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Space Travel Questions!


I do some RP with friends and, while we don't strictly follow Champs lore by any means, we've had a couple brushes with FTL technology and there's been some disagreement on where boundaries should be. So, I figured I'd pose it to just try to follow the game lore on this one to help resolve any potential issues.

That said, I just want to gauge exactly what faster-than-light (FTL) travel there is available in the universe and what the details are. It's my understanding that, in general, Earth at large does not possess this technology, despite other advances in supertech beyond what we'd see in our world. Otherwise, we would see exo-system colonies and stuff of futurist fiction, right?

Obviously there are aliens with access to FTL tech and that makes sense. Certainly these folks could share their secrets and technology with humans. If that's the case, then with all the peaceful interactions (and presumably some proliferation of invasion tech) how has humanity not developed FTL tech already?

Any input on the topic is greatly appreciated!


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    bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 2,310 Arc User
    edited October 2021
    And input you shall receive! B) There are several components to your request, so I'll deal with each separately.

    Most of the lore I'll be referring to here can be found in Champions Beyond, the detailed source book for the "space/alien" side of the Champions Universe; augmented, appropriately enough, by Champions Universe, which provides an overview of the entire setting. The Alien Thread elsewhere on this forum offers a condensed survey of the current state of affairs across the Milky Way galaxy, as well as a selection of the setting's myriad official extraterrestrials, ones most suitable to turn into PC toons.

    Starting with FTL-capable alien civilizations, there's a wide range in their starship capacities, roughly correlating to their age. Most of Earth's nearer neighbors who have such tech, like the Perseids and Hzeel, have what CB calls "slow FTL travel." Their ships can cover light-years in days or weeks, which is certainly impressive from an Earthly standpoint; but that means trips to even the nearest habitable solar system can take months. Aliens in this category visit, trade with, and sometimes make war against their nearer neighbors, but are minor backwater players in the wider "galactic society." But the FTL capability of a civilization generally rises with its age. The top of that ladder are the Malvans, whose military-grade ships can cross the entire galaxy in as little as a day.

    There have only been two alien races, both humanoid, who have made peaceful formal contact with Earth: The Mandaarians and the Vayathurans. The latter are at more-or-less the same technological level as Earth; they made contact via one of their super-"humans," called Far-Strider, with the power of interstellar teleportation. Far-Strider has exchanged much scientific and cultural data between the two worlds. The Mandaarians are among the Milky Way's most advanced races, technologically and socially. They made several visits to Earth over the last quarter of the Twentieth Century, to explore and to learn. However, the Mandaarians as a whole refuse to directly interfere in the development of less advanced species, including withholding their tech. But Mandaarians continue to observe Earth in secret (from no sinister motive, just scientific rigor in not contaminating human behavior with their presence). One observer's ship suffered an accident and crashed, and devices were recovered from it which produced the supervillain Orion, now a member of the villain team, the Ultimates (written up in Champions Villains Volume Two: Villain Teams).

    In the tradition of the mainstream comics companies, most of the top-tier tech on Champions Earth is in the hands of super heroes and villains, who don't release it to world governments or the general populace willy-nilly, either out of concern for how it could be misused (heroes), or the selfish desire to use it exclusively for their own gain (villains). But contrary to that tradition, some of that scientific knowledge has been disseminated to the public, and made a substantive impact on the world. This forum thread, Supertech on Champions Earth, offers a summary of how that superior tech has impacted Champs Earth compared to real Earth.

    Two prominent superhero teams, the legendary Fabulous Five and the renowned Sentinels, were drawn into protracted interstellar conflicts between alien spacefaring species. I can't recall seeing a statement of whether any of their super-scientists had a chance to study the aliens' engines, but these teams, or former members, or their heirs, would be among the likeliest humans to possess star-crossing ships or the knowledge to build them. Ironically, one of the Fab Five's allied races was the Qularr, who were intrigued by humanity's genetic potential for superpowers, which they wished to engineer in themselves. That became the motivation for their first invasion of Earth.

    Earth was on the receiving end of multiple invasion attempts by the Qularr, as well as the Gadroon, and the Sirians (the "War of the Worlds" aliens). Some of the equipment used by them was salvaged after the invasions -- the American government possesses more of it than any other agency. It also retains the crashed remains of the Malvan vessels that brought the former gladiators, Ironclad and Herculan, to Earth. Of these, humanity has had the most success studying and adapting Sirian technology, which is most like ours. But what they salvaged was Sirian "tripod" ground attack vessels, not starships. Qularr devices are partly biological, not very compatible with human tech; and the bio components decay over time, making study very difficult. The Gadroon's gravity-based technology appears to function on principles even human super-scientists have never imagined, and so far has defied analysis. The two small Malvan vessels are non-functional (probably the only reason the Malvans haven't reclaimed them), and human scientists have likened trying to decipher their function to Neanderthals attempting to reverse-engineer a supercollider.

    The Hzeel have been covertly scouting Earth for decades in preparation for their own invasion, although no one on Earth is yet aware of that. At least two of their scout craft have crashed, and been discovered. One was found by the mercenary who would become the Warlord, and was intact enough for his hired scientists to study and adapt, and even exceed the capacities of the Hzeel themselves by blending their technology with humans'. It wasn't specified whether those ships had FTL drives or were just short range. If the Warlord has such drives in his arsenal, he hasn't exploited them yet (but likely would have by now). Other unidentified crashes may have occurred or may yet.

    There is one other potential alien source for FTL capability voluntarily given to humanity, the insectile Se'ecra. They possess tech above the galactic average -- not near the Malvans or Mandaarians, but still pretty up there. Se'ecra are infamous as well-intentioned meddlers in the affairs of other races. Out of altruistic motives they've been known to aid in overthrowing repressive governments, and to "uplift" other species with gifts of advanced scientific knowledge and social philosophy. Their territory is more than a quarter of the galactic circumference from Earth, and officially no Se'ecra has yet encountered the planet; but as their FTL drives are relatively "fast" it's probably just a matter of time until one of their ships reaches Earth.

    Bottom line: despite more than eight decades of multiple contacts with star-faring aliens, there isn't an obvious route for Humanity as a whole to have obtained FTL capacity. However, there are several possibilities by which certain parties could have.

    I hope that answers your questions. If not, feel free to post followups. :)
    Post edited by bulgarex on
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    bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 2,310 Arc User
    Oh, I remembered one other thing that might help: Andre Almena, the Spaniard who is the current StarGuard (analogues for the Green Lanterns) for the sector of the galaxy containing Earth, has a ship, the StarJet, which can cover up to one light-year per minute, and hold up to six human-size people. His Star*Base is on Jupiter's moon, Europa, but he frequently visits Earth and often allies with Terrestrial superheroes. You can read more about the Star*Guard here.
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    panthrax77panthrax77 Posts: 309 Arc User
    Thanks for the response, Bulgarex!

    This definitely answers my questions. Glad we have someone like you to turn to for quick questions like this!
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