When writing about war in EVE – the extremely serious business of pixelated spaceships blowing each other up in hopes of controlling an imaginary galaxy – I often find myself adopting a tone of glib nonchalance. After all, the whole enterprise is tremendously silly, regardless of how many hours we collectively invest in it. Unfortunately, a tragedy in the real world has managed to breach the boundaries of New Eden, and my usual flippancy can’t address what happened without bordering on gross disrespect.
On May 22nd, 2009, PFC Roy Mason of Fairfield, California took his own life. A decorated Iraq war veteran of two tours, Roy’s unit was set to deploy to Afghanistan when Roy left his base at Fort Carson, drove to a senic overlook in Santa Cruz, and shot himself during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. He left behind several notes, and called the police before his suicide and requested that they ‘clean up the area’ so that no children had to witness the scene. A memorial quickly grew in his honor.
Roy was an extremely well-known member of Goonfleet, known as ‘RoyofCA’. He was a fixture in our teamspeak lobby for years – sometimes from Iraq over a shaky satellite connection, sometimes from his home. He had a habit of buying forum avatars of his cat for people on goonfleet.com; at one point it seemed as if half of the posters had Dr. FatWhiskers under their name. There was no doubt that his experiences in war had left him with serious emotional problems; to many of us, this was no surprise at all, as he had openly discussed taking his own life before.
Since his untimely death, I have been repeatedly asked by EVE players to tell the story of RoyofCA: how one man – alone – undertook a campaign to bring down an entire alliance of the Swarm’s enemies, and succeeded. To speak of RoyofCA is to chart the demise of RISE, an alliance which once held the best space in Feythabolis.
It was August of 2007 and the First Great War (in which Band of Brothers [BoB] lost half their space, as distinguished from the Second Great War, where BoB was disbanded and lost the rest of it) was at the height of its carnage. By March, Lotka Volterra had been annihilated over mere 47 days, and – after a desperate defense of the newly captured LV territory against BoB, which culminated in the first destruction of Sir Molle’s Avatar Titan – the coalition (Goonswarm, Red Alliance, Tau Ceti Federation and Pandemic Legion, on this front) was steamrolling through Omist and into the BoB-controlled region of Feythabolis and Esoteria.
What awaited the coalition was a territory absolutely littered with pets, renters who had paid BoB for the right to mine and rat in stations they had not conquered for themselves. BoB had farmed out control of Feythabolis and Esoteria to such illustrious forces as Gods of Night and Day (GONAD – no, really, they actually chose that alliance abbreviation of their own volition), Confederation of the Red Moon (CoRM), Southern Connection (SoCo), Anzac Alliance (ANZAC), Digital Renegades (DFC), Executive Outcomes (EXE), Interstellar Starbase Syndicate (ISS), and – the largest of the lot – R i s e (RISE).
Of these renters, RISE had the best constellation in the region, but was only allowed to rat and mine within those seven systems; to do otherwise would violate their contract with BoB. RISE also had the advantage of holding three stations, where the other pets only were able to rent one or two per pet; this meant that RISE would benefit from constellation sovereignty, rendering their ‘RIT Triangle’ much more defensible from hostile invasion than the other pet systems. The invading coalition opted to leave RISE for last, the final pet targeted for destruction in Feythabolis, after snapping up the low-hanging fruit elsewhere.
But that timetable did not sit well with RoyofCA. Roy was a member of Goonswarm’s Black Ops group, famous for using cloaking recon ships to lock down hostile systems. Goonswarm deployed Black Ops to erode RISE’s morale and soften them up while the coalition focused on other pets. Untraceable due to their cloaks, and willing to go afk yet remain logged into the game for days at a time, the enemy could never be certain if a Black Ops fleet was active or not. Bottled up in a single constellation with only one exit, RISE quickly found itself unable to mine or rat, and their alliance income plummeted. As one RISE member put it, after the war:
Cloaking gangs “…prevent[ed] RISE members from being able to easily make isk to replace ship losses with. Also brought a halt to most ratting/mining in the area severely hampering RISE’s ability to generate positive cashflow. This caused an elimination of the ‘ship reimbursement’ program that had previously allowed RISE to quickly replace lost ships for it’s pilots. While this didn’t really affect the more hard-core pvp pilots in the alliance it did put an almost immediate stop to the more care-bear oriented pilots dotting up, thus severely depleting fleet sizes when called.”
Black Ops had typically adhered to a policy of silence in local channels to confuse their prey about the fleet’s activities. RoyofCA chose another path; he was going to shatter RISE’s morale with a relentless onslaught of propaganda. Cloaking his ship in the capital RISE system of RIT, he began his chant.
PEOPLE OF RISE! YOU ARE BEING MISLED AND I CAN PROVE IT!
I know you do not want to listen to an enemy, but there is no harm in listening to a view that is different than your own and I offer only a civil and fact based argument. I give you the truth because it is the best argument I can make. Rise, let me start by showing you the most recent statement by BoB’s leadership to it’s members:
That’s right RISE, BoB leadership has ordered their men to move back to within 12 JUMPS of their capital! You may ask why this is being done, and I will tell you.
The war is going badly for the Band of Brothers, RISE. ED- has fallen and remains in the control of your enemy to the west. Thousands of active members from the Red Swarm Federation have overrun entire regions to the north and east, and continue to gain ground unchecked. BoB’s capital fleet is now outmatched and outnumbered by the combined might of the alliances rallied against it.
Once again I remind you, these are not my opinions; these are facts that can be verified. Do not trust the BoB leadership, do not trust even me, but instead verify these facts through 3rd parties, non-involved bystanders and war observers, and the very stats of the game itself.
As you can see, recorded by eve-maps.com, you have recently lost over 200 members and your numbers continue to fall sharply. We have reports that your leaders wish to leave your current space, RIT, within a matter of 3 weeks at most, sooner if possible.
Why would they do this? Because BoB is misleading them, brave PvPers of RISE! The BoB leadership claims to want to help you, they claim to care about you and have your interests in mind, but it is all a lie and, once again, I CAN PROVE IT!
I ask you, RISE members, where is Hegemon’s titan? I will tell you, it was taken by BoB’s CEO, Shrike! Shrike’s titan was destroyed by a combined fleet of the Red Swarm Federation, and to further his own gameplay wants and needs, he FORCED Hegemon to give up the most precious item in the game. He took the one thing this man cared about in eve online simply so he himself could play and have fun.
This was a member of BoB, RISE members. If they treat their own this badly, what makes you think they care anything of you? They have used countless alliances and corporations in the past to further their own gameplay and will do it again without a care in the universe.
Where is the alliance LV, rise members? I will tell you the TRUTH! It fell to the swarm of enemies at its doorstep because BoB did not care for them. BoB charged them money for space they were unwilling to help defend! LV collapsed without BoB support, RISE members, and they were stronger, wealthier, and controlled more space than you. The enemies of BoB were but a fraction of what they are now at the time, so what will become of you, RISE members?
Do not be so foolish as to not listen to REASON, rise! Trust the truth, verify the facts and you will see that I am right!
Why does BoB make you pay for space you can not make money from, RISE members? They know we camp your systems every day and night. They know you can not mine or rat without a high risk of dying. They know you will have the weight of the largest alliance in eve history pushing down on you soon. They know these things the same as you and I, but why have they ordered the withdrawal from your region? Why have they not brought you supplies, POS fuel, or capital fleets for your defense? Why has BoB not even so much as used a titan to jump bridge one of your members to make a tiny bit of profit somewhere, anywhere?
This barrage continued without pause, day and night. Roy’s capacity for reinventing his propaganda was legendary; while the refrain always began: “PEOPLE OF RISE”, his arguments changed frequently in response to new situations in the war, and included items of leaked GIA intelligence from RISE’s internal forums. He even had his own website for the express purpose of converting RISE, where his message was augmented with graphs and embarrassing chatlogs. In particular, Roy became the prophet of the opening of the Eye of Terror, the jumpbridge link which would connect the heart of Goonswarm territory to doorstep of RISE’s constellation, rendering the subsequent invasion trivially easy.
In response to these imprecations, BoB sent Yaay, one of their fleet commanders, to give a ‘pep talk‘. This was a disaster, not only because Yaay was a terrible public speaker, but also because Yaay and the RISE leadership repeatedly dismissed the growing fears of the RISE membership about the Eye of Terror. RISE and BoB had an opportunity to try to prevent the Eye’s opening; it takes four weeks for sovereignty to hit level 3 and allow jump bridges. Yet in the face of Roy’s ceaseless proselytizing, RISE pointedly did nothing. Their inaction spelled their doom; after four weeks, the Eye opened, and RISE was obliterated.
RoyofCA, you will be missed.
I have mixed feelings about this column, mainly because of the subject matter. Roy’s “People of RISE” campaign was absolutely infamous and is still a common in-joke in nullsec warfare today; even in 2012 you’ll encounter “People of (insert besieged alliance)” in local whenever there’s an invasion. It’s shitty that the guy killed himself, and I feel weird having written about it.
“People of RISE” was a weapon handed to us by BoB. The reason Roy’s campaign was so effective was twofold: one, it was relentlessly repeated and inescapable by the average member of RISE, and two, it was based off the truth: BoB treated RISE like they treated all their renters, using them when it suited them but mostly neglecting them. If he had been spouting easily-falsified half-truths in local, I hazard that the agitprop would have completely backfired.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by The Mittani.