Ways to Make Leadership Functional?


Homebrew and House Rules


Has anyone come across any ways to restrict or modify how Leadership works that still allows the PC to have a sidekick? I've got a paladin player in my Core home game who's been excited about getting an assistant adventurer (i.e., cohort) since level 3, and he's about to take the feat at level 9.

I don't want to ban Leadership outright, but I do want to make it playable. Some suggestions I've seen are to allow a cohort but not followers; forbid the cohort from crafting; ensure that the cohort can never take Leadership himself; etc.

Suggestions?

Dark Archive

Leadership is the best feat in the game if you allow it. A crafting cohort isn't a big issue. It doesn't impact action economy that much. Yes you should ban the cohort from taking leadership unless you want it to go full tippyverse. The followers don't really impact combat at your level.

If you get a crafting cohort you can put the extra money you save into a base of operations to house your follower army.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Suggestions?

It all depends on your group of players - especially how many of them there are.

If you only have 3 or 4 players, a cohort or two might not disrupt things too much, especially if they fill a role that the party is lacking.

You have to be careful that the player who has the cohort doesn't hog the limelight too much, which could cause friction in the group.

One major suggestion: don't let the player pick feats to make the cohort a crafter. If you want to allow players to craft things, make them waste their *own* feats on it. You as DM have final say in the details of a cohort's design. Personally, I'm fine with the player making the cohort to fit their needs or desires, but before the guy enters play, I ask for the sheet and cross things out or add them until it suits me - and makes the cohort more like his own individual person, with his own backstory and such. They can become great adventuring hooks for future adventures.

If you have 5 or more players, just don't allow cohorts at all, or only allow them to hang around in the background (say, managing a PC's castle or stronghold) unless a bunch of players are absent from a given session.

Personally, I don't hate the leadership feat. But to make it work, you have to take some degree of control out of the player's hands. YMMV.


Honestly the Leadership feat is fine if you structure your campaign to include it.

The problems tend to arise when the player realizes he has a dozen or more guys sitting around doing nothing. They suddenly become an adventuring resource. Let a player with a small army put them to work. Run a business, staff a castle, hire out as a mercenary band. Maybe a local village wants to hire the PC and his small army to patrol their roads for them. Maybe a noble needs one of his castle's manned for fear of an Orc invasion.
Alternatively give the PC a goal that needs a lot of eyes and ears. Patrol the border lands for signs of an Orc horde, a spy network gatheirng information, a thieves guild bringing the underworld under his heel.

On the other hand if your player just wants the Cohort, offer him one of the lesser Leadership feats like Squire or Torchbearer.

If you feel you need to restrict the feat, say exiting NPCs only. Give them the NPC codex to fill out his followers and tell him he has to pick the Cohort from whoever the character has made friends with during the campaign.

Liberty's Edge

There's something coming from Kobold Press soon that addresses this very thing ...


Marc Radle has some beans....spill them!!!


I'm thinking that a full-healer-mode healer as cohort wouldn't hurt the game. (Assuming none of the PCs wants to play healer.) But aren't cohorts usually the big problem with the feat? Even eliminating crafting, you wouldn't get at...

<> "I'm a rogue; my cohort always moves to flank me!"

<> "I and my cohort are two-handers; we kill twice as many foes every round!"

<> "I'm a double-wielder; my cohort is a buffer who tends to only buff me!"

<> "I'm a blaster who hits foes over a big area, but only for half of their total HP per blast; fortunately, so is my cohort!"

<> "I'm a master at save-or-die spells; I like casting after my cohort does, since he's good at save-or-suck spells!"

All of these sound to me like potential problems, where one player is now dominating the game far more than I imagine a single feat should allow.

You guys are experienced, though, while I'm peering at this with my mind's eye. Why is my imagination coming up with figments?


DM's that allow the player to choose the cohort's class and abilities
are asking for all the trouble they get.
You have to take control of it, and run it like any other npc (excepting that it's more loyal to the PC than average NPCs).
Let the player make suggestions as to the cohorts abilities, but don't hesitate to veto anything you think is too powerful.

