Appendix Five: Glossary

Aero-breaking:  Using a planet’s atmosphere to slow a speeding ship, converting kinetic energy into heat.  Because of available engine power, the maneuver is uncommon in modern space flight but is still practiced by corsairs and pirates as a means of approaching chase ships undetected.


AOC:  Administrative Oversight Committee.  Body that sets spending policies for various Federation agencies.  Its one-hundred members are chosen from the ranks of the Trade Council.  See also “Trade Council.”


Anagathics:  Drugs that arrest cellular decay and greatly extend lifespan.  Dosages must be continuously increased and eventually become toxic.  Capable of extending human life spans by 200 to 300 years.


Angel:  Spacer term: A new horizontal axis heading, based on a ship’s current heading.  To “Angle-Up” means to rotate starboard; “Angle-Down” indicates a rotation port.


Anti-Matter:  Sometimes referred to as A/M, the most advanced energy source available to human science.  It produces energy through the controlled annihilation of positively and negatively charmed atoms with 100% matter to energy conversion efficiency.  Found exclusively on ground-based instillations and exceptionally large space stations since portable magnetic bottles are unreliable and the equipment needed to produce anti-matter is enormous.


Archology:  A self-enclosed city found on the inner core worlds which have been heavily polluted and suffer from over-crowding.  These are the residential centers of the upper classes, most housing between 5 and 10 million people.  The London Archology on Earth is the largest with over 20 million permanent residents.  Official figures for these cities are typically one-fifth their actual population (listed here) as service personnel are not included.


Atmospheric:  In naval architecture, this refers to a vessel’s ability to operate within planetary atmospheres.  A non-atmospheric vessel is fully unable to enter dense atmospheres, semi-atmospheric vessels can slowly ascend or descend, landing on thrusters, but atmospheric flight is not possible.  Atmospheric craft can enter, land, and maneuver in these environments.


Barque:  Civilian ship ranging from 2,500 to 4,999 tonnes.


Battle Armor:  A heavy combat model vacsuit, see “Vacsuit.”


Battleship:  The largest type of armed vessel.  The only ship class bearing this designation is the Lockhard astronautics BB-1000 Nike.  Sometimes called a “Battle Cruiser.”


Bilge:  Riftism, a lie or something nonsensical.


Black Account:  Since all monetary transactions in Federation space are electronic and biometrically keyed to authorized users (and thus traceable) it is necessary for Black, or unregistered accounts, to exist where transactions can be made with appreciable confidentiality.  They are typically capped as to how much they may contain at one time and often come with limitations regarding where, how and with whom they may be used.

Black accounts often find their way into criminal hands through subterfuge or, since executives and companies constantly plot against one another, as payment for services rendered.  The accounts themselves can sometimes be worth millions of monits in their own right depending on restrictions.


Blood Wet:  By corsair tradition, a pup mariner is ritually beaten by their shipmates after seeing their first action, marking the transition to full mariner status: the last time they will allow themselves to be struck without retaliation.  Those passing the rite are said to be Blood Wet.


Boarding Gun:  A short-barreled shotgun favored by pirate and corsair raiders.  Typically 8 to 12-gage, drum-fed automatics, they are usually oversized and fired with thumb triggers to be easily wielded in battle armor.


Boarding Master:  The commander of a corsair ship’s raiding parties.


Boat:  A spacecraft without a stardrive or a launch craft with or without one.


Boat Master:  The flight operations officer on a corsair vessel, responsible for overseeing the maintenance and operation of the ship’s launch craft.  Larger vessels typically have a Boat Chief that heads the department but in use, “Boat Master” always refers to the person on duty.


Body Pistol:  A small handgun designed to avoid most weapon detectors, typically made from plastic and launching ceramic projectiles at subsonic speeds through the use of compressed gas.


Boom:  A narrow hull section that connects a ship’s command and drive compartments on twin-hull vessel designs.  This arrangement is a popular method for limiting a crew’s exposure to hard radiation by adding distance from the reactor and drives.


Bosun:  Refers to the sail master’s senior lieutenant on a corsair vessel, traditionally in charge of the ship’s machine shop and fabrication.  As repairs are often affected on the move, the ship’s bosun is responsible for making sure the vessel is stocked with sufficient materials to construct whatever replacement parts may be needed.


Bot:  An autonomous, free-moving robot.


Brig:  (1) A civilian craft from 1,000 to 2,499 tonnes.  (2) A shipboard detention area.


Brown Dwarf:  A failed star, possessing less than 0.1 solar masses.  Brown dwarfs fuse deuterium (and sometimes lithium) but lack the gravity to fuse hydrogen.  They resemble large jovian worlds that are fully convective and chemically uniform.


Captain:  In the Federation military, captain is the 6th officer rank of the navy and 3rd of the marines and enforcers.  The title of captain also refers to the commanding officer of a ship, regardless of rank.

In the Riftward Marches, captain always refers to the commander of an armed vessel; other ship commanders are “skippers” with regard to civilian craft and “lieutenants” when referring to support craft within a corsair wing.  Captains in the Rift come in two varieties:  Corsair Captains are elected by their crews and can be removed by them.  Pirate Captains own their vessels (sometimes in conjunction with other senior officers) and hire their crews.


Caravel:  Civilian craft ranging from 25,000 to 49,999 tonnes.


Careen:  To dock for repairs.


Carrack:  Civilian craft ranging from 10,000 to 24,999 tonnes.


Carrier:  A capital warship designed primarily as transport for fighter drones and gunboats.  Most displace between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes.  Some of the larger factions from the Fringeward Expanse have been known to fly improvised carriers using manned fighter craft.


Cattle Raid:  Corsair term, attacking a ship with the intent to take possession of the vessel itself; to “cattle-up” means to add new vessels by capture.  Captured ships might be sold whole or for parts; military craft are sometimes targeted as a means of upgrading a wing’s firepower.


Centrifuge:  A rotating compartment on a ship or space station used to simulate gravity via centrifugal force.  They are kept stable by a second, counter-rotating centrifuge, or by a flywheel of equivalent mass.


