The key to this game seems to be to recruit everyone who has even a mild interest in joining your party. This gives one a few extra meat shields and a little extra damage. The story characters are typically still the most useful though.
The game is getting a little more interesting now that I have more skills available to my characters, but the story is still a bunch of incoherent nonsense. "I'm looking for the Eternal Poison." "I don't know what that is." "Die."