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Some adventures in the Wing Commander Universe require some interstellar travel. Interstellar travel is exactly what it sounds like: movement between stars using a faster-than-light drive system available only to Starfaring Age space vehicles and their larger cousins, capital ships (for purposes of brevity in this discussion, FTL-capable vehicles will also be considered capital ships.). As with the other forms of travel in WCRPG, the key questions when moving between two points in interstellar space are how long it will take to arrive at the destination and how hard it's going to be to navigate a safe course.
In the Wing Commander Universe, there are three primary means of traveling between the stars. The first and most common is Akwende Drive (known colloquially as "Jump Drive"). The second is Morvan Drive (also known as "Hopper Drive"), which while substantially slower than the Akwende Drive is more versatile in terms of potential destinations. The third is D-Drive, generally used solely by the peoples of the Tri-System for rapid transit; it is the slowest of the three superluminal systems and can also be used for interplanetary travel. All three modes of travel will be discussed in this Chapter as will a few "special topics" that may arise during the course of an adventure.
For the sake of simplicity, all FTL drive systems in WCRPG ignore any relativistic effects (time dilation, distance dilation and increased mass) they would probably cause in real life; where a high relativistic or superluminal speed is indicated, the standard relationship between distance, rate and time (d=rt) still applies.
The D-Drive is a traditional FTL propulsion system first developed in the Tri-System in 2304. It is just over a thousand times faster than a contemporary sub-light fusion drive (ion drive), although for long-distance FTL flight it is nowhere near as efficient as either the Akwende Drive or the Morvan Drive; it shares many characteristics with the latter of these. Use of D-Drives largely remains limited to the Tri-System, where it enables relatively fast, direct flight between the inhabited worlds of the Isaac, Hom and Irrulan systems.
D-Drive requires an extensive and lengthy friction breaking process. Errors have been known to occur where this process is disabled, rendering ships unable to stop; D-Drive-equipped ships continue to speed up when this happens, forcing them into the nonexistence of the "Echo Dimensions". As a measure to prevent irreversible acceleration, the Tri-System has a network of nav buoys in place that, in addition to marking out the main trade routes between various worlds and bases, act as a reference for the guidance of all D-Drive equipped craft. Buoys in the Tri-System are generally placed no further than five AUs apart from one another.
While it is an FTL drive system, the end result of a D-Drive jump is comparable to the use of an Impulse Drive. In WCRPG, the two drive systems are functionally the same with the main difference being an increase in a ship's speed: a D-Drive increase's the ship's speed by a factor of 1,000. Note that the factor of a thousand is an average speed only; the drive is actually accelerating the craft to a faster-than-light top speed, maintaining that speed for brief a time, then decelerating back down to sub-light speed.
Vehicle utilizing D-Drive may be at any point in space; they do not have to travel to a specific location first. To utilize D-Drive in WCRPG, a series of Checks are required; for every D-Drive jump, an Astrogation Check is required by the vehicle's pilot immediately followed up by a Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check by its Engineer or mechanical specialist. The DC of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check is directly adjusted by the degree of success or failure of the Astrogation Check (the GM will add the degree of success or subtract the degree of failure as appropriate). Should the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check succeed, the craft will transit five AUs towards its destination without incident; otherwise the craft will remain where it is. If the jump fails, another attempt may be made after 1d5 minutes.
Both of these Checks have critical potential. In the event of a critical success of the Astrogation Check, a number of minutes equal to the degree of success may be subtracted from the time of transit to a minimum of one minute. In the event of a critical failure of the Astrogation Check followed by a successful Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check, the craft will still jump but will wind up lost; this will double the total time for the jump. A critical failure of the Astrogation Check followed by a general failure of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check counts simply as a failed jump; no additional effects will occur. A critical failure of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check after a successful Astrogation Check will threaten the craft with catastrophic acceleration; a second Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check must be made at a -25 DC penalty. Should this Check fail, the craft accelerates into the Echo Dimensions and is destroyed. Success on the second Check increases the distance traveled by another 1d5 AU; if using the Tri-System map for direct flight, simply assume the craft skips to the next Nav Point along its route or overshoots its destination by one jump. A critical failure of both Checks will result in an irrecoverable catastrophic acceleration of the craft into the Echo Dimensions, destroying it.
Note that since D-Drives only involve a five AU jump, multiple jumps (and therefore a series of multiple Checks) may be required to reach the craft's final destination. The time required for a single jump is dependent upon the vehicle's top speed under D-Drive. All jumps made with the D-Drive assume a five AU distance for purposes of determining the amount of time elapsed regardless of the actual distance covered; simply divide the distance (750 million kilometers) by the speed. Finally, it is intended that all D-Drive jumps be made between carefully marked Nav Buoys; should an attempt to use D-Drive be made at a location without such a buoy, the Astrogation Check will need to be made at a -10 DC penalty.
An uprated Ogan-class Transport with a Ninth Class Engine installed is preparing to make a cargo run from Hephaestus to Bex. Checking the Tri-System map, we see that the route between the two worlds takes the ship from Hephaestus at Nav 1 through Nav 8 and Nav 9 to Bex at Nav 2. Three jumps will be necessary to complete the transit.
We need some information on the ship's crew before we can proceed. Let's say the pilot has 57 points in Navigation, 23 points of which are specifically in Astrogation and in which she has a 14 point specialization in D-Drives (for a total DC of 42). The ship's Engineer has 105 points in Engineering, 17 of which are specifically in Faster-Than-Light Mechanics and in which he has a 26 point specialization in D-Drives (for a total DC of 53).
The ship has the green light for the jump to Nav 8. At this point, the pilot makes an Astrogation Check; the result is 27, a success. The degree of success of the Check is fifteen (42 - 27 = 15), so fifteen points are added to the Engineer's Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check DC, increasing it to 68. The dice are rolled; the result is 98, a botch. A second Check is immediately required; the result is 59, a success (remember that the DC in this case is 68 due to the result of the Astrogation Check). So, the ship successfully transits past Nav 8 directly to Nav 9 with its crew none the worse for wear.
Nav 9 proves to be clear, so the ship prepares to make its jump to Bex. The pilot rolls; unfortunately, the result is 84, a failure. The degree of failure is 42; an equal amount is subtracted from the Engineer's Check DC, reducing it to 11. The Engineer rolls the dice; 50 is the result, so the jump attempt fails. 1d5 is rolled; a one results, so the craft can try again after just one minute. The results of the second attempt are clear successes of 25 and 24, so the ship makes its final transition to Bex.