One DM I played with in 3.5 restricted cohorts to NPC classes. That was too much of a nerf in my opinion, but it worked for him.


any feat similar to leader ship but for scaling non combatant?


Not that I'm aware of Lady-J.


dang looking for something to bolster an npc i'm planning on having but when they would normally have like 8hp its pretty difficult to take them any were


Don't let the player make the cohort. You make it with the player's input, but retain final say.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I use the Leadership Handbook/Ultimate Charisma companion rules for my campaign. It means PCs can gain a cohort without leadership. The caveat is that only one cohort can accompany the group at any given time (or two with an APL+1 adjustment).

Cohorts are acquired through play, so the GM retains control over the NPC build and it gives players a bit of incentive to treat their NPCs nicer as they might be potential cohorts.

I'd suggest doing just as you stated in your post and keep a tight reign on potential shenanigans.


I let takers of the feat chose a general background when searching for a cohort, but I pick the finer details for him, and operate cohorts as NPCs. The leader may take a swift action to give a command, but undesirable orders require a diplomacy check (helpful attitude, trust level 4). When the cohort doesn't have a command to follow, they do what they consider to be best for the group as a whole without any significant sacrifices on their part. I also limit the party to up to 2 cohort tagalongs at a time.


As a DM I allow it, but generally they're not going to have the cohort in combat, simply because it'll take up too much action economy for one player, and it will unduly affect other people by having one person bogart the table in damage, time, skills, and abilities.

As a player I have it, my cohort basically acts as well trusted companion, second in command, messenger, scout, and out of combat do most things.

Leadership is a role play feat, not a mechanical one, if you allow it to be mechanical then you've automatically made a single feat better than at least two levels in any class. If you make it RP it gives characters who have high feats and low skills much needed RP power (those fighters become a lot more interesting when they don't have to rely on two skill points a level).


Marc Radle wrote:
There's something coming from Kobold Press soon that addresses this very thing ...

Interesting... care to share more?


bitter lily wrote:

I'm thinking that a full-healer-mode healer as cohort wouldn't hurt the game. (Assuming none of the PCs wants to play healer.) But aren't cohorts usually the big problem with the feat? Even eliminating crafting, you wouldn't get at...

<> "I'm a rogue; my cohort always moves to flank me!"

<> "I and my cohort are two-handers; we kill twice as many foes every round!"

<> "I'm a double-wielder; my cohort is a buffer who tends to only buff me!"

<> "I'm a blaster who hits foes over a big area, but only for half of their total HP per blast; fortunately, so is my cohort!"

<> "I'm a master at save-or-die spells; I like casting after my cohort does, since he's good at save-or-suck spells!"

All of these sound to me like potential problems, where one player is now dominating the game far more than I imagine a single feat should allow.

You guys are experienced, though, while I'm peering at this with my mind's eye. Why is my imagination coming up with figments?

Same as a ranger picking a companion animal, a cavalier a mount, a wizard a familiar. I don't see why my cohort on whom I have wasted a feat should not buff me, nor do I see it as disrupting the game any more than the other companions mentioned.

As for the followers, as a GM I prefer that they're not "following". Player wizard has them working in his "wizard tower" in his hometown doing research. I had a character that wanted to have his own school after the adventure ended, His followers were... school staff. Again, not disruptive unless the player is unreasonable.


Alni wrote:

Same as a ranger picking a companion animal, a cavalier a mount, a wizard a familiar. I don't see why my cohort on whom I have wasted a feat should not buff me, nor do I see it as disrupting the game any more than the other companions mentioned.

As for the followers, as a GM I prefer that they're not "following". Player wizard has them working in his "wizard tower" in his hometown doing research. I had a character that wanted to have his own school after the adventure ended, His followers were... school staff. Again, not disruptive unless the player is unreasonable.

In theory, the companions mentioned are occupying a lot more space in the class features list than one feat.

