Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Deathless Circle: EVE Online's Newest Pirate Faction

While attendees travelled to Reykjavik to attend EVE Fanfest on Tuesday, CCP released a new Scope video. If the venue isn't themed after the new Deathless Circle pirate faction, the company will have missed a PR opportunity.

Previously CCP had populated the game universe with things like blueprints ahead of an expansion to allow for players to hit the ground running where new ships or skills were concerned. I'd never heard of putting in geographic features before.

The new system, Zarzakh

The latest patch notes had this to say about the new content:

  • The four ancient Jovian stargates located in the Alsavoinon, G-0Q86, H-PA29, and Turnur systems appear to have connected with their stargate pairs at their destination location. This system has been assigned a system name that was discovered by capsuleers during the investigation: Zarzakh. The system is now viewable on the map.

  • Although the stargates have registered their navigation data with the New Eden fluid router network, and additional information about the system has become available, the stargates remain in a locked state, preventing access to capsuleer traffic.

We also learned that Zarzakh is in a new region, Vasna Zakh. But for now, the system information is probably more interesting, because I don't think we've ever encountered a black hole in New Eden before.

Zarzakh is a system cloaked in the dust, gas and assorted other bits of matter that are being drawn towards the black hole known as "Point of No Return" to most of New Eden, and "Duzna Kah" to the Amarr. The location of Zarzakh places it deep in the void of Divinity's Edge, or "Yasna Zakh", and somewhat notably essentially at the center of the New Eden cluster by virtue of the astronomical co-ordinate system used by CONCORD. Given this system was proposed by the Jove in the early days of CONCORD, it is suggestive that the dominating features of Zarzakh are the ancient Jovian gates and the ancient Jovian outpost known as "The Fulcrum". 

Zarzakh's star has been gravitationally captured by a black hole and is slowly orbiting closer and closer to its eventual merger with the mass singularity. This event will take place many years in the future but the effects of orbiting in the relatively near vicinity of a black hole are already being felt in the form of intense and volatile gravitational tidal forces exerted by the singularity. As the star is within the outer edges of the matter accretion disc of the black hole, the instability is further contributed to by the fluctuations in mass density within the cloud. The local system environment here is harsh and unforgiving to say the least.

Apparently the black hole has eaten all the planets, as the only system entries are the four stargates and the Jovian outpost. It does appear the outpost is equipped with enough services to satisfy the average player.

The Deathless Circle also has some information populated inside the game.
The Deathless Circle emerged from the shadows of New Eden's criminal underworld as a new power among the major pirate factions in YC125, with their occupation and control of the abandoned Jovian outpost system of "Zarzakh" posing a new challenge to the forces of law and order. Following years of rumor and suspicion as to the activities of the mysterious figure known as "The Deathless", the Circle has come into clear focus as a coalition of criminals, pirates, and renegades from across New Eden, though principally involving members of Caldari and Minmatar organized crime groups. The dark underbelly of Caldari society's network of crime families and so-called "disassociated", combined with the reach of Thukker gangsters and smugglers provides the Deathless Circle with a potent reservoir of talent and resources. 

The elite of the Deathless Circle's espionage and research groups are also evidently drawn from across New Eden, though with obvious connections to those operating in the shadows of the Caldari and Minmatar counter-economies. The crowning achievement of the Deathless Circle is the discovery of Zarzakh and its occupation of the ancient Jovian outpost that has come to be called "The Fulcrum". With the entire resources of a Jovian megastructure at their disposal, it is difficult to gauge the limits of what the Deathless and his organization may achieve in the future.
The Deathless Circle is made up of 4 corporations. The list of organizations confirm the theory of the Caldari/Minmatar nature of the Deathless Circle. Two of the corporations seem combat focused.

The Deathless Wraiths
The Deathless Wraiths are the elite infiltration, espionage, and smuggling wing of the Deathless Circle. With members drawn from among the earliest associates of the Deathless, and an emphasis on all the arts and crafts of space navigation and combat, the Wraiths also function as the main command and combat group of the Circle. 

In common with many pirate organizations in New Eden, the Wraiths are by no means the only group in the Circle that carries out the tasks it specializes in but they are generally considered the tip of the spear when it comes to espionage and technology "acquisition" operations. While the Wraiths are deferred to on many issues, the true leadership of the Deathless Circle resides with the Deathless and his closest advisors and most trusted operatives.
Hrada-Oki Caravan
In the past, the renegade Hrada-Oki Caravan was considered to be little more than a pirate fleet preying on anyone unfortunate enough to cross their winding path through the stars. While this view contains an element of truth, for the Hrada-Oki have certainly carried out colony raids and taken ships for plunder in their time, the reality is that they are primarily hard-headed pragmatists with a strong emphasis on the practicalities of survival in deep space. While this has meant putting their interests before those of others on many occasions, it has inculcated in them a deep communal sense of loyalty and an admiration for prowess in any skill useful for living in space. They disdain the Minmatar Republic and consider the Thukker Tribe's leadership to be fools. 

With deep links to Thukker organized crime and other so-called "clanner" renegades of Thukker society, such as the infamous Seykal Clan, the Hrada-Oki have long been a target of Republic and CONCORD law-enforcement agencies. With the emergence of the Deathless Circle and its membership of the organization, the Hrada-Oki Caravan has definitively declared itself an outlaw group beyond the pale of Republic and tribal law.
The other two corporations are more focused on research, development, and logistics.

Deathless Custodians
The Deathless Custodians are the primary engineering and logistics wing of the Deathless Circle, and notably are responsible for the maintenance, expansion, and defense of the ancient Jovian outpost known as "The Fulcrum". The Custodians have their own research and development group focused on the Fulcrum, Jovian stargates, and other notable sites in the Zarzakh system, but also work closely with the other divisions of the Deathless Circle. 

While their most cutting-edge research and deepest delvings into the technological treasure-house that is the Fulcrum are closely guarded from prying eyes, the Custodians are rumored to be working on projects to expand the capabilities of the Fulcrum, develop new spaceship technologies, and even on advanced cloning techniques. If there is any truth to these whispers it would seem that the power of the Deathless Circle is set to grow even further.

Satori-Horigu Epistemics
Quietly founded many years ago with an injection of untraceable capital, the Caldari corporate origins of Satori-Horigu Epistemics would seem to make it an unusual addition to a coalition of smugglers and mercenaries. The corporation was recruited to the Deathless Circle for its long-standing expertise in advanced faster-than-light propulsion and communication technologies, accepting readily given the irresistible prospect of access to rare and ancient Jovian technology. 

Named with an old Raata "concept phrase" meaning "razor of deep understanding" or alternatively "waking blade", Satori-Horigu Epistemics is a corporation with diverse membership and has always emphasized free-movement of technology and information for whoever is willing to pay the right price, regardless of national affiliations.
A look at corporation standings is very interesting. The Deathless Circle has neutral standings with every NPC corporation in New Eden. Perhaps more importantly, my standings with the pirate faction starts at +2.0. That means every player should have the standings to run level 1 missions for the Deathless Circle and get to level 2 rather quickly. Also, players will not have to worry about ruining standings with the Deathless Circle by running missions for agents of other NPC corporations.

The leader of the Deathless Circle is the mysterious figure known as The Deathless. They were introduced to the game in August 2023 giving out an invitation to find 4 ancient Jovian stargates. The reward was an eye-opening 50 billion ISK for each gate found

The reward teased that The Deathless would become a major figure in the New Eden story. Showing up with an ancient Jovian outpost in a previously unknown region of space before the next expansion and while players made the pilgrimage to Reykjavik confirms we will face The Deathless for some time to come.

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