Figuring up the total time spent in transit, the GM multiplies the Ogan's top speed of 220 kps by 1,000; it traveled at an average speed of 220,000 kps. The ship made only two jumps for a total distance of 10 AUs or 1.5 billion kilometers equivalent. By d=RT, the ship spent 6,818 seconds in transit, or 1 hour, 54 minutes and 38 seconds after the one minute wait is added in. In regards to its fuel expenditure, the GM knows the Ogan has a Ninth Class Engine installed and therefore has a 45% fuel efficiency rating. Checking the table in Chapter 8.1, the GM sees that the ship spent seven fuel points per jump. Since two jumps were made, the ship expended fourteen fuel points total, easily within its capabilities.
Hopper drives (more formally known as Morvan Drives or "anti-graviton pulse generators") were the first working FTL engines created by Terrankind. The early prototypes appeared late in the 22nd century.
Hopper Drives involve the generation of a powerful, tightly-focused matter-antimatter reaction, generating enough anti-gravitons to create a temporary space-time “well.” If a ship is correctly positioned at the very edge of the reaction's event horizon, it can "hop" across space instantaneously. This "warp" is localized, so the amount of space that can be crossed by it is strictly limited - most hops involve a maximum distance of 20% to 35% of a light-year. Obviously, it takes many hops to transit the distance between even relatively close stars. Nonetheless, a hopper ship can move across space at an average effective rate of up to 10 times the speed of light (i.e. if two star systems are 10 light-years apart, an efficient hopper ship can move between them in about a year). Although hopper technology makes interstellar travel possible, voyages still take a significant time in relation to a Terran lifespan. As a result, ships that utilize a Morvan Drive as their primary mode of FTL travel are sometimes called "sloships".
Hopper drives are extremely dangerous to use. If a ship is positioned even a tiny fraction too close to the reaction, it will be “in the well” when the warp closes, confined with the full force of the reaction, which will certainly annihilate it down to the subatomic level; this same principle is used offensively with gravitic mines. Furthermore, the reaction must be triggered far from any large, gravity-generating objects; otherwise gravitic distortion from these objects will prevent the well from ever closing at all, once again exposing the ship to the force of the reaction. A ship must use its sub-light drive systems to position itself at least 1.25 times further away from a star system's primary than the system's outermost orbiting planet. Several factors contribute to an 18 hour wait between hops. The matter/anti-matter reaction takes about this amount of time to recharge. While it is recharging, difficult calculations must be made to determine exactly where the next event horizon will need to be generated. Most seriously, using a Morvan Drive temporarily disturbs jumpspace; it takes about the same length of time for it to stabilize again. Most hopper ship captains will not try more than one hop per standard day. Local conditions might (and usually do) delay hops for much longer periods of time.
Morvan Drives are still used by the Confederation in the 27th and 28th centuries but to a much lesser extent than they were prior to the widespread usage of Akwende Drive. They are generally limited to explorers, deep-space patrol ships and long-range merchant ships trading with isolated areas such as Dallas and the Tri-System. As a rule, Morvan Drive is the first type of FTL system most Starfaring civilizations develop; nascent species on the interstellar scene will most likely be using this type of drive system. Longer range Morvan-style drive systems have been seen in recent years; in 2654, Amity Aristee, a Pilgrim terrorist and a traitor to the Confederation, secretly outfitted TCS Olympus with an enormous Hopper Drive capable of generating a unique form of gravitic warp. This "enhanced drive" opened up a gravity well with a 500 meter radius and an event horizon that fluctuated by several dozen meters. The well was used both as a jump point and a weapon - it destroyed enemy ships and allowed Olympus to (eventually) hop across entire Sectors. The Pilgrim traitors had solved the limited range of earlier Morvan Drives by enhancing the reaction containment area using a Kilrathi alloy. Olympus was never recovered by the Confederation; the exact workings of this feat have yet to be duplicated by Confederation scientists. A lone Steltek Scout encountered in 2669 mounted a Morvan Drive-like device capable of creating a temporary opening from Nitir to the Delta Prime system. Some scientists after the turn of the 28th century theorized that this may have in fact been a so-called "skip drive", though whether or not that's the case is dubious as the Steltek craft was nowhere near a jump point at the time of its transit.
As mentioned, an actual hop takes no time at all in either the frame of reference of the hopper ship or that of an outside observer at either end; it's just that Hopper Drives require a great deal of time between hops (on the order of whole days) and the resultant distance a hopper ship can actually go in that time is rather small when compared to the vastness of space.
Before a vehicle may make use of a Morvan Drive system, it must first travel to the outskirts of a solar system using its sub-light propulsion systems (Ion or Impulse Drive, or even D-Drive if it is so equipped). In WCRPG, what is defined as a system's "outskirts" depends on the system being utilized for interplanetary travel as discussed in the previous sub-Chapter. With the star system model, the ship must be at a distance of 1.25 times the orbit of the object furthest from the system's primary. For example, if the last planet from a star orbits it at 32 AU, the ship must be at least 40 AU from the primary before it can engage its hopper drive. Further, the ship must be in the opposite quadrant from that object and may not be located closer than 25 AU to any other gravitationally significant object in the system. With the nav map model, the vehicle must be at least 100 range units away from all objects in the system; the actual location of those objects does not matter in this case. Failure to adhere to these guidelines in either case will result in an automatic critical failure of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check for the transit (see below).
As with D-Drive, using a Morvan Drive in WCRPG requires an Astrogation Check by a vehicle's pilot followed up by a Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check by its Engineer or mechanical specialist. The DC of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check is directly adjusted by the degree of success or failure of the Astrogation Check (the GM will add the degree of success or subtract the degree of failure as appropriate). Should the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check succeed, the ship will make the transit to its destination without incident; otherwise the craft will remain where it is. In the event of failure, another attempt may be made after 1d10 hours. Unlike D-Drive, a single Check is required for the entire journey; a crew need not make a Check for each individual hop (unless the players and the GM agree to do so; the potential delays caused by various failures would make the process far truer to the functioning of the drive as it is described above. This method is definitely not recommended, though, especially for particularly distant destinations due to the vastly increased risk of a catastrophic failure).