Chandler Dock:  A cage-like dockyard consisting of a large metal framework equipped with its own power source, lighting, pressure bunkers, moving cranes, robotic arms, mooring lines and so forth.  Often found at repair yards and supply depots for dealing with large ships not designed for surface landing.


Chart:  Riftism, to comprehend something.  To “Chart the course” means to unravel a mystery or make a wise decision.  To “Chart and sail by” means to accept and live with something.


Chart Master:  Chief navigator on a corsair vessel, usually next in the chain of command after the ship master.


Chase:  Riftism, a ship preyed upon by pirate vessels.


Class (Ship):  Denotes a ship’s hyperdrive speed.  See Appendix Three:  Hyperspace Travel.


Claymore:  A scotch-whiskey derivative produced in the Rift, primarily on Nova Antigua.


Clipper:  Civilian craft ranging from 500 to 999 tonnes.


Cloak:  Powerful ECM equipment can render a space-born object invisible to sensor recognition.  This is achieved through the use of a specialized shield called a Backlighter which reflects a vessel’s radiant heat signature back toward the craft.  This tends to build up heat inside the vessel and can only be maintained for a few hours before reaching dangerous temperatures.  A ship will eventually need to vent this heat which is tantamount to setting of a flare beacon, easily noticed from dozens of leagues away.

If the cloaked vessel is only concerned about detection from a single direction, they may create an opening in the field to radiate heat.  If only hiding from a single, known vantage point the surface area can be reduced considerably, allowing greater efficiency and the ability to remain cloaked almost indefinitely, even allowing for small levels of acceleration, usually limited to 0.01 to 0.1 G.

A cloaked vessel is otherwise unable to use its maneuver drives, weapons, or defensive screens while the backlight field is active and must keep its reactor at minimal power.  Its own sensor equipment is greatly restricted as well, with only passive sensor capability, reduced to about 20% normal range and efficiency.


Cog:  Riftism, derogatory term for a willing servant of the ruling class, especially FDF forces.


Collapsium:  An ultra-dense material (~ 1019 kg/m³) that resembles matter found in the singularity of a black hole, possessing an event horizon where its escape velocity exceeds the speed of light.  For this reason any matter coming into contact with Collapsium will be converted and added to its mass.


Com:  A communications device or channel.


Commander:  The fifth officer rank in the FDF navy.  In corsair wings, “commander” is a collective term for captains, quartermasters, and station masters.  The term “officer” has negative class connotations in the Rift and is never used.


Corsair:  An individual or vessel belonging to a democratic pirate organization from the Riftward Marches.  Used interchangeably with “pirate” by most non-Rifters.  Among the corsairs themselves, the term always refers to their ships.  Traditionally they call one another pirate, but insist upon outsiders using corsair when referring to or addressing them.


Corvette:  A small warship, ranging from 1,000 to 4,999 tonnes.


Core Worlds, The:  The chartered star systems of the Free Trade Federation.


Cruiser:  A capital warship ranging from 100,000 to 299,999 tonnes.


Cube:  Cubic meter(s), remaining unchanged in the plural.  See Appendix Two: Metric Standards.


Curacao Dozen:  Eleven; comes from the notorious reputation of Curacao’s merchants.


D-Chip:  A data storage device roughly the size of a 2cm coin.  Commonly available in 1, 3 and 5 terabyte capacities, they are durable and highly resistant to electromagnetic energy.


Deadlights:  (1) Armored shutters used to protect windows on a ship.  (2) Riftism, sunglasses.


Delta V:  This represents change in velocity in units of speed (usually in meter or kilometer seconds) measuring the propellant needed to execute a given maneuver.  This is the standard method of measuring a ship’s propellant stores, meaning the speed at which a ship would be moving if it traveled at maximum acceleration until its current supply is exhausted.


Department of Justice:  The police arm of the FDF.  Members are called Enforcers.


Destroyer:  A light warship ranging from 5,000 to 9,999 tonnes.


Dissipater Field:  A defensive energy field comprised of reflective particles immersed in a magnetic field, used to counter the effects of energy weapons.  D-Fields are “hull-huggers,” meaning they are formed approximately 1 meter off the ship’s outer hull (with a thickness ranging from 0.5 m to 3.0 m) and conform to its shape.  Ships with active D-fields are recognizable by a dim red glow surrounding the craft.

Particle density can be manipulated in order to reinforce the shield in the direction of attack or allow “ports” for the ship’s own weapons or launch craft to pass through.  A ship mounted D-Field can charge quickly from capacitors, in about 1 minute per 10,000 tonnes of ship mass.  Ground based, “suspended” versions, require numerous generators and 1 minute per 10 Cb of field volume.


Dodgy long-threads:  Long coats, often tailed, highly embroidered and festooned with buttons, rope, epilates and assorted embellishment.  Traditionally worn with a corsair’s corners when arriving planetside or carousing in a friendly port.  Particularly ornate examples are sometimes reserved for councils and formal occasions.


Dragon:  Spacer term, a black hole.  These come in two known varieties:  Class one, or stellar black holes, are ultra massive stars that have exploded and then collapsed to a point where their escape velocity exceeds the speed of light.  Class two, galactic black holes, are found at the center of galaxies from their formation, typically accounting for 0.5% of the galaxy’s total mass.  Theoretical class three (ultra-massive or pre-universal) black holes are believed to exist, eventually giving rise to new universes.  See also “White Hole.”


Drop Silk:  Thread made from a synthetic polymerized protein, named for the spider silk that inspired its creation.  It possesses roughly 10 times the tensile strength of steel and is highly elastic, breaking at 5 times its normal length.  Drop silk (or D-Silk) is commonly used in vacsuits, body armor, and composite vehicle armor.  See also “Duralloy” and “Vacsuit.”


Duralloy:  Primarily alloy used in starship construction because of its low weight, high tensile strength, fantastic thermal tolerance and electric neutrality.


Atomic Mass: 15.72     Density: 2.44 g/cm3     Molar Volume: 5.70 cm3

Heat of Fusion: 210 kj/mol     Heat of Vaporization: 1517 kj/mol


Duralloy Composite Vacuum Armor (like that employed by the Iceni Queen) is made up of two duralloy plates (2.5cm thickness each) surrounding two layers of high-grade ballistic drop silk, surrounding a carbon nanotube mesh.  Each layer of armor is separated from the next (or the inner hull) by 5mm of open space kept in vacuum.  This vacuum-filled gap allows energy penetrating the armor to spread out and dissipate before affecting the next surface.


