D6 Infinite Worlds
The keys to crossworld travel are the parachronic projector, which can move matter between timelines, and the parachronic conveyor, which facilitates such transport.
A “parachronic conveyor” is a vehicle for interdimensional travel. There are different styles, but all involve an enclosed hull containing a parachronic field generator, a power system, and a control system.
Parachronic Field Generator
A conveyor’s generator may have subquantum, quantum, or two-quantum range. No one has yet developed a conveyor with greater range. The generator also has a mass capacity: the maximum mass it can transport. The mass of the conveyor (including the generator) and its payload cannot safely exceed this limit. The capabilities of the generator largely determine the cost of the conveyor, which is usually very high. This isn’t all for the circuitry, much of the cost is licensing fees.
A jump requires 200 kJ of energy per ton of capacity, delivered in a single pulse. A typical pulsed power system for the field generator costs $50 and weighs 5 lbs. per kJ.
A conveyor may have one of two types of control system.
An unassisted parachronic conveyor can only jump to timelines in the same quantum. For a long-range conveyor to jump to a different quantum, it requires the assistance of a parachronic projector (see below). For a safe jump, the total mass of the conveyor and its payload cannot exceed the field generator’s capacity. A typical conveyor, after subtracting its own mass, can transport anywhere from 500 to 2,000 lbs. of occupants and cargo. A conveyor jump requires a lot of energy in a single pulse, more than a TL8 vehicular power plant can deliver. The necessary pulsed power system accounts for about half the mass of a conveyor. It can deliver enough energy for a single jump, after which it must be recharged. Most conveyors have an onboard fuel cell that can replenish the energy bank in about 30 minutes. This means the conveyor can’t return immediately after making a jump.
A conveyor needs to be programmed with the precise parachronic coordinates of both its location and its destination. If a conveyor gets lost, it’s in trouble: the crew may know where to go, but not how to get there from their current position. Finding the coordinates of a new universe is a huge research project, taking years of effort. Infinity and Centrum both have the parachronic coordinates of several hundred universes on file. In Homeline, most are publicly available, but some (for closed worlds, or those known to be controlled by Centrum) are secret. Parachronic coordinates are used in conjunction with the actual spacetime location of the conveyor to plot a “parachronic course.” A different “jump program” is required for each location in real space (e.g., Times Square, New York) and each set of parachronic coordinates (e.g., Homeline to Earth-Beta). Infinity Unlimited charges about $500 for a pre-plotted jump program, from a commercial I-Port to the equivalent location in the target universe. To create a custom jump program (e.g., to depart from your garage in Queens instead of from Times Square) takes 5 to 10 days of supercomputer time, at a cost of $1 million to $20 million. For this reason, most legitimate travelers use the I-Ports.
Just prior to departure, the conveyor’s operator must perform final jump calibrations to correct for local conditions and the conveyor’s current mass. Solar neutrino and cosmic ray density, local electrical and magnetic fields, and similar factors can all influence the jump; a good operator will compensate, taking 10 minutes. The operator can take more or less time. Finally, the operator hits the “jump” button. This activates the conveyor’s generator. (If the jump requires a projector, he hits the “ready” button instead. The conveyor jumps as soon as the projector’s field is focused on it.) The conveyor vanishes, to reappear at the same point in space in a different universe.
Although every mission is different, and conveyors have varying cargo capacities, you can count on finding the following equipment in the back of any Patrol conveyor.
A “parachronic projector” is a device that enables a quantum or two-quantum conveyor to cross quanta. It consists of an enclosed “stage” surrounded by equipment. It can be set to dispatch or retrieve a conveyor. A projector’s size depends on how much mass it can move. Van Zandt’s first projector filled a large laboratory. The largest modern projectors can move up to 300 tons at once, and occupy most of a city block. An “average” projector requires enough hardware to fill a small auditorium, and can move two tons.
