Temporal displacement drives—colloquially known as “time machines”—do not exist until Progress Level 8. The first time machines are faintly reminiscent of the brass, ivory, and quartz machine invented by H.G. Wells in his novel The Time Machine, though made of lightweight aluminum and resembling something more like bathyspheres. Those that follow are constructed as fixed tunnels leading to nowhere, while those mounted in starships turn the entire ship into the time machine.
Time Sphere (PL 8)
Time spheres are small, two-seated modules designed to withstand any reasonable amount of buffeting that might occur when the machine finally comes to rest in a different time period. At the very least, the self-contained atmosphere should give the occupants time to “reverse course” should they discover that conditions outside are too hostile to disembark. The time sphere carries sensors designed to test outside conditions immediately upon arrival.
The temporal displacement mechanism itself is arranged around the inside of the sphere, giving the occupants full access to the electronics in case of emergency. The main computer has all programs necessary to operate the machine and is crammed with historical and linguistic information, electronic encyclopedias, and any other information that might be necessary to survive in a different time. Operation of the time sphere is quite simple for characters familiar with computers. One simply sets the desired date and time and presses the “Go” button.
Time spheres are not sold commercially. In fact, doing so is illegal, but the plans to construct them are quite common. The components have a total purchase DC of 36. Building a time sphere chassis takes 12 hours and requires a successful Craft (mechanical) skill check (DC 25). Building and filling the time sphere’s computer (a much more daunting exercise) takes 120 hours and requires a successful Craft (electronic) check (DC 35).
Time spheres have the following statistics:
Crew 2; Passengers 0; Cargo 120 lb.; Defense 6; Hardness 5; Hit Points 24; Size Huge; Purchase DC: 65; Restriction: Illegal (+4).
Temporal Drive Generator (PL 9)
Like the D-drive generator, which is designed to carry starships across dimensional boundaries, the temporal drive generator (or “T-drive generator”) carries starships through time. The drive can be mounted in a starship of any size and turns the entire ship into a time machine.
Purchase DC: 60.
Restriction: Military (+3).
Time Bridge (PL 9)
Doing away with the issue of portability, the time bridge opens a portal to both other times and other places. The time bridge also has the advantage of not leaving a fragile piece of vital equipment lying about while its operators go exploring. Instead, the travelers use a simple “message-drop” system to communicate with their base of operations: Upon arrival, they conceal a small transmitter somewhere near their point of embarkation. They then have a prearranged amount of time to explore and return to the location to catch the next appearance of the time bridge. If they do not return, an operative from their base emerges to search for the transmitter.
Assuming he finds it, the operative records a message on the transmitter, letting the explorers know when the bridge will reappear again, or he collects any recorded message the explorers might have left indicating where and when to pick them up. The process repeats until the explorers are brought back safely. Travel through the time bridge is comparable to walking through a tunnel. Operators at the base set the temporal and physical coordinates at the other end, and a team of travelers walks into the tunnel and seems to vanish. For the travelers, the point of origin simply becomes less “real” as the destination becomes more real. The bridge is large enough to accommodate vehicles up to Huge size.
Purchase DC: 71.
Restriction: Illegal (+4).