In case you hadn't heard: Drift Physics explained in Dead Suns 4!


General Discussion


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The glossary of Dead Suns 4 has a LOT to say on the Drift, and answers numerous questions such as:


  • Can a ship traveling into or out of the Drift appear inside a solid object? No.
  • Can a ship arrive at a known, precise location every time? No.
  • Will a group of ships leaving from the same place at the same time, such as an invasion force, arrive in the same formation at the same time? No.
  • Is there a way to allow ships to arrive together, in formation? Yes.
  • Is the knowledge of the Drift's tendency to tear chunks off other planes into itself considered common knowledge? Yes.
  • Are the stolen planar chunks destroyed by the vacuum of the Drift? No, usually.
  • Do we know what the planar traits of the Drift are? Yes.
  • Can mortal magic get someone in or out of the drift? No.
  • Are there notable locations within the Drift? Yes.
  • Are there maps of the drift? No. Of Drift locations? Yes.
  • Are there groups who protest Drift travel on the basis that it could be harmful? Yes.
  • Is Drift travel so ubiquitous as to be taken lightly? No.

This book is a real gold mine for anyone wanting to know more about the drift. Order now!


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My order is still in dang Pending status...so thank you thank you thank you.

This answers a lot of my questions.


I'm intrigued that there is apparently a whole city of Triune in there somewhere.


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pithica42 wrote:
My order is still in dang Pending status...

I am also in pending-purgatory. As much as I've loved the previous gazetters, this info on the physics and ecology of the Drift is, by far, the one I've most anticipated.

A question for you, Ravingdork - does the adventure itself contain any notable encounters within the Drift?


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Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
pithica42 wrote:
My order is still in dang Pending status...

I am also in pending-purgatory. As much as I've loved the previous gazetters, this info on the physics and ecology of the Drift is, by far, the one I've most anticipated.

A question for you, Ravingdork - does the adventure itself contain any notable encounters within the Drift?

Spoiler:
The entire first third of the module takes place in the Drift, so yeah, there's a notable encounter or two.

Cool beans. Thanks for the heads up.


This adventure path seems like it will be one that even people not running the adventure path are going to want to own especially GM's until the drift info is in some other book. I would not be shocked to see if similar info makes it into the pact worlds book as well or the technology guide.


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What you dirty heathens call "the drift" is simply the warp, and your "starstone" beacon simply yet another cheap heretical chaos copy of the true Emporer!


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spoiler:
Do the Azlanti appear in this AP? It looked like one of their starships make an appearance in the adventure. Also, does the Drift gazetteer explain how starships can arrive out of drift in formation if ships leaving at the same time aren't guaranteed to arrive in the same place or time?


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Does the drift have stars?

Sovereign Court

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Why do gaming companies insist on hiding key setting information in adventure modules?


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Apparently, it's also extraordinarily difficult to deliberately arrive at a specific location/site within the drift. The DCs start at 30 and increase to plot-level impossible.

Opsylum wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

WARNING! Adventure spoilers ahead:

Yes, the Azlanti make an appearance.

Detailed encounter spoilers:

Early on the PCs are ambushed by an Azlanti scout ship that was hiding in a stellar cloud. The battle potentially culminates in a boarding action where the PCs need to defend their ship from Aeon Guard Specialists. Rather than lose their ship and technology to a foreign empire, the Azlanti choose to activate the self destruct mechanism and ram the PC ship in the hopes of taking everyone out. If captured, they swallow cyanide capsules before allowing themselves to be interrogated. They are seriously badass in their dedication to protect their empire.

Opsylum wrote:
Also, does the Drift gazetteer explain how starships can arrive out of drift in formation if ships leaving at the same time aren't guaranteed to arrive in the same place or time?

Yes, though there are no mechanical rules behind the explanation. It essentially amounts to coupling the drift drives together, so that the entire formation is treated as a single entity. How that's done, precisely, is not really detailed. The glossary also mentions that some militaries circumvent this entirely with specialized "jump ships" that can move an entire armada.

It is not a given, however, and most ships attempting to arrive at the same place at the same time in the same formation will most likely just arrive "in the vicinity" at different times, scattered all over the place.

BretI wrote:
Does the drift have stars?