ECM:  Electronic Counter Measures: denotes a system’s ability to interfere with enemy electronics and ship systems.


ECCM:  Electronic Counter-Counter Measures: denotes a system’s resistance to hostile ECM.


EMP:  Electro-Magnetic Pulse: Generated by a massive explosion, usually nuclear, or an intensely fluctuating magnetic field.  Space based EMP weapons utilize traditional chemical explosives and an armature to produce power surges that neutralize electrical equipment in their target area.  Nuclear EMPs require the presence of an atmosphere and magnetic field.


ESL:  Earth Sea Level: Standard unit for measuring atmospheric pressure.


Esperanto:  A constructed language that appeared in the late 19th century of the Old Era, it is spoken as a first language throughout the Riftward Marches.


Ethnic:  Term for early strain ethnic groups, meaning “of distinctive ethnic extraction” as opposed to the largely homogenized general population.  Roughly 20% of the total population falls into this category, through it is to great extent a matter of degree.


Exchange Courier:  A special delivery service vessel, designed to transverse large amounts of space quickly to disseminate information.  Because they use an incredibly powerful hyperdrive, they are without any form of sublight propulsion, relying on a network of tenders and relay stations to assist them.


Exclusion Zone:  An area of urban sprawl in the core worlds set aside for a restricted group of people, usually based on ethnicity, criminal record, or political affiliation.


F10 Council:  The uppermost tear of the Trade Council, represented by the CEO’s of the Federation 10, the ten most profitable corporations, recalculated every ten years.


FASC:  Federation Armed Services Committee, the administrative board that sets policy and makes spending decisions for the Federation Defense Force.


FDF:  Federation Defense Force, armed wing of the Free Trade Federation comprising police, army, and naval forces.


Fighter:  A small one or two man armed boat used for close combat in space.  Maneuverable enough to avoid most point defense guns and difficult to target with primary weapons, they typically engage within a few kilometers of their targets.

Since inertial dampening technology is increasingly more effective with smaller craft, and the fact that fighters tend to be mostly engine, they are considerably faster and more agile than their larger counterparts in battle.  Fighters had long been employed by the Federation Navy as in-system pursuit vessels and for anti-piracy operations, but have been phased-out in favor of unmanned drones.  Drones require no life-support, minimal inertial containment, and most importantly, no expensive pilots.

            Ironically, this has led to a renaissance in their use, this time by the very pirates and rebels they had been designed to fight.  Surplus fighters became cheap and large numbers of experienced pilots found themselves without work, making their way to the Riftward Marches and Fringeward Expanse.  Though it been the Federation’s intention to keep these individuals on as remote drone operators and gunship pilots, fighter pilot culture reached back over a thousand years and few were willing to let it end quietly.


Fleet Tender:  A ship dedicated to the maintenance and repair of other craft.


Flute:  Civilian craft ranging from 5,000 to 9,999 tonnes.


Flying Fuck, The:  Spacer term: the act of shunting without precise coordinates or within the gravitational tides of a planisphere.  An extremely dangerous maneuver typically regulated to moments of desperation.


Frigate:  A mid-sized warship massing-in at 10,000 to 24,999 tonnes.


Fringeward Expanse, The:  A rough collection of 21 populated star systems galactic east of the Federated core worlds.  See Appendix One: The Long Night and the Suns of Man.


Frog Hopping:  Using finely timed, and very short, activations of a ship’s stardrive to achieve bursts of hyper-light speed.  The space before the ship is caused to collapse but the shunt is then terminated before the vessel can enter hyperspace.  A Vessel must be traveling at least 500 meters per second to begin the maneuver and needs to constantly accelerate at a minimum of 2 G while riding the distortion wave.  Dropping below this rate with the wave still active quickly leads to tragedy.  An extremely dangerous maneuver, it is normally attempted only by highly skilled pilots operating small and agile craft.


FTF:  The Free Trade Federation, often just Federation.  See Appendix One: The Long Night and the Suns of Man.


Fusion:  Modern form of nuclear power, creating energy by the conversion of lighter elements into heavier ones.  Fusion reactors typically utilize helium-3 as a fuel source and lithium or sodium as a coolant.  Broadly speaking, ship-mounted fusion reactors have a potential power output of 2.5 megawatts per tonne.


G-Force:  Taking Earth’s surface gravity as a standard, used to measure local gravity fields or force of acceleration:  1-G equals a change of 9.81 meters (32 feet) per second, every second.


Galleon:  Civilian craft of 50,000 tonnes or more.


God War, The:  Unofficial term for the third world war, leading to The Long Night.  See Appendix One:  The Long Night and the Suns of Man.


Graviton Streamer:  See Appendix Three:  Hyperspace Travel.


Gunboat:  Well-armed craft without hyperdrives, making them comparatively inexpensive to build and maintain.  They are commonly used for in-system defense or carried as lunch craft.


Gun Master:  The chief ordinance officer on a corsair vessel.


Gunship:  A small but well-armed starship, usually 500 to 1,500 tonnes.  Some are designed as warships but they are often modified clippers or brigs.  In the Federation Navy, a gunship is the smallest class of armed starship, ranging from 500 to 999 tonnes.


Gyrojet (Weapon):  The gyrojet round is actually a small rocket that carries its own propellant; angled tail jets are used to spin the round in lieu of rifling.  Gyrojet weapons have the least recoil of all slug throwers, are purely mechanical with few moving parts, and subject to minimal wear through use.  Their construction also makes them less subject to the thermal shock and oil evaporation which plague other small arms in vacuum environments.  Larger rounds (in the 15mm range or higher) are often equipped with tracking systems, allowing them to adjust course en route to a target.

Problems include visible exhaust trails that can give away the attacker’s location and active rounds constitute very hot open flame sources.  Ammunition tends to be large, limiting the number of rounds that can be stored in the weapon or carried, and high residue build-up means they need to be cleaned frequently to prevent malfunction.


