So, I cannot decide which FTL method should I use. I can do it easy way - just call it "Jump" and that's all. But I something more. So I want to combine some methods, like jumps with stargates or hyperlanes. Or combining all of them.

How can I have several FTL methods in the same story without conflict?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to World Building SE. Please visit our tour and if you don't understand something visit our help center. Your question was primarily opinion based so I edited it on my best effort. $\endgroup$ – Ender Look Jul 22 '18 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, Ender! Now text look really better... $\endgroup$ – Egidajus Jul 22 '18 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ Stargate (the TV series) had many FTL travel methods in the show and just go away with it. If FTL travel is a tool and not a plot point in your story, you can use as many handwavium as you want and not overthinking it. $\endgroup$ – kikirex Jul 22 '18 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ Star Trek had Warp, TransWarp, and after the borg encounters, hyper jump points $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Jul 22 '18 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ Different civilations solve FTL differently based on their approach to science. For the rest use the answer @EnderLook gave. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Jul 23 '18 at 5:09

It's quite simple, there are several ways to archive the same thing.

For example, we can already travel on Earth using bicycles, motorcycles, cars, aeroplanes or boats, some of them faster than others.

Some FTL are faster than other FTL but civilizations doesn't want to share their technology.

Maybe each one has a diferent advantage and disvantage. For example:

  • Warp drive: doesn't need to precalculate coordinates before launch, but it isn't very quick and also it's weak to gravitational anomalies like planets or starts (isn't safely use it inside gravity wells). Also, it can be detected.
  • Jump drive: it needs vastly precalculations before launch and only works on specific and strategy Lagrangian points in the solar system. But due be used in so specific places of the gravity well from the start, it can use this gravity as a catapult and travel long distances extremely fast without being detected. Sadly it needs a prior scanning in the solar system.
  • Hyperdrive: faster than warp drive and more difficult to detect, the hyperdrive could be a good travelling system if it doesn't have the disadvantage of can be deactivated by hyperspace inhibitors.
  • Hyperline: using a similar principle to hyperdrives, this drive doesn't work anywhere instead, it uses the hyperline maps between a different solar system like highways to archive very fast travelling. Some hyperlines between systems are faster and safer than other ones. Some systems doesn't have natural hyperlines and they must be build with a very expensive technology. Also, you must to explore the galaxy in order to find them.
  • Stargate: creating an artificial wormhole can be an extremely quick travelling way. Sadly each stargate has a specific size and bigger ships can't travel on it. Also, stargates can be captured or destroyed by the enemy, and build one require a lot of calculations.

Also, you can add cooldowns or warmup times for each drive based on a flat number or proportional to the travelled distance, the speed and/or duration at your choice.

Each method works using a different principle.

Warp drive (Alcubierre drive)

The sci-fi warp drive or the currently theorized Alcubierre drive use the principle of space-time distortion (primarily based on a gravitational distortions) enter image description here

Wikipedia has already explained it perfectly.

Rather than exceeding the speed of light within a local reference frame, a spacecraft would traverse distances by contracting space in front of it and expanding space behind it, resulting in effective faster-than-light travel. Objects cannot accelerate to the speed of light within normal spacetime; instead, the Alcubierre drive shifts space around an object so that the object would arrive at its destination faster than light would in normal space without breaking any physical laws.


The hyperdrive travel to another planer when the is not cap of speed or the plane is smaller than our universe allowing travel from one place to another using a shortcut.

The idea of a hyperdrive in most science fiction relies on the existence of a separate and adjacent dimension most commonly called "hyperspace" [...]. When activated, the hyperdrive shunts the starship into what appears to be another dimension, where it can cover vast distances in an amount of time greatly reduced from the time it would take in "real" space. Once it reaches the point in hyperspace that corresponds to its destination in real space, it re-emerges.

It's usually explained as:

Distances in hyperspace may be smaller than or geometrically inverse in relation to real space; it may provide a shortcut between two points in real space, thus effectively increasing the ship's speed by reducing distance travelled rather than time taken; perhaps the speed of light in hyperspace is not a speed barrier as it is in real space

And the hyperspace could be described as:

It is typically described as an alternative "sub-region" of space co-existing with our own universe [...]. [It] is most succinctly described as a "somewhere else" within which the laws of general and special relativity decidedly do not apply [...]. [...]


