PvP in null-sec is hard work. Unlike low-sec fighting, you don’t have the advantage of a full local channel to mask your nefarious intent. Generally, ratters are happily plugging away at pirates until you show up in local, at which point they safe up. Various suggestions have been floating around the Eve forums about removing local entirely or delaying it, but I find that a bit extreme.
I sympathize with the ratters who want to have some warning they’re about to be dropped on (and dscan isn’t enough… if an interceptor is traveling at 9.0 au/sec, you have maybe 4-5 seconds from the moment it hits dscan until you’re targeted, and a battleship can’t align that quickly). But I also think we need to boost the ability of roamers to get a target once in a while.
My solution: planetary nebulas1.
Yes, the name is absurd, as nebulas are huge swaths of space that don’t fit within a single solar system, but I’m sure the good folks at CCP can come up with something that works equally well. These nebulas would be cosmic anomalies existing in every system that would not only mask any ships inside from dscan, but from local as well. The only way to tell if anyone was inside would be to go in there and have a visual look. But – and here’s the kicker – you could see everyone outside the nebula on dscan and in local without any problems.
Being cosmic anomalies, they would move regularly, so scouts and afk campers would at least have to warp to the new anomaly from time to time. The nebula would need to be only about 200km across to prevent folks from slow boating off the grid to become perfectly undetectable.
You could light cynos in them without showing up on the overview, making it possible to bring whole fleets in surreptitiously.
Roaming gangs would have a place to hide their numbers until their scouts found a target. Find a nice empty system, warp into the nebula, and wait while traffic passes you buy, entirely unaware of your presence. The possibilities are endless, whereas now, intel channels make it impossible for any gang to travel any distance in secrecy. If a gang disappears from intel, they could be hiding in literally any system.
Ratters could still see the initial local spike when the roamer enters system, but he would disappear when he enter the nebula. Curious if it’s safe? Better go in and have a look yourself. Warping at range would work just fine, but did you pick the right distance to be out of his point range?
I love the possibilities of this kind of mechanic. If we removed local entirely or delayed it, the ratter would only have the time it takes for a ship to appear on dscan to escape – with nebulas, this would be the same. The only difference is that in a nebula system, the ratter would have warning that someone entered, then “left” system, and would have the opportunity to make a judgment call as to whether it’s safe to resume his PvE activities.
I think a mechanic like this would help roamers tremendously, while allowing smart, cautious ratters a good chance to survive. That’s what Eve is all about, right? Punishing the reckless and rewarding the intelligent?
1And yes, I know that the proper plural is "nebulae", but "nebulas" has become ubiquitous and is more comprehensible to most readers. It's a living language, yo.