Wandering monsters make space dangerous

4th June 2013 – 5.40 pm

Mabrick mumbled over some anti-piratical sentiments recently, refusing to participate in shooting non-combat ships, asking 'Where's the sport in that?' I regularly look for and destroy innocent industrialists, out to collect planet goo or scrape chunks of rock out of asteroids, and quite enjoy it. After reading his musings, I felt a need to evaluate my own actions. And as Mabrick takes care to add a disclaimer to make it clear he doesn't condemn capsuleers who would gleefully attack industrial ships, I shall state that this won't be a rebuttal but a justification. Why do I do it? And does this make me just some dastardly pirate scum?

There is some skill to the hunt itself, whether or not the prey is dangerous. Of course, the level of skill varies, from simply following a ship's warp trail out of a tower to a customs office, to chasing them around the system, catching a ship on a wormhole connecting systems, right up to locating and resolving a ship's position in a site using a single scan with probes. Some kills are straightforward, some are more intricate. And, as I've elaborated on before, merely getting to the point of engaging the ship is not enough. You need to get the kill to ensure that you would get it, and not be out-run, out-manoeuvred, or countered.

So attacking industrialists isn't always shooting fish in a barrel. Even so, they almost never shoot back, which surely takes the sport out of the combat. I won't argue against that, any more than I will argue that my occasional popping of a combat frigate in low-sec using a strategic cruiser is in any way a good fight. But if it's not a good fight, or honourable, why do I do it? Or, at least, how do I reconcile my actions with my conscience?

EVE Online is a PvP game, you can say, and if you undock you are giving tacit consent to be involved in the PvP game. So goes the common argument. Tacit consent is a tricky concept, however, and there are good grounds to deny such arguments. Indeed, I'm not going to rely on that, as I don't think anyone has tacitly agreed that I can blow up their ship if I get the opportunity. Instead, I am going to look at what it means to be in certain areas of space.

That New Eden (and beyond, through wormholes in to w-space) has various security levels of space is hardly news, and the new crimewatch system means that the security offered in high-sec, low-sec, and null-sec is much clearer and better understood, even if occasionally overlooked. It is generally known that drifting out of high-sec to low-sec is dangerous, and null-sec and w-space more dangerous still. But just what is it that makes these regions of space 'dangerous'?

The rats are bigger and more dangerous outside of high-sec, that much is true. I've even seen w-space rats in a gas-harvesting site blow the living crap out of a strategic cruiser, so an industrial ship doesn't stand much chance against them. But mining-site rats can be easily countered. Those in sites show up once, and those in belts aren't that dangerous really. Once the threat is dealt with, the richer and rarer resources available more than make up for a minor increase in danger from rats. So is that the risk and reward? Nope.

As far as I'm aware, rats don't seem to give a damn about capsuleers collecting planet goo. Pilots can harvest as much planetary resources as they like without direct threat, and the goo available in the more dangerous regions of space also offer richer veins to be exploited than in their high-sec equivalents. There doesn't seem to be any risk/reward ratio at work here. At least, not until you take in to account the likes of me, stalking the gooers to their customs offices, or when they haul their valuable cargo to market.

The threat of dangerous regions of space doesn't come from rats, but from other capsuleers. Specifically, dangerous space is dangerous because of the combination of reduced security and the freedom it gives other capsuleers. Without the likes of me, mining, gassing, gooing all offer greater rewards in dangerous space without any significant increase in risk. Add me in to the equation and the industrialist has to balance the risk of being brutally slaughtered with the potential rewards of improved resource harvesting. I am what makes dangerous space dangerous.

If we allow industrial ships to pass freely, by some code of honour, then they get all the advantages of living in dangerous space without any of the risks. I'm not even going to consider the possible logistic uses industrial ships could be purposed for if it were tacitly agreed they were non-combatants and not valid targets. My argument is simple: there is greater reward available in regions of space that are only made dangerous by the threat of pirates, who can only be other capsuleers.

There are even obvious balances that come in to effect. There are other resources that can be sacrificed for added security, resources such as time, cargo space, and escorts. You can add time to your operation, by choosing a more circuitous route, either to hide your true destination or to drop off more but smaller hauls. You can sacrifice cargo capacity for the ability to enter warp more quickly or with less change of being disrupted. Or you can employ escort ships, adding combined time and effort to the operation. Any of the available options reduces your operating efficiency, so that it approaches what you could achieve in optimised ships in more secure space. And even though doing so decreases the risk, it may make you question why you are dealing with such hassle in the first place.

