Blackmail


Well-known blogger Rixx Javix recently blogged about Low-Security Disney World. The general thesis was that there is nothing in low-security space to attract victims participants in the tapestry of the glorious space opera. He suggests that low-security space needs it’s own “thing”; something only found in low-security space. Then he put forth the idea of pirates claiming solar systems in low-security space in the name of their corporation suggesting that maybe this would lead to the ability to tax locals. I posit we already have the ability to do this, though it could always be improved.

For my tenure in Repo. I’ve largely neglected any outside revenue source. I rely on loot plundered from the wrecks of my victims and the occasional ransom. Sometimes I will try to extend my influence beyond the range of my warp disruptor by offering free passage or protection in exchange for a sum of ISK. Often my victims won’t agree to a ransom or protection fee for fear it won’t be honored. The fear is valid given the number of honorless pilots in New Eden who will take the money and open fire while their wallet icon blinks in futile protest. Though Repo members all honor ransoms and agreements, reputation will only go a small ways towards establishing trust in a place like New Eden.

2013.06.30.21.25.27

So I propose a new kind of contract be established. There must be some third party entity with the integrity to honor agreements and the unscrupulousness to hold ISK in escrow for the criminal element. That is, a new contract type available only in low-security space that pays out when the contract ends (time period) unless it has been been violated. I’m going to call this a blackmail contract.

The word is variously derived from the word for tribute (in modern terms, protection racket) paid by English and Scottish border dwellers to Border Reivers in return for immunity from raids and other harassment. The “mail” part of blackmail derives from Middle English male, “rent, tribute.”[10] This tribute was paid in goods or labour (reditus nigri, or “blackmail”); the opposite is blanche firmes or reditus albi, or “white rent” (denoting payment by silver). Alternatively, Mckay derives it from two Scottish Gaelic words blathaich pronounced (the th silent) bla-ich (to protect) and mal (tribute, payment). He notes that the practice was common in the Highlands of Scotland as well as the Borders.[11]

The contract should be drawn up so that one party (a single pilot or a corporation, we can call this the protected party) agrees to pay a specified amount if the protecting party does not destroy any ship owned by the protected during the specified time period and in the specified area (solar system, constellation, region or all regions). This in no way prevents the protecting party from engaging a protected entity — violation merely cancels the reward. Of course, the third party facilitating the contract (an NPC corporation somewhere) takes a percentage of the reward for itself; there is no artificial targeting prevention or automatic unlocking.

2013.04.14.03.54.21

I expect the specifics could be ironed out by an experienced game designer (such as those fine fellows and ladies employed by CCP). But what I’d love to see is the ability to specify a contracts for:

  • protecting an entity from another entity (to pay out if no protected entity ship is destroyed by the protecting entity)
  • protecting an entity in general (to pay out if no protected entity ship is destroyed by any player entity)
  • protecting a specific class of ships from the protecting entity or any entity (to pay out if no ship of that class is destroyed by the specified entity)
  • protecting ships belonging to an entity above a specific ISK value (using the insurance payout or bounty payout formulas) from either the protecting entity or any entity

This just formalizes the protection racket for a cost. Note: it could also be used to formalize a capsule ransom by specifying the capsule class of ships for a short duration.

Others may say this violates the sandbox principles of EVE, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Every sandbox has a frame. Every sandbox has the tools to build a sandcastle. This is just another tool.

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~ by paritybit on 2013/08/07.

3 Responses to “Blackmail”

  1. Apart from immediate ransom, why have npc corps do this? Player corp with access to kill log api is sufficient. There are already various player brokerage services.

    • That’s a good question. Most of me wants to say it’s for the same reasons that NPC corps broker standard contracts and the market: it’s conducive to immediacy because you don’t have to go and find somebody to do it. In practice these fees are collected while a pilot is already in a pirate’s domain and work very much like a ransom except that we haven’t done the work to lock the target and warp disrupt it yet.

      But another part of the answer is probably because the kind of pilots who will pay for “protection” aren’t going to know about the various brokerage services or believe that they are reputable. They are the kind of people who won’t trust the pirate they don’t know, so why would they trust a brokerage service they don’t know?

      Trust is broken in EVE and to gain legitimacy, some professions need a little boost from the framework.

  2. Very interesting. I will put this in the great wasteland that is my brain and mix it around with everything else in there, see what comes out. But I like the way you think. As usual.

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