Communication in the Pact Worlds falls into three categories: planetary, system-wide, and unlimited. Although some powerful governments and religious organizations occasionally make use of expensive and dangerous supernatural communications, such as employing angels and devils as messengers, most residents of the Pact Worlds are restricted to the use of technology for their long-range communications.
Unlike planetary comm units, system-wide and unlimited range communicators are far too large to be portable, so they are usually integrated into starships or similarly sized facilities. Individuals without their own units can usually pay to send messages on rented ones. Receiving a message on a system-wide or unlimited-range unit requires an active Drift beacon transponder, which causes the receiver to broadcast identification and location data. Thus many criminal enterprises maintain virtual mail drops or black-market relays, trade in counterfeit transponders, or simply turn off their transponders and run dark. These transponders are standard on all starships and function as a primary means of ship identification.
Personal comm units are common, inexpensive devices that are capable of communicating with each other on a single planet or between ships orbiting a given world. Small enough to be carried in a pocket, they also come automatically integrated into all armor of 1st level or higher. While the units are powerful enough to transmit anywhere on a planet, they can be halted by targeted electromagnetic jamming or blocked by certain materials or methods, as determined by the GM. Encryption issues also make it impossible to use comm units to directly control machines, such as drones and starships. While some individuals link their comm units to operate as private, always-on radio channels, most contact each other by entering publicly registered names or private identification codes.
Due to the vast distances involved, interplanetary communication involves significant time delays, resulting in something closer to correspondence than conversation. The current best technology uses Triune’s network of Drift beacons—while bouncing the signal between them often mysteriously shortens the time delay beyond what would normally be possible with physics, it also randomizes the delay, making all messages within a solarsystem- sized area take 1d6–1 hours to reach their destination.
Like interplanetary communication, interstellar communication relies on Drift beacons. Messages transmitted this way remain a fundamentally epistolary form, since they take the same amount of travel time as simply jumping to the recipient with a starship—days or weeks. Thus, courier ships and ambassadorial missions still remain popular for negotiations and time-sensitive information. As with Drift travel itself, while there’s theoretically no maximum range for this form of communication, no one has ever received a return signal from beyond the edge of the galaxy.