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Questions about Linkshells

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I'm a little curious how linkshells will work in ARR.  I've heard them described as basically being chat channels, and I have a few questions about them.


1.  Can you use multiple linkshells at once?  Let's say I'm in three linkshells named Merchants of Ul'dah, Ul'dan Defense Force, and Undercover Gridanian Spies.  Can I spy on the two groups in Ul'dah while simultaneously reporting their activities to my Gridanian confederates?  Can other players see how many linkpearls I'm currently using if I can have more than one?  Will other players be able to inspect me and see what Linkshells I belong to?


2.  Is there another level of social function that is similar to guilds in other MMOs?  I've heard the Grand Companies described this way, but they seem too big (if I understand correctly, each will encompass roughly a third of the Realm's population, which is sure to contain plenty of people I don't know, aren't RPers, are exceptionally annoying, etc.).


3.  What are Free Companies?  I've been looking, and I can't find much information on Free Companies other than that they require four people to get started, so what is their role exactly?  Is it like a small guild you can make with a few friends, similar to a static party?

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1) You can be in up to 8 linkshells at the same time. They will all show up in your chat log with the number next to them. You can also change the color of the text of each individually to further tell them apart. Other players cannot see what other linkshells you're in.


2) Grand Companies are more similar to factions in other MMOs. They're part of the storyline. What you're looking for are the Free Companies, which brings me to (3).


3) A Free Company is the more traditional guild system. You can only join one, and Free Companies will get different perks like FC only missions, crests, and a guild hall. We don't really know a whole lot about them yet, they're new for ARR and aren't fully implemented yet.

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