FOLDSPACE: Universe Primer

FOLDSPACE is the upcoming audio drama/comedy/campaign that will be hosted right here at ThreeHeadedBoy. For those of you who are interested in the setting, story or just what the hell I’m doing with Traveller, here is your official primer!

Table of Contents


FOLDSPACE takes place in the close future, roughly the late 24th century, and is focused around our own stellar neighborhood.

The Sol system in particular features heavily as it is the hub for the United Earth government.

A PDF with information on the Sol Subsector (where the audio campaign will take place) is available here. The information presented here is spoiler-free and player/character friendly (information that would be readily available to players and characters) for use in character creation.


Here is a detailed history of the world from the beginning of important FOLDSPACE events until now.

Early Years

In the latter half of the 21st century, Earth was facing devastating climate change. The various countries of the world set aside their differences and, working under the UN, focused their energies on renewable energy (primarily solar) and climate control technology in an effort to terraform the Earth. This cooperation would also serve as the starting point for what would eventually become the United Earth Conglomerate or UEC.

With renewable energy and terraforming under its belt, mankind turned its attention to the stars, starting by colonizing the Sol system in the early 22nd century. With the development of solar sails in 2134, mankind was able to reach near light-speed, making what used to be a year-long expedition to Mars into the work of a day.

By the time the first international Martian settlement was founded, Earth had gone from a collection of independent nations to a single ratified administration: the United Earth Conglomerate. Once cryo-stasis was perfected in 2167, even longer trips became possible. And in 2176 mankind launched its first interstellar colony ship the U.E.S. Genesis on a five year trip to Alpha Centauri. Still the largest vessel made by mankind and carrying 50,000 passengers (with 10,000 each taking a one-year shift before going back into cryo-stasis), The Genesis had enough food and terraforming supplies to sustain a colony for twenty years under even the harshest of conditions. When word of a successful landing reached Earth ten years later, the UEC launched its second wave of colony ships. In this manner, mankind slowly but surely spread outwards, settling the first colonies in the Sol sector.

The Ancestors

Mankind’s next big breakthrough came in 2223, when the colony ship U.E.S. Roanoke (bringing much needed relief workers to planets devastated by the recently ended Franchise Wars) was forced to stop for repairs while traveling through Wolf 359.

While repairing their solar sails in this planet-less system, the crew was surprised when they received an automated distress signal. Unable to decipher the message, they tracked the signal to its source, only to discover a derelict spaceship floating adrift. Carbon dating put the vessel at about 50,000 years old, but the biggest surprise came when the preserved remains of the crew turned out to be, genetically, human. The crew of the Roanoke towed the ship back to Earth, where UEC scientists started taking it apart. One news source called it the “Ship of Our Ancestors!” and UEC scientists, unable to agree on anything better, decided to run with it.

While unable to translate the onboard database, they had a lot of success with isolating and reverse engineering Ancestral technology. Their research led to advancements in metallurgy, astrophysics, propulsion, electrical engineering, starship design, miniaturization, power generation and more. The biggest breakthrough, however, came from a little black box attached to the Ancestor’s ship’s engine.

Discovery of the Foldspace Drive

This box, twice as large as a rubic’s cube, was an Ancestral (TL 16) Foldspace engine. It created a tunnel of compressed space in front of the ship, allowing it to cross vast distances in mere minutes. Upon turning it on for the first time, the UEC scientists immediately grasped upon the potential applications and set to work trying to replicate the device. It took them fifteen years to invent the math necessary to understand the device, ten years to dissect every component therein, and seven more years to build their own working version. Once it was completed, the Navy commissioned Kobayashi Shipyards to design and build a vessel around the prototype. In 2275, Kobayashi presented the Navy with the fruits of its labor: The Karashane.

The Karashane

The Karashane (car-rass hah-nay) was a magnificent capital ship, crafted in the Lunar Shipyards with the most advanced technology of the time. Huge solar sails connected directly to a state of the art power-plant which was in turn attached to the experimental Foldspace engine. Designed for long-range, long-term deployment, the entire ship was covered in advanced solar paneling, giving the hull a sleek, black glossy finish. On top of that, she was armed to the teeth and protected by both armor and the first-generation Hofstadter field. She was, simply put, the fastest and deadliest thing in space. Her inaugural launch took place with much fanfare at the end of 2275 and was to be a short hop to Alpha Centauri and back. The crew took their stations, the people celebrated, the ship left it berth, got up to speed, fired up the Foldspace drive and promptly vanished.

The Karashane never reached Alpha Centauri. No trace could be found of the ship and it was declared lost with all hands in 2276. Going over what data they had before the ship vanished, Kobayashi Shipyards eventually pieced together what had gone wrong: the act of entering folded space with the sails still deployed caused fluctuations in the ship’s power grid which in turn lead to fluctuations in the amount of power the Foldspace drive was receiving. Kobayashi concluded that The Karashane must have overshot Alpha Centauri and could be almost anywhere in the known and unknown universe by now. The loss of the Karashane soured the public’s opinion of Foldspace technology and Kobayashi Shipyards was reduced to a second string player in starship design. While they would never again produce a ship on the scale of the Karashane, it’s memory and design would live on in the Equus Class of Naval Corvettes.

Modern Times

It would take fifty years and repeated positive tests before the public would accept Foldspace technology and, even then, the adoption rate was low. In time, though, Foldspace drives became commonplace and started replacing solar sails entirely. Now it was possible to cross the entirety of UEC space in less than a month and mankind began colonizing the neighboring sub-sectors. Which brings us to modern times.

It is the year 2370. With a firmly developed center and a growing frontier, humanity is expanding faster than ever before. From the up-and-coming Core Neighborhoods to the wild Western Frontier or the cold, silent depths of the Rim-Ward Abyss, adventure and profit lie in all directions. Yet despite all this, things are not going well. Shadowy government agencies are pursuing unknown agendas, frontier systems are rioting against the control of a distant government and, beneath it all, there are rumors of ships vanishing from normally safe trade routes and sightings of strange things lurking in folded space. Danger and adventure abound for those who will seek it.

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