Trinity: the rise and fall of the Monkey Phoenix

I play from time to time to Dominions 3 : The Awakening, the masterpiece turn-based fantasy strategy game by Illwinter Games, a Swedish two-man team. Below are excerpts of the messages sent and received by me during the course of Trinity, a recent multiplayer play by email game.
The settings are Middle Age, custom Parganos map with dead seas, and the CBM and EDM mods. My empire is Bandar Log, a civilization of sentient monkeys inspired by Indian myths, and my "pretender" (would-be supreme god) is a phoenix with very powerful fire magic: Marmaduke the Everburning One, Prince of Courage.

I begin the game on a coast in the South of the map. Northwest of my territory is Ulm, a classic medieval kingdom, and at my East lies Shinuyama, land of the bakemono and goblins.
Even though I rule the monkeys in a multiplayer game for the first time, I spend little time planning a strategy. But who needs strategy when you have elephants and hire mercenaries to complement them? I hope at first to transform my pretender into a flying maelstrom of fire - but I will fail to handle it properly.

* Conquest of the South *

In the beginning, I manage to leverage my elephants and mercenaries well enough to conquer the South of my continent and become the regional top dog. I negotiate borders with the powerful kingdom of Shinuyama, led by the sleeping entity Lord of Raggy. Shinuyama is poised to invade lands that I intend to take from Ulm. At this point, I am obviously a military power not to be trifled with. I decide to play the part of the bullish and arrogant neighbor.

1. Greetings from the awakening Lord of Raggy.

As you can see with me not knowing you were there I have already crossed. i am pinched from above, although you are doing very well sending moneys West.
I have a New summer home under construction on my side of the inlet, and intended to take the land i am in as well as Ecnaphale to support and feed this summer home.
I was also scouting Summerlands (to the north of my current spot (47) and Stone haven, although clearly my plans must be scaled back.
I really need Mark and Ecnaphale to feed my fort and as a buffer for it.
If you allow me to retain Mark and take Ecnaphale, with eventual expansion north to Summerlands (which will not block you from going north), I was scrub all other plans this direction. I will also remove all mobile forces as soon as possible. I assume a NAP3 would be part of any agreement.
As this may inconvenience you we will show our generosity by sending happy dreams, either one big dream of 5 Death gems or 4 smaller dreams of 2 gems each, 1 each month.
Can we have peaceful dreams?

Lord of Raggy, Sharer of Dreams, God of Plenty

2. O Lord of Raggy,

I am sorry but I cannot allow you to take Ecnaphale. This is ancestral monkey territory since, uh, last month.
However, I can agree not to build any fortress there if it can help; the province would become a no-man's land, only held by the invincible Ecnaphale chimp garrison.
I hope you will agree to this. I have yet to decide whether to send my elephant herds West or East.
Would you like a banana to seal our pact?

Marmaduke, The Holy Purveyor of Bananas, He Who Drinks The Papaya, God of Bandar Log

3. If I cannot have Ecnaphale, would you allow me Stone Haven instead? It would become a similar no man's land, only the spirits of Oni past will reside there...
By the way My Dreams tell me that happy daydreams see elephants moving West, Elephants moving East become a nightmare for all involved...

4. I agree to you message sent in game, that I should not attack your provinces, but to say I cannot negotiate with my new neighbor Ulm seems unseemly.
Ulm has graciously agreed to cede Stone Haven to me, and I intend to move forces into that territory and then move out, holding it as a buffer zone and part of my agreement not to interfere with Ulm northern issues. If you also with to pull back retaining Urd and Ecnaphale (grumble) we could avoid any unpleasantries.
By the way your discussion of elephants was so interesting I had to get my own group of them! They are indeed marvelous! I hope you allow me my little Stone Haven so that I can keep my elephants here with me and maybe show them to another neighbor.

Lord of Raggy, the not-dreaming-so-deeply-now Lord of Plenty and friend to banana lovers everywhere.

P.S. I await word so that I can direct my bakemono without fear of accidental monkey wrenches.

Shinuyama agrees not to push farther West, allowing me to direct my armies towards Ulm.

5. Dear friend, Lord of Raggy and King of Shinuyama,

My people tell me that you have sent a couple of letters but I am afraid I did not have the time to read them before GooGoo, my pet gibbon, ate them. It looked like my Minister of Good Manners did not impress enough on him the necessity to keep his hands out of my correspondence. Isn't GooGoo an amusing fellow!
What can I tell you about the life in Palace Bandar Log? The weather has been really good lately. It looks like it might be a very good year for pineapples, too. You should experience the riot of smells in the gardens! As soon as I finish dictating this letter, I will send a full cargo hold to your palace out there over the island.
Let's talk about important, diplomatic, stuff now, or my First Minister will hassle me again.
These last few weeks, I have had many meetings with my Chief Genealogist. You would not believe what he taught me: it appears that, due to a string of untimely deaths, I have inherited some real estate! It looks like my old, almost forgotten uncle from Stone Haven passed away some time ago. I will be moving soon to reclaim the place. My friendly messengers are so happy with their new mission to tell the good news to the people of Stone Haven.
Oh by the way, if you ever receive news from the Mayor of Ulm about Stone Haven and other places, be informed that his heavy-accented small police force of volunteers are helping me with directions inside Stone Haven, as well as the other places, since they are all leaving the South anyway because they just don't like the heat. Be aware that the Mayor of Ulm may have a few outstanding debts here and there and that he might be tempted to sell or offer you stuff that he does not own yet or will not own come next month. Do not fall prey to some easy con job!
I hope our alliance will last forever and wish you plenty of good fruits, roots and vegetables,

Marmaduke, the Pineapple Moghul, GooGoo's Best Friend.