A projector requires a great deal of energy to operate. This can get expensive, but for a large projector, the cost per unit of mass remains low enough to be negligible, even when moving relatively low-value items, such as grain and ore. Projectors are very costly. Infinity quotes a base price of $100 million for the simplest installation with a two-ton capacity; prices only go up from there. Thus, only governments, eccentric billionaires, and large corporations can afford their own projectors. But since the cost to transport people and goods is relatively low, projectors routinely handle a dozen transits per day.
In order for a projector to dispatch a conveyor, the conveyor must be positioned on the projector’s stage and “ready”: programmed, poweredup, etc. To retrieve a conveyor, the projector must be focused on a specific universe within two quanta. If a “ready” conveyor in the target universe occupies a point congruent with the stage, the projector snatches it back. Since “real time” interdimensional communication is impossible, retrieval operations rely on setting pickup times and alternates. For example, a cautious penetration expedition might arrange to have a projector turned on once every 24 hours. If they don’t want pickup, they won’t power up their conveyor. It is relatively straightforward to use a projector to dispatch or retrieve a quantum or two-quantum conveyor over a one-quantum distance (e.g., from Q5 to Q4 or Q6, or vice versa), provided the conveyor has an operating, calibrated field generator.
To dispatch or retrieve a two-quantum conveyor over a two-quantum distance (e.g., from Q5 to Q3 or Q7, or vice versa) is trickier. A conveyor with an operating, calibrated field generator isn’t enough, transit is only possible under special conditions, and these can only be predicted about four hours in advance. (Every hour, roll 3d. On a result of 7 or less, an hour-long window will open in four hours.) Only the computers and instruments on the projector can make this prediction; those in the conveyor have no option but to prepare for pickup and wait.
A “parachronic detector” is a device that can detect an incoming jump. To do so, it must be on the same reality as the jump, and the jump must occur within its range (see below). Roll against the operator’s Electronic Operations (Sensors) skill. Success gives a bearing. Two or more stations within range can triangulate and determine the jumper’s location to within a few percent of the actual range. The sensor also records the jump’s reality disturbance. An hour’s analysis and a successful Physics (Parachronic) roll will reveal the source of the jump; conveyor, projector or “anomalous” (e.g., a spell); and its quantum of origin. A day’s work and a roll at -5 identifies the reality of origin, if the researcher is familiar with it.
The portable unit most often carried by Infinity Patrol agents costs $560,000 and weighs 56 lbs.; it the size of a large backpack, and has a 1,000-yard range. Larger models are $1 million and 200 lbs. per mile of range. When Infinity or Centrum takes over a timeline, standard operating procedure is to deploy a network of long-range detectors. However, their expense means that few worlds have total coverage. It is generally only cost-effective to deploy them in major centers.
Operations and Accidents
When a conveyor jumps, roll against the operator’s Electronics Operation (Parachronic) skill to see how the trip went. On a projectorassisted trip, both the projector operator and the conveyor operator must roll. -3 or worse for damaged equipment. Electrical disturbances give a penalty, from -2 for severe electrical storms or solar flares to -6 for the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear blast! (“Hardening” the electronics won’t remove this modifier – this is an environmental effect, not equipment damage.) On a success, the conveyor instantly disappears from its starting universe and reappears at the same point in the destination universe. On a failure, by either the conveyor operator or the projector operator, something went wrong. Usually, the transit happens anyway, but not as planned. Roll 1d6, or 2d6 for a two-quantum jump, and add it to the operator’s margin of failure. If the conveyor and projector operators both failed, add their margins of failure. If the conveyor is overloaded, increase the total by one or more. Then look up the result on the table below.