The glossary mentions the planar theft to range from small rocks, to entire planetoids. Not sure if stars fall under the "planetoids" category or not.

Batgirl_III wrote:
Why do gaming companies insist on hiding key setting information in adventure modules?

They include whatever information is necessary to run the module properly. Paizo usually reprints things like this in their main line too, so you will probably see it in a hardback later on.

But hey, if putting it in a module gets the info to us sooner, and answers numerous questions, then I'm all for it! :)

(I do agree that it needs to be in a main line book too though.)


Batgirl_III wrote:
Why do gaming companies insist on hiding key setting information in adventure modules?

Well in this case paizo said initially that given starfinder was at least to start not have the same amount of products produced and less big books that they were using the AP as a large path to add stuff to the game in addition to the adventure itself.


I do assume the drift will get better described in one of the upcoming major book releases it would make a lot of sense in the tech guide but could work in the pact worlds book as well.


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Just finished reading the notable locations of the drift gazetteer.
SO. MANY. AWESOME. ENCOUNTER. IDEAS!

The doldrums terrify me the most I think.


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Because Space Doldrums are full of Space Sargassum, which no matter how you cook it, still tastes like Hot Space Sargassum?


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Pantshandshake wrote:
Because Space Doldrums are full of Space Sargassum, which no matter how you cook it, still tastes like Hot Space Sargassum?

More like areas of dead space in the drift where electronics fail entirely.

If you and your crew mates find yourselves suddenly and unexpectedly adrift in a doldrum, you better hope it's small enough for your ship's natural momentum to carry everyone out again before you all die of exposure, thirst, starvation, or suffocation.

Just imagine not being able to access your comm, spell cache, or even open a ship's door! There would be no more lights save for the creepy ambient effects pouring through the ship's glass from the drift outside, no air save for what is trapped in the room with you.


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Ravingdork, are starship ramming rules introduced in this AP? From what you described in the encounter, it sounds like there are.


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Ravingdork wrote:


If you and your crew mates find yourselves suddenly and unexpectedly adrift in a doldrum, you better hope it's small enough for your ship's natural momentum to carry everyone out again before you all die of exposure, thirst, starvation, or suffocation.

Just imagine not being able to access your comm, spell cache, or even open a ship's door! There would be no more lights save for the creepy ambient effects pouring through the ship's glass from the drift outside, no air save for what is trapped in the room with you.

If this is a thing (and has been for about 75 years or more), the ships designs should take it into account. You should have chemical or other emergency lighting systems, doors that can be manually opened in the case of a power outage (although that does cause security issues), and other things to help you survive.

On the other hand, it does give reasons to have emergency supplies of Spell ampules with Life Bubble and other such things.


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Opsylum wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Opsylum, please spoiler your question for the benefit of others.

Answer:
No. The module declares intent, but appears to offer no rules or guidelines whatsoever to cover it.

BretI wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:


If you and your crew mates find yourselves suddenly and unexpectedly adrift in a doldrum, you better hope it's small enough for your ship's natural momentum to carry everyone out again before you all die of exposure, thirst, starvation, or suffocation.

Just imagine not being able to access your comm, spell cache, or even open a ship's door! There would be no more lights save for the creepy ambient effects pouring through the ship's glass from the drift outside, no air save for what is trapped in the room with you.

If this is a thing (and has been for about 75 years or more), the ships designs should take it into account. You should have chemical or other emergency lighting systems, doors that can be manually opened in the case of a power outage (although that does cause security issues), and other things to help you survive.

On the other hand, it does give reasons to have emergency supplies of Spell ampules with Life Bubble and other such things.

Not sure it's common enough to warrant it, though I do imagine most ships would have things like doors with manual latches and the like anyways.

Not that it would matter. A particularly big doldrum could still kill everyone, even with emergency supplies on-board.
I could totally see a Donner Party in space type situation happening too. The real fear though, is not knowing if you will drift for just a few minutes, or for the rest of your life.


Ravingdork wrote:
Yes, though there are no mechanical rules behind the explanation. It essentially amounts to coupling the drift drives together, so that the entire formation is treated as a single entity. How that's done, precisely, is not really detailed. The glossary also mentions that some militaries circumvent this entirely with specialized "jump ships" that can move an entire armada.