6. Those fruits were delicious! I would send you some goblins in return, honestly they are fairly useless, but perhaps they could sweep up after the elephants?
I know see what you mean with Mayor Ulms agreements, apparently there was something about fine print, that of course he could nto promise me that Stone haven would be mine per se but that he would have no objections if i took over occupancy from the current possessor of said territory!
So how did you long dead Uncle leave the place? Will it require redecorating?
In any case my new elephants are upset that then don't get to play there after all, and the handler suggested we all go north to Summerland, which, despite the name, seems to be filled with mountains!
We are taking a picnic basket with some of the fruits you sent, and if we see the mayor Ulm mean to discuss with him certain liberties he took with your uncles home, do you have anything you would like us to add from you?

Lord of Raggy, God of Waking Dreams, Noble Patron of Useless Goblins

P.S The goblin carrying this message is somewhat dull, but maybe the monkeys could use him as a pet? Or a chew toy? In any case I hopefully will not be seeing him again. I don't want to have to tell yo what he was doing in my temple.

* The War Against Men *

A messenger of Ulm reaches me with inquiries about my intentions... I declare them while sending my armies into provinces freshly conquered by the men of Ulm.

7. Hello,

I am Ulm in the game Trinity, and you are if I'm not mistaken Bandar Log.
We seem to be neighbours and I hope we can coexist peacefully for the time being. In the interest of all, I would like to inform you that I intend to attack the independent province of Stone Heavens (36) on the next turn. I'm not entirely sure of the situation in the vicinity just now, especially as Shinuyama has recently entered the area as well. I would hate to see any unintended clash.
I would also very much like to hear what you think in general of the Shinuyaman incursion into our continent.


8. Dear Lord of Ulm,

I am indeed Marmaduke, He Who Eats The Bananas In The Night, King of Monkeys, Prince of Bandar Log.

Regarding Stone Haven, my genealogists tell me that I have inherited the place some time ago and, given a couple of months, I hope my friendly messengers will begin to tell the peasants out there about me and my new banana tax.
I really appreciate the hard work your police force did to stop the local bandits to misbehave. I think your peace mission there is over, and you can safely come home.
By the way, a few other rich uncles have died here and there and my friendly messengers will move soon to reclaim my ancestral territories. Thanks again for helping them with the transition.
About Shinuyama, I am proud to announce that they are no threat to you, since I will from now on protect your Eastern border against them. In fact, I have an agreement with the Lord of Raggy, Chief Honcho of Shinuyama. The only way he could threaten your dominance over the world would be by expanding North and then West. Given that he already owns the Southeast of the world, it might in fact be the direction he will send his armies towards, since of course the West is barred to them due to the protection of my armies.
You can sleep without fear, Lord of Ulm! I will convince Shinuyama to be peaceful and nice and we will all eat bananas like brothers.
Yours truly,

Marmaduke, the Peace Boy, the Great Diplomat.

At some point, almost every province South of the Ulmish capital city is mine. Unfortunately, Ulm does not want to go down without a fight. At that point, I know that winning the war would require the conquest of the Ulmish capital and that I would be unable to accomplish that quickly or even easily. I begin to probe for a diplomatic solution to this crisis.

9. Dear neighbor, Prince of Ulm, my old friend,

It is with great sadness that I must inform you that some men carrying Ulmish weapons seem to have rebelled against your authority and are currently rampaging in my ancestral lands of Validor and Saeborea.
I believe they might be escapees from your work prisons out there in Silbermark.
But do not be worried, for I am coming to the rescue! My monkey paratroopers will help you quell the prison riots in no time.
Do you have anything else to propose or to add?
Best regards,

Marmaduke the Overmonkey

10. Dear Fruit King,

My heart is filled with great joy, but also great sadness.

Joy at our friends, the monkeys, finding their way ever closer to their ancestors and protecting us from the evil usurpations of our other neighbours, such as the lecherous lizards and the ghastly goblins.

Sadness at the news of the deaths of many brave ape militiamen in the hands of my more unruly subjects.

I will do what I can, but I must confess that I greatly fear that many more brave men, monkeys and pachyderms may yet see their quest to meet the ancestors come to fulfillment sooner than they perhaps anticipated.

Yours truly,

The Overseer of Ulm

* The Turning Point *

Then I receive a strange request from Shinuyama...

11. I had noticed a large group of the little monkey playing with some friends in your Stone haven house, looked like quite the party!

My feeble-minded little prophet wanted to join, and was very upset that you all moved on, can I send him after you so he can say hi? As feeble-minded as he is i was thinking you might have some bored PD that could play with him?

Perhaps if you took his head off and looked at his brain you could tell me why he was so feeble-minded, if not, maybe the monkeys could use him as a chew toy. I assume that I will never see him again, but as the Lord of Plenty and Genreousity, I think it is time i had a new prophet in any case. If you would rather he visits Urd instead please let me know before he leaves.

By the way, the people up North seem to have a Thing about Elephants, so I am bringing mine back to the Mark for a month. I am going to send in the elephants with LOTS of friend next time so that they don't hurt the elephants feelings. They will all leave the Mark next month.

12. O Powerful Lord of Waking Dreams, Master's Friend,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am GooGoo, the new Secretary of the State Department of Bandar Log.
My master is unavailable but I am happy to say that your prophet, if he happens to cross the borders of Stone Heavens, will be greeted by a specialized team of brain surgeons who will do their very best to fix what's wrong with him.
Be assured that we in Bandar Log stand ready to help our neighbors with our unparalleled medical technology.

