Star_Trek_Warp_FieldFaster Than Light travel opened the otherwise unobtainable paths between the stars in White Star!

Faster Than Light (FTL) travel is achieved in different ways for different cultures but all technologies can be classified as a flavor of the following

  1. Warp – space-time engineering
  2. Jump – sub-space (ethereal) tunneling
  3. Fold – hyper-space (astral) folding
  4. Gate – wormhole with fixed endpoints

Warp Drives are by far the most common and represent the bulk of FTL travelling. This is a purely technological extrapolation of common scientific knowledge involving negative energies or exotic masses. Going faster than the speed of light still involves traveling the distance, only faster. Therefore, travelling 2 light years at twice the speed of light still requires 1 year of travel.  This may be acceptable for certain deliveries but the velocities required for practical travel are often hundreds or thousands of times faster. Different manufactures will advertise Warp Factors, Dilation Coefficients, or equally unrelated marketing jargon.  Either way, light years traveled by warp drives are typically measured in days or sometimes hours.  The resulting gravity ripples that typically accompany warp drive usage attracts certain undesirable interstellar creatures.  Star Dolphins are especially likely to be found playing in the gravitational wake through established routes. Spatiotemporal anomalies are also extremely dangerous while traveling in a warp field. Most up-to-date astrogation charts clearly detail places to avoid but new concerns are constantly needing to be validated.

Jump and Fold Drives require technology that is akin to esoteric magic not because it is so advanced but rather it is so counter intuitive to logical understanding. These engines are faster and allow for more distant travel than standard Warp Drives but are not without dire risks. There are many stories of unimaginable vistas seen while traveling in the spaces between dimensions. Monsters more terrifying than any explainable life form or alien lurk there. Occasionally these things can come through with the ship. Rarely are there any survivors to explain what really happened. Just as ominous is the occasional navigation mishap.  With every jump or fold, the ship may end up at the wrong end of the universe, or perhaps at the wrong time.

Finally, gates are only for the most traveled or strategic points, allowing ships to instantly get from one star system to another. Gates are the fastest and most reliable form of travel but they are exorbitantly expensive to power.  Once created the two end points must be dragged to their final destination (usually by other FTL means). To date the only hazard to using gates is dealing with the political or military squabbling over controlling them. Rumors of ancient alien constructs that allow gate dialing are frequently heard in bars across the stars.