Wormholes are “shortcuts” through space that allow instantaneous travel from one location to another. Characters can step through them on one planet and arrive on a different world.
Different settings in SA have different assumptions about wormholes. In some, they are impossible to create, and travel through the universe is limited by the speed of light. In others the two ends of the wormhole must be created together and “towed” into place, a centuries-long process. Such wormholes are called paired. In still others, the two ends can be created at a distance, allowing easier transit across the universe. These are referred to as ranged wormholes.
Wormholes make the universe smaller (figuratively speaking), in the same way that airline travel and satellite communication made the world smaller in the 20th century. Without wormholes, people on different planets must wait for years to communicate with each other, at great expense. Wormhole communication is still not cheap, but it is much cheaper than renting a radio telescope array.
Wormholes can be very dangerous weapons. Different parts of the universe are moving at high speed relative to each other, and wormholes must correct for this. Because of that, ranged wormholes have the potential to drop large masses on distant targets at high speed. They can also be moved, carving pieces out of buildings and dropping lava onto cities. Paired wormholes are much safer in this way, but are also less flexible in general.
All wormholes are potential time machines, though they must be intentionally set up as such (and most are not). Traveling back to before the wormhole was created is impossible. SA does not generally deal with time travel, and this is left as a “can of worms” for individual GMs to open if they so choose.
Ranged wormholes require tremendous amounts of electricity to maintain, or they will collapse. Paired wormholes are expensive to create, but do not need to be maintained and will stay open on their own. Larger wormholes require greater energy expenditures.
Wormholes are not subtle. They can be detected with gravity sensors (Nano 4) and make a loud noise when opened. The opening of ranged wormholes can also be blocked by an interdiction field, which many high-tech civilizations project over their cities and military sites.
Wormholes are not self-balancing. Even if their energy needs are met, they can collapse if not constantly watched and adjusted. Specialized, sentient digital intelligences watch over most wormholes.
Characters with Stringtech 5 can open wormholes in certain settings, though they will need to recharge for hours or days before doing so again. The creation of a wormhole requires great amounts of electricity, even by high-tech standards. Tapping into the electrical mains of a large city would be sufficient. Maintaining a ranged wormhole is still a substantial endeavor, but is less expensive than creating it in the first place. Maintaining a paired wormhole requires little to no energy, especially if it is collapsed down to a pinhole when not in use.
Core Tech: Stringtech