So what you're saying is military movement is like it is in Homeworld.


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The Sideromancer wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Yes, though there are no mechanical rules behind the explanation. It essentially amounts to coupling the drift drives together, so that the entire formation is treated as a single entity. How that's done, precisely, is not really detailed. The glossary also mentions that some militaries circumvent this entirely with specialized "jump ships" that can move an entire armada.
So what you're saying is military movement is like it is in Homeworld.

I suppose it could be, but I don't exactly know how common that technology is. Didn't sound all that common.


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Ravingdork wrote:

The glossary of Dead Suns 4 has a LOT to say on the Drift, and answers numerous questions such as:

[list]

  • Can a ship arrive at a known, precise location every time? No.
  • Will a group of ships leaving from the same place at the same time, such as an invasion force, arrive in the same formation at the same time? No.
  • Is there a way to allow ships to arrive together, in formation? Yes.
  • These are really good things to know. I always felt the inability/difficulty of "fleet warp" for drift based ships would be an interesting military/tactical problem to explore since we are so used to fleets showing up wherever they please at the time they want ala star trek or star wars.


    I just want to know what the drift looks like physically.

    As for drift specific locations an odd thought crossed my mind. If someone tries exploring the drift itself instead of crossing it maybe they find scientific planes. The plane of gravity, plane of electromagnetism, the subatomic plane, perodic elements plane, etc.


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    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
    FirstChAoS wrote:

    I just want to know what the drift looks like physically.

    As for drift specific locations an odd thought crossed my mind. If someone tries exploring the drift itself instead of crossing it maybe they find scientific planes. The plane of gravity, plane of electromagnetism, the subatomic plane, perodic elements plane, etc.

    This is what I found about the appearance of the drift:

    The Drift is a colorful plane of impossible geometry and unlikely physics...

    Despite its strange appearance, the Drift isn’t very different from Material Plane space. The plane is mostly empty and airless, and sports no appreciable gravitational pull. The exception to this is what Drift explorers call “planar bubbles.”

    ...in stark contrast to the multicolored void of the surrounding Drift.

    While most of the Drift is alight with brightly colored clouds of energy...

    Hope that helps. I, for one, imagine it looks something like Dormammu's realm.

    Dark Archive

    I could see parts looking like Dormammu's Realm based on the description.

    There's also a picture of part of the Drift on page 46. It looks like outer space, with clouds of colorful gas/dust, stars, and floating islands and rocks torn from the planes (complete with plant life on some of the larger ones). There's a smaller picture of part of Alluvion on page 49; the drift looks like a purple, starry sky with misty clouds and purple-white auroras in the background there.


    Ravingdork wrote:


    Hope that helps. I, for one, imagine it looks something like Dormammu's realm.

    Huh interesting, from what I read, I imagined it would be a lot like The World Of Void.


    Abraham spalding wrote:
    What you dirty heathens call "the drift" is simply the warp, and your "starstone" beacon simply yet another cheap heretical chaos copy of the true Emporer!

    Close enough I guess, except for the "rampant demon attack" of the former, and "let's sacrifice hundreds of psykers every day" of the latter.

    (We're also missing a couple rules for proper Imperium supremacy, like Space Marines Power Armor and Bolters.)

    More seriously, I can't wait for the pdf to be available as well, more details for the Drift are really needed.


    Gyrojets, man. The Bolters of the past that is also still the future!


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    I picture Drift being like FTL in Dark Matter, just more colorful
    click here
    You want to see specifically 46 second mark. It is very short.


    Ravingdork wrote:
    Pantshandshake wrote:
    Because Space Doldrums are full of Space Sargassum, which no matter how you cook it, still tastes like Hot Space Sargassum?

    More like areas of dead space in the drift where electronics fail entirely.

    If you and your crew mates find yourselves suddenly and unexpectedly adrift in a doldrum, you better hope it's small enough for your ship's natural momentum to carry everyone out again before you all die of exposure, thirst, starvation, or suffocation.

    Just imagine not being able to access your comm, spell cache, or even open a ship's door! There would be no more lights save for the creepy ambient effects pouring through the ship's glass from the drift outside, no air save for what is trapped in the room with you.

    Possible advantage of ships that make use of biotech?


