Settlements are the centerpiece of the game design in Pathfinder Online. Settlements are both a place—they are permanent collections of structures—and a social grouping of characters. Being a "member of a settlement" means that you are a part of the settlement's ownership and management. A character might be physically within the walls of a Settlement, and might even have storage there and be operating out of the Settlement, the character is not a "member of the settlement" unless that character is actually a part of the social structure system.
Types of Settlements
In Pathfinder Online, there are many categories of settlements, based on who controls them (NPCs vs. players), what sorts of crafting and training facilities they offer, and whether or not they are starting locations for new characters.
NPC Settlements are those settlements controlled by non-player characters in the game. These settlements are generally static in their offerings and cannot be joined by companies or participate in events such as the War of Towers. NPC Settlements offer most training and crafting facilities as a general rule. The non-starter NPC settlement(s) in the game are:
This subset of NPC settlements are locations into which new characters spawn when they first enter Pathfinder Online. A character's starting settlement is determined randomly. In addition to basic training and crafting facilities, these settlements also offer a short series of training quests to get new players started and to teach the basics of movement, combat, feat training/slotting, and crafting. Starter settlements in the game are: