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.
There are two types of followers: named ones, 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.