Just had our first session with only four players. Quite a big stepdown from the eight I had at one point, and the usual 5-6.
Garvin's player lost his job and therefore has no free time any more, The Reverend's player moved to the other end of the country and Carstairs' player was finding that he wasn't seeing his fiancee enough - so all dropped out in the same week.
So - what to do?
All of their characters become extras that are part of the lodge - even though not all are of Heroic rank, their additional skills above a standard extra mean that I've put them in the 'Heroic Tier' of allies.
Since the remaining characters are mostly 'non-combatants' I recommended that the players of Cheng-Lou, Jones and Belladonna all take a 'physically competent' extra to help them out on all missions - thus Cheng-Lou is now accompanied by Cauliflower Carl (which is a hark back to the players previous character - Rig), Jones has his 'mentor' Garvin, still around (just now as an extra rather than Wild Card), and Belladonna is accompanied by Timothy Simms, the Bartitsu practitioner. Sir Robert has little need of physical backup - and already has two Bloodhounds to assist him, should he need the help.
The session ran very well - and an added benefit to the "Character & Extra" template was that all the players were able to be in 'two places at once' - either investigating or fighting - within the same basic geographic area.
I have a feeling this is going to work well - and should Garvin's player get employed and become available again, I have a feeling that I might want to continue in the vein of a 'complimentary extra' always being around.
It'll lead well into the 'Sidekick' Lodge Edge, should the group wish to take it.