Let's talk Shield Mates. Using the Risus Companion we can create companions in Risus. Ta-dah! I find creating a companion has many of the same pitfalls of creating an exceptional piece of equipment in that it makes the main character's cliches less important. Want to play a nerdy academic but don't want to be the target if swirlies or wedgies? Create a shield mate who is Big Dumb Jock (3). Want to solve mysteries but hate looking for clues? Make up a pal who's a genius but hangs with you to avoid big dumb jocks giving him swirlies and wedgies.
A companion's cliches are less unbalancing than those of equipment. Equipment is at your constant beck and call while humans have their own lives and might fail to appear or run at the first sign of trouble or just get instructions wrong. They also require proper treatment. Your big dumb body guard might want a couple beers now and then. Your genius pal might need help with some bullies, not to mention birthdays, holidays, christenings, and Bar Mitzvahs. You get the idea.
A follower doesn't have to just be a cliche. In the same vein as having equipment be interesting rather than an out and out bonus or extra cliche, a follower can have advantages in some situations you don't. Each of these abilities costs one die from the creating character:
Cautious: the follower allows the character to make a reroll in any critical situation. The character must either abide by the reroll or take the better of the two rolls at the referee's whim.
Deep Pockets: the follower allows the pc three Lucky Shots per session due to a knack for always having just the gizmo you need.
Team Player: the follower will absorb the first hit you take in a combat, shoving you out of the way.
Avenger: your follower gets to double their attack dice the round after you go down.
Hook: the follower is actually a dependent: parent, significant other, child etc. This counts as a hook for the player and entitles them to a die. The referee is encouraged to be fiendish in the needs of a dependent.
When creating a follower think about who and what the follower is. A person's gender, age, and race may all be important. The gritty detective can't follow his suspect into the ladies' room. His Plucky Girl Friday can without raising an eyebrow. The only witness to an alien abduction my be an eight year old who is frightened by your Man In Black (4) cliche. But he might be quite informative to another eight year old (even if that eight year old happens to be Alien Shape Shifter (4).) A follower who is a hottie could score you an entrance to a trendy club or even free drinks. A cute dog might be just what you need to break the ice and get to talk to the reclusive contact who happens to love dogs. The list goes on. Having a follower who is an academic is very useful for research. If he happens to have a bad limp then you can score parking in the handicapped zone. If your pal happens to be a member of a nearly extinct race or culture he could get you an interview with the anthropologist who has the key to decoding the Voynich manuscript, The list goes on and on.
As a final note I present to you the Underage But Mature Looking Hottie. If you can't beat the villains fair and square destroying their reputations is the next best thing.