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Free companies are adventurer-run organizations which serve to facilitate cooperation between individuals. To form a free company, the player must first submit a free company petition after acquiring signatures from three other players. Adventurers may join a free company regardless of the Grand Company to which they are sworn.
There are myriad benefits to being part of a free company. Each company has a chest whereby members can jointly store items and gil. There are also company actions which grant members bonuses such as increased experience points. Perhaps the most sought after of all perks, however, is the ability to purchase estates and build residences to serve as a base of operations.
After forming a free company, the player will be given the option to design his/her own crest. Choose from a number of shapes, accents, symbols, and colors to create a design to represent their causes. Crests can be displayed upon certain gear, so they can quite literally wear their allegiance on their sleeves.
As of version 3.0, free companies may install a Workshop in their estate to create company projects. These projects include aetherial wheels, housing components, and airships. From here, airships can be registered to perform Exploratory Voyages into the Sea of Clouds.
Workshops are accessed through the entrance to private chambers in a Free Company estate. Only the Free Company leader or members given sufficient authorization may construct or demolish a workshop.
Unlike normal synthesis, company crafting is divided into phases. The materials for each phase can be provided by any Free Company member (if authorized), and will receive a small amount of EXP for the corresponding Discipline of the Hand.
The Schematic board is used to draft new projects. Once the required items are gathered, new plans will be added to the company crafting log.
The flight control panel allows airships to be registered and deployed on Exploratory Voyages. An individual airship is built using four components: Hull, Rigging, Forecastle, and Aftcastle. Each must be separately constructed using the Company Crafting Log.
Registered airships can be deployed to explore uncharted landmasses in the Sea of Clouds. Similar to retainer ventures, these explorations are carried out automatically, with airships returning after a fixed amount of time. Upon completion of an exploratory voyage, you will be provided with a voyage log detailing the results, and will also receive various items depending on the results of the voyage (some that cannot be found elsewhere in Eorzea).
Deploying an airship on an exploratory voyage requires Ceruleum Tanks, which can be purchased with company credits from the Resident Caretaker in the housing districts.