Effects: Your character has an assistant, aide, indentured servant or fanatical follower on whom she can rely. You need to establish how this trusty companion was acquired. He may be paid exorbitant amounts of money that buy his unwavering loyalty. He might owe his life to your character (or to your characterÕs predecessors). Your character might blackmail this person or threaten his family with harm if services are not rendered. Or your character might have a supernatural hold over this poor person. Regardless of the circumstances, this person is constantly loyal and follows almost any order without question.
A retainer can be called upon to perform many duties without fail. A bodyguard might be willing to hurt other people on a mere command. A dedicated street kid might hang on your characterÕs every word and get her information or contacts without being asked. Unless your character has direct control over a retainerÕs mind, however, this person canÕt be made to perform any task. He might not risk his own life unduly or perform a task that violates his own morals. You or the Storyteller should detail your retainer with an identity, background and character sheet of his own. The Storyteller usually plays your characterÕs retainer.
Each acquisition of this Merit grants your character one follower. Dots spent in the trait indicate the training, capability or flexibility of the aide. One dot suggests a child, an automaton or a madman with limited capabilities and freedom of thought. Two dots indicate an ordinary person over whom your character has sway. The servant is completely mundane and has no particular training above the human norm (he has two dots in all of his Attributes and Skills). Three dots represent a capable employee with a range of training at his disposal (three or four of his traits have three dots). Four dots represent a valued and irreplaceable assistant (someone with a handful of traits with four dots each). Five dots indicate an extraordinary follower. He is exceptional in many ways (five dots in a couple traits, and four in many others) or he may be capable of supernatural feats.
Retainer is different from Allies in that no roll is ever made to get results from an aide. He performs the task requested, unless subjected to repeated abuse or an utterly intolerable assignment (as decided by the Storyteller based on the assistantÕs personality).
Drawback: If your retainer is ever hurt he may be incapable of service while recovering. If he is killed, heÕs lost forever unless supernatural in origin.
A retainer who possesses his own will and who is forced to perform a duty that offends his sensibilities or defies his morals may abandon your character, temporarily or permanently. Points spent to acquire a retainer who is killed or driven off are lost.