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EVE Online: Sci-Fi Sharecroppers

Updated Mon, Apr 27, 2009 by The Mittani

It was the sort of offer that RISE, an alliance based in Cloud Ring, couldn't refuse - not because of a mafia-esque strong-arming, but the more subtle coercion of greed. Leave their home in a resource-poor, cramped and irrelevant region to become a player on the board of the Great Game. New territory, richer than they could conceive of. Status - of the derivative, cape-holding sort - but far more than they had before. There was only one price: Rent. Each month, no matter what. Like so many others before them, and without thinking of the consequences, they eagerly accepted this devil's bargain. This choice sealed their doom: RISE had become a pet.

Sharecropping 01

Pets, vassals, tenants: there are many derogatory nicknames for these sci-fi sharecroppers. In the social hierarchy of EVE Online, they rank somewhere below Empire-bound mission runners and slightly above people who take WoW pvp seriously. Despite this, pets positively litter 0.0 space, and the 'pet system' has existed more or less unchanged for years. One of the largest alliances in the game, Shadow of xXDeathXx, is entirely comprised of the pets of Legion of xXDeathXx - and every month, like clockwork, the pay their rent.

For RISE, everything about the arrangement went well for the first few months. Their master, the now-defunct Band of Brothers alliance, had recently conquered the territory of Ascendant Frontier and needed someone to hold space in Feythabolis, Esoteria and Paragon Soul. RISE was settled into a constellation in Feythabolis and began injecting six billion isk each month into the BoB coffers.

Almost immediately, some of the catches became apparent to the more perceptive members of RISE: the alliance had to tower and fuel their rented space with their own isk and their own logisticians, yet without the benefit of any R64 moons (which usually fuel a normal alliance's fuel costs).  Not only that, RISE were obliged by their agreement with BoB to defend their territory against hostile incursions, which commenced shortly after they moved in. This was problematic, because RISE had not taken its new territory by force, so the military skills needed for effective defense had never been developed.

Sharecropping 02

On its face, both parties in the pet system accrue benefits. The master gets a steady flow of capital, an auxiliary military force that can be called upon in emergencies, and can claim sovereign territory without actually having to fuel or maintain towers themselves. The pet derives some status from being affiliated with a stronger entity, gains access to space richer than they would otherwise be capable of holding, and expects that the rented territory will be defended from a strategic assault by the master entity.

After the annihilation of Ascendant Frontier, Band of Brothers relied entirely upon the pet system to populate and defend their three newly-conquered regions. Almost every available constellation was rented out to pets like RISE, Confederation of the Red Moon, and Gods of Night and Day. This enabled BoB to avoid the problem of logistics strain associated with rapid territorial acquisition, provided steady income, and brought thousands of new players to the banner of the 'Greater BoB Community'. The result? Within a year, all of this territory was lost, the pet alliances who once lived there had disbanded, BoB was humiliated, and half of their territory was gone.


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