Elite Dangerous Lore : Hyperspace

Posted by on Jan 8, 2017 in Lore

This is one of a series of guides to the Elite Dangerous Universe. You can read the others here. Hyperspace. Precisely how it works is something of a mystery, certainly by the time of Elite: Dangerous it appears to be part of the dual function ‘Frame Shift Drive’, operating in a mode which allows you to travel the, literally, astronomical distances between stars in just a few seconds. But it wasn’t always thus in the Elite Dangerous universe. Hyperspace was discovered in the 2200s. But it wasn’t until the 2800s that consumer ships began to take advantage of the technology in large numbers. Over the centuries hyperspace technology has been refined. Circa 2800 AD – Faraway Jump (Hyperspace Type 0) The original hyperspace systems that were made commercially available were known as the ‘Faraway’ Jump systems. It took centuries for the complex series of monitoring satellites, branch lines, stop points, and rescue stations to be built using sublight technology along the major routes. Ultimately these hosted hundreds of channels, ‘lines’ for ships to travel through. The ‘Faraway’ jump system was noted for its complexity in operation, requiring extensive pre-jump configuration by station based “Faraway Orientation Systems Controllers” (FOSC or SysCon). Hyperspacing ships required external help to initiate the jump. They were known for a certain sensitivity in operation, with the dangers of a misconfigured jump being listed as ‘atomic re-organisation’ and ‘time displacement’. Unsupervised jumps were extremely dangerous. It was around this time that the phrase ‘witch-space’ entered the Commander’s lexicon. Its precise origin is uncertain, but it seems to stem from the risk inherent in the early hyperspace technology. Witch-space referred to the ‘corridor’ or ‘transit tube’ through which the hyperspacing ship travelled during the jump. Many traders of the time believed that witch-space was ‘haunted’ – by “the ghosts of the early ships that went in to Faraway, and didn’t come out again.” Certainly a large number of ships never arrived at their destinations, their fate unknown even today. It is worth noting that Thargoid vessels were known to be able to ‘hover’ in witch-space, and ambush vessels in transit. Mis-jumps, due to poor calculations, were a constant worry for travelers in those times. The system did have the advantage of a rapid transit time, the entire process taking mere seconds once the jump was successfully initiated. It was finally retired in 3122 and the complex support infrastructure was entirely decommissioned by 3125. 3125 AD – Quirium (Hyperspace Type 1) By the time of the original game hyperspace travel was ubiquitous, though the equipment was bulky and smaller ships were unable to host it, having to be carried through the jump by more capable ships. The ‘Faraway’ system had been retired in favour of autonomous mechanisms that could be triggered aboard ship with no external assistance. At the time, hyperspace jumps were limited to 7 lightyears in...

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Elite Dangerous Lore: The Thargoids

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017 in Lore, Progress Report

This is one of a series of guides to the Elite Dangerous Universe. You can read the others here. The Thargoids need little introduction to those well versed in Elite lore, but not all players of Elite: Dangerous may be au fait with their complete background. What I have attempted to do below is summarise information on the Thargoids and set it in context within the known game Lore (Elite, FE2, FFE and ED). There is a lot of fan produced content on the Thargoids, and I have deliberately not referred to it here. What is below is, as far as I’m aware, established canon. I reserve the right to edit this if I’ve missed something, or new information emerges. Summary 2850 – Unconfirmed suggestions that some kind of covert war was started with Thargoids, ostensibly by a trigger-happy Fleet Commander. 3125 – Thargoids alleged to be ‘ripping’ ships out of witchspace and destroying them. Thargoid ‘warzones’ widespread 3200 – Thargoids reportedly retreat from human occupied space for reasons unknown 3255 – Reason for Thargoid retreat was reported to be down to human-engineered ‘Mycoid’ virus which impacted their hyperdrive capability 3302 – Reports of curious wrecks of unknown vessels. 3303 – 8 sided alien ships rip CMDRs out of witchspace (hyperspace high wake) First Appearance, the year is 3125. In the original game of 1984 the Thargoids appeared to be the classic villains of the piece, the indefatigable evil of the spaceways, plucking ships out of witchspace and despatching them far from the safe zones of human habitation. The year is 3125. The Thargoids make their first appearance in the original game manual, and are referenced as “Thargoid Invaders”. Later on we are informed that their “Captains have had their fear glands removed.” and are thus fearsome combateers. An encounter in the original game was fast and brutal. You were lucky if you survived the experience. Thargoids ships were fast, heavily armed and deployed remote controlled ‘Thargons’ to supplement their fire power. There were, reportedly, 50 war zones between humanity and this “insectoid” race. They were also believed to be able to “hover” in witch-space, ambushing human spacecraft whilst using their hyperdrives to travel between systems. It was speculated that they existed as a “group mind”. Thargoid spacecraft were large, swift and powerful with multi-axis symmetry. They had no obvious drive outlets as still required on human vessels, leading to speculation that Thargoids had mastered inertialess drive technology, otherwise known as the ‘spacedrive’. It appears that Thargoid technology was significantly more advanced than ours. In-game, Thargoids tended to ambush human players during hyperspace transits, pulling them out of witch-space and attempting to destroy you with no preamble. They attacked on sight. Throughout the original game it was claimed we were “at war” with the Thargoids. Incidentally, it is alleged that ECM technology was reverse engineered from captured Thargoid ships and many other...

