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Old February 2nd, 2013, 04:23 AM
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Talking Implications of Jump Points or Wormhole Nexus

Wasn't sure whether this topic was more appropriate here or in Imperial Research Station; chose here bc it is certainly not OTU or any standard Traveller ruleset.

We are all familiar with how jump travel works in Traveller rules and some of the common variations. As long as a ship w J-drive and sufficient fuel is at least 100 diameters away from significant mass such as a planet, it can enter jump going to any other system within the range of its J-drive. Some add complications such as jump masking, some ignore the 100-D limits of stars, but that is the basic setup and from it derives all of the space combat strategies and shipping economics of Traveller.

What if it didn't work like that?

Consider the Alderson Drive in Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium/Empire stories. There are fairly specific jump points that connect jumplines from one system to another. These are naturally occurring phenomena. Pournelle has described it as envisioning space like a stretched rubber sheet. Significant masses (stellar scale; planets don't seem to matter) are like ball bearings of different weights placed on that rubber sheet, each making an indentation in the rubber sheet. If two ball bearings are close enough, their indentations in the sheet will intersect, forming a valley between them - those are the jumplines. The approximate location of a jump point from one system to another can be estimated mathematically, although there can be some surprises (as in one story when an unknown wandering black hole interrupted a calculated jumpline, creating a trap for ships). If you take a ship equipped w Alderson Drive to the approximate area of a jump point and activate your drive, your ship is instantly transported to the corresponding jump point at the other end of that jumpline in your destination system. The main time factor in interstellar travel is moving your ship in real space from the jump point to the destination world, or across the system to another jump point if your destination is further away in another system.

Another alternative is the Wormhole Nexus which connects known star systems in Lois Bujold's Vorkosiverse stories. Like Pournelle's jump points, these are naturally occurring phenomena that can be used for interstellar travel by a ship equipped w appropriate drives. Unlike Pournelle's jump points, the ends of wormholes seem to be less predictable (astronomical surveyers go out and hunt for them, and finding a new one is a big event), yet once found are much more precise: instead of an approximate volume of space, the wormhole opening appears to the correct sensors as a vortex that must be passed through (although invisible to the naked eye). The exit point in the destination system is likewise a specific point rather than an approximate area. Transit does take some time and is not instantaneous, but as in Pournelle's universe most of your travel time is in real space moving from wormhole to wormhole, or to destination planets within a star system.

Some obvious differences between these travel methods compared to Traveller jump drive are in the defensibility of systems. Rather than attack and defense efforts centering on refueling points and populated worlds, if one knows the jump points one will probably concentrate defense at those jump points. The same applies to exiting a system against the wishes of those controlling the system; although it can be done, it is more difficult than in Traveller because the jump points can be patrolled.

The difference in precision location of points between Pournelle's setting and Bujold's setting also makes a difference. In Bujold's setting, the wormhole exits are precise enough to be protected by battle stations, and usually are. That doesn't seem to be the case in Pournelle's setting with jump points as more approximate volumes of space; although this is also in part due to other setting differences such as having fewer ships available to patrol a greater number of star systems.

You can see that these differences would make a big difference not only in military strategies, but also in the common adventure activities of entering and leaving inhabited systems without permission of authorities. Nevertheless, hijackers and pirates do exist in the Vorkosiverse, as Miles Vorkosigan and the Dendarii Mercenaries have had assignments taking them out. Pirates and "outies" also manage to get around in Pournelle's setting, although again this is in part due to lack of patrol resources.

I like both of these settings and am interested in discussing in finer detail the differences in military and adventure strategies required by these as compared to standard Traveller jump drive.

Anybody else interested?
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 05:39 AM
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With the alderson points, one needs to be close but not "right on" the point to go.

Vorkosiverse, you have not only a drive, but one controlled by individuals with dedicated neural interfaces... and a fairly narrow range of entry, but not entirely singular, either.

The Vorkosiverse's points are also more stable than the Alderson points... non-stable but mostly predictable means being able to skirt the edges of the windows...

Now, the Starfire style, long term stable singular point, must pretty much hit it to transit mode - everything depends on how close you can squat on the point. If it's weapons range, well, taking the WP is bloody expensive.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 06:41 AM
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At least they are not so difficult to calculate mathematically (and with analogue computers) and by log tables used by astrogators, as the jump points in Heinlein's Starship Jones

When setting up the campaign I am running currently, I toyed with the idea of fixed jump points. Some systems have only one, many have multiples and some are nexus systems. I decided to keep the canon Traveller means of FTL.

however I am not entirely keen on ships being able to jump at comparatively short distances of 100 diameters minimum either, So a ship exits and enters a star system much further out to avoid gravitational influences of the system's planets.

This means a longer outward or inward travel time, but that means more scenario possibilities as well.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 09:01 AM
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Aramis; I was thinking Starfire was well. If I recall correctly, warp points were heavily defended. So much to the point that the first wave of assault craft forced their crews to write out their wills. Eek.

SpaceBadger; I think it would make an excellent writeup for an issue of JTAS for an ATU of your own flavor.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 09:11 AM
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The Honorverse has a mixture of FLT modes. There's the ordinary hyperspace travel, except that hyperspace is filled with terrain that can either help or hinder rapid transit, channeling traffic into predictable routes. And to top it off there are stable wormhole connections that provide significant shortcuts here and there.

A Bertram Chandler's universe had (I think) three different FLT drives, although two of them were obsolete.


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Old February 2nd, 2013, 09:19 AM
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If you are going to consider different Warp or Jump types, do not for get Gordon Dickson's version

The Jumps are almost instant but the plotting takes longer for the longer the distance you wish to jump and the greater the distance jump the greater chance for a mis jump.

Of course the mis-jump (assumption here) is not wild like in OTU, just off in distance and angle.

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Old February 2nd, 2013, 10:00 AM
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Jump points are natural toll booths and enforcement points for the Imperium. Pirates will have a more difficult time making do as they'll almost never be in an area of weak Imperial presence, unless the Imperium simply leaves them unrestricted. It's hard to imagine they wouldn't at least track traffic. Have at least a transponder recorder noting all ships that come in and out of a jump point.

They could also require all jump capable ships only work when they receive an encoded signal from the Imperial Transition Service. The ship contacts the IPS, files their flight plan, gets their registration logged, their ship taxed, etc. And then receives the encoded response that tells the jump drive to engage. By the same notion, that certificate needs to be logged with the IPS on the other side.

There may be a few unrestricted Jump Drives (military of course), but for a rogue ship, it would be rarely used as the IPS would detect it quickly when a ship appears with an invalid certification.

At a minimum, ships don't necessarily have free travel, and could readily be tracked. And the frontier would be very interesting indeed.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 12:44 PM
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You should also check out the Lost Fleet Series and the Kris Longknife Series. Both have fixed jumppoints but traveling using them is not instetanous. The travel time seems to be related to distance between star systems. The number of jump points seems to vary from system to system though each system has at least one.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowlord View Post
You should also check out the Lost Fleet Series and the Kris Longknife Series. Both have fixed jumppoints but traveling using them is not instetanous. The travel time seems to be related to distance between star systems. The number of jump points seems to vary from system to system though each system has at least one.
THe Flight Engineer series (Doohan and Stirling) has a really interesting take on this....
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