I'm looking over the Leadership feat and it shows the table breakdown for your leadership score is X and you have X number of followers at level ABC. What it does not address here however is are we assuming these are NPC classed followers such as Warriors and Experts, are we assuming PC classed with Fighters and Rogues, etc?
I seem to recall older versions of D20 had some rule about if you were a Fighter with Leadership you attracted other Fighters, etc.
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In D&D 3.0, they were explicitly NPC classes.
Followers can be warriors, experts, or commoners. The leader can generally choose their race and classes. A leader attracts followers whose alignment are within one step of his own.
That part was removed in 3.5, and wasn't added back in with Pathfinder. So, up to the GM.
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Mud farmers. They get +2 to craft (mud) checks. They join you so they can escape from being repressed by a king who gained the right to the throne because some watery woman threw a sword at him.
In actuality, I would say they don't really have classes (so commoner). Trying to deck the million NPCs you get with leadership is a level of micromanaging that doesn't really help anyone. Either they are too weak to serve any direct use (very likely, from their low levels) or you can min max them for a ton of benefits that would be massively inappropriate. Leadership can already give a fighter near full wizard spellcasting through the cohort. Do you want to give them dozens of free 1st levels spells all day too?
They are mostly a mass of manpower that you can use for a number of inane and small tasks. Like sending messengers out to a large number of noble houses at the same time. Maybe deal out food to the masses of a ruined town, or picking up and selling the various equipment from your kills so you don't have to waste time.
Just treat them as highly visible and easily killed unseen servants. Leadership is already considered massively overpowered from the cohort alone. You don't need to poke the hornets nest so you get 135 1st level spells at level 17. Imagine if each of those grabbed a touch AC targeting ray spells? That would be enough to wipe out anything, really. If they lived long enough to get that close...
I have a 10th lv Cavalier/Hellknight who has leadership.
He has a goal of building his own Hellknight order. And he has a very specific mission that he's recruiting & training these troops for.
Additionally I have access to a fully staffed fortress, supplies, specialists (smiths etc)so I can skip worrying about that for now.
The DM likes my plan.
So every one of his current followers are fighters/cavaliers/even a few paladins. Absolutely no menial laborers, fans, NPC classes etc in my force.
Later on I'll need to allocate some followers to menial tasks, but that won't be any time soon.
Yeah... soldiers are probably fine. Mostly because they can easily keep to the intent behind their extremely limited levels- they are meant to be too weak to ever help with actual fights meant for the party. Not enough DPR or attack bonus to really matter, nto enough health to really risk them even standing in your fights.
Spell casters are where you start to see problems. It is because the spells, and most systems within the game, are balanced around the idea that 'only 1-2 characters in the party will have this kind of option'. Once you break that assumption, that cantrip that does a 1d3 ray suddenly turns into 135d3, which can take decent chunks out of a lot.
As long as they remain 'minor characters that just stand in the background, handling minor tasks', I suppose anything is fine. It is when you can customize them and get them to pull off things that bend the way the system works...
Followers do have class levels, only question is if it is NPC or PC or mixed.
My Leadership concept is having a grumpy dwarf wizard cohort crafting magic items at high speed, while my followers farm Magic Capital as Acolytes or Apprentices (Downtime Teams) either in our do-it-yourself-magic-workshop for the poor people or by starting "affairs" at the wizard academy, asking for magic favors instead of money payment (most of them are Nocticula worshippers).
As I like to work out even my followers and give them names, pictures and a little background Story, I prefer them having PC class Levels, because you have a wider variety to work with. Don't want them all to be adepts.
Personally I think followers should be NPC classes unless you are taking time to roleplay aspects relating to your followers. If you are actively recruiting useful people, running a well set up organization, providing training or things like those, you will have better followers that probably have PC classes.