a bit subjective in spots (in order to make a few generalizations) but I think I see why the negative stat perks are such a problem.

To start off, I’m restricting this to upper factions for the XP numbers and to Votary thralls for the perks examples.

  • To get from level 0-10 (1st perk) only requires a total of about 2.7 million XP, which is about 13% of total XP needed to level a thrall to 20.
  • To get from level 10-15 (2nd perk) requires a total of about 6 million XP, which is about 30% of total XP needed to level a thrall to 20.
  • To get from level 15-20 (3rd perk) requires a total of about 11.4 million XP, which is a whopping 57% of total XP needed to level a thrall to 20.

Now, if we assume that the list provided in @Firespark81’s video detailing human perks is correct, and (here’s the subjective part) make a few assumptions on the range of their stats at a given level, then looking at a Votary Fighter you end up with a potential of:

  • 19 choices for the level 10 perk, 5 of which contain negatives (26% chance for negatives)
  • 22 choices for the level 15 perk, 10 of which contain negatives (45% chance for negatives)
  • 22 choices for the level 20 perk, 10 of which contain negatives (45% chance for negatives)

Personally, I’d much rather get a negative at 10 when your commitment to that thrall is still fairly low, rather than investing the huge amount of time that it takes to get from 15-20 and basically having a 50/50 shot at getting screwed.


I agree with you, but I also think the reality is that optimizing thrall perks is really just a player preference/obsession with little “real world” impact on gameplay. Any of the top-end T4 Cimmerian or Votary fighter thralls will get it done, even if all three perks were negative. Even with low vitality, one of those thralls with a decent weapon and armor, and you with a stack of healing arrows, means there is absolutely no content that cannot be completed with that thrall, no matter how “gimped” one may think they are.

I think this has turned into more of a meta-game of “how buff can I make my thrall” rather than practical applicability. If any combination of perks made these thralls actually unusable (i.e.: can result in them getting one- or two-shot by a world boss, for example) then I think there’d be a real issue. But all end-game thralls are so over-the-top powerful, even the gimpy ones are worth an entire group of players in PvE (and in PvP, they’ve always been little more than speedbumps, given their brain-damaged AI).


If there is a goal to attain perfect stats there will be gamers ready to invest untold hours. I agree the impact is minimal, but there will always be 30 second TTK for a world boss vs a 35 second TTK that tickles my inner-OCD. I’m going to strive for the latter.


I would much rather get a negative at level 10, but for a different reason: there’s still a chance it could be “fixed”.

The worst is getting a negative at level 20. That’s where things are cemented and set in stone. Even if you got +2 to strength from leveling, a -3 from a perk will still result in a net negative, which makes you feel like you should have left the thrall at level 19.

It’s psychology. Yes, the -1 to -5 net result from a perk might not translate into anything really noticeable in combat, but that’s not what people are objecting to. Players simply hate being arbitrarily punished by the system for using the system. It’s irrational, but humans are like that.

Of course, not all players are like that. Some people enjoy gambling in general. As I’ve said repeatedly, I don’t think this is what videogames should strive for.


To clarify, I wasn’t trying to start yet another thread about the problem with the perk system where some people end up expressing the incorrect opinion that it’s just fine and others express the correct opinion that it’s garbage, we’ve had enough of those.

This is about the fact that at the two hardest perk levels to achieve (15/20) it’s basically a 50/50 shot that you’re going to get a negative number in something, which seems a bit excessive. The lowest chance to get a negative occurring at the perk with the lowest effort and then once you put the work in to get the ones that require serious grind, I just don’t think they sat back and looked at which perks were actually going to be available at those levels and realized that half of the options reduced the stat values.


I definitely agree with you that it’s a poorly implemented system. We can see the rough outline of something that has potential, but what they threw out there was most definitely half-baked. I seriously doubt they did any kind of analysis resembling what you’ve done here. In fact, I doubt it even crossed their minds.

Most likely they just added the negative perks to “mix things up” without any statistical evaluation of its impact. Broadly speaking, there seems to have been a lot of “seat of the pants” design going on with CE, with very little feedback from players on the front-end.

After doing my initial spreadsheet on the health/armor values on T4 thralls per faction, I began to wonder if maybe they just didn’t use Excel in Norway.

But yeah that’s pretty much my point, the ranges they have seem to be set in a certain way that in the upper levels a lot of the beneficial perks get excluded from the upper factions since even with a 0 starting value and a 50% chance growth rate, most of them are out of range by level 15 anyway. I just don’t think the negative values should have that high of a percentage chance of dropping at the upper perk levels.


