I am a Minmatar leader of loyalist capsuleers for soon two decades - AMA


We’re entering a year of historical significance: 20 years ago in YC105 first independent capsuleers saw space, 10 years ago in YC115 the new tribal Republic saw it’s first light.

For the first decade of that time, I was known as, to quote, “without doubt the staunchest supporter of Prime Minister Karin Midular in space”. During the latter I’ve been called many less flattering names, of which I personally favor “terror harlot peddling guns and rebellion across holy Amarr” and “the EDI Oracle”, though maybe “some damn paper-pushing politician” or “a relic with questionable loyalties and zero recent flight hours” are closer to truth.

I am Elsebeth Shaninn, of Rhiannon, born Rhiannon, mother to the Chief of Rhiannon, member of the Sebiestor Tribe, independent capsuleer, CEO of SoE Roughriders, former CEO of Gradient, former executor and current head diplomat / quartermaster of Electus Matari.

In honor of this year of remembrance about to begin - ask me anything.


How do you live with the horror — the absolute horror — of being Minmatar?

There’s way worse things out there in the universe.

20 years huh… who’s the longest-running face you still see around, Elsebeth?

I would like to know more about your clan and where you are from. Do you have a favorite past memory from before you went capsuleer? Any favorite place you liked to visit or spend time at?

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After so many hundreds of years in slavery or threat there-of, being constantly under the terror of threat has become internal to our culture. Everyone prepares, everyone fights. If the Day of Darkness happened today, it would end up a very different day.

I am Minmatar. The threat of the Enemy is what I was born to and raised in. I suppose it does bring with itself a certain kind of fatalism. The universe is not a nice place, and mine is definitely not a clan that expects it to be, and I definitely have no illusions about how fragile our existence as a free people is.

But it does not feel like ‘horror’, as such, to me, it just feels like… what it is.

(And yes, I know that is not what you meant, exactly. This is the best I can answer the question as phrased.)

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Let me see. I think the oldest I still personally somewhat interact with is Xaar of Ushra’Khan? Other old faces still around include Gaven Lok’ri of PIE Inc, certain Wildlands folks such as G0rg0n and Duck, and in EM there are James LaFond, my dearest and oldest friend outside of kin, and Hobblah my ever-favorite mercenary.

It is difficult to remember who came in at which point, during the first few years, so I might miss obvious people? And to be clear, many people predate me. I wasn’t among the very first, though I was in the first bigger wave of us graduating.

EDITed to add: There’s so many more who are not around anymore. You’re not immortal, capsuleers, whatever your recruiting officer told you.


I will pick a set of memories that answers both.

In my clan as I believe in many others, young people born at the roughly same time to close families are called a ‘cohort’ and are expected to play, study, train, and grow up together. The word we call each other is syskon, which the translator tends to render as “sibling” or “brother/sister”, but the translator also renders [translator: sibling, a person sharing at least one parent] and [translator: sister/brother, honorific address] the same way, so it is entirely useless conveying the emotional meaning of it.

Your cohort is the people who will share the your life for the longest time: your parents and older siblings have lives before you, your children and younger siblings come after you have started yours, but your syskon have always been there for you and have shared all their life with you, until one of you dies.

Close by to the city of Sundsele there is a hilly wilderness area we grandly call “the mountains” though having seen mountains in Tronhadar and Caldari Prime maybe I have to say we are a little grandiose. I have many good memories and some memories that are maybe not good but make a good story from spending time there with my cohort, both for leisure and for basic training.

It is a place both lush and desolate, and it makes me think of Matar-that-was. My sister Jo always claimed that up on the Mountains she could sense the presence of ancient and alien spirits that lived there before the tribe arrived in times before myths began, but I think she was just trying to scare us. She certainly did not grow up to be any kind of a shaman or priest.


What is the most hidden spiritual knowledge of the Rhiannon, that you are willing to speak of in public?

The most hidden spiritual secret of the Rhiannon probably is that we are not a very spiritual people :smiley:

That aside, Fate exists not only on the level of individuals but also on the level of clans and peoples. Just like every person has a Fate that is brought manifest in a Mark, every clan has a place in the world that is natural for them and Fate carrying them through the river of time.

Sometimes people are born into the wrong clan, and a marriage or an adoption can be as much about giving them to their right one, the spiritually correct one, than about making connections and sealing alliances. We in Rhiannon only very rarely marry out, and we tend to marry in only from certain allied clans. Exceptions to this more or less do not happen unless there is recognition on a spiritual level, that it needs to happen.

I have never seen the rituals that confirm that need; I was born Rhiannon and I remain Rhiannon and they are [translator: sacred, holy, forbidden] to those who do not need them. My husband has; he was born Quildar in Osoggur, not even on the homeworld, but we now believe he never truly was one. Fate brought him to me because he always was one of us.


