Flying Without Crew?

Hello, everyone.

I’ve been wondering… is it common for capsuleers to fly without any baseliners aboard? I’m looking to keep baseliners off of my ships for as long as possible, and while this is certainly feasible for smaller and less complex ships, I’d like to know when it will become necessary for me to start using baseliner crews, and if there are any workarounds that could potentially allow me to fly solo on larger ships.

As those of you familiar with my situation no doubt remember, I’m still very much afraid to die out there, and I have found little comfort in the idea of losing my life only to be replaced by a clone. However, I also realize how incredibly callous I would be to wallow in my own existential anxiety, without considering the lives of my baseliner crews, who I would be putting at equal - if not greater - risk.

They may do nothing to ease my fear of death, but I can still recognize that backup clones are a great privilege. They guarantee that I will always have a successor to continue the life I leave behind. They give me the comfort of knowing that my friends and loved ones will not suffer the pain of losing me, and that my legacy - my story - will have a chance to continue on, even if I’m not there to see it for myself. Baseliners do not have that privilege, and if I were to vent about my emotional struggles to them, I doubt they would sympathize.

That’s why I’ve decided that unless and until can I overcome my fear of death, I will not employ baseliner crews on any of my ships. I will fly solo - just me, my capsule, and my ship - for as long as I am able. I have no business taking the lives of a crew into my hands, until I’m comfortable taking my own.

The smaller ships I’ve been piloting up until now have functioned just fine without crews. My Atron - the Courage - probably handles better solo than if it would under a baseliner captain and crew. Ditto for my Venture, the Happy Harvest. My Nereus - the Hopeful - functions pretty well for a ship of its size, although docking and in-station maneuvering is a bit cumbersome.

My new Catalyst - the Fearstopper - is a bit trickier. There are a lot more systems to keep track of, and without a crew to man them for me, it can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. It’s nothing I can’t handle, but if I continue to obtain larger and more complex ships, then I doubt I’ll be able to keep this up for much longer. It’s going to turn into a pretty significant handicap sooner or later.

So, any thoughts? I’m sure I’m not the only capsuleer who wants to avoid baseliner crews for one reason or another, and there must be some kind of workaround involving AI or something like that. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if some madman out in null-sec has figured out a way to fly cruisers and battleships by himself.

Or, maybe… I just have to get comfortable with the whole idea. One of these days - whether I want to or not - I will probably have to ask ordinary human beings to risk their lives on my ships. And when that day comes, they will deserve to know that I am willing to risk mine without hesitation or complaint.

And from where I’m sitting, it’s hard to imagine myself doing that.


Alicia Nguyen
Independent Capsuleer


Have you considered a Suroken National insurance plan for your crew?


So, first… if you stick with Gallente hulls, you can minimize the number of crew you need. They generally use a lot of automation and even some drones in limited ways. I think, though, that the limits of that hit at, well, destroyers.

Beyond that, though, keep in mind that baseliner crew can have softclone backups made these days. It’s not a perfect solution, even if you believe in clone ‘immortality’, but it at least provides some measure of insultation for their families.


CreoDron’s development bureaus would be overjoyed to make a breakthrough in automating ship systems in such a way. The best attempts I’ve seen are a couple of experiments stacking AIs synced with a contingent of multi-purpose drones, but inevitably the maintenance costs become prohibitively expensive and the controller intelligences can become too difficult to wrangle. Put simply: The left hand doesn’t know or care what the right hand is doing.


I see this mindset very often. You aren’t the first one to worry about crew casualties. I’m of the opinion that if you’re terrified of casualties, you’ve probably chosen the wrong profession. Exceptions exist: Ace frigate pilots may not be risking their own crew, but they will certainly rack up a body count. I know a pilot who has never fired a shot in her fifteen year career, but she makes a living hauling materials to make warships. Nobody stays in this line of work while keeping their hands completely clean but if going above and beyond the usual assurances for crew safety help to keep your conscience clear, go ahead.

Personally, while I don’t waste lives frivolously, I do undock with a purpose, and I will use the best tool available to accomplish that purpose. Most often that means a crewed vessel. Treat your crews well, try not to waste their lives, and they’ll have the confidence to serve aboard your larger vessels knowing that you’re going to do what you reasonably can to bring them home.


Captain Nguyen,

First I should express my support for the value you place on the lives of others, as I do not wish to cheapen your views in any way regarding potential crews.

With that caveat said, I’ll raise a point that often gets lost in the weeds when struggling with our own moral dilemmas.
It’s easy to forget that the crews who put their lives in your hands are extremely well compensated, and there are steps you can take to ensure this is the case.

In many cases this hazard pay is their only reasonable path to achieving the lives they want for themselves and their family. A tour on a responsible, fair Capsuleer’s vessel is a coveted one.

Yes, we should value their lives very highly. Likewise their intelligence and their agency.


