There are a large number of FTL drive types that can be created, yet not all are within easy grasp. Most races will find themselves starting off with an alcubierre drive derived warp system, or a hyperdrive kicking them into another part of reality. Later on they could discover things along the lines of wormhole drives, jump drives, and more.
There is an astonishing number of ways one can break the universal speed limit, or in some cases, change it. There may come a time where one can find points of reality that can be breached for a drive, or gates assembled to take advantage of it. There are many kinds of FTL in another way, one of these drives are extremely quick but limited to points of various kinds for one or both endpoints, maybe even by gates. Another is a free drive, which is somewhat slower, but able to travel virtually anywhere.
Many drive systems also come with unique perks in relation to their detection by observers in realspace via normal methods and subspace or other FTL detection equipment, and very few can be safely used in atmosphere without crippling damage to the vessel or some harm to the planet being dealt, leading to built in failsafes preventing them from being used while in atmosphere
Hyperdrive is a basic FTL drive using most of its energy store in order to push a vessel into Hyperspace. This drive does little else beyond protect a ship from damage while within hyperspace and move it there safely. Basic hyperspace notes include the lack of a c-limit existing within it, the coloring of grey when immobile/doppler effect when moving anywhere, and the extremely dangerous hyperspace distortions capable of destroying ships with ease. The important note that very little energy is needed for propulsion, with vessel mass not being as important. This leads to even ion drive equipped ships actually being capable of moving to other star systems within a week. A major advantage of hyperdrive is that it doesn't take much more energy to move a massive warship into hyperspace than it would to move something as massive as a corvette. The drive itself also doesn't need to be very made much larger in order to function with far more massive craft.
Warp Drive is another basic FTL drive. This is heavily based on the alcubierre drive system, but manages to push its top speed much further than the theoretical maximum speed of the standard alcubierre. This drive cannot be used as a weapon, at least not directly, under any foreseeable circumstance. The particle blast inherent of an alcubierre drive has been for the most part eliminated somehow by the methods used to modify the drive's speed. It is a very large drive system however, able to take up a large amount of space, which grows almost proportionally with the mounting vessel. The power increase with size is somewhat great, but thankfully it isn't unmanageable for a properly powered ship of a size class. Theoretical top speed is 7LY/day.
The most basic kind of FTL drive, and likely the first any spacefaring civilisation will discover. Has a theoretical top speed of 0.42LY/day. It is easier for an Alcubierre Drive to move quickly than it is for it to move slowly, making it a difficult proposition to use it in-system, and its high power requirements can prove difficult to provide for by low tech civilisations. However, as a first step in fast interstellar flight, the benefits will usually outweigh the difficulties in its development. Along with other numerous engineering difficulties is the fact that debris and charged particles that the warped space field came into contact with are dumped on drive shutdown, which may harm the vessel. This can be used as an improvised and highly inaccurate weapon.
The Triple Effect Warp-Hyperdrive, or TEWHY for short, is a form of FTL not based on conventional physics. Unlike standard warp drives, which use strange or exotic matter to affect space, a TEWHY can do it directly. This can allow for a multitude of useful effects for the carrier craft whilst the drive is active, from deflecting the interstellar medium to applying Aristotlean physics to the area within the effect field. Whilst TEWHYs are exceptionally efficient at low speeds, they require exponentially more power to increase their maximum average speed. There are also several dangers to using a TEWHY. Course changes are impossible until drop-out, powerful forces can damage the carrier craft, an uncontrolled drop out will destroy the spacecraft, and most importantly - they are a realspace drive. Anything else in realspace in the spacecraft's path may be a hazard. If too much material hits the deflection effect, it will fail, and the spacecraft will be destroyed. It can be weaponised, though destruction is assured for the spacecraft carrying out the assault. It is effectively a faster-than-light ram, without relativity.
The Slipstream drive itself comes in two versions. One must be chosen when this drive is researched.
Fixed Speed: The developments of the slipstream drive allows a ship, following a surge of energy, to latch on and ride these superluminal currents. The result is an extremely fast version of FTL travel. These superluminal currents, when latched onto, cause the ship to phase out of realspace. Riding the current, the ship appears as a surge of light, with only a fraction of its mass still showing in realspace. However, the Time dilatation effect becomes worse, with the crew on board suffering only a minute of travel for every hour of the trip. Further more, the ship is entirely unable to stop until it reaches a "Break" in the current, which are present near stars.