Both of these Checks have critical potential. In the event of a critical success of the Astrogation Check, the vehicle may double the distance and halve the indicated delay (to a minimum of one hour) between hops for every hop in the transit provided the subsequent Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check is also successful. If there is also a critical success of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check, the maximum possible distance and the minimum possible delay between hops will occur for every hop in the transit (treat the vehicle as though it has Tenth Class engines and the result of each die in the xd10 roll is 1; see the next paragraph). A critical failure of either the Astrogation Check or the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check will result in the vehicle's destruction; at some point during the transit, the vehicle was not in the correct position to ride the jumpspace wake and got caught in the gravity well.
The distance travelled in a single hop and the time required to make it can vary significantly depending on local conditions. Before any Check is made for the transit, the GM should either know or determine the exact distance (in light years) to the destination system. Once that distance is known and the Checks have been made, the GM must divide the final degree of success of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check by ten, round it up to the next whole integer and add a value of one. This result is then multiplied by the vehicle's Engine Class expressed as a percentage (for example, a vehicle with a Sixth Class engine would be expressed 6%). The final result of these calculations is the percentage of a light year that the ship will cross with each hop. The GM can then divide the exact distance to the destination by this value, rounding up the result. The final result is the number of hops that will be needed in order to complete the transit. The GM will then roll xd10 and sum up the result (x is the total number of hops; a result of zero on any die counts as ten in this case). The final result is the number of days required to complete the transit.
A ship is preparing to hop to the Dallas System from the (relatively) nearby 17-AR System. For the sake of this example, let's say that the distance between the two systems is a mere 5.25 light years. We also need to know a few things about the ship and its crew; let's assume that the same Ogan-class Transport we used in the D-Drive example is the ship in question (it's unlikely an Ogan would be equipped with a Morvan Drive but you never know). Let's further assume it has the same crew: the pilot has 57 points in Navigation, 23 points of which are specifically in Astrogation; she has a ten point specialization in Morvan Drive for a total DC of 38. The ship's Engineer has 105 points in Engineering, 17 of which are specifically in Faster-Than-Light Mechanics; he has a twenty-two point specialization in Morvan Drive for a total DC of 49.
There is nothing in the 17-AR system besides jump points but the ship still has to move at least 100 increments away from all of them. Having done that, the ship is ready to begin the transit to Dallas. The pilot makes an Astrogation Check; the result is 74, a failure. The degree of failure of the Check is thirty-six (74 - 38 = 36), so 36 points are removed from the Engineer's Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check DC, decreasing it to 13. The Check is rolled; the result is 41, so it fails and the hopper drive doesn't engage. 1d10 is rolled; the result is an eight, so the ship must wait eight hours before making another attempt.
Eight hours later the crew is ready to try again. The pilot rolls a 25, a successful Astrogation result. The degree of success of the Check is thirteen (38 - 25), so the Engineer's Check DC is increased to 62. The Engineer throws the dice; unfortunately the result is 77, another failure. 1d10 is rolled again; the ship must wait another four hours before yet another attempt can be made. The die results for the third attempt are 20 and 37 respectively, both successes; the ship can finally get underway.
The final degree of success of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check' is an even thirty points. Dividing this result by ten gives three, which is already a whole number; it doesn't need to be rounded. We increase this value by one for a total of four. We then multiply this amount by the ship's Engine Class expressed as a percentage; since the Ogan in question has a Ninth Class Engine, this is 9%. In a single hop the ship will travel 36% of a light year (4 * 9% = 36%). We know that the distance to Dallas is 5.25 light years; dividing 5.25 by 0.36 and then rounding up gives us a result of fifteen. It will therefore take 15 hops to arrive at Dallas. We roll 15d10; the final result of this roll is seventy, so the transit will take a total of 70 days plus the extra twelve hours tacked on by the failed attempts. As far as the ship's fuel expenditure is concerned, we know that a Ninth Class Engine has a 45% base efficiency; the table indicates that each hop takes two fuel points. Since fifteen hops are needed to make the journey, the ship will use up thirty fuel points total, which is easily within its capabilities.
The Akwende "Jump" Drive is by far the most common form of superluminal travel in the Wing Commander Universe; it forms the basic medium of interstellar commerce. While other means of traveling between star systems are available, they often involve far longer travel times that those afforded by the Akwende Drive, which allows instantaneous transit between star systems. Akwende Drive is both safer and more powerful than either Morvan Drive or D-Drive because it uses natural, stable jump points between stars instead of creating dangerous and temporary local distortions in space-time.
The Jump Drive works by creating an anti-graviton particle field. As their name suggests, anti-gravitons are the anti-particle of gravitons, the mediating virtual particle for gravity. They interact with gravitons and cause the usual mutual annihilation common to matter/anti-matter reactions. This means that gravity temporarily ceases to be in effect in the vicinity of a graviton/anti-graviton reaction; more importantly, there is also a temporary disassociation of space-time. Normal space-time is bound so tightly that any disassociation will quickly be reversed under normal conditions but at a Jump Point the altered fabric of space-time allows it to exist long enough for properly-equipped objects to pass through. With a rift created, the object simply has to move into it; from an external perspective, it instantly appears on the other side. The rift will close as the inter-dimensional forces pull space-time back together when the anti-graviton field decays.
Not every jump point is useful; since heavier objects naturally produce more jump points, most jump tunnels connect super-heavy stars that do not support any sort of planetary system. These stars, however, are often used as "transfer stations" on trips between inhabited systems. One major advantage that Jump Drives have over Hopper Drives is that jump points often exist relatively close to stars and planets; jump points are usually located much closer to habitable planets than the nearest approach possible via Hopper Drive.
A jump-capable ship has three essential components. The first of these is the Akwende drive itself, which is usually mounted in the center of a space vehicle and securely braced. The second is a set of subluminal engines (Ion or Impulse Drives) for maneuvering in the vicinity of jump points. The third is a containment vessel of antiprotons, which acts as fuel for the anti-graviton generator. Most large ships also carry equipment required to create more anti-gravitons to recharge the tank, but this isn't strictly necessary; most starports will offer anti-graviton refueling to those craft unable to generate their own and include refueling services as part of their docking fees.
To begin an interstellar journey with Akwende Drive, a craft must first travel to and find the precise location of the required jump point. In settled systems, jump points are carefully charted and tracked; a craft will know what volume of space in which the point is located, but it must search for its precise location nevertheless. Most civilian craft can only home in on jump points when they're within a few hundred kilometers (i.e., they have to know very exactly where the jump point is before they can head towards it.) Military or exploratory craft can plot the precise location of jump points across many millions of kilometers; this is the sole reason for the existence of the NAVCOM A.I.
