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How to recruit and equip the best companions in Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord

Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord companions
(Image credit: Taleworlds)

In Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord, companions are unique characters you can hire to do quests for you or help offset your own weaknesses. You might be an unstoppable warrior in battle but lack the skills necessary to manage your army's finances and boring administrative tasks. That's where hiring the right companion, in this case one with a high Steward skill, can make all the difference. Though they're often expensive, a retinue of highly experienced companions is much more valuable than a band of regular soldiers. 

But where do you find new companions to hire in Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord, and how can you tell whether their skills are a good match for you? Like everything in Taleworlds' complex medieval sim, it's complicated. That's why we created this guide, which breaks down how companions work, where to find them, and what you can use them for.

How Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord companions work 

Companions are a lot like regular soldiers in your party, only they have an actual name, backstory, and a set of skills. Those skills make companions a valuable addition to your clan, since the bonuses from them are applied to your own army (if a companion is riding with you) or any party you assign that companion to lead. Like your character, companions also level up as they gain more experience. That's why it's important to recruit companions early in your campaign so they have a chance to grow alongside you.

Companions aren't yet fully implemented in Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord, however. Because the game is still in Early Access, there are only a limited number of companions you can recruit, and all of them are randomly generated and unique to each campaign. Taleworlds has plans to add hand-crafted companions with their own backstories, quests, and personality, but for now we have to make due.

Even though they're not fully working, here's a quick overview of why companions are great:

  • Their skills automatically apply benefits to your party.
  • They can lead their own parties once your clan is big enough.
  • You can assign companions and a few soldiers to complete most quests, letting you focus on other tasks.
  • You can individually outfit them with armor and weapons, unlike regular soldiers.

There are a few things to keep in mind, however: 

  • Companions are expensive to hire (around 1000 to 2500 denars) and often have an increased wage.
  • They take up a slot in your party and you can only hire a limited number.
  • They can die (if you have permadeath enabled).

(Image credit: TaleWorlds Entertainment)

Where to find companions in Bannerlord 

The continent of Calradia is a big place, but you have some handy tools to help you track down companions for hire. Here's how to find what companions are available to hire and where they might be located:

  • Press 'N' to open the Encyclopedia and select the Heroes panel.
  • Scroll down to the Occupation panel and select Wanderer—that's the designated occupation for any recruitable companion.
  • Clicking any of the displayed names will take you to that companion's page where you can see their skills and, if you look in the far right corner, a timeline of where they've been. This is how you can track them down, but companions move about frequently, so if it'll take you a few days to reach a certain city, the companion might have moved on.
  • Once you arrive in any major city, enter the tavern district. Any recruitable companions will be listed in the character panel at the top of the screen. Click their portrait to talk to them directly, where you can learn their backstory, their cost, and offer to have them join you.

Using the process above, you can find any companion anywhere in Calradia (assuming they haven't already died, that is). 

(Image credit: Taleworlds)

The best Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord companions 

Master Bannerlord's medieval sandbox with these guides

(Image credit: TaleWorlds)

Bannerlord cheats: Get rich and dominate battles
Bannerlord tips: Our full beginner's guide
Bannerlord difficulty: Which to choose
Bannerlord mods: The best player-made additions
Bannerlord marriage: How to start a family
Bannerlord combat: Battle and 1v1 tips
Bannerlord money: Get rich quick
Bannerlord factions: Which should you choose?
Bannerlord workshop: Make easy money
Bannerlord caravan: How best to trade

Until Taleworlds adds hand-crafted companions that are the same across each campaign, there are no best companions we can recommend. Each one has a randomly assigned set of skills and is suited to different tasks, so it depends on what your needs are: A merchant and a warlord probably want two very different kinds of companions.

That said, redditor 'ImAShaaaark' has pointed out that a companion's surname helps indicate what their skills are. Meeting a character with the surname Breakskull, for example, means that character will have a personality that is daring (+1 to Valor) and cruel (-1 to Mercy) and will favor two-handed weapons. You can check out the full list of surnames and their associated skills here.

Here are some surnames you should look out for, according to the list:

  • Medics: The Healer or The Willowbark have identical stats, except The Healer has a better Scouting skill.
  • Rogues: The Black is a great rogue with good combat skills, but Longknife or Accursed have a higher Roguery skill.
  • Warriors: The Shieldmaiden, The Red, and Coalbiter are all top-tier warriors with identical skills but different dispositions.

How to equip your companion 

Bannerlord's user interface can be a little messy, but equipping your companions or leveling up their skills is pretty much the same process as it is for your main character. By pressing 'C' or 'I', you'll open either the character panel or inventory. This will display your main character, but near their name at the top of the screen you'll see arrows you can select to change which character you're looking at.

From there, you'll have access to your companion's character sheet or inventory, where you can apply talent points, select new perks, or equip armor and weapons.

Steven enjoys nothing more than a long grind, which is precisely why his specialty is on investigative feature reporting on China's PC games scene, weird stories that upset his parents, and MMOs. He's Canadian but can't ice skate. Embarrassing.