Is a group of Capsuleers easier or harder to manage than a group of Small Children ?


Have you ever seriously considered a life of piracy? And related, with nearly 2 decades of time spent in organizations that identify as antipirate, what would you say is the most compelling argument against destroying and looting a neutral capsuleer’s ship?

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I am not a child person, at all, so I have no real experience in managing groups of children, unless you count giving younger sisters and brothers more sweets or presents than is entirely sensible so you get them out of your hair.

That said, I assume it is easier to manage a group of adult capsuleers than it is a group of children of any kind. If I for some reason had to convince my capsuleers to make paper frogs or practice the first songs of change or a basic unarmed combat drill, I am pretty sure they’d manage without much more grumbling about my ideas than usual. If on the other hand I had to convince a group of unnamed cousins to run a spaceship fleet or to co-operate to create a good workflow for filling a SCC market shopping list, I’d have much harder time.

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I have. After the death of My Chief, and the resulting tumultuous time, I seriously considered going pirate, though even then with the idea of limiting my actions into what I consider hostile or free space. I made other choices, and maybe they were not any better ones.

I do not think there is a general case good argument against destroying and looting a ship. There are situation-dependent arguments, such as, most relevant to us, the ship is in friendly space and you wish to protect trade and leisure there, you wish to encourage concentrating on targets of higher priority, the ship is likely to carry innocent allied or neutral baseliners you have no wish to harm, and/or you hold loyalty to parties who forbid or frown upon such actions in areas they control or wish to control.


How do you think the Republic will change in the next decade?

I have no idea. I feel like we’re on the brink of some change, what with the situation with CONCORD, but maybe I am wrong.

In the current political climate, there is hardly any other path for us to follow that makes sense than to take the structure we have now and build on it a system that is stable enough to ensure a common front as needed. With the escalating tensions, how we arrived in the current Republic matters less and less, and what matters is keeping things together so we can survive the coming storm. I am not saying that will happen, but unless it does, we’re at great risk of destruction as a nation.

Some trends I imagine I see currently are

  • détente between the tribes after the fiasco we almost got into with the EoM conspiracy
  • return of some intertribal law and trade agreements after even the most zealous start to see we need some shared regulation to keep things going
  • stabilization of property laws and shared willingness to help refugees claim their piece
  • concentration of power back to the clans who traditionally have held it, in all of the tribes internally, and in the Republic as a whole
  • people turning away from both ultra-revivalist and federation-minded spiritual and artistic traditions and seeking again more local ways of expression
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How do you feel about being an inspiration and an idol to many young and not-so-young Matari? Or is this something you ever even think about?

To be honest, I would rather not think about it. Apart from kids of kin looking up to me the same they do at any adult clanmate, it does not feel right to have ‘fans’ or to be ‘admired’ or any such thing.

I have to in honesty recognize my career is exceptional - maybe not better than someone else’s, but certainly notable in my limited circles. I do not believe it is because of personal achievement, though, rather than coincidences, or, if you are inclined to think of it that way, Fate. I am what I am. I could not have been otherwise.

I was born to a prestigious clan’s daughter with an exceptional husband, raised first in space but then in ways traditional on the homeworld, with the understanding that mine is a career of a politician and a leader and a diplomat. By Luck of timing, I was in Pator Tech when the first indie capsuleer candidates were called for. Entering space, I stumbled by complete accident or strike of Fortune at the right company in Gradient.

Rest is history, as they say.

No doubt someone else in the same position would have used the opportunity better. But it was me in that position, not someone else, so here I am.

I don’t think people should aspire to be someone else, or to idolize people who have had a different lifepath than they do and as such have ended up in different situations. Young people should do better trying to look at their circumstances and do the best they can in those.

TL;DR: uncomfortable.


Lady Elsebeth of Rhiannon,

As the empires have sought to rebuild and modify their fleets, once perfect and glorious ships have fallen out of favor. Specifically the Rifter was known to assemble in such large numbers as to occasionally blot out the light from nearby stars in Auga, Isbrabata, and Raa. The Republic has done so well to improve ships like the Breacher and Slasher over the years, I miss seeing swarms of Rifters.

Would you be willing to share an epic tale of Rifter glory? Simply to honor the memories some of us have its superiority in battle?

This question peaked my interest:

How do you think the Republic will change in the next decade?

I would like to follow up with:

Do you see the Republic’s future ever shifting in the direction of greater independence and self-sufficiency? Specifically away from its reliance on the Federation?

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I echo Alda’s inquiry and will ask a related question on the capsuleer community.

There is a trend peculiar to the capsuleer culture of the Minmatar. They may have Gallente blood, or be expatriates in either direction, or merely adopt distinctly Federal values and tones, but in any case they mix their loyalties in a way distinct from many other loyalists.

We readily acknowledge the history precipitating this, but it is an issue of ongoing interest. I ask if you recognize this trend and your position on it.