World Hopping in Xenovita
Exploring new places in the Varuna Galaxy is an exciting prospect in Xenovita, and no science fiction conversation or galaxy-spanning fictional universe is complete without talking about or tackling faster-than-light (FTL) travel. For GM’s and players who are going to create fantastic settings, there has to be a way to visit their amazing creations.
In the science fiction genre, FTL descriptions are incredibly varied. From the warp speeds of StarTrek to the hyperspace motivators of Star Wars and everything in-between, the fiction of faster-than-light transportation has no boundaries. The RLU and Xenovita went through several different possible iterations. Some of the ideas were awesome but wouldn’t play out well in the setting or on the tabletop, or vice-versa. Ultimately, we settled on a story-driven mechanic so narrative-driven play could flourish. It fits well with the meta-universe mechanics and has just the right amount of crunch for players that want to plan campaigns where time plays a thematic role in the adventure.
That said, here are some of the concepts that didn’t make the cut.
Don’t be jelly…
One of our first cracks at FTL created something very interesting, which might be explored in greater detail later, but didn’t make it through our first round of cuts. Called “Jello-FTL,” the basic premise revolved around the idea that hither-unknown free-floating particles occurred during runaway fusion reactions, and these particles could open a doorway via a sort of field manipulation to a subdimension where FTL was possible. But unlike other examples of sub-dimensions, our sub-dimension was envisioned as a dense realm of special particles that was like a thick, gelatinous substrate. We called it jellyspace.
Ships or objects would need a special protective field while in jellyspace, as physical objects moving through jellyspace were essentially intruding and displacing this unquantifiable space with their presence. If a ship’s field failed jellyspace would come rushing in and squash the ship out of existence! Since the regular laws of thrust wouldn’t work, we created propulsion through field manipulation.
Inspiration for the propulsion came from sea creatures that honestly don’t receive enough credit for being awesome: the jellyfish. The jellyfish’s locomotion inspired the jellyspace drive, which we called the ABE. In universe, the ABE drive modified a ship’s protective field into a bell to move mass through jellyspace by radially expanding and contracting the bell shape to “push” jellyspace behind the ship, just like a jellyfish in the water. When the system is engaged baffles would create both the expansion and contraction phases as well as directional modification.
Unfortunately, as neat as jellyspace, the jelly drive, and Jello-FTL would have been in Xenovita, there were mechanics that didn’t support the kind of thematic gameplay in development. In addition, the Alpha ruleset for a tabletop naval ship game wasn’t working well with the concept either, and lastly, the story elements starting to take shape didn’t fit with the concept. So Jellyspace and associated material was jettisoned as the primary means of moving around the Varuna Galaxy.
Other FTL concepts were more aligned with traditional sci-fi settings but kept running into problems with the tabletop ship game rules in development.
After a few more attempts we finally settled on an FTL concept that checked all of our boxes. So, how does hyperspace work in the RLU? First, we decided that sub-space would have a multitude of layers. Some of these layers would be used to explain away benign things like FTL travel and communication, but others would be purely story-driven layers we can use for fiction.
Of the different sub-space layers, hyperspace is the ninth sub-space accessed by Gen-7 species. Ships traveling in FTL skirt relativity by entering this sub-dimension that exists concurrently with physical space. This way time spent in FTL is equal and current to time spent outside of it. A month of traveling in FTL is equal to a month of real-space time. Ships enter hyperspace through the use of a (cool-name-pending) we’re calling the Hole Puncher! The puncher essentially punches through the sub-space layers to reach hyperspace, after which the ship’s regular engines take the ship around. Ships leaving FTL must use their hole puncher again, and stories abound of ships lost to hyperspace when their puncher failed.
As with the jellyspace concept, we calculated much of the mechanics and construction data to make sure everything worked the way we wanted it to, along with simple methods for using the idea in Xenovita without being burdened by lots of rules.
Anyway, we hope you enjoyed today’s look into Renegade Legion, and we look forward to your thoughts when the information is published.