(see p.218 and p.233 in the Core rulebook).
Transmatter modulation was one of the first Builder technologies to be uncovered during the exploration of Antarean space. This happened such a long time long ago that it’s impossible to be sure exactly how this discovery occurred, or where, or how the alien technology was successfully replicated. All we know is that from the Second or Renatal Age, transmatter modulators – or transmats as they are generally known – became commonplace throughout human space.
A transmat is the usual method of transportation between an orbiting spacecraft and a planet’s surface, or from one spacecraft to another in close proximity. A transmat can transport an object or person to another transmat, allowing practically instantaneous travel between two remote locations.
The distance that can be travelled between two transmats depends upon their position to some extent, but is generally sufficient to travel from a planet’s surface to an orbiting craft, although not much greater. Some worlds have transmat systems that allow overland travel; this is achieved by a series of static transmats phased precisely together and spaced about fifty miles (80km, 16kyan) apart. These are known as transmat loops or as transloops or just loops; they function like roadways, transporting materials and people between one fixed location and another.
Jump Hooks and Homers
It is also possible to use a transmat to pick up an object or person by means of an attached transmatter receptor tuned to the identical phase modulation as the transmat itself. This allows a single transmat to function effectively even without another transmat to transport to. These receptors are generally known as jump hooks. In this case the hooked object is transported to the transmat together with the receptor itself. The smallest receptors are so tiny they can be implanted beneath the skin or secreted in jewellery or clothing. Jump hooks have a very short range and this affects the size of the transmat capsule – in effect the greater the distance the smaller the volume can be transported. The very smallest brain implants may be sufficient just to hook the wearer’s head, neatly severing the skull from the body. In extreme transports of this kind a bio‐stasis tank awaits! So long as the transportee’s brain remains intact it is always possible to regenerate or, failing that, affect transfer into a clone body.
Transmatter modulation technology also has a role to play upon the battlefield, in the form of homer shells that function as temporary transmats. These tiny versions of transmats don’t function for very long, and there is always the inherent risk of the modulator field collapsing mid‐transport. However, they form a method of placing troops or materials into the heart of a battlefield when necessary.
Boromite frag borers are often coupled with suspensor grabs to transfer the debris from their tunnelling onto ore transmats. This is sorted by ore processors that also use transmat to filter the spoil from the desired minerals or ores. Such a process results in ore that is incredibly pure by 21st century standards – or which contains the exact mix of elements to make superb alloys!
The maximum range of a transmat beam is around 300km (60kyan) when transmitting from a beacon or transmat pad to or from another pad, though this is for smaller objects such as panhumans. Larger objects typically require the range to be reduced to ensure transmission coherency, hence hyperlight envelopes being used for combat vehicles (see The Chryseis Shard). The ranges when no pads are involved are very much shorter – perhaps only 50km/10kyan – but are also much more risky, the possibility of the beam fragmenting and destroying the contents excessively high. Such emergency transmissions are only very rarely used, the jump hook technology being preferred which could boost the range and reliability significantly.
The heavyweight public transloops discussed above, allow for larger objects to be transmitted and, frankly, the 80km separation allows for greater convenience in travelling from one location to another. It might take a while for the transfer from transmat-to-transmat to take place when jumping via transmats on long distances, and is so unsettling that most people close their eyes, even if they do not do so for single-hop transmissions (see Battle for Xilos, p.13 Bovan Tuk’s story).
The ranges mean that often a shuttle is sent down to a planet’s surface with an on-board transmat to ease transmission. In some instances the large transmat in this shuttle is the major source of surface-orbit communication and transfer (see The Claiming of Shamasai).
It’s worth noting that these incredibly short ranges mean transmats have little use in space combat. Further, it is easy to disrupt the initial sensor lock (that’s why homer beacons are needed), either by the incredibly velocities at which ships can travel, or by changes in direction, by changes in interior layout or due to simple interference technology. As a result, transmats are only used to deliver anything, including boarders, after the opponent’s ship has surrendered, has shut down its defensive capabilities and is on a constant course.
Transmat arrays can be used for decontamination – filtering out unwanted elements or objects from the transmat beam. The Freeborn rely upon such for primary protection against IMTel nanospheres, using the transmats as steriliser barriers that destroy all nanospore during transmat transfer. This means that technology taken from the PanHuman Concord or Isorian Senatex must be repopulated with passive or neutral nanospore – a process known as resharding – but at least the risk of contamination is removed (see p.233).
Effects of Ghar Technology
Ghar use their Quantum Gravity (QG) technology in their Ghar ship and planetary shields – a QG net – and also make great use of crude and poorly-shielded plasma reactors. Both have terrible effects on nanotechnology and on transmat beams, disrupting the coherency and hence the contents of the beam (see Battle for Xilos, p.13). No intelligent being would risk transfers into, onto or through Ghar planets, ships or installations.