The Hypernet in ‘Faster Than Light: Nomad’

Posted: 2024-06-30
Last Modified: 2024-06-30
Word Count: 932
Tags: ftl-nomad rpg

Table of Contents

The Late Galactic Age sees the creation of the “Hypernet”, a true galactic distributed network of Hypernet Nodes.

New Ship Technologies

Hypernet Node (Late Galactic)

Price: +2 or more to Payload, +20% or more to base hull cost.

Hypernet nodes can continuously send data to, and receive data from, other Hypernet Nodes within ten parsecs. Each message takes a day to arrive. The fastest data outbound stream for a single node is only about 32 kbit/s, enough for a grainy video or between 1000 and 4000 characters of text depending on encoding. However, a Hypernet node can receive much more incoming data by sharing the load among other nodes in the same star system.

Each +1 to Payload and +10% to cost doubles the amount of data a node can send. Most such “hubs” reside on orbital stations.

See below for more information.

Hypernet Operations

By the Late Galactic Age, extended research into information transfer through hyperspace leads to a network more similar to a planetary system’s Omninet1. It breaks large messages into “packets” and uses priority and routing algorithms to move data through the network more-or-less fairly.

Nevertheless, the Hypernet has some notable differences.

Latency

Each packet on the Hypernet requires a day to arrive at the next Hypernet Node. Furthermore, each packet contains not much more data than an [FTL Telegraph][] message. If the sender is interrupted while sending a message, the receiver may get partial data, or completely undecipherable gibberish. (GM’s decision.)

Even if a large message is complete, if it has to transit across multiple nodes, it may take more than the number of transits in days to arrive, because of the way the Hypernet breaks up messages and assigns priorities. In general, for each large message the GM should roll 2d6 and add the smaller die to the number of days the message takes to work its way through the network and reassemble itself in a coherent order.

Government and Corporate Control

Maintaining a Hypernet entails quite a lot of expense. Unlike lean [FTL Telegraph][] protocols, Hypernet Nodes exchange a lot of internal routing and bookkeeping messages.

For this reason, a Hypernet typically remains in the hands (or manipulators) of interstellar governments and large corporations. Some governments use the Hypernet to broadcast propaganda to all the systems under their control; others reserve it for military and administrative use. Large corporations may use it to disseminate the news they want citizens to hear. Very rarely do the owners of a Hypernet open it up to private use, and even then sending physical media via ship may be cheaper.

Hackers can and do sometimes send messages across the galaxy disguised as “protocol” or “informational” messages, but more repressive interests

Mobile Destinations

Because of the FTL lag time, routing messages to an FTL-capable ship moving between stars turns out to be a hard problem.

When a ship connects to a Hypernet Node, it usually registers its location. (Some ships may elect to connect in “hidden” mode for security purposes.) Given the lag between nodes and the possibility of stale information, a message may take much longer to arrive than a simple analysis of the node network might indicate. After several failed retries, the network forwards the message to a queue at the ship’s registered home system.

For example, a ship may connect to a Node in System A. A message wends its way through the Hypernet until it reaches System A, but by then the ship has moved on to System B. When the message gets to System B, the ship has moved to C, and so on. After trying to reach the ship, the message returns to the ship’s home office at System K, and the sender (eventually) receives a notification that the message has been forwarded to System K for eventual delivery.

GMs can actively track the progress of an important message and network notifications of where the ship currently is on a sector map. Or not.

Hypernet Stations

Hypernet Relay

Technology Age: Late Galactic

Hypernet Relays are typically in orbit around a planet or sun, exchanging data with other relays, with ship-borne Hyperspace Nodes and any ground stations using conventional channels.

Hull Type Endurance Armor Crew Cargo Guns Agility Mods Total
Pod 4 yrs 2/4 0 - - +4
base 12 hrs 2/4 1 0.5 1d6 +4
steps -8 +1 +1 +1 +4 0
cost -10% +30% +20%

Modifications:

Travel Multiplier: x3

Cost: 60,000 + 20% = 72,000 Cr

Monthly Cost: 4669 + 20% = 5603 Cr

Hypernet Hub

Technology Age: Late Galactic

Hypernet Hubs are small manned orbitals around an inhabited planet that serves the same purpose as a Hypernet Relay. Personnel on board can resolve problems with the Hypernet link.

The station is defended against terrorists and saboteurs, but cannot withstand a sustained military assault.

Hull Type Endurance Armor Crew Cargo Guns Agility Mods Total
Picket 1 yr 18/21 4 32 4d6 +0
base 3 mos 21/24 10 32 6d6 +2
steps -2 +1 +1 +2 +2 -4 0
cost +60% +10%

Modifications:

Cargo: 1 Shuttle (24 spaces), 8 spaces remaining

Travel Multiplier: x3

Cost: 60,000 + 20% = 72,000 Cr

Monthly Cost: 4669 + 20% = 5603 Cr


  1. The public network used by an Omnicomm or Omnicomp. ↩︎