Going after all the sidequests replaying the game it seems as if certain situations and characters are set up in a way that in other games would lead to them becoming travel companions. Going to the kickstarters stretch goals was this planned and a case of cut content? It seems, if you could collect them, you’d have your own “band of bastards” from the characters within the base game but for there being no companion system beside Mutt.
Hear me out and spoilers ahead
Ulrich has a speech check to keep him from turning on you which fullon has you ask him to be a companion… but he chooses to leave the game if passed instead.
Heineken hare, if you help him, clears his name and… leaves the gameworld forever to go where Sir Divish writes him a letter of recommendation.
Matthew and Fritz are deadset on becoming bandits with or without you, have an entire quest tree, kit themselves up with implied highway robbery without you, and… end up hanged or being layabouts in privitslavitz. They quibble about tens of grochen while you have an order of magnitude more money by accident then they’re willing to get hanged over.
and there are probably others people can think of with just enough of a quest tree, full rng response and dialogue mapping more in depth than the common randomly voiced NPC, significant resources put towards a quest chain, and then… nothing. Similarly all the mechanics are coded. directional order controls (dog), the dog tethering, NPC tethering with their own AI behaviors (the bandit morcock leaves with you, who tails you at a soft ~10 yards and will fight enemies and spout random dialogue. the only time it seems this code is used in game.)
With the 4 I mentioned alone that covers tank, dps melee x2, and archery. with the ~70,000 grochen to arm, armor, and horse them along with scaling wages to level and equipment you have your lategame money sink and playloop. Throw in the reputation system dictating if they stay with you (ex. ulrich leaving or turning on the group for banditry, matt and fritz like questionable morals and money- hate charity wasted on others, Hare is ok doing the wrong thing for the right reason, etc.) and you’d have a whole other world of gameplay to explore; self contained on top of what exists but adding greatly to every action in the game world. Every fight becomes the scale of band of bastards with permadeath as the stake. Even the final battle of the main quest would have actual stakes if your own men were climbing the parapets at your back instead of nameless NPCs and Sir Bernard (as it sits you can let everyone get killed and still pass the quest by making it to the courtyard yourself.)
I can’t be the only one who sees the ghosts of a planned recruitment system.