If you are thinking of exploring wormholes there are a few things you must get right first to minimise any chance of becoming trapped or killed. Before reading this guide you should already know how to use scan probes and your on-board scanner to locate the 'door' (wormhole) into w-space. You can review this video guide by clicking this link: Apocrypha Scanning Tutorial.
Do not take your best clone. Wormhole space is lawless, even more so than 0.0. No-one owns this space and to make matters worse there is no criminal flagging. Any hostile activity committed there is not reprimanded. So take an expendable clone and be prepared to lose it.
Only take what you are prepared to lose. Try not to take faction fitted ships or unnecessary items in your cargo hold. Chances are you may lose everything. Pirates prey very successfully in wormhole space on pilots eager to explore the 'unknown.'
Try to use a ship which requires no ammunition or take plenty of it. Bear in mind that you may want to salvage and/or loot when you get there so on-board cargo space will be at a premium. Most Amarr faction and some Gallente ships are best suited to explore this space as they require no ammunition at all and can run indefinitely.
You will need a scan probe launcher with plenty of probes; 10 at least. This is the most important part of your fitting, if you have no scanning capability then you may become trapped inside the wormhole.
The Sleepers, the enemy NPCs found in wormhole space, attack your tanks lowest resistance. If you're shield tanking, an omni passive tank is your best choice if you can achieve around 1k DPS resistance this way. The sleepers like to Energy Drain(NOS) extensively so your capacitor may become drained very quickly so active tanks will be harder to manage effectively, but they too should be considered, but you'd be on a time limit depending on energy(cap booster/remote rep) supplies.
If you are armour tanking then make sure you have enough of an armour buffer to absorb the attacks if your capacitor is battered too low and you need to escape. Again, an omni tank is your best choice, get your resists as high as possible using passive armour modules. This will help preserve your capacitor should you need to warp out.
I also recommend an After-Burner(AB). They are very useful if you need speed and distance to get out of disruptor range as some Sleepers will Disrupt and Webify you. If Disrupted by more than a single enemy ship and you don't have WCS fitted, primary the Webifiers and destroy them quickly, then AB out of Disruptor range(20km) and warp to a safe-spot if needed.
Remember speed is life, as the Sleepers tracking is not great so orbit close and they will miss you enough, enabling you to tank them more effectively. I wouldn't recommend an exclusive speed tank, if you want to speed tank then fit a modest shield or armour tank at least, just in case you get Webified.
Always fit a Damage Control(DC) unit. This works with your AB by allowing you enough of a hull buffer to escape Disruptor range should your tank fail. If your tank fails in wormhole space it does so spectacularly.
You may or may not want to bring a cloak. Again this depends on your intentions. Fitting both a cloak and WCS will seriously compromise your ability to target quickly so decide early on what your mission is and stick to it. You can always come back again fitted differently. Use of a Covert Opeartiuons cruiser or battleship removes the damage to the sensors, but these are expensive, bear that in mind.
Work together and assist fleet members with Armour, Shields or Capacitor. Make sure you bring either Maintenance Bots or Transfer Arrays to achieve a spider tank.
Do not use Electronic Counter Measures(ECM) modules on the Sleepers as the enemy AI will primary you. Save your jamming equipment for other 'encounters.'
Gas clouds and most of the rarer asteroids can be found within these virginal 'unkown' systems so you may want to bring Mining Lasers, Mining Drones and/or Gas Cloud Harvesters. Keep close to protect your mining drones as enemy spawns are likely.
Bring a Covert Operations frigate to aid with the exploration and exploitation of this new frontier. This may not always be possible, but it should be first choice for any fleet. If you don't have this option then you will need your own scan probe launcher. This cannot be stressed enough. You will need scan probes to return to normal space if the wormhole collapses. And there is little indication as to when that could be, only a vague warning from the infromation gathered from the wormholes icon. If you don't bring any probes then you could end up becoming trapped indefinitely.
Once your fleet is ready; you are at the wormhole and you are about to embark on an adventure unlike any you have seen before...
It is useful to know exactly what to expect within the unknown space as you enter. Using the locust signature code; found as the name of the system in the top left corner of the main view screen, it is possible to recon the space upon entering. Follow this link for the Wormhole Database and enter the code to discover what lies within.
Upon entering wormhole space immediately bookmark the wormhole, then set about marking a few bookmarks as safe spots. Try to make at least 3. Scan the system for other ships as soon as you can. Then scan the system regularly, ideally at 60 second intervals.
A Probe scan is also necessary to locate possible exploration sites and a scan using combat scanner probes is also useful - it is possible to field both types of probes in space at the same time. It's important to note that even if you do not read any other ships in the system, this does not mean that it is empty. Cloaked ships will not show on your scans so always be vigilant and ready to take the appropriate action if required. Try to remain aligned at 75% thrust to a safe spot (make an emergency safespot as close to the central star as possible - giving a point-of-reference to align to quickly) and never leave your ship unattended, unless you have a cloak fitted, and even then it isn't condoned.
If a POS tower is picked up on your scans it may be better abandoning the wormhole altogether as there are plenty of corporations whom make their homes in w-space and will attack to protect themselves and their installed assets.
Engaging the Sleepers
The sleepers will attack you in force and will Webify, Disrupt and NOS you so be prepared to become locked down. In addition to this they posses smart AI, priority target acquisition. This means that, unlike during missions or when ratting, they will change their primary targets depending on certain threat factors. No-one is safe while engaging them so all ships and pilots should be prepared to assist each other. Stick together and use spider tanking to aid fleet members when required.
Battleship sized targets should be engaged at close range, this will be under their weapons optimal and will help tank the spawns. In addition, if the DED has turrets, such as found in missions or guarding stations and jumpgates you must destroy them first as the Damage Per Second (DPS) output is large enough to obliterate targets smaller than a cruiser and will seriously dent the tank on most ships.
De-clutter your overview so you can identify hostiles quicker and keep aligned and moving as much as possible.Leave all but one enemy ship alive and clear the area of wrecks, loot and salvage before destroying the final target. Upon destruction of the final target, a re-spawn is likely so clear the battlefield of valuables before moving onto the next spawn.
Before warping to the wormhole scan ahead and take the appropriate action depending on what you find there. It's difficult to judge other ships intentions, but under no circumstances talk in the local channel as this will give you away to anyone else present and may invite hostiles to your position.
If the wormhole has collapsed there are only a few options available to you:
1. Suicide. You should be prepared for this eventuality. It's important to weigh up your options first as this should be treated as a last resort. Without any loot or salvage the mission is a failure as the Sleepers do not provide bounties.
2. Ask for help in local. This is not recommended as more than likely, as there is no criminal flagging, you will become the victim of opportunists and may be killed anyway. You can ask for help from fellow Corporation members, but the likely hood of them being able to find you are nigh on impossible.
3. Scan down a new wormhole exit. Persistence is the key here. Keep scanning and your fingers crossed. If you find another wormhole, check where it goes first using the Wormhole Database.
4. If you have no scan probes, see options 1 and 2.
This concludes this guide to wormhole exploration and survival. There is much more to learn from w-space but that is in your capable hands. Fly safe...