Now... the idea of allowing Leadership to put followers to work off-stage is great! "Yeah, we go home periodically and I put the party up in my mansion, fully staffed of course." Sure! But does a PC actually need to burn a feat for this?

Liberty's Edge

rainzax wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
There's something coming from Kobold Press soon that addresses this very thing ...
Interesting... care to share more?

Well, I probably shouldn't say much more yet, but Kobold Press has a rather popular book of new classes, new archetypes, new feats etc. and, if there happened to be a major new, revised and expanded full color hardcover version of said book, it just might have things like a revised/alternate version of the Leadership feat ...

Coming Soon

Just saying ... :)


Marc Radle wrote:
rainzax wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
There's something coming from Kobold Press soon that addresses this very thing ...
Interesting... care to share more?

Well, I probably shouldn't say much more yet, but Kobold Press has a rather popular book of new classes, new archetypes, new feats etc. and, if there happened to be a major new, revised and expanded full color hardcover version of said book, it just might have things like a revised/alternate version of the Leadership feat ...

Coming Soon

Just saying ... :)

Heh, got the pdf...


Have you looked at the hirelings from Dungeoneer's Handbook? It has a feat called Torchbearer that is a less powerful version of Leadership.


ultimatepunch wrote:
Have you looked at the hirelings from Dungeoneer's Handbook? It has a feat called Torchbearer that is a less powerful version of Leadership.

This is one of several similar feats. They are all less powerful versions of leadership, granting a cohort of 3 levels lower, when you are 5th level.

However, they all upgrade automatically to Leadership at 8th level. You lose this feat and all its benefits, and you gain all the benefits of the regular Leadership feat. Your cohort becomes a normal cohort, and can now be up to 2 levels lower than the PC.

They are great, flavorful feats. I think they are a wonderful way to intro a cohort earlier and more modestly. But, you will have to modify them for them to "fix" Leadership.

-Cheers

Liberty's Edge

Lazaryus wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
rainzax wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
There's something coming from Kobold Press soon that addresses this very thing ...
Interesting... care to share more?

Well, I probably shouldn't say much more yet, but Kobold Press has a rather popular book of new classes, new archetypes, new feats etc. and, if there happened to be a major new, revised and expanded full color hardcover version of said book, it just might have things like a revised/alternate version of the Leadership feat ...

Coming Soon

Just saying ... :)

Heh, got the pdf...

You can't have the PDF yet, it hasn't been released yet! :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Step 1. Ignore the feat.
Step 2. Allow PCs to befriend/hire/enslave NPCs or Monsters through roleplay.
Step 4. Profit!


There isn't a whole lot you can do to make Leadership workable. It is a feat not unlike Weapon Focus. From a player empowerment perspective, the player picks the weapon for Weapon Focus, not the GM. Do the same with Leadership and it could break the game. Treated like this, it effectively hands out a free character (or more).

Limiting the choices for cohort/followers is likely to have the same effect as banning the feat. As a player, I'll just roleplay convincing an NPC to join our band of murder hobos and take Power Attack for my feat. In this case it becomes the Roleplay feat: You gain the ability to interact with the GM's world.

Is there really any effective difference between a feat nobody wants to take and one that is banned?

Don't get me wrong, the concept of the feat is great. But its implementation is flawed. I'd go with what VRMH suggests.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

First off... understand that two levels down means A LOT in the system we play. The nature of advancement is far from linear for both martials and casters. Leadership is not really a problem. However, don't let them make a lvl 5 character on their own. Give them one, let them outfit it, if they manage to find an adventurer who likes them well enough. Then play the cohort as his or her own character.


Marc Radle wrote:
Lazaryus wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
rainzax wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
There's something coming from Kobold Press soon that addresses this very thing ...
Interesting... care to share more?

Well, I probably shouldn't say much more yet, but Kobold Press has a rather popular book of new classes, new archetypes, new feats etc. and, if there happened to be a major new, revised and expanded full color hardcover version of said book, it just might have things like a revised/alternate version of the Leadership feat ...

