Ship Talent: Quantum Slipstream Drive

My game is set in 2383. My players are stranded 13.7 million light-years away from the Federation (thanks to how things turned out from the Living Campaign). They need to cross a quarter of a galaxy (11,000LY) to find a way back to the Milky Way Galaxy. As you can imagine, speed is on their mind.

Hence, they want to add a quantum slipstream drive to their ship.

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Now, the purpose of this blogpost isn’t to go into all the details of what it will take for them to do this, namely, the ins-and-outs of what will be a prolonged Linear Challenge that will spread out over months, if not years, of game time. What I needed to figure out was, what does that talent look like, since this talent is not listed in the Star Trek Adventures: Voyager Player Characters – PDF.

Fortunately, I was able to find (as usual) a bunch of helpful Star Trek Adventures fans who were at the ready with ideas along with some really cool online resources that helped me refine this talent. For those of you who aren’t in the know about QSD, here is a bit of background pulled from Memory Alpha, USS Highlander site, the Starbase118 wiki, and a few other sources.

The quantum slipstream drive is an advanced form of propulsion technology first encountered by the USS Voyager in the Delta Quadrant, which had the capability of exceeding a starship’s maximum warp factor by an unprecedented degree. Similar in principle to the transwarp technology utilized by the Borg, it was originally developed by a Delta Quadrant race designated by the Borg as “Species 116.” (VOY: “Hope and Fear“)

quantum dauntless

Gods_of_Night_cover
Gods of Night is a Star Trek trilogy chock full of references to quantum slipstream technology.

After the return of Voyager from the Delta Quadrant, Starfleet began analyzing the various new technologies they brought with them. The Vesta class was the first to include the slipstream technology as its native and primary source of faster-than-light propulsion. The Star Trek: Destiny trilogy introduced the Vesta-class starships. In A Singular Destiny, Starfleet began to install quantum slipstream drives on its vessels in 2381. Due to the nature of the technology, not all ships were compatible with the upgrade.

The Quantum Slipstream is sometimes referred to as “Transwarp”.The QSD can be used in a number of separate subspace domains. The higher domains provide faster travel, but also require more power to enter and exit.

It was discovered that traveling in the first slipstream domain was equivalent to approximately Warp 9.98 using the scale of standard warp travel. Scientists determined that the velocity of a starship while traveling in a slipstream domain was equal to

quantumformula
(Source Star Trek Minutiae)

Hence, for the purposes of my game, if (big if) they ran the ship’s QSD continually for 5 years and 77 days, they could traverse the intergalactic distance of 13.7 million LY. Here are some other details I had to factor in when adapting this talent as originally written by the amazingly helpful the Starbase118 wiki. (I made a few edits to adapt to Star Trek Adventures gameplay.)

Basics of Quantum Slipstream and Important Limitations

Speed

The standard Starfleet slipstream drive allows for travel at warp-factor 9.99998477 (pre Warp XV scale), or 300 light-years per hour.

Drive stamina

At its current technological advancement, Starfleet slipstream drives can only be operated for a maximum of approximately 60 minutes before initiating auto-shutdown procedures. This allows a ship to travel 300 light-years from where they started. I want to emphasize that it takes power to go in AND out of the slipstream.

Warm-up time

Starfleet slipstream drives require a warm-up cycle before they can be engaged. This warm-up cycle requires 40 minutes of preparation by a trained Starfleet Engineering Officer.

Cool-down time

Once the drive is deactivated, it cannot be reactivated for at least 36 hours. Any attempt to warm-up the drive before the cool-down cycle has completed could result in an unstable slipstream.

Upgrade cycle

As the technology rolls out to the fleet, it will be necessary for ships to return to spacedock, on average, every two years for a minor refit and hull inspection to ensure that the slipstream drives are not compromising the long-term integrity of the fleet.

Quantum_Slipstream LCARS_Voyager_TimelessSo, basically, adding this talent to your players’ ship should be a pretty big, whopping, friggin, major deal. In my game, they need to find the needed components (non-replicable), find a safe spot to dock for weeks or months, retrofit the hull and nacelles, create a separate drive (different than warp, so two engines), and then test the thing. This will span multiple adventures no doubt.

Here are a couple other rules from Starbase 188 that I like.

