Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Flying Through Space Ain't Like Dustin' Crops

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, here I am again with more analysis of the convoluted mess that is Star Wars hyperspace travel times.

In the recently released Fly Casual book we find a small chart listing Hyperspace Travel Times (in days) for a Class 1 Hyperdrive.

There is some preamble and the usual hand waving as to whether the established galactic "Trade Routes" are safer, or easier to travel, or whatever. I will save that old debate for a later post (later this week, perhaps).

I won't reprint the entire chart here, but I will use a few relative measurements in comparison to my previously published Star Wars Gazetteer.

Suffice it to say, taking Taanab as an example, the average difference in travel times (in hours) between my Gazetteer and the Fly Casual chart is a 20 times multiplier (minimum of x13, maximum of x25 for the sample I tested). That is, if I say it takes 1 hour to get somewhere, Fly Casual says it takes 20 hours. Another thing to factor in is that I used straight line distances on the galactic map. They might be actually following the trade routes through space. I will try to estimate what difference that would make to these numbers later tonight.

There are numerous canon sources (including the OT movies themselves) that contradict FFG (and WotC before that, and WEG before that) in terms of travel time charts of this kind. The worst offenders, in my opinion, are the variable charts that suggest crossing the galaxy takes a random amount of time.

I have heard it all before: Star Wars ships in hyperspace "...move at the speed of plot." That same bland, facile comment could be applied to all aspects of this Sci Fi setting, in such a way that nothing matters and there are no "truths" anymore.

So that leaves us with evaluating either tea leaves or gut feelings.

How long should it take to travel from point A to point B via hyperspace?

I will look at this question in the following ways, and keep my thoughts in the comments section of this post.

A. Canon sources. A few tidbits from OT movies and some quotes from The Clone Wars. Whatever you thought of that cartoon series, it is one of the only "non-Legend" sources still in existence.

B. Starship Consumables Ratings. I don't get the feeling from Star Wars that the ships we see flitting about, here and there, are arriving at the starport in desperate need of anything, in particular. taking stock of the consumables info might help us to see what the number of trips between re-stocks would be, and whether those numbers seem to make sense.

C. Gut Feeling. I guess, in the end, we need to figure out what feels right for these travel times. I guess I lean toward saying my Gazetteer might have travel times that are too short. Almost all of them (if not all of them) are less than 20 hours. Many are in the single-digit numbers of hours for the Class 1 hyperdrive. On the other hand, the Fly Casual chart lists a minimum of 12 hours and has most of the trip times hovering around the 1 week mark, with a high water mark of something like 11.5 days. That's a looooong time for a crew to be stuck in hyperspace playing Dejarik or wrestling in the cargo hold. It feels too long for a quick paced story to me. Learn this new clue! Pick up the chase! Run to your ship! ...Wait a week....What were we doing, again?


  1. First off, we need a definition. What, exactly, does FFG mean by the "Consumables" entry for their Starship stats? I could not find it in the index of either core rulebook, nor could I find it defined in the vehicles section.

    One could assume this refers (at least) to the stuff that is used up during the trip, related to the passengers. Food? Water? Toilet paper?

    One could also make the case that this refers to all non-fixed vehicle resources used during normal operation. Fuel. Coolant. etc.

    At any rate, we can match up the Fly Casual travel times with the listed starship consumables ratings and quickly discover a problem.

    Take the trip from Tatooine to Taanab. It's a long journey, across the bulk of the galaxy. The Fly Casual chart says it takes 7 and a half days for a ship with a Class 1 hyperdrive to make that journey.

    That means the following ships will be "out of consumables" before the journey ends: A-wing, X-wing, Y-wing, XG-1, TIE/d. I guess you could argue those ships have a limited range; and rightfully so. Imagine sitting in the cramped cockpit of a starfighter for over a week. Nobody wants to get to Tanaab *that* bad!

    Should the unthinkable occur, and you need to employ your backup hyperdrive instead, the list of ships who cannot handle that journey without running out of "consumables" grows much longer: Firespray, JumpMaster, Lambda shuttle, Senitnel-class shuttle, GAT-12H, Action VI, Luxury 3000, Space Master, Starwind yacht, Wayfarer-class, YT-1300, YT-2400, Imperial Customs Frigate, VT-49, Starlight-class, Nova Courier, Baudo-class, Mobquet Medium Transport,Gozanti-class, Gymsnor-3, Gymsnor-4, YT-2000.

    One could argue, here, I guess, that the emergency backup hyperdrive is not to be used for long distance hauls. Only to limp to the closest repair facility.

  2. Some canon comments.

    Originally published, by me, as a pair of comments to the Gazetteer (July 24, 2014):

    The Clone Wars, Season 4, episode 1 "Water Wars":

    Mace Windu tells Anakin, Padme, and Captain Ackbar that reinforcements (Ashoka, Kit Fisto, and a company of clone troopers) will arrive "...by the end of the day."

    Using FFG's (and WotC's before it) nebulous system for hyperspace travel times, a trip across fully half the galaxy (from Coruscant to Mon Calamari) should take between half a week to one-and-a-half weeks.

    Using the (itself questionable*) 0.6 hyperdrive rating for the Acclamator I-class vessel, found on Wookiepedia, we see that the minimum canon trip length should be 50.4 hours. This makes Mace Windu a liar!

    *It is unlikely that a troop carrying capital ship can travel through hyperspace faster than a starfighter or a light freighter, but there you have it.

    According to my Hyperspace Travel Times chart (above), this trip would take the Acclamator I-class vessel only 5.5 hours.

    I guess Mace Windu agrees with me!

  3. From a post on the subject, by me, from May 30, 2014:

    The time required to cross the entire galaxy (using a class x1 hyperdrive) is 21 hours...which translates into 42 hours for a group in a stock light frieghter (with a x2 drive). The chart also jives with a few key references in Star Wars lore, among them a quote from Vader that says
    "This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Kenobi, it will soon see the end of the Rebellion."
    Vader kills Obi Wan at the wreckage of Alderaan, then the Death Star goes through hyperspace to Yavin. My chart says that trip would about 20 hours with a x4 hyperdrive, so we're just on the edge of calling Vader's quote literally true. This also allows the Rebellion something like 17.5 hours to study the stolen Death Star plans to find the thermal exhaust port weakness.

    Another key component is the travel time from Tatooine to Alderaan, which isn't explicitly stated in the movie, but certainly seems like a few hours (not a day or more). The chart says the Falcon could make that trip in about 4 hours.

    Finally, the EU chimes in with a couple of references from the Michael Stackpole X-wing books (very appropriate to quote from these here, at this X-wing blog!). While one reference (Yag'Dhul to Thyferra) needs to be completely tossed out the window, two others are right on the money in agreement with other factors (8 hours for X-wing to go from Alderaan to Tatooine and 12 hours for an Interdictor to go from Centares to Alderaan).

  4. I don't want to copy all of these comments (also by me) from this May 7th post.