FTL Telegraphs in ‘Faster Than Light: Nomad’

Posted: 2024-06-30
Last Modified: 2024-06-30
Word Count: 997
Tags: ftl-nomad rpg

Table of Contents

As interstellar civilizations grow into galactic civilizations, they begin to create a communication network that reaches across the stars. In the Late Interstellar Age this takes the form of the FTL Telegraph, a device onboard FTL-capable spaceships that can exchange short messages with a similar unit a few parsecs away.

New Ship Technologies

FTL Telegraph (Late Interstellar)

Price: +1 to Payload, +10% to base hull cost. Requires an FTL Engine.

This device sends short messages to a specified star system within the FTL Engine’s Transit Range, where it will arrive at the FTL Engine’s Travel Time. The message may only be received by another FTL Telegraph, an FTL Telegraph Listener, an FTL Telegraph Router, or a Hypernet node. The sender will know if the message was sent, but will not know if anyone received it until they receive a reply … whatever form that reply will take.

See FTL Telegraph Operations for more information.

FTL Telegraph Listener (Late Interstellar)

Price: +1 to Payload, +10% to base hull cost.

An FTL Telegraph Listener can receive but not send messages from an FTL Telegraph, FTL Telegraph Router, or the Hypernet. It cannot send those messages through hyperspace, but it can use existing communications to forward them through realspace.

FTL Telegraph Router (Early Galactic)

Price: +1 to Payload, +10% to base hull cost. Requires an FTL Engine.

An FTL Telegraph Router receives messages from an FTL Telegraph and routes them to a final destination according to the message’s metadata. Each router knows the location of other routers, and sends each message to the closest router to a message’s final destination. It also bundles incoming messages bound for the same intermediate destination to reduce message latency.

See FTL Telegraph Operations for more information.

FTL Telegraph Operations

Interstellar and galactic civilizations depend on the FTL Telegraph to convey vital intelligence to government, military, and corporate entities. It provides a lifeline between the center of the civilization and its fringes.

Nevertheless, the FTL Telegraph and its network have severe limitations compared to intra-system communication.

Late Interstellar Early Galactic Late Galactic
FTL Engine Recharge 1 day 12 hours 6 hours
Message Limit 500 words 1000 words 1000 words
Transit Range 4 parsecs 6 parsecs 10 parsecs
Transit Time 1 week 2 days 1 day

Bandwidth

A message may contain no more than a specified number of words1 or only one simple picture (a diagram or low resolution black-and-white still). A message may mix a smaller amount of text and simpler graphics at the GM’s discretion.

Effect on FTL Engines

Sending a message through the FTL Telegraph renders the FTL Engine inoperable for hyperspace jumps or further messages for the listed recharge time, which is a quarter of the recharge after a full hyperspace transit. On the other hand, an FTL Engine has enough residual energy after it exits hyperspace for one FTL Telegraph Message.

In practice, this means a ship without two recharged Dual FTL Engines cannot send an FTL message and then escape into hyperspace.

Lag Time

Due to the limitations of Galactic Age technology all messages along the FTL network are asynchronous, with a lag time of a day to a week per transit between the source and the destination. Messages can take weeks to months to reach their final destination.

Lack of Security

Any and every receiver in a system that a message passes through can intercept the message. The sender encrypts the message contents using standard cryptography and proprietary codes, but the stated sender, intended receiver, destination system and the list of all systems the message passes through remains public for ease of routing.

Cryptographic signatures attempt to authenticate the sender and contents. No matter the level of cryptography, though, one can never truly know where a message comes short of examining all the devices along the message’s route.

Routing to 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.

To receive a message, a ship must register their location with one or more FTL Telegraph Routers within Transit Range. (For security or timing reasons, not all ships make their location known.) A ship may also register with a router in a system it intends to visit; the Router will then queue the message for a period designated by the ship. After that period, the Router will then forward the message according to its organization’s undelivered message policy or, failing that, a “dead message buffer” at the ship’s registered origin.

A ship changing star systems often may therefore outrace an incoming message.

FTL Relay Pod

Technology Age: Early/Late Galactic

Government, military, and corporate interests deploy FTL Relay Pods to all systems between their respective headquarters and the fringes of their territory, to keep in touch with all branch offices and field agents. A ship exploring new star systems may also leave FTL Relay Pods in its wake to maintain its connection to the FTL Telegraph Network.

Relay pods are typically in orbit around a planet or sun. Relays aren’t designed for hyperspace travel; the FTL Engine exists solely to support the FTL Telegraph Router.

An FTL Relay Pod can also relay messages through conventional channels, according to the pod’s configuration and security constraints. In the most common case the Relay Pod beams all messages through an encrypted datalink connected to a private government or corporate network.

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 +5 0
cost +80% -10% -10% +30% +90%

Modifications:

Travel Multiplier: x3

Cost: 60,000 + 90% = 114,000 Cr

Monthly Cost: 4669 Cr


  1. The natural language meaning of word; GM’s discretion. ↩︎