To find a jump point, a drive is switched on at a very low level once the craft is in the correct region. This produces a slow trickle of anti-gravitons. Sensing equipment determines the vector in which the anti-gravitons are heading; all Akwende-equipped craft are fitted with this equipment. Once the precise location of the point has been determined, the craft engages its sub-light engines and heads towards it. As the craft gets closer to jump point, the attraction of the anti-gravitons toward the jump point becomes stronger and stronger. When the craft is close enough to the jump point that the anti-gravitons arrive at the point itself before decaying (at a distance of about 500 meters), the Akwende drive starts to produce real thrust, though at this point that thrust is very small. The craft will stop at the edge of the jump area to get a precise bearing on the jump point, including its drift rate; it then kicks in its engines, gets as close as possible to the center of the jump point and activates the Akwende drive at full power. The high thrust provided by drive drags the ship to the exact center of the jump point. Once the source of the anti-gravitons coincides with the center of the jump point, a spherical anti-graviton field is created. If the intensity of the field is sufficient based on the mass contained within it and the speed with which the mass is moving, everything in the field vanishes at the point of departure and arrives at the point of arrival keeping all its original momentum.
All parts of a craft must be subjected to roughly the same amount of anti-graviton flux. Since particles have a half-life, the radius of an anti-graviton field is not fixed; to a certain extent the power of the drive determines the radius of the field. Craft with overall lengths greater than one kilometer take vastly more power than ones less than this threshold. If a ship is too large to fit inside the anti-graviton field produced, only the parts that are within the field will successfully complete the jump; parts of the craft may be left behind with potentially disastrous results.
Since its speed affects the amount of anti-gravitons required to initiate a jump, a craft can reduce the amount of energy required by carefully maneuvering to the exact center of a jump point and matching vectors with its drift before turning activating the drive. This results in a minimum-energy jump for a given mass but can take quite some time to achieve; this is the safest way to make a jump.
Each jump draws energy out of the jump tunnel used; this energy is proportional to the energy required to initiate a jump. Reducing the energy of a jump tunnel sufficiently may make it connect to a new destination or it may disconnect it entirely. When a craft attempts a jump that depletes the tunnel's energy, it will either arrive at the wrong destination or it will simply disappear. No one knows what happens to craft that vanish this way; they are presumed destroyed.
When a craft generates more energy than it needs for a jump, the excess is dissipated in a burst of light and neutrinos at both ends; this burst is easily detectable. If the craft takes the time required to calculate the exact amount of energy required and is equipped with a "variable-flux engine," it can make a "stealth" jump, eliminating the flash at both ends. Ships seldom bother with this under normal circumstances.
As has been mentioned several times, a jump itself takes place instantaneously; it requires no time at all in either the frame of reference of the jump craft or that of outside observers at either end. The only time required for Akwende jump travel is that expended while traveling between ump points using subluminal drives.
A craft must be located at a pre-defined jump point before its Akwende Drive may be activated. Further, the jump point must correspond to the jump tunnel leading to the intended destination system; a craft may not simply jump from any point in a system to any other system its crew wishes. As with the D-Drive and Morvan Drive systems, using an Akwende Drive in WCRPG requires an Astrogation Check by the vehicle's pilot followed up by a Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check by its Engineer or mechanical specialist. The DC of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check is directly adjusted by the degree of success or failure of the Astrogation Check; the GM will add the degree of success or subtract the degree of failure as appropriate. Should the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check succeed, the craft will jump to its destination without incident though all crewmembers aboard will be subject to jumpshock (requires a Fortitude Save to avoid; failure causes Nausea (-1d5 NHP)). Otherwise, the craft will remain where it is; another attempt may be made after 1d5 minutes.
Both of these Checks have critical potential. In the event of a critical success of the Astrogation Check, the vehicle's crew will avoid the effects of jumpshock provided the jump is success. In the event of a critical failure of the Astrogation Check combined with a successful Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check, the ship will still jump but will wind up in a different connecting system; the GM may determine in which system the craft has arrived at random. Should no other destination system exist, the GM may select a system that connects to the intended destination instead. A critical failure of an Astrogation Check coupled with a failed Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check simply counts as a failed jump; no other effects occur. A critical failure of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check combined with any Astrogation Check result other than a critical failure will cause a spontaneous shut down of the drive just prior to the jump. Not only will the craft not jump but its power systems will be shorted out; the craft will be immobilized for a period of 1d10 hours. A critical failure of both Checks results in the instant total destruction of the craft in question; a mishap occurs in mid-transit and only a spray of the craft's constituent particles arrives at the intended destination.
Multiple craft may attempt to jump in a given period; should a craft attempt to jump to the same destination system as another craft without waiting a minimum of one minute after it jumps, a penalty of -1 per premature second should be subtracted from the DC of both Checks (e.g. if a craft jumps 48 seconds after another craft jumps, the DC penalty will be -12 to both of its Checks (60 - 48 = 12)). A critical failure of the Astrogation Check will result in the craft rematerializing in the same space occupied by another craft already in the system; this will instantly destroy both craft.
A ship wants to make an Akwende jump from the Proxima to the Vega system. Let's assume it's the same ship and crew we've been using up to this point, an uprated Ogan transport with a Ninth Class Engine that apparently has three different types of FTL systems installed. Its pilot has 57 points in Navigation, 23 points of which are specifically in Astrogation; she has a six point specialization in Akwende Drive for a total DC of 34. The ship's Engineer has 105 points in Engineering, 17 points of which are specifically in Faster-Than-Light Mechanics; he has a forty point specialization specifically in Akwende Drive for a total DC of 67.
The ship has maneuvered to the Vega jump point in the Proxima System. At this point, the pilot makes an Astrogation Check; the result of is 30, a success (though just barely). The degree of success of the Check is four, so four points are added to the Engineer's Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check DC, increasing it to 71. The dice are rolled; the result is 37, a success, so the ship successfully transits to the Vega System. Both officers then make Fortitude Saves for jumpshock; neither roll is successful, so both of them suffer from jumpshock and take some Non-Lethal Damage.
No time is expended in the jump itself. As far as its fuel expenditure is concerned, an Ogan is a Size Class 15 transport; this particular one has a Ninth Class Engine installed, which equates to a 45% fuel efficiency rating. The ship will therefore expend 13 fuel points in the jump according to the chart in Chapter 8.1; this is again well within its fuel limits.