Remember how rushed the update was. They did the best they could with the constraints they had. Not that I’m saying that “the best they could” is the same thing as “good” :wink:

So in an effort to explain this a little better, I fiddled with the data and the way it is displayed (this technique is used in Corporate America and often referred to as “Management”).

Here are the perk tables, split up into different categories. The Level columns show whether an upper Faction thrall can achieve that perk.

For starters, there are the perks with level locked requirements:

These are mostly a good thing but decrease in likelihood at the higher tier perks.

Then there are the bad/great perks, which start to become available as you level but never end:

These include the negative values, which compound at the higher levels, so that as you get to the later perks you have a higher chance of getting a negative value perk.

Finally, there are 2 categories of unachievable perks, the Vitality set:

Which are mostly unachievable on Fighters (except the Cimmerian Berserker who spawns with Archer stats) and unachievable on most Archers as well, since Base Health is generally over 3k but under 5k.

Also, the almost completely unachievable perks:

These are stat-locked, but since they aren’t available before level 15 and even if that Faction spawns with a 0 they will likely have over a value of 10 at level 15 there is only a very slim chance you will ever see them.

Hm. But they are achievable in reality: for Bearers for example and for other Thralls with very poor growth percent for this stat (less than 50%). Those perks can fix such a Thrall.

You’re missing the point. As I stated, I am only talking about the top four Factions here. And even those that have a 0 to start in a skill will end up rolling out of the <10 points required to get the +5 in the ones I am saying are unachievable by 15, most definitely by 20. They will also definitely be in the range of the 9-99 stats (undesirable) by 15 or 20.

Also, leveling any stats that you don’t want (via food) you’d be putting yourself in a much worse position anyway, as nearly every stat will be over 11 by level 19, but if it’s a stat you don’t want (Accuracy on a fighter) and you enhance it you put yourself in range of getting the +10 at 20 that you wouldn’t want instead of not letting it climb and avoiding that outcome.

In addition, I completely disagree about not leveling your thralls in PvP. I’ve raided since the update, and a few level 20 Votary Fighters can shred unleveled thralls in no time, whereas leveled thralls provide a much better defense.

The point is that the ranges required, even on a thrall with 0 in a stat and as low as a 50% growth chance, make the better perks unachievable at higher levels, and the level caps make them unachievable at lower levels. While I think they intended to have a larger selection of better perks available with a few “penalty” perks thrown in for “interesting” RNG, the restrictions they put on them cause a loss of a set (+5) and allow the other sets (-3) to be pulled at levels they probably shouldn’t.

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I agree with your overall point that people should pay attention to growth chances right from the start, which is something I realized only after I already leveled a couple of thralls. I’m betting most people are in the same boat as I was – they don’t realize how random the growth chances can be.

However, there are a few points where I disagree with you.

The phrase about the system punishing you for using it is the one I use frequently, and I would have hoped that by now it was clear what I meant: getting a negative perk at level 20 can be (and often is) a punishment. If my fighter gets -5 str and +8 acc at level 20, it’s a net negative.

Is my thrall suddenly useless? No. Should this happen? Well, let’s get to the next point:

At this point in the whole discussion, this just makes me want to say “yeah, screw that”. I understand the use of RNG in games. And the only games where unconstrained RNG is considered completely normal are the games of luck and chance.

I understand that it’s easier and cheaper to use RNG to balance certain things. And that’s fine. I don’t like it, but I understand why it happens and it can be acceptable. But when people point out two completely reasonable things – that certain stats are absolutely useless for certain thralls, and that getting a negative perk at level 20 can result in a net negative that cannot be fixed – and that gets a bunch of other people to fight this observation tooth and nail, that is something I can’t understand.

So in general, I agree with you and I find @LostInTim’s math a bit confusing and suspect at times (more on that in a separate post), but I really wish people would stop portraying the criticism of lazy game design as something unreasonable :wink:


I have put down ~15-20 thralls after the update. I leveled 5. NONE had 100% anywhere. Highest was 90% (which got the -5 STR at lvl20).

I can try and get a perfect Erii, as I have >60 of him. But I dont have that many Dalinisa to waste. So I level them up.
Same with Female Cims and RHTS… There are other things the reason, why I level them up :smirk: :grimacing:

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I only realized the extent of the randomness when I placed two Dalinsias and one had 70% str and 85% vit chance, while the other had something like 45% or 50% str and 70% vit (don’t remember the exact numbers, can’t check because I “recycled” her).