Instead of using the hyperdrive anywhere, it only works between specific "hyperlines" between gravity wells (solar systems). In order to travel you need to have one hyperline map that shows you the faster and safer hyperlines for your travel. Hypelines can be built artificially in solar systems without lines with the most expensive technologies.


I couldn't find an easy explanation on Wikipedia so I'll write my own.
The jumpdrive produces a distortion between two different points in the space-time effectively "touching" them, the destiny and the start point are merged for an instant being the same location at the same time. Then, the ship moves through this joint and reaches its destination.

Jumpgate (Stargate)

A jumpgate or stargate, is a device able to create an Einstein–Rosen bridge portal (AKA wormhole), allowing fast travel between two points in space-


Old Tech, New Tech

Give the various drives different characteristics, with the net effect that new drives are superior to old drives except that the old drives are somehow easier to invent/build/operate.

  • A first-gen FTL drive requires the ship to travel to a jump point in deep space far from any gravity well. There something happens and the ship goes into hyperspace. Before the hyperjump, the crew must go into artificial hibernation to avoid weird side effects. The ship moves on a straight line to the emergence point in another system, where it emerges some time later.
  • A second-gen FTL drive requires the ship to leave the atmosphere. Something happens and the ship goes into hyperspace. Still artificial hibernation. The ship moves on a precalculated line towards the other system, where it emerges some time later.
  • A third-gen FTL drive also requires the ship to leave the atmosphere. Something happens and the ship goes into warp. No hibernation. The ship can still maneuver and sensors can observe realspace.

Step by step, restrictions are taken away. Someone who can build a third-gen drive would have no reason to use a first-gen drive instead. Possibly all the options are implied from an unified FTL theory, yet early tech cannot handle the precision manufacturing or energy requirements.

Variant: I Have a Secret

Some nation or species has better engine types. One would have to explain why nobody bribed one of their engineers or salvaged one of their wrecks, or why reverse-engineering is impractical. (A reliance on bio-tech beats steel in this application?)

A Niche for each Drive

As a slight variant on the above, different technologies have useful characteristics.

  • Jumpgates are the most efficient way of FTL travel. Those gates might be paired or they can dial up different destinations, either way a freighter going through gates has a much higher payload than a freighter with a different drive.
  • Hyperdrives are slower and/or larger than fitting a ship for jumpgate travel. (Perhaps the jumpgate needs to shipboard component at all.) They can be activated anywhere in space, but they require exact measurements of the "local hyperspace conditions" at the origin and destination.
  • Warpdrives are yet slower and/or larger, but they do not require precalculated flightpaths.

So scouts and many warships use warp drive, the remaining warships, special gate transport freighters, and small tramp freighters use hyperdrive, and freight and passenger liners use jump.


How can airplanes and cars exist in our universe? Each serves a different purpose. A car works great with short distances, but can't handle intercontinental travel at all.

Perhaps your different FTL methods work similarly.

If I want to travel to the other side of the galaxy a hyperlane may be too "slow". I would need to make a hyperjump. But why can't I just jump all the time? Perhaps the fuel costs are extreme, or the ship equipment is far too expensive. Perhaps jumps can only be made in certain places, and I have to take a hyperlane to get to the jumping point.

Alternatively, maybe I don't have my own ship at all and I am dependent on public FTL transport. Nobody is doing hyperjumps in my area of the galaxy, so I have to take non-FTL shuttle to the moon, a public hyperlane out of the solar system, get a seat on a hyperjump-equipped ship, and then charter a smaller vessel to take the hyperlane to my destination.

If you can think of more different FTL methods, then you can add them into the above "itinerary". The key thing is to consider the pluses and minuses of the various methods. Different methods work better under different circumstances, and the economic advantages of one over another are important to consider. You could even work that into your story: are the underclasses stuck with hyperlanes while the wealthy are zipping around in their private hyper-jumper ships?

  • $\begingroup$ So can hyperspace travel exist with warp drive in one universe? $\endgroup$ – Egidajus Jul 22 '18 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Egidajus - Of course, depending on how hard your science is. Stargate had both wormhole gates and FTL ships. Star Trek had warp drive, the experimental tachyon wave, and that one species that had a spatial folding that was different (more advanced and efficient) than warp drive. $\endgroup$ – Xavon_Wrentaile Jul 22 '18 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ That's so much answers I just needed. So one of the question will be: what's the difference between hyperdrive and hyperlanes? $\endgroup$ – Egidajus Jul 23 '18 at 7:25

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