This is a document that is living and breathing. Means, that things might change over the course of the time I spent playing in it.
The Forge is an almost spherical globular cluster, with tidal or Jacobi radius rt of about 100 parsecs
The Forge is separated into five layers or regions.
Outer Rim. The outermost layer of the cluster and the region densest in settlements. As it is the furthest away from the core, drifts are most stable and passages plenty. This lead to a rapid colonization of this region. But even though there are plenty of settlements to be found here, the region is also the biggest and the space between settlements still mostly unknown and unexplored.
Gordian Territory. Those brave enough to push forward into the direction of the core landed here. Drift Travel becomes more unpredictable and strange. They could take you from one end of the cluster to the other, or leave you at the same space where you left of. Settlements become more sparse and scattered around the region.
Threshold. Compared to the gordian territory, traveling in the Threshold is much more predictable. But it is far from stable. Strange phenomena, violent quantum storms and forces impede travel. But you are rewarded with derelicts of an ancient culture, that inhabited the cluster long before humanity found its way here.
Inner Void. Although only a small layer in the cluster it is the most difficult to traverse. Travel in most parts is only possible in sublight speeds. No Safe Passages are known. To make matters worse, normal space-time is warped and deformed by strong tidal forces between the core and the rest of the cluster, making even living here almost impossible. No wonder there are very few (if any) stars or planets to be found and mostly the darkness of space is presented to those who dare enter.
Core. Not much is known about the core. A dense collection of newly forming stars in the center of cluster. Immense tidal and gravitational forces reign here, making traveling through the core impossible.
These layers are a reskin of the original regions presented in the book. I felt it more appropriate that humans have settled on the outermost layer as travel is easiest there and it becomes harder and harder going deeper into the cluster closer to the core.
This table helps translating from the original names to my reskins.
To ease navigation, the forge is subdivided into sectors. A sector is roughly defined as an area of space that contains any objects (be it settlements or just planets) that are of some interest to the human race and are thus noteworthy.
Each sector is given a unique identifier that acts as a coordinate that every navigational computer can use to determine its relative location to the current position. Such a coordinate follows the following scheme:
Since the Forge is roughly a sphere this three coordinates are enough to describe any point on and within this sphere. Longitude and Latitude are given in degrees rounded to the next full number. So each sector has a diameter of 1 degree. Altitude is given as parsecs.
Each of these numbers is encoded as a vigesimal number (that shall always contain two characters - thus a leading zero needs to be prepended if neccessary).
A sector might be subdivided further to ease navigation within the sector. To that effect the space is divided into equal sized hexagons.
Stars and objects are loosely named according to "official" astronomical naming conventions. Stars are additionally classified. In addition to this unique identifier they might have a common name, used by the locals.
The Forge is home to a phenomenon called Drifts that allows Faster-than-Light travel. Drifts are tears in the fabric of the space-time continuum. A ship can use these drifts to enter subspace to travel between two points in a short amount of time.
However, navigating this subspace has its risks and a suitable drift has to be found to exit this subspace in time. Subspace itself is unstable and the ships needs to be artificially stabilized, or it would be ripped apart.
As such travel is only possible from drift to drift in short bursts and the ships drive has to recover between each drift to ensure safe travel. More frequently traveled paths are called passages. Subspace has become more stable along its path, so travel is easier with less stops needed in between.
Even though traveling in subspace has its risk it is still the fastest available method and can cut travel times from several years to mere days.
Subspace, and to an extend drifts, become more and more unstable and unpredictable the closer you get to the Core. Violent quantum storms and other phenomena inhibit safe travel. Certain areas in the forge are even devoid of any drifts, such as the inner void, having to rely on sublight speeds only.
Communication to most parts is limited to "traditional" methods and are bound to the speed of light. This leads to obvious limitations as distances between settlements become rather large and messages can spend years in transit.
As humanity was settling in the Forge it became fractured into small communities and were mostly restricted within their sector. It was still slow but messages would at most spend some weeks in transit.
If information needed to be distributed more quickly, they could be send by using Runners. Runners would get the information on special datacubes and would transport them using drifts and passages and could thus provide communication faster than the speed of light to the far reaches of the cluster.
But they were bound to the drifts and as they exited from drifts to recharge their engines were susceptible to attacks. Furthermore, as travel through the drift gets more difficult the closer you are to the core, getting messages to deeper layers of the core becomes very hard. Thus runners would mostly keep to known passages to transport these messages.
Time is relative. On earth we had the passage of the sun to define our day and the units thereof. But this was dependent on the rotational speed of the planet. Some settlements aren't even on a planet, thus the definition of a "day" is widely subjective.
In order to facilitate communication and coordination between people the usage of chronotrons became wide spread. A chronotron provides a standardised measure of time. Roughly it divides a year into 365 equally long days with 24 hours each.
To facilitate story-telling we just use our "earthen" definitions.
There is no notion of weeks or months, but the year could be divided into semesters or quarters accordingly to create rough timeframes.
Year 0 is defined as the first year were humanity landed in the Forge and began settling it. Everything before is given as a negative number. So Year -1 would be the year before the settlement and so forth.
Dates would be given as Y(X).(DDD), where X is the year number and DDD is the number within the year, with leading zeroes. So the 52nd day in the year 25 would be written as Y25.052.
Our stories will start in Y523, roughly half a millenia after the first settlement. Humanity had time to spread in the cluster and make a home. Communities, Factions and Conflicts have been created over these times. But also a lot of things have been forgotten.