Above: A ‘Chromedog’ model hoversled
The term ‘hoversled’ is usually applied to terrestrial vehicles powered by repulsorlifts, with no additional wheels, skids or other support. More commonly, it refers to heavily customised craft built for high speed racing and stunts.
Repulsor technology became prevalent during the Second Age of FTL travel; it was deployed to prevent crash-landings during colonisation and became a staple for all manner of colonists. It also allowed newly found settlements to transport heavy loads large distances more easily. Cheap repulsorlift technology made it into the hands of children, first in desktop toys and then in ‘hovercars’; cargo containers made able to hover in place. These children took to riding the contraptions down hills – the steeper the hill, the higher speeds they could attain.
As these children grew older, the designs grew more elaborate. New drives were added which could ‘push’ the craft forward, meaning speed without having to travel downhill. Colonists on New Riga were the first to race these craft around rudimentary courses; this created rivalries and led to the development of faster and more agile craft. It was on New Riga that the term ‘hoversled’ was coined; would-be sled racers from nearby human worlds tuned into pirate broadcasts from the planet to watch races and tournaments.
Hoversleds hit the big time from the end of the Third Age. Megacorporations began to take an interest in their production and maintenance; resulting in advanced models like the Chromedog. Even with modern technology and thought applied to their design, hoversleds remained dangerous and volatile craft to pilot. Most safety measures are eschewed in exchange for speed and horsepower; around 40% of sled pilots are estimated to suffer life-changing injury or death.
The most dangerous circuit exists on the icy plains of Iiron V; it is an invite-only race administered by the unbeaten designer of the course, the old mercenary Redthorn.