Best regards,

GooGoo the Humble

My main mistake, at this point, is to forget to reinforce the provincial defense in Stone Heavens. Bandar Log's garrisons are notorious for their inefficiency, with puny monkeys dying to any foe and also to friendly arrow fire.
So, what happens when a demon from Japanese folklore, feebleminded but awesome and deadly, meets a handful of chimps with bones and sticks?

13. O Lord of Raggy, My Master's Friend,

I have something of a confession to make to you. When you offered to send your prophet in Stone Heavens for medical purpose, I happened to remember that my father-in-law, Adura Smallnose, was the sheriff of the place.
His unfortunate demise at the hands of your insane prophet makes my wife the inheritor to a large collection of branded coconuts. I am so happy!
Would you send your prophet to Urd now please? My cousin Nego is serving time in the garrison there. I will give you one third of all of Nego's necklaces. No one will ever know.

GooGoo, Secretary of State of Bandar Log

I lose my province to this one feebleminded prophet and Shinuyama, sensing weakness, decides to push the advantage. His armies begin to conquer my lands. They first need to siege a fortress I have erected in a mountain pass, which prevents them from grabbing much of my empire - Ulm does. The smiths of Ulm have mastered the "blade wind" spell and slaughter the unarmored monkeys that make up the most of my armies...

14. O Lord of Raggy, Guardian of the Bridge, my friend.

I was quite dismayed to learn about the corruption that you uncovered among my staff of genealogists. I will not be able to ever repay you properly for the inquisitiveness of your investigation force. You have my eternal thanks.
I have ordered my tax people to withdraw from all provinces where it appeared that property titles might be dubious.
I am happy to inform you that it does not include the province of Urd. We have double checked the titles and there is no doubt in my mind that this place is within the frontiers of Bandar Log.
Now let me tell you more about Ulm. I keep thinking you should not trust these people. They are, well, human. I can provide ample documentation about so-called "medical testing" inflicted to monkeys. And you know the kind of pain human adventurers have inflicted to goblins and bakemono over the years, don't you?
If you wish to go on a campaign of justice against the ravenous humans of Ulm, tell me and I will not need to send troops to Stone Heavens, your property, on my way to the West, to redress the wrongs done to monkeys and birds by the villainous people of Ulm.
Friendly yours,

Marmaduke the Phoenix With The Golden Egg

15. O Prince of Ulm, My Master's Friend,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is GooGoo and I have been for a few weeks the Secretary of State of the Kingdom of Bandar Log. I speak here on the behalf of Marmaduke, my dear master, who is busy doing tourism.

I am trying to make sense of the mess on my predecessor's desk but, to be honest, the official papers seem to have been kind of destroyed, like. Would you be so nice as to tell me what was our official diplomatic stance regarding your civilization until then? Do we have commercial and cultural exchange treaties? Students exchange programs, perhaps?

I have found a map of the world. I believe your people is located in the North of the world, in those edges of the map where it is written "here be dragons". Don't you think it would be a good idea to compare our maps? According to mine, the banana tax can be enforced up to the provinces of Saetica and Saeborea. Regarding Saeborea, it might seem that your police force is currently stationed there to fight against grand theft, but I believe you should order them to leave and, this way, we can send our taxmen there.

If you agree to let the tax-monkey into Saeborea and do not cross into our ancestral land of Saetica, be assured that we in Bandar Log are more than willing to keep the state of peace between our nations, as it always has been (it has, hasn't it?), for a duration of six months, renewable by common agreement.

As a token of good faith, I send you a basket of bananas and a military report about Shinayuma, the human-eating goblin empire.

I am waiting eagerly for your answer.

Best regards,


16. Dear Secretary GooGoo,

Congratulations on your new appointment. I only wish, as undoubtedly do you, that your term would have commenced at a more peaceful and civilized time.

It is unfortunate that your lord and master Marmaduke the Great Phoenix is away on personal matters, as seeing him might have helped you understand the situation better. I'm sorry to say that when he was in charge of the matters of your state, he must have been suffering from a mild form of Post-Reincarnatal Syndrome; I cannot otherwise explain his somewhat bizarre communications.

Your master appeared to be under the impression that our lands are some sort of ancestral domains of your people. I played along into his folly, hoping that he would gain his senses soon enough. Alas, this was not to happen. I'm sad to tell you that the reason that one of your powerful armies has failed to report back to you, is that the Fiery Bird sent it to attack us and thus it was unfortunately but unavoidably destroyed.

Your maps thus seem to be somewhat in error, undoubtedly the mapmakers who drafted them were trying to please your master as well. The provinces you name are rightfully part of the nation of Ulm, having been conquered from independents by our troops long before banana tax gatherers arrived for the first time. Our forces will remain to secure them as long as necessary. I sincerely hope that redrawing the maps will not be too much trouble. I can send you ink and quills, if you happen to run out.


The Ulminator

* Helped By The Serpent-Men *

At this point, I am contacted by the representative of C'tis, an empire located somewhere in the North of the Eastern continent. Apparently, C'tis is an enemy of Shinuyama and decides to send words and good thoughts in Bandar Log's general direction. Ulm is already more of a concern to me, but I decide to play along.