Coming Soon

Just saying ... :)

Heh, got the pdf...
You can't have the PDF yet, it hasn't been released yet! :)

You are talking about the New Paths Compendium, right? I got that.

Liberty's Edge

Lazaryus wrote:

Heh, got the pdf...

You can't have the PDF yet, it hasn't been released yet! :)
You are talking about the New Paths Compendium, right? I got that.

Well, yes and no :)

The New Paths Compendium is an excellent book (if I do say so myself :) but it does not have a "alt/fixed" version of the Leadership feat.

A brand new, revised, expanded, updated, full color hardcover of the New Paths Compendium might have such a feat though ...

Check out the bookmark in the last picture shown at the link ...
Coming Soon


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So far, the best alternative to Leadership that I have found is the 3rd party feat Personal Guardian from Necromancers of the Northwest. This feat is like Leadership except that it grants you a cohort with a few special abilities but no followers. It works best for squishy characters who want a bodyguard.


My suggestion if you're going to allow it is don't allow the cohort to be a spell caster. Spell casters are the entities which break the game the most, allowing a player to pull an extra one out of their pocket will only make things more difficult for you as a GM.

Non-spell casting classes primarily contribute damage, which can be easily compensated for adding additional minions to fights to keep it from being too easy.


I would say it's better to enforce cohorts of the same class as the PC. See, the healbot cleric and the twohander barbarian are two pretty problematic cohorts. Don't forget that it's a team game. One player shouldn't be able to cover all bases.


Sissyl wrote:
I would say it's better to enforce cohorts of the same class as the PC. See, the healbot cleric and the twohander barbarian are two pretty problematic cohorts. Don't forget that it's a team game. One player shouldn't be able to cover all bases.

That is funny. In our Rise of the Runelords campaign, the PC healbot cleric got himself a two-hander barbarian cohort...it is rather a joke. Conversely, my archer ranger has a healbot oracle for a cohort.

We are def pushing the limits, and it shows. Our DM is good at handling it, but we are having second thoughts about cohorts. Obviously, less optimized cohorts may be workable, however they lose their luster if they aren't what you NEED. So may as well just not have cohorts, per se.

I'm thinking we'll revert to the 'Old ways'; if an NPC digs you guys enough, and vice versa, then the DM might play that NPC with the party. He may have a player (who is otherwise not overloaded) run this NPC. But it would remain very much an NPC henchcritter.


Here's how I look at it.

Cohorts are NPC's, not PC's. I don't think the player gets to pick and choose what their cohort is. Offer suggestions to the GM? Sure. But NPC means NPC. The GM ultimately is responsible for creating the cohort, and picking the details.

There also needs to be some valid reason why the PC has attracted their cohort (and their followers). The class, alignment, etc. of the cohort needs to make sense for the background of the PC and the setting of the campaign. The cohort finds the PC inspiring in some fashion, and they probably have a lot in common. It's not just a mechanic. A half-orc barbarian PC is probably not going to attract an elf wizard as a cohort. Not unless the player has a really solid backstory to explain it.

Last, the player should not be running the cohort during the game. If it's too much for the GM to be playing yet another NPC, hand the cohort off to another player. Cohorts aren't summoned monsters that just do what they're ordered to do without question. They think and make decisions on their own. They are inclined to do what the PC asks or says, but putting the player in charge of the cohort is too much direct control, and assumes the cohort always knows exactly what the PC wants them to do at all times. Another player running the cohort can at least guarantee that the PC's best interests are in mind, but with enough independence to not make it a free Dominate Person effect.


Can'tFindthePath wrote:
ultimatepunch wrote:
Have you looked at the hirelings from Dungeoneer's Handbook? It has a feat called Torchbearer that is a less powerful version of Leadership.

This is one of several similar feats. They are all less powerful versions of leadership, granting a cohort of 3 levels lower, when you are 5th level.

