The Jump Drive is the only device known that allows faster-than-light travel. Activating a jump drive opens a transition to an alternate dimension called jumpspace.
Entering jump is possible anywhere, but perturbations due to gravity make it only safe to begin a jump at least 100 diameters out from a large massive body such as a world or star. Failure to respect this limit will invariably result in a random jump called a
misjump. Ships are naturally precipitated out of jumpspace before they get too deep into a gravity field.
Every ship stays in jump for around one week before entering normal space again. Ships in jump cannot detect or be detected or communicate with anything. They are totally isolated in a small bubble of space until they re-emerge into our universe again.
The distance travelled during the week depends on the jump rating of the drive. A ship with a jump 1 drive will travel one parsec (one hex on the map grid). A ship with a jump 2 drive, two parsecs and so on. The maximum jump available to a ship varies with tech-level but in theory the maximum possible is jump 6. Study of misjump reports suggests that much greater distances are possible, but at present no method to achieve them in a controllable way is known.
Most civilian starships have a jump rating of 1 or 2; rare vessels equipped for express work are capable of jump 3 or 4. Vessels that can tolerate longer delivery times use the usual jump1, but additional fuel tankage to permit a second jump. This allows a vessel to cross a two-parsec void in two jumps and taking two weeks.
Military starships equip a jump drive appropriate for their mission, but with an eye toward what other ships they will be grouped with. If all the other ships in the task force have jump 4, a jump 3 ship will slow them down.
Because the jump drive is the only known means of travelling faster than light, it is also the fastest form of communication at
interstellar distances. A population that acquires access to jump drives is often fundamentally changed by the event.
The original Patriots who populated Washington arrived on a jump drive equipped ship, but forgot how to operate it. Thousands of years later when they rediscovered the technology their world and culture were deeply changed. Their population spread to several other worlds. The ramifications of this are still unfolding today.
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