Allies, Contacts and Patrons
These are social advantages that represent people or organizations that can help you. Briefly an Ally is a companion who will adventure with you, Contacts are people you know who will provide small favors or information, and Patrons are powerful people or organizations who can provide assistance, possibly including loans and equipment. Also Allies and Contacts have a group variant.
All these are purchased as a base cost with a multiplier for extras and frequency of appearance.
Allies are generally agreed upon as about right in pricing, though they can be abused.
Patrons also see few objections, though they can be pricey they can have significant benefits. I personally allow the Informal, -50% limitation designed for things like Rank and Status to apply to Patrons. It represents an organization your not really able to call on for big stuff but now and than its helpful. This is good for ex CEO's or retired military who maintain a good relationship.
Contacts tend to get the most debate, they start off cheap but frequency of appearance and high skills can make them fairly expensive. Especially since they are supposed to be a once a day kind of thing.
The base cost determines effective skill level, which is I think a good value and often better than the same points in a skill would get you. However once you start modifying the cost by frequency of appearance and reliability the price can go up significantly!
I find many people focus on a high reliability, but that can get very expensive so I go for the "Somewhat Reliable" level which means they only lie to you on a critical failure. Increasing reliability means they will keep trying to get the info you need, nice but rarely worth the extra price tag, especially since you could buy two or three for the same cost.
Frequency of Appearance is a tougher call, I help my players by calling it a general guideline and rarely roll for it. If the player does not call on the Contact every game they can safely take a lower frequency and know they still have a good shot at access.
Another trick I do is to have the player roll against an appropriate skill to reach their Contact and I assign modifiers based on frequency of appearance and circumstances. This lets social types leverage other abilities..
Finally, Wild Talent can substitute for a Contact. This grants more versatility but is more limited in how often it can be used.
Some additions I suggested in a Pyramid article that shall not get published...
With GM permission you may apply this to the base cost of Contact or Contact Group. This Contact or Contact Group is the opposite of discreet and news of your request will be widely reported on very quickly. If you overreach your authority and privilege, or have foes that may benefit by this knowledge, things may get ‘complicated’. This reduces the base cost by 1 point (minimum of 1).Examples: The Homeless Network, Royal Court, Secretary Pool, or many bureaucratic and competitive organizations.
The Highly Accessible option from Patrons (p. B73) can be applied to Contacts and Contact Groups. This makes a Contact reachable beyond normal means for the setting. This may be psychic or supernatural, or simply a spy network that constantly monitors you, +50%.