I like if they add to the story, but they can be like a second pc unless care is exercised. I experimented with cohorts in a party(he ended up marrying her). The group hadn't used them much up to that point but after a while others joined in. The wizard had a couple apprentices, the cleric had taken a novice under her wing, the bard's cleric sister joined us for a time.
Haven't gone that route since, as it didn't fit for my other pc's to have one. That and cohorts do tend to take the extra time at the table to run them.
(do like the idea of the list of npc's from the town you are in)
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At the shallowest level of optimization your cohort can be "person who takes all the crafting feats and casts buff spells on me" which is wildly more powerful than anything else you could do with a feat.
If you want to make Leadership reasonable, it's going to require a lot of extra work by the GM so it's easier to just bar it. If the GM (or the writer of the module/AP) really wants you to have a pal/helper, they'll generally give it to you without anybody spending a feat.
I am not sure where this particular topic would go but, Leadership is deemed extremely OP by basically everyone. Why? Because Cohorts can take Leadership?
Really depends how the GM limits it, since their is a lot that the GM can do within the rules to balance that feat. The feat isn't really broken, but managing balance on the feat is a lot of work for the GM, so they often let things slide and this is one of those feats that is very broken when not managed by the GM.
For a comparative example, animal companions are basically NPCs. Despite common use of handle animal, they are ultimately controlled by the GM, not the player. That said, most GM's don't bother because it's a lot of work to keep track of the Player's NPCs, especially since the players are designing them and get upset when they aren't role played "right." And really, nothing wrong with letting the players have a few NPCs they control.
But when each player has a bunch of NPCs they control, it takes away from the GM's role as storyteller. This isn't always a bad thing, just depends if you want the GM be directing the story, or if the GM is more a referee that responds to how the players shape the story (Campaign vs sandbox, with leadership fitting better with sandbox style games).
ok, i can see how leadership is really broke. THe way my DM runs it isn't that bad, considering its limitations. Recently though we haven't been taking it or allowing it due to certain munchkining players. Last time I took Leadership was in Wrath of the Righteous. I took it when my Demon Blooded Tiefling took up a soldier who had been screwing up too much. Took him under his wing and eventually that guy became a personal bodyguard to the Queen. Later on my Paladin took the female Paladin who originally owned Radiance as his Cohort, but after a moment of death and rebirth (Thanks Iomaedae), i got slapped and told I was going to marry her. My Paladin ended up in the final fight being beheaded at the start of combat against a Balor (lucky roll). He later woke (because mythic is broke and we couldn't die unless mythic killed us), to all the gear gone so he roams the Abyss in search of a way out.
Haven't touched Leadership since, never saw a reason too and didn't feel like managing more things.
Note that it's possible for one PC to have an animal companion, a mount, a familiar, an eidolon, and a cohort by RAW (all at full or nearly full "power"), which gets pretty ridiculous: One PC plus five secondary characters.
As stated, the biggest issue that some GMs have with Leadership is the "buffer/item crafter" cohort. Although the "debuffer/counterspeller" cohort can be pretty annoying for some GMs, also.