(Apologies for going quiet for a few days — went out with the family for the Fourth of July!)
If you asked people what the rarest drone in Eve is, most people would talk about the “Augmented” drones (fast drones with split damage types that can be built with parts from Rogue Drone cosmic anomalies), or the Gecko. Incursion runners will probably know about the Shadow, the rare Sansha fighter-bomber that can be acquired from incursions.
But there’s a truly rare drone out there that very few know about: the Hellhound.
The Hellhound is one of the rare cases of an developer item in player hands.
If you download the Eve Database and examine the item types table, you’ll find many items marked as unpublished — ammo, ships, modules, and more. The primary effect of being unpublished is that the item cannot be searched for in the Market, or in an item type search in Contracts.
Most unpublished items are simply unused items and unfinished artifacts from the CCP development process: They’re an idea that CCP devs liked enough to try implementing on a test server, only to find that the item wouldn’t really work out well in live play. The idea would be canceled, and was never launched in TQ, but the remnants of it remain in the database.
There are also a few unpublished items that were once part of normal play on TQ; these items were disabled by CCP for various reasons. If you still own them, they remain in your inventory, but CCP marks them as unpublished so that they can’t be sold on the Market — mainly so that newbies don’t accidentally spend billions on a useless item. This is the case for deployable minefields , most of the canceled skillbooks, and some old collector’s items.
The Hellhound drone, however, qualifies for both of these. It was a developer experiment for an ultra-powerful variant of the Ogre, and was never meant to get into player hands; however, due to a typo, it was accidentally added to the drop table for a structure in a certain mission. A few days later, when players started posting on the forums about them, CCP promptly fixed that typo and removed the source of them, never to be seen again. However, they allowed players to keep the drones that had dropped up to that point.
In 2012, CCP changed their mind, and attempted to remove the Hellhound (and other unpublished-but-extant items) from the game entirely; however, they ended up adding them back due to player outcry.
I don’t know if anyone who owns a Hellhound has actually bothered using them in PvP; until this spring, they were simply a clone of the Ogre II heavy drone, with slightly higher DPS. When the Kronos expansion came and readjusted all drone damage upwards (to compensate for the nerf to the Drone Interfacing skill), the Hellhound was left out of that adjustment pass; as a result, it now has significantly lower damage than any of the normal drones in use today, making it simply yet another collectible artifact of Eve history.
1: There’ll be a post in a few weeks about minefields. They once existed, and they weren’t nearly as cool as they might sound.