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Thread: Space travel rules/speed

  1. #11
      Boethius61 is offline
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    If you are going with an 'early in space' theme then I have a possiblity that no one has mentioned (unless I missed it). It is the idea I used once in a space campaign. Basically, it is the use of Warp Ferries. The tech to go faster than light is still new and takes a lot of energy/machinery/whatever. Warp capable ships are thus HUGE. No small craft can manage it. The ferries are like small cities or space ports in themselves. But . . . the ferries have to stick to open spaces. They can't go into systems or too near stars or other collision hazards. Thus PCs would then have to hitch a ride on a ferry to go places, then sublight it a little when they get close. The travel time is determined by four factors, how long before the next ferry arrives, how many ferry transfers they need to do, how fast the ferries travel, and how close they get to their destination.

    This has a few of advantages.

    1) No need to overthink the problem. The PCs travel time is determined by the speed of plot. You need them to take a long time, then the next ferry isn't comming for a while and it is a slow beast. On the otherhand if you want them to get somewhere quick, they can hop a ferry right away and the journey is a quick one.

    2) You can use the ferries themselves as adventure locals. A giant techo-city hurtling through space at faster than light . . fun fun fun.

    3) You can impose long trips if you need. These would be timeframes remaniscient of the age of sailing ships. Say the PCs are exploring . . . they take the ferry to the latest new route destination then head out to explore at sublight. Taking weeks or months to get to someplace new. Perhaps they will find a safe destination worthy of a new ferry route. This also allows for rewardable suffering. The PCs are the exporers who do the hard long trips to scout out new ferry destinations. Its tough work but they get the recognition when they do things like find an earth like planet (to use your example).

    I know this isn't exactly what you were asking. I guess what I'm saying is that, IMHO, you shouldn't make a system for speeds and such. After all you are intending a less rules intensive play. As soon as you make a chart or speed table or any of that, you have a rule set that constrains you. Just pick a time unit that suits your vision, whether it be days, weeks, or months and use it as you need it. Personally, I would favour the longer end of things but that is just me.

    Seriously, there is no need for some precise star chart with defined measurements and detailed speed ratios. As an added bonus you can map out your star chart anyway that suits your fancy without having to worry about your PCs grabbing their rulers and calculators and out mathing you.

  2. #12
      Redrobes is offline
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    Been reading this thread with some interest. A long time ago I might have said different stuff, but like Torstan, I also read Iain M Banks books and he has a masterful fixed system in place that deals with travel and time in space. He has FTL because basically you just have to have it given that its 4 yrs to get from Sun to Proxima Centauri our very next closest star. A campaign might burn through your character lifetime in a few system jumps without cryo or something equally as fantastic tech.

    In Banks' books the Culture have various grade ships from fairly light transporters to these things called General Systems Vehicles (GSVs) which are vast billion population scale floating islands of ship. These things go the fastest but at the same time they dont deviate course or stop much either so you normally need to hop onto a ship and accelerate up to very fast speed and dock with it to hitch that ride which is like that FTL barge. So maybe any ship can do FTL but not for very long.

    He also seems to have some heuristics about how long the comms is to and from a GSV. Now obviously you need FTL comms or else you cant ask to dock with something going FTL. I reckon its important that the comms is a lot faster than the fastest ship but not infinite speed either.

    Another slightly unrelated point is the compute power which in his books the best is in the Minds of the GSVs. All smaller droids have varying degrees which although high is still on a measurable level so you can for instance, comms to the closest GSV and get a better answer tho it might take a while for the result to get there and back.

    So yeah, read all his Culture novels. Got the Algebraist next to me unread at this point tho. Something to look forward to I remember Player of Games being one which had a lot of this time delay, ship speed stuff in it.

  3. #13
      Notsonoble is offline
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    See I'm going with an odd bit when I get to interplanetary travel for my setting... I'm limiting technology to a little more than what we're capable of today (IE what we could do without the political and monetary restrictions currently in place)... and dropping the FTL travel on the shoulders of the mages/clerics. Since it's still a fantastic setting, I'm hoping to get away with that. (Example, teleportation relay mages, or perhaps a new version of the teleport spell cast by multiple casters at once to move ships between worlds.)
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  4. #14
      Fuse is offline
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    I like your ideas Boethius61. Previously when I was trying to write the storyline for the game setting I imagined humans venturing to the edge of our solar system and as travel between worlds became more common place, building communication relays. I think someone also mentioned something like that in a previous post.

    I do like the idea of having a large vessel that smaller ships (non-FTL) can dock inside and be ferried away towards their destination. Being so large, it seems only natural that there would be a city built inside the large vessel.

    So maybe FTL is like a government regulated technology at first.. hmm.
    Most smaller ships can get where they need to go, but the really fast moving ships are military or government owned, at least until the tech is more common. I'm sure that alien races and humans as well would have it as more common technology at some point in the game.

    That's just me thinking out loud though.

    I haven't worked through much of the storyline yet, but you guys keep giving me great ideas. Thanks a lot!

  5. #15
      Ryan K is offline
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    I wouldn't worry about monetary resources. All you need is some sort of valuable unobtainium that the corporations can get their greedy little mits on, and then you have cash-flow and no need for any form of governmental administration apart from some regulatory commissions.
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  6. #16
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    Regarding space travel I found an interesting supplment on http://cortexsystemrpg.org// for the Serenity RPG.

    Basically, all planets in the 'verse get a three digit number. Say Earth has 367 and Mars has 392. The difference between them is 25, making the base distance. This is modified by a random compenent (a die) due to changing orbit positions. In their system it's a D12.

    Say I roll a 4, then the actual base travel time is 100 hours. This is divided by the speed factor (Warp factor, if you like) of the ship. If a ship has "Warp factor" 5, then you divide the basic 100 hours by 5 and receive an actual travelling time of 20 hours (this is then further modified by the pilot's skills) - this also gives a nice element of diminishing returns for higher speed factors.

  7. #17
      Fuse is offline
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    I'll check into that site. I've heard of serenity, but haven't read on it yet.

    I was reading about quantum entanglement for FTL communication (I think is a possibility) and found something else about FTL communications though. Some of you guys might find this interesting.

    http://www.universetoday.com/2009/06...er-than-light/
    Last edited by Fuse; 01-13-2010 at 11:50 AM.

  8. #18
      torstan is offline
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    Quantum entanglement has faster than light effects - the instantaneous collapse of the wavefunction - but no faster than light transfer of information unfortunately. So I'm afraid that's not really a goer. I'd add some ficitonal new physics to explain the FTL communication otherwise you'll get called.

    Edit: Had a look at that article. Radio waves are electromagnetic so they do travel at the speed of light. I'll look into the source article now because that sounds broken.
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  9. #19
      torstan is offline
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    Okay, I had a look at it and it seems that the thing that's travelling faster than light is the polariation of the material. So no thing is travelling FTL. This gives rise to a highly beamed emission of radio waves which travels a long way without degrading. But the radio waves themselves are not FTL. The FTL polarisation change is interesting and quite surprising but the radio waves that emerge are still travelling at light speed.
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