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Alpha Clones, NRDS, and VOLT in Providence.

In the far corners of New Eden, the great nullsec alliances are waiting for unsuspecting capsuleers to venture into their system to be fodder for their kill boards.  For new players, if they would venture into that great unknown, they must join with one of those alliances, paying dues and taxes, meeting minimum skill requirements, and engaging in PvP or PvE activity, to remain a member.  For that price, they are afforded the right to mine, fight, and do business in those sections of space.  If someone wanders into their space, unknown to the alliance or corporation, all members old and new are required to engage and destroy these possibly peaceful ships on the chance that they may be hostile and attack.  Although this ensures the safety of everyone in the system, it completely eliminates the possibility of peaceful interaction between unfriendly alliances, and prevents new players from experiencing the infinite possibilities that nullsec offers. This is the doctrine of NBSI.  

Since late 106 EST, in a small area of nullsec, a beacon of hope shines through the darkness.  Providence is a small region of space, almost in the dead south. For much of EVE’s history it was of little consideration, a nearly barren desert in the bounty that is nullsec.  Ask any member of the Provi-Bloc that was around during that time and they will say, “Providence was unwanted space, we didn’t have the anoms, we didn’t have the faction spawns, and we didn’t have the moons, so really, no one wanted to be here.”  Despite the apparent lack of value in the region, a role-playing alliance moved there and began setting itself apart from the other major alliances of EVE.  From that point on to today, if you are neutral to the Curatores Veritatis Alliance (CVA), you are welcome in all parts of Providence. Residents will greet you with a “0/” in local chat and a friendly, if slightly suspicious, hello.  You will be allowed to mine, engage in PvE, and possibly even some PvP, all based on the basic tenet that “No pilot, corporation or alliance shall initiate an attack against another unless that pilot, corporation or alliance is expressly wanted on the Deliverance KOS List.” CVA founded the opposing philosophy to dealing with unknown capsuleers; a doctrine that has become something of an anomaly within New Eden.  This is the doctrine of NRDS.

 

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NBSI and Isolationist Doctrine

 

NBSI, or Not Blue Shoot It, is by far the most popular and widespread doctrine within EVE, and despite its apparent lack of mercy, it is a valuable tool for some of the most active alliances engaged in Sov warfare.  It is easy to set up and to maintain, because it allows alliances, using the in game rating system, to clearly define who their friends and enemies are within New Eden.  If a questionable character enters into their space, it is always just easier to shoot first and ask questions later.  Through this doctrine, alliance assets are protected, secrets are kept, and any spies that may be in the system learn nothing more than the pain of death and rebirth at the cost of their ship and implants.  

What this doctrine gains in security, however, it loses in flexibility and growth.  Much the same way the feudal cultures of China and Japan closed themselves off to the world, and then believed themselves dominant, so too have these groups chosen to isolate themselves from the greater population of players.  Now this isn’t to say that there are no ways for them to bring in new players. In fact, GoonWaffe [GEWNS] have a thriving out of game community that pulls in new players from the Something Awful message boards, the spawning place for all goons.  This shared connection, out of game, is one of the things that has allowed the goons to endure through WWB, and return from their retreat strong and ready to conquer once more.

Even though they share this brotherhood, all new members must go through a lengthy 12 step process that may or may not be approved, and that is predicated by the requirement that you have been an active member on their forums for at least 3 mo. And this is the heart of the issue; even some of the more open alliances and corporations have 22 question applications, with questions such as:

“You and a friend are in scrubby battlecruisers (e.g. Hurricanes or Harbingers) with weak tanks‚ in low sec. A Tempest aggresses you under sentry fire and neutralizes all your cap‚ but you are able to MWD away out to 30km after taking a lot of damage. Do you leave your friend to die?”

