The developers of Conan Exiles recently released a very large update which adds a leveling system for your followers (thralls and pets), as well as mounts that can be ridden.
New Update Will NOT Affect Old Followers
This update introduces a few problems for player's existing followers, though, that were already deployed into the world before the Thrall and Mount update arrived.
The ability to level and develop thralls and pets will only apply to those followers that are acquired AFTER the update was released. Older, pre-existing thralls and pets will not level up.
The update also put in place limits on the total number of followers (thralls, pets, and mounts) a player or clan can have at one time. A single player is limited to 55 total. A clan will gain +5 per extra player in the clan, up to to a maximum of 100 Clan followers.
At this time, according to the developers, there is a "grace period" and that limit is not being enforced. But when the "grace period" ends, the game will enforce it, and randomly remove a thrall every 30 minutes until a player or clan drops down to the limit. Ouch.
NOTE: This limit only applies to followers that are deployed into the world (pets, fighters, archers, pack bearers, etc). The crafting station thralls do NOT count against this limit (they are essentially just "objects" that you install into crafting stations, they don't have hit points, stats, or inventories).
In the update, the game developers did include a feature that allows you to "delete" a follower by using an option to "break bond." The thrall or pet will cease to be your follower, and disappear.
"Resetting" Your Old Thralls
If you want to "reset" your old thralls, and have them gain the ability to level up. there is a way to do that. It will involve installing a mod, though, which may be an issue for some players who only want to play the vanilla experience.
You will need a mod that allows you to "pick up" a follower (thrall or pet) so that it exists as an object in your inventory again (this is normally something you CANNOT do in the game, the mod is needed to add this ability). Then, you simply deploy them again.
The game will treat it as a new follower and give them all the extra content added by the Thrall and Mount Update. They will be able to gain experience, level up, and gain stats boosts and perks.
If you have too many followers, you can also choose to NOT re-deploy them, and simply store them in a container. Much better than simply "deleting" them with the "break bonds" command. If you want to go this route, we highly recommend the following mod:
"Better Thralls" by Testerle, which is mod
#931088249 on the Steam Workshop for Conan Exiles.
This mod adds the ability to "pick up" thralls which is normally something you cannot do in the game, as well as a host of other quality of life enhancements.
NOTE: if you are using "Better Thralls," the mod adds a special "follow" command of its own (and the mod's version allows more then one thrall or pet to follow you). If you use this command instead of the vanilla game option, the follower might not receive experience, as the game might not recognize they are actually "following" you.
We have a guide for installing mods onto your Conan Exiles server here: https://nodecraft.com/support/games/conan-exiles/adding-mods-to-your-conan-exiles-server
Old Thralls WILL Change when Re-deployed
Please be aware that due to changes made in the Thrall and Mount update, and other previous updates, you may see radical changes in re-deployed followers when you re-load older saves. For example:
Narr Goatfoot, a Tier 4 Named Packbearer used to have over 9000 HP. When re-deployed, he now has 2368. Oof.
Follower Stat "Growth" Percentages
Followers in the Thrall and Mount update also gain 5 stats now, and each stat will have a "growth" percentage.
This represents the chance that the stat will increase when the follower goes up a level. Each stat is rolled for separately, and it's possible for a follower to gain increases in ALL stats during a single level-up. But, these percentages can range from 100% all the way down to 30%.
The growth percentages also make the different classes (fighter, archer, etc) actually have differences. If a fighter has a 100% growth chance in strength, they will have a significantly higher strength in the long run than a follower with 35% chance of increasing strength.
The percentages vary by class and individual thrall, so you might want to look through your collection of thralls and pets to see which ones are the best ones to actually use now.