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We're finally wrapped up with our busy summer convention season and ready to settle in to a more consistent routine here at Goblinworks HQ. Going forward, we plan to stick to an every-other-week format for our dev blog, although we'll throw in extra posts when we get something interesting we want to share.
Anyway, it's been a little while since we touched on systems or game elements that we're working on for Pathfinder Online, so this week, designer Tork Shaw takes a look at some of the mechanics behind the companies you and your fellow players will create and join during play.
Politics and alliances play an important role in Pathfinder Online at all levels. From cross-settlement alliances to player nations, trading cabals to bands of brigands, and even fanatical cults dedicated to one of Golarion's deities, those who work together to forward their interests can look forward to great success in the Crusader Road region. The most basic form of permanent player organization is the company—a group of like-minded individuals who wish to adventure, craft, or conquer together. (You may have previously seen companies referred to as "venture companies" or "chartered companies" in previous blog posts, but for now we're using the simplest applicable term. This may change again in the future, but the basic concept will remain the same.)
Companies behave in many ways like the guilds or clans of other MMOs, bringing together groups of friends under a single banner. They are not designed for mass membership, however—that is the purview of settlements. Instead, companies work best with 10 to 50 members, depending on their focus. Companies are incorporated for a small coin fee. A new company offers a system of ranks and permissions much like that found in settlement management, which allows for a lot of customization in its management structure.
If they so wish, companies may become "sponsored," forging a powerful alliance with a settlement. Sponsored companies effectively become part of that settlement, affecting its Reputation and following its alignment just like the rest of the settlement's population. Likewise sponsored companies share the settlement's alliances or sanctioned hostilities with other settlements. Sponsored companies that control territory also benefit from some of the security upgrades of their sponsoring settlement. Your character can therefore belong to both a company and a settlement at the same time.
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:
Companies serve as the instrument by which groups of players actually gain control of hexes in Pathfinder Online and enjoy a level of property ownership and management. A company that establishes control of a potential settlement hex by defeating its monstrous denizens can spend influence to found a settlement there. Settlements are the largest, most powerful, and most involved holdings a company can control; to some extent the company becomes its settlement when it founds one. Smaller or less ambitious companies may instead establish control over a single hex by founding a "point of interest" structure in the hex, such as an inn, watchtower, or feudal manor. These outlying structures may be completely independent, or may be incorporated within the boundaries of a nearby settlement.
Companies that don't want to be troubled with the effort to take and hold territory may prefer to take over management of a resource-gathering facility such as a mine or farm, shouldering the burden of its cultivation and defense while benefiting from a steady income from a job done well. Similarly, companies within settlements may run a one of the settlement's production facilities. Companies can specialize and concentrate more easily than an entire settlement, and can use their skill and expertise to get the best possible results out of a highly specialized building or structure.