These questionnaires are designed to weed out the new players with little experience, preventing them from taking a place in the ranks of the corporations, and with the doctrine of NBSI, new players aren’t even able to interact with these corps to establish a relationship for the purposes of vetting.  It is understandable that highly active corps would prefer not to have their offensive and defensive capabilities diminished, but there are marketeers and miners that will never have anything to do with warfare, explorers looking for the next relic site, and haulers bringing in the next big load.  As the fall of Imperial Japan and China, the end of the USSR, and the founding of the UN teaches, the opening of borders to trade increases wealth and prosperity in a region.  

Players who dedicate their time to the non PvP actions in game are slowly being forced out; whether as alts to allow for a main character to be PvP ready, or to regions of space they may not particularly wish to play, or out of the game due to loneliness and boredom. However, it was not always this way.

 

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NRDS and True Freedom in New Eden

 

In the early days of New Eden, a differing philosophy was formed, one that was founded on the principles of mutual respect and freedom.  In the Providence region, just outside of Amarr space, the Curatores Veritatis Alliance [CVA] was formed, and worked towards the goals of what they call “Operation Deliverance:”

  • Enforce Amarrian law and bring an end to piracy in the Empire.
  • Increase economic development and prosperity.
  • Stabilize and strengthen space to further the Amarr empire’s territorial reclamation.

This is a part of that early age in EVE, and was a significant role playing factor in the game.  However, this second directive, to “Increase economic development and prosperity,” is something that they took to heart, and from this the doctrine of NRDS was born.

NRDS, or Not Red Don’t Shoot, is a doctrine that allows for all pilots to come and go as they please, as long as they are not aggressive to the members of the region.  According to the rules of Providence:

  • Greater Providence is open for transit, commerce, faction bounty hunting and asteroid mining to all pilots, corporations, and alliances who obey the law
  • If attacked, lawful pilots, corporations, and alliances may defend themselves to the fullest extent of their ability

This doctrine essentially opens the doors to all comers and gives them access to the bounties that are available in Providence.  In the beginning, there wasn’t much to share as none of the lucrative faction spawns or rare moons were to be found in Providence. However, over time, many capsuleers began to call this place home.  The ranks of CVA grew, and systems were prosperous.  There is an inherent advantage to having other capsuleers mine and rat in systems controlled by friendly alliances.  If, for instance, there is a small PvP/PvE corp who does little to no mining, their defense index will be lower than if they spent time mining as well.  Allowing other groups to come and mine in their system creates greater defense multipliers, and ultimately makes for a safer space.  This was the goal of CVA in the beginning; to make providence into the “Shining City in the South,” a bastion of civilization and freedom in nullsec. 

No longer under the sole control of CVA, almost all of Providence still falls under the doctrine of NRDS and the original mission of those early pioneers, creating a safe space for new players and old to fly, trade, fight, and mine.  The Provi-Bloc is more wealthy than ever, and it is very reminiscent of the wild west.  Capsuleers come and go, only known by their name and their actions. This freedom does allow some less than friendly players to enter the system, but if too many of their own start dying, the Provi locals will band together and drive off the invaders so they may once again settle down and mine, rat, build, and trade freely.  For the new players, if you want to head to nullsec, Providence will accept you, provided that you follow their rules, and if you are looking for a corp, chat in local, fly with them for a time, and they will let your actions speak for themselves.  Anyone can start over, and within just a few hours, anyone can find a new home.

 

 

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The End of the Golden Age

 

The largest alliance in Providence, aside from CVA, is The Volition Cult [VOLT].  They have been close allies with CVA, and their core beliefs line up, both with CVA and with the doctrine of NRDS, as shown by their Mission Statement:

“When people are pure, laws are useless; when people are corrupt, laws are broken. We have but one aim; to eradicate the corrupt from New Eden. The Volition Cult has chosen purity. The only choice you need to make is whether to stand with us, or against us.”

VOLT is currently celebrating their 10th year as an alliance, and have been a member of the Providence Bloc for nearly as long.  In conjunction with CVA, they have made Provi their home, and have worked hard to make their home a place of wealth and usability.  Unfortunately, this may all soon come to an end, bringing war and death into the heart of Providence.  

