Warhammer 40K: 5 Methods of Space Travel In The Grimdark
The Grimdark Universe has battles among the stars — but how do the different armies get around those same stars? Time to find out.
Have you ever wondered how the different races get around the Grimdark Galaxy of Warhammer 40,000? Sure, most race have sub-light speed travel and that’s all well and good for (relatively) short trips. But what about the VAST distances between the stars? Sub-light speed is just too slow for all that. So how do folks get around?
Imperium – Warp Drives
You’re probably familiar with this one the most. It’s Humanity’s Warp Drives. These Warp Drives are devices that allow a craft to enter the Warp, a parallel psychic dimension, and float along those currents and then portal back into reality light-years from their entry point. Ships do need a Gellar Field to protect against some of the…uh, “hazards” of the Warp. Humans also have to navigate in the Warp by the light of the Astronomican, which is a psychic beacon located on Terra. Warp Travel is not the safest way to get around as ships can become lost. However, the use of Warp travel is what allowed Humanity to spread as far as it has.
Orks – Warp Engines
Orks also use Warp Engines…only theirs are even LESS reliable. Most of them are built from the salvaged Imperial ones they manage to scrap together. So keep that in mind next time an ork offers you a lift across the galaxy. One advantage Orks have vs the Imperium is that their innate psychic Waaagh! energy seems to protect them much like the Geller Fields on Imperial Ships. As long as the Orks believe they will be fine in the warp, they tend to be fine while travelling. Besides, if any daemons do manifest on the ships, the Orks will probably enjoy the fight as a fun distraction!
Aeldari – Webway
The Webway is a a labyrinthine dimension utilised by the Aeldari for faster-than-light travel. These portals were first produced by the Old Ones and it allowed for travel across the stars without having to travel into the Warp. The secrets of the Webway were then taught to the Aeldari so they could aide the Old Ones in their fight with the Necrontyr and C’tan.
The Aeldari eventually created (or expanded) this galaxy-spanning web of tunnels in this alternate dimension. Their starships could also utilize the webway to travel these vast distances as well. There have been a few breaches into the webway over the years by unwanted guests. There has also been much damage to various parts of the Webway as well. It’s essentially a maze that can trap wanderers as much as allow them to pass freely vast distances.
There’s still the matter of how the Aeldari got to all these places to create or build the Webway portals in the first place…but that’s another topic.
Necrons – Inertialess Drive
The Necrons use Inertialess Drives. These engines are capable of incredible speeds and allow for Faster-than-light travel.
But what exactly is an Inertialess Drive? Well the original concept is from another work of science fiction – Triplentary. The idea is that these drives are able to create a field where the mass inside loses inertia but keeps their relative energy. This allows for the object to surpass the speed of light. The Necrons probably use a similar technology or one based on the same concept.
These Inertialess Drives aren’t the only way the Necrons can travel around. They also have teleportation technology as well as Webway access via Dolmen Gates.
Tyranids – Narvhal
The Tyranid Narvhal is a Bio-ship that allows the Tyranid Fleets to travel Faster-than-light. These ships have monofilament spines that can detect broad spectrum gravimetric signals. They use these to sense planetary systems at incredible distances away. These bio-ships can then harness the system’s own gravity to create a pathway of compressed-space that Tyranid fleet travel at an increased rate. While this travel is technically slower than travel via the Warp there is no threat of attack from the various Warp entities.
There are other side effects when a Narvhal is targeting a system. They can cause earthquakes, solar flares, tidal waves, or various other gravity-themed natural disasters on the various planets on the system. These “attacks” help to disrupt the planets even further before the fleet descends to feast.
Now then, which of these FLT methods would you want to try out for yourself?