I've been playing a bit of LANCER and have really enjoyed embracing the effects of relativistic slower-than-light travel. And I tend to lean on Larry Niven's Known Space stories for inspiration. But what started out as a case for STL-only MoSh has turned into a another list post. So here are some alternatives to the standard jump drive. Credit to the relevant fiction where it's due.
d10 WAYS PEOPLE TRAVEL THE STARS INSTEAD OF JUMP DRIVES
- They don't. But digital uploading is permitted, uploaded minds may travel relativisticly on tiny starmoth-sized lightsail probes propelled by lasers. It's too hard to transmit the amount of data in a human mind on a comms laser.
- STL only (low time-dilation) on a highway of fusion pellets; interstellar space travel is a managed utility like train travel if you also spent years on a train. Lifespans are long enough and cryopods are good enough that traveling STL is acceptable to anyone who doesn't mind leaving their old world behind.
- STL only (very high high time dilation); it's possible to launch a ship into hyperspace to easily travel at an arbitrary speed but Very Bad Things happen to ships that exceed the speed of light. To the people in the ship's reference frame time passes hundreds of times faster. But what takes subjective minutes takes years in the rest reference frame.
- STL only (high time dilation); magical asteroid-sized aliens that can manipulate gravity make a living transporting other species and allow humans to hitch a ride. Thanks Steven Baxter.
- FTL (realspace); magical asteroid-sized aliens that can manipulate gravity and exotic matter are the only source of warp drive technology.
- FTL (hyperspace); as standard MoSh but it takes less time in realspace to get somewhere than it does in hyperspace. This obviously benefits corporations shipping things and makes the life of a typical spacer even more miserable.
- FTL (wormholes); established gates allow FTL travel. Using wormholes as a time machine will destroy the wormholes (a tactic used by saboteurs and warring polities).
- FTL (hyperspace); hyperspace is really hell and you need to sign an actual contract with the entities that reside there before you jump
- Pseudo FTL (instant jump); you're traveling between alternate universes; often the only humans in a given universe are hanging around the jump point. Credit to Diaspora (in some games anyway).
- FTL (instant jump); psychic navigators teleport ships around. If they rely on drugs to do this, pour one out for Frank Herbert.