Slipstream, also known as Streaming and “Riding the rails” Is simple in principle. A Field Generator drastically reduces the mass of the ship and then the drive opens a slippoint which the ship enters. Slipstream is an extension of our reality, an additional dimension that's integrally intertwined with our own. The slipstream is a place where quantum connections are perceived as cords, or a mass of intertwined rails. Based on the principle of all matter being interlinked at a quantum level, all connections are theoretically visible, however the primary ones (that pilots will rely on for navigation) are the large and strong connections like those between huge concentrations of matter as a stellar system, mostly the primary star for that system. Since different beings have different methods of perception, some species are more naturally adept at perceiving the pathways of Slipstream than others, though all beings describe it as appearing in a similar fashion.
A spaceship that enters the slipstream can harness the energy of these cords and ride them from one star system to another. One of the more unusual aspects of slipstream is the requirement of an organic pilot to guide a starship through the intersection pathways, also known as "decision points". At an intersection of pathways in slipstream space, both paths manifest the potentiality of being correct and incorrect. It's only when the pilot chooses a specific direction that this potentiality collapses and one path becomes right, and the other wrong. Theorized that this has to do with the nature of observing an effect alters the effect under various quantum theories, one thing is certain organic beings tend to choose the correct paths. Or, more precisely, the very act of choosing makes the path they have chosen the correct one. Non-organics are incapable of this reality-altering guesswork. Artificial intelligences are capable of navigating the Slipstream after a fashion, in that they have a 50% chance of choosing the correct path at any decision gate, however their "choice" does not guarantee it is the correct solution the same way that a Organic pilot does.
Another interesting thing about moving through the slipstream is that travel time between points has very little to do with the distance actually traveled. If a pilot is lucky, and the stream unfolds just right, the ship could transit between galaxies in minutes. But put an unlucky pilot at the helm and the same trip could take weeks or even months.
Luckily for the cause of interstellar commerce and communication, the more a certain path is frequently traveled, the faster, easier and more predictable the journey becomes. As a result, frequently-traveled routes between major transit points are safe and convenient. Since Slipstream is a extension and expression of the connection between all matter in the universe, gravity wells created by the existence of such matter are a hindrance. Slip points cannot be formed too close to a Gravity well. They also are few and far between when it comes to empty voidspace (Such as between systems or galaxies). Pilots refer to a "Sweet spot" which is a area usually "above" or "below" the star system's plane that allows for a greater chance of creating a slippoint to enter or exit Slipstream. Gravitic anomalies such as black holes, dark matter masses, comets, or gravitic fields produced by Gravity mines or field generators can alter the "Sweet spot" area and make entering Slipstream more difficult. Exiting slipstream in the vast void between galaxies or interstellar space could be dangerous because it is difficult to find a slippoint in these areas. If a slippoint cannot be found, or a slipstream drive is damaged, the ship is stranded and limited to normal propulsion or back up drive speed.
Usually one has to enter and exit slipstream several times before reaching their final destination. Slipstream travel almost always results in very little or no time dilation.
Unlike other FTL technologies, since slipstream requires lowering the mass of a ship, this limits slipstream capable craft to a certain maximum mass. Higher mass means higher energy requirements for the field generator, which means a more massive powerplant, which means more mass, and so on. This limitation precludes bulk transport of materials between galaxies, and limits intergalactic warfare. The economics of slipstream trade rely on small ships, carrying high demand cargo and beings.
Solid objects can be released in slipstream, where they behave as if they were in hard vacuum.
LIMITS OF SLIPSTREAMEdit
The Slipstream is an extension of our reality, an additional dimension that's integrally intertwined with our own. According to an application of quantum physics called string theory, everything in our Universe is connected to everything else. And the Slipstream is a place where those connections are visible.
In the Slipstream, small and weak connections (those linking small and weak concentrations of matter, such as the link between you and your jelly donut) look like strings, gauzy bits of cotton candy fluff. But large and complex and strong connections, like those between huge concentrations of matter, say planets or suns, form gigantic, pulsing ropes, writhing monstrous tendrils with the diameter of a skyscraper and the length of the universe. If you enter the Slipstream, you can harness the energy of these cords and ride them from one star system to another, like the Universe's largest and most unbelievably convenient rollercoaster.