17. Hello O mighty Lord of C'tis,

I know nothing about your people, so I will just assume monkey rights and chimp manners apply to you.
Your messenger did not bring offerings of fruits, I was quite upset. These last few weeks, it appears that deliveries of bananas from some of the provinces of my empire (huge one, for your information, my advisers tell me it is in fact the biggest in the world) have kind of stopped for some reason, and when your delegate showed himself at the gate of the city I was really hoping he would bring some fresh food.
Anyway, he told me all about Shinuyama and the evils perpetrated by this tribe of baby monkey-clubbing goblins. You have my full support in your war against them. If you can spare some apples, pears, peaches, pieces of gold, berries, roots and juicy worms to me, I will even send you some gems.
Best regards,

Marmaduke, Bane of Worms

18. C'tis is in dire need of astral pearls, but is rich in gold. A messenger is on the way with money to to bolster your valiant defence.

Bubbar - first of the marshmasters

The money sent by Bubbar allows Marmaduke to reinforce useless provincial defenses in his rapidly shrinking empire.

* The Ostrich Technique Of Negotiation *

19. O Lord of Ulm,

My Secretary of State Dr. GooGoo and my advisers just told me that Ulmish soldiers, servants of you, my friend, of all people, are at war with my empire and that they are preventing my tax people from harvesting the bananas. This is simply unacceptable and I will not stand by while your underlings are running amok in my territory. You need to issue strong orders to your generals. I demand for you to fire at least one or two and provide me with a formal apology.
Look, I can give you a few tips about how to manage your ministers if you wish, but you really need to get a hold on your people. This kind of unlawful disorder would be unthinkable in Bandar Log.
I trust you to add no less than eight baskets of fruits to your formal apology letter. I expect the road to my countryside villa to be cleared by your soldiers within two days.
Get a grip on your armies, please! You would not want me to unleash the power of my police force on them.
Yours truly,

Marmaduke, The Banana Czar

20. Dear Banana God,

I'm most pleased to find that you are alive and well. I had feared that your tour of the countryside had come to an unpleasant end, but it appears the rumors of your death have - once again - been greatly exaggerated.

However I must regretfully enlighten you about something. Some time ago my scouts sent back information about a province far to the south. For some reason, the Mapmaker's Guild of Ulm concluded that this province was called "The Promised Land". It is hard to say, but they may have been influenced by your own constant references to "ancestral lands". Who can tell.

In any case, our people got themselves quite worked up about this. I have had no choice but to set about to add this "promised land" to our domains. Unfortunately many, actually all, of your lands lie in between. Thus I have had no choice but to annex those as well.

I have been told that in their fervor, our soldiers have even begun gently knocking on the doors of your capital city. I am very sorry about all this. On a more positive note, it seems that your erstwhile lands include much fertile farmland and many interesting magic sites, both of which are in short supply in the north. You can perhaps glean some comfort from the fact that our people will undoubtedly find great use for these.

Yours for a while still,

-The Ulm

* Planning An Unlikely Comeback *

So, my phoenix does not reincarnate anymore, my capital is not mine anymore, and I am about to lose my last land provinces. Is there any hope left? Of course! I hire Gladd Yogg, sole surviving member of a band of ichtyid mercenaries. Gladd Yogg attacks the dead (no population, no income) sea province of Andoria, which belongs to Shinuyama. Shinuyama is a land empire and cannot fortify Andoria. The amphibious kappa they summoned in order to conquer this empty space are probably busy fighting something important... My plan B: 1) to conquer the worthless sea provinces with Gladd Yogg, 2) to have other empires forget I exist, 3) to take profit of some opportunity to grab some land again, call my god from the dead and have him become the new god of gods.

21. To all lesser beings of Parganos,

Let it be known that Marmaduke, He Who Eats Bananas In The Dark Of Night, Bird God of Bandar Log, Friend of All, has ascended to another state of consciousness. Freed from the cycle of reincarnation, Marmaduke has found a way to escape the burdensome duties of kingship.
Until the end of time*, Bandar Log's elite government will reign over the holiest of seas, dispensing enlightenment and military advice to wisdom-seekers.
Embrace the Truth.

Gladd Yogg, Emperor of Andoria, Progenitor of the future sea chimp civilization, Official Spokesichtyid For All Things Monkey, Secretary of State of Bandar Log

* Statement not contractual.

Ulm replies.

22. I'm sure Gladd Yogg and The Sea Monkeys will remain a thorn on the side of Ulm for all eternity. Children of Ulmish fishermen will be taught the abyssal horrors of Gladd Yogg for generations to come.

Should Gladd Yogg for some reason not succeed in the complete annihilation of Ulm though, I would like to thank you for the spirited fight. It's too bad our diplomats could not agree on the whole ancestral lands issue.

Unfortunately, my grand plan never comes to fruition. Shinuyama has a few kappa left and sends them back to the seas, killing Gladd Yogg. After a few skirmishes, my last land provinces fall to overwhelming forces. The Age of Chimp has come to an end.

Le carré est toujours positif

L.P. i au carré égale moins un
Ch.P. On m'a appris que le carré est toujours positif.
C.P. Non mais ça, c'est pour les pauvres.

The Burning Life

Category: Science-fiction novel
Page count: 330
Language: English
Author(s): Hjalti Daníelsson
Publisher: Gollancz (Orion Publishing Group)
Year of publication: 2010
ISBN: 978-0-575-09017-0
In a very distant future, human civilizations have emerged from an age of darkness in the star cluster known as New Eden. The conflicts between them are resolved in space battles daily led by immortal capsuleer captains. One of them attacks and destroys Drem's colony, killing all the people he ever cared about. Drem vows to avenge himself.
The setting of the novel originates with Eve Online, a massively multiplayer online game.

