After some extensive play time, I’ve become discontent with the followers available, especially in the core rulebook. Between the flaming servant, familiar, patron saint, and enslave rituals, you’re left with a whole lot of potentially flavorful, but ultimately bland followers. Because of this, we’ve been playing with the following rules for the past few months:
Flaming Servant. All armor and weapons must be paid for in advance. You may create a flaming servant out of any metal armor, and they may wield any weapons you wish. If the servant is destroyed, the armor is damaged beyond recovery (weapons can be recovered, however).
Patron Saint. The patron saint is enchanted with powerful magic that allows it to take a physical form when its master calls upon it. It starts with the ability Bodyguard at novice, and will autopass any resolute check needed to protect its master. When not in combat, the patron saint remains an illusive part of the master’s shadow, sometimes appearing as a mist lingering for half a second behind the master.
Its gear is tied with its abilities- to upgrade the gear, you must purchase the relevant abilities. For example, you would recieve a shield upon purchasing the ability ‘shieldfighter’, and upon upgrading the ability you’d gain upgraded gear (shield becomes steel shield, or weapon gains precise or deep impact instead of jointed). Alternatively, with ‘man at arms’ you’d gain the option for regular medium armor, and then at adept you’d gain the option for heavy armor.
Familiar. The familiar already has several very powerful abilities, such as damage and potentially corruption sharing with its master, so I feel its already fairly well balanced. The only changes we’ve made are that you can create your own statline for the beast and reassign its 20xp, so long as its within reason. For example, an owl would have a high vigilant, quick, and accurate, and would have ‘wings’ and ‘natural weapons I’. I’ve allowed an owl to take witchsight instead of natural weapons, as its characterful and allows the player greater freedom without unbalancing the ability too much.
- A player may only have a single follower from the above. Having a patron saint, familiar, and flaming servant is out of the question, as they all belong to different schools and is obvious abuse of the system.
- All followers only gain experience from the scenes they participate in. It just doesn’t do to hand the followers experience for social or problem solving scenarios that the player characters solve. In a session where the players gain 6-8xp, typically the followers will only gain 2-3xp.
- All followers retain their experience between lives. If your flaming servant or patron saint perishes in battle, the same spirit is resummoned. Meanwhile, the familiar gains the benefit of a master who knows how to better train the beast and potentially the master can find a more powerful beast in the wild with their expanded knowledge.
Enslave. Enslave is a powerful ritual in its own right, and not particularly designed to provide companions for the players. They are tools, and the ritual treats them as such. You may have as many enslaved individuals as you can gather- they gain experience for tasks they perform. But they do not gain any additional abilities upon enslavement, and upon death cannot be ‘resummoned’.
Final Notes. When using optional rules such as combat maneuvers, we’ve noticed combinations such as a patron saint using ‘full defense’ allows the PC to use ‘full offense’ without any penalty, especially with an upgraded Bodyguard. As such, we’ve ruled that any one player may use a single combat maneuver between all of his characters.
Another thing I’ve noticed, but haven’t done anything about, is servant suicide. To save the master, many players will throw their servants at the enemy to make way for the escape of the owner. Patron saints are especially useful for this, since there is no cost to the player whatsoever. You may want to consider a 1xp cost for players to resummon their followers, or even potentially a ratio of 1xp:10xp that the follower has accumulated, to encourage keeping their servants alive. Followers are a very, very powerful ability to have, and adding a cost to the player, even a small one, can make the difference in how the follower is treated.