View Full Version : Faster than light travel.

02-20-2010, 03:02 AM
I have had an idea floating around in my head for a while and wanted to see what other people thought.

In a far future setting Faster than light travel is achieved by the use of (for lack of better term right now) warp drives. However to be able to navigate and use these drives a pilot must have some form of psychic ability be it natural or tech induced. The catch is that the drives function by harnessing the ability of massively powerful psychics that are able to bend space. These individuals are found at an early age and then trapped inside the drives themselves which keep the comatose and amplify their ability are then mounted into ships. That's why the pilot must have some form of psy ability, they actually tap into the "drives" mind.

This of course is a dark government/corporate secret that is closely guarded. This would be the plot for the game. The players would through the course of the game discover whats up and then figure out what to do. Although the obvious hero thing to do is put a stop to the inhumanity this would pose a serious problem as it would leave hundreds of worlds suddenly isolated with no way of traveling between them.

The idea is pretty basic as I haven't spent to much time actually fleshing it out. Mostly just time spent bored at work.
--- Merged from Double Post ---
Having typed this out I suddenly realize just how influenced this was by dune. Not that's bad. Dune influences almost every sci-fi.

Also has some similarities to WH40k but I think that's mostly coincidence as I had this idea before I really got into that.

04-18-2010, 01:00 AM
It has shades of other stories to be sure as well but then again as you say most sci-fi nibbles from one another. :)

Well first off I'd point you toward the GURPS Psionics book. The old 3rd edition version before they folded Psionics into the "powers" system. It gave some great details on Psionic drives including ideas on psionic machinery including "brain boxes" which are basically your comotose drives.

Personally I love the idea and can see lots of interesting ways for the players to go when they "find out the truth." Though I would suggest having a "truth agent" or the like who's sole purpose is to "Monitor the drives" and keep the black boxes black. He would also have to be a Psi Blocker preventing the "drive's" thoughts from getting out. :)

04-24-2010, 04:24 PM
Some other source material you'd might be interested in:

Outlaw Star: A manga and anime series where the ship 'Outlaw Star' is piloted in a similar manner as your idea.

Trinity: A sci-fi game from White Wolf where the characters have psionic powers. One of the factions, the Upeo wa Macho, are teleporters that form the 'drives' for starships by teleporting them across interstellar distances.

04-24-2010, 07:06 PM
Just assign how much this dirty little secret is important to your campaign, then decide if you should even allow players to be pilots, or if they are, maybe even pilots are not aware the beings are really humans, instead some great ie about some bio-mechanical construct

04-25-2010, 02:26 PM
My idea is that the pilots don't know about it. As far they know it's simply a computer interface as the "drive" is unable to communicate or even really function as per a normal mind. The result would be your ship having a bit of a "personality" but not really being aware of anything.

the psy-interface presumably is due to the need for the pilot to able to take in and process information faster than you could by reading a screen.

The more I think about this the more I really want to flesh it out and run this game.

Thanks for the advice guys I'll check out the various games you recommended.

04-27-2010, 05:33 AM
An interesting idea for your FTL drive is that the children are harvested between 4-6 years of age. This is old enough for them to develop personalities, fear, and likes. However years trapped in the sensory blocking chambers at the heart of the drives tends to drive them completely insane. Also, emotional inhibiting circuits or programs keep this in check. HOW the players find out is damage from collision, space combat, or a computer virus/hacking damages/disables the emotional inhibitors. The drive's personality quickly takes over the ship's computers, as the "cores" know only the mind/machine interface. The characters have to find either find a way to deal with the personality taking over the ship, possibly breaking into the ship's engine and finding the truth. In the mean time goverment spooks find out a drive inhibitor has been destroyed and sends 'pirate' fighters/frigate (whatever) out to flat out destroy the ship and all onboard, but wreckage is definately NOT from pirates. Lastly, and optional, is that the character's core is from a brand new engine and is not fully insane yet, that way when they take out "the core", they have a living breathing human child.

Plot hooks:
Players vs. gonverment ... the players are technically innocent, but the government doesn't care.
Players vs. terrorists... secret underground group who knows the truth want to exploit the characters for their own agenda. maybe the characters join, maybe they are caught between two groups.
"The Core" just wants to go home... but doesn't know where in the universe is home. (a wandering through space campaign)
Exposed core ship... The characters must quickly develop a way for the "core" to operate out of it's sensory chamber, or perhaps make it where they can exit and enter the core. If they do it successfully, could leat to a new class of elite people.

06-28-2011, 12:33 PM
For some reason this reminds me of "The Last Exile"'s over government that controlled all the flying ship engines.

07-07-2011, 01:10 AM
i suggest that you also read the "ship who sang" and related series by Anne McCaffrey. very informative about rights and possible abuses of 'brain-box' powered ships.

07-07-2011, 07:00 AM
Sounds similar to Warhammer 40K. FTL travel is facilitated by a ship entering Warp Space which is an alternate dimension. Navigators are mutated humans with the psychic ability to navigate the Warp. Because of the value of their abilities there are entire Navigator families who breed to keep the trait dominant. The Astronomican is a psychic beacon in the Warp and is also necessary for Warp travel. The Astronomican gives the Navigators a fixed point of reference in Warp Space. Never mind that the Astronomican is fed on the souls of psychics deemed too weak to withstand the entities within the warp so they serve the Imperium by making their souls and psychic power the fuel for the very thing that makes Warp Travel possible.

Check out these links:

Yes... Dune influences A LOT of Sci-Fi. Battletech had Dune influences in their description of FTL communication. The technology to communicate FTL was tightly guarded by a quasi-mystic organization called Comstar. Reminded me of the Navigator Guild in Dune.

07-09-2011, 04:42 PM
I'm sort of left wondering WHY the kids have to be trapped in the ships. After the Dark Secret is discovered, why couldn't you just have adult volunteers fly the ships?

01-14-2012, 11:45 AM
maybe the ability only develops if they are taken as kids, part of what causes the warping effect is the isolation.

01-19-2012, 02:09 AM
bleh, poor kids. perhaps the children's desire to "get out!" is what enables the shift to a different dimension where things move faster. would be interesting if they didn't want to come back sometimes, too. you could even have a few who have broken free, and stay in warp... ghosts haunting the other ships who pass by, luring the pilot through the interface into the dark....

01-22-2012, 10:41 AM
Yours is a much darker take on psionics and space travel than I wanted to put into my last Sci Fi universe. I had a very simple "jump drive" concept with the notion that you needed a trained clairvoyant and precog, hooked into amplification computers, to plot the course, and a telekinetic, using the same sort of hardware, to initiate the jump into "null space."

This led to the idea that Earth was no longer in charge of all the systems around it, but no one would attack the old home world because that was where you went to become trained as a psionic - and they made sure that nobody else could muscle in on that monopoly lest their assumed neutral status was ever threatened.

01-22-2012, 01:00 PM
The psionic necessary to space travel is the fulcrum on which Dune hinges. The Guild Navigators, the main consumers of spice were precogs in the books, not the actual drives like the movies tended to show. I don't think Herbert ever really explained how the star drivers worked. His stories took place on planets. No I have not read all of them, so I could be wrong.