Spoilers below, including the ending.
The first official novel-sized adaptation of the Eve universe was The Empyrean Age (2008), by Tony Gonzales. In my opinion, it was a weak book, definitely not only-100-books-in-your-island material, but I remember enjoying it. Things were happening: a war between two superpowers was in the making.
The Burning Life, on the other hand, disappointed and bored me, much to my surprise. I really do like some "chronicles" (short stories) the author, also known as CCP Abraxas, has published on the official Eve Online website, for example The Part Where I Play the Devil and A Beautiful Face - but there are plenty more. Some of these short stories rock and contribute much to the background of Eve. Hjalti Daníelsson is very good with scenes and the best parts of The Burning Life are just that: scenes, short story material. The meeting with the Upright Man springs to mind, and could as well be an Eve chronicle.
But story? Lively narration? Not there. Turning pages was a little bit painful at times.

The relationships between the characters, Drem and Verena to begin with, made me cringe. I find it difficult to express why. Perhaps because they were way too much predictable and lacking, well, character? We could have done without the romance. We know Drem and Ralea are going to make it to the end; not once did I fear for their life. Even the factions look bland. The Blood Raiders, this horrific sect of butchers, are almost made into a bunch of normal people with suburbian values. There is way too much morality, trust and due process in this book. We get to see how even pirate factions function with the kind of rules and organization you find in the corporate world. That is okay at some level, but it also detracts from the aura of these criminal cartels.

I did not like the way the book looks like a guided tour of the four empires and the most important faction pirates. It looked too much artificial, reeked of marketing imperatives. I did not buy the book to "learn the setting of Eve", I did it for the story, and even potential Eve players who buy this book are looking for a story rather than a wiki.
I thought this structure made New Eden look smaller than it was. More than five thousand star systems, trillions of inhabitants, and the killer of a drug dealer (what's that supposed to deserve, a slap on the hand?) cannot hide anywhere? The universe in the novel is for my taste considered too much from the peculiar point of view of capsuleers rather than normal people.

The synopsis is good if ironic for an Eve player. The elevator pitch: "A missioning carebear (player character -pc- who avoids conflicts with other players) destroys a pirate colony during a mission; a non-playing character (npc) loses everything during that event, and decides to go on a quest for revenge." The novel speaks about the consequences of the casual slaughters perpetrated by player characters between two bio breaks. It is a fun premise for a story.
The anticlimactic ending, though conceptually interesting, failed to impress me. It proposes again consequences, but from the npc world to the pc one. In a nutshell, the npc extort a promise from an unnamed capsuleer to steal the assets of his alliance. This kind of theft is a common occurrence in the game. Corp thieves are now able to better roleplay their misdeeds! As an Eve player, seeing and making this kind of connections entertains me, the same way I was entertained when A Beautiful Face (see above) explained the consequences of the "character picture-swapping" in-game functionality.

In conclusion, the overabundance of stuff kills the potential of the story. The book has its moments (mewling True Sanshas, Gallentean body artists), but becomes boring after a while. I am certain CCP Abraxas can do much better, if he does not let anything go in the way of his story, and I hope he will grace us with more good reading in the future!

Gaming propaganda

I made this poster in reference to a coalition of "alliances" of players of Eve Online.

In the context of this game, part of the playground is dominated by such space-holding alliances of hundreds of players who share unity of purpose in some of their activities. Morale and the will to overcome obstacles are key to their success and survival, many of them being involved in a virtual war against those who would conquer or resist them. Moreover, the strategic necessities of internet spaceship warfare prompt these alliances to enter into treaties of mutual assistance in order to muster bigger fleets and reach the breaking point of their common adversaries first.

Demoralization of their foot soldiers and betrayal by their peers are two of the biggest dangers alliances face. As such, Eve Online has proven a fertile ground for disinformation, marketing and propaganda.

The poster above supports the cause of the Northern Coalition, a group of thousands upon thousands of players from all over the world, who play together when they connect to the game. Tau Ceti Federation, my alliance, belongs to the Northern Coalition and takes an active part to the defensive war against powerful invaders from the South. The ebbs and flows of this conflict makes for exciting evenings, both as a participant and a spectator.

The "bring a point" words make a reference to the in-game ability of some equipment to stop enemy ships from fleeing the scene of their impending demise by "tackling" or "pointing" them. Any brand new player can bring a point in a battle besides Brobdingnagian dreadnoughts and make a difference, as pointed out in an older and famous "every ship counts" piece of propaganda by Goonswarm.

The team spirit can sometimes manifest in jingoistic or totalitarian prose, which make for a fun read and a good laugh, as illustrated by Razor Alliance's Ministry of Propaganda and Morale.

I used the official Northern Coalition "best friends forever" slogan, alliances logos designed by their respective authors, and a screenshot from some battle in the North a few weeks ago. The image features ships of all sizes, from the puny frigate to the gigantic titan.

This is my football.

Clone monologues 16

Hello, me.
In two days, supposedly, a huge coalition of bad willing alliances is going to attack the peaceful guardians and gentle capsuleers of the Northern Coalition, of which the Tau Ceti Federation is a pillar.
The IT Alliance did not begin this war with a victory. In Saranen, a low-sec system obviously used for logistical purpose by SirMolle's throng, a glorious fleet of the Northern Coalition has defeated a poorly coordinated fleet, reinforced a FinFleet starbase and held the ground.
One of the key factors of this victory is the introduction of the new secret weapon, the Arbinought: a cruiser-sized capital ship which I was honored to pilot in battle.
What, "pictures or it did not happen"?
I hope you take notes, son. If I'm dead, you're the one in charge of propaganda here.