The only problem is that the strings are in constant motion, crossing and recrossing each other in a hundred different places. So to get from one star to another, the pilot of a ship in Slipstream has to constantly choose between divergent paths in the stream. And the right path changes from moment to moment. Faced with such randomness, all a pilot can really do when it's time to choose is guess.
So, here's what happens when a pilot reaches an intersection. Before the pilot chooses, according to the physicist Erwin Shrödinger (you can skip this part if you want, we'll meet up in a few sentences), both paths are simultaneously right and wrong. In other words, they both manifest the potentiality of being correct and incorrect. It's only when the pilot chooses a specific direction that this potentiality collapses and one path becomes right, and the other wrong. But the cool thing about being an observer in a quantum reality like the Slipstream is that THE ACT OF MAKING A DECISION ALTERS REALITY. So when you guess that a certain path is right, in Slipstream space, 99.9% of the time, you guess correctly.
In other words (start back here if you skipped that last part), human pilots in Slipstream have to guess where they're going, but because of the nature of Slipstream space, they're mostly always right. Of course, some pilots are more intuitive to the weave of the strings, and thus their trips take more less time to travel these distances than others. As the weave of these paths become more complex, they become more difficult to travel. Thus, travel between star systems in the relatively densely packed galaxies is far more dangerous and complex than travel between the widely spaced galaxies themselves. The small extra galactic clusters offer accessible slippoints to many galaxies, often with strong paths between them.
Okay, nice theory, but what does it look like? Good question. What we see when we travel through Slipstream is this: Your ship reaches a point in normal space where the Slipstream is accessible (as far from gravitational sources like suns as possible, often the Nadir and Zenith gravity wells of a star system). Then your ship shifts, distorts, and suddenly it's someplace else, riding along a bunch of gigantic glowing ropes like an out-of-control roller coaster on a rail. When the ropes twist and wind, the ship rotates and spins on its axis. When it reaches an intersection, it whips off at wild angles along new tracks, whizzing along to its destination. Finally, thanks to a series of monumentally lucky guesses by your pilot, the ship arrives at its destination and shifts back into normal space. It's like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on fast forward.
One interesting thing about moving through the Slipstream is that travel time has almost nothing to do with the distance between stars. If you're lucky and the Stream unfolds just right, you could get from here to the next galaxy in minutes. But if you're not lucky, and things get hairy, the same trip could take weeks or even months. About the only rule is that the more frequently a certain path is traveled, the easier and more predictable the journey becomes.Most of the time. Unless it's not.
Like many extragalactic worlds, Botany Bay sits at a nexus of slipstream pathways, or a “slipknot”. This advantageous geography is largely responsible of the settlement of such systems. Colonies such as Botany Bay cater to the unique needs of intergalactic travelers and trade. With multiple slippoints, access to many well-traveled slippaths and several other worlds sharing its cluster and accessible via other FTL technologies, Botany Bay is a busy hub of trans galactic travel, seeing visitors from many nearby galaxies, and hundreds if not thousands of worlds.
Ship Sizing & How it Relates to the Slip Stream
Currently under the rules (lore) published in the notecard set player characters (PCs) are limited to using vessels “size and mass to 100 meters in any dimension, and 450 Metric Tons” while rping at Botany Bay without prior moderator approval. This approval process is handled In Character (IC) though the game mechanics of ‘slip stream’ and the SlipGate Generator (SGG).
The availability and size of ships in games is a matter of balance, game mechanics and flavor of a setting. All three reasons play a role in our decision to limit the size of vessels available to player characters at Botany Bay.
- Balance – Since Botany Bay is a free form game, there is nothing to prevent players from each having their own personal super star destroyer. By limiting the size of ships available in game, the mod team is helping level the playing field some to keep the game balanced and enjoyable.
- Game Mechanics – Larger ships, use more sim resources. This is not always a linear progression, but generally the physically larger the ship, the more prims, scripts, physics, ect it takes up. We like to encourage players to be able to rez some ships on sim. Currently ‘free’ rez of 32 prims is available which is the physics flight limit. Larger builds can be rezzed for short durations with moderator approval. Long term rezzing of prims is handled on a rental basis.
- Flavor – There are many sims that encourage stories to be based on battles between fleets of ships. This is not the flavor of story we wish to have at Botany Bay. The size of vessel available to most players, in most published games and the protagonist’s vessel in most stories is much smaller. The size chosen for the IC rule is comparable with the Millenium Falcon or Firefly, both very RP friendly sizes.