The Company You Keep
Grand Companies, Linkshells, and Free Companies
The Social Systems in FFXIV
Experienced MMO players are familiar with the idea of factions and guilds, social systems in which players and non player characters (NPC’s) affiliate. For new MMO players, these systems are probably a bit confusing and overwhelming. Even experienced MMO players may find themselves at a loss, since Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn uses player social systems a bit differently than in other games (including prior FF MMO’s).
There are technically four enduring social structures built into FFXIV:ARR. The first of these is your friends list. Either through pre-existing relationships, or even with people you meet within the game world, there are times you want to be able to easily stay in touch with others. This is accomplished through your friends list. For someone to be on your friends list they need to have been invited by one party and accepted by another. Friend invitations can be sent through the chat interface or the UI by right clicking on the persons name. They are accepted using a prompt from the UI. Once both sides have approved the friendship, they each appear in the other persons friend tab of the social panel (“O” by default).
The game also offers three additional ways to tie yourself to the players and the game world. These systems include grand companies, linkshells, and free companies. In this guide, we discuss each system including how to join and reasons to utilize each system.
Grand Companies – Walk Like an Eorzean
Grand companies are the FFXIV:ARR equivalent of NPC factions (e.g. Browncoats, Stormtroopers, Morlocks, etc.). Each nation houses a grand company and players may choose to join any grand company. Ul’Dah has the Immortal Flames, Gridania has the Twin Adders, and Limsa Lominsa has the Maelstrom.
While your starting city is determined by the class you begin the game with, this in no way determines your grand company. Starting gladiators are free to join the Maelstrom or the Twin Adders, bypassing their native Immortal Flames. This is true of all other classes.
Membership comes with privilege. Lots and lots of privilege. There are a number of game elements gated by your grand company membership. Your riding, and later adventuring partner, chocobo is received via a license from your Grand Company. Want to start a Free Company (see later in this post), that’s another aspect of your Grand Company membership.
Grand companies also provide activities for crafting and gathering classes. A series of recipes and harvests are made available at the grand company headquarters. You can see the remaining items and availability on your timer choice from your menu buttons.
There is also an entirely new hunting log added when you join a grand company. While your other hunting logs are class specific, the grand company log can be completed with any class. You will also find a whole series of levequests available for Grand Company members.
These levequests start at your level 15 leve headquarters (for Ul’Dah this is Camp Drybone), however they are given out by a representative of the local Grand Company. You can complete these levequests for other Grand Companies, but they pay out more for their own members. This is taken from the NPC dialog, I haven’t actually gone to another region to complete another companies leves.
The payout from all of these activities are grand company seals. Seals are a form of currency and are located in the currency tab of your character UI. Seals are also earned from participating in FATE. Once you join a Grand Company, every FATE participation yields a set of seals based on the level of the FATE, the completion status, and your ranking in the FATE. The good news is that this even applies to newbie FATE in the starting zones. Once you join a Grand Company, you can earn seals while leveling up alternate classes!
Grand Companies provide an array of goods and services with which you can redeem Grand Company seals. Your chocobo license is 1000 seals (current beta-3 price, terms and conditions subject to change, some settling may occur during transit, your chocobo is unlikely to be as fun and cute as mine, etc.). There are some nice green-quality gear choices in the same range. You can also find some “quality of life” buffs like a 50% xp boost for either crafting or gathering. You can also buy promotions using Seals.
You start off your duties in your grand company at a novice rank (Private 3rd Class with the Immortal Flames). Spending seals raises you one rank, it took 2000 seals to buy my way to Private Second Class. New ranks increases your maximum seal allowance and opens up a number of new tabs of seal purchases.
Members of different Grand Companies can be in linkshells and Free Companies together. Additionally, your Grand Company affiliation does not appear to negatively affect your ability to PVE with other factions. Our current understanding of the game suggests that Grand Companies will play a role in the PVP aspect of the game. It appears that at least one PVP scenario will involve some form of GCvGCvGC (hey, everyone in MMO-land has to have royal rumbles).
Linkshells – It’s Like Skype, but with Typing!
In FFXIV, Linkshells are persistent chat channels. These channels are user created and creator-moderated. This will seem odd to FFXI fans a bit, because Linkshell’s are not guilds – at least not necessarily guilds. Additionally, for FFXI fans, there is no inventory object associated with linkshells (in FFXI you carried Linkpearls for each LS you affiliated with).
