The crafting system is also in major need of revision, at the very least (IMO) to allow non-casters to be able to make some decent stuff. I also think it would be better if it where minimally tied to PC adventuring class-levels, though. I tried to start a conversation about the crafting system once before and no one seemed interested, so I put that on the back burner. If I take it up again I'll look for a way for lower-level characters to combine their efforts and make something a higher-level character could benefit from.
It's pretty much a dump stat for MANY classes, actually; I've seen Wizards and Rogues ignore it as well and rely on skill points or spells to make up the difference. That's why I was open to exploring different ways to calculate the leadership score. Depending on what other numbers go into it, the difference between and 8 and a 18 might be less noticeable than a +0 and +4.Anyways, I see your point. Charisma is important and should be. Shame it's a dumpstat for most martial classes. Even pathfinder can't seem to have many non-magic classes that allow using mental ability scores to do much beyond resorting to 3rd party or specific archetypes.
If I have the time tomorrow I'll try to play around with some ideas and numbers and see what I can come up with.
However you want to fluff it go right ahead. Allowing you to swap them out in the middle of a dungeon would probably be a bit much, but hiring them on per-adventure basis would probably be perfectly fine.I do like the idea of breaking away Leadership into distinct feats. There's different types of leadership and being a master at all of them is hard.
Say, perhaps instead of a single NPC, the feats bellow define a "Group", small but elite. You may only ever borrow the services of one member at a time, but atleast it means that if the guy dies it's less impactful.