Life in a Wormhole: If you’re going to be a Criminal, be a Smart Criminal #eveonline

Over emails the next day, CB points out that instead of a floating tower in space with guns, e-warfare modules, shield hardeners, portable factories, and room for dozens upon dozens of ships… we could have instead invested that same 1.5 billion isk and bought a single monocle from EVE’s new online vanity clothing store.

Jeez, when you put it THAT way, the price of the monocle starts to seem kind of ridiculous.

Luckily, it seems that we have overcome our shame at foolishly spending our hard-earned fauxcash on useful stuff; CB has been trying his hand at scanning the system, and when I log in he gleefully announces he found a number of Gravimetric signatures (signifying uncharted asteroid belts full of lovely rare ores) to plunder.

“If you’ve already found the sites, don’t tell me,” he says, before I can congratulate him, “I’m riding the high of actually scanning something down.”

At this point, I am the defacto scanner for corp, having spent a lot of time practicing the use of multiple scanning probes to triangulate (well, in my case, quintangulate) the location of various uncharted phenomena in space. In known space, this is handy skill to have, as it will show you the location of hidden asteroid belts, valuable gas clouds, and even ancient ruins and hidden smuggler bases.

In wormholes, however, scanning graduates from “handy” to “absolutely vital”, because you basically can’t DO anything in a wormhole system until you scan down its location… including leave — so I’m really pleased to see my corpmates trying their hand at it. All of their characters have the requisite skills for scanning (we wouldn’t have come out here, otherwise), but it’s another thing entirely to successfully manipulate the interface and actually find anything.

Gor, in fact, is still struggling with that part of the equation; despite the fact that his character, gear, and ships are, numerically speaking, actually better at scanning than mine, I can usually resolve the cosmic locations of every signature in the system before he manages to find one. Given that, I think there must simply be something he’s doing wrong with the interface, making triangulation impossible, but that kind of thing is very hard to coach over voicechat. I resolve to find some good training videos on the subject.

In any case, Gor seems perfectly happy to make use of CB’s scanning success, and the two of them are currently mining to their hearts’ content in one of the aforementioned gravimetric sites. As always, CB is diligently watching his d-scan, dumping ore into a jettisoned storage canister, while Gor practices a bit more paranoia by flying back to the tower and emptying his ship after every load.

I’m not much of a miner (don’t have the skills to make it super-profitable, or the patience to make it sustainable), so I decide to jump out of the wormhole and run back to our distant highsec home to pick up another ship I realize I want to have around. Gor calls it a night while I’m still on my return trip, and I get back to the tower to find CB filling his fourth jet-can.

“It’s full of stars,” he says. “Actually, it’s full of rocks, but they’re really pretty rocks.”

I jump out to the asteroid belt to look around, agree that some of the rocks are, in fact, quite pretty, then return to the tower to do a bit more post-move maintenance work, chatting with CB over voice as we both keep ourselves busy.

“I’ve got –” CB cuts off the conversation “Missiles. I’m getting hit with missiles. I’m getting frakking bombed.”

There’s a very short pause. “They got the ship. There’s two of em.”

I’ve barely had time to ask a question. “Are they –”

“They’re in local,” CB says. “Asking for ransom for my escape pod.”

Kryaa > 200mil or your dead
Kryaa > you have 15 seconds
TyD > Kryaa, that’s an unwired clone belonging to a relatively young pilot. You’ve already blown up the ship, which was the most valuable thing out there, and we have a static connection to highsec, so getting back here is easy. Be reasonable.
Kryaa > 5 seconds
TyD > Then no. You want to be paid, ask for something reasonable. 200 million is stupid.
TyDy > We’ll happily pay a reasonable sum, but that’s silly.

“Yeah,” says CB, “they popped me.”

“Sorry man.” I was in entirely the wrong ship to fly to his rescue, and if I’d switched ships as I typed, they would have popped him immediately.

“S’alright,” CB mutters. There’s silence on the line for a bit, then: “DAMN I should have hauled that ore back in more often.”

He’s doing exactly what I do after a fight — analyzing the mistakes, and what could have been done better. It’s our first time in a wormhole, and we’re new to how things work — we expected to lose ships, which is why we brought so many. But it still sucks.

“You want to fly back tonight?”

“Nah,” he says, “you know my rule.”

I nod. If you lose a ship, log out before you lose another one. Come back later. Come back calmer. It’s a good rule, even if I almost never follow it myself.

I reach into the corp accounts and wire a chunk of isk his direction. “Pick up some skill wires for your new head, and don’t forget to update your clone.”

“That’s too much money,” he comments.

“Eh,” I shrug. “Put together something fun to fly back in. I’ll assemble a new miner for you, and we’ll tag team the site next time.”

“You hate mining,” he comments.

“I hate lots of things,” I reply. “I get over it.”

He logs, and I jump into a covert scanning boat to take a look around the system. CB’s jettisoned canisters are gone, no doubt destroyed in a fit of pique by the idiot ransomeers flying stealth bombers far too small to haul the ore home, and it looks like we have new visitors to the system; a trio of tech-level-3 cruisers slumming in a class 2 system and shooting Sleeper ships that they hopelessly outmatch. That behavior alone makes me suspect they’re the same pilots as the ones that bombed a lone miner and asked for a 200 million isk bounty.

One of my characters happens to be a member of a group of folks who actually make a fairly decent income via ransoms. In highsec, I deplore the practice, but it doesn’t bother me in lawless areas like nullsec and wormhole space, because the folks that live out there know the risks and (sometimes) pay the price. C’est la EVE. I don’t engage in the practice, personally, but I have studied the after action reports of the members of that corp, and in general I like how they operate:

  • Always honor the deal, no exceptions. A pirate who doesn’t honor his agreements will never get paid.
  • Adjust your ransom based on the target. 6 year old character with 54 million skill points can afford (and will be willing to pay) a damn sight  more to save their clone than a six-month-old character.
  • Be professional.

I actually like how my old training-corp (Open University of Celestial Hardship) does it even more: no bounties. They’re “running military ops, not toll booths”, in the words of one instructor.

But I think about how that professional pirate group manages these sorts of things, and my opinion of CB’s ambushers drops another notch. They rushed — probably because they were scared that they’d get jumped by backup — but most of all they just asked for too much; like a professional hitman beating up a first-grader for his lunch money and then demanding a thousand dollars, it’s stupid: you won’t get paid, and the only thing you’ll have to show for it is scuffed knuckles. It’s not like you can really even brag about the fight that much: it was just a first-grader, after all.

So, that’s our third night in the wormhole. Up a lot of ore, even with some lost, down a quite cheap ship, and out some cash to help a corpmate rebound.

Most importantly, a learning experience.

In the end, I think we made out better than the would-be pirates.

Time will tell.