Drift Travel Time - Is it known before you 'jump'?

General Discussion

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A question regarding Drift Travel that I can't seem to find anywhere: When a course is plotted but before the ship enters the Drift, is the travel time known/calculated?

My read on The Drift is no. Like the age of sail, you have an approximation (3d6 or 5d6 days at Drift 1) but the Drift's unpredictability makes precise calculations impossible.

With respect to in-system travel, however, this absolutely should be identifiable before setting out on a plotted course. This is occurring in real-space, so the distance of a particular course is fixed.

I think this leads to a better risk/reward analysis that the captains and pilots of the Starfinder universe have to employ: Is the potential of a shorter trip better than the known travel time of in-system travel?

The higher the Drift rating, the less of a factor this becomes but I like the premise. If for no other reason it explains why ships aren't always Drift-capable and why in-system travel is still a thing.


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Against the Aeon Throne implies that no Drift before the Gap. Other methods were known though, such as methods used by both the Azlanti and the Androffans.

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My assumption has been that you don't know how long it's going to take when you plot the course. But if that's true, I'd never stopped to think about at which point the total travel time becomes known.

As soon as you enter the Drift? That doesn't seem much different. Not until you arrive at your destination? That would be pretty strange. Do you have a heads-up when you're about a day away from where you're going? Can you tell along the way whether your journey is taking a particularly long or particularly short time?

In practice for a game it might not make much difference, if you are just going to fast-forward to the arrival. But it could be an interesting thing to explore.

At any rate, it does make sense to me that thruster-based travel has a lower uncertainty. I could imagine a crew of an in-system Drift-free freighter, manned half by people who object to tearing holes in planes and half by others who just like being able to actually schedule out their calendars.

Lord Fyre wrote:

Against the Aeon Throne implies that no Drift before the Gap. Other methods were known though, such as methods used by both the Azlanti and the Androffans.

Lol. Sorry I wasn't clear. Not "before the Drift existed" but "course plotted but before engaging Drift drive".

I can't see any clarification either way in the books. I prefer to think of it as known before, otherwise how would the creators of the drift engines know when one is mark 2 or 3 compared to mark 1 other than testing known paths(or divine mandate)

If nothing else, the pilot and everyone else would have a "rough" idea as to when they're going to get where they're going and just plan accordingly on provisions and such, and then just restock if it takes the full 30 days of travel to the Vast. As for if people are expecting someone traveling via the Drift, they would have satellites and sensors in place to detect when holes leading into the Drift appear (or however it looks when entering or leaving the Drift, instructions unclear, got stuck in the ceiling fan again), that way you won't have the welcome team in the Vast just standing at the ready for a month doing nothing but twiddle their thumbs or appendages like I do when waiting on a package in the mail to arrive from overseas.

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