Other Rules Regarding the QSD

  1. Ships with large saucer-like hulls are a gray zone. If they’re Galaxy-class or newer, and were put into production after the Enterprise-D, we’re able to retrofit them with slipstream drives, but it places an extraordinary stress on the slipstream drive and structural integrity field, which requires frequent spacedock time (more than 200 hours in slipstream) for hull inspection, slipstream drive servicing, and refreshing of the benamite crystals. (The crystals “burn-down” at 2x the normal rate.)
  2. Any ship with a large saucer-like hull larger than the Galaxy-class, and/or older than the Enterprise-D is ineligible for a slipstream drive.
  3. New ships require a more streamlined hull to utilize slipstream drive efficiently.

Okay, with all of that wonderful background on QSD, let’s translate that into Star Trek Adventures. Full credit for this homebrew talent goes to one of our Star Trek family, Theyos. I was sent this link to his reddit post on this exact subject.

SHIP TALENT: QUANTUM SLIPSTREAM DRIVE

REQUIREMENTS: Gamemaster’s discretion only.

The ship possesses the latest highly advanced and experimental propulsion technology: quantum slipstream drive. The ship has quantum slipstream drive in addition to standard warp drive. To initiate slipstream, whichever character is operating the Helm must spend Power equal to the ship’s scale, and attempt a Control + Conn Task with a Difficulty equal to the ship’s scale (modified by terrain as normal), assisted by the ship’s Engines + Conn. One other character may assist with Control + Engineering or Control + Science. Finally, the ship must maintain a Power level equal to or above twice the ship’s Scale, otherwise, the slipstream collapses.

QSD can only be used for a maximum of 60 minutes at a time (about 300 lightyears). Following its use, the ship must restore its power reserves and check the hull for micro-fractures. Downtime is up to the GM’s discretion.

(Note: Ships who were originally designed (post-2380) to have “Advanced Quantum Slipstream Drive” (ex. the Vesta, the Odyssey, the Manticore) get their difficulty cut to 1/2 their scale (rounded up), but they still take the full scale for power draw.)

Example: Arturis wants to kidnap Seven of Nine and Captain Janeway using his ship, the U.S.S. Dauntless. As Dauntless is a ship of Scale 3, this is a Difficulty 3 Task and requires 3 Power to initiate. Rolling his two dice with a Control of 10 and a Conn of 3 he rolls a 3 and a 16 and scores 2 successes (thanks to his Focus “Quantum Slipstream Drive”), he is also assisted by the Dauntless, rolling a 12, just under its Engines of 13. With a total of three successes, and so long as Dauntless can maintain 6 Power in its reserves, Arturis is successfully away.

Ships without this talent may not pursue ships leaving a battle in this way, ships with this talent may catch up to a vessel they are pursuing by reserving additional power beyond the minimum required. The talent Improved Warp Drive may be used in conjunction with this talent to regain power spent.

Example: Lieutenant Paris can give chase in Voyager due to its own newly installed Quantum Slipstream Drive. Voyager is a much larger ship than Dauntless, at Scale 4 pursuit will be a Difficulty 4 Task and will require 4 Power out of Voyager’s total of 11 to initiate. Using a point of Determination and referencing his Value “I Can Fly Anything” Lt. Paris buys a d20 that has already rolled a 1, granting two successes; unfortunately, he rolls a 17 and 20, scoring no additional successes and promising a Complication. He is assisted by Voyager rolling a 9, which is under its Engines score of 11, and Lieutenant Torres who assists with her Control + Engineering rolling a 6, which is under her Control of 9. Voyager can give chase!

improved warp drive

Rolling four Effect die thanks to Voyager’s Improved Warp Drive talent Lt. Paris scores 2 Effects, regaining 2 Power and leaving Voyager with 9 remaining. Voyager must reserve a base of 8 Power to maintain Slipstream velocity, but this basic commitment will not be enough to catch the Dauntless. By committing all 9 remaining Power to slipstream Voyager will just about catch up to Dauntless as long as her Power doesn’t drop below 9. Due to the Complication, Ensign Kim informs the bridge that the ship’s hull integrity was compromised, and they’ll have a limited time in slipstream before the hull begins to buckle.

Let’s not forget, the Players still need to roll to drop out of the slipstream. Getting stuck in there due to power failure or some other complication can have dangerous and deadly implications.

And on that high note, have fun using this talent!

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