    I wouldn't go as far as color it as a 'dislike' but as much as I tend to like the worldbuilding extras that get added to adventure path stuff after the actual adventure section, I'm not fond of how that stuff isn't already in the core material.

    Its like any other game series though, you're kinda at a disadvantage when the series is new, due to lack of material and having to play the waiting game, as opposed to say, getting into Pathfinder now, with its years worth of content. Starfinder? hasn't even finished its first adventure path, so everything is a bit scarce.


    Is drifting like tunnaling or is it like gateing to another smaller duplacate plane of the material plane. I imagined it like you were tunneling or tearing holes through reality.


    WhiteWeasel wrote:
    Ravingdork wrote:

    The glossary of Dead Suns 4 has a LOT to say on the Drift, and answers numerous questions such as:

    [list]

  • Can a ship arrive at a known, precise location every time? No.
  • Will a group of ships leaving from the same place at the same time, such as an invasion force, arrive in the same formation at the same time? No.
  • Is there a way to allow ships to arrive together, in formation? Yes.
  • These are really good things to know. I always felt the inability/difficulty of "fleet warp" for drift based ships would be an interesting military/tactical problem to explore since we are so used to fleets showing up wherever they please at the time they want ala star trek or star wars.

    It mentions that it is possible to link ships as they jump so that they stay together and that there are jumpships capable of keeping entire fleets together in the drift.

    I imagine the best defence against fleets jumping on top of you would be to disrupt this link to scatter them as they re-enter the material plane


    Starfinder Superscriber
    ghostunderasheet wrote:
    Is drifting like tunnaling or is it like gateing to another smaller duplacate plane of the material plane. I imagined it like you were tunneling or tearing holes through reality.

    It's described more like Gating. You exit the prime and enter drift. Then you have to travel inside the drift to the point in the drift that corresponds to the desired exit point on the prime material plane, then you exit. Every time you enter (or exit, I believe) it tears a chunk off of a random plane and puts it somewhere in the drift. The size of the chunk is correlated to the distance you're trying to go.

    That's from memory, I'm sure someone will correct what ever's wrong in that shortly.


    I had been viewing drift travel as shadow walk for space ships. You shift to the plane you're traveling on, and you follow a path that takes you to your destination, with the option of leaving the path to explore that plane.


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    Do you calculate your destination when you enter the Drift, or do you only lock onto beacons and determine your route after you are already in the Drift?


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    Metaphysician wrote:
    Do you calculate your destination when you enter the Drift, or do you only lock onto beacons and determine your route after you are already in the Drift?

    *shrugs shoulders*


    IIRC, the amount ripped out of the plane when you enter the Drift is based on the length of the trip, so it has to be determined up front.

    OTOH, you can alter your destination or exit the Drift early, so it can obviously be determined after you're in the Drift.

    Liberty's Edge Contributor

    thejeff wrote:

    IIRC, the amount ripped out of the plane when you enter the Drift is based on the length of the trip, so it has to be determined up front.

    OTOH, you can alter your destination or exit the Drift early, so it can obviously be determined after you're in the Drift.

    This reminds me of a sci-fi series I read in which ships travel by creating micro-wormholes. An incredibly powerful AI tries to explain to the humans that because of the physics involved, the ships actually leave the wormhole a minuscule amount of time before they enter it.

    Given how weird things get when you throw in planar magic, the effect could be retroactive, almost as though the Drift knew how long you'd actually be staying and took a chunk with the appropriate size. ;)


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    Paris Crenshaw wrote:
    thejeff wrote:

    IIRC, the amount ripped out of the plane when you enter the Drift is based on the length of the trip, so it has to be determined up front.

    OTOH, you can alter your destination or exit the Drift early, so it can obviously be determined after you're in the Drift.

    This reminds me of a sci-fi series I read in which ships travel by creating micro-wormholes. An incredibly powerful AI tries to explain to the humans that because of the physics involved, the ships actually leave the wormhole a minuscule amount of time before they enter it.

    Given how weird things get when you throw in planar magic, the effect could be retroactive, almost as though the Drift knew how long you'd actually be staying and took a chunk with the appropriate size. ;)

    "Into the Drift, heading back to Absalom."