|2||Timing Error*||Trip takes 1d6 minutes from the viewpoint of those “outside.” There is no way to tell a simple timing error from a totally lost shipment, so any delay triggers a security alert, just in case. This is why parachronic operators have ulcers.|
|3||Timing Error*||Trip takes 1d6 minutes from the viewpoint of both those in transit and those “outside.”|
|4||Timing Error*||Trip takes 4d6 minutes from the viewpoint of those “outside.”|
|5||Timing Error*||Trip takes 4d6 minutes from the viewpoint of both those in transit and those “outside.”|
|6||Positional Error†‡||Conveyor appears 1d6 feet too low, or off to one side. Minor damage to conveyor or projector, but not to passengers or cargo (unless it is very fragile).|
|7||Resonance Error†||Shipment appears and then vanishes, reappearing where it was coming from. A repeated attempt is allowed, but at -1 to skill.|
|8||Field-strength Error†||Electrical discharges do 1d6-2 burning damage to all personnel, and temporarily disable all unshielded electronic equipment. The conveyor’s field generator is disabled until it receives major repairs.|
|9||Field-strength Error†||Electrical discharges do 1d6-2 burning damage to all personnel, and temporarily disable all unshielded electronic equipment. The conveyor’s field generator is disabled until it receives major repairs.|
|10||Positional Error†‡||Conveyor appears too high. The fall inflicts 1d6 crushing damage on each passenger and to breakable cargo. The conveyor’s generator is damaged. -3 on trips until it gets minor repairs.|
|11||Severe positional Error†‡||Conveyor appears too high. The fall inflicts 2d6 crushing damage on each passenger and to breakable cargo. Tthe conveyor’s generator is disabled until it receives major repairs.|
|12||Focus Error†‡||The conveyor goes somewhere unintended. It will appear in the same place, geographically, but it could be on any of an infinite number of timelines. Roll 1d6, 1-3 means it’s on the right quantum level but in a different timeline; 4-5 means it’s on an adjacent quantum level; and 6 means it’s two quantum levels off. It will take days, weeks, or even months for the computers at Infinity (or Centrum) to deduce its location. Until then, there is no way to retrieve it. If a projector was involved, there is also a 2-in-6 chance that something will arrive on the stage from a random crosstime location. It might be air, rubble, an artifact, or a living being and it might be dangerous. In anything but an emergency, the projector will be taken offline for 1d days while researchers gather data (the hope is to build a controllable “snatcher” projector someday).|
|13||Matrix Error†||The conveyor arrives in small pieces, it is totally destroyed. Grain, ore, etc., is unaffected; other cargo is killed or destroyed. The GM may wish to “fudge” this result for PCs (treating it as 12 or 14, as desired).|
|14+||Utter Confusion†||Roll twice more and apply both results. If either of these new rolls results in 14 or more, see Fascinating Parachronic Disasters (below) instead.|
- Travel time between worlds is theoretically zero. Sometimes, for no known reason, a trip seems to take longer. Sometimes, a trip seems instantaneous to the passengers but takes time from the point of view of the people on either end.
† When one of these results comes up, roll 1d6: on a 1 or a 6, nothing happens; on 2-5, the corresponding timedelay result from the table (2 through 5) occurs as well.
‡ If this error would mean that the conveyor materializes inside a solid object, anything it displaces simply vanishes. No one has yet explained where it goes. This means that it is very foolish to stand on a projector stage or within the area corresponding to the focus of a projector. You could vanish. Worse, part of you could vanish.
<l>Fascinating Parachronic Disasters</l>
Roll 2d6 and consult the table below whenever result 14 comes up twice in succession on the previous table. Several of these results assume living cargo; reroll these if sending inanimate cargo. Some of these results appear to violate parachronic science. Many of them have not happened to Infinity yet. A hazard associated with any such event is the mob of researchers that instantly appear, to take possession of all equipment involved, and to debrief all witnesses to within an inch of their lives.
