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Location of items and plex's
Cosmos consists of four constellations: Okkelen (Caldari agents) and Ani (Minmatar), Algintal (Gallente), and Araz (Amarr). For the purposes of this primer Okkelen will be used for referencing.
Everyone new to Cosmos is under the misconception that they need Archeology and Hacking to participate in it. Not true. The Cosmos agents found throughout the four constellations will on the most part give you missions to seek out items that are dropped by rats or found in complex structures. Only 2 or 3 agents will ask for an item only attainable through Hacking or Archeology. You can always buy those items from someone who has the skills. Be prepared to pay for them though.
Agents are located at historic sites throughout Okkelen and have varrying levels just like regular agents in Empire. The Historic sites are named and have beacon icons like the deadspace beacons. Every system in okkelen has one of these sites. To visit one just fly to the site and start talking to an agent. You must have a good standing with the faction in order to use them.
Missions and unusual Items
Storyline missions are given by most agents in cosmos and will end with a mission that will have significant impact on your faction standings. A true storyline mission will say (1 of #) at the end of the title and should not be canceled; otherwise, the agent will no longer talk to you. You will need to move on to another agent if that happens. Ocasionally an agent will ask for an item only attainable through archeology or hacking, unless it is a true storyline mission those are missions that will not affect your standings, you can refuse the mission without a penalty and the agent will continue to talk to you. Before accepting a mission, try finding the item first so that you minimize your risk of the mission timing out.
The reward on the last mission is almost in all cases a BPC of a very rare item that is a Hybrid of a Tech 1 item with near Tech2 stats. Occasionally you'll get an implant or a rare item. When an agent rewards you with a BPC at the end of a storyline that will be the last time you can talk to that agent. There are some storyline missions linked to other agents, in which case you'll recieve a vital mission item. Don't lose this item. CCP will not replace it. If ever you lose an item just ask the community if you can buy one, chances are someone has a spare. If you fail a mission in a storyline by timing out, then the storyline will end and you can't talk to the agent again.
The BPCs rewarded are of strange technologies in Okkelen: Guristas and Talocan. The BPC's will be small runs of two or three and require you to have specialized skills to build the items as well as the special components of each technology. The Special skills are called Guristas Encryption Methods and Talocan Technology. Each of these skills can be found in the Guristas Treasure Hold (contested caldari mining facilities in Friggi) and the Devils Dig Infested Excavation Site (in otitoh) respectively. You can't find both types of technology in one complex. Hacking is a skill needed to operate a Codebreaker module which in turn is used to locate Guristas Components and skillpacks in the Treasure holds. Archeology is needed to operate an Analyzer which in turn is used to locate Talocan Components and skill packs. You need to lock on to the specially named cans (eg. Standard Guristas Vault) and activate the module to scan for the components.
So remember you can do nearly all missions without the need of Archeology or Hacking.
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