Companies are a more complicated system than parties. Companies will be addressable by the in-game mail system, and they will likely have some shared storage for communal gear. You'll be able to decorate your character with some identification related to their Company affiliation. Companies are persistent - they continue to exist even if all the characters in them are logged off.
Companies are the center of the Outpost management system. Outposts are persistent structures that you can build in the wilderness that tap a nearby resource "node". An example of an outpost might be a small lumber mill, or an ore processing structure. Outposts can be destroyed and raided by hostile forces so you will need to defend them as well as operate them.
Outposts typically connect to Points of Interest. A Point of Interest might be an Inn, a Watchtower, or a similar large persistent structure. These are also constructed and defended by Companies.
Some Companies become Chartered. A player-run Settlement can issue a Charter to a Company, and the Charter will provide some mutual benefits between the two organizations. We expect that most player-run Settlements will Charter the Companies that operate the Points of Interest in the lands adjacent to the Settlement's home territory.
From the moment of its creation, each company begins earning influence—a measure of the ongoing deeds of its members, and a currency with which the company can claim territory, trophies, and various boons for its members. Each time a member player earns an achievement, his or her company also earns a small amount of influence. Ambitious companies are therefore encouraged to actively recruit low-level members, guiding them through their early development in order to benefit from the rapid achievement gains of new players. In addition, special company achievements and even some items and trophies provide influence boosts.
Influence has a number of varied uses to complement a company's chosen focus. We'll cover influence mechanics in more detail in a later blog post, but here's a quick overview:
- All companies may use influence to forge alliances with other companies or settlements, usually to establish trade arrangements or provide mutual security.
- For empire-builders, influence is spent to claim territory in the Crusader Road region. When a company clears the dangerous inhabitants from wilderness hex, they may spend their influence to claim that location for their own.
- For mercenaries, bandits, and agitators, influence can be used to declare a feud—a state of PvP hostilities like a war between settlements, but at shorter notice and for a shorter period—against another company or settlement.
- For traders and crafters, influence can be spent on boons to help dominate an economy or profession, and on shoring up caravan defenses when transporting goods across the lands.
- Finally, for adventuring companies, influence can be spent to claim great rewards from successful escalation cycles, either for the benefit of the company itself or for its sponsoring settlement.