Heroes were made

"Speaking of the ancients," he said "I've brought along something to help us in our quest for the hero. Look at these, will you? Divination tools!"
He held his hand out. Nestled in his sticky palm were three little objects of brightly colored plastic. There was a lime green pyramid, a pink cube, and a many-faced spheroid of sky blue. "Dice. This one's four-sided, this one's six-sided, and this one's twelve-sided."
The others stared as though they expected the devil to leap up through the floor. Dungeons and Dragons had been illegal for two centuries. Enjoying their reaction, Rutherford rattled the dice in his hand.
"You know what was done with these? Characters were decided. Heroes were made on paper and brought to life in people's heads. Fates were settled!"

(Rutherford in The Life of the World to Come by Kage Baker)

Broken motorbikes

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 topic of this special installment is: "Why do you love EVE Online so much?"

"Enemy ships in sector 37!"
When it's the nineteeen-eighties, and you take a kid, of the male brand, not one of those pink-wearing doll-scolding Muggles, a regular kid, around 9 or 10 for example, and you give him access to a TV set in the Western world, sometimes, things happen. Marvelous things. Space ships appear on the black and white screen. Some of them huge, bulbous "star cruisers" crewed by a fish-like alien race. Some of them nimble fighters ready to unleash their vengeful payload upon that-which-is-not-a-moon, the ultimate vessel of evil in the galaxy (not speaking about SirMolle)... But we all know it's a trap. It's the eighties and the kid watches the final battle above the Death Star in the Return of the Jedi and, then, there is no return to Earth, the moment has defined him, the sky is now where the game begins.

I already knew what spaceships were
A long time ago, before they began selling internet spaceships, merchants used to sell motorbike toys, able to cross the span of a small table with their pretend motor. I must have been a solid 5 or 6 back then, and I had such a bike, for which I remember manifesting only mild interest. At school, I had a friend who had something much better up his sleeve. This enterprising fellow was building himself a space ship.
Now, any five-year old engineer will confirm to you a space ship takes time and effort to assemble. And what good are friends for if not to lend a hand to such endeavors? While not up to date about the latest developments in spaceship-building technology, I was aware that space ships were made of pieces of metal and where do you find pieces of metal? In motorbike toys, that's where. I decided to sacrifice mine in order to win myself a spot in my friend's space ship and I managed to extract some sort of a thin rod, obviously the core component of any man-made technology.
When my friend invited me to his place, I was conceivably excited. Perhaps would I be able to go with him on a test flight above the city? I kind of remember that he was appreciative of my offering of the rod, but told me the space ship's structure, while well on its way to completion, in the other room just behind the door, was not yet open to viewing. He would finish it later. I left his house with a sense of regret because I would have to wait a few more days before being able to co-pilot our saucer. Will you believe what happened next? The bastard did not mention the ship again, and I assume he has left the planet without me.

Flash forward
Elitist jerk : "Lose the stabs"
Gabriel DiCozza : "[random smack]"
Random Local passerby : "[witty retort]"
My friend left in a space ship and all I got was this lousy massively multiplayer game, Eve Online. Sometimes, holy shit lag is spiking, and the logs they show nothing. Sometimes, the magic kicks back in, and I am back to the battlefield above Endor. Rarely, I get a Proustian whiff of eternity, I switch the music back on, and it's like a shot of pleasure, I remember what it was like to be a noob in 1.0 and how fun the game was, how happy a child I was, when flying a space ship never seemed so close.

Check other Eve Blog Banter articles on the same topic.

Gilles de Rais in the Lake of Fire 7

Turns 1-7
Turns 8-14
Turns 15-21
Turns 22-28
Turns 29-35
Turns 36-42

Turn 43 - The Fury of God
The intervention of the angels might prove enough to whack Asmodeus out of dominance... or it might not. Apparently, the archfiend's legions are very resilient and were able to survive a first confrontation. The Hammers of Hell have been decimated, however, and would not survive a second assault.
Gilles decides to observe the situation while amassing armies. He bids on the Sisters of Sorrow and the Throne of Skulls.

Turn 44 - Paimon attacked by the Tyrant of Heaven
The slaves of God are on a rampage. The dreadful Legion of the Maw has been destroyed in its entirety. Gilles begins to wonder if he could pull out a military victory. If Asmodeus and Paimon are subdued by the Tyrant of Heaven, he could potentially attack Pandemonium and hold it long enough.
In the meantime, Gilles orders the Sisters of Sorrow to a defensive position southeast of his palace.Gilles would like to give the Throne of Skulls to his own Slaves, so that Eligos could use its power, but Gilles's demons are not powerful enough to handle such an artifact. He stores it in his secret vault, waiting for the proper time to use it. Then he notices that the praetor Valac could prove valuable to lead the Slaves and he decides to bid on him.
Asmodeus lost one Canton to the burning swords of the angels and Gilles de Rais still wishes to keep the option of becoming the Power behind his Throne. He then decides to hurl an insult against Sitri, hoping that the archfiend will react and invade his territory.
Finally, I decide to increase Gilles's Cunning and Wickedness from 0 to 1.

Turn 45 - Eligos recalled to the Vault
Gilles asks Duke Eligos to leave the Slaves and come back to him for debriefing. Scouts have spotted the angels in Sitri's territory, on their way to the Gardens of Infernal Delight, and Gilles does not wish to lose his oldest champion. Unfortunately, he does not expect Sitri to fall to the bait now that angels are roaming his land.

