|I told you we needed to hire some Cannon-Fodder!|
The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG makes mention of the same, but puts a twist on it I haven't seen in other systems. Here, you basic retainer might not want to explore the dangerous world out there and is just looking for some coin to line his pockets or feed his family. They might not want to leave the basic area their are recruited in - one or two adventures and then it's back to toiling in the fields.
Here's the bit on recruiting that I found interesting: (page 310)
For every 100 residents of a town or village, 1 man—not necessarily able-bodied—is willing to risk his life as an adventurer’s helper. Areas of famine or hardship, where there are no other opportunities, may produce more prospective retainers; bustling centers of trade, with many competing chances at wealth, may produce fewer.Most RPGs assume that centers of wealth lead to a large pool to pull from. In DCC, you're getting your retainers, your hirelings mostly from the poor and desperate. It's an interesting change of perspective, and one I happen to like.
Of course, the 1st level PCs in my party don't have enough coin to pay a retainer a silver a day for very long, as they are barely better than dirt poor themselves, but as they level (we'll see come August) retainers may just become part of the party.
It will be interesting to see how disposable (or not) they become for the party, although I suspect it will follow the usual RPG format of what is effectively a multi-stage funnel - the long term survivors more from "cannon fodder" to valuable resource.
(can you tell I'm back on my DCC reading kick? ;)