However, they all upgrade automatically to Leadership at 8th level. You lose this feat and all its benefits, and you gain all the benefits of the regular Leadership feat. Your cohort becomes a normal cohort, and can now be up to 2 levels lower than the PC.

They are great, flavorful feats. I think they are a wonderful way to intro a cohort earlier and more modestly. But, you will have to modify them for them to "fix" Leadership.

-Cheers

However, there is a feat called Recruits that may fit the bill. Basically, you get a pool of minor cohorts 4 levels lower than you. You can only use one at a time, but they can be more specialized.

Liberty's Edge

Marc Radle wrote:
Lazaryus wrote:

Heh, got the pdf...

You can't have the PDF yet, it hasn't been released yet! :)
You are talking about the New Paths Compendium, right? I got that.

Well, yes and no :)

The New Paths Compendium is an excellent book (if I do say so myself :) but it does not have a "alt/fixed" version of the Leadership feat.

A brand new, revised, expanded, updated, full color hardcover of the New Paths Compendium might have such a feat though ...

Check out the bookmark in the last picture shown at the link ...
Coming Soon

And it's here!

The Kickstarter for the newly revised, updated, and vastly expanded, full-color HARDCOVER version of the New Paths Compendium for the Pathfinder RPG is Live (and does indeed have an alternate version of the Leadership feat)!

It features all the best classes, spells, feats, magic items, and archetypes from the original book PLUS brand new classes (including the Warlock, Tinkerer, and Mystic Archer!), as well as new spells, new feats, and new archetypes. This beautiful new volume will be a full-color hardcover, featuring all new art by top RPG artists.

AND, the book was edited and developed by none other than RPG legend, Kim Mohan!

Become a BACKER of the New Paths Compendium kickstarter today!

Learn more about the project

Liberty's Edge

Marc Radle wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Lazaryus wrote:

Heh, got the pdf...

You can't have the PDF yet, it hasn't been released yet! :)
You are talking about the New Paths Compendium, right? I got that.

Well, yes and no :)

The New Paths Compendium is an excellent book (if I do say so myself :) but it does not have a "alt/fixed" version of the Leadership feat.

A brand new, revised, expanded, updated, full color hardcover of the New Paths Compendium might have such a feat though ...

Check out the bookmark in the last picture shown at the link ...
Coming Soon

And it's here!

The Kickstarter for the newly revised, updated, and vastly expanded, full-color HARDCOVER version of the New Paths Compendium for the Pathfinder RPG is Live (and does indeed have an alternate version of the Leadership feat)!

It features all the best classes, spells, feats, magic items, and archetypes from the original book PLUS brand new classes (including the Warlock, Tinkerer, and Mystic Archer!), as well as new spells, new feats, and new archetypes. This beautiful new volume will be a full-color hardcover, featuring all new art by top RPG artists.

AND, the book was edited and developed by none other than RPG legend, Kim Mohan!

Become a BACKER of the New Paths Compendium kickstarter today!

Learn more about the project

Quick follow up - the New Paths Compendium is now available for preorder!

New Paths Compendium preorder

It will also be available in a few weeks right here through Paizo.com as well!

Contributor

Calybos1 wrote:

Has anyone come across any ways to restrict or modify how Leadership works that still allows the PC to have a sidekick? I've got a paladin player in my Core home game who's been excited about getting an assistant adventurer (i.e., cohort) since level 3, and he's about to take the feat at level 9.

I don't want to ban Leadership outright, but I do want to make it playable. Some suggestions I've seen are to allow a cohort but not followers; forbid the cohort from crafting; ensure that the cohort can never take Leadership himself; etc.

Suggestions?

Everyman Gaming's Ultimate Charisma has a bunch of essays and expanded content dedicated to making leadership into something your PCs just have, rather than something you need to spend a feat on. ;-)

Grand Lodge

Two words: Ultimate Charisma

If you what well written, balanced, even brilliantly envisioned rules for leadership that is enjoyable to use and in which every party member can use... There is no better resource.

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