Confidential report

This post is part of the EVE Blog Banter, a monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to him. The thirteenth topic comes from Zargyl, the Sebiestor Scholar, who asks us: "On the EVE Fanfest 2009 page are pictures of prizes for the Silent Auction that was held during the event. One of these photos was entitled “Design your own EVE mission”. What kind of mission would you write if you got that prize? What would the mission be about? Would it be one using the new system of epic mission arcs? What would be the story told by it?"

Let us imagine what could be a epic mission arc using the Incarna 3D station environment. The idea here is to have the PC (player characters) meet shady fellows and work off the book. I describe only the first mission, then I summarize the rest of the arc.

1st mission - People die (Level Two)
Everything begins in a bar, on a space station. One of the NPC (non player character patrons) is a "fixer", an underworld agent operating outside CONCORD's laws. The capsuleer can discuss with the fixer. The conversation begins with innocent chit-chat:
- Howdy my friend. Care to join me for a brandy and an honest conversation?
- Cheers mate. [/drink] I have some business opportunity you might want to hear about. I am currently looking to hire a captain on a temporary basis. Good pay.
- Hey pluggy boy... Death in space means nothing to you. As for taxes, no need to pay any. For the record, this conversation is between you and me. That is how I operate, and if you want in on the payroll, please make sure to play my way.
The player can choose to make himself available for missions with this fixer.

If he does so, other npcs get new dialogue lines. For example, the barman adds a new rumor to its list:
[take tip] Have you heard about this convoy who arrived from [one solar system, randomly selected and located close to the current location of the player]?
[take tip] They got attacked just after they jumped here. No [local pirate type, e.g. Serpentis], but unmarked ships is what I heard about.
[take tip] How do I know all of that? Well, a ship managed to escape and bring the news back here. I spoke to the pilot. He is around and hiding. He just won't undock.
[take tip] Thanks mate. I'll stay on the lookout for you.

Back to the fixer:
- Look, let's be honest, I know you are the shit and everything, but I do not have a casino to rob tonight. I have this guy, though, a bit desperate, and he's looking for safe passage to [one solar system, randomly selected and located close to the current location of the player] with the requirement that he does not appear on the passenger list. This captain recently ran into some kind of trouble with unspecified characters of dubious morality who might still be around and he won't take chances and undock with his own ship. I would suggest you use a ship big enough to take an extra passenger in comfortable conditions. My cut is 30% of the one mil reward and I will ask you to kindly deposit a 100,000 isk guarantee, which will be refunded to you if you don't mess this. Are you in?

If the PC agrees, he loses 100,000 isk and the fixer says:
- Good choice. I'll send the man your way.

If the PC does not accept:
- My disappointment, your loss.

The next time the PC accesses his personal quarters on the station, a man rings at the door. He is a big guy with shifty eyes and a strong Gallente accent.
- I am Captain Cabroc, but please call me Marcel. Our mutual acquaintance told me that you had room for an extra passenger on your ship, no questions asked. The sooner we leave, the better. I can upload our destination in your nav system.

A deadspace mission beacon appears in the system in question (not publically). Its acceleration gate allows all ships.
Cabroc, when the PC's ship lands on the gate: This is a safe place. Just activate the old acceleration gate and fly ourselves to the dock.
A dock with a Thorax is located 15km away from the warp-in point. When the PC's ship gets within 3km, the mission is listed as completed. Captain Cabroc enters the Thorax, which begins to power its engines, without moving. A few seconds later, the dock is shaken by a violent explosion. The Thorax is instantly destroyed. The player's ship takes 500 EM damage. The exact amount can change; it is designed to kill frigates in case the player did not get the hint in the fixer's speech.
Cabroc: A bomb! I'm dying... Could have been rich beyond... Remember these names: Grygore Dan Riak and [static]!

Three unmarked ships with Gallente hulls arrive then 20km away from the warp-in point and begin to attack any ship present into the deadspace pocket. One of them warp scrambles, another one webs and the last one uses remote sensor dampers. If there are multiple ships, the unknown enemies select the closest one and try to dispatch it before attacking another. When no PC ship remains in the pocket, the hostiles pop Marcel Cabroc's Thorax's wreck.

If the capsuleer's ship is destroyed before it reaches the dock in the pocket, the dying passenger still drops his line about Grygore Dan Riak, and the mission is listed as failed, which does prevent the player from recovering the guarantee or getting paid.

If the PC loots the wreck of Marcel Cabroc's Thorax, he finds an item called Cabroc's damaged logs. The description reads:
The data seems irretrievable. A specialist of data recovery might get something out of it, but it is far from certain.

Getting back in touch with the fixer allows the PC to get its guarantee back, plus 700k as promised.

Marcel Cabroc's lost words (not a mission)
In which the PC manages to locate a good data recovery specialist in a station, and gets him to recover some data from Cabroc's damaged logs. The data includes a fragmented record of the second name Marcel Cabroc screamed before dying: Sophie.