Solution: Use slaves. Particularly Minmatar slaves, who aren’t even human, but subhuman.

I commend the value you place on the preservation of life and I share the sentiment.

Others have already provided very solid advice so I wanted instead to focus on this part of your message and hopefully give you some guidance here.

The simple truth is that you will have to get comfortable with the idea. Technology and AI are advanced but not to the point of replacing a human component of the larger and more advanced vessels we fly. We essentially replace the command crew of a vessel but there is so much more that needs to be done that even the most experienced among capsuleers still enlists the aid of baseliner crew.

There is something you can do, however, and that is to practice informed consent. Ensure that anyone signing on to crew your vessels is aware of the risk they are placing themselves into, is appropriately compensated (them and their families, as many who take such jobs expect to leave a great deal to their families) and knows what type of activities you are likely to engage in so they understand fully the risks they are signing on to.

It may not fully alleviate your hesitation or your sense of responsibility and guilt (and this is good) but you can at least be confident that you are providing all of the information up front and allowing them to make their own educated decisions.


Do I really seem like the kind of person who would be open to a racist ideology like that? Are you so myopic as to believe that your suggestion would accomplish anything in this situation, other than getting you scolded?

I’m Gallente. My values are Gallente. I operate in Gallente space, where slavery is a crime. I couldn’t participate in your barbaric institution even if I wanted to.

Which I don’t.

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He doesn’t care. He’s just looking for any conversation thread that gives him the opportunity to spout his nonsense.


two posts by Nauplius in the last month against Arrendis’s 72 posts at the same time, so it’s probably clear who’s just looking for an excuse here…

Possible? Sure. Short sorties in small vessels with regular repair and maintenance manage it all the time. I’ve tried to maintain it as a standard in high frigate attrition conflicts. The warzone stands as the most obvious opportunity.

Recommended though? I don’t know. Most of my ships often need at least some crew. Even the simplest frigates benefit from maintenance engineers on board for extended conflict. I tend to run my engines hot; and things break. Nanites fix a lot; but I often need eyes and expertise that can succeed where automation fails. And once I’ve got crew on board, I’m not cutting any corners. We’re not risking the vessel and its crew because I’m trying to reduce risk on how many souls we bring aboard. Every aftermarket navy module gets specialist to help operate it. A federal navy technician is hired anytime I use one of their enhanced webifier modules. Ditto for Republic Fleet shield extenders. I’m not going to risk my crew because we don’t have the expertise we need to push the ship to its limits.

That being said, sometimes you know its a suicide run.

I’d say; learn not to live in fear of your crews mortality, but learn instead to fly to survive. Learn to win every fight you can. To preserve your ship and your crew wherever you can. Be the best you can be for them, so that lives are lost for your failings as seldom as possible. But do not limit what you can achieve out of fear. In doing that, you’ll only let down what crew you’re forced to take on as you fly larger vessels.

When there is no hope for survival, I’d recommend having a small crew with backup clones ready for you. Such a thing is expensive; and such individuals seldom have the skills needed for a more specialized full time crew. But if you know the ship won’t be redocking again; sometimes a less competent crew with clones available can be the best way to preserve life.

Its perhaps not the answer you were looking for; but I think its the one you need. Fully automated vessels are a pipedream; and only truly feasible for the simplest of vessels and the shortest of missions. Better to start learning to limit death now while the number of crew onboard is minimal, then risk greater catastrophe later for your inexperience.


Technically, you could undock even Abaddon without crew, it will just need you to decant and run for couple minutes turning on and checking everything before undocking, then getting into capsule back and giving command to undock, decant again and run around the ship more, doing everything that needs to be done.

It’s a nice physical activity to keep yourself in a good form, if you keep in mind the abaddon is over a kilometer long ship.

You can fly ships, of course, without crew, the main question though is how efficient it will be. I don’t think you will be able to win any realistic combat even in a frigate if you run it without a crew.

But the more important question you should ask yourself is…


Why would you become a capsuleer in the first place, because capsuleers are not just pilots of capsules, but trained specifically to fight, to be captains and commanders of large vessels with large crew compliments. If you’re a captain and trained as a leader of the crew, why do you refuse the crew? You are given people whom you’re responsible with, who under your command will be performing combat operation.

After all, we all die, we don’t know how and when - that is not for us to decide. Our lives are just ways of preparing ourselves for the most significant point of our lives - our deaths. And we must face it proudly with honor, while fighting against the enemies with weapons in hands, with dignity, so our desdendants will be proud and our ancestors to accept our spirits.

There is a good saying though, that those who don’t afraid of death are not brave, but idiots. Bravery and courage is not about ignoring the danger, but acting disregarding your fear and the danger you’re facing.

And if you’re afraid of your death or death of those under your command to degree that it prevents you from doing your Duty…
… then you’re simply unfit for the job.

– D. Kim, Strike Cmdr.

