Navigational Aid
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Basic Information

A navigational aid can be one of two broad categories of things:

  • A marker in a location designed to alert you to a hazard, such as a buoy or lighthouse.
  • A tool or device to assist in charting a course or avoiding getting lost, such as a map, or astrolabe.

Hazard Markers:

In order for hazard markers to be deployed in the field, it usually requires infrastructure and maintenance. So that's likely to be found in well-explored, known areas, often not too far from a stable and/or wealthy government that can afford to send someone out to fix it from time to time, or at least check that it's still there and that local conditions haven't changed enough to make it dangerously inaccurate.

The same principles applied in space might be accomplished by putting your RFID or beacon marker used for astrogation around interstellar terrain on either:

Portable Navigational Devices:

If you're engaged in exploration, or just traveling beyond the range of government or private entities interested in maintaining useful field markers, you're going to need a reliable tool to keep you from getting lost. Such devices have been around for hundreds or thousands of years, but their effectiveness and ease of use varies significantly with the technology level and era.


2. video: Sci-Show on "6 creative ways people used to navigate the oceans"

Game and Story Use

  • Terrain (and Interstellar Terrain) can often be full of navigational hazards. A campaign might:
    • handwave this entirely to focus on the primary plotline and just skip from point A to point B in service of the narrative,
    • shorthand it down to one or two navigation checks or survival rolls with interesting things only happening on a critical failure,
    • or focus entirely on the minutia of a journey with random or pre-planned encounters in the wilderness. In this sort of game, having the right tools and technology might be critically important to the success and outcome of your expedition.
  • If one culture or nation has a tool or system for navigating that no one else has, they could have a significant advantage in war.
    • Consider the vikings, for example, who had the winning combination of versatile longboats that could travel on the sea or up a river, and the sunstone that allowed them to navigate in weather that would have bewildered most captains. This allowed them to raid with impunity all over Europe, and also trade in distant markets, both for hundreds of years with minimal competition or fear of reprisal.
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