Well it turns out CONCORD frowns upon this sort of thing, and we are all only allowed to have one "conscious" clone at a time. You can only transfer consciousness to another clone at the time of death (activating a medical clone), or by hibernating your current body and awakening another (jump cloning).
Or maybe you're not familiar with these terms. If that's it, good news! I plan to explain it all in detail (and with silly diagrams), starting with...
Let's start out easy. I have one single clone, just myself, equipped with some Low-Grade Halo implants. I am sitting in a station in Sirekur, and I have my settings set up to wake me up in Hek if I happen to die. I also appear to have forgotten to upgrade my clone recently, and not all my skill points are covered by my medical clone, but we'll get to that later.
I want to train skills faster, though, and having learning implants instead would benefit me greatly. I can't get those without tearing out the LG Halos, though! Wouldn't it be nice if I could have another, implant-free body? Well, it turns out I can! To do so, I need:
- More levels of Infomorph Psychology trained than I have inactive clones
- A station whose owner I have 8.0 standing or greater with, OR a friend with a Rorqual or titan, OR (thanks, /u/Nuck_Chorris_eve) a friendly station in nullsec that will let me use its med service.
Let's suppose I have Infomorph Psychology III, and the requisite standing to the Republic University for them to give me a clone. I do so using the station's medical service, and I now have a second, inactive, implant-free clone in the station.
At will, I can shut down my current clone, and switch my consciousness to any other, inactive, clone. I can then put my learning implants in and rock.
I can't do the switch anytime I want, though. There is a 24 hour cooldown involved (which can be reduced by training Informorph Synchronizing).
Sounds pretty simple so far, right? There is one more restriction on jump clones:
You may only have one inactive clone per station.
So, if I wanted to create a second clone that does not use implants (so I can take it to nullsec without fear of losing my implants), I must not try to do so in the same station I already have a clone in.
Doing so would result in losing a clone. So, I shuffle my learning clone over to next-door Ebolfer, and create my implant-less PvP clone.
I proceed to go on a roam through Providence nullsec, and nullsec being nullsec... I get podded. So let's talk about what happens now!
Medical Cloning, or Getting Podded
Part of your character sheet lists a "medical clone" location. This simply indicates where you wake up after getting killed. You can change the med clone location from any station with a medical service, and your targets can be any stations belonging to your "home" starter school, or stations your corporation has offices at.
|*update: Alpha clone is 900k SP, not 600k.|
Med cloning is completely separate from jump cloning. You actually stay in the same "clone". The actual effects of dying are:
- You wake up in the station you designated your medical backup.
- All your implants are destroyed.
- If your med clone grade supported fewer skill points than the number you actually have, you lose some (up to 2 million) from your highest ranked, highest level skill.
- Your med clone grade is reset to grade Alpha (900,000 skill points).
After I get podded and tear some of my hair out out of frustration that I lost skill points, I immediately upgrade my clone to the proper grade, Omicron (covering 42,200,000 skill points). When people talk about the "cost of getting podded", they are referring to the cost of this upgrade. In this case, getting podded cost me a little over 3 million ISK.
After doing so, I swear off roaming in nullsec, and switch back to my LG Halo clone.
No, really. That's all there is to cloning. Now go pod yourself. Oh wait, that reminds me, there is one more thing. It is called "pod jumping" or "death traveling", which sounds weird and confusing, but really just refers to using your medical clone for travel:
"The shortest route from A to B is death"
You can take advantage of the mechanics of getting podded by setting your medical clone location to someplace you want to go, then killing yourself, either by self-destructing your pod or by having someone shoot it. Of course, this isn't practical if you have implants (you lose your implants doing it), or if you have a ton of skill points (re-upgrading your clone is too expensive).
So, if I wanted to get back to Sirekur quickly with my no-implant PvP clone, I could set my medical backup clone's location to the Sirekur station, then undock and let the ever-vigilant people of Hek kill my pod.
Once I wake up in Sirekur, I spend another 3 million ISK upgrading my clone, and I'm good to go. Death saved me 6 boring jumps of travel. And the best part? There is no limit to how often you can do it, unlike jump cloning. Just be careful to upgrade your clone after every time you do it.
Bonus benefit: do it often enough and you don't have to bathe anymore, since your body will always be farm-fresh. Super convenient!