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Elite Dangerous Lore: Raxxla

Posted by on Jan 3, 2016 in Lore

This is one of a series of guides to the Elite Dangerous Universe. You can read the others here. Raxxla is, perhaps, the biggest mystery of the Elite Dangerous universe. Despite that, it is also the most obscure. There is virtually no information about it whatsoever. The only lore reference to Raxxla is contained in the original Elite novella ‘The Dark Wheel’ by the late great Robert Holdstock. Here it is. Rafe chuckled and shook his head. ‘You see, that’s the big question. Your father was chasing the mythical planet Raxxla. Does it exist, or does it not? If it does, then on Raxxla there’s an alien construct that’s a gateway to other Universes, and all that’s in those Universes in the way of bounty, and treasures, and aliens, and life . . . ‘Jason Ryder was convinced that Raxxla existed. That’s why he trained for, and became a part of, the Dark Wheel, the legend-seekers. I hadn’t heard much from him or about him for some time until just before he died, when he told me he’d found evidence for the real existence of Raxxla. He came back from Deep Space to get a proper team together . . . ‘ Rafe smiled bitterly. ‘But just before he was due to go back, he decided to take a safe-worlds holiday jaunt with his son . . . and an assassin was waiting for him.’ ‘But why?’ Alex asked. ‘Why kill him for finding Raxxla?’ ‘Because there are people on Raxxla already. This is only a guess, mind you, but from what happened to Jason I’d say it was close to being right. We’ve long suspected that a corps of élites lives there, and are exploiting the gateway. They’re powerful, twisted men. Powerful enough to hire an assassin to kill the threat to their dominance.’ Alas, the Dark Wheel is not considered ‘canon’ for Elite Dangerous so we cannot rely on this description of Raxxla, though my suspicion is that it remains fairly accurate. A few missions from the “Dark Wheel” faction in Shinrarta Dezhra have been noted for referring to “The great mystery”. Thus far they have been simple cargo drops and it is not clear whether this ‘Dark Wheel’ is related to the original ‘Dark Wheel.’ There are two bits other bits of information that came from outside the game: Michael Brookes said “There will be no clues.” David Braben said “It’s out there and we (FD) know where it is.”  ...

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Elite Dangerous Lore: The Dark Wheel

