Life in EvE: A Funny Way to Say Hello

Another virtual screen snapped to life in front of me, automatically arranging itself among the flickering three dimensional headshots of Em, Dirk, CB, and the pilot we'd started calling Geed.

"Guys," Geed said, "This is Zen."

"Hi... umm..." the new pilot's eyes tracked left, right, up and down, taking in our images on his own in-pod display. "What's... going on?"

I grinned. "Let me get you up to speed, Zen." I pointed at one of the other displays. "About an hour ago, Em and Geed had a bit of a tussle."

"A... tussle."

"With bullets and missiles and explosions," I explained, "which is kind of how we say hello out here, I guess." I smiled. "Once that was done, they started talking."

"As you do," Em said.

"You do?" Zen asked.

Dirk shrugged. "Sometimes."

"Anyway," I continued, "we've been mostly swapping stories and explaining how things work in the war zone -- the missions and objectives and such -- we're part of the Tribal Liberation Force. Geed seemed pretty keen on the whole thing and he mentioned his friend might be as well."

"Meaning you," Geed muttered.

"Nice." Zen hesitated. "Does that mean you need to blow up one of my ships too?"

"Not today."

"Excellent." His face went deadpan. "When it comes time, maybe just shoot Geed again. He likes it."

"Well," Em murmured. "He came in looking for a fight, and stuck it out. That's definitely what you need out here. I kind of overthink it sometimes."

"I just shoot what they tell me," Dirk added, as unnervingly cheerful as always.

"That's an approach I understand," Zen said. "Not sure I get how the whole war zone thing actually works, but I make a pretty good blunt instrument."

"There's some good folks in our alliance," Em said. "They like explaining everything." His eyes flickered my direction. "Especially Ty."

"Especially me," I agreed. "You can hardly shut me up."

Veteran combat pilots, ready to share their knowledge and experience.

"So..." Zen glanced in Geed's basic direction. "I take you guys have been talking about us joining you?"

"A bit," I admitted, aware that surprise news could easily shut down his interest.

"I've been reading their recruitment page," Geed added.

Em's eyebrow rose. "We have one of those?"

"Yes." I managed an affronted expression. "We absolutely do. It part of my job as the... person who does things like that."


"Right. That." I tipped my head, frowning, then turned to Geed. "... what's it say again?"

Geed's eyes tracked left to right, below the line of his display. "It says you're gonna punch me."

"OH! Now I -- well, hold on." I squinted, remembering the CONCORD form I'd had to fill out. "I doesn't say that exactly."

"'Our recruitment policy:'" Geed read aloud, "'Only trust people you can physically punch.'"

"Right," I said. "And we can't physically punch you, so we won't entirely trust you."

"I don't even trust Ty," CB muttered, "and I've known him twenty years."

"Exactly." I grinned, turning back to Geed. "But that doesn't mean we can't shoot some Amarr together."

So... yeah. It appears we're recruiting a little bit. Merry Christmas.

Time for a roam.


Life in EvE: "I'm not a Pirate."

A few nights ago, members of the militia had banded together to work on retaking an Amarr-held system in the warzone. This was a pretty big undertaking, and to pull it off in a relatively short timeframe required round the clock participation; it wouldn't be enough for our US-timezone-heavy alliance to do it, because any Amarr active in EU and Aussie areas would just undo our work.

So the fleet is a mix of lots of different corps and alliances, with lots of different countries represented. It's fair to say we all have a slightly different way of looking at how life in the warzone works.

This eventually led to an enlightening conversation.

As we're capturing yet another complex in the enemy system, recon reported a fairly good-sized fleet coming in, but they aren't Amarr -- it's a gang of pilots under the Ivy League banner -- graduates of Eve University who like to slum out in low- and null-sec space from time to time.

Sure enough, they headed for the complex, jumped in, and started shooting. I'm left with a bit of a problem.

None of them were viable targets for me.

They weren't outlaws, they weren't in faction warfare, we don't have a secondary war declared with them, and they haven't suddenly been flagged as criminals or "suspects" for engaging our fleet, because they're only shooting those pilots on the field who are outlaws and, thus, legal targets for the technically law-abiding Ivy Leaguers.