Variable Speed: The developments of the slipstream drive allows a ship, Following a surge of energy, to enter into these superluminal currents. The result is a very unusual form of FTL travel, with the ships being fully functional within what scientists describe as "Superluminal Strings" The speed within these strings seems to vary by how well traveled the string is. The Time dilatation effect within the strings is severe enough that a ship within would only see a few seconds pass while hours pass outside. However, the ship is unable to stop until it reaches a break in the currents. Which are present near stars. Unlike before with riding the edge of these strings, while inside the vessel appears only as a minor burst of light, its mass not even appearing to exist outside the current.
Light Rider DriveEdit
The foundations of Light Rider theory involves the surge of energy that a Solar Flare is. This drive works on the functionality of Harnessing the Solar flare to propel the ship, The drive itself molding the Solar flare into a form of Light surge. Riding in what could only be described as a self formed solar wind. In harnessing the Solar flare, the drive is self powering. Riding the very edge of c as long as it is enveloped in this artificial solar wind.
A very unusual find with the Light Rider prototype, When developed and used a strange property was discovered. The limit of c is slightly different. The result of this is the ship is capable of FTL travel. Further still the strength of the solar flare harnessed doesn't seem to effect the drives function. In general there is a slight Time dilatation effect while the drive is in use, resulting in the crew onboard having spent less time in FTL then what has actually passed. Usually this different is just a few minutes however.
Void Door GatesEdit
Void Doors are a marvelously complicated machine that allows one to surpass or otherwise ignore the speed of light. The Void Door is specifically a gateway like apparatus that can take a number of forms, but most traditionally includes four spars meant to deploy a ring like latices. Further still the drive, named such for the apparent lack of all space beyond the event horizon of a plane opened by the drive system, is a very slow a methodically created hole within the physical boundaries of space, much akin to a wormhole if not for it's lack of interaction with surrounding space. Creation of the Void Door is a process that takes on average about four hours, owing to the drive needing to first calibrate to local space, stabilize an entry plane within it's latices, and then attempt to anchor this plane to a distant point of spacial coordinates. Disruptions to this process can and often do require a complete restart in the procedure as the very attempt to activate the drive will slightly alter the conditions the drive would need to calibrate to for subsequent activation.
Beyond the drive itself is the latices necessary to form the entry plane within, the lattice is a form of crystalline core surrounded by a superconductive material and serves as little more then a focal point for the fabrication of the gateway; however, additional equipment within the spars is also necessary for maintaining a calibrated field within the plane of the lattice. The calibration of the lattice with the stabilization nodes around it is of such sensitivity that should it be mounted to a vessel, the relative motion of the ship to the gateway, such as during acceleration or maneuvering, would disrupt and prevent the void door from being stabilized enough for activation. It should be noted that the motion of the vessel relative to local space is otherwise irrelevant, a minor quirk owing to the drive's activation otherwise utilizing it's own form of spacial coordination. Additionally it should be noted that an atmospheric environment, specifically environments rated at 1 Pa or higher, such as being planetary based, create disturbances with the entry plane that prevent it's formation.
Void Doors also possess an unusual quirk that while they are a form of gateway they require no distant gate to anchor to, enabling them to create a one way path to another point, even if the exit point can become inaccurate within an AU of the intended zone. Another drawback to this 'anchorless' activation is that the drive only functions at one third the speed it would normally possess, which can be problematic as loss of the original gateway during transit could leave vessels being forced out of FTL remote from any systems. Should a void door be anchored to another distant void door it would create a more stable pathway, allowing not just full speed transit, but allow a two way transfer, although the distant gate would still suffer the issues of activation as normal as it tries to capture and entangle it's entry plane to the exit point of the first gate.
Travel within the gates themselves is Real time, and exists within a functional void outside of real space. The peculiarities of the drive likewise mean that subspace sensors are unable to perceive their surroundings while in transit, although the vessels in transit otherwise maintain their subspace signature with only minor distortion. Additionally this void that vessels pass through is known to be slightly psychoactive in a harmless manner, with the otherwise empty void around the ship often manifesting hallucinations relative to the viewer, with many viewers reporting entirely different sights out the same window. Further testing has also shown that the hallucinations exist only within the mind of the viewer, and thus can not be interacted or even detected in any conceivable manner. Finally it is well theorized that other types of FTL would be unable to activate within the void that is present in the gates, owing to the fact the ship is otherwise unable to interact with the void around it, and is moving only under a natural effect of the Void Door, with it also being proven that a vessel activating a void door is incapable of passing through it's own entry plane as it will simply disrupt the entry plane with no effect.