Handsled:  Sometimes just “sled;” a disk-like thruster unit roughly the diameter of a man’s forearm.  Worn on the off-hand arm, much like a small shield, it has four thrusters along its edge and is operated by hand controls on its underside.  Used to maneuver in zero gravity, the user points it in the direction they wish to go, allowing it to drag them along.  They are most commonly employed by Rift corsairs who add armored plates to protect their midsections in battle and provide a surface to display heraldry.  Handsleds typically have acceleration rates of 0.01G and fuel for 30 minutes of continuous thrust.


Hard Point:  A location on the hull of a ship where a weapon or other piece of external equipment can be mounted.


Hardsuit:  An armored vacsuit, see “Vacsuit.”


Heat Scupper:  Combat vessels produce massive amounts of waste heat, enough to destroy (even melt or vaporize) a ship that cannot cool its reactor and weapons fast enough.  Heat scuppers are combination heat sinks and liquid droplet radiators using water, sodium, or lithium as a coolant.  Droplets carrying the waste heat transfer it to space by radiation and are collected afterwards, returning to the heat sink.

They are typically arranged in banks of individual units massing from ¼ to 4 tonnes apiece; armored, and equipped with shutters for additional protection when not in use.  Once the sink reaches saturation, heat can be transferred into hydrogen (borrowed from the propellant tanks) and vented into space using the ship’s thrusters.  See also “Thrusters” and “Overdrive.”


Heave-Ho:  Corsair term; meaning “full acceleration forward.”


Heave-To:  Corsair term; meaning “full acceleration reverse.”


Heavy Cruiser:  A capital warship ranging from 200,000 to 299,999 tonnes.


Hector:  100,000 kilometers.  See Appendix Two:  Metric Standards.


Heeled:  Riftism, meaning broken or disabled, especially in regards to a ship.


Helium-3:  A light helium isotope consisting of two protons and one electron.  Helium-3 is the primary fuel source for fusion reactors as its energy-conversion rates are far superior to that of hydrogen.  It is primarily found in the upper atmospheres of gas giants and on the surfaces of vacuum worlds where it accumulates due to solar winds.


Helmsman:  Pilot of a starship massing at least 1,000 tonnes.


Hog line:  Riftism for a magnetic tow cable woven from carbon nanotube, used in the restraint and towing of other craft.  To grapple a ship in this manner is called Hog Tackling.  Similar lines used for mooring are called killik or nipper line.


HUD:  Heads-up-display, a projection of data onto a person’s field of vision via a screen, the inside of a visor, or a retinal implant, alleviating the need to continuously check interments.


Inertial Containment Grid:  Inertial Containment (or IC) grids are used on all ships, and some boats, to counter the effects of rapid acceleration and deceleration. This is accomplished by sustaining and absorbing the natural inertia of a moving vessel.  See Appendix Three:  Hyperspace Travel.


Interdiction Gun:  Commonly known as a “vomit gun.”  A radio-frequency laser, which can fire through most non-metallic walls, and temporarily disrupts the balance of a targets’ inner ear, incapacitating them and causing extreme nausea.


Ion Cannon:  See “Spinal Mount.”


Ion Drive:  See “Maneuver Drive.”


Iris Valve:  An adjustable diaphragm of thin overlapping plates used for regulating the size of a central hole; primarily used on armored and airlock doors.


ISS:  Internal Security Service.  This is the intelligence gathering arm of the Trade Council, operating both within and outside Federation space despite the implications of its name.  The majority of its agents are drawn from the ranks of the FDF.


Jammer:  Riftism, a ship used primarily for electronic warfare.


Jollyboat:  Riftism, a pinnace.


Jovian (Planet):  A giant gas world.  In addition to typical hydrogen/helium jovians, three other variants are frequently encountered:  Cryo, Macro, and Epistellar jovians.

            Cryo-Jovians form in the outer reaches of their star system.  Unable to accrete as much material as their more sunward counterparts, their masses are generally lower.  Cores are typically ice and rock, surrounded by a mantle of water, methane, and ammonia.  These are surrounded by an outer atmosphere of molecular hydrogen, helium, and methane, often resulting in blue to green coloration.  Producing far more internal heat than they receive from their suns, their weather is highly dynamic which makes them dangerous to use as refuel points.

            Epistellar-Jovians, sometimes called Rosters or Hot Jovians, are gas giants circling their parent star at extreme close range, often completing an orbit within a few days or hours.  Because of their intense heat and high radiation, they are generally unusable as refuel points but make excellent hiding places with the right protection.

            Macro-Jovians are the most massive of all planets, ranging from 8 Jupiter masses and up.  Because of their mass, most of their star’s accretion disk will have been used in forming the planet, making other jovians in the system highly unlikely.  They also tend to have highly elliptical orbits, often destroying or ejecting their star’s terrestrial worlds.  Macro-jovians are not suited as refuel points because of their intense gravity, internal heat and high levels of radiation.


Jump:  See Appendix Three:  Hyperspace Travel.


Kee:  1,000 kilometers.  See Appendix Two:  Metric Standards.


LAM (Weapon):  Linier Acceleration, Magnetic weapons (commonly called LAM guns, mag-guns, or coilguns) utilize a synchronous linier electric motor powered by an internal battery. 

 Coils running the length of a rifled barrel are activated in sequence to launch a projectile through the use of an electromagnetic pulse.

Coilguns are distinct from railguns which pass a single large current through the projectile via sliding contacts.  LAM guns are the most common type of small arm currently in use.  They tend to be heavy and require a powerful battery in order to function.  Though well insulated, these batteries are a potential explosion hazard if compromised.  LAM guns are electronic hardware and subject to all associated difficulties.

Requiring no propellant, they use relatively small and caseless ammunition.  Recoil is minimal given their potential muzzle velocity, which can be adjusted by the user.  This allows the weapon to be fired at subsonic speeds, eliminating sonic booms and making the weapon nearly silent.  There is also no associated flash which is helpful in concealing the user’s location.


Lagrange (Point):  One of the five points of gravitational equilibrium that exist between two bodies in a mutual orbit.


Laser Cannon:  Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation:  Lasers are direct-fire electromagnetic radiation guns.  They inflict damage by means of mechanical shear, the explosive evaporation of a material’s surface.  These weapons are divided into two primary types: beam and pulse guns.