Approaching Mr. Dan Riak: Naira (not a mission)
In which the PC tries to get in touch with Mr. Dan Riak, an extremely rich individual with properties in both Amarr and Gallente space. Nobody knows much about his past. Mr. Dan Riak does not accept calls from people he does not know. His bio lists Naira Dan Riak as his sole heiress.
The PC can get to meet Mr. Dan Riak's daughter, the beautiful Naira, in a station, after reading her bio. Naira shares her time between three stations, one in Amarr high-sec space, one in Gallente high-sec space and the last one in low-sec space. The PC may need to check one or two stations before finding her.
Naira lives a life of entertainment and luxury. She likes both men and women and has many pretenders she occasionally shares a bed with. The PC can date her provided he or she can wear clothes flamboyant enough to get past her bodyguards, "Mr Dan Riak's secretaries". Naira can talk endlessly about her overprotective father, nicknamed the "Ogre". She's a good-natured foxy lady and will not be dragged into talking about serious business.
If the PC presents her with a rare gift (such as an Exotic Dancer), she will invite her to a party held by her father.

The party (not a mission)
The private party is held in a station. The entry fee for the uninvited is 1 million isk. It is a masquerade and masks are distributed at the entrance. The PC will want to talk with Mr. Dan Riak, but the magnate will speak with only one person during the party. He is disguised like every other guest so the PC needs to interact with NPCs to find out which one is Dan Riak. If another PC gets to talk with him, he will have the option to receive a very lucrative mission. It is thus important for the PC to be present at the party as soon as possible; his advantage is the fact that he knows exactly when the party will begin. Mr. Dan Riak continually organizes new parties and lists the location of the stations where he holds them in his bio. The party lasts until next downtime or until Mr. Dan Riak has finished conversing with a PC.
If the PC manages to speak with Grygore Dan Riak, he can choose to accept a mission.

2nd, 3rd, 4th mission - A dead past dying
Grygore Dan Riak begins by showing a document to the PC: a complete record of his past activities and current assets. He wants the PC to know that his private spy network did their homework and that he could crush him whenever he wants.
"You're a fool, but not a silly fool, and I'm not un-generous."
He worries about his daughter and suggests that the PC stays clear of her from now on. He says he does not know Marcel Cabroc but that he recognizes a bold adventurer when he sees one and he would thus like to hire the PC for a mission off the book. He wants to know his past, because he lost his memories of everything which happened in his youth.
Dan Riak asks the PC to investigate and ask people about his own past. The people that the PC can meet are mostly retired criminals and smugglers living in deadspace strongholds. The PC will fly to their resting place, fight off random pirates trying to hassle these criminals, and get to speak with the grateful retired thieves. These people will each time provide the PC with a document that he will need to give to Dan Riak, and which will lead to the next step in the arc, the next witness of Dan Riak's past.
But when another PC, uninvolved in the epic arc, manages to speak with Dan Riak at the masquerade, the billionaire will ask him to go and kill the witness involved in the first PC's, former mission. That is because Dan Riak is not amnesiac; he is just trying to locate and eliminate everyone who knows about his nefarious past as a smuggler in Caldari space.
If the PC bookmarks the location of his former mission and comes back there, he can potentially intercept the other PC bent on killing the witness. Doing so allows the PC to loot documents that can be used to one-time blackmail Dan Riak.
If the PC does not go back to the deadspace pockets where he met the witnesses, he stays in the dark and keeps providing Mr. Dan Riak with the information he needs to clean his past by removing any witness of it.

Rich men's fate
The story arc can conclude one of multiple ways.
- The PC and Dan Riak can part in good terms.
- The PC can gather proof against Dan Riak, by recovering items in other PC's witness kill missions and by deciphering the logs of Marcel Cobrac; he can use these items to
(Bad) blackmail Dan Riak for a good amount of isk or
(Good) give them away to a police corporation for some big one-time standing gain.
In every case, Mr. Dan Riak's status will not be damaged; it is assumed that the billionaire will buy off every corporation agent blackmailing him.

I would like to thank Mr. Orson Welles who helped with the plot. Which, if you have not guessed by now, is a complete rip-off from Mr. Arkadin -very simplified but this post is wall-of-texty enough.

I would like to conclude with a "Georgian toast" straight out of the movie:
"I had a dream. I found myself in a graveyard where all the tombstones were marked in a curious way - '1822 - 1826', '1930-1934', always like that, always a short time between birth and death. In the graveyard was an old man. I asked him how it was he had lived so long when everyone else in his village had died so young. But no, he told me this: 'It's not that we die early, it is just that here our tombstones do not count the years of a man's life, but rather the length of time he has kept a friend.' Let's drink to friendship."

Check other Eve Blog Banter articles on the same topic.

  1. CrazyKinux's Musing - Your Mission, should you decide to accept it...
  2. Zen and the Art of Internet Spaceship Maintenance - First Blood
  3. The Elitist - Guristas Invasion
  4. The Wandering Druid of Tranquility - ...It's another episode of Design Star: EVE Style...
  5. Level Cap -Epic Battles
  6. Roc's Ramblings - The Cave of Time
  7. Aether - Teach a man to fish...
  8. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah - Mission: Tangled Webs
  9. Adventures in Mission Running - I can haz spaceship?
  10. Nuke Thoughts - EVE Blog Banter 13
  11. Diary of a Pod Pilot - Distressing The Damsel
  12. Guns Ablaze - Dynamic Missions
  13. More to come...

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