The rules for interstellar travel as listed above cover the vast majority of situations that will come up in a normal adventure. There may however be unusual situations with which a GM will occasionally have to deal, such as what happens when a story calls for a unique form of travel. This section deals with special topics of interstellar travel that may come arise during the course of an adventure.
Akwende Projections and Galactic Areal Subdivisions
Traveling through interstellar space isn't that much different from traveling on a planet's surface or through interplanetary space; in order for a character to get to where they want to go, they have to first know where they are and be able to come up with a way to get there. That means having a way of determining where exactly Point A and Point B are and the shortest path between them. Traditionally, the Wing Commander universe utilizes a two-dimensional set of maps known as an Akwende Projection for interstellar travel. Akwende Projections depict stars based on hierarchical jump point linkages, showing the stars that have direct jump point links to "neighboring" star systems. What constitutes a neighboring star system in this context is based solely on whether or not a system links to a given system; Akwende Projections do not portray the absolute positions of individual systems. Since exact galactic positioning is irrelevant when it comes to jump travel, Akwende Projections are useful as a base navigational aid in plotting Akwende jump routes but they are essentially worthless for all other forms of FTL travel.
Star systems on Akwende projections are organized according to Sector and Quadrant divisions. Each Sector is made up of four Quadrants arranged as a quadrilateral polygon. For all Quadrants within a Sector, two of other Quadrants are directly adjacent and the third is "caddy corner" to it. The designation of what Sectors and Quadrants to which a star system belongs is done by political convention by whatever party first explores the region; its location on an Akwende Projection is assigned accordingly.
WCRPG utilizes the poster-sized map that was included as bonus material from Wing Commander: Prophecy as its "official" map, with the fan-built Landreich Sector from the CIC community also used. This map divides the Milky Way into four "Galactic Quadrants" designated as Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. Each Galactic Quadrant is divided into a set of eight radially parallel "wedges", which are designated by the letters A through H. Further, the entire galaxy is divided into ten radially perpendicular "slices" at even intervals from the Galactic Core out to the Galactic Rim. Every Quadrant corresponds to the intersection of one of these wedges and one of these slices; otherwise undesignated Quadrants can thus be identified by their position (for example, the Terra Quadrant of the Sol Sector is more formally designated as Quadrant αB5). In a similar manner, an otherwise undesignated Sector can be identified as a range of coordinate sets corresponding to positions of the four Quadrants that comprise it (Sol Sector is more formally designated as Sector αA5-αB6).
Using this system and assuming a galactic diameter of 100,000 light years, it becomes pretty simple to determine how large of an area is meant to be represented by each Quadrant; since there are 10 slices, it can be inferred that the slices are set at intervals of 5,000 light years each. Wedges are trickier, since the distance between them decreases as one approaches the Galactic Core and vice versa. The exact distances and the final calculated areas of the Quadrants along a given slice are listed in the table below:
|Slice||Wedge Arc Distance (ly)||Quadrant Area (ly2)|
Sectors and Quadrants are always drawn as a square area; normalization and the inevitable resultant distortion are both common on Akwende Projections.
Of course, this information is highly erroneous: looking at the established map, Sol and Vega are in different Quadrants along Slice 5 and should therefore be at least 4,500 light years apart from one another. In reality, Vega is one of Sol's near neighbors; it's only about 25 light years away. If it isn't clear by now, the uptake of all of this is that under no circumstances can an Akwende Projection be used as an indication of how far two star systems actually are from one another regardless of the circumstances.
One final thing to note about Akwende Projections is that they usually only contain "local jump networks" of stars with direct jump line connections to one another; if a star is not connected to the network, it doesn't appear on the map (the only notable exception to this rule is the Dallas System, which appears on maps of the Avalon Sector due to it being a Confederation member). This opens up the possibility of there being several different jump point networks within a volume of space occupied by the same Sector or Quadrant, present but not connected to one another and thus not appearing on each other's Projections. It also explains why in a galaxy filled with millions of stars there are only a handful present on any given map. It should be noted that the Milky Way galaxy is only about 300 parsecs thick on average, so there usually won't be any additional "stacked" Sectors located along the z-axis of the galactic plane. The Milky Way increases to about 4,600 parsecs near the Galactic Core, so "stacked" Sectors may exist there).
13 Sectors are officially included in "Known Space" using Sol's local jump network on most official maps. A procedure for creating new Sector maps is located in Chapter 10.2.1 should the need ever arise for a new region of space to be featured in a particular adventure or campaign.
Determining Distances in Interstellar Space
In most cases, the absolute distance between two stars does not need to be known; again this is because the majority of FTL travel is performed with Akwende Drive. When it does become a critical issue (i.e. when FTL travel is being done with Morvan Drive), only the actual distance to be traveled really matters and a GM has a number of options available to them in order to determine it; as with most of the methods of determining distance employed in WCRPG, there is a realistic method and a simple method.
If the GM needs to figure out the distance to an actual star, they can usually reference its distance from Sol using guides such as Wikipedia™ or other Internet sources. Assuming the source system is Sol, the referenced distance may simply be used for the transit. For example, Vega is 25 light years from Sol; in a hop between Sol and Vega, the total distance to be traveled is simply 25 light years.
The situation is far trickier if Sol is not the source system; it requires some very complex trigonometry to arrive at a final distance between the source and destination stars due to the three-dimensional nature of space. The level of mathematics involved may be beyond many GMs but if realism is to be preserved and they are up to the challenge, they may use this method. Here are the steps involved:
- The GM will need to either find or produce the distance, right ascension and declination of the stars involved (i.e. the star's set of spherical coordinates). They must make sure to use the same set of units (either light years or parsecs and degrees or radians) for both stars.
- For each star in turn, the GM will need to convert the coordinates from spherical coordinates into a set of three-dimensional Cartesian coordinates. The formulas for calculating these conversions is as follows:
- The position of the X-coordinate is the distance times the cosine of the right ascension angle, times the cosine of the declination angle.
- The position of the Y-coordinate is the distance times the sine of the right ascension angle, times the cosine of the declination angle.
- The position of the Z-coordinate is the distance times the sine of the declination angle.
- Once the GM has the X, Y and Z-coordinates of both stars, they must subtract the X-coordinate of the destination star from the source star and record the result. They must then do the same for the Y and Z-coordinates in turn.
- Once the GM has the value of the differences for all three coordinate sets, they must find the squares of those differences, sum them all together, and take the square root of the result. The final result is the distance between the two stars in whatever units the GM originally used for the distance from Sol.
