Thursday, May 26, 2011

Do we really need FTL?

With one very simple nudge, we can turn our magic FTL drive into something that lets causality sleep at night: make it into a light-speed drive.  The travelers experience no time in transit but planet-bound observers, who are pretty much all in the same frame, will agree that 1 second passes for every light second traveled.  Isaac is not our friend, but at least Albert is.

Now, I'm working on this as an environment for fiction, as a potential RPG setting and as a strategic gaming environment.

There's lots of fiction that manages without FTL travel, and provided the gaming party stuck together an RPG could still work fine.  However, can a strategic game -- or for that matter comprehensible military SF -- function without FTL travel?  Can you, indeed, have meaningful wars?  Conflict, certainly, but anything we could recognize as move/countermove?  Strategy?  I don't really know.

I am not sure I want to start down the no-FTL path but it is interesting to think about.


  1. Le Guine's Left Hand of Darkness and other novels use this sort of. There is FTL Communication but not travel. This pisses Causality off, but the practicality of an interstellar society without FTL is adressed.

    ...but you probably already knew about this one ;)

  2. Yup, and they are great novels; but for game purposes FTL travel makes for logistics in human-acceptable timelines. OTOH a society with a very-long-lived ruling elite might be inclined to undertake the long-term projects required. Maybe next future-history :-)