Yes, I am a dastardly pirate, arbitrarily picking on unsuspecting adventurers going about their business in the great wild yonder. But that's kind of the point. Without me dangerous space wouldn't be dangerous, it would just be more space. No, my actions are not honourable, and often they are not even challenging to achieve or pose any kind of threat to myself. But that's because I'm the wandering monster of space, and I'm okay with that.

  1. 15 Responses to “Wandering monsters make space dangerous”

  2. Yes, you are a bigger fish is a dark ocean, seizing smaller/weaker fish in an age-old dance. Sure your prey cannot/will not fight back, but you are well aware that there are other hunters in the sea.

    You are the risk to the PI collector's reward. However, your reward comes at the risk due to others like yourself.

    I just have no respect for the hisec ganker, who specializes in getting his reward (easy kills, cheap thrills, and tears) with no risk.
    Oh, they will talk about sec standing, grinding, and ship replacement costs, but these are known values - black and white and known in advance. There is no risk.

    In WH space, you are hunter and hunted. While I would surely curse your name to the gods if you make my PI hauler explode, I would certainly respect the effort -and risk assume - to pop it.

    By Knug on Jun 4, 2013

  3. I wholly understand and support your right to make dangerous space dangerous. Believe me, most folks in SYJ are the same way. I'm not so sure I'd call you monster though. Perhaps ROUS is a better term: rascal of undercover ships. Well, perhaps not. Regardless, see you out there one day!

    By Mabrick on Jun 4, 2013

  4. Yeah, the argument doesn't work for high-sec gankers. They'll need some other justification for their actions.

    And 'wandering monster' is merely a term appropriated from a Dungeons and Dragons. I like the idea of inventing a new one for EVE Online.

    By pjharvey on Jun 4, 2013

  5. There's also the economical argument, if i do PI/PVE/mining in wspace then it is in my best interest to make sure less other people do it, to keep the prices high :)

    By Mick Straih on Jun 4, 2013

  6. She is not a Rodent Of Unusual Size!!! LOL

    I too have laid claim to becoming one of the reasons deadly space is deadly... and I find myself comfortable with that.

    And while Mab may not be piratical in his pew pew but pew pew he does... now. =]

    By TurAmarth on Jun 5, 2013

  7. Good post.
    I've always thought that Hyena would be a good term for what we do.

    On the whole risk/reward thing, I've always felt that some of the Indy's/mining barges should have weapon slots. Drones just don't cut it.
    It'd be nice for the Procurer hull to have an extra 2 highs with 3 missile slots. Make it so it can actually fight off things, rather than merely prolonging it's death.
    Same deal for the Deep Space Transports. Has anyone EVER placed armor/shield reppers on them? The Impel has 1 midslot and not enough grid to run dual reps and a cap booster.
    Now give that an extra mid, some more highs and weapon slots, a bunch more grid...

    It'd add some nice chaos into the mix, is it a max cargo Impel, or is it a combat Impel that'll hold me here until his buddies come on over from a few J's away to crush me.
    Suddenly they become super interesting to hunt.

    By BayneNothos on Jun 5, 2013

  8. First of all, hunters in *my* wormhole space are a pain.

    We pay attention to our surroundings, are scared when the baddies are out; and enjoy the quiet times.

    We have to think about what we do, discuss strategies about how to work around them.

    You turn our system, previously a boring clickfest into an active game.

    You actually give us a reason to band together, our corporation a reason to exist.

    By Foo on Jun 5, 2013

  9. I like your positivity, Foo, and it's a good point. A player-driven game with no player-driven events would be boring indeed.

    By pjharvey on Jun 5, 2013

  10. I'll second Foo and others. "Here be dragons" turns a fairly boring game into a thrilling one, even if the dragons rarely strike. A lot of my fun in carebearing comes from the inherent risk of it. I've carebeared in highsec and it's just not the same.

    I hunt in a cloaky bomber or Tengu in a bit in wspace, but wandering monsterdom is actually boring and undestructive almost all the time. But I am glad people are out doing it, including dedicated fanatics like Penny.

    This is where "it's a game" comes in. If it were real, I would not want risk imposed on me and therefore I would not impose risk on others. But it is a game. I seek to do my own part.

