Wednesday, September 30, 2015

An Alternative Jump Drive Idea - "Instant" Jump Drives

A while back (some time ago, on another blog, now gone), I posted some ideas regarding alternative versions of the ubiquitous Traveller Jump Drive. Several ideas have been posted over the years, and some are now listed as options in current versions of the rules (notably Mongoose Traveller).

Now that real life has settled down somewhat, I have some time to post a few other ideas and comments. Rather than make one large post, I'll make several as the ideas (and time) come to me...

This idea derived from a recent Facebook discussion regarding Jump Drives.

With this variant, travel in Jump Space is instantaneous for ship occupants, while regular space plods on as usual... in essence, ship occupants 'gain' (lose?) a week from travelling in Jump Space. While this could appear to be an advantage for them, it may instead cause a lot of problems.

First, the accumulated time disparity between Travellers and 'everyone else' could create a  sort of 'generation gap' (Traveller or Spacer gap?) Family and friends back home will continue to age normally, while Travellers (military, Nobility, merchants, etc) will age at a slower rate. For a five year term (assuming around 50 jumps per year average) a Traveller will amount to around a ten year difference. However most space travelers will not undertake nearly this many jumps (Merchants and Scouts - especially the Communications Branch would likely travel the most). This may not seem like much, at first. But when your kid sister is now as old (or older...) than you are, the girl you dated is now a decade older (with her own kids nearing college age), and when your kids (or nieces and nephews, et al) seem to grow up 'much faster' than you anticipate... This disparity will cause social tension, as well as create a 'disconnect' amongst Travellers.

Second, Economics will be impacted. If a merchant travels to a nearby system for a perceived economic need (based on current economic trends, of course), those trends and needs could change greatly (or worsen) while the merchant loses two weeks-plus during the now-instantaneous [in Jump space] travel time. Someone who knows economics better than myself will be needed to determine potential economics changes, at least as far as the Traveller rules are concerned, but I'm sure they could be extensive changes.

Third, military matters will be greatly affected. Imagine the time changes (and time lost) when chasing down a rival raiding fleet. Or those pesky pirates... These time changes will greatly affect/change a military campaign - at least when compared to regular Traveller. The headaches created for strategists could be on the order of nightmarish, though the characters in the affected universe/setting would be used to them.

Next- Spacer Pay. You spend a week less in 'real time' than others. According to the Company, you get one week's less pay. No, they don't care what the calendar says, you spent less time working than those who weren't in Jump space.

Imagine the union battles - especially in the Traveller universe, where rules and laws are sometimes ignored, when convenient...

And finally there is NO TIME AVAILABLE in Jump space for routine maintenance, repair of battle damage, etc. A battle-damaged fleet which Jumps to escape a dangerous situation will have no time in Jump space for repairs, such as exists in the original setting rules. Dangerous when in a long-term conflict and enemy fleets in the region...

There are some advantages, however. First is the aforementioned time lag. This could be considered a form of 'time travel' - at least for ship crew, Travellers, etc. I could see stories of 'that grizzled old scout' who's been travelling in his old, much-repaired scout/courier. Sure, he may be 80 years old physically. But he's been travelling constantly, exploring, running small cargoes, performing odd jobs, etc. He could easily be over 110 years old chronologically. Or more, if that's his actual age. Imagine the stories he could tell, the things he's seen.

Next, ship maintenance could be 'stretched' a bit, allowing a ship to be in service for a few more weeks, perhaps, before requiring annual maintenance. This may also increase the usable lifespan of a ship - something accountants (and board members) will find appealing.

I had one other idea, but it has escaped the brain cage for the moment. If/when I remember it, I will update this blog later...

And I'm sure there are many other factors that I have not yet considered, which will greatly impact the history, military, economics, and many, many other factors in a Traveller setting.

Thanks for reading, and Keep On Travelling!