Beam weapons generate a continuous stream of lasing plasma through use of an oscillator to generate a coherent wave which is then amplified.  This allows a 1.0 second beam duration, and thus greater damage potential then a pulse gun.  Beam systems are extremely power-hungry and require delicate optics that can be easily damaged.

Pulse weapons generate short bursts of fire with a 0.1 second beam duration.  Though less powerful then a beam laser, their advantages include low power consumption, a fast cycle rate, and the ability to utilize an open orifice system that eliminates the need for fragile optics.  Lasers are further divided into 12 Classes which denote their band, wavelength, and power output.  Higher bands have shorter wavelengths and increased damage potential.

Class I III: Infrared lasers, designed for small craft and as point defense weapons.

Class IVVI:  Visible light lasers, common main weapons on mid-sized craft.

Class VIIIX are high-powered ultraviolet lasers, normally mounted on large warships.

Class XXII are extreme UV weapons of great size and power, typically static-mounted.

Class XIII X-ray lasers are a type of spinal mount and discussed under that entry.


Laser, Man-Portable:     The MPL typically masses in at 10 to 12 kg, connected by a heavy power cable to a sodium-chlorine battery worn on the back, which can mass over 20 kg.  They fire in 1 second bursts which can be repeated every 5 seconds, the power source providing energy for 30 to 40 uses.  Always employed by armored troops to prevent flash blinding (and possible permanent eye damage) of not only the user by any friendly personnel in the immediate area, and because heat build-up necessitates thermal protection.  Lasers also pose a serious threat of igniting fires.

Firing in the low infrared range with a power output ranging from 500 to 750 kilowatts, damage is inflicted by emitting a carefully timed series of pulses.  The first creates an explosion and a shallow hole.  Subsequent pulses arrive once steam generated by the previous pulse dissipates, deepening the crater.  Lasers suffer from “blooming” when forced to burn through atmospheric gasses, their strength diminishing over distance.  Thick smoke, water, and various aerosols can also impede a laser beam.


Launch Craft:  A vessel that is carried aboard another.


League:  1 billion kilometers.  The league has replaced the Astronomical Unit (AU) as the standard measure for interplanetary distances.  See Appendix Two:  Metric Standards.


Lee:  1 lightyear.  See Appendix Two:  Metric Standards.


Lieutenant:  In the FDF, this represents the third officer rank in the navy, the second in the marines or enforcers.  In the Riftward Marches, “Lieutenant” denotes the captain of a support vessel belonging to a pirate or corsair wing, such as a freighter or wrecker.


Light Cruiser:  A mid-sized warship ranging from 25,000 to 99,999 tonnes.


Line Ship:  Refers to any military vessel of 100,000 tonnes or more, excluding carrier vessels.  They are sometimes called Capital ships, a term which can be used inclusive of carriers.


Lizard Cream:  Slang for the drug “Restoral,” a regenerative paste used in the re-growth of severed limbs.


Lugger:  Civilian craft ranging from 100 to 499 tonnes.


Magnetic Bottle:  A device that creates a strong magnetic field within a self-contained vacuum to store and transport materials that cannot interact safely with conventional containers.


Maneuver Drive:  A ship’s primary means of normal space (sub-light) propulsion; reaction drives relying on exhaust thrust to propel a ship forward.  Brachistochrone systems, they accelerate half-way to their destination point, turn, and decelerate for the remainder of the journey.  Most use helium-3 as a fuel source and hydrogen for propellant as both can be readily found in the atmospheres of jovian planets or extracted from regolith on vacuum worlds.  Civilian and commercial ships have drive systems with no more than 5 G of potential acceleration and rarely more than 1 G.  These are typically deuterium-tritium fusion drives, arc jets and mass drivers of various sorts.

Torch Drives are extremely powerful engines that combine high thrust and exhaust velocity.  They are normally reserved for military vessels or other highly specialized, and restricted, types of spacecraft due to their extreme power and cost, as well as their potential use as weapons of mass destruction.  Intended for use in space, they produce lethal hard radiation and exhaust temperatures that would melt or ignite any potential landing surface.  Ships mounting torch drives remain in orbit or land using thrusters.

Fusion Torch Drives:  Hydrogen pellets are injected into the engine where they are bombarded with high-powered pulse lasers, producing thrust in the form of super-heated plasma which is held in a magnetic field with one end open to space to function as an exhaust nozzle.  With a top acceleration potential of 20G, they can increase their rate of acceleration by 1G every 8 to12 seconds depending on model.

Ion Torch Drives:  Using electrically charged atoms compressed into a tight beam, the ion drive uses the charge to mass ratio of ions to propel the ship.  An ancient technology, these drives had the disadvantage of pitifully low thrust.  The net space charge of ions under acceleration in the reaction chamber would repel those trying to enter until they themselves escaped, choking propellant flow.  Ion torch drives use a spatial compression system to overcome this limitation.    Though sluggish in the low range, they allow for excellent high end acceleration.  They require 40 to 50 seconds per G-force to increase their rate of acceleration but can potentially sustain 30 G.


Mariner:  Riftism, a spacer from the Riftward Marches.


Mariner’s Twilight:  The final stage of hyperspace dementia, a persistent catatonic state.  See Appendix Three:  Hyperspace Travel.


Megacorp:  A huge corporation; commonly used in reference to “Federation 500,” the 500 most profitable businesses as calculated each 10 years.  This status confers representation in the Trade Council.  See also “Trade Council.”


Monger:  Riftism, derogatory term for members of the ruling class of the core worlds. Unchanged in the plural; “The Monger” when used in reference to them as a group.


Monit:  Standardized unit of electronic currency in the Federated Core Worlds.  While all accounts are theoretically registered to legal citizens and corporate entities, “Black” accounts are tolerated as a means of moving money secretly.  See also “Black Account.”


Nanobots:  Self-replicating microscopic robots, typically one quarter the size of a red blood cell, used primarily in medicine and electronics to diagnosis problems and make repairs.


Nanotube:  Carbon nanotube is an allotrope of carbon.  A typical strand of carbon nanotube is 1/50th the cross-section of a human hair and able to support 10 tonnes.  Also highly conductive, they have numerous applications in electronics, nanotechnology, optics, and construction.