I don’t need 100%, I’m fine with 80% or 85% :stuck_out_tongue:

My one Dalinisa which I leveled had 80% in vit and str. All perks were either small vit perks or vit+agility perk :confused:
She still has 56STR (with a gear which grants her +8 STR)…

Let’s do some math, shall we?

For this example we’ll use a volcano fighter, which starts with 15/3/10/2/15.

At level 10, your only choice of perks (due to level restrictions) are the “Level 0-10” set (+1/2/3 to all stats) which are good, the “Level 0-15” set (+3/+3 to stats, should probably include Thick Skull but doesn’t and shouldn’t include Relentless but does) which are good, the “None” set (+3 to a stat) which are good, and the “STAT 9-99” set (-3/+5) which could be good if you got -Acc or could be bad if you got -Str.

Note that in the 9-99 set:

  1. You are eligible for the -Str and -Surv perks at spawn
  2. There are 2 -Str perks and 2 -Agi perks, but only 1+Str reward
  3. Even at a 50% chance to increase you will likely end up with 9 or higher Agility because 50% of 10 is 5, and 40% of 5 is 2, so you should average 7 points and plus the 3 you get at spawn you will likely have 10 or higher Agility without food buffing it
  4. You might be in the range for the negative Accuracy perk, but since you only get 2 at spawn and assuming the same averages that would only put you at 9 so you might also miss it.
  5. Of this set, 4 are a bad outcome since you lose Agility or Strength, while only 1 is a good outcome.

Chances are tho, at 10 you will get a decent perk, since the desirable outcomes outweigh the undesirable outcomes by quite a bit.

At level 15, you have lost the “Level 0-10” set and have picked up a second set of “9-99” perks with a -5/+8 chance, and while there are 2 -Acc perks there is now a -5 Vit perk, which is not something you want on any thrall. So you’ve lost the ability to gain 3 good perks but picked up the chance for 3 bad ones and 2 good. By level 15 you will almost definitely have a 9 in each stat, and in no way could you be over the 99.

You really aren’t eligible for the “STAT 3/5-10” set, since you lost the ability for +5 Survival, Strength, and Vitality at spawn (by being at 10 or higher) and by 15 you would have gained an average of 10.5 to every stat (15 x 50% = 7.5, 7.5 x 40% = 3), so unless you rolled a -5 to Accuracy, you would always be well over the 10 point barrier regardless of what you boosted with food, even if you were at a 50% chance of growth. So the only possible perk you could even get from this set is +5 Accuracy, which doesn’t hurt but isn’t really a good outcome either.

Notice so far that the % increase of any stat has not at all affected what you will get (we’re assuming 50% in any stat with no food boost) except possibly Accuracy so I guess you would recommend boosting Accuracy via food on a fighter?

At level 20 you lost the “Level 0-15” set, which were all good perks, in order to pick up the “11-99” set, which you will always be in range of because you are gaining an average of 14 points in any given stat so you should be well over the 11 but well below the 99 cap.

Still failing to see how the % chance for increase, boosted or not, has any effect since you very rarely get anything under 50%, but if you want to believe that it does, feel free.

I didn’t mention the perks that give you +15 Vitality, since a volcano fighter has a base health of 4950 so isn’t eligible for the first 2 and might roll the third but it’s pretty rare, given the sheer number of options you still have at level 20.

TLDR: Your chance to get a bad perk increases at higher perk levels, while your chances at a good one are pretty much cut in half, and the % chance to increase don’t make a difference in the perks you get, food boosted or otherwise.


Could it possibly be that it’s because this is the only thing we can all agree is a real problem? Pick any 10 detractors of the current system, ask them what they think the problems with the system are, and I’m willing to bet that they’ll have 10 different opinions that share one bit: there are attributes that are useless for certain thrall classes.

As long as the AI is as buggy as it is and there are still fighter thralls that won’t equip a bow no matter what, that argument is not nearly as strong as you think :man_shrugging:

Look, I can agree with you on some of your arguments and disagree on others. But just as you find it frustrating that everyone is fixated on getting accuracy on fighters (and strength on archers), everyone else finds it equally frustrating that you would insist to defend something that is a demonstrable flaw in the system. Sure, we might have different opinions on how problematic that flaw is, but it remains a flaw – and one that can be proven through testing.