Turn 46 - Demise of the Hell Blades
Sitri's Hell Blades did not even scratch the blazing armors of the angelic host, which still threatens to wreak havoc on the Slaves of Gilles de Rais. But Duke Eligos is safe!
Unsurprisingly, Sitri bowed before Gilles's insult. Too bad. Angry at this, Gilles demands tribute from Sitri.
Now, much depends on the direction the angels will choose to continue their vendetta against the Powers of Hell.
Gilles de Rais gives the Manual of Defense and the Manual of Infernal to Eligos, his most loyal servant. This way, if he ever needs a champion for single combat, he will have a decent fighter. He also bids on the Veil of Smoke, a combat manuscript available in the Bazaar.
I decide to increase again Gilles's Cunning and Wickedness, from 1 to 2. I have the souls and the time, so why not?

Turn 47 - The Aether of the Abyss
This time, Murmur seems to be the focus of the angelic attention. Hmm, let's insult Asmodeus and see how he reacts. I give the Veil of Smoke to Eligos to protect him if he ever needs to enter an arena.

Turn 48 - Valac becomes the new leader of the Slaves
The angels are reasonably far away. Gilles de Rais sends Valac to lead his army and prepare the way for the return of Duke Eligos. I increase the archfiend Martial Skill from 3 to 4.
Turn 49 - Asmodeus bullied
Gilles de Rais had forgotten that only one praetor may lead a legion. Valac cannot help Eligos... Gilles recalls Valac and ponders his next move, aware that 13 Conclave Tokens out of 20 have been revealed, and that the Plan B, codenamed "Operation Pandemonium", needs to be carefully prepared.
For this reason, and because he is filthy rich, Gilles de Rais decides to acquire the Puzzle Cube, a relic which allows for instant travel throughout Hell. With it, if he so decides, he will be able to launch sudden strikes against distant enemies and places of power. He also bids on the last missing tome of the Rite of Infernal Awe, offering extra tribute of two souls and nine flames of hellfire to the seller in the Bazaar in order to secure the deal.
The angels keep destroying the armies of Hell, much to the satisfaction of Gilles, who hopes to be able to seize Pandemonium without much opposition if he needs to.
The officials in Pandemonium share news of the Prestige of every archfiend: Asmodeus 200, Paimon 157, Murmur 80, Sitri 79, Gilles de Rais 69 and Lilith 37.

To be continued...

Gilles de Rais in the Lake of Fire 6

Turns 1-7
Turns 8-14
Turns 15-21
Turns 22-28
Turns 29-35

Turn 36 - Mine, the Book of Enoch
"Asmodeus, what a pussy!" thinks Gilles de Rais. He thinks again "but a wise pussy".
More importantly, the Book of Enoch now belongs to Gilles de Rais! The Black Singularity, the time when Gilles's power will allow him to gain snowballing influence over the kingdom of Hell, has never been as close.
Ironically, the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, which has the exact same properties as the Book of Enoch, is now available in the Bazaar and, once again, Gilles needs more tribute before he can hope to scoop it. He decides to place the Book of Enoch in his Stronghold and to demand tribute twice, hoping to score three souls and as many drops of pure darkness in the process.

Turn 37 - More souls for the shopping spree
Gilles needs three more souls, only three, before he can grab the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, a powerful relic he does not want the other archfiends to possess. He focuses all his efforts on this task.

Turn 38 - Refining souls
Gilles refines his tribute of souls to be able to put everything in the rituals coffins he hopes to send soon to the Bazaar in exchange for the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. He also performs twice the ancient ritual called Demand of Supplication (a mistake, as one was probably enough).

Turn 39 - A late bid
At last, Gilles bids on the relic, sweetening the deal with three drops of ichor.
Gilles bids on the first volume of the Rite of Flesh Rapture, rumored to be able to improve the very Cunning of an archfiend. He also bids on the second volume of Tentacle Rapture and the single volume of Mind Burn, both grimoires of combat magic.

Turn 40 - Mine, the Book With The Long Title
The Pseudomonarchia Daemonum is immediately placed within the inner vault of the Stronghold. Gilles offers two extra doses of hellfire for the first volume of the Machine of Vengeance. While visiting the Bazaar, Gilles decides to buy himself a new army to protect his Stronghold. He bids on the Iron Maidens, adding two extra ichor to impress their sergeant.Nothing much happens in Hell, but for the usual frontier provocations against Asmodeus. This time, Sitri tries to bully him. I expect Asmodeus to submit wisely to the threat.

Turn 41 - Asmodeus the Coward
Of course he did.
Gilles performs another Demand of Supplication and sends his armies in search of tribute.
An interesting situation has developed north and west of the Land of Gilles de Rais: a standoff between four armies belonging to Paimon and Asmodeus. Hopefully, there will be war soon.

Turn 42 - War?
Of course, there will be war. But it will not come the way everybody is expecting it from. The archfiends may have forgotten the One Above, but He has not forgotten them, and He will send an army to chastise them, and the one who will open the doors to the vengeful angels shall be... Gilles de Rais, using old connections from the time he was walking in the world!
I decide to increase Gilles's Martial Skill from 2 to 3.
Prestige at the end of Turn 42: Asmodeus 167, Paimon 122, Sitri 65, Murmur 61, Gilles de Rais 42, Lilith 30. Hmmm, Paimon has only 25 Cantons to my 16; he can not become my Blood Lord; not yet.

To be continued...