Luckily, two things happened: first, the support ships in the Ivy League fleet started repairing their fleet mates, which flagged them as part of a legal 'limited engagement' that I'm somehow part of and, second, our fleet commander called those same pilots our primary targets. It's like two great tastes that explode when put together.

Long story short, we stomp the other fleet pretty handily. Go us.

Later, I commented that for those of us in the fleet who actually care about our security status, it's handy -- if a bit silly -- that the guys supporting the enemy fleet became viable targets for repairing the combatants, even if the combatants themselves never did.

"Just shoot everyone," says the FC. "If you're living in Low-sec space and you aren't an outlaw, you're doing it wrong."

"I'm fighting a war," I replied. "I'm not a fucking pirate."

So... What Can You Shoot, You Pansy?

One of the things that was added in the most recent expansion was the idea of a "Safety" that, like a gun safety, generally keeps you from doing anything that's too terribly stupid without a bit of forethought. The basic settings for the safety are:

  • Green: The game won't let you do anything that would cause you to be flagged Suspect, which in turn lets anyone at all in the game legally shoot at you until the flag wears off in 15 minutes. Not coincidentally, this safety setting also prevents many of the actions that lower your overall security standing.

  • Yellow: The game will let you do things that will flag you Suspect, but won't let you do anything that would flag you Criminal. This means you can do stuff that will allow player retaliation, but you won't pick up that flag that will cause CONCORD to instantly destroy you if you wander into High Security space with the flag active.

  • Red: You can do anything, anywhere, and damn the consequences.

It may surprise you to learn that you can (if you want) take part in Faction Warfare full-bore without ever switching your Safety off of green.1 That's how I've chosen to roll, most of the time.2 Here are a list of my viable targets:

War Targets (Faction War) - This one is kind of obvious. If the target is part of the opposing forces in the war, you can do whatever you like to each other. If it's gold and shiny, you are hereby encouraged to shoot it.
War Targets (Declared War) - This is more of a specialized thing, as it shows up for any member of a group for which your corp or alliance have a privately declared, CONCORD-approved war active. Otherwise, it's exactly the same as a faction warfare target.
Outlaws - This has nothing to do with wars of any kind -- the target simply has such a bad security rating that any and all pilots in New Eden are encouraged to make them explode, and may do so wherever they like.
Criminals - This may seem a bit redundant with Outlaw, but the distinction is important: An Outlaw's standing makes them a perpetual target, while someone with a Criminal flag has earned it due to a specific action, and the flag will drop off in 15 minutes or less. Pretty much the only thing in low-sec that will give you a Criminal flag is destroying the pod of a non-wartarget.
Suspects - Like the Criminal flag, a Suspect flag has earned it due to a specific action, and the flag will drop off in 15 minutes or less. Unlike the Criminal flag, there are quite a lot of actions in Low-sec that will give you this flag -- the short list includes attacking non-wartarget ships (not pods) and looting containers or wrecks owned by someone else. This is useful to law-abiding Faction Warfare guys if some non-Outlaw neutral attacks some non-Outlaw militia member - you'll see the stranger pick up a Suspect flag, and know that he's become a viable target for retaliation.
Limited Engagement Participant - Of all the flags, this one is the most opaque to me, with the most obscure and possibly goofy mechanics. The basic idea is that it's supposed to allow you to shoot back when someone you wouldn't normally be able to attack starts shooting at you. It's also been set up to flag anyone who helps someone you're engaged with, such as someone repairing your opponent. If that were all that happened, it would be pretty simple, but what I'm seeing in practice is where the weirdness creeps in.

For instance: I'm in a fleet with Pilot A. Pilot Z (who normally isn't a legal target) shoots Pilot A. Pilot A is now in a limited engagement with Pilot Z, but I am not -- I still have no legal targets. Pilot Y starts repping Pilot Z, joins the limited engagement with Pilot A, and is also flagged as being in a limited engagement with me, even though I still can't legally shoot Pilot Z, and haven't done anything to help Pilot A.