Narrow Way, The:  A series of five star systems used by corsairs of the Riftward Marches to enter and leave Federation space.  While other approaches are possible, this is the safest route due to navigational hazards posed by Scylla, the neutron star found at the entry point to the Rift.


Naut:  One-million kilometers.  See Appendix Two:  Metric Standards.


Neosapian:  Often simply neo, this is the preferred term in the core for the racially homogenized population.  Roughly 80% of the overall population falls into this category.  They are distinguished for their brownish/orange skin color, dark eyes, thick dark hair and broad, angular features.  They are sometimes derisively called mongos or rangs by ethnics.  See also “Ethnic.”


Neutrino-Scope:  An active sensor device used for deep penetration scans.  Imaging from a dense beam of neutrino particles, the scope can peer through hundreds of kilometers of solid rock and tens of thousands of kilometers of dense nebula gasses.  Its primary drawback comes from the very small area that can be examined at one time and high power consumption.


New Era:  Name of the current calendar.    See Appendix Two:  Metric Standards.


Nightward:  Spacer term: the direction away from the local sun; opposite of sunward.


Nik:  An ethnic, considered extremely derogatory.  See “Ethnic.”


Nuke:  A nuclear weapon.  Modern nukes are exclusively fusion based with an explosive potential of roughly 1 megaton per 10 kilograms of warhead.  In space, they are deadly out to a kilometer per megaton and can damage many sensors at up to five times that range.  An atmosphere and magnetic field are required for a nuclear EMP to occur.  See also “EMP.”


Old Era:  The age preceding the Long Night.  See Appendix Two:  Metric Standards.


Oort Cloud:  Found at the outer most regions of a star system, these are the remnants of the nebula that form planetary bodies and home to most comets.


Orion’s Spur:  The area of the Milky Way Galaxy inhabited by the human species, a protrusion of the Sagittarius Spiral Arm.  Human population of the Spur is estimated at 35 billion.


Overdrive:  Called combat mode by the Federation Navy.  Fusion based Torch Drives can enter overdrive to increase performance, generating greater thrust at the cost of tremendous wear on equipment and increased waste heat.  The latter difficulty is mitigated by using this heat to turn hydrogen propellant into plasma, vented through the thrusters and greatly increasing the ship’s maneuvering agility.  One hour in overdrive is roughly equivalent to a week’s operation in cruise mode.  See also “Maneuver Drive” and “Thrusters.”


Particle Accelerator:  This device uses an electric field to accelerate charged particles to high speed and contain them.  While they are used in a wide verity of fields, in space craft they are typically linear accelerators integrated into a weapons system to generate particle beams or plasma.  See “Spinal Mount.”


P-bet:  Spacer term for perturbation, the gravitational influence of one body on another.  In space travel this generally refers to the gravitational forces exerted on a ship due to near-by planets and stars.


Phalanx Gun:  A multi-barreled, high-speed rail gun used for destroying incoming missiles.


Pilot:  The operator of a ship less than 1,000 tonnes or a boat of any size.


Pinnace:  A small launch craft without a hyperdrive, often called a “shuttle.”  Generally carried by larger craft, especially those not designed for planetary landing.


Pirate:  A person or vessel that attacks commercial shipping from space.  In the Riftward Marches, this specifies a ship owned by the captain and/or senior officers with a hired crew.


Planetary Nebula:  A shell of gas and plasma expelled by a dying star, lasting a few tens of thousands of years.  Invisible to the naked eye, they shine in infrared and ultraviolet light.


Plasma:  A substance stripped of its electrons and converted into an ionized gas.  Quark-gluon plasma is further broken-down into the sub-atomic quarks and gluons which form the protons and neutrons of atoms themselves.


Portable (Computer):  A small personal computer typically carried in a pocket, on a belt or worn on the wrist.  Some are sub-dermal, with screens and inputs glowing from beneath the skin when activated, or data may be relayed to a retinal HUD display or projected onto a virtual screen between the thumb and forefinger when set at a right-angle.

Top end models boast a dozen terabytes or more of active processing memory and several dozen of storage memory, as well as specialized sensors, video and data recording, satellite positioning, inertial locators, medical diagnostics regulating implants, nanobot and drug dispensers, and any number of other features.


Pressure Junction:  An internal airlock on a ship or space station used to help prevent catastrophic decompression in the event of a hull breach.


Provost:  The primary lieutenant of a corsair ship’s boarding master, in charge of managing prisoners taken in battle, the ship’s armories, and acting as the captain’s bodyguard while planetside in hostile settings.


Quartermaster:  On Federation naval vessels this is a supply officer.  Among corsairs, quartermasters are responsible for dividing spoils, administering discipline, and act as the vessel’s commanding officer in charge of all non-combat operations.  Like captains, quartermasters are elected and can be removed by an unhappy crew.  They also have the power to veto the captain’s orders in non-combat situations though this is a rare event that usually results in one or the other soon leaving the wing.  In multiple ship corsair wings, the chief quartermaster is referred to as the Wing Master, but still addressed as Quartermaster.


Raider:  A corsair boarding party member.  Used generically for “pirate” in the core worlds.


Ram Scoop:  A large intake used on starships for capturing the atmospheric gasses of jovian worlds, extracting helium-3 and hydrogen for fuel and propellant respectively.  A ram scoop alleviates the need for tanker craft but does necessitate an on-boarding processing plant so only larger ships are normally equipped with them.


Ram Shield:  Older starships often mounted large, round, armored shields affixed to their bows as a means of protection against navigational hazards while traveling at high speed.  These began to disappear with the advent of the Repulser Field but remain popular with pirates and mercenaries because they can be heavily armored and equipped with their own dedicated shields, saving power and boosting efficiency.


Rail Gun:  These are ship-mounted magnetic weapons that launch projectiles by passing a large current through a projectile via sliding contacts.


Repulser field:  A defensive energy field used to deflect physical objects away from a vessel, both in navigation and combat.  Repulsers are a type of gravimetric convection field, forming a roughly spherical shell around the craft that can be several to dozens of meters thick.  Equally suited for ship-mounting and ground-based instillation; the field is invisible to the eye, oscillating frequencies several hundred times per second.

