Hyperspace Travel Guide

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Star Wars Legacies

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Dec 22, 2017
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So you want to be an Astrogator?

A Guide to Hyperspace Travel

This guide is intended to provide an extra layer of depth and excitement, as well as a bit of detail, to the process of traveling from one side of the galaxy to the other. It's a great resource for pilots and smuggler characters, hyperspace scouts, and other adventurous types. This Time Line is set in the earliest years of galactic society we've visited, and many of the worlds and other locations from the original trilogy and other films and series that we know and love have probably not even been discovered yet! There's a whole galaxy out there to explore, one hyperspace jump at a time... if you're brave enough, that is.

With the exception of hyperdrive and safety protocol abuses mentioned in the mishap guide at the end (those specifically included in the rules as needing Tech Mod or Admin approval), none of this guide should be construed as "rules". They're more like guidelines. Use them if you like, but if it's too much work or is cramping the style of your individual stories then please feel free to ignore this guide entirely. The system is based on a mix of the Timeline Tech Rules, Fantasy Flight Games old Star Wars D20 system, and other canon and legends sources. With the sites new dice roll system, you could easily implement this system if you want to add a little randomness to your exploration and any resultant mishaps.

Introduction to the Art of Astrogation

The Galaxy is a big place. Like, really, really, really big. Impossibly large. Mind bogglingly huge. Absolutely ginormous. The only way to get from one star system to another without spending an entire organic species standard life span is traveling through hyperspace, allowing the denizens of the Galaxy to cross vast interstellar distances in a matter of mere hours or days. To do this though, you need a ship with something called a hyperdrive; ships without a hyperdrive are stuck in real space and will have to hitch a ride if they want to leave whatever system they're in.

Not only is the galaxy very big, navigating it can also be very dangerous. Although the development of trade routes has eased the burden for denizens of the universe traveling back and forth between many common systems, hyperspace travel can still be a bit unpredictable. Large gravity wells, such as those generated by planets, suns, black holes, asteroid fields, and other massive stellar flotsam and jetsam, create "shadows" in hyperspace. These hyperspace shadows have to be carefully avoided, as a collision with one can yank a ship back into realspace so violently that it can cause severe damage, or even totally destroy the ship and its unfortunate crew! Hyperdrives have a large number of built-in safety protocols designed to conform with existing laws as well as the general "you'll probably die a horrible death if this doesn't happen" reality. It is a standard galactic law to drop out of hyperspace at least 200km away from a planet's atmosphere. Additionally, there are failsafe's designed to prevent a ship in hyperspace from crashing into a planet or other large object. This failsafe isn't perfect- while it will drop you out of hyperspace early enough to avoid smashing into a sun's surface, there is still a tremendous swath of space around a sun (or a black hole) that is still quite deadly.

Because of these dangers, hyperspace trips can't simply follow the shortest path drawing a straight line from system A to system B. Instead, each course must be plotted with extreme precision to avoid disaster and certain death- making a skilled astrogator a valuable commodity for any long haul spacefarer. An astrogator uses the hyperdrives navigation computer, sometimes with the assistance of an astromech for a second set of photoreceptors, to plot a safe journey. The galaxy is always in motion- stars, planets, and other interstellar objects are never in the same place twice as the galaxy itself hurtles across the universe and every system and its planets have their own unique orbits within this swirling mass. That means that hyperspace coordinates that are perfect today will be slightly off tomorrow. A good astrogator has to keep up with these changes. The coordinates along well known routes like the Corellian Trade Spine or Perlemian Trade Route, especially in the galactic core, are updated constantly and broadcast across the core's holonet system. The coordinates on less traveled routes and the further legs of established hyperspace lanes are a little more difficult- in the mid and outer rim, coordinates may only be updated on a weekly or monthly basis- and possibly only available for purchase from seedy spaceport administrators- with astrogators needing to account for galactic drift and other anomalies on their own. For these pioneers operating on the fringes of the galaxy, clearing the nav computers memory and all the historical drift and anamoly data with it could be disastrous. Blazing unknown trails is even more dangerous and is not for the faint of heart. Much of wild and unknown space, and even wide swaths of the outer rim are completely unmapped. Making a hyperspace jump in these regions requires extensive calculations, some guesswork, and a lot of luck.

Taking a Hyperspace Road Trip

Below you'll find a table of standard trip lengths between different regions of the galaxy compiled by leading Astrogators at the Anaxes War College. There are a lot of variable however! High quality hyperdrives, more recent (or out of date) coordinates, an astromech companion, star maps, or even just a rock star navigator can cut hours or days off a trip (or muck it up and make it longer). Traveling within the same quadrant (the same square on the galaxy map) for example will generally halve the listed time, while traveling in the same region but to the opposite end of the galaxy may add a significant amount of time.

Hyperdrives are classified by ratings from 1.0 to 10.0 (or higher, in some cases). This number reflects the quality of the drive, including both the calculation speed for the nav computer to properly plot a course as well as the length of the safe route it finds- better nav computers and skilled astrogators can cut corners and find shorter routes, trimming down the time it takes to make the trip. Some daring pilots and fast ships can even make the Kessel Run in 14 parsecs... or was it 12? Most commercial passenger craft have hyperdrives rated at x5 or x6, while many large cargo haulers- which are larger and less maneuverable, and therefor can't take the same shortcuts- may have an x7 or x8. Hyperdrives rated at x10 or higher are used almost exclusively as back ups on large warships with redundant systems, or are the jury rigged remains of better quality drives. Systems 3.0 and below are typically only found in military vessels as the more complex software and hardware are quite expensive and require knowledgeable mechanics to maintain. Only high end Starfighters come equipped with hyperdrive systems, and they are usually relatively slow- designed for very short hops only. Although external hyperdrive equipped docking rings for fighters do exist, they are rare and extremely expensive, and wreak havoc on maneuverability and sublight speed while attached.

  • Multiply the time on the chart by your hyperdrive rating. That's the base number of hours your trip will take.
  • If you're traveling in the same quadrant, cut the trip time in half.
  • You can further reduce the time bit by bit by following common trade routes, having an astromech assist with calculations, acquiring up to date coordinates, and by get getting really good at navigating, etc.
  • Conversely, you can increase the trip length for a number of reasons. If your coordinates are out of date, you have an amateur astrogator, your nav computer gets wiped, etc. All of these things could also cause a mishap (more on that later).
  • Check out the Galaxy Atlas for detailed locations references, but keep in mind that not all of it has been explored this Time Line!

As you can see, travel times vary widely. Taking a shuttle from Coruscant to Brental or from Onderon to Hapes can be done in a few hours with a negligible chance of any danger. Blazing down the Hydian Way on a smuggling run from Duros to Sullust with a busted old hyperdrive could take days or weeks, and may run the risk of spontaneous combustion. The longest trips are likely impossible to make in a single jump, with the amount of consumables carried by the average shuttle or light freighter. Explorers on the edge of the galaxy and long distance cargo haulers must make frequent stops at the trading posts and refueling stations that dot the galaxy, or run the risk of being stranded in the endless void between systems.

I knew we should have turned 12 degrees Rimward at Alderaan!

(Hyperspace Mishaps)

So now that you've heard about some of the dangers of hyperspace travel, let talk a little bit about what can actually happen to you when things go wrong- these incidents are collectively called "hyperspace mishaps". Mishaps occur when astrogation goes wrong. This could happen due to anything from punching in bad coordinates, suffering a sudden hyperdrive failure (sabotage?), random occurrences such as rogue asteroids or uncharted planets getting in your way, or- for the truly insane- manually overriding your hyperdrives safety protocols to make particularly daring and dangerous jumps. When it comes to such maneuvers keep in mind the following section from the Timeline Technology rules, and remember that all of these things listed run the risk of suffering a mishap:

Safety protocols can be overridden at great risk. Contact a tech admin or mod if you wish to do the following:
-Engage the hyperdrive before calculations have finished
-Override the gravity-well failsafe
-Engage the hyperdrive from in-atmosphere or within low planetary orbit
-Chart new hyperspace lanes or avoid mapped hyperspace lanes entirely
-Other uses that would be foreseeably dangerous

If you're unlucky enough to suffer a mishap due to negligence, daring escape gone wrong, or just the will of the Force, the effects could take the form of any of the following:

  • No Jump: The nav computer can't make heads or tails of the coordinates you plugged in, or you suddenly lost power to the hyperdrive. Your astromech is squealing expletives in binary and your gunner is screaming about the TIE Fighters on your tail. If you were trying to make a quick escape, it didn't work. That tractor beam's got ahold of you now and you and your friends are probably doomed. Try again.
  • Off Course: The jump is completed successfully, but the ship is way off course. You come out of the end of the trip in the totally wrong system, and maybe not even in the right region of space. You might not even have a clue where you are at all. You'll have to make all new calculations and hope you've got enough fuel left to make it there.
  • Hyperspace Fluctuations: Your coordinates are a little shoddy, or maybe you buzzed the edges of an uncharted asteroid field or patch of radiation. You make the jump successfully, but you hit the interdimensional equivalent of turbulence, which can add anywhere from 12 to 48 hours to your trip. Not good if you're in a hurry, but nobody dies... probably.
  • Hyperdrive Failure: The ships nav computer detects a gravity well shadow, the safety protocols kick in and revert you to real space to avoid a collision. This could happen anywhere along your route due to a rogue planet or asteroid drifting into your path, or maybe a star exploded into a black hole since your coordinates were last updated. You'll have to calculate a new route. If your nav computer is dead or your safety protocols are disengaged this could easily turn into a full on hyperspace collision.
  • Hyperdrive Damage: Same as a failure, but the massive strain on your ship from the sudden reversion to real space catastrophically overloads the hyperdrive, stranding you wherever you land. The Hyperdrive will have to be repaired or a backup activated before you can calculate a new route. If you don't have a good mechanic or a back up and you land in an uninhabited system, this could be a death sentence. Activate your distress beacon and hope somebody finds you before you run out of food and have to eat your co pilot. As per above, if your safety protocols are disengaged this mishap could also turn into a collision.
  • Hyperspace Collision: Probably the worst case scenario. There's a good chance a hyperspace collision with a planet, sun, or black hole is the end of your astrogation career- at least it will be quick. The ship is violently returned to realspace and collides with whatever created the gravity shadow. The ship suffers catastrophic damage as it crash lands, is torn apart as it is bounced through an asteroid field, burns up in a blue dwarf star, or is crushed by the enormous strain of a black hole. Hitting another ship, while unlikely, is devastating for all parties involved. Colliding with a planet gives you the most hope of escape with your life, but it's still not good news. Your ship will need extensive repairs after this mishap, if it ever fly's again at all, and severe injury or death is still likely. If you ever get back off the ground again you'll have a much more thorough appreciation of the dangers of hyperspace, and I bet you'll be more careful when you calculate your next route.
  • Hyperspace Anomaly: What's this? Nobody knows. Go to any space port in the galaxy and you can hear traders and spacers of all types swap myths and stories about ships that jumped to hyperspace and were never seen again. Maybe they got stuck in an infinite hyperspace loop, or maybe they crash landed in an uncharted system, or got stranded in the great void beyond the edge of the galaxy. There are whispers of great beasts that stalk remote hyperspace lanes, big enough to swallow a cargo hauler whole. If you find yourself victim of any number of these random hyperspace anomalies and manage to make it back to the civilized galaxy, nobody will believe your stories.
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