The simpler method is for the GM to simply add the distance of the source system from Sol to the destination system's distance from Sol. The resultant trip will be far longer than what is necessary and will negatively affect fuel consumption.
If the GM needs to calculate the distance to a fictional system or if they cannot find real data on an actual star, they may assign a distance arbitrarily. Alternatively, they may roll for it; the type of roll to be made is dependent upon how far the destination system needs to be from the source system. Close stars may use a roll of d%. Systems further away may require additional "place" dice, resulting in rolls of d1000, d10,000 or even d100,000 for particularly distant stars. Regardless of the actual roll, its result indicates the distance between the two systems in light years.
The realistic method begs for a real-life example, so let's go through one together. Let's say a GM wants to calculate the distance between two stars in the WC universe; let's say Vega and Polaris. The first thing we need to do is get the spherical coordinates of both stars. Wikipedia is a good source for this data; a quick view there gives the coordinates of both stars:
- Vega: RA 18hr, 36m, 56.34s; Declination 38°47'1.28"; Distance 25.04 ly
- Polaris: RA 2hr, 31m, 49.09s; Declination 89°15'50.8"; Distance 433 ly
A stop by the right ascension article gives us the conversion factor we need in order to change the RA unit values into degrees; it's 15 degrees per hour, 15 minutes per minute, and 15 seconds per second. Plugging those in gives us these values for RA:
- Vega: RA 18*15, 36*15, 56.34*15 = 270°, 540', 845.1"
- Polaris: RA 2*15, 31*15, 49.09*15 = 30°, 465', 736.35"
What we really want is a simple decimal value to work with; we can translate the values for minutes and seconds to a decimal amount easily. All that we need to do is divide the number of minutes by 60, divide the number of seconds by 3600 and add both values to the indicated number of degrees. Doing this for our stars gives us these values for the RA:
- Vega: RA 270°, (540'/60) = 9, (845.1"/3600) = .23475; 270 + 9 + .23475 = 279.23475°
- Polaris: RA 30°, (465'/60) = 7.75, (736.35"/3600) = .20454; 30 + 7.75 + .20454 = 37.95454°
(Incidentally, there are sites on the Internet that have star data already in decimal format; this exercise has been done deliberately for the benefit of those who haven't got access to that information or have little luck finding it).
We also need to convert the declination angles into a decimal amount; this can be done in the same manner as the conversion of the right ascension angle from degrees-minutes-seconds format into decimal format (by dividing the minutes by 60, dividing the seconds by 3600 and adding both values to the indicated number of degrees). This gives us the following values for our stars:
- Vega: Dec 38° + ((47'/60) = .78333) + ((1.28"/3600) = .00035) = 38.78368°
- Polaris: Dec 89° + ((15'/60 = .25) + ((50.8"/3600) = .01411) = 89.26411°
Since we now have our right ascension and declination in decimal values, we can go ahead and calculate the Cartesian coordinates for our two stars using the formulas above. This gives us the following data:
- X = (Dist*cosRA*cosDec) = 25.04*cos(279.23475)*cos(38.78368) = 25.04*.16048*.77952 = 3.13242 ly
- Y = (Dist*sinRA*cosDec) = 25.04*sin(279.23475)*cos(38.78368) = 25.04*-0.98704*.77952 = -19.26611 ly
- Z = (Dist*sinDec) = 25.04*sin(38.78368) = 25.04*.62638 = 15.68460 ly
- X = (Dist*cosRA*cosDec) = 433*cos(37.95454)*cos(89.26411) = 433*.788499*.01284 = 4.38498 ly
- Y = (Dist*sinRA*cosDec) = 433*sin(37.95454)*cos(89.26411) = 433*.61504*.01284 = 3.42032 ly
- Z = (Dist*sinDec) = 433*sin(89.26411) = 433*.99992 = 432.96429 ly
The next step is to subtract the coordinate sets from one another. Let's say Vega is the source star and Polaris is the destination star. This gives us the following differences in the coordinates:
- ΔX = 4.38498 - 3.13242 = 1.25256 ly
- ΔY = 3.42032 - -19.26611 = 22.68643 ly
- ΔZ = 432.96429 - 15.68460 = 417.27969 ly
We then square each value...
- ΔX2 = (1.25256 ly)2 = 1.56891 ly2
- ΔY2 = (22.68643 ly)2 = 514.67411 ly2
- ΔZ2 = (417.27969 ly)2 = 174122.33969 ly2
...we then sum them together and find the square root of the result.
- √(ΔX2+ΔY2+ΔZ2) = √(1.56891 ly2+514.67411 ly2+174122.33969 ly2) = √(174638.582699 ly2)
- √(174638.582699 ly2) = 417.89781 ly
So, the distance from Vega to Polaris is 417.89781 ly. When determining the distance of the transit between the two stars, a GM may use this figure.
Wormholes, Jump Gates, and Skip Drives
While the physical phenomenon of wormholes is implied in the usage of Akwende Drive, Wing Commander: Prophecy introduces the notion of artificially produced wormholes (or "wormhole gates"). Wormhole gates are opened over existing weaknesses in jumpspace. They are initially powered from their point of origin, an exceedingly costly task in terms of energy; for this reason, the Nephilim immediately construct a physical gate around the point of the destination of the newly created anomaly. Once complete, they construct a Stellar Accretion Device in the destination system; this specialized base uses the natural energy of the local star to keep the wormhole open. Once an Accretion Device is activated, a wormhole becomes permanent.
A similar phenomenon to wormhole gates are "jump gates", which are seen both in Wing Commander Arena and Privateer 2: The Darkening. Jump gates are not seen until after the turn of the 28th century, though craft that could "hold the door open" for non-jump capable craft were seen as early as 2669; during the Black Lance Affair, the Border Worlds' Fleet operated a specially modified corvette capable of externally opening jump points. Jump gates provide external energy to hold a jump point open permanently. The functioning of jump gates is very similar to that of wormhole gates, though jump gates rely on jump points in order to function.
Finally, Privateer Online would have seen the introduction of "skip drives". These drives are like Akwende jump drives in many respects, with one key exception: the destination system of a skip drive may be selected; any given jump point connects to any other system in the same jump tunnel network. Such a drive is a powerful piece of technology; it reduces the journey from a system to any other system to a single jump. A note to prospective GMs: skip drives are a perfect example of the kind of powerful technology mentioned in Chapter 10.2.6 that can unbalance a campaign. WCRPG balances skip drive technology by making it available only later in the timeline and by limiting its access to military craft.