Ship-mounted repulser fields typically remain active whenever the ship is in motion to protect against navigational hazards.  Though possessing a sharply defined outer edge, they are volumetric and continue down to within a few meters of the hull.  The field has a sponge-like effect; growing in strength the closer one approaches the ship.  This hampers the progression of incoming projectiles with increasing force, causing them to move to a less dense region away from the vessel.  This density convection effect allows the vessel’s own launch craft and projectiles to pass through the shield easy, even gaining an acceleration boost.  The field must be lowered to retrieve launch craft however.  Repulser fields have no appreciable effect on energy weapons either incoming or outgoing.


Rex:  (1) Spacer term: A new vertical axis angle, based on a ship’s current angle.  To “Rex-Up” means a dorsal (nose up) rotation; “Rex-Down” indicates a ventral (nose down) rotation.  See Appendix Two:  Metric Standards.     (2) Informal title referring to the Grand Corsair, deriving from the Latin word for “King.”


Riftward Expanse, The:  A group of independent colonies galactic south of the core worlds.  See Appendix One: The Long Night and the Suns of Man.


Riftward Marches, The:  A loose confederation of 12 inhabited star systems galactic south-west of the Federated core worlds.  See Appendix One: The Long Night and the Suns of Man.


Rig:  Riftism for a plan, especially one involving deception.  To run a rig is to fool or deceive. 


Roaster:  Spacer term: An Epistellar jovian world.  See “Jovian.”


Rogue Stars:  A name given to those star systems inhabited by the corsairs of the Riftward Marches and their predecessors, pushed back by the expanding Free Trade Federation.


Rudder:  A compilation of navigational data.


Sail Master:  Chief engineering officer on a corsair vessel; typically forth in the chain of command after the chart master.


Scope Master:  A corsair ship’s chief electronic warfare and sensor officer; typically fifth in the chain of command after the sail master.


Scylla:  Named for the mythical sea monster faced by Odysseus, this is a 4.5 solar mass neutron star found at the boarder of the Riftward Marches.  This navigational hazard was the impetus for the founding of the initial pirate colonies despite their remote locale.  One of only two such bodies in explored space, the larger being Jormungand at 5.0 solar masses, galactic north of the Fringeward Expanse.


Ship Master:  Riftism, the first officer of a corsair vessel.


Shunt:  The act of crossing from normal space into hyperspace.  See Appendix Three:  Hyperspace Travel.


Spacing:  Ejecting a person into the vacuum of space as a means of execution; a notoriously gruesome death.  Gases in the lungs and digestive tract expand and bodily fluids begin to boil away.  Water in muscles and soft tissues evaporate, causing the body to swell after about 1 minute.  This results in severe bruising due to broken capillaries but will not rupture skin.  Nitrogen in the blood will turn to gas resulting in “the bends.”  Exposure to a star’s ultraviolet radiation may also cause severe sunburn.  Heat radiates from the body slowly in a vacuum so freezing is not an issue.

If rescued within 2 to 3 minutes it is possible to recover with minor injuries; after that, permanent blindness and brain damage are likely to result.  A victim attempting to hold their breath will die within moments as air sacks in the lungs rupture and cause bubbles enter the blood stream, resulting in stroke and cardiac arrest.  Persons exposed to the vacuum of space will remain conscious for roughly 15 seconds and expire within 5 to 7 minutes.  An individual with time to prepare themselves by hyperventilating prior exposure can remain conscious for about 1 minute.

Taking a shot of aspirator, an injected drug typically stored in airlocks, will allow a person to remain conscious for up to five minutes though the body will be crippled and quite useless in under three.  Professional spacers usually carry nanobots in their blood stream that perform this function automatically.


Spinal Mount:  (sometimes S’mount or main gun) Large weapons mounted on capital warships along their spines and running most of their length.  Typical spinal mounts are particle beam weapons, either Neutron or Ion cannons, powered by a large particle accelerator which accounts for the bulk of their mass.  Less common examples include Plasma Torpedo Launchers (PTL’s) and Type XIII X-Ray lasers.

Neutron Cannons deliver electrically neutral particles and Ion Cannons fire ionized particles that do carry an electrical charge.  Both types can be fired up to 8 times per hour with a maximum range of about 30,000 kilometers and an optimum range of 12,000 kilometers.  Damage is inflicted by the kinetic energy of the delivered particles, disrupting the atomic and molecular structure of a target.

This has a significant advantage over lasers which inflict all their damage upon the surface of a target but have very little penetration power.  Their primary drawbacks come in the form of enormous power requirements and high levels of waste heat.  An ion cannon’s kinetic energy is about 40% less than an equivalent neutron gun but poses a severe radiation threat to its target and can seriously damage electrical systems.

            Plasma torpedoes make use of a particle accelerator to generate super-heated quark-gluon plasma imbedded within an elongated torus (donut-shaped) magnetic field generated by the delivery projectile.  Once charged, the weapon is magnetically hurled along a track much like a rail gun, its own propulsion system going active once clear of the launcher.  They are active tracking weapons that can be launched at a rate of about 4 per hour, causing damage through heat and the explosive force of the pressurized gas.  Accelerating at 18G, they only function in a near vacuum and the pressurized gas typically overwhelms the magnetic field and detonates on its own within 20 minutes if their target is not reached first.

            Type XIII X-Ray lasers are simply very large and powerful beam lasers and do not make use of an accelerator.  Ships mounting X-Ray lasers as their primary armament often mount 2, even 3 or 4, of these weapons in a linked battery.  See also “Laser Cannon.”


Spinward Marches, The:  Also called the “Northern March,” this is a loose collection of systems galactic north-east of the core worlds.  See Appendix One: The Long Night and the Suns of Man.


Station Master:  On corsair vessels, this title denotes a mariner as the head of a crew section such as navigation, engineering, gunnery, etc.


Stardrive:  Also called a Hyperdrive.  See Appendix Three:  Hyperspace Travel.


Sunward:  Spacer term: toward the local sun; opposite of Nightward.