    Mick raises another point I agree with: the reward factor. Because people hunt others in wspace, many will be deterred from producing there. Via the magic of supply and demand, this means that I get more ISK for what I do produce in wspace. It's cartelization by distributed means.

    One other aspect of wspace hunting is the potential for traps, or more generally the potential for others to intervene and gank the ganker. I've fallen for traps before when hunting. So it is not utterly without danger and thus honor.

    Incidentally, most of these arguments work for highsec gankers too. They do make life there more interesting, and they raise prices on products by making production harder. The one way they are different is there is almost no chance of baiting them, because the ships they are using are so cheap that they don't matter much. Thus there is no honor in it, at least without some roleplaying justification... i.e. the New Halaima Code.

    By Von Keigai on Jun 5, 2013

  11. I think you make a good argument for your type of play style. It also doesn't come off as delusional like some others I have read. So keep up the good work.

    I also like how you don't think people are consenting to be shot at which I gave my opinion about last week on my blog. As you stated it can be a slippery slope, people will have their opinion on it.

    But by leaving that out and taking a different approach you've brought more weight to your argument than the rantings of a mad man.

    By Draiv Solregard on Jun 5, 2013

  12. So, Knug, have you tried highsec ganking then ? Do you know how long does it take to find a suitable target ? That often you just miss the exploding bit ? That all other players are allowed to shoot you without punishment ? Do you know how easy it is to avoid the gank if you want ? Before you write about easy kills and cheap thrills, try to think about it. Highsec also deserves its hunters and hyenas.
    "You turn our system, previously a boring clickfest into an active game." The overly negative attitude implies that you're quite happy to turn the highsec into a "boring clickfest" ? Don't want other people bothering you ? Don't play MMO..

    By Dzhee on Jun 5, 2013

  13. I don't think that's what Foo is saying, Dzhee. He's clearly living in dangerous space, and his point is that he is enjoying the camaraderie that comes from working together to mitigate the risks involved.

    I think Foo's point is more that players can enjoy a lower-risk environment that high-sec offers if they want to, but he believes there is a richer experience available by exposing yourself to the risks of the more dangerous regions of space and overcoming them. It is the interactions with hostile players that evolve the interactions of allies to create a more interesting game overall.

    And I won't deny that high-sec ganking is not without its share of logistical intricacies and inherent risks, least of all being the guaranteed retribution. I am still pondering a justification argument for high-sec criminal activity, and think there may be one. It's just a little elusive at the moment. Von K raises an interesting aspect to the high-sec question, for instance.

    By pjharvey on Jun 5, 2013

  14. Thanks, Draiv. I try my best to keep my rantings to our public recruitment channel, where they belong.

    I'll be checking out There is no consent over on Faction Fit Pod soon.

    By pjharvey on Jun 5, 2013

  15. For the record; I run a PI farming corp in a C2 system, and we are expanding.

    The only thing I have ever ganked would be a customs office, and I am not sure that counts.

    Basically : what Penny said.

    By Foo on Jun 6, 2013

  16. As someone who has had a long and quite successful piracy career, I have several reasons for shooting 'non combat' ships:

    1) The Hunt. Combat with a mining barge or pve drake might not be fun, but hunting it is. From d-scan mastery to single cycle probing to simply understanding player reactions, it takes real skill to be a good hunter. And I've met plenty of great combat pilots in my day who were terrible at it.

    2) The Profit. 1 to 5 if you fly T1 ships. 1 to 20 if you fly T2 ships. Those are about the kill/loss ratios you need to break even if you want to make money doing PvP. And that's assuming you're flying solo, so you don't need to share the loot. This can be greatly reduced by ransoming targets - but properly fit combat ships are well too dangerous to ransom. Non combat ships will be what makes you a living if, like me, you have no interest in pve activities.

    3) The Surprise. Non combat ships are not always what they seem. On one occasion, I had a Falcon and an Arazu uncloak next to a 'helpless' mining barge I was after, with local spiking by about 10 pilots a few moments after. Other players can always surprise you, and often will. This is EVE's greatest strength.

    4)Everything in EVE is PvP. Every ISK a mission runner makes devalues the ISK I have in my wallet. Every mineral a miner mines devalues the ships in my hangar. There are no non combatants. That is, fundamentally, what makes EVE special.

    By Raelyf on Jun 6, 2013

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