Freeports are dead

David Matterall 2018-04-06

Editor’s note: This article comes to us from Matterall of Talking in Stations. It has been published unedited apart from minor tweaks for spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

“Matterall, btw,”

I’m a meme now. Based on a Runescape meme of “I’m an ironman btw,” announcing one’s importance. It is an elitist remark that morphed into EVE as “wormholer btw,” which doesn’t quite fit since few wormhole dwellers are arrogant. Me on the other hand…

There I was, tricked and trapped on a false freeport Fortizar in a Jump freighter – the third most expensive class of ship. While trying to escape, I paid a five-billion-ISK ransom and told the pirates I was “Matterall,” which was true. I figure the combination of paying something and name dropping was my only chance, even if it delayed the inevitable long enough for my corp to bail me out. That didn’t work, so I told them I worked closely with Mittani—their coalition executor. I was on an NC. character and caught by Imperium pirates. They are mortal enemies. There was no way out now, so I turned to generic diplomatic threats – which, didn’t work either.

There was a time when legendary pirate groups like Veto Corp roamed the stars, raiding ships and ransoming their freedom, but that time is probably over. Honorable pirates are rare these days, and that is a real loss for EVE. It takes an “honor your ransom” consensus among pirates to make it a viable option for any captive to pay. It would take hardy leadership like Veto’s Verone (now CCP Falcon) to enforce the code on his corp members, but there are few leaders like that left and killboard padding is too tempting.

There should be a way to create a registry of honorable pirates, so a captive could determine if paying is going to work. But that’s work for some imaginative player out there.

Fake Fortizar Traps

The larger concern is the spread of fake Fortizars eating away the trustworthiness of true freeport Fortizars. Before we go into fake Fortizars, this public announcement needs to be made:

FREEPORT FORTIZARS ARE DEAD

Once again…

JUMPING TO A FREEPORT FORT = DEATH

Circa 2014, Phoebe Freeport Republic [PFR] took sov in Etherium Reach. With the opening of its first station to the general public, the concept of freeporting was born. That meant their station (this was before Fortizars) and sov were open to the public. Anyone could dock and access the services, like cloning. A second freeport was created, and the concept took off, even if PFR did not.

Later, in 2016, the Citadels expansion introduced Fortizars and tethering for capital ships. The Freeport concept merged with the new Fortizar under the planned banner of the New Eden Trading Company [NETC]. The idea was to create a network of freeport structures within jump range of each other. The network would allow goods and services to be distributed to the edges of null-sec for better access.

The plan heavily relied on Fortizars; Keepstars were too expensive. After the financier of the project was banned for real money trading (RMT), a charge which he denied, the project stalled and decayed. Fake ‘freeport’ Fortizars by groups like The Ivana Trading Federation was put up in the same systems as the NETC stations. Once a ship lights a cyno, the Fortizar’s access list is changed to block docking rights for the public. Since there is no delay in this mechanic, the ship jumping in has no way of beating the change – it’s locked out upon arrival. Then a battle Rorqual moves in and locks down the capital ship.

The Ivana Trading Federation successes have been noticed by other groups that are putting down many fake Fortizars now. Most nullsec groups avoid using anything other than their own structures to jump to, but returning players come back from breaks and assume the freeports are still free. They are the ones caught off guard.

The recent tethering changes no longer allow capital ships to instantly tether to any structure. This means they will always be vulnerable unless they can dock, which makes traveling along a dangerous prospect. Supercapital and titan pilots should only jump to a Keepstar, or be accompanied by allies. In light of the new tethering changes, the NETC concept was abandoned, and the structures were given to Ghost Legion.

Freeports are dead, long live Sanctuaries!

The groups that put down fake Fortizars will try to mimic the corporate names and structure names of the groups that have freeports. This type of impersonation has been reported to CCP, but without results. Impersonation is something CCP takes seriously, but this phenomenon is not considered a violation of their rules.

The result is some Keepstar owners of the former NETC network are forming a league of Sanctuary Keepstars in place of Freeport Fortizars. The independent owners leave their Keepstars open to the public with some exceptions. The fake Freeporters, criminals, and in some cases entire alliances could threaten the region.

Keepstars cost 200-300 billion ISK each and are too expensive to be used as traps. They are also at high risk of getting targeted by Ghost Legion allies, such as NC/PL and others. The high barrier-of-entry may save the concept of public structures.

The concept was introduced on Talking In Stations.