Posted by on Jan 2, 2016 in Lore

This is one of a series of guides to the Elite Dangerous Universe. You can read the others here. The Dark Wheel is another legend of Elite Dangerous that stretches back to the dim and distant past, perhaps second only to the legendary planet Raxxla in its elusiveness. It was once described thus: “… a semi-legendary space unit, star-riders who made it their business to seek the truth behind the plethora of myths and romantic stories that filtered back from all corners of the Universe: fabulous cities, parallel worlds, time travellers, even planets that appeared to be the old ‘heaven’ of Earth legend. The Dark Wheel was as mysterious and as mythical to the traders of the Galaxy as King Arthur might have been to the first spacemen.” The Dark Wheel was closely associated with Raxxla, and the indications were that this group of individuals were actively seeking it out and had, by some accounts, found it. The Dark Wheel was known to be recruiting pilots of exceptional ability and who also had a desire for exploration. Certainly they maintained a cloak of anonymity. The only canon individual known to have actually been a member of the Dark Wheel was an Elite combateer by the name of Jason Ryder. Whatever knowledge he had about their operations (and indeed the location of Raxxla itself) was lost when he was assassinated some time prior to 3125. His son, Alex Ryder, later despatched the assassin in a pitched battle over a planet called ‘Cirag’, though with revisions to system naming over the last two hundred years, the exact location of the altercation is uncertain. The Dark Wheel dropped out of mind in the intervening years, the conclusion being that perhaps their membership had aged and they had become defunct over the centuries. Other reports, as detailed in the story of “And here the wheel” by John Harper, indicate that the Dark Wheel never managed to locate Raxxla, but instead did locate a mysterious planet called ‘Soontill’ which was reputedly a “world full of Thargoid treasures beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.” The Dark Wheel was by this point headed by a member of the Ryder family, Alex himself having two sons: Neptune and Oberon. These brothers were divided over whether or not to pursue Soontill or Raxxla. By 3300 much of this had faded into the depths of history, but a minor faction calling itself ‘The Dark Wheel’ emerged in the ‘Shinrarta Dezhra’ system (also known as the ‘Founders World’) around about this time, offering some specialised missions. The system itself is permit locked by the Pilots Federation, requiring Commanders to reach an Elite ranking before being able to access it. Whether this new ‘Dark Wheel’ (at least partly operating in the open) is the same ‘Dark Wheel’ of ancient lore, a remnant of it, or a totally new organisation simply trading on the mystique of...

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Elite Dangerous Lore : Generation Ships

Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 in Lore

This is one of a series of guides to the Elite Dangerous Universe. You can read the others here. The story of the Generation ships is the story of adventurers that first went out into the void in far more primitive vessels than those enjoyed by Elite Dangerous players in the 34th century. In the history of Elite Dangerous (which runs from the present day to the in-game year of 3302), the centuries between 2200 and 2700 have been labelled as a ‘golden age’ of exploration. Technology was primitive by the standards of the 34th century, with no FTL comms, no hyperspace, primitive weapons and harsh living conditions. The article then makes reference to one major component of Elite Dangerous Lore… the mythical generation ships. So what is a Generation ship? It’s a pretty well established SF trope. Have a look at the wikipedia entry and report back, Commander! Many thousands of generation ships left Earth from the 21st century (the first leaving in 2097), but it seems the process of launching them on their way was not well regulated. Many were not as well prepared as they should have been. In those days when faster-than-light communication didn’t exist, many of these potential settlers faced terrible risks alone, travelling thousands of light years into the void, not unlike the wagon trains that set out across continental US in the 18th and 19th centuries before them. Records indicate that up to 70,000 such ships were launched. Some were successful at founding new worlds. Most were not. Some, reportedly, even managed to return with tales of their adventures. Many were lost in deep space, the dead hulk of their ship carrying on an almost endless trajectory ever deeper into space. Others managed to land and survived for many decades before being overtaken by some local disaster. Some may still be alive, just restricted to low power light speed communications, or no comms at all, as their equipment has failed over the centuries in between. We say they have disappeared without trace, but just maybe some will find some traces of them that are still out there. Some are into their 30th generation. Those that are still enroute are travelling in ‘normal’ space, at relativistic velocities. Collectively these travellers are known as ‘the missing.’ Interestingly enough, if you ‘do the math’, you’ll discover that due to the relativistic speeds, time aboard the Generation ships will have been compressed for the occupants. A further observation results in the conclusion that many of the ships should be reaching their destinations around about now if you assume they were targeted at stars within 100 lightyears (which seems plausible for 21st-24th century technology). The maximum distance they could realistically travel would be around a 1,000 lightyears (probably much less), so both the ships and the civilisation that emerged, if any did make it, should be easily reachable by today’s explorers. Much more...

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