So, a quick … thing on backup clones and likely suicide missions?

The backup is exactly that: a copy of the subject’s infomorph at the time the backup is made. Every subsequent heartbeat takes the “backed up” subject farther away from that moment, and farther away from the person that they were at that time.

At some point many or most will realize who the backup is really for. It’s for the people who’ll survive them: family, friends, loved ones.

There’s one person that the backup will matter to very little: the person from whom it’s made, and who walks on from that time towards their death. That person isn’t the one who’ll wake up in the clone bay.

Knowing that might be a comfort, or it might be more demoralizing than more straightforwardly going to one’s death. It could be easy to feel jealousy for one’s copy, to resent that one’s current self is most likely doomed.

“I’m going to die,” one might think, “And nobody is going to care but me, only I won’t be there, then, either. There’ll be nothing left of me but this thing I’m leaving behind to take my place.”

Such an arrangement is very convenient, and I’d recommend it as a precautionary measure to any egger. But it might be a good idea to be mindful of your crew’s psychological states if you try to rely on such a thing to guarantee their “survival” when ferrying them to their deaths.

It’s not the crew dying in your service that you’re saving at that point. It’s a version of themselves that never went on that final flight with you to begin with.


All ships including capsuler based ones have a crew according to except for a shuttle maybe. A frigate with no mods depending on race and if capsuler base will have anywhere from 1-10. A titan would have 3k-10k. If you look at max capacity a titan can have over 100k crew. Implementing Ship Crews » Crossing Zebras – EVE Online articles, videos, news

In a very real sense to me, Capsuleers are spirits. We exist beyond this moment. The crew aboard our ships are assisting in the fulfillment of our purpose. I wish to be a benevolent spirit, and as such, it is my hope – no, more than that – it is my duty to give a noble purpose to the lives and deaths of those assisting me.

This is why I must fight for a worthy cause. If I am to spend the lives of my crew, their deaths must have been for the sake of a noble purpose. Otherwise, I am not a benevolent spirit. I am a devil.


It is not common for most vessels that ply the stars to operate without crew, even with the great strides made in starship automation over the decades and of course, the capabilities afforded by the capsule in respect of reducing crew numbers. At the risk of reiterating on what others have already advised, I will give you my thoughts on what you’ve put forward to the rest of us.

Very few starships are automated to the point of not requiring crew members, even those outfitted for operation by capsule. Those of Federation design tend to have the fewest demands on crew requirements, with Imperial-spec vessels also having reduced crew requirements. The smaller the vessel, the less crew required, although there are exceptions such as destroyer-class vessels which require a higher than usual complement.

Speaking as a veteran captain that has been sailing the spacelanes for over a decade now, if you are not prepared to accept the possibility that those that have entrusted their lives to your command may perish in your ventures throughout New Eden, you have no business being in command. Space is not an environment that humans can survive in easily, just as the oceans our ancestors plied could be unforgiving to them as space can be to us. And just as they accepted that risk, you must come to terms in your own time that the possibility of death is what all spacers accept when they leave the security of a station or a planet. There is a reason why spacers in the Federation are widely regarded as being some of the most courageous amongst the populace for venturing into the stars, after all.

That said, you have a duty as part of the responsibility of command to do your utmost to bring your ship and crew back to harbour. You exhibit the right attitude towards not wanting to be frivolous with life and to respect its sanctity with respect to your crew. I have no doubt that you will in time find the confidence to accept your responsibility as a captain. It is not, and rightfully should never be an easy burden to bear, but one that you must learn to.


It’s quite an amusing thought that you consider yourself a spirit. I just consider myself a human just as those who fly alongside me inside my ships. While capsuleers have higher survivability due to capsule ejection mechanisms, capsuleers are still the same frail bodies as those who fly under our command. It’s just transmission of this spirit (as you say), or as other say - infomorths, as others say - consciouseness, this transmission gives us the feeling that we continue lives or out ancestors, and the capsule interfaces helps us abstract from our bodies, creating this spirit-esque feeling of own existence.

While in fact we’re just the same. When people killed, they die. As so do we, just when we die, all our memories and experienced are passed down to our ‘children’, to our clones who will keep living our lives when we will be gone.

And in that regard, average lifetime of a capsuleer is exponentially smaller than average lifetime of baseliner. We are born already adults and we can die in a matter of days or even hours, with that silly belief that we are ‘immortal’ and will just come back…

Have you considered using crews consisting of sculpted biomass, cloned into human form using potentially blasphemous archaeotechnology, thereby possibly committing crimes against morality, God, science, and reason, simultaneously?
Sure they go psychotic eventually, but only 3% more often than crews consisting of convicts drafted from the nearest supermax prison.

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Sculpted biomass shaped into a human form with no regard for morality that show a pronounced tendency toward psychotic breaks are called capsuleers, Val. :stuck_out_tongue: