Pirates in Eve Online


Few topics have generated as many blogposts over the years as the topic of Piracy in these pages. I wrestled with this topic way back in the early days when I was first exposed to the concept and to the history of Low Security space inside of New Eden. And over the years I've had many people ask me to properly define what it means to be a "pirate" in Eve Online. Rixx Javix is a Pirate. Stay Frosty is a Pirate Corporation. I often say things like "Old-School Pirates" in posts. But what does any of that actually mean? What exactly is a Pirate in the context of Eve Online? (And despite what my detractors might like you to believe, I did not name myself Pirate Lord. Charles didn't name himself Space Pope either. People have been calling me versions of the Pirate Lord for a very long time and I just adopted it and owned it.)

Here are the four things you must have to be a Pirate in Eve Online:

1) A negative security status (-5 or below is criminal)

2) Combat is about "profit".

3) You operate under a Code of Conduct.

4) The intangible "good fight".

So first of all as Eve Online defines "criminal", which is the basis of being a Pirate - you need a negative sec status on your character. This doesn't mean you can't have alts for trading, or other activities (most of us do). But it means your primary character maintains a negative security status. Otherwise you are not a Pirate. You are something else. I hate to break it to you but Pirates do not exist in High Security space, those are people pursuing a different type of game-play generally speaking. (There are exceptions. Sometimes LS Pirates will jump certain ships in HS space. This is called Ganking. There are other examples.)

Because of their sec status Pirates typically operate solely in Low Security space. This is their home. It is the Carribean of New Eden.

There are pilots in Stay Frosty that operate outside of this rule. That's fine. Everyone has their reasons for pursuing their own path in space. And Stay Frosty often includes a wide variety of game play options for our members. But while they are doing those activities they are not always Pirates in the true sense of the word. And yet, Stay Frosty remains a Pirate Corporation. It isn't complicated.

"Profit" is the goal of every Pirate. And yet profit can have many definitions. Typically it means the pursuit of loot - the remaining cargo, modules, drones, and other items left over after combat. But it can also mean "good fights" or punching above your weight class or simply the pursuit of killmails. In some cases the collection of corpses. Whatever you define as "profit" is what motivates your actions within the game. This again is a primary goal, but it doesn't always have to be the goal. Pirates can group together to defend themselves, or go on extended roams, or dive into Null Sec or Wormhole space or anything else they want to do.

Pirates operate under a code of conduct that defines their actions, honor, and camaraderie. This is critical and you can read the Stay Frosty Code here for an example. I wrote this code based off of the one Ka-Jolo wrote which was in turn based off of an earlier version that has its roots all the way back to the very first Pirates in Eve Online. It is our guiding principle and each member of Stay Frosty is expected to live by it every time they log into Eve. There is zero tolerance for breaking the Code no matter who you are. Over the years I've had to make many difficult decisions based on this principle and I have made those decisions without fail. Each and every time. 

All of these go together to form an intangible last point that drives at the heart of what makes Stay Frosty so special and what I believe is the true measure of what makes a real Pirate inside of the game - the "good fight".

Many people have a basic misunderstanding of what a good fight is. It is not a meeting of equals or of fairness or equity between combatants - no such conditions exist inside of Eve Online. A good fight, first and foremost, is one that I win or could have won had conditions been slightly different. A good fight is one in which you had a chance to win. It was close. Or it was won because I was more crafty than my opponent. Or smarter. Or faster. Or positioned better. And vice versa. Because you do not always win a good fight, sometimes your opponent does. And yet it was still a good fight.

A Pirate lives to score an above his own weight class fight. A frigate that takes down a battleship for example. Or a close fight that goes down into structure. A fight that leaves your ship on fire and in need of repair. These are the fights that define us. Something to share with your group. These can be rare, precious things, but it ultimately is what we all live for. A good fight can be challenging to define, but every Pirate knows one when it happens.

Anything else is PvP or Combat. And not piracy. Nothing wrong with those things, but they aren't piracy. 

If you'd like further reading on this subject I recommend the following posts:

Yarr, What be Piracy? (2015)

What Makes A Pirate in Eve (2016)

Pirate, or common criminal? (2013)

Pirate Apologist (2020)

Pirate, what does it mean? (2012)

Oh and I forgot to mention an important aspect of piracy inside of Eve - freedom. Pirates are free to do whatever the heck we want, fly whatever we want, use whatever ammo we want, and fight any way we want. As long as we do so within the Code - pirates have the freedom to do whatever we want. Without allegiance to empires, or anyone else other than our brothers and sisters in arms.