Modern Transportation

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The odd selection of transportation in Ultima I
Modern transportation refers to various anachronistic high technology vehicles found in the first two Ultima installments. Due either to the presence of a Time Machine first and of Time Gates later, a number of exotic devices reached the feudalistic lands of Sosaria and the most ancient millennia of archaic Earth.

After the disappearance of the means for Time Travel, the lands that would become Britannia lost use of these futuristic artifacts, possibly because of an inability to manufacture them without futuristic guidance. The world of Earth in the meantime, was restored to temporal normalcy, and the civilizations of the past were left without access to the legacy of their future.

Ultima I[edit]

AircarDOSU1.png Aircar

This marvel of engineering hovered over grasslands and water alike, although whatever technology power it required a flat surface to move over, making areas of heavy vegetation and uneven land impassable while riding one. In addition to providing highly versatile transport, the aircar was furnished with potent laser weaponry, making it possible to attack marauding enemies from a distance.

ShuttleU1DOS.png Shuttle

In the world of Sosaria after the arrival of the Time Machine from the future, the technological wonder of space flight intermingled with the seemingly medieval socio-political mores of the age. Alien and strange to most of the inhabitants of the era, knowledge of space flight was only known through means of a space pilot instructional manual found discarded among the foothills of Mount Drash. The comparatively primitive people of the day, having heard prophecies that the hero who defeated Mondain would eventually have need to fight creatures that dwelt beyond the heavens, preserved this document and distributed it widely, in the hopes that one day, a champion would arise who understood its meaning.[1]

In spite of this dissonance with the age, space-faring shuttles were available through a number of retailers in the kingdom, perhaps being sold as scrap or as simple curiosities. Eventually, the Stranger was able to procure such a vessel, and was able to accelerate past the atmosphere of the planet into the orbit in which the wizard's star-faring allies laid in wait.

While other space vehicles were available to the hero, the Sosarian shuttle was the only one equipped with heat shields capable of leaving and re-entering the planet's atmosphere, although its fuel capacity and combat shielding proved lacking in the eventual interstellar dog-fights the Stranger engaged in. Appropriate gear was also necessary to pilot it successfully, lest the rapid change in pressure prove fatal to the shuttle's occupant.

StarshipSmallU1DOS.png Starship (small)

Once successfully in the realm of the "star-walkers", other ships became available to the Stranger through an orbital docking station. The small starship, while lacking the shuttles capacity for atmospheric re-entry, was outfitted with heavy shielding (rating: 5 000 units) and a modest fuel supply (max capacity: 2 500 units), making it an ideal option for short bursts of intense fighting.

StarshipLargeU1DOS.png Starship (large)

The large starship, like its smaller cousin, proved a superior combat vehicle to the simple shuttle while pursuing the vaunted title of "Space Ace". While its size allowed for an immense fuel supply (max capacity: 5 000 units), its shields were comparatively weak (rating: 1 000 units) when contrasted with the more compact model. This bulkier vessel, also a fighting ship, had no heat shields for exiting orbit.

DockingStationU1DOS.png Docking Station (shown with shuttle and small starship docked)

Not a true form of transportation, the docking station was nonetheless a vital waypoint for the Stranger's journey to master the ways of interstellar combat. Once out of Sosaria's atmosphere, shuttles could to be docked here for a five-hundred gold piece fee and a new, more battle-ready vessel could be procured

Ultima II[edit]

Biplane.gif Bi-Plane

A two winged fixed-wing air craft, the bi-plane of the late twentieth and early twenty-second centuries provided quick passage over land and sea. When not in flight, the aeroplane was capable of being rolled over grassland. The only bi-planes available to the Stranger in the hero's exploits throughout the altered time stream of Earth were in the possession of New San Antonio Airport and the CCCP-controlled defense hanger of the post-apocalyptic settlement of Pirates Harbour, although some could also be located on the outer planets of the Terran Solar System, notably Pluto.

For reasons never made clear, all available bi-planes were lacking in a crucial mechanical component: a brass button required to accelerate the aeroplane to flying speed. Once replaced, however, this button would break once flight was achieved. The cockpit of bi-planes further required required a skull key to open. Once in the air, bi-planes were only able to land upon flat stretches of grassland, and would crash disastrously if steered into mountains.

Rocket.gif Rocket

Rocket ships were only available within the post-apocalyptic Soviet settlement of Pirates Harbour, and within the city they were only available to those who could wrest them from the CCCP's locked and guarded launch site, a feat which would likely require the death of several of the twenty-second century KGB. Like the shuttle of earlier adventures, the rocket required that its pilot wear specialized armour to avoid falling victim to the physical trauma of interstellar flight.

It was necessary to have an ankh to operate the launch controls, although the exact mechanism for how the item interacted with the ship's machinery is unknown. The rocket of this strange era was fueled by a compound known as tri-lithium, a resource which could be found in the deepest reaches of dungeons and greatest heights of towers, as well as dropped by some enemies.

Once the rocket achieved orbit around the planet it had launched from, a set of three coordinates (Xeno, Yako and Zabo) had to be entered into the ship's computer to engage a hyperwarp toward the next destination, a task which utilized a single unit of tri-lithium for each warp jump. Once engaged to land, the ship could only approach the surface of a planet on flat grassland, with attempts to disembark elsewhere leading to the vessel's fiery destruction.

Lore[edit]

Planes: No jets, but these little single-prop jobbies are just the ticket for hotfooting it around the world and through time - if you're prepared.

Rockets: By the time you find one and figure out how to procure it, you won't need a manual to deal with the situation. It takes proper armor to launch one and survive.

Trivia[edit]

  • The creative logic behind such bizarre intermingling of medieval high fantasy and science fiction was that, at the time of these games production, Richard Garriott had not yet decided in which direction he should take the series. After Ultima II, he came to favor the fantasy aspect of the games decided to largely abandon the inclusion of future technology.
  • Anachronisms are possible thanks to Time Travel (Time Machine and Time Doors).
  • The appearance of the air car seems to be inspired by the landspeeder in Star Wars.

References[edit]

  1. Albert, David. "Star-Walking". The First Age of Darkness (Ultima I). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1986. Pages 9-10.