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Almost all adventures in the Wing Commander Universe involve characters going somewhere and doing something, whether its talking to (or shooting at) an alien species, visiting a nearby planet to conduct some mining, or searching for the nearest pub. Even those adventures that take place at a single site involve movement. Movement is an integral part of the game; keeping track of it is equally important if not more so. Any character will be hard-pressed to complete an adventure if they don't know where they are or where they've been. The same is true of vehicles and capital ships; they might be used for fighting, but their primary purpose is as a means of conveyance.

Navigation is the process of planning, reading and controlling movement from one place to another. In the original games, navigation was an important aspect; players had to go and do things (usually involving one or more combat situations) at specific places to complete their missions. A pilot competent in navigation could make life a lot easier on themselves by avoiding hazards and encounters for which they would otherwise be ill-equipped to handle (this was particularly true in Privateer, where a player rarely had to go places they didn't choose to go in the first place).

This Chapter is devoted to the topics of navigation. The first section discusses the particulars of fuel consumption and fuel efficiency for both vehicles and capital ships. Section two discusses planetary exploration, including how to incorporate random exploration with planned encounters on a planet's surface. Section three discusses interplanetary travel, including all aspects of slower-than-light movement inside star systems. Section four discusses interstellar travel, including how to use Morvan Drives, D-Drives, Akwende Drives and other FTL travel aspects. The final section contains navigational data for use in adventures, including Akwende Projections of the "canonical" Wing Commander Universe as well as specific nav data on the Gemini Sector and a few of the better known star systems.

A Quick Discussion of Kinematics and Units of Measurement

WCRPG uses linear kinematics, the motion of objects in straight lines without consideration of the circumstances leading to it. In many of the situations used in the game, the mathematics involved in movement has been vastly simplified from real life. Those player groups that are more mathematically inclined can use their own methods for determining movement if they desire.

The most basic law of linear kinematics is the simple relationship d=rt, or Newtonian distance equals average velocity multiplied by time elapsed; put even more simply, distance equals speed times time. Travelling characters will need to be made aware of how far it is to their destination, how fast they can go and how much time it will take to get there. Fortunately it’s fairly easy to calculate. All that’s required is that two of the factors (distance, speed or time) are already known or can be readily determined (or even made up, in certain situations). To find distance, multiply speed by time. To find out how long it’ll take to get somewhere, divide the distance by speed. To find out how fast the characters will need to travel to get somewhere by such and such a time, divide distance by the time desired. It is really that simple. However, in order for the equation to work like it’s supposed to, all of the involved units must be the same. If the GM uses a speed in kilometers per hour and time in seconds, the formula will yield a confusing final answer in a convoluted "kilometers-seconds per hour", rather than a tidy "kilometers". If the GM uses a distance in kilometers and speed in miles per hour, they’ll end up with a time elapsed in "kilometer-hours per mile", rather than "hours".

Traditionally, Wing Commander uses the metric system (SI units). Player groups are welcome to use other terms of measurement as they see fit, though all materials within the WCRPG core rules will use metric terms. If you ever need to convert terms from one unit type to another, an excellent site to visit online is the MegaConverter site.

The standard unit of distance in WCRPG is the meter. One meter equals 39.4 inches (just a little over a yard). For larger distances, kilometers are used; kilometers are equal to 1000 meters or 3280.8 feet (roughly .62 miles). For extreme distances sometimes measured in relation to the tactical short-range movement of fightercraft and capital ships, megameters (1000 kilometers or 1,000,000 meters) and sometimes gigameters (1,000,000 kilometers, a little over 3 light-seconds) are reasonable units with which to work, though neither will be mentioned again in this set of rules. Simply put, fighters and capital ships really are that fast. The largest measure of distance used in WCRPG is the astronomical unit (the distance between Earth and Sol), which is roughly 150,000,000 kilometers (93,000,000 miles) in length and is used to measure the distance between points in interplanetary space. When such discussions are required, distances in interstellar space will use either light years (roughly 9.5 trillion kilometers) or parsecs (3.26 Light Years or roughly 30.86 trillion kilometers). The Kilrathi standard unit of measurement - the mak - may also be encountered on occasion along with the derivative terms "zarmak" (1/64 of a mak) and "octomok" (8 maks). 1 mak is roughly equal to 1.2 meters (though there can be significant deviations with this figure).

The standard unit of time in WCRPG is the second, defined as "the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium-133 atom"; this exact definition is listed here for the sake of throwing in some worthless trivia into the game and is not really pertinent to gameplay. Larger units of time can be derived from the second: a minute equals 60 seconds, an hour equals 60 minutes, a day equals 24 hours and a week equals 7 days. A month lasts anywhere from 28 to 31 days long (roughly four weeks) and a year is equal to 12 months, 52.1 weeks, or 365.24 days. Curiously enough, the Kilrathi also use the second as their base measurement of time, though it can generally be assumed that any other derivative terms (such as "sun years") will use variations on their overall base-eight counting system.

Speed (and by extension, velocity; there is a mathematical difference between the two terms) is a derived measurement based on the change in an object's position over time. As different units of measurement can be used for both distance and time measurements, there are many different possible units that may be used for speed. While the normal derived SI measurement for speed and velocity is the meter per second, WCRPG utilizes kilometers per hour (or kph). One kilometer per hour equals 0.27778 meters per second and also equals 0.62137 miles per hour. In those cases where a faster unit of speed is needed (usually when dealing with space vehicles), WCRPG uses kilometers per second (kps); one kps equals 3600 kph.