Just a quick note, but even games of luck and chance are often built upon managing those marginal RNGs to be ever so slightly in your favor / your opponents’ disfavor.

That doesn’t mean richer/more complex games (like virtually all video games, certainly something like Conan Exiles) should be satisfied with “RNG with a slight chance to influence it”, but it does mean that going “eh, f–k it, we’ll just go full RNG” is certainly NOT acceptable.


By the starting definition that OP laid out, it’s generally correct. Digging into what you’re talking about would probably require a lengthy thread and some consensus on ‘what is advantageous’ and I don’t think anyone needs a crystal ball to know that such a consensus wouldn’t happen. I had pondered running a multi-tiered analysis, but my investment isn’t that high.

This is true, and for some people this may be the exactly flaw in the system. If I’m leveling for strength, that means I’m okay with other stats being lower or ‘medium’ and really want this particular thrall to pump out damage. If I manage to get to lvl 20 and then take a hit to strength, sure my thrall isn’t ruined beyond repair, but it does make for a disappointing experience. Given that thralls like Snowhunter are a rare spawn, the time investment gets ridiculous. Find one, knock her out, wait for her to be done and then pull her out (a process that you might do repeatedly at level 0 if the % chances are crap). Then you manage to get one with leveling chances that you can live with, go through multiple hours of leveling, only to get perks for that thrall that can be ‘meh’ at best.

Yes, but how does that pan out overall? Sure, they might get the strength +10 perk, but if its ‘cost’ is 20 pts in strength through the leveling process, it can be argued that it’s not a bonus but a bandaid.

Eh, I wouldn’t say confusing, but it is a bit counter intuitive. If I capture a fighter thrall, I’m expecting to build a fighter. Same for archer and bearer. The only thing average players are going to look at is base stats and % chances and they will probably look at those in a relative sense. “Do this/these stats that I want have decently higher chances than the ones I do not want as much/at all?” What the average player probably won’t do is look under the ‘hood’ at all of the modifiers/faction differences/perk details’, so spending pumping x stat only to take a hit at ‘perk’ levels is not going to be a welcome surprise.

Yes, there is definitely a certain point, especially with high tier thralls that we’re playing Who’s Line Is It Anyway? and the points don’t matter, but I wouldn’t make that point in favor of this system. In fact, I would say, at least for PvE it becomes a massive flaw. Why bother taking the time to level thralls at all when a.) I don’t need to and b.) I could end up with perks that I don’t like on a thrall that I do like?

(Btw congrats on the Brutes with vitality, I’ve yet to be able to get vit perks on low vit thralls. Chance seems p. rare.)

Also, I don’t think pointing out how other activities are more beneficial than leveling thralls is a plus for the leveling system as a whole either. That may be factually true, but doesn’t that just hint that the leveling and other game issues are so out of whack?

This is not an unfair take, but again, I think you’re relying on ‘under the hood’ information that we are not given in the main screens of the game and I think that is a very important distinction to consider. Would you go for ‘well rounded thrall’ if you didn’t know how the perks work? Also, I find the food with the mixed stats HIGHLY situational. Very rarely have I captured a thrall/tamed a pet where the foods with 2 stats would be beneficial and I’ve to get one where the triple stat foods would be of use. The chance spread is just typically way to varied for the stats the foods will affect. Usually, I have to go for food that raises stat x only and then switch to one that raises stat y. I don’t mind that part because it’s still manageable.

All of that said, and while I do agree with you that the negative stat hits are generally not a huge issue, the receipt of one can sour the experience. How many people, besides the highly dedicated, will level enough thralls to get the payoff? I know I probably won’t and I play fairly regularly. So, I and those like me get left with a mediocre experience unless they get lucky.

Is the system horrible overall? No, it needs some tweaks and I doubt we’ll see major changes to RNG for one big, big reason. One of the devs said in a stream that it’s possible to have low tier thralls be “better” than high tier. If that is part of the design goal, then that’s going to necessitate great perks that only low tier thralls can feasibly access (such at the vit perks) and/or perks that have a higher potential to ‘lessen’ high tier thralls.

This is, understandably, going to ruffle a lot of feathers. Not everyone likes the RNG experience if it feels punishing and if the day comes that thralls get nerfed due to fixing of other issues/rebalancing, then I suspect - if the thrall leveling stays the same - people will be even less tolerant.

I ask that all the time lol. Especially when they released the OG dismantle bench. A simple extract to CSV would have told them they have some exploitable numbers :slight_smile: