STA:Damocles – Creating the USS Damocles
Fingers crossed, the STA:Damocles campaign starts on Saturday. So today I felt like it would be appropriate to go through te basics of the design process i used to create what many consider to be the main character, the USS Damocles herself.
At first glance, creating a ship in STA looks complicated, but is quite easy.
- Decide on a time frame for the game – After all you would not have a ship like the Enterprise D, a Galaxy class in the TOS (The Orginal Series) era
- Choose a base space frame – This cover the basic superstructure, core systems, operational infrastructure and all other elements that are common to every vessel of the same class.
- Mission Profile – Is the ship going to be an explorer, a technical test bed or combat variation of the space frame.
- Final Touches – Adding in abilities, weapons etc
- Refits (optional) – If the ship is an older class, such as the Excelsior, it would be fitted out with newer technology or upgraded as time goes by
That’s it. 5 steps is all that’s needed. 4 if you don’t include the refit option.
Now, if you are using the ships and info provided, things are nice and easy. However, what if you want to have your crew fly about in a ship that’s not in the book? Well there are some player-created space frames out there, or you can wait until the Command book comes out, which I have been told is going to cover more frames and ship options, but that’s early days yet. It will be out when it’s out. I personally prefer to wait for a book to come out and be good.
So..going through the above steps, this is how I designed/created the Damocles.
Step One – Time Period
This was a difficult choice. Originally, I was going to set the game within the DS9/Voyager era, just before the start of the Dominion War. But I realised soon after that if I did that I would not have access to ship class I wanted to use – the Prometheus, as it was still in development/testing in that time frame. So, I moved the time frame forward approximately 10 years, to 2381. This would give me more options for ships, technology and storylines.
Step Two – Space Frame
This was for me, the hardest part. My original notes were that the ship was to be one of the last of the Prometheus Class starships. But then I realised it would be the perfect opportunity to bring out, what I had dubbed, Prometheus 2.0 – aka the Damocles class. It would take the design of the Prometheus class, with its MVAM and holo-emitters on all decks and crank it up a notch.
But there was a major snag…
At the time of writing, the space frame details for the Prometheus had not been officially released and I could not find any player created ones to work from.
So, I got creative.
I start with the Intrepid frame. Increased its scale (a rough guideline showing how big ships are) by one. Reduced the science department values and increased the engineering, which would be appropriate for a hybrid Eng-Sci ship class. Then, gave it a small boost to tactical, as it was a follow-up from the Prometheus, a ship classed as an Advanced Tactical Vessel. I wanted the Damocles to be a powerful ship, but combat was not the primary goal. The MVAM mode would off-set the reduced combat abilities anyway.
Then I added the saucer separation ability form the Galaxy, but it now made three mini-ships, dubbed Vectors, instead of the main stardrive and saucer section.
Step Three – Mission Profile
This was, by far the easiest to decide. One of the profiles suggested is “Prototype” – which was perfect for the Damocles. Added the modifications this gave me and then onto the last step.
Step Four – Final Touches
Next, I added the final touches. I wanted to make the ship close to its predecessor, plus reflect what I believe would become standard operations for Starfleet following the Dominion War and other Incidences, such as the Nemesis event etc. So I added Quantum Torpedos, Ablative Armour, Advanced shields and Modular Laboratories. The goal of, what could be called an Engineering + Science + Tactical ship.
I had one more thing to add – but by this point, I had hit the official cap on the number of Talents/Traits a ship could have on this scale. Now I could increase the scale, but the ship was already larger than it should be. But I didn’t want to do this. So, I fudged the rules. Being a prototype, It made sense for me for the last system, The Emergency Holographic Crew, to be classed as experimental. It would not be used all the time, plus would open up potential storylines and events. Holograms are notoriously unreliable in combat due to the fact that if the holo-grid gets damaged, they can go offline, or if all power is drained etc. I felt like making this system unstable was a fair compromise towards being over the cap. Afterall, the ship was designed to test out new technology and ideas, it made sense to me.
By the end of it all I had the following:
|Scale||5||Shields||10 (15 with AS)|
|Resistance||5 (7 with AA)||Power||11|
- Federation Starship – All Fed ships have this
- Prototype – From the mission profile
- Quantum Torpedoes – Big Booms!
- Ablative Armor – Can take a hit and not have to worry too much
- Modular Laboratories – I have houseruled a slight change to this – In the official rules, it says this is for science, but I allow engineer set-ups as well. The other rules for ML still apply.
- Advanced Shields – Same as ablative armour – This one i *may* change later though
- MVVM/MVAM (inherent to the space frame but still considered a trait)
- EHCS (unstable – see above)
It took me a while but I ended with a ship class I was happy with. Although it looks daunting at first, don’t be afraid to come up with your own space frames/ships, especially for a ship you really want to play on or fight against. The good thing is is that if you make changes it’s very easy to justify it in-game as well – You can have Starfleet decide on a new compbat protocol, or new technolgy is being integrated etc.
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