Because calculations of speed, distance and time can be a bit tricky, GMs should take the time to calculate these figured for any distances that need to be traversed in their adventures prior to the beginning of a gaming session. For those GMs that want or need to use a quick, rough solution to determine the distance and travel times between two points, the following set of benchmark tables may be used. For distances and speeds that fall in between those listed on these charts, a GM may either extrapolate the data based on the chart or just use the distance-speed-time formula to get an exact solution. All times listed on the charts are rounded to the nearest whole unit and only three standard time units are listed for some of the larger periods of time (it's possible to have a time listed in years, weeks, days, hours and so on, but such a long period of time will be cut off after days). The charts use the following shorthand notation: y equals years, w weeks, d days, h hours, m minutes, and s seconds.

Planetary Kinematic Benchmarks
Speed
(kph)
1 km 10 km 100 km 1000 km NY-LA
(~4000 km)
NY-Tokyo
(~11,000 km)
circumglobular
(~20,000 km)
Earth-moon
(~385,000 km)
Earth-Sun
(~149,598,073 km)
1 1h 10h 4d 4h 5w 6d 16h 23w 5d 16h 1y 13w 3d 2y 14w 6d 43y 51w 3d 17,091y
23w 4d
5 12m 2h 20h 1w 1d 8h 4w 5d 8h 13w 0d 16h 23w 5d 16h 8y 41w 4d 3,418y 15w 1d
10 6m 1h 10h 4d 4h 2w 2d 16h 6w 3d 20h 11w 6d 8h 4y 20w 5d 1,709y 7w 4d
20 3m 30m 5h 2d 2h 1w 1d 8h 3w 1d 22h 5w 6d 16h 2y 10w 3d 854y 29w 6d
50 1m 12s 12m 2h 20h 3d 8h 1w 2d 4h 2w 2d 16h 45w 5d 20h 341y 43w 1d
100 36s 6m 1h 10h 1d 16h 4d 14h 1w 1d 8h 22w 6d 10h 170y 47w 5d
200 18s 3m 30m 5h 20h 2d 7h 4d 4h 11w 3d 5h 85y 23w 6d
500 7s 1m 12s 12m 2h 8h 22h 1d 16h 4w 4d 2h 34y 9w 4d
1000 4s 36s 6m 1h 4h 11h 20hr 2w 2d 1h 17y 4w 5d
1500 2s 24s 4m 40m 2h 40m 7h 20m 13hr 20m 1w 3d 17h 11y 20w 4d
2000 2s 18s 3m 30m 2h 5h 30m 10hr 1w 1d 1h 8y 28w 3d
2500 1s 14s 2m 24s 24m 1m 36s 4h 24m 8h 6d 10h 6y 43w 4d
5000 <1s 7s 1m 12s 12m 48m 2h 12m 4h 3d 5h 3y 21w 6d
10000 <1s 4s 36s 6m 24m 1h 6m 2h 1d 14h 30m 1y 36w 7d
Interplanetary Kinematic Benchmarks
Speed
(kps)
1000 km NY-LA
(~4000 km)
NY-Tokyo
(~11,000 km)
circumglobular
(~20,000 km)
Earth-moon
(~385,000 km)
Earth-Sun
(~149,598,073 km)
Sun-Kuiper Belt
(~4,487,942,190 km)
1 16m 40s 1h 6m 40s 3h 2m 20s 5h 33m 20s 4d 10h 57m 4y 38w 7d 142y 22w 2d
5 3m 20s 13m 20s 36m 40s 1h 6m 40s 21h 23m 20s 49w 3d 7h 28y 25w 2d
10 1m 40s 6m 40s 18m 20s 33m 20s 10h 41m 40s 24w 5d 4h 14y 12w 5d
20 50s 3m 20s 9m 10s 16m 40s 5h 20m 50s 12w 2d 14h 7y 6w 2d
50 20s 1m 20s 3m 40s 6m 40s 2h 8m 20s 4w 6d 15h 2y 22w 1d
100 10s 40s 1m 50s 3m 20s 1h 4m 10s 2w 3d 8h 1y 22w 1d
200 5s 20s 55s 1m 40s 32m 5s 1w 6d 16h 37w 17h 15m
300 3s 13s 37s 1m 7s 21m 23s 5d 18h 31m 24w 5d 3h
400 3s 10s 28s 50s 16m 3s 4d 7h 53m 18w 3d
500 2s 8s 22s 40s 12m 50s 3d 11h 7m 14w 5d
1000 1s 4s 11s 20s 6m 25s 1d 17h 33m 7w 2d
1500 <1s 3s 7s 13s 4m 17s 1d 3h 42m 4w 6d
2000 <1s 2s 6s 10s 3m 13s 20h 46m 39s 3w 4d
5000 <1s <1s 2s 4s 1m 17s 8h 18m 40s 1w 3d
10000 <1s <1s 1s 2s 39s 4h 9m 20s 5d 4h 40m
20000 <1s <1s <1s 1s 19s 2h 4m 40s 2d 14h 20m
50000 <1s <1s <1s <1s 8s 49m 52s 1d 55m 58s
75000 <1s <1s <1s <1s 5s 3m 15s 16h 37m 19s

NEXT: 8.1 Vehicles, Capital Ships and Fuel Consumption
PREVIOUS: 7.4 Non-Canonical Capital Ship Catalog
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