In November of this year, CCP is releasing an update to EVE which will allow anyone to play for free. From what information is available about these “Alpha clones”, they will be able to fly basic PvP ships, and will start out in NPC corps.  This presents a problem for Provi-Bloc and the followers of the NRDS doctrine.

NRDS relies on an extensive KOS (Kill on sight) list that allows members of the Provi-Bloc to quickly determine whether a neutral player is truly neutral, or if they actually have negative standings within Providence.  EVE’s standings mechanics do not allow player-run corporations to set standings for NPC corps, meaning that any character belonging to an NPC corp will be seen as neutral.  Up to this point, Provi-Bloc has relied on CVA’s KOS Checker which allows for pilots to quickly determine the standings of a neutral character, their corp, and their alliance.  If someone shows up as “Not KOS” they are safe to roam the area freely, however if they are listed as “KOS” defense fleets are formed, and they are killed or driven away.  Each entry is entered individually, or by corp/alliance, and if a person wants to remove themselves from the KOS list, there are some ways to go about that here.  

In recent months, there has been a pattern of other nullsec alliances using characters in NPC corporations as both spies and hot-droppers, and this has caused some issues in Provi.  If a character was in a non friendly corp, and they left, they automatically become a member of an NPC corp.  This allows them to be cleared via the KOS checker, because they are no longer recognized as part of an enemy corp or alliance.  In principle this is a good practice, because it allows players that wish to leave their alliance/ corp to do so and start with a clean slate. However, some players will just leave their corp for a few hours to come wreak havoc through NRDS space.  As soon as this character violates a rule, they are individually added to the KOS list, and then, regardless of corp, they are “Blacklisted,” until they apply for amnesty.  This is where the issue lies. With the coming expansion, these blacklisted players will be able to create a new “Alpha Clone,” and, using a skill injector, essentially clone their blacklisted character.  These characters will, until they attack, mimic the influx of actual new players that CCP is anticipating. Even more, they will be able to continue creating new clones using this method ad infinitium, based on the information that we have at this point.  This is the disaster that threatens to fracture Providence, and throw this once peaceful area into war.

On the 18th of September an alliance mail was sent to all members of VOLT, declaring that they would be dropping one of the key tenets of NRDS doctrine, and begin actively hunting any members of NPC Corps that came into their space (read the mail here.)  VOLT has informed CVA, but CVA stated that they will not bend to the new policy and will continue to provide the free space in Providence that they have from the beginning.  Although a shock to many, this isn’t the first time that VOLT has discussed this issue: on January 18th of this year the topic was first raised and some of the drastic consequences were laid out:

 

“For arguments sake, if we would vote what would happen and imagine it would be against NRDS:
1. It means VOLT is no Holder anymore
2. no access to providence
3. We would return all space too CVA. because it’s the honorable thing to do. including catch space. It’s not ours, it’s been given/ agreed upon. not following this would dive us into a war directly with cva and all holders, which we would lose
4. Volt would be set red and kos quick since we not NRDS and would shoot neutrals.
5. some will leave for other holders
6. we would have to find space somewhere else in EVE, under a ruler with way worse rules, participation fleets numbers, tax and so on.”

 

CVA has not yet commented, aside from stating that they will not be adopting this policy themselves, but it is clear that this could become a serious problem and lead to war in the Provi Bloc.  When asked, one FC from the Provi Bloc stated, “It is likely that they will just lose access to many of the facilities in Provi, from Jump Bridges, Clone Bays, Compression Arrays, and any other things that require blue standing to use.  Although it could start a war, but I don’t think it will.”  

Unfortunately, only time will tell if full scale civil war is coming to this once secure and open region. There are many things CCP could do to help prevent this very disaster from occurring when the Clone States are released this November.  But like the fall of many great “free” civilizations before it, some in Providence are starting to value security at the expense of liberty and free trade in their systems.  To quote Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”