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Some starships in Starfinder are large enough to hold smaller ships, which may have drift engines. The only requirement I've found to enter the drift is that you must be stationary with your conventional engines off for 1 minute.

Is there anything preventing starships from entering the drift while inside other starships or stations? It seems likely that the containing ship would also have to be stationary, though it isn't entirely clear if it would also need to have its engines off.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry for the question from someone not sufficiently well-versed in the topic: stationary relative to what frame of reference? Being stationary relative to the bigger ship is likely be not the same thing as being stationary relative some celestial body. \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh- unsilence Monica Dec 26 '18 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh I don't believe it ever actually specifies. I'm guessing starfinder takes a somewhat handwavy approach and when they say stationary they mean not actively going somewhere? \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Dec 27 '18 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ So in practice it's supposed to mean 'not undergoing acceleration under its own power'? \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh- unsilence Monica Dec 27 '18 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe it's "stationary in relation to the nearest large gravitational body" but that's not actually specified by rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Knight Porter Dec 30 '18 at 23:33
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Aside from the stationary requirement, there is nothing I can find that would prevent this. The carrier ship would have to be perfectly stationary as well, but you wouldn't need to turn its engines off; it just couldn't use them for the duration of the smaller ship's charge-up.

Keep in mind that re-activating thrusters on the other side takes one minute per size category, so if you're trying to make a clever escape, you're still vulnerable in the drift until your main engines are back online.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose the reverse situation is also relevant. If the containing ship drifts, the smaller one would presumably go with, and could have had its thrusters on and be ready to go as soon as they hit the drift \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Dec 27 '18 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StephenTG Yeah, I can think of some interesting tricks there. If the smaller ship activated its own drift drive but didn't jump, could it somehow isolate itself and contrive to be left behind when the ship around it jumps away? \$\endgroup\$ – Knight Porter Dec 30 '18 at 23:35
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Short Answer: Yes

As long as the ship moving into the Drift is stationary and with it's engines off, it can enter the drift inside a larger, stationary body like a starship or base. With one catch...

I can appreciate why this is a tough question. Paizo mentions the Drift drive in several sections of the core rulebook. But in most of those instances, there is a caveat sentence after the many references across the rulebook:

For information on the Drift, see page 290

There are two places where the one of barely a handful of written rules for using the Drift drive is found on pg 298 under Drift Engines for Starship Creation, and on pg 291 for the rules for Space Travel for Drift Navigation. And that rule is:

For a starship to engage its Drift engines to either enter or exit the drift, it must remain stationary with its conventional thrusters turned off for 1 minute.

So as for a larger "host" ship carrying the subject ship trying to enter Drift space, that ship must also be stationary. However, having the host's engines on or off should not affect the jumping ship, only if it would make them not stationary anymore.

This can also seem to work in the reverse. There is another rule for Drift use on pg 291:

Additionally, since the Drift is a plane that you're traveling through, it is possible to pause midjump, and even to land on one of the floating chunks of terrain or engage in starship combat

So this means that it is also possible for a host ship to halt to a stationary position in the Drift, and a ship inside can spend a minute to charge their drive to leave the Drift altogether, including leaving the inside of the host ship.

Here's the catch

There is one very obscure feature of the Drift drive, which is buried in the last paragraph on the introduction part of pg 290:

... use of the Drift does come with a catch. Every time a Drift engine is used, a tiny portion of a random plane is torn from its home and added to the Drift, set to float there for eternity. The farther the jump, the larger the chunk of material, which sometimes appears near the jumping ship, adding an element of risk: you never know when a long jump might tear away a chunk of Hell and leave you flying through a cloud of furious Devils.

This also doesn't offer some clear rules, but it does try to warn of some risks. If a host ship is in the Drift, and a ship inside it uses their drive to exit, there is a chance that a piece of a random plane is deposited where that jumped ship was. Also, there is a chance that when the host is in normal space, and the ship inside jumps, that piece of random plane may be the normal space. Essentially tearing a hole in space inside that space inside the host ship.

As for what that could mean... the only example is a ship making a long jump upsetting some involuntarily stowaway devils. It is up to the DM at that point. If you would like some inspiration, both the shows Farscape and Battlestar Galactica showed a smaller ship making a jump inside the hanger of a larger vessel.

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