Space Stations – Part I

One thing missing from Star Trek Adventures is rules for space stations. The book discusses starships, space stations, and colonies but it only gives stats for vessels. This is fine for most cases (a starbase will be more of a location than an element in a lot of campaign models) but for campaigns looking to emulate the station cres of Deep Space Nine this is insufficient. To fill this gap, Jester and I have some new rules for you!

Steps in Space Station Design

  1. Commissioning Date: When was the space station first constructed and operational? Older stations have more character but also more quirks.
  2. Station Frames: What is the station’s design? Designs can be modified but, like starships, starbases tend to follow a standardized blueprint.
  3. Mission Profile: What is the primary mandate of the  station? This will modify the frame’s abilities to better equip it for the tasks it’s likely to come across.
  4. Refits: How many improvements and upgrades has the  station undergone? Older bases need to be refitted about every ten years to keep up with improving technologies.
  5. Putting It All Together: The finishing touches of space station design involve checking to make sure everything is balanced and finished.

Commissioning Date

Like starships, a station such as a starbase are built to last and refit periodically to maintain their integrity and effectiveness. Because they are stationary, though, space stations can last much longer than starships and still be effective parts of the fleets they support. Refits happen every ten years – just as with starships

Traits

Many long-lived space stations have Traits representing quirks of wiring and older systems underlying newer ones. Some example Traits are suggested below.

  • Ancient Design: The station was built a long time ago, possibly more than a century! While it has received continuous refits to keep it in operation, the station has a lot of quirks and is often causing issues for the station’s engineering staff and operations crew. On the other hand, its older system can make it very difficult for would-be saboteurs to make sense of and it can have old-fashioned methods of communication, power distribution, or other systems that are hard for enemies to anticipate and counter.
  • Converted Station: The starbase was once something completely different, such as a civilian station that became a Starfleet outpost, an existing station given to Starfleet when a new species joins the Federation, or even an alien station converted to Starfleet systems like Deep Space Nine. The station’s former purpose still creeps in from time to time and the seams between the original systems and the newer ones sometimes show and cause issues. If it’s former life was a military function, there may be hazards and traps lying in wait. On the other hand, the station can still operate like it used to which might come in handy in different situations.
  • Interstellar Crossroads: While planets are the usual meeting place for alien species, some  space stations are well-located at the intersection of important systems or near an important site, that they attract large crowds and always have a variety of different ships docked at them. Traders and salvage vessels hoping to sell some wares while they refuel are a common sight.These crossroads stations often have visitors that cause trouble but these same visitors can provide surprising solutions and exciting opportunities.
  • Remote Outpost: Being in an out-of-the-way location, the space station is built to be self-sufficient and can function very well on its own without much contact with the rest of its fleet. These are often constructed in areas where planetary bases are not an option, such as the edge of Federation space or regions with few inhabitable planets. It can serve as a forward operating base in times of crisis, handle influxes of refugees, and even maintain a working base of operations if the region of space is cut off for some reason. On the other hand, a remote outpost might have systems overdue for servicing and run low on supplies since it is outside of the normal operating routes of friendly starships.
  • Border Outpost: At the fringes of Federation space, these space stations are situated nearby foreign powers such as the Klingon Empire or Tholian Assembly, as well as along the Romulan Neutral Zone. Designed to be the first line of defence and provide advanced warning of hostile action, they are often equipped with heavy offensive capabilities and powerful long range sensors. Because of their location and purpose, these stations often have redundant systems, increased internal security, and computer systems with augmented firewall and encryption. Alternatively, they may serve as a subspace relay and have increased communication capabilities.
Deep Space Nine
Image © CBS

Station Frame

Station frames are just like spaceframes for starships but they come in more varieties and tend to be custom-fit to the particular need of the area since they are immobile. Below are a few  station frames for the Federation that can be adjusted according to the needs of the campaign.

Station Scale

Space  stations can be any scale from 7 up to 11. Larger stations have more Crew Support (see page 217 of Star Trek Adventures) Regardless of their size, stations typically have a  tractor beam strength of 5: emitters have a finite strength and the tractor beams or most stations are designed for aiding with docking or recovering disabled ships, not towing ships for long distances.  Weapons on  stations are identical to those on starships (see page 231 of Star Trek Adventures) and not significantly more powerful. However, the size of most stations allows multiple weapon platforms to simultaneously lock onto a single target

On the other hand, large  stations are difficult to manage as they are effectively cities in space. While external engagements are easier, internal security concerns get more complicated since there are more people onboard, more places to hide, and more subsystems to check. Effectively, these turn into Extended Tasks (see page 90-91 of Star Trek Adventures) with a Work track according to the table below. This means a starbase at Scale 7 has no Work track (just like a starship of Scale 7) while a Scale 11 station like Earth Spacedock has a Work track of 12. This represents the deck-by-deck searching and arduous rechecking of resources in the huge structure and applies to anything where the station’s scale could be a detriment including finding intruders, stopping a computer virus, and evacuating population.

Station Scale Work Track Station Scale Work Track
7 0 10 9
8 3 11 12
9 6 12 15

Example: Data and Worf are trying to find a saboteur hiding somewhere in the Tharsis Shipyards above Mars, a Scale 9 station. They managed to get a genetic sample of the intruder after a firefight but then they slipped into the crowd again. Still, Data can run the sample through station’s internal sensors and find the intruder but because of the station’s size it will be an Extended Task with 6 Work. Good thing Worf is here to speed things along.

Supporting Characters: Civilians

Given the high number of non-Starfleet personnel on a space station, Supporting Characters need not be the highly trained officers found on starships. Instead, Supporting Characters could be friends and family members, or even the owners of businesses operating on the station.

Civilian Supporting Characters are created as per the rules in Star Trek Adventures pages 133-135, only they have Attributes of 9, 9, 8, 8, 7, and 7 and Disciplines of  3, 3, 2, 2, 1, and 1. However, when they are reintroduced, they can choose to increase an Attribute and Discipline twice. The character still cannot increase the same Attribute or Discipline more than once.

Deep Space Nine Promenade
Image © CBS

Reactor vs. Engines

Space  stations have maneuvering impulse drives sometimes but not real engines in the sense that starships do. Instead of an Engines System rating,  stations rely on Reactor which can be thought of it much the same way. If there is a task described for a starship that doesn’t involve impulse or warp drives but which relies on Engines you can use Reactor instead. Likewise, a station’s Power rating is equal to Reactor and any Talent that would increase Engines increases Power instead.

A character might use a station’s Reactor rating when…

  • …when attempting to transfer power to a docked starship.
  • …when trying to increase the station’s power output.
  • …when trying to project a particle stream or form of energy from the station’s deflector.
  • …when extend the station’s shields around a nearby target

A character may use Reactor with…

  • Command to synchronise the station’s power output with an allied ship to achieve an effect together.
  • Conn to maintain shield integrity in the face of a powerful ion storm passing through.
  • Engineering for most standard operations involving the station’s reactor core.
  • Security to section off parts of the ship with internal forcefields to stop intruders.
  • Science to create the right energy harmonics to trigger a subspace phenomenon.
  • Medicine to sweep the station with a particular form of radiation and counteract a pathogen.

Reactor Tasks

The following Tasks can be undertaken by characters who are in the Engineering or Operations role.

  • Assist Docking: A crewmember can use the station’s tractor beam to pull a ship into the docking bay, docking port, or cargo bay. This is a Control + Conn Task with a difficulty of 2 assisted by the station’s Reactor + Conn. The targeted ship or object must be within range of the tractor beam. This has a Power requirement of 1.
  • Extend Shields: The station extends its shields around another vessel or object. This vessