Photon Sails (PL 6)
Photon sails are immense but extremely fragile foil structures only a few molecules thick. Light pressure from a nearby star (or laser drive station, when available) provides motive force. The sails’ acceleration rates drop to half if the ship is beyond the edge of a star system and drop to one-quarter if the only available light is starlight. The sails can be wrecked by minor damage, but every ship equipped with photon sails carries at least three spare sets. Unfortunately, it takes 12 hours to replace damaged sails, though deployment or stowage of the sails takes only 1 minute.
In combat, any weapon hit against a sail-driven starship destroys the deployed photon sails and prevents the ship from moving until the sails are replaced. The sail-ship continues on its last course and retains its former speed until the sails are replaced. Accordingly, most sail-ships carry a secondary propulsion system (such as thrusters or an ion engine) for emergency maneuvering and sailing against the sun. Photon sails are completely useless in atmosphere—in fact, they’re instantly destroyed by atmospheric entry—making a secondary propulsion system a virtual necessity for most sail-ships.
Minimum Ship Size: Gargantuan.
Tactical Speed Bonus: None.
Purchase DC: 10 + one-quarter the base purchase DC of the starship (per set of photon sails).