I mean, I'm not complaining, because it gives me a legal target, but... what?
Kill Right Available - This is another slightly odd one. The pilot with this tag has, at some point in the past, done something that has given another pilot "kill rights" on that pilot. Typically, this means they either blew up a ship or pod in high-sec, or killed a pilot's pod in low-sec. Kill rights mean that if you get on the same combat grid as that pilot, you can 'activate' the the kill right, which makes that pilot a legal target for anyone for the next fifteen minutes -- kill rights now basically deputize the victim pilot for the purpose of dishing out single-serve retribution. In turn, the "kill right available" flag shows up because the pilot who 'owns' kill rights has made them publicly available -- meaning anyone can activate them. SO: the pilot with this tag isn't a legal target, but he can be made one.

So: that's the stuff you can shoot legally, and thus preserve your law-abiding security status.

I'm not a pirate, so this matters to me. Maybe it will to you, too.

1 - Granted, this isn't saying much; you can leave it green in null-sec or wormhole space too; it doesn't affect those areas in the least.

2 - When we were ousted from Faction Warfare for a couple days, I fought in one battle against the Amarr in which I had to "go yellow" to engage called targets, and I did, because it was necessary for the war. In all the other fights, the Amarr conveniently engaged me first or were Outlaw enough I could shoot them regardless.


Life in Eve: Too Busy to Write about Being Busy

“There's really nothing quite like someone's wanting you dead to make you want to go on living.”

The remarkable thing thing about being cast out of the war (albeit temporarily) was the amount of activity it roused out of the alliance. Fleets departed from our stations on an hourly basis, and those that weren't shooting piles of bullets at the enemy were busy shipping piles into the local market to keep everyone flying and firing. It was really something, and although I think everyone would have been happier if we hadn't had to deal with the all the red-tape and technicalities that caused the problem in the first place, it was gratifying to see how well we pulled together.

But with all that going on, there hadn't been much time for broad strategies and big-picture thinking. Once things were sorted out and we were back on the side of the angels, we took a look around to see how things stood.

It wasn't pretty.

We'd managed to defend our home system reasonably well even though we hadn't had any official means of working directly with the militia, but beyond that our home constellation looked like the bottom of a bomb crater. The Amarr hadn't managed to capture any of the local systems, but several were dangerously destabilized, and the big push to hold our ground when we'd been at a severe disadvantage left our pilots tapped out and exhausted now that it was time to rebuild.

Adding to the fun: the attacking forces kept on coming, which kept us distracted and disorganized -- it was hard work to get stable again, and easy to go out on a simple roam around the war zone, looking for a brawl. The result was predictable: lots of fights that got us nothing, and not much done to get our house in order.

"Death is the only god that comes when you call."

Our corp, with a slightly higher number of "seasoned" pilots per-capita, were (I'm proud to say) one of those groups who stayed in Eugidi to rebuild and shore up defenses while the big exciting fleets rolled out into the rest of the war zone. No regrets, here: it was our decision to stick to home defense, and I'm happy to say it paid off in its own way; as our pack of ex-wormholers figured out the ins and outs of our new home, we started winning a few fights of our own... then a few dozen. Then more. No grand melees, true, but hard-fought brawls that determined who would take control of complexes in the constellation -- which way the scales would tip.

Small fights? Maybe. We'll still cost the enemy billions, but we'll do it by destroying a couple hundred ships, rather than one, and that's fine by me. New/old ships... New/old tactics...

It's a hell of a good time to be flying.


Life in Eve: Many Judgements

"So are we still locked out of the war?" CB asked, his voice slightly tinny.

I rubbed my eyes. This wasn't the conversation I'd hoped to have -- I wanted to talk about what ships to set up, and quickly follow that by getting into those ships and using them against the Amarr.

But that wasn't happening.

"Yes," I said, pitching my voice to carry to the speaker on my desk. "Due to the problems with one of the corps in the alliance --"

"Which one?" That was Em, his voice snapping with the same mix of irritation and head-shaking bemusement I felt.

