Black Hole Firewall
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Basic Information

One possible interpretation of the equations describing a black hole and the scientific puzzle presented by the black hole information paradox suggests that there may be a "Firewall" of sorts around all black holes that prevent anything from falling, or possibly even intentionally steering, in. This is known as a Black Hole Firewall or AMPS Firewall (after the initials of the scientists who proposed it).

There are a few versions of this firewall (and they are not mutually exclusive).

One is time dilation. Gravity distorts time-space so strongly at the event horizon, that an object heading towards it would take an impossibly long amount of time to cover that last stretch at the edge of the black hole's event horizon. Which means to an outside observer watching from a long distance away, it may appear the ship or object just slows down and never reaches the event horizon. Which could result, in a highly-developed densely-populated galaxy, a halo or cloud of objects surrounding the black hole and falling infinitely slowly towards it.

A further variation on this may be that space actually ends at the event horizon. It's an impenetrable barrier because there's nothing to penetrate.

Yet another version is that math suggests there may be an invisible seething maelstrom of high-energy particles just inside the event horizon. If this is the case, anything that manages to penetrate the event horizon would be immediately burned to a crisp or possibly even atomized.

So it's possible that rather than being a bottomless pit or interstellar vacuum-cleaner, a black hole may be more like a furnace surrounded by an impenetrable wall. Anything within it's radius when the black hole is formed is instantly destroyed in a fiery collapse, and anything outside the radius at the start is unable to ever enter.

The math and theory behind the black hole firewall concept is probably more complicated than necessary for gaming (and definitely way beyond this arcanist's understanding or ability to describe accurately).



Game and Story Use

  • Makes a great navigational hazard / interstellar terrain / negative space wedgie / swirly energy thingy / applied phlebotinum. If nothing else, it's one more way to upend expectations and make your black hole even weirder than anticipated.
    • See also Unrealistic Black Hole for ideas (or something to contrast it against).
    • If you've got some sort of gravity wave / wormhole / forcefield / hyperspace / FTL technology (and an audience willing to hand wave the details) it may still be possible for penetrate the firewall in some way. The interior conditions of a black hole were already crazy-bad, but this has made it blisteringly worse… I guess. I mean dead and crispy is only marginally worse than dead and squished.
  • A monster that lives inside a black hole may now be justified to be immune to fire, lasers, and high-energy particles. This is on top of whatever adaptations let them survive crushing gravity and the spaghettification of space-time. You thought black hole monsters were bad before, now they're night unkillable.
  • The cluster of objects (asteroids, comets, derelict spaceships, scientific probes, etc) surrounding a black hole and falling infinitely slowly inward until the end of time could make for an interesting location in a game.
    • Again you'd have to hand wave certain details to let the PCs actually take actions there, and outside the immediate vicinity the universe would barrel onward in time.
      • So if you wanted to make major changes to your setting, you could send your PCs to the cluster for a session, and then when they escape they find thousands of years have passed back home. Free one-way time travel into the future and a modified/progressed setting.
  • The black hole firewall may be the barrier that prevents Azathoth from reaching out to destroy the galaxy.
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