Thursday, March 8, 2012

Social Engineering

A quick login today found me in Amarr with about an hour to spare and nothing planned. I thought about grabbing my muninn again for some more exploration, but then remembered the depressing results of yesterday. Wormholes had been good though. I checked out some of the C2 wormholes I had scanned down some 12-14 hours earlier in the surrounding systems. There were both fairly empty and devoid of signs of life, either sleeper or human.

I proceeded on to the C3s. I wouldn't be able to run sleeper sites in these very easily or quickly by myself, but there's always the opportunity to disrupt someone else who's doing them. The first C3 wormhole in Amarr had collapsed. But as I landed on the other, a 6-month-old player in a probe warped off grid. He opened a conversation with me as I jumped through. I assumed he was a scout for a fleet inside, letting them know what was jumping through. But that misconception was quickly laid to rest.

He asked me to tell him about wormholes and what kind of ship were needed to clear the sites. I told him a couple well-fit battlecruisers was sort of the minimum for a class 3 wormhole. He asked if his maelstrom battleship would work. At this, I began to sense an opportunity. I asked if he wanted to 'come shoot sleepers' with me.

An interesting psychological phenomenon I've noticed among most high-sec dwellers is that they won't venture into low-sec or null-sec because it's dangerous. But at the same time, they have no qualms about entering wormhole space. Why they don't take the bright red -1.0 at the top corner of their screen as a warning is beyond me. But my goal is to teach people to take system security ratings seriously, one carebear at a time.

Triggerbot had unknowingly enrolled in my experimental course on wormhole safety by agreeing to come along. I put a fleet up and warped us both from station to the wormhole, while asking about his fit. Artillery - perfect. I had to get us away from the end-of-life wormhole, or I risked him jumping back to safety. With about 10 other ships on scan, including a trio of tengus that I didn't want to tangle with, I squad warped us to the far side of the system, out of scan range. My more nimble command ship landed before his battleship. As soon as he dropped out of warp, I locked him up, pulled in a close orbit under his guns, shut down his warp engines, and proceeded to whittle down his shields. I recalled the cataclysmic variable system effects that would reduce his local shield boosting ability, making my job easier. His shields slowly wore down at an interminable pace, while his booster nearly kept up with my damage. But wear down they did. And more importantly, his capacitor drained. He made a couple fuitle attempts at attacking back. His artillery cannons missed completely, and his flight of mixed heavy and medium T1 drones were swatted back by my hobgoblin IIs.

Once he entered structure and his fate was certain, I offered a ransom. 120 million for his maelstom to go free. I was wary of a counter-attack or a third party intervening, so I gave him 60 seconds to comply. He told me he would pay, but with 20 seconds left, he began a self-destruct sequence. His remaining structure evaporated under pressure from my EMP rounds. I scrambled to catch his pod, but he got it out in time (I really need a sebo on this thing). Looting what I could from the wreck, I quickly warped back to high-sec, mindful that the wormhole would be collapsing soon.

After depositing my loot in station and restocking ammunition, Triggerbot notified me he was lost. In my quick squad warp to get us off the wormhole, he hadn't bookmarked the exit. We were still in fleet, so I told him I would come back so he could warp to the exit. What I didn't tell him was that I was coming in a triple-sebo stabber with a small anchorable bubble. I flew 10km off of the wormhole and dropped the bubble, anchoring it. While waiting the 120 seconds for the bubble to anchor, his pod warped on top of me. I was still off of the wormhole, so I quickly locked him up, popped the pod, and scooped the corpse, reminding him in fleet to upgrade his clone.

Triggerbot wasn't happy. With good reason. He was 200 mil poorer than he was expecting he would be an hour earlier. He asked me how I could betray his trust like that and why I would shoot a fleet member. When straightforward maneuvering doesn't get the results you like, sometimes social engineering works. I'm not in it for the tears. I pointed him in the direction of some resources (that wouldn't shoot at him) that would help guide him in future wormhole activites.

I believe that people are generally good and trustworthy. But if I were completely friendly toward and implicitly trusting of everyone I talked to in Eve, who would be left to shoot?

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