Gilles de Rais in the Lake of Fire 5

Turns 1-7
Turns 8-14
Turns 15-21
Turns 22-28

Turn 29 - A tiny taint of goodness
This is not enough to dispel the pure evil seeping out of Gilles de Rais's treasure room.
The end of the confiscation of Prestige opens the way to Asmodeus's victory.

Turn 30 - Random malice
I decide to play this event immediately, hoping to help Asmodeus gain a few Cantons.
Gilles does not forget his plan B. I raise his Martial Arts skill from 1 to 2.

Turn 31 - Lilith's loss, Murmur's gain
The Infernal Conclave did not decide the Canton ownership changes Gilles de Rais was hoping for. Lilith has been fragilized and that is a shame. Satellite states should not be vulnerable to third parties.
Observe how Lilith's Stronghold is now very easy for Murmur to attack, if he gets Blood Feud rights against her.

Turn 32 - Asmodeus bullied
Asmodeus is the brightest archfiend and everybody hates him for that. Everybody wants a piece of his Prestige and is ready to ransack his territory if he does not oblige. Wisely, Asmodeus makes small concessions, knowing well that time is his best ally.
In the meantime, Gilles de Rais keeps building his military. He hires the praetor Malacoda and sends him to the Gardens of Infernal Pleasure.

Turn 33 - More souls for Gilles de Rais
After many turns of preparation, I raise Gilles's Charisma from 4 to 5. Tribute will be excellent in the future.
I decide also to bid on the Bowl of Abject Darkness. It will protect Gilles's attributes against nefarious attacks.

Turn 34 - Damn! The Book of Enoch!
The good news is the fact that the Bowl of Abject Darkness is now safe and secure in Gilles de Rais's vault. The bad news is the fact that it was replaced in the Bazaar relic store by the Book of Enoch, an item which grants one order slot... and Gilles does not have enough tribute anymore to bid on it. He decides to order all his armies to focus on the search for tribute and crosses his fingers, hoping that no archfiend will be able to bid for the Book of Enoch immediately.
Lord Gilles de Rais enjoys the help of the Infernal Conclave:

Turn 35 - Bidding on the Book
Thankfully, Gilles is now able to bid on the Book of Enoch. He does so but without offering additional tribute to win the bid, due to a lack of room in the coffins he sends to the Bazaar. The Bowl of Abject Darkness is placed under the shadow of the great trees of the Gardens of Infernal Delights.
An interesting situation is developing in Hell. The archfiends know that Asmodeus will win the throne if left undisturbed, and it does not please them. Asmodeus has currently 132 Prestige, Paimon 66 and Gilles only 21.

Turns 36-42

Gilles de Rais in the Lake of Fire 4

Turns 1-7
Turns 8-14
Turns 15-21

Turn 22 - Choices
There are multiple ways for Gilles de Rais to become the new King in Hell:
- he could become the Blood Slave of Asmodeus and casually wait for his "master's" victory; however, frontiers in Hell have become quite stable of late and Asmodeus needs to conquer a few Cantons or Gilles to lose some;
- he could focus on the Prestige race; with the help of rituals and a few choice conquests, Gilles could theoretically win despite the tremendous advance of Asmodeus; "accidents" happen and if Asmodeus would be destroyed, the road to kingship would be open to Gilles;
- he could, if all fails, try to conquer Pandemonium and hold it against all other archfiends for five turns. Difficult, but not impossible and Lilith's territory might act like a natural barrier against the stronger armies of other archfiends.
Gilles de Rais decide to build up his military strength and overall power while keeping a watchful eye on his enemies for opportunities to exploit.
To begin with, Gilles bids on the first volume of the Rite of Blood, a manuscript which can improve Wickedness.

Turn 23 - Paimon scoops the Palace on the Lake of Fire
Gilles pockets the volume of the Rite of Blood and bids on two volumes of the Rite of Infernal Awe, which is rumored to be able to improve martial abilities.
The recent decision by the Conclave seems positive. Nobody wants Asmodeus to pull too far ahead in Prestige.
Paimon conquered the Palace on the Lake of Fire, which procures him a strategic advantage. Murmur took the Pillars of Malebolge.

Turn 24 - Arms race
Gilles bids on the volume 3 of the Machine of Vengeance, which decreases the martial ability of all opponents.
I increase his Charisma from 3 to 4. The better tribute will help fuel future rituals and Bazaar shopping.

Turn 25 - Interesting event
The praetor Bune has been acquired by an unknown archfiend. My troops are searching the underworld for manuscripts.
As Regent, I receive the possibility to pick and use an event. I decide to unveil immediately any king maker in the Infernal Conclave.

Turn 26 - No Kingmaker
The knowledge is worth something... I decide to bid on the fourth volume of the Machine of Vengeance and also to acquire the services of the praetor Naphula.

Turn 27 - Naphula is mine
Both bids are unsurpassed by rival archfiends.

Turn 28 - Protecting my capitol
Somebody is trying to gather the pieces of the Machine of Gluttony (which can potentially decrease the Charisma of every archfiend and destroy the economy of Hell). To prevent such an outcome, I bid on the third volume of this manuscript, spending 2 more darkness than necessary.
Meantime, I send Naphula in the vicinity of my capitol city. She takes the head of the Burning Legion which protects the region. If all hell breaks loose, a strong military will prove essential.
At the end of turn 28, Asmodeus is still clearly the leader, but Paimon is not to be discarded too quickly, as his strong army and his conquest of the Palace on the Lake of Fire prove to be a dangerous combination.
Turns 29-35