Monday, July 26, 2010

Stellar Quest: Warp Drives...

Good Morning, All:

In the Stellar Quest game, I have decided to use warp drives for faster-than-light travel.

Warp Drive
Warp drives allow a starship to travel quickly through interstellar space by warping space around the vessel, allowing it to move faster-than-light while staying in our universe. A warp drive's rating indicates the number of parsecs the ship can cross per week of travel.

While this may seem slow compared to the television series that inspires Stellar Quest, the numbers match well for calculations based on warp speeds under the Okuda formula. Here's a chart of rough equivalencies comparing Stellar Quest and Star Trek warp speeds.

SQ WarpST Warp
1~4.7
2~5.75
3~6.5
4~7.1
5~7.6
6~8
7~8.4
8~8.7
9~9
10~9.3
11~9.5
12~9.6

In the original Star Trek television series, the Federation "speed limit" is ST Warp 5. From that, we can determine that the maximum warp drive allowed for civilian starships in the Stellar Quest default setting would be SQ Warp 1. Given that the PCs should be the ones whipping around the galaxy, restricting non-military types to Warp 1 works for me.

The Enterprise itself cruised at ST Warp 6, and could reasonably attain ST Warp 8 in emergencies (and occasionally higher, as several episodes gave testimony to). That translates to SQ Warp 2 for cruising speeds in the Stellar Quest default setting, and SQ Warp 6 for emergencies. That works well for my purposes.

My biggest problem with the formulas given on the Warp Speed FAQ is that of subspace radio. When I run the numbers, I find that it takes a little over twenty minutes per parsec for a message to travel across interstellar space. That's pretty fast, but doesn't allow for near-instantaneous communication at the level demonstrated in the original series. However, it does lend itself well to the occasional episode where the time delay for communicating with Star Fleet took hours or occasionally days. I'm still trying to decide what to do, but I'm leaning toward instantaneous communication, or possibly coming up with a formula where the time lag increase exponentially over distance.

What are your thoughts?

With Regards,
Flynn

2 comments:

infornific said...

If you want a compromise, you could go with a telegraph system. Assume that major worlds have huge FTL communication systems that allow near instantaneous communication, but away from this network communication is much slower or nonexistent. So when the ship is near a base they can chat with the high command, but have to make their own decisions when exploring brave new worlds. I think a lack of fast communications works better for gaming - characters get to be on their own.

Flynn said...

That's a great idea! The in-game reason could be that the equipment necessary to communicate at near-instantaneous speeds requires too much accuracy to work with starships and other locations that move. Alternately, they could require the presence of a deep gravity well, which a ship could not provide but would work well on a planetary surface.

Yeah, I'll definitely consider that.

Thanks!

With Regards,
Flynn