Archives of Nethys

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Drift Lanes

Using Drift Lanes

Source Ports of Call pg. 13
To access a Drift lane, a starship must be outside the atmosphere but within the gravity well of a world at one end of the lane. The starship’s pilot must chart a course to the Drift lane, and lanes are exceptionally easy to navigate to (DC 10 Piloting). As usual, it takes 1 minute for the ship’s Drift engine to activate, during which time the ship’s thrusters can’t be used. If all these conditions are met, the ship enters the Drift on the Drift lane.
No matter their length across the galaxy, a Drift lane takes 7 days to traverse, divided by the ship’s engine rating (and, as usual for Drift travel, not rounding the result). For example, a Blackwind Sepulcher (Core Rulebook 307) with an engine rating of 2 would travel from one end of a Drift lane to the other in 3.5 days. The manage course downtime activity (Starfinder Character Operations Manual 154) can be used to further reduce travel time on a lane, using a value of 1 as the normal minimum. For example, a character who spent 1 day managing a ship’s course couldn’t reduce the final travel time below 2 days.
Ships traveling the same Drift lane can see and interact with each other in the Drift. A ship that gets on a lane but then loses or turns off its Drift engine remains parked on the lane, floating in the Drift and becoming a navigational hazard to other ships on the lane. Ships can wander off or intentionally leave a Drift lane, but when they eventually emerge from the Drift, it will be at a random location. This also adds some reliability to travel along these lanes; ships that use them are less likely to become lost forever in the Drift should something go awry.
Starship Combat: The exact width of a Drift lane (measured in hexes) varies by the route, per the GM’s discretion. A typical lane’s interior is about 10 hexes wide, with sides about 2 hexes thick. The sides behave much like difficult terrain, causing anything moving through them (including attacks) to treat each hex as though it were two hexes for the purpose of distances and movement speed. This provides limited room for maneuvering, plus it provides a clear way for ships to escape the Drift lane or even push an enemy out!
Adjust these dimensions as needed to create the desired encounter. However, note that a starship with average, poor, or clumsy maneuverability needs a space at least 5, 7, or 9 hexes wide, respectively, to turn around without using pilot stunts.