A Manifold is a device in space that is used by starships to travel great distances very quickly. The collection of all systems connected via Manifolds is known as the Manifold Grid. The way Manifolds operate is a topic of great debate in the galaxy. When, why and by whom the Manifolds were created is also unknown, but the devices are very old and very advanced, but it is known that the Manifolds were created by one or more alien species.

Physical Specifications

A Manifold is an immense ring. It is made of unknown materials and is very durable. The diameter of each Manifold is so large that it is conceivable that a small moon could pass through its center. This large size allows a fleet of starships to pass through a Manifold simultaneously.

Manifolds are always the last object in a star system, orbiting further than any other celestial body in the system. Whether this placement was made out of necessity is unknown. A Manifold has never been moved from its orbit, at least not to the knowledge of most.


Manifolds are operated on a few simple principles. Each Manifold has a radio receiver that operates the Manifold. A signal to the Manifold at a certain frequency will open the Manifold to one of the other Manifolds to which it is connected. When activated, a point of energy appears in the center of the Manifold and energy begins arching outward from the center to the Manifold itself. Eventually an image appears on the solar side of the Manifold, showing the destination system as it appears from the center of the destination Manifold. It is as if looking through a window in the space-time continuum at the other star system. On the "back" side of the Manifold, the center of the Manifold is filled with energy radiating from the central point.

Only the solar side opening of the Manifold can be used for intersystem travel. Ships can go through the Manifold from the non-solar side, but will just end up on the other side in the same system. In known history, no vessel has attempted to pass through the non-solar side of a Manifold while the Manifold was active, but it is theorized that attempting to do so would result in the destruction of the ship. The effect this would have on the Manifold itself is unknown.

There are two requirements for traveling through a Manifold: will and guidance. Scientists are not exactly sure why, but to pass through a manifold requires an intellect driving the object, whatever it is, through the Manifold. Experiments have shown that artificial intelligence is sufficient to cause ships to travel through the Manifold. However, tests with non-sentient forms of life have failed. Those vessels simply pass through the Manifold opening and come out on the other side in the same system.

Radio signals, radiation, lasers, and other forms of energy and waves are unable to pass through a Manifold. Sending messages through the Manifold requires a ship carry them across the threshold. The Spacers Guild performs this service for most messages, though highly sensitive communications might need special handling.



The Manifolds were built by a precursor race that has no direct name ascribed to them. They are called the Elders, the Precursors, the Pre-adamites, the Chasers and so forth. There appear to be two or more precursor races, based on differences in technology and architecture between Manifolds. On several planets, monoliths have been found that seem to depict the Elders in physical form. They seem to retain a humanoid form but have alternately smooth, benevolent faces or horrible, spiney and fanged features. These monoliths do not appear to have been built by the Precursors but rather by local native races.

The Age of Exploration

Manifolds were used by humans from the Sol system to travel the galaxy several centuries ago. Eventually, humans used the Manifolds to settle every habitable world within the Manifold Grid.

The Age of War

During the Age of War, Manifolds were used to transport fleets of starships between systems to engage in combat. Details of this time period are sketchy, but it is believed that all warring factions avoided doing damage to the Manifolds, for doing so would render interstellar travel infeasible.

The Age of the Republic

When the wars finally came to an end and the Republic was born, study of the Manifold technology resumed. It is believed that the Republic came very close to understanding how the Manifolds operated. Unfortunately, that knowledge was all but lost following the Sundering.

The Age of the Sundering

Somewhere around 500 years ago, give or take a century, the Manifold network shut down. The Manifolds ceased working, isolating the star systems from each other and shattering the Republic. The cause of this shut down of the Manifolds is unknown. Some believe it was caused by the damaging or destruction of a single Manifold on the Grid, possibly caused by Republic research. Others believe the system shut itself down in order to perform repairs on itself and to "reboot". Still others believe it was punishment from a god or gods (or the Manifold architects) for the opulence, greed, and immorality of the Republic. Whatever the reason, most (though not all) of the Manifolds ceased functioning for more than two dozen generations.

The Age of Rediscovery

Not long ago, the Manifolds suddenly began to reopen on their own. Gradually, the entire Manifold Grid was reactivated. How and why the Manifolds reopened is unknown, but most are just happy that they have.

The Spacers Guild

With the reopening of the Manifolds, the Astrologius Coterie, descendant organization of the former republic's Traffic Administration division, took control of the operation and maintainence of the manifold grid. As the first explorers of the resurgent grid and usually the first sign of a manifolds reopening, few of the worlds found were in a position to argue. The Guild declared a sphere 1 AU in radius from each Manifold to be Guild territory and neutral in all affairs. The Guild arranges the schedule for the Manifolds, powers and maintains them, and defends them from attack and rogue objects. The Guild charges a fee for using the Manifolds to each ship that passes through. Ships that travel the Manifolds regularly can set up for an account with the Guild to allow for quick and easy passage through the Manifolds. The fees collected from passing ships are used to cover the costs of maintaining the Manifold network.

Though the size of the Guild's presence at each Manifold depends on the size of the system and the traffic density at the Manifold, the Guild typically has a space station orbiting the Manifold for administrative purposes, as well as providing fueling facilities (with fairly reasonable prices). Additionally, the Guild has one or more patrol craft charged with maintaining order at the Manifold, and one or more weapons platforms with mass drivers "to keep space junk away".

Each Manifold is opened to one destination system once every 22-26 hours. The system to which it is pointed is determined by a rotation. The Manifold remains open only one hour, then is shut down to allow the Manifolds on the other end to send ships through. In heavily trafficked systems with many manifolds, such as the Sol system, this can create long lines as a path to a particular system may only be opened once in about a week.

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