You can create a linkshell by visiting the Linkshell distributor in any of the three starting cities. For Ul’Dah, this is Ninisha, standing just outside the Adventuring guild near the dancing Mi’quote. Talking to the Distributor provides you with the option to learn about linkshells, creating linkshells, and disbanding linkshells (for which you have mastership).
Creating a linkshell is fairly easy, choose a name and your are up and running. Now you just need linkshell members. This can be done with an invite of any player you can target or players on your friends list. Simply right click a UI element for that player (I use friends and the social panel to do this) and choose the invitation option for your linkshells’ name.
You also gain a linkshell interface. This can be accessed via the menu buttons or the “L” key by default. On this interface you see a listing of all your member linkshells, a list of who is online in the linkshell, their current class, grand company, and present location.
Linkshells have a pre-defined hierarchy. You are either the linkshell Master, a linkshell Leader, or a linkshell member. Promotions and demotions are handled via a simple right click on the players name in the linkshell UI.
Talking in linkshells is /l by default. You can also set linkshell as your default chat channel using the dialog bubble at the bottom left of the chat window.
You can be a member of eight different linkshells and they can be used for a number of functions. We use Eorzea Reborn as a community linkshell. It’s a place for people to talk, ask and answer questions, and coordinate activities. When we get past Beta-3 we will also be adding a linkshell for our raid alliance, enabling cross-guilded (Free Company) players to raid together with a structured scheduling system. I could also see larger guilds choosing to make a linkshell for their guild officer chat.
Free Companies – There Can Be Only One
The Free Company is the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn take on guilds. Free Companies are persistent player communities. They offer a permanent chat channel, like linkshells, but they also come with several other tools (such as forums on the Lodestone). Free Companies are designed around the idea of structured play within a fixed network of players.
You can not create a Free Company until you have reached level 25 and become a member of a Grand Company. You start the formation process by visiting the Administrator at your Grand Company Headquarters. He lets you pick a Grand Company name as well as the five-digit tag your Free Company wears in the field (e.g. Ryahl Macbannon <GUILD>).
The actual Free Company won’t form until you finish a few more procedural tasks. You need to get three other players to sign the charter and you need to pay a 15,000 gil fee to the Administrator. Once that is accomplished, a final chat with the Administrator completes the the FC formation!
You can join a Free Company at any time, but creating one has a pretty healthy number of gates. You may also join a Free Company that is not affiliated with your Grand Company. You may, though, only be in one Free Company at a time. To join a different Free Company you must leave your present Free Company.
The Free Company UI can be accessed from the menu buttons and Free Company chat defaults as /fc. Your Free Company UI has a number of options currently available and a number we probably won’t see added until launch. You have a message of the day option on the Company Board. You can see who is online and manage promotions/demotions on the Member tab, manage the current FC ranks and permissions on the Rank tab and see FC records on the Activity Tab.
As of this writing, you can add ranks and manage rank hierarchy to the three default ranks. You also have a few choices for permissions (invitations, promotions and message of the day activity) for each rank.
There isn’t much more to FC’s at the moment, but you can clearly see that Traits, Journals and Statuses are listed in the UI. Some things are planned to enhance FC’s beyond their current state.
Joining the Community
I know there are those reading who disagree with me on this, but I believe that the community aspects of MMO’s are their defining differentiator. You can have clans and guilds in non-MMO’s, but only in the MMO can you get the gang all together to take down a dragon or storm a castle.
You don’t “need” to be in a guild in an MMO, but it certainly adds to the game to be in one. Whether it’s a linkshell community, a Free Company, or both, these networks help you find information, find allies and share experiences. I recommend you look into them, investigate them, and affiliate ones with similar play styles, play goals, and play times as you.
Sure there are bad guilds out there and guilds certainly can contain an unneeded amount of drama, but the right group of people with similar interests as you makes for a very pleasant play experience. If you are in a guild that doesn’t fit, leave!
I have been playing MMO’s since 1999 and if it wasn’t for the guilds I have been in (mostly the same mix of folks across a few different guild names), I don’t know if I would still be playing MMO’s.