Sutler Cage:  This is a portable dockyard consisting of a large metal framework similar to a chandler dock.  Designed to be broken-down and transported by one or more dedicated cargo vessels which may themselves form part of the assembly.  See “Chandler Dock.”


Tampico Hot Foot, The:  When a disabled ship is hurled into a star with live crew aboard; coined for a corsair wing known as the Tampico Freebooters who were fond of the practice.


Tachyon:  A class of particles that travel faster than light.  Short-lived trails of these particles are left in the wake of a ship entering or leaving hyperspace.  A quick and skilled sensor operator can sometimes determine a ship’s direction and jump rate by these trails.


Templer:  Derogatory term for any religious or superstitious person.  In practice, however, it is usually directed against Christians and Muslims who are commonly held responsible for the “God War” and its aftermath, “The Long Night.”  See Appendix One:  The Long Night and the Suns of Man.


Terran (Planet):  A world where Humans can live without any means of artificial life-support.  Most Terran worlds are artificially created through a process called terraforming, though a small number are naturally occurring.


Terraforming:  The process of transforming hostile planets into terran worlds, able to support life.  This typically means human life though some agricultural worlds are geared toward plants and possess much higher CO2 levels.  Techniques are myriad and largely unique to each candidate world.  A candidate’s similarity to successful projects will often trump other considerations.  Some engineered environments ultimately become self-sustaining while others require frequent or continuous intervention.


Terrestrial (Planet):  A planet composed mainly of rock.  They come is dozens of varieties ranging from vacuum worlds of bleak, barren rock to complex, life supporting gaians with ancient and diverse ecosystems.


Terrible Toad, The:  A variant of the Frog Hop, using longer and more dangerous activations of the ship’s stardrive.  Unlike in the frog hop, the rupture created is kept very narrow and well clear of the ship’s bow.  This leaves the space behind unable to over-take and seal the rupture.  The vessel is never able to shunt, even though the space surrounding it is moving beyond the speed of light and taking the vessel with it.

Steering is impossible under these circumstances, as the slightest perturbation would destroy the ship, and the rupture becomes unstable after only a few seconds.  Power requirements, and thus fuel consumption, are also enormous.  A Vessel must be traveling at least 1 kilometer a second per 1,000 tonnes of mass to begin the maneuver and needs to constantly accelerate at a minimum of 10 G while riding the distortion wave to maintain it.  Dropping below this rate while the wave is still active invariably results in destruction.  Considerably more dangerous than the standard Frog Hop, the Terrible Toad is used to quickly enter or exit a system and offset the utility of early-warning sensor nets.  See also “Frog Hop.”


Thrusters:  Small but powerful engines with multi-angled exhausts that are used to adjust the angel, rex, and zeke of a space craft as well as permitting torch-drive ships to land.  They are traditional chemical rockets that operate in two duty modes.  In cruise mode they exert between 0.5 to 2.0 G of acceleration, fueled by combining oxygen with hydrogen from the propellant tanks.  In overdrive, the ship’s waste heat is used to transform the hydrogen into plasma, which is vented through the thruster exhaust nozzles.  Thruster force in overdrive can range from 5 to 10 G.  See also “Maneuver Drive” and “Overdrive.”


Trade Council:  This is the governing body of the FTF.  Its 500 members are selected by the corporate boards that constitute the 500 most profitable businesses.  This status is recalculated every ten years but, in practice, often remains static for decades.  See also “Federation 500.”


Vacsuit:  Sometimes called an E-Suit or Pressure Suit.  A self-contained, pressurized ensemble designed to sustain its wearer in hostile environments, especially the vacuum of space.  Most varieties can sustain a wearer for twenty-five hours of normal operation, or up to seventy-five hours in emergency mode.  Some examples also incorporate air scrubbers to conserve and replenish their supplies when an outside source is available.

While early pressure suits were bulky and difficult to move in, modern varieties are typically snug and form-fitting, constructed of an ultra-strong synthetic silk layered with a mesh of tiny gel-filled pockets.  Powered by the body’s natural electric field, these cells expand and contract to apply the correct pressure on any given area while allowing for flexibility at the joints, especially in the hands.  If the cells are ruptured, the material expands and hardens to an elastic resin.  This serves to seal holes in the garment and minimize blood-loss from injuries beneath.  A final layer of aero gel, imbedded with thermal micro-coils continually adjusting temperature, allows the suit to be worn comfortably for extended periods.

Helmets are usually small and turn with the head though some construction models still make use of larger, fixed helmets for increased comfort during extended use.  Information from the suit’s sensors and status gauges are projected to the wearer via HUD display.

Armored varieties, called hardsuits, add padding, internalize air hoses and use plastic, ceramic, or metal plating at sensitive and non-flexible areas.  Most common of these are HEX suits, construction models that include hydraulic exoskeletons and integrated tools such as cutting and welding gear.  Others are military grade, incorporating ballistic and ablative materials into the weave, shielding electronics, and adding advanced sensor and targeting gear.

Heavy combat models, called battle armor, include hydraulic exoskeletons which greatly enhance strength, speed and endurance, integrated weaponry, large power supplies and kinetic stabilizers.  This latter system uses tiny pulse thrusters, positioned at key areas, to stabilize the user in combat, assist movement, and mitigate impact damage.  Typically made of duralloy and massing 300 kilograms or more, they are closer to a fitted vehicle then a worn suit.


White Hole:  Also known as a Primal Nova or Big Bang.  Supermassive black holes, long outliving the universes that birth them, sometimes merge together to form ultra-massive (Class three) black holes; subsequently gathering enough additional material to reach a point of critical mass and explode, giving rise to a new universe.  See also “Dragon.”


Wrecker:  A salvage ship.  Among corsairs, the term also refers to a fleet tender.


Yacht:  A civilian pleasure ship, usually a brig, barque, or flute.


Zeke:  Spacer term: refers to an altitude change based on the solar equatorial plane (while in a star system) or a ship’s current position otherwise.  “Zeke Up” means to move solar north, “Zeke Down” indicates a move to solar south.


Zero:  A person with no personal records in the Federation.  Generally this is because they were born outside Federation space or to tribal groups in wilderness areas.  All zeros are obliged to register themselves and be interviewed upon entering FTF systems.


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