"Doesn't matter," I said, not wanting to start pointing fingers. "Anyway, due to some issues they've had with the Minmatar Republic, the TLF rescinded official recognition our whole alliance's legal participation in the war, which means CONCORD will treat any hostilities we take in the region as criminal or at the very least suspect." I sounded like I was reciting from memory, because I was -- I'd read and re-read the message from Alliance Command more than a few times in the last day.

"So..." Shan's voice was calm and quiet. "If we fight any of the big fleets right now, with all those 'illegal' targets..."

"We're going to be outlaws in our own high-security space in less time than it takes to tell it," I finished the thought. "Yeah."

"I'm borderline already," Shan observed, "from that last thing."

"I know," I said. "No one has to fly if they don't want to."

"I want to," Em said, "and I'll take the hits to my sec status if it's a fight worth taking, but this..." I could easily imagine him shaking his head in disgust. "This is taking the lashes for someone else's fuck-up. That's..." He let it drop. I knew what he would say, in any case -- this was all ground we'd covered. "How long til it gets sorted out?"

"Twenty-four hours," I said, willing myself to believe it. "TLF is sorted out, and they've filed their retraction with CONCORD, but with all their red tape -- twenty-four hours."

"Then I'll see you then," he said, and his comm cut.

I let the silence linger. Shan filled it. "I'm going to move some ships," he murmured, "while there's time."

I raised my head and nodded, though he couldn't see me. "Sounds good," I replied, and he was gone.

"What are you gonna do?" CB asked, after a few seconds.

What did I want? A chance to find out what was right and a chance to act on it! I laughed. Who is ever granted the first, let alone the second of these? A workable approximation of truth, then. That would be enough... And a chance to swing my blade a few times in the right direction.

I shook my head, fingering the page edges of the book I held. "Not sure yet. Get back to me?"

"Right. Later."


I was many things -- some of them objectively 'bad' -- but I wasn't an outlaw or a pirate.

Not yet, came the thought, and I scowled.

Technically, nothing in the fight had changed. The Amarr were still the Amarr -- still slavers, still the reason we'd joined this war.

But to think of those in the safer parts of New Eden reacting not to me, but the warning ahead of me wherever I went -- to see those I fought for cringing away -- it was a bitter pill.

War criminal.

I stood up to get away from the thought, moving across the room and dropping on the couch, my book in hand. A comfort, just then; despite all the religious and philosophical texts out there, it was this book -- obscure, rare, and older than the New Eden Gate -- that I turned to for the best, most unflinching advice on how to live as an immortal with few allies I could trust.

I might have told her that I do not recognize rules when my life is at stake, or that I do not consider war a game. I could have said a great number of things, but if she did not know them already or did not choose to understand them, they would not have made a bit of difference. Besides, her feelings were already plain.

So I simply said one of the great rite truths: “There is generally more than one side to a story.”

I didn't read. I hardly needed to -- I'd been back and forth through the text so often I could quote long passages verbatim. I knew what it would tell me -- what, put into my position, the story's protagonist would do.

It came down to one thing: Why did I fight?

Was the war just another accomplishment to tick off a list? Another laurel wreath and a few more medals? Another business opportunity? Another way to call myself a hero? If so, I must walk a line that kept my fine clothing clean and my shoes polished.


It wasn't about why; it was about who. Who was I fighting for?

That question was easier to answer. Plainer. Cleaner.

In the mirrors of many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I am a part of the evil which exists to oppose other evils; on that Great Day (of which prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe), on that day when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses.

But until then, I shall not wash my hands nor let them hang useless.

I left the book on the couch and headed for the hangar.

CB was waiting by the entrance.

"You heading out there?" I asked, not entirely able to conceal my surprise.

He nodded, his expression hidden behind his ever-present glasses. "Just waiting for you to sort your shit out."

... my hands are the color of blood.

Yesterday, Isbrabata was the most violent system in all of New Eden. Over 300 ships turned to scrap.

But we held.


Life in Eve: Quote of the Day

"I find mining to be an incredibly relaxing thing to do after work. It's like fishing without waking up early. Or cold. But the beer, the beer is the same." (source)

I'm not much of a miner, but I own five of these things already.

Life in Eve: Got a joke for you...

