Earwig of Asura started a thread on the official forums (link to page 1) that he was sick of all the "FC group
Everyone knows what they are, and many of the groups are RMT.
But are ANY of the groups legal?
The first post on page 2 asks that question.
Alikhat of Odin posits the following:
"It's only those who are making gil from Fell Cleaves that don't really care that much, though I'm pretty sure they'd be happy to kick someone after taking their 1 million gil before their exp time is over because they were AFK so they can get a new person to replace them. But joining those are optional; you aren't forced to use that service. Seeing as using this service and then going AFK for this period of time is against the ToS*, a player can't really argue that they lost out on their gil; they'd get banned for reporting it as it is an admission of breaking a contract."
with the footnote:
"*It's under section 2.2: "You may not play the Game for the purpose of [...] advancement in game play on behalf of a third-party" if anyone wants to dispute that because that is exactly what getting EXP for being absent from the game is: an "advancement in game play", the "third-party" is the person doing the Fell Cleave."
They are now technically termed as License Limitations, and, from the Square-Enix Support Center page on the subject, section 2.2 reads as follows:
2.2 Real Money Trading, Farming and Power-Leveling. You may not sell, purchase or exchange for real-world money or value any in-game currency, accounts, characters, in-game services, or in-game virtual items. You may not play the Game for the purpose of acquiring virtual items or advancement in game play on behalf of a third-party or for the purpose of selling any virtual assets to a third party for real-world money, specifically including “gold-farming” and power-leveling services.
The Fell Cleave parties appear to be ILLEGAL, upon a strict reading of that rule.
"You may not play the Game for the purpose of acquiring... advancement in game play on behalf of a third-party."
This is above and beyond what I think the intent of 2.2 was, but, as appears to be written, the Fell Cleave parties are illegal, because the people running those parties are playing "the Game" "for the purpose of acquiring" "advancement in game play on behalf of a third-party".
They are playing Final Fantasy XI ("the Game") for the purpose of power-leveling ("for the purpose of acquiring advancement in game play") on behalf of the leeches ("on behalf of a third-party"). The third party is also committing absentee play.
Now, the only real problem with this is that it is fairly clear that what this rule is INTENDED to stop is the people paying real money (which often has happened!) to RMT "players" to power-level them 1-60, 1-70, 1-99...
But the rule appears written such that it does NOT discriminate (the "or" in that last sentence of 2.2, as well as that the relevant clause in that sentence does not speak to real-life money) on the basis of whether real money changes hands -- unless it is written as follows:
"You may not play the Game for the purpose of acquiring... advancement in game play on behalf of a third-party... for real-world money."
It's clear that RMT FC parties are illegal for all parties involved. The question comes down to whether 2.2 is actually written with that last bit in mind.
Now, "absentee play" is illegal:
"Basically, absentee play means that the player leaves the controller unattended for a long period of time while the character is doing something. The player needs to be able to react to anything that happens to the character during the game. If characters can be made to do things like mine or fish while the player is away, the game will be thrown out of balance. Players who have been engaging in absentee play will be reprimanded by the GMs. If you leave your game for any period of time, be sure to turn off any macros you have running. Please not that macros provided with FINAL FANTASY XI, such as AutoRun and /follow are NOT considered absentee play."
I would have to think that this constitutes absentee play under this definition. That, if you are in that FC alliance, you need to react if things go badly.
So it appears that, either by the "Power-Levelling For RMT" rule or by Absentee Play, the Fell Cleave parties are, in fact, ILLEGAL.