My suggestion for crpg or any leveling game like it it is to make progression an unlock system like rogue-like games have, but make sure that the things you unlock (with the exception of higher tier equipment) be optional perks that change your play style but aren't better than any other perk.
For example: all new characters can allocate all of their stats points as if they were max level, but everyone has 3 perk slots, and level 1 characters only have access to three perks. One perk might be that the player has +5% hp. No other perk is better at giving you hp than this perk. As you level, you can unlock different perks. One might give you long reach and let you pick up throwables off horseback. Maybe one gives you armor pen on arrows.
The point is, that you can design a system that allows players to want to progress and play with more interesting combos (and get more pricey gear), but also have a system that allows new players to still play around with combinations (though stat selection and basic gear loadouts) and still be effective in the game.