How does a "roleplay-oriented, pro-Minmatar, faction warfare alliance" that has been dealing with the game's alliance mechanics for EIGHT YEARS end up in a situation where they get kicked out of the war because their collective standings with the Minmatar are too low?

Except I'm not fucking laughing.

I'm taking a day off, I guess. Fuck.


Life in Eve: Getting Ready for Retribution

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the Eugidi constellation, but after we recaptured Floseswin, we called a few days of rest to mess around with more casual roaming, running some missions for the TLF, and getting prepped for upcoming ship changes this week. It's really a pretty huge expansion, revamping so many ships that currently don't see any kind of use on the game. Over 40 updated ships, about 30 of which are never currently flown -- in essence, this quadruples the number of viable ship options people will have, which is just... huge. It's huge.

Anyway, like many of my fellow corp leaders, I burn a couple days with CB, tracking down some of the soon-to-be-useful ship hulls and (as much as I can) refitting them in ways that don't work right now but WILL work in a few days, then moving them to the war zone. This process takes a LOT of hauling, so I beg Berke to dust off his rarely used freighter to save me some pain. Thoraxes getting faster. Stabbers and Mallers suddenly not terrible. Arbitrators... man, I can't wait for the arbitrators. Or Kestrels. Or Exequrors. Or Bellicoses. Bellicoseses. Bellicosi. Whatever. It almost makes the hours spent fitting and moving prepped ships worth it.


Still, shipping contracts are complete for the finalized ships and I actually find I've got a little time to... you know... fly around in space. I do that, heading toward the now mostly unused corporate office near Egglehende to work out moving the last of our corp resources to our current system. As I'm flying through Dal, one of my alliance mates hails me, asking if I'm in a combat worthy ship.

What? Why? Why are you asking? Is something going on? What's going on? Lemme see!

I still have a few frigates in a local hangar, so I get into one and ask what's going on.

He's apparently spotted a Slasher hanging around outside one of the minor complexes in system. He suggests he try to pin it down, and I come in and actually blow it up, since he's really not built for such things in his fleet interceptor. Sounds like a good plan to me.

"It might cascade," he says, "but whatever."

I don't ask what he means, and I suppose I probably should have.

I warp to him, but the affects around the warp acceleration gate pulls me off course and I land next to the structure and right on top of the Slasher.

Wait... that's not the Slasher, that's ANOTHER slasher -- that's the slasher's buddy. The first slasher is about 30 kilometers away and closing fast.

My own ship (an Imperial Navy Slicer I liberated from the Amarr) doesn't like being so close to the enemy, (who now has not one but two webs on me), so I overheat my microwarpdrive and pull range JUST before the second Slasher gets close enough to cause me heartache.

I go to work on my first target, battling his shield booster with pulse lasers -- it's a slow battle, but one I know I'll when when the shield booster runs out of charges. In fact, it would be almost boring if it weren't for the maneuvering battle required to maintain proper range with the first target while keeping away from the second slasher, who's trying to get close enough to shut down my drives. It's complicated. (There's another enemy ship nearby, but he's wasting time chasing the interceptor that first started this thing, so he's not an issue.)

Then the Incursus lands right next to us and comes after me.

Just as the 2nd slicer gets a web on me. No bueno.

Now I know what the other guy meant when he said things might Cascade.

Once again, I overheat my microwarpdrive (a touchy piece of machinery that does NOT like to be driven beyond factory specifications) and try to pull out of the 2nd slicer's range. It's working, but slowly.

Then, a wonderful thing happens. Just as I'm about to break out of the web of Slasher #2, my main target decides to try to get close enough to hit me with his short range autocannons. I break the webs and quickly pull away, but he continues to try to catch up to me, which pulls him into straight-line pursuit right behind me. As far as my targeting computer is concerned, he might as well be standing still.

The Slasher explodes, and the pilot's pod warps free. His friends decide this is a sign of how things will go, and both vacate the field.

Which is good, because I just completely burnt my microwarpdrive out. Oops.

I limp back to station to repair, my mate (who didn't get a shot on anyone) picks over the wreck, and I get to enjoy a completely unexpected adrenaline rush after a long day of hauling and logistics.

All in all, pretty good day.