If you are not going to spend a dime in ArcheAge, this is what you can expect:
1) Joining in the fun of leveling, exploring, farming materials via killing monsters, pvping (leveling / world pvp, trade run ganking, arenas, naval combat, castle sieges).
2) Joining in the fun of becoming a pirate, killing pirates, running 5 man dungeons, running 10 man raids, killing the Kraken, manning galleons, killing world bosses, being on the jury in the trial system.
3) You can still use farms/houses if others in your family or guild give you access to theirs.
4) You can still buy using the auction house.
It will be extremely difficult to participate in:
1) crafting boats, armor, weapons.
2) crafting materials needed for building a castle.
3) consistently open tons of money bags and other small loot obtained.
4) consistently mine and farm materials via gathering.
You will not be able to:
1) Own land (no houses or farms).
2) Sell on the auction house. (you can still sell via zone chat and trading).
if you pay 15 dollars a month for patron status, everything becomes unlocked and possible.
This game will be fun for anyone in a guild even if they do not spend any money.
NOTE: You ARE able to achieve Patron status (aka the 15 dollar a month fee) , by spending IN-GAME Gold.