|2||Unknown||Trip takes centuries, or even millennia, from the viewpoint of the shipment. Much less time passes for the “outside” world. Survival of living beings is unlikely, they might arrive and then crumble to dust. Rather than killing off PCs, the GM is free to substitute other temporal oddities, such as aging in reverse. Finding a cure could be an interesting adventure.|
|3||Unknown||Trip takes a very long time from the passengers’ mental perspective, but no time from their physical perspective. Each passenger gains 3d6 points in assorted mental quirks and disadvantages, assigned by the GM in accordance with the passenger’s personality. (This has happened twice.)|
|4||Signal Error||Living things arrive safely, except that everyone’s mind ends up in the wrong body. This may be permanent, or it might wear off in 1d6 days.|
|5||Tau-factor Error||Shipment appears as a “mirror image” of itself. Ores are unaffected. Foodstuffs are inedible. Living passengers acquire the Restricted Diet and Unusual Biochemistry disadvantages, and require a special diet to survive. If they are far from Homeline, all Survival rolls are at -5, reduced to -2 once someone realizes (from GM clues) what has happened. (This has happened twice, and is suspected in two other cases where the crew of a lost conveyor starved in “friendly” surroundings.)|
|6||Frog Error||The shipment arrives in a rain of tiny frogs, or some other bizarre “Fortean” phenomena. (This has happened six times, and four Infinity researchers have gone mad trying to explain it.)|
|7||Bio-field Error||All nonliving material in the shipment, including the conveyor, disintegrates or is lost elsewhere. This can leave travelers embarrassed or stranded, depending on whether they were arriving at a projector stage or leaving one.|
|8||Unknown||Living beings experience brief telepathy. Each passenger acquires 20 points worth of Telepathy abilities, the GM assigns these randomly. These last 1d6 days, roll separately for each person. (This has happened twice that Infinity knows of.)|
|9||Unknown||The shipment appears twice, 1d6 minutes apart. (This has happened once; fortunately, it was an uncrewed conveyor. The second conveyor displaced the first one when it was partially unloaded. Was the duplicate some sort of “mirror” effect, or was it from another timeline? It is unknown what would have happened had there been passengers. Would they have been duplicated?)|
|10||Unknown||The shipment or conveyor is switched with a very similar shipment or conveyor belonging to Centrum (or to Homeline, if the mission was Centrum’s).|
|11||Unknown||The shipment or conveyor is switched with a very similar shipment or conveyor belonging to some other, as yet unsuspected, race of crossworld travelers.|
|12||Unknown||The shipment or conveyor is switched with a shipment or conveyor belonging to some completely alien dimension-traveling culture. Mass is unchanged, but nothing else need be the same.|
Failed jumps, accidents, sabotage, and attacks can all damage a conveyor. Depending on its hull, a conveyor might be as flimsy as tinfoil or as robust as a tank, but should any damage penetrate its DR, assume that there is a 1-in-6 chance of significant damage to its delicate parachronic hardware. The dramatic effect of damage is more important than the specifics. As a rule of thumb, it usually reduces the conveyor’s capabilities: the conveyor still functions, but at -3 or worse to all Electronics Operation (Parachronic) rolls. Severe damage (GM’s decision) may cripple the conveyor completely. Until repairs are made, it cannot make a subquantum jump itself, nor can a projector retrieve it. In effect, it is “stranded.”
A conveyor can become entirely lost, that is, fail to arrive where it was expected, for a variety of reasons. These boil down to “operator error” and “bad luck.” If someone on Homeline was retrieving the conveyor with a projector, or expecting it to return under its own power, its loss will be noticed immediately. If the conveyor was outbound from Homeline, the time before its loss is noticed depends on the shipment. Loss of a regular supply run to a major base will be reported as soon as possible, by sending a message capsule to the other end. However, it might take days or weeks to notice the loss of an exploration mission
The sooner a conveyor’s loss is noticed, the better the chances of recovery. The Infinity Unlimited computers can get to work on the problem, taking into account every known variable, down to the exact mass and capacitance of the conveyor. Sometimes, they can predict where it might have appeared. If they’re lucky, this is a charted, habitable timeline. But sometimes it isn’t. Occasionally, the computers predict an uncharted location. In fact, this is how several new timelines were discovered. Even so, being randomly dumped onto a brand-new timeline, while it makes a great adventure, is a trip most travelers would rather avoid.