WCRPG handles wormholes, jump gates and skip drives similarly to Akwende jumps; only a few of the particulars are different. For wormhole and jump gates, a Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check is not required; once the craft has arrived, all that's required is an Astrogation Check at a -5 DC penalty. A successful Check means a successful transit; failure still allows the transit but subjects the crew of the craft to the effects of jumpshock. The Check has critical potential; in the event of a critical failure, the craft fails to make the transit and takes damage. The GM should treat this as a successful Ram on the craft by the gate, which for this purpose has a Size Class of 25; for details on Ramming actions, see Chapters 9.3 and 9.4. Note that it is common for jump gates to collect a toll immediately prior to their use; if the primary bank account associated with the craft does not contain a sufficient number of credits to pay for the toll, an automatic critical failure will occur if the craft attempts to use the gate. Neither fuel nor time is required to transit either a wormhole or a jump gate.
Skip drives require multiple Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Checks; to determine how many are required, the GM must determine the shortest number of Akwende jumps between the source and declared destination systems; this number equals the number of Checks required. For example, the shortest route from Sol to Kilrah using the standard Akwende projection is seven jumps, so seven Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Checks would be necessary to complete the journey. Regardless of its level of success, the fuel used in a skip is the same as what would be expended in a single jump. As with a single jump, no time is expended in a skip other than what's required to reach a local jump point.
The initial Astrogation Check is at a -5 DC penalty for all skip attempts; the DC of all of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check is adjusted by degree of success or failure of the Astrogation Check. Should the final Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check in the sequence succeed, the ship will skip to its destination without incident, though all crewmembers aboard will be subject to jumpshock as normal. Otherwise, the craft will travel to the system indicated by the last successful Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check in the sequence; an attempt to continue the skip may be made after 1d5 minutes (for example, if the seventh and last Check in a jump from Earth to Kilrah fail and if the sixth Check was the last successful Check, a craft making the skip transit would complete a journey to the sixth system in the sequence, which in this case is the H'rissth system). A skip may end at any jump point in the destination system that the vehicle's crew selects or at one of the GM's choosing should a failure occur.
All of the Checks in this sequence have critical potential; in the event of critical success of the Astrogation Check, the vehicle's crew will avoid the effects of jumpshock. In the event of a critical failure of the Astrogation Check), the craft will still perform the skip but will wind up in a system adjacent to the one in which it finally arrives depending on the results of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Checks. The GM may determine in which system the craft has arrived at random, though it should still be another system that connects to the destination system if at all possible. Should no other destination system exist, the GM may select a destination system that connects to the previous system in the sequence or to the source system if no other options exist. A critical failure of any Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check after a successful Astrogation Check will cause a spontaneous shutdown of the drive prior to the initial skip. Not only will the craft not perform the skip, but its power systems will be shorted out; the craft will be immobilized for a period of 1d10 hours. Should there be a critical failure of the Astrogation Check and a critical failure of any Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check in the sequence, a mishap occurs that results in the total destruction of the craft.
Here's an example of how these methods work. Let's say we have the same Ogan transport again but now it's been outfitted with a Skip Drive. Again, it has a Ninth Class Engine and its pilot and Engineer have a total DC of 34 for Astrogation and 67 for Faster-Than-Light Mechanics accounting for their respective Discipline scores. Neither of these crew members have any points in Skip Drives (what with it being a new technology and all), so those will be the final numbers we use.
First, the ship's captain wants to travel through a wormhole gate (let's say because they were trading with a new colony in formerly-occupied Nephilim territory far coreward and it's time for the ship to come back home). After traveling to the gate, the ship's crew prepares for wormhole transit. The pilot makes their Astrogation Check, which given the -5 DC penalty has a DC of 29. The roll comes up as 74, a failure; the transit occurs and the crew arrives back in local space but they are subject to jumpshock.
Next, the ship's captain wants to utilize a jump gate (let's say it's a special one that connects two otherwise disconnected jump tunnel networks). After travelling to the gate, the ship's crew prepares for gate transit. The pilot makes their Astrogation Check, which again given the penalty has a DC of 29. The roll comes up as 42, a better result than the wormhole attempt but still a failure; the transit occurs and the crew arrives at the intended destination but the crew is subject to jumpshock again. In both the wormhole gate and the jump gate transits, no fuel is expended and no time passes.
Finally, the ship's captain wants to perform a skip from the McAuliffe System all the way to Perry. The GM checks their map; as best as they can determine, the shortest distance between the two is seven jumps (from McAuliffe to Eddings to Weslyn to Mastif to Oxford to either XXN-1927 or Saxtogue, either of which connects to New Detroit and on to Perry). The captain specifically wants to emerge at the Newcastle jump point in Perry.
The ship has maneuvered to the closest local jump point. The pilot makes the Astrogation Check again at a -5 DC penalty. The result is 72, a failure; the degree of failure is 43 points. This will reduce the Engineer's Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check DC from 67 all the way down to 24. The dice are rolled seven times; the results are 11, 28, 51, 99, 67, 53 and 93. The natural 99 for the fourth jump is an automatic critical failure, so the ship loses power before the skip occurs. 1d10 is rolled; two hours pass before another attempt can be made. On the second attempt, the pilot rolls 42, a lesser failure reducing the Engineer's DC to 54. The Engineer rolls seven times again; the results are 71, 31, 9, 91, 9, 65 and 16. No critical results are in the sequence and the final Check is successful, so the ship successfully skips all the way to Perry without further incident; checks to resist jumpshock are subsequently rolled by the crew. Since the ship is Size Class 15 and has a Ninth Class Engine installed, it will expend 13 fuel points for the skip (well within the fuel limits for a ship of this size). No time passes in the skip itself.
Quasars and pulsars are notoriously prolific generators of jump points. Their agitated movements cause dramatic distortions in the space-time fabric, which are (as previously discussed) the structural basis of jump tunnels. The difference between a pulsar's jump points and a quasar's is that the pulsar's are shifting constantly according to laws of quantum indeterminacy. Theoretically you can get to anywhere in the universe from a pulsar; the drawback is that it's nearly impossible to predict the exact location of end termini. Pulsar jump points also have an annoying tendency to appear at an inconvenient depth in their gravity well. Pilgrim legends say that they had navigators who had the mystical ability to safely jump pulsars but most Confederation scientists dismiss these accounts as myth. The rapid expansion of a quasar causes distortions in jump tunnels causing many of them to lead back towards the same source quasar. For this reason, a quasar can have thousands of stable jump points but most of them will be unusable; many of them are already too close to its dangerous corona and their physical locations shift as the quasar rotates, rendering them impossible to chart.
