I haven't done a definition in a while, because there hasn't been a common basic question asked frequently lately. Or at least there hadn't until I started seeing some confusion about what "null-sec" means. So, very briefly, a definition of null-sec.
High-sec is defined as space in EVE that has a security status of 0.5 to 1.0. This is the so-called "safe" space, which of course isn't safe at all. It's just the space that happens to be patrolled by CONCORD. Low-sec is defined as space in EVE that has a security status of 0.1 to 0.4. That leaves null-sec, which is defined as space with a security status of "less than 0.1".
Glanced at in-game and in the broadest possible terms, every part of null-sec looks identical to every other part. But there are lots and lots of differences between the various types of null-sec. In fact, you could say that there are almost as many types of null-sec as there are the rest of types of space in EVE.
In the broadest terms, null-sec is usually judged by regions and there are actually three types of regions in null-sec:
- the so-called "NPC null-sec";
- "sov null-sec"; and,
- null-sec that's actually a mix of the two.
NPC null-sec is defined as a null-sec region that is not conquerable by players. On the EVE influence map, these regions are easy to spot for the large black blotches they introduce into the middle of conquerable regions. There are six fully NPC 0.0 regions in the game: Syndicate and Outer Ring in the west; Stain in the south; Curse in the southeast; Great Wildlands in the east; and Venal in the north. Of these, only Syndicate is truly independent NPC null-sec, with multiple NPC corps operating there. Outer Ring is owned by the ORE mining consortium, Stain is the home of the Sansha Nation, Curse is owned by the Angel Cartel, Great Wildlands is owned by the Thukker Tribe, and Venal is the home of the Guristas pirate faction. Because the stations in NPC 0.0 cannot be conquered by players, anyone can dock there. This makes NPC 0.0 a very common first destination for corps or alliances wanting to try out null-sec life.
The largest "black blotch" on the map is in the north and is made up of three regions: UUA-F4, A821-A, and J7HZ-F. These three regions comprise Jove space, a part of New Eden that in the game's lore is owned by EVE's mysterious "fifth race". In practice, Jove space is actually owned by CCP and is used for occasional testing and for the annual EVE Alliance Tournament and the occasional open PvP tournament. It is otherwise not generally possible to visit these three regions.
On the other end of the spectrum is sovereign null-sec. These are null-sec regions that can be fully conquered by players and exist primarily in deep null-sec. Most of null-sec is sov null-sec and each part of sov null-sec is harassed by some group of NPC pirates. In the southwest, it's Blood Raiders. As you move north from there, the Serpentis pirate faction rats become common. In the northwest and north, it's the Guristas pirate faction. In the northeast and east, it's rogue drones. In the far east, it's the Angel Cartel through much of the southeast until it borders on Sansha Nation space in the far south. In sov null-sec, these NPC rat types will define the types of rats one will encounter in the sites and anomalies that will appear in that area of space, with one exception: rogue drone sites will appear in much of New Eden outside of drone space. In sov null-sec space, each system can have a maximum of one station, and only those designated by the conquering alliance may dock there. Attempts to dock by non-designated parties will fail.
In between these two types of space is mixed null-sec, which are regions that feature both NPC space and sov space. Delve (in the southwest) is the most famous of these regions, and countless invasions of Delve have been launched from the few NPC stations in the east part of this region owned by Blood Raiders. Other mixed regions include Fountain in the west (with NPC stations owned by the Serpentis pirate faction) and Pure Blind (with NPC stations owned by both the Sisters of EVE and Mordu's Legion). Mixed space exists mainly to give those pirate factions that don't own an entire region a few stations in null-sec. The purpose to these stations is primarily to give players the opportunity to run missions for these factions if they wish to. However, like sov null-sec, sites and anomalies in these regions will feature the types of rats based nearby. Players friendly to the owner of conquerable stations in mixed null-sec may dock there. Otherwise, they will have to dock in the NPC stations in these mixed regions.
One point of confusion for new players: if the Guristas hate you (because you've killed countless numbers of their ships in missions), won't they prevent you from docking in a Guristas station null-sec? The answer is no. Killing Guristas ships makes you hostile to the Guristas "corporation", but not to the Guristas "faction", which actually owns the station. This is a very non-intuitive distinction for the new player, but that's how these stations operate.
Each null-sec system has a security status that actually drops from 0.0 to -1.0. Systems with lower security status, -1.0 especially, are more valuable than systems with "merely" 0.0 sec status. In these lower sec status systems, higher numbers of higher quality sites will be found naturally. In addition, the rats found in asteroid belts will also be higher quality rats with higher bounties. Null-sec systems that can be conquered, either in sov regions or mixed regions, can be "upgraded" so that even more of these very valuable sites can be found. There are many constellations in null-sec space where thousands of NPC rats are killed daily to provide the day-to-day working income for pilots living there.
You'll generally find four types of entities living in null-sec full time:
- major sovereignty-holding alliances of 2500 or more pilots;
- minor sovereignty-holding alliances of 1500 or pilots or so;
- renters of various sizes; and,
- independent null-sec dwelling alliances of various sizes.
More and more common in null-sec is the concept of the renter, alliances of various sizes that usually do not appear on the influence map and instead are set blue by the actual owners of the space in which they live. This gives these alliances the right to dock in their landlord's stations. Renters are usually given a block of systems, or perhaps a constellation or two, and are beholden to their masters to farm sites, mine minerals, and otherwise exploit the natural resources in the area. At the end of each month, the renters then pay fees set by the landlord for access to the space. Failure to pay is an invitation to be evicted. Renters are usually also required to form up when the landlord comes under attack.
There are a few independent alliances living in null-sec, usually not holding sovereignty. Rote Kapelle, my own alliance, is an example of this type. But of course Pandemic Legion is another (frequent) example. Often, PL chooses not to hold space or stations, operating completely independently of the various sov alliances. These independents are usually content to prey on their larger neighbors or act as wild-cards in major sovereignty fights.
Finally, in addition to missions, sites, anomalies, and other active sources of income, each region and system in null-sec has a variety of moons that can be mined for "moon goo" which are the base raw materials for part of the T2 manufacturing process. These moons vary wildly from region to region, and the most valuable moons are of course jealously guarded by those who hold them. Even the exact locations of valuable moons is a well-kept secret and it's usually safest not to trust any public information about what this or that moon contains, as it's in the best interests of the holders to provide misinformation on public sites about their sources of income. If you want to know what a moon contains, you'll usually have to get out some moon survey probes and check them for yourself. But moons are quite often the motivating force behind the wars between large sov-holding null-sec alliances...
Occasionally on Sundays, I will be defining a common EVE term for those who might not have heard it. If you have a suggestion for such a term, please drop it into the comments.