Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pulsars and Starship Navigation

In the real world, many astronomers believe that space travel could be navigated by fixing on the beacons of millisecond pulsars... extremely dense, fast rotating objects that give off radiation “pulses”. These objects could act like a light house... accurately timed points of reference in the galaxy which starships could use; cross-referencing hundreds of pulsars to pinpoint their location.

In the galactic troubleshooting roleplaying game X-Plorers (and others), pulsar navigation could be one of the standard methods of assuring safe, accurate space travel. Different reference points in space would make it hard to navigate by the visible star layout, because it changes as one travels. However, pulsars would be the anchoring point for accurate star travel.

Possible causes of navigational error leading to misjumps:
Unknown and uncharted space objects, such as magnetars, wormholes, black holes and other gravitational anomalies may be a mechanic whereby a Referee could induce a misjump upon a space ship or to increase/decrease its travel time. This factor makes charting all findings during exploration of great value to a crew and to others that will follow after them into these previously uncharted sectors of space.

Jeff's Home Brew Jump Rules:
After a jump in space, a ship's computer recalibrates to ascertain precise coordinate location of all known pulsars. If a ship jumps again before the computer has had time to do this a Navigator is at a -2 modifier to their navigation skill roll. This could cause a “misjump” to a location that was not the one intended by the navigator. This takes 10 hours minus one per level of computer skill of the character doing the recalibration. Even if the skill level of a character is 10, a minimum of one hour is needed to jump without this penalty.

If a misjump occurs, roll a d6:
 1 Ship arrives d6x4 hours sooner at plotted destination. It has undergone a random hyper-jump!
2-5 Ship arrives at plotted destination d6 days late. The ship has been affected by a gravitational anomaly.
6 - total misjump! Ship arrives at a random destination.
For galactic troubleshooters, not all of the dangers in space lie at the destination... getting there might be just as much as a hazard!


See these and other sites for more information on pulsars and their types:

1 comment:

  1. Excellent concept. Why have I never come across this before?