There is a positive side to pulsars: they create what are known as "supernodes", unusually large jump points that allow craft approaching at the right velocity and approach angle to jump to another pulsar with a corresponding frequency; these pulsars can be any distance apart from one another. Jumping a supernode is a potentially very hazardous proposition; while a connection between two corresponding pulsars is well established and stable, it's still possible that the termini of one or both pulsars are too far into their respective gravity wells to make the jump between them safely. It's also necessary to enter the close vicinity of a neutron star (a pulsar simply being a neutron star with a very fast period of rotation) in order to attempt to utilize the jump; this comes with an attendant risk of significant cosmic radiation exposure.
Supernode jumps are possible in WCRPG but they are among the most dangerous type of FTL transit a craft can attempt. The GM will need to know how far apart the two corresponding pulsars are located from one another in parsecs. The involved craft must also be equipped with an Akwende Drive. The Checks involved are the same as those for a standard Akwende jump; the Astrogation Check is made at a -5 DC penalty. Any failure of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check is sufficient to cause the craft's immediate destruction. Should a successful transit occur, the craft's crew will experience time passage; the amount of time that passes is eleven minutes per parsec transited minus one minute per parsec per Engine Class. Jumpshock may be experienced at both the time of entry and at the time of exit if indicated.
Let's do an example of a supernode jump; we'll use the same Ogan transport and crew we've been using for the other examples. That gives us an SC15 ship equipped with a Ninth Class Engine, whose pilot and Engineer's Skill levels and Akwende Drive specializations give us a total DC of 34 for Astrogation and 67 for Faster-Than-Light Mechanics. The ship's captain wants to jump a pulsar to another pulsar 200 light years away; this correlates to a distance of 61.32 parsecs.
The crew survives the journey to the supernode without incident. The pilot rolls their Astrogation Check and comes up with a 38, a failure of four points; the DC of the Faster-Than-Light Mechanics Check is lowered to 67. The Engineer rolls and is blessed with a double-zero, a critical success. As with a normal jump, the ship will expend 13 fuel points in the transit. The Ogan in question has a Ninth Class engine and so it will take two minutes to cover each parsec travelled (11-9 = 2). Given a distance of 61.32 parsecs, it will take the ship 122.64 minutes to complete the jump.
"The Edge of the Map"
Space doesn't have any defined boundaries (other than perhaps the borders of the universe, which are forever expanding). There's no realistic mechanism that would keep a space vehicle from leaving the bounds of Known Space simply by flying past its "established" boundaries. However, WCRPG has been built as a game and not a full simulation of the known universe; it has boundaries that a craft cannot cross under normal circumstances.
The editors of WCRPG have done their level best to keep incidents of these situations to a minimum. For craft utilizing Akwende Drives, a GM may simply exclude any jump points that would take it off "the map" from the view of the players. A craft cannot use its jump drive without a jump point; it cannot jump if its crew doesn't know there's a jump point there. This should be sufficient to keep players from jumping off the map using Akwende Drives.
The situation is trickier when it comes to D-Drives and Morvan Drives; these systems can be utilized at any point in space. How a GM chooses to handle what happens when a craft equipped with one of these drive systems reaches "the edge of the map" is entirely up to them but it is something that they should decide upon before an adventure or campaign begins. Perhaps the best way to handle it is to have the craft become lost the moment it leaves Known Space; its navigator has no definite points of reference with which to get its bearings and plot a safe course. Travel times could then steadily increase until there's no hope of retrieval. Another method is to simply have some mechanism inflict significant damage on the craft when it attempts to leave the map, forcing it to turn around for repairs. Both of these proposed mechanisms will deter particularly brazen crews from trying to fly into the unknown more than a few times, provided they survive the initial attempt of course.
Of course, there is nothing preventing an enterprising GM from creating a map for the adjacent region of space and allowing the ship to simply fly "off the map"; this can be a rewarding experience. In those cases, movement is simply going to require the GM to create a new Sector map; for more on creating these maps, see Chapter 10.2.1. Figuring out the distance between stars between known space and the new Sector can then be done using the methods described above.
Intergalactic travel is a topic that has not yet been broached in the Wing Commander continuity. There are no real barriers to creating an adventure set in another galaxy other than the ability to travel between them, if such a consideration is even necessary. Some of the special interstellar travel methods discussed in this sub-Chapter (wormholes, jump gates and supernodes) can easily handle a transit between two galaxies. Of course, in order to conduct such a mega-campaign, it will be necessary for the GM to create maps of the various potential destination Sectors in the other galaxy/galaxies; again, the procedure to create new Sectors is presented in Chapter 10.2.1.
While modern scholars debate whether or not an intertemporal transit (i.e. time travel) is physically possible, it is mentioned once in the Wing Commander Universe; namely in the description of Nuke'ems in Privateer 2 ("The device carries a small synchronic temporal warp generator which at the point of detonation throws you marginally forward in time after the blast, giving you escape from the carnage.") Given that this device does involve time travel, intertemporal travel should be considered a physical possibility for their usage; in WCRPG, their effect is emulated by simply having the craft disappear for one round.
Any other mechanism of intertemporal travel in WCRPG should be expressly forbidden; time travel tends to be overused as a plot device in many science-fiction universes and so its use may not be as effective in a campaign as a GM might've hoped. Mucking around in time can cause all sorts of headaches as far as the events of a campaign are concerned, to say nothing of what might happen to the Universe at large (someone picks up a lifeform a million years in the past and suddenly Firekka is populated with hostile, sentient squid zealots, etc.).
GMs who want to set an adventure based on past events are encouraged to simply it in the past, having their players create new characters if necessary for the involved time period. If a GM absolutely must have the ability to travel through time in order for an adventure to work, they should make such travel as physically dangerous to life, limb and property as possible; they should obey these general rules:
- Time travel requires the use of a capital ship.
- Time travel may only take place in interstellar space using a Morvan Drive.
- Time travel requires 90% of the ship's full fuel capacity and carries a near-certain risk of severe damage or death.
Any other rules pertinent to time travel are specific to the situation (for example, whether or not time travel is round-trip or not is very dependent upon the method used; blowing up one's own ship in order to travel through time tends to make the trip one-way only).