    "Captain, that's a huge chunk of another plane we just ripped out."
    "Looks like we're not going to wind up in Absalom. Wonder where we're going and why we'll change our minds?"

    Mind you, I don't think you can measure or even detect what gets pulled in, unless it happens to appear near you.


    Starfinder Superscriber

    Reading it, finally, now. One thing I notice is still missing is rules for Astronavigation. They don't really explain how any of that works, so it doesn't seem internally consistent (to me), did I just miss it somewhere?

    Liberty's Edge Contributor

    pithica42 wrote:
    Reading it, finally, now. One thing I notice is still missing is rules for Astronavigation. They don't really explain how any of that works, so it doesn't seem internally consistent (to me), did I just miss it somewhere?

    It's just a matter of waving your hands over the controls the right way. ;)

    I think that's a level of detail that is left out because the physics and the fun start to break down if you explain too much. We know that the Church of Triune is heavily involved in the placement of Drift beacons, which somehow act as transmission repeaters and navigational guides. My guess is that there is a level of divine technomagic involved in both the placement of the beacons and the operation of navigation systems for ships that are equipped with Drift drives.


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    I feel like it makes more sense for the ripping and tearing of planar chunks to be when you exit the drift, the entire trip is building up with this planar drag that pops when you complete the trip.


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    pithica42 wrote:
    Reading it, finally, now. One thing I notice is still missing is rules for Astronavigation. They don't really explain how any of that works, so it doesn't seem internally consistent (to me), did I just miss it somewhere?

    Why would you need to navigate? Just choose the appropriate beacon from the dropdown menu, press "enter" and away you go!

    :D

    Liberty's Edge Contributor

    Torbyne wrote:
    I feel like it makes more sense for the ripping and tearing of planar chunks to be when you exit the drift, the entire trip is building up with this planar drag that pops when you complete the trip.

    That's interesting. My vision was that it happens every time a ship jumps. Jumping into the Drift tears off relatively small chunks. Jumping out can pull in much larger pieces.


    Starfinder Superscriber
    Ravingdork wrote:
    Why would you need to navigate? Just choose the appropriate beacon from the dropdown menu, press "enter" and away you go!

    So that when I decide to screw over my players by having them get lost in the drift, or run into doldrums, or come out in the completely wrong location, it doesn't look like I'm being arbitrary. I can blame the dice.

    "See guys, I'm not an ***hole, you just rolled a natural 1."

    I'd probably hand wave it the vast majority of the time, but still.


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    Paris Crenshaw wrote:
    Torbyne wrote:
    I feel like it makes more sense for the ripping and tearing of planar chunks to be when you exit the drift, the entire trip is building up with this planar drag that pops when you complete the trip.
    That's interesting. My vision was that it happens every time a ship jumps. Jumping into the Drift tears off relatively small chunks. Jumping out can pull in much larger pieces.

    That works just as well, I even have the ap but haven't actually read it yet... but in my head I've got this whole thing built up about triune and the drift. Unless is starts to conflict with adventures, entering the drift will tie the drift engine to an outer plane on entry, build up a cross planar charge just based on the duration of the connection and then tear a chunk of that plane when the drift engine returns to the material plane. An entirely unintended side effect but in my theory the drift wasn't meant for mass travel anyways, it's closer to ian m banks' minds, in that it moves most of their processes to a sub dimension to think faster and increase their power. Beacons push outer planes away to try to get a clearer connection to the material, this also means travel between beacons will reduce the charge across the planes.


    I can see the notion of an invading or coordinated group first picking a point to 'warp/drift' into from another system. They all arrive at different times potentially, but on average no more than a few days apart...unless reaaaally far away. Less of an issue if attacking Golarion's system.

    Once in system they muster. Once the full fleet or full fleet for that part of the operation is together, then they continue on via conventional drives/sublight. Sublight isn't bad in Starfinder....on average given the 1d6+2 guidelines, sublight is around 1/10th light speed, roughly 100 million kmph. In context this is about half as slow as Star Trek type 'full impulse' at .25 lightspeed. I mean really, ships could probably just continue to accelerate to higher values of fractional-c, but imagine the thing just gets more complicated/beyond ability of ship computers to safely plot/etc.

    Presumably 'combat speed' is less than full 1/10th lightspeed.

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