This guide explains the basic mechanics of Followers.
The Basics' Basics
Followers are a key part of the mid-to-late-game. They serve various purposes depending on the Principle (Moth, Edge, Winter, Grail, Forge, Lantern, Heart, or Knock) they are affiliated to. You can check what a follower's principle is by clicking on their card.
You can meet new Acquaintances by using a Lore card in the Talk Verb. It will not always work, but that is the easier way to meet new characters. Alternatively, after Morland's (or Oriflamme's auction house if you are playing as a Bright Young Thing) has run out of books to sell, you will always be able to find a renewable one called "Something Something DEEP MYSTERIES something", which you can then use in the Talk Verb for a guaranteed new acquaintance.
Followers can be upgraded three times : when they spawn in your game, they are just Acquaintances. After you've found a cult, you can upgrade them to Believers, then to Disciples, and finally (for a select few) to Exalted. More on that later.
There are two types of followers : named ones (I will designate those by "Followers" for the purposes of this guide), and unnamed ones, or Hangers-On. Hangers-On function more or less the same way as Followers, but there are a few differences:
- Hangers-On are not nearly as good at whatever you have them do as Followers are,
- Hangers-On can only be upgraded once, to Pawns.
This type of follower is mainly used as a scapegoat if the Suppression Bureau ever manages to get sufficient evidence on your case to bring you to court (you will need to upgrade them to a Pawn for that). Alternatively, you can imprison them and/or use them in rituals (you heartless monster). It is best to rely on your Followers rather than your Hangers-On for business you want to be done well.
There are 21 total possible named Followers in the game, along with 8 Hangers-On. Neither of those are renewable, so be careful not to lose too many. Once a Follower or Hanger-On is lost, there is no way you can get them back until you start a new game.
The Types & Uses of Followers
There are several actions your Followers can carry out:
- They can be sent to explore via the Explore Verb (as of the Adept's Build (March 2018) this only reveals one location);
- They can be sent to break into that one location to find books (this will eventually cause the location to be destroyed in a fire), also via the Explore Verb; this might produce Notoriety, which the Bureau will try to use against you if they can get their hands on it;
- They can be used as assistants or sacrifices in rites, using the Work Verb;
- They can carry out their specific action using the Talk Verb and your Cult's card.
The specific action a cultist can do is related to their Principle:
Moth followers can attempt to destroy Tentative Evidence (but not Damning Evidence), effectively providing you with a good way to stall the Bureau's progress on your case; your follower might however fail and disappear in the process. They can also earn loot and Funds the same way as Forge and Knock followers, along with Notoriety.
Heart followers are your diplomats and can attempt to smooth public opinion of your Cult by getting rid of Mystique/Notoriety, which will also help stall the Bureau's progress on your case; Heart followers can fail, but they cannot die or go insane because of that failed action : you will only get Peculiar Rumour, which is harmless, and the Mystique/Notoriety will not be destroyed, but your follower will always stay in your service,
Knock followers can be sent to attempt burglaries, which provide you with a variety of tools and ingredients if successful, along with Notoriety, and sometimes Funds ; your follower may be lost. They are also often used as assistants in rites, because a lot of rites require some Knock to be added to the mix;
Forge followers can be sent to work. This is another way to obtain tools and ingredients, along with Notoriety; your follower may be lost,
Winter followers can be sent to roam the streets. They can provide you with tools, ingredients, and corpses, along with Notoriety; your follower may be lost,
Lantern followers are seers and can engage in Augury : if successful, this will grant you Erudition and an Influence card (usable in rites). In case of failure, you will either receive a Fascination card, or your Follower will go insane and eventually be lost,
Grail followers can be sent to enthrall prisoners which you can then use to further your twisted ambitions. They might net you Funds as well. They will produce Notoriety in the process, and may be lost,
Edge followers are your henchmen and assassins and serve two purposes. If used with your Cult card in the Talk Verb, they will act similarly to Grail followers (ie, capture prisoners and produce Notoriety and sometimes Funds). However, they have a second action they can carry out with good chance of success : if you use your Hunter's card (for example, Inspector Wakefield) in the Talk Verb, you can then direct a follower to try and assassinate/capture him. All followers can try to do this, but only Edge followers have a decent chance to succeed. They still might fail and be lost, however.
All cultists that could provide you with tools and ingredients will also occasionally gain you a book.
Why & How to Upgrade Your Followers
Followers have four levels:
The higher a Follower has risen in the ranks of your Cult, the more effective they will be at their specific action. Here are the numbers:
- Believers have a 30% chance of success,
- Disciples have a 70% chance of success,
- All but Heart Followers have a 30% chance to die/vanish/go mad in case of a failure while carrying out their specific action or the current Explore Verb burglary,
- Exalted have a 100% chance of success.
To convert an Acquaintance to your cult: put your Cult card in the Talk Verb, add the Acquaintance and Notoriety/Mystique/a Corpse. Trappings are not required. Your Acquaintance will become a Believer.
To upgrade a Believer to a Disciple: put your Cult card in the Talk Verb, add the Believer's card, and enough of your Cult's founding Principle (ie, the lore you used to found your Cult) to reach 7.
To exalt a Disciple: you will only be able to exalt Followers affiliated to your Cult's founding principle : if you founded a Cult dedicated to Lantern, for example, only Lantern Followers will ever be able to reach Exalted level. Secret Histories Cults cannot exalt Followers at all (but can upgrade them up to Disciples using any Principle). You will need 21 of your founding Principle.