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Basic Information

A Stardrive is a engine or propulsion system for a spaceship.

The word stardrive implies the spacecraft is able to travel to the stars in a reasonable amount of time. Typically that means it involves Faster Than Light capabilities, since a non-FTL flight would take years to get to the closest stars. Yes, scientific understandings like Relativity and the Chonology Protection Conjecture tell us we'll never exceed the speed of light, but when do we gamers let a little thing like science get in our way?

  • Alcubierre Drive - a spherical spacetime bubble that warps space to allow for FTL travel
  • Jump Drive - folds space or teleports to relocate a ship instantly
  • Shortcut Drive - creates or locates a temporary wormhole
    • Alderson Drive - utilizes naturally occurring wormholes near suns - a lot of time is spent traveling in-system
  • Hyper Drive - uses Hyperspace or Subspace, an exotic layer of space, or possibly even another dimension, where the speed of light is not a barrier to movement
  • Warp Drive - warps the laws of physics, to enable you to accelerate more readily and exceed the speed of light.

For FTL Travel methods that aren't technically engines or propulsion systems, see the FTL page.

For non-FTL propulsion systems, see the Spacecraft page.


Game and Story Use

  • What methods you have for traveling between the stars will definitely have an impact on the tone of your space opera or other science fiction campaign. Travel time between stars can range from seconds to centuries.
  • For a lot of related content and ideas, see the Faster Than Light page.
  • For non-FTL propulsion systems, see the Spacecraft page. Just be prepared that the trip will take years. Due to Time Dilation and the Twin Paradox, the astronaut might not experience it as years, but years will definitely pass on the worlds you travel between. You may never see your family again. You may arrive home to discover the civilization that bankrolled or ordered your mission no longer exists. Beware the Planet Of The Apes Ending.
  • Quite a few stardrives in fiction and TV are powered by some sort of matter-antimatter reaction. This is because accelerating to such immense speeds (or folding space, or whatever else the stardrive does) requires immense amounts of energy.
  • Anything that lets you travel at relativistic speeds is potentially a weapon of mass destruction. Even a fairly small object, if propelled fast enough, could wreak devastation on a planet. So a large spacecraft equipped with a stardrive has the potential to wipe out any one planet. The type of stardrive will have an impact on this - if you fold space, teleport, or time-travel you're dangerous in completely different way than if you "merely" travel at 99.999% the speed of light. In any setting where starships are cheap and common, you'll find that terrorists, fanatics, and the like would have remarkable weaponry at their fingertips. The most dangerous weapon a spaceship has is probably it's engines.
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