Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Déjà View

[Transmission begins:

Activity here has fallen off due to an increased workload caused by the Great 'Windows XP Expiration', whose deadline hurtles toward us even now. But it's been too long without a post, so I'll hit this one out despite the fact that I'd originally planned on posting it later. As promised though this one does reveal some of the workings of my game universe.

Please note that this item is not written by me; I'd like to thank +Steve Zieser and +John Adams for their kind permission to allow me to re-host Steve's article.

Spacefaring in the Reaches: Warpjacking
Image credit Seth Pritchard via

In the storied history of the Reaches, multiple methods for creating the space "warp" that allows a spaceship propel itself hundreds of parsecs through the void in the space of a thought have been invented. The most popular and trusted method, though, has been the Continuous Magnetotron Spin Drive, a design which drives the tiniest space fighters to the most gargantuan robotic freighters that ply the spacelanes.
The use of the drive is simple. A starship sets its course to its destination. The power plant of the vessel then begins a slow transfer to power to the drive core, which begins to "spin up" the drive itself. (Note: No parts of the drive actually spin; "spin" is a term used by warp physicists to explain the motion of space/time generated by the drive) When the drive accumulates enough energy and spin, a warp in space in generated and the ship is carried along by its "wake" to the destination point, where the warp dissipates.
The warp in space that a CMS drive creates extends in a sphere for several meters around the jumping ship. Clever and disreputable pilots can take advantage of this by bringing in their much smaller vessel into a sensor blindspot within this zone while the jumping ship is spinning up its drive. Then, the smaller "warpjacker" opens the accumulators in his own CMS drive, but puts no power into it from his power plant. The warping space around the "host" vessel causes the drive in the smaller ship to spin up. Both ships enter warp. Because warp physics maintains that a smaller warp field cannot exist within a larger, the smaller field is "pushed "out of the larger field, allowing the smaller ship to emerge from warp at a completely different destination than the host vessel.
Warp jacking is a plague to large shipping companies and independent operators alike, and carries heavy criminal penalties throughout the Reaches. Without careful monitoring of the power input during spin up, these ships may take on warp jacking ships and end up using so much power that the host vessel exits warp light days or light years away from its destination with a depleted power core. This makes warp jacking a favorite tactic of pirates preying on large, automated freighters. The pirate warp jacks a large freighter and then later backtracks its course to pick off the helpless prize. Because of this, large ships often equip themselves with multiple sensors and gun ports to deter this type of action.
A pilot attempting to warpjack a ship must be piloting a craft at least 2 size classes smaller. The pilot makes an opposed roll with the Sensor operator of the larger ship using the Computers skill. If the pilot wins, he may warpjack the larger ship to the destination of his choice. If the Sensor operator wins, the pilot making the attempt is detected and a combat immediately ensues. Start this combat with the warpjacker 1 range band away.
Up next, a new, campaign-specific PC race.

:Transmission ends]

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