Being a meme isn’t all bad in an era where all publicity is good publicity, but the more interesting aspect of this is the evolution of ideas. The freeport idea is a noble extension of NRDS (Not Red Don’t Shoot) philosophy of spacefaring, but when merged with player-anchorable Fortizars, the die was cast. The idea of counterfeiting freeport Fortizars to catch unsuspecting pilots was a good idea that unfortunately killed freeports. With CCP not getting involved, the players found their own solution and raised the bar on the counterfeiting pirates. Whether it works or not remains to be seen, but the evolution of EVE is a marvelous thing to watch, even for me – Matterall, btw.

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Comments

  • Arrendis

    FREEPORT FORTIZARS ARE DEAD

    Don’t tell that to CalMil. Their Asakai Freeport’s been incredibly useful for a lot of people.

    April 6, 2018 at 2:59 pm
    • This is Public Safety Announcement (PSA) for players on break to not jump from nullsec to unsafe fake fortizars 😀

      April 6, 2018 at 3:06 pm
  • Point of clarification: Although I like it when articles come full circle – the last part of the article is not meant to be a threat.

    I meant the realities of EVE are that provi and NRDS and all the “please dont kill us’ are fine but not effective. They will get overrun when they have something of value a stronger group wants – sadly. So the alternative is to be strong too, where necessary. If that Ivana corp drop a fake Keepstar that will threaten the integrity of the open port trust as a whole and should be destroyed. But the Sanctuary Keepstars is not going to do it.

    But local powers might, since keepstars are a threat Anything other Keepstar in Auenenen system, for example, will probably be too close to NC to ignore. NC will take it out. That’s a high risk for fake freeporters.

    April 6, 2018 at 5:22 pm
  • Feiryred

    Don’t tell the Thieves Guild FFS!!! Oh wait…..:D

    April 6, 2018 at 9:35 pm
  • I love that!

    April 6, 2018 at 10:05 pm
  • WhiteHalo117

    Wait pirates don’t honor their ransoms anymore?

    April 6, 2018 at 10:40 pm
  • Krull

    I know Matterall that knows The Mittani!

    April 6, 2018 at 11:14 pm
  • Kael Decadence

    I wish I had a margarita for all that salt.

    April 7, 2018 at 12:45 am
  • Sirhan Blixt

    I’m pretty sure that Phoebe Freeport Republic weren’t the first one’s to try out the freeport concept. I recall at least one “freeport” station in Fade back in 2006, but dotlan doesn’t go back that far. What probably confuses things is that most of the outfits selling this concept, under duress, turned out to not be so neutral after all.

    April 7, 2018 at 3:57 am
    • you are prob right, but PFR was the “modern times,” version that evolved into fortizar freeports. Before 2010 there was NRDS and all that… as far back as Delve’s Coalition of Free Stars. There must be examples of freeports before PFR..

      April 8, 2018 at 7:42 am
  • Deni'z von Meanace

    Sorry but I didn’t get the idea of article. So Ghost Legion is part of Panfam and would treat any newly deployed KS with pretty much same names nearby Aunenen and Maila KStars?

    April 7, 2018 at 6:37 am
    • The idea of the article is:

      1. Do not use freeport fortizar, they are too easy to fake.
      2. Keepstars are best, very difficult to fake.
      3. Someday, starting now, there will be a group of safe keepstars.

      Also Fafer is not in PanFam, he is in DRF. He knows many people in Panfam, but also all over EVE. He’s played a long time at a high leaderhsip level.

      April 8, 2018 at 7:48 am
  • Rolfski

    The biggest threat to the future of Freeports seems to me not so much that people are faking it, but that can be potentially abused as a staging ground for invaders.

    If you are a smaller alliance though, the extra traffic and economic activity that comes with a freeport in your sovspace, combined with a Not Red Don’t Shoot policy, can be a plus.

    April 7, 2018 at 7:25 pm
    • I agree and would really like to see more NRDS in EVE. I hope Sancturaies end up being an evolution of the concept.

      April 8, 2018 at 7:47 am
      • Sylphinja the Dark Rose Matterall

        Too bad the last bastion of NRDS is dying because PanFam grew into an unstoppable force.

        April 10, 2018 at 9:47 am
  • Eli

    We Goons tried to set up plenty of Freeports in the North under the Brand Name “Roach Motels”, but NC. tore them all down. I mean, you try and do a good deed and this happens!

    April 9, 2018 at 4:52 am