Cohorts And Followers

Cohorts are boon companions, friends, and advisors. They often serve as seconds-in-command, lieutenants, etc. – someone who either carries out the PC's directives or delegates followers to do so, freeing the PC to attend to more important matters. Any sentient being can be a cohort, subject to the DM's approval, but the cohort's ECL is limited by the PC's Leadership score (see Table 3).

Keep in mind that a cohort could upset party balance, as it is treated as a (lesser) party member, albeit under control of the PC's player – a cohort with class levels earns XP, taking away from other party members, and most cohorts also get a share of the loot. Small groups benefit the most from a cohort, as it can fill a missing role or support a weak point in the party; larger ones could find the cohort more of a hindrance than a help. The DM should carefully consider the consequences of having cohorts in the party before allowing a PC to acquire one.

Followers are just that – people who have chosen to place themselves under the PC's leadership. They answer to the PC, either directly or indirectly (through liaisons, subleaders, etc.) and follow his dictates. That being said, the term "follower" has a broad range of meanings – a PC monk who establishes a monastery, for instance, can attract students; a PC fighter can start his own mercenary company, while a PC rogue could start (or take over) a thieves' guild. All of these – students, soldiers, and thieves – are considered followers; the only real difference between them is the role they serve in society and what they do for their leader (the PC). Basically, if someone being paid to work for the PC, he's a hireling, henchman, or soldier (depending on his job); if he's serving the PC out of loyalty, without expecting payment, he's a follower.

Acquiring Cohorts and Followers

Cohorts are acquired solely through the Leadership feat. PCs can gain a cohort through other means, but only in extraordinary circumstances – this shouldn't happen more than once in a campaign. In either case, the cohort usually either seeks the PC out based on his reputation, or the PC can simply choose a follower and train him, her, or it to be a cohort. A PC can have only one cohort at a time; if his current cohort dies, retires, or is released from service, he must wait a month to acquire a new one (it takes time for word to spread, or for him to train one).

The cohort will have gear appropriate for its level. Its alignment cannot be opposed to the leader's alignment on either the law-vs-chaos or good-vs-evil axis, and the leader takes a Leadership penalty if he recruits a cohort of an alignment different from his own.

Cohorts with class levels earn XP as follows:

The cohort does not count as a party member when determining the party's XP.

Divide the cohort's level by its leader's level.

Multiply this result by the total XP awarded to the character and add that number of XP to the cohort's total.

If a cohort gains enough XP to bring it to a level one lower than the associated character's character level, it does not gain the new level - its new XP total is 1 less than the amount needed attain the next level.

Other modifiers can apply when the character tries to attract a cohort. These modifiers are applied to the Leadership score (see below).

Table 1: Attracting Cohorts

The Leader… Modifier
Has a familiar, special mount, or animal companion -2
Recruits a cohort of a different alignment -1
Caused the death of a cohort -2*

*Cumulative per cohort killed.

Anyone can attract followers, given the right circumstances - a commoner with high Charisma who has decided the end times are nigh can gather a cult just as easily as a high-level warrior hero who has decided to settle down and build a castle. The circumstances under which a PC or NPC can gain followers are up to the DM and should be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis, but he should be at least 5th level and have a Reputation score of 5 or higher. When the character gains a new level, he attracts new followers based on his adjusted Leadership score.

Followers have different priorities from cohorts. When the character tries to attract a new follower, use any of the following modifiers that apply.

Table 2: Attracting Followers

The Leader… Modifier
Has a stronghold, base of operations, guildhouse, or the like +2
Moves around a lot -1
Caused the death of other followers -1

The Leadership Score

The number of followers a PC or NPC can have, as well as his cohort's ECL, depends on his Leadership score. This is a total of his level, plus his Charisma modifier, plus his Reputation bonus. The scores noted on Table 3 go to 1 and below to account for negative Charisma modifiers and other factors (see below).

Table 3: Leadership Scores

Number of Followers by Level
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
1 or lower
3 2
4 2
5 3
6 4
7 4
8 5
9 6
10 6 5
11 7 6
12 8 8
13 8 11
14 9 15 1
15 10 20 2
16 10 25 2
17 11 30 3
18 12 35 3
19 12 40 4
20 13 50 5 1
21 14 60 6 1
22 14 70 7 1
23 15 80 8 1
24 16 90 9 1
25 16 100 10 2 1
26 17 100 10 2 1
27 18 115 11 2 1
28 18 130 13 2 1
29 19 145 14 2 1
30 20 160 16 3 1

Leadership Score: A character's base Leadership score equals his level plus his Charisma modifier plus his Reputation score. In order to take into account negative Charisma modifiers, this table allows for very low Leadership scores, but the character must still be 6th level or higher in order to gain the Leadership feat. Outside factors can affect a character's Leadership score, as detailed above.

Cohort ECL: The character can attract a cohort of up to this ECL. Regardless of the character's Leadership score, the cohort's ECL cannot be more than the PC's ECL -2.

Number of Followers by Level: The character can lead up to the indicated number of followers of each level.

Table 4: Reputation

Leader's Reputation Modifier
Great renown +2
Fairness and generosity +1
Special power +1
Failure -1
Aloofness -1
Cruelty -2
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