Interstellar Travel

Basic modes of travel in the universe of Burning Twilight (campaign: The Call of Althara) are broken down into the following:

Warp Gates

Warp gates comprise the most common way to travel in the galaxy. Faster than Light travel is very expensive and there are only three known ways to do it. Warp Gates allow any space ship to travel between systems, whether to trade, attack, or colonize for rare resources.

The warp gates are ancient technology located at many star systems. The gates are a network of ancient space stations/facilities/other bases that are scattered. The origins of the gates are unknown. The only thing known about the gates is that whatever ancient civilization that controlled is gone now.

The vast majority of warp gates are controlled by The Holy See. A very large religious order that a thousand years ago secured the first warp gates. Controlling those trade routes the Holy See slowly expanded their control before the different Houses and Corporations could figure out how the See did this.

The See now controls these warp gates and has become rich from the trade that uses the gates between systems.

Most ships travel via warp gates, they provide close to instantaneous travel and do not require a living ship pilot, astrogation computer or any sort of special drives

Advantages for this form of travel.

  1. Inexpensive, most gate fees are fairly inexpensive, based on what is being transported, where, and for what reason. In some cases it is provided for free.
  2. Instantaneous travel, the gate basically can “teleport” a ship from one system to another after a short travel period (usually less than 30 minutes).
  3. Safe, this is by far the safest mode of interstellar travel, gates very rarely malfunction. However, if a ship travels one of the very few gates that aren’t controlled by the See tend to have more mishaps. This is generally believed that the See have not only figured out how to use the gates better, they are able to keep the gates more well maintained.

Disadvantages for this form of travel

  1. The Holy See tracks movement and your arrival in system is always noticed. Corporations and Houses can also track your progress as well, since the gates do not provide stealth travel
  2. Limited on your choice of where you go. Travel can only be between established systems (or at least systems that have warp gates manned). This limits the travel routes and makes it easier for pirates and raiders to ply their trade.
  3. The warp is closer to this reality near a warp gate. This results in occasional warp storms, equipment malfunction (but not on the actual warp gates, they seem immune to any side effects).Ships are temporarily vulnerable on the other side of a gate. The ship goes “out of synch” with real space for a short time (the time it takes to have the gate transport them, generally less than 30 minutes). When the ship arrives back in real space it takes a short time to have the sensors, shields, weapons all resynch with real space, leaving the ship vulnerable. The time a ship is vulnerable depends on the individual ship

Warp gate travel is slowest form of travel if you have to travel through multiple systems.

Skipping Technology

This is a more limited form of travel, “jump engines” can move you through unknown space, but requires an astrogation specialist and specific engines to do this.

Advantages for this form of travel.

  1. Can travel anywhere you want
  2. Does not have to record where you go with any corporations or with people who control the gates.

Disadvantages for this form of travel

  1. Slower travel then an official gate.
  2. Higher cost of maintenance then gates, more engineers required.
  3. More dangerous form of travel (Misjumps occur, and need a trained astrogator).


Living Ship/Warp Engines

This is the rarest mode of travel, requiring a sentient creature to be permanently wired into a ship. This is the fastest form of travel as the living ship pilots the ship via “intuition” with the innate ability to feel how/where/when to open directly into warpspace. Unlike gates there is no instantaneous travel, rather by traveling in the warp the ship can travel at 1000-100000 times the speed of normal “in space”. Unfortunately warp space is uncharted and dangerous. Basically a Warp engine opens a gate into the warp, from there you can travel through the warp at incredible “relative” speed. You can enter warp if you do not have a living ship pilot or warp engines by following another ship that can make the warp gate, you just have to make sure you don’t lose sight of that ship while in warp as you will need the ship to open a second gate to leave warp space and re-enter “real space”. This is generally how Republic Military moves fleets, they do have old “warp gate” ships (name not yet determined for the ship) that are capable of opening gates and allowing fleets to travel through.

Advantages for this form of travel 

  1. Can travel anywhere you want.
  2. Can open gates quickly.
  3. Less fuel is required to travel this manner, as the ship can use fusion or “crystal” technology.
  4. Smaller crew requirement because the ship can basically keep itself going with minimal human requirements.
  5. Many Living ships have jump engines, which is what allows the ship to open a gate into the warp, to facilitate faster travel.

Disadvantages for this form of travel

  1. Expensive to maintain, with more maintenance, and repairs expected.
  2. Ships have history of “going rogue” or experiencing “mental deficiency” due to the living pilot being wired into a ship for hundreds of years. Due to this most corporate/imperial living ships have “blocks installed” to prevent these mental deficiencies, but also render the pilot more as a slave then a free individual. This sometimes causes the living ship to rebel when the blocks are broken. (This is why Sanctuary’s treatment of living ships as their own entities is extremely unusual and revolutionary.)
  3. Reiterate living ships are extremely expensive and difficult to maintain.
  4. Once implanted, the pilot will always be bound into a device, they will never again live as a normal being.

There is indication that some races/empires are developing AI versions of living ships, it is unknown the effectiveness of this endeavor.

Notes on traveling in the warp.

Traveling in the warp is very dangerous because of several reasons.

  1. Being exposed to the warp, even in a space suit can cause unexpected results in most races. There are cases of spontaneous warp mutations, where the subject manifests unusual physical features that may or may not render the individual handicapped. Other’s go insane in violent, or self destructive ways. Still others just disappear.
  2. It is common knowledge that psionics can be a danger in the warp, and only the strongest psionics practice their craft while traveling through.
  3. Altharin’s believe that ‘magic’ comes from the warp itself, and is a large beacon when it is used there.
  4. There are rumors, never substantiated, that entities and creatures inhabit the warp. The Republic is full of space tales of unexpected happenings in faulty gates, or jump ships being eaten by giant space creatures. Altharin’s are doubly insistent that entities reside there that are ‘The Enemy’.
  5. High tech weapons unaccountably don’t work in the warp. No scientists have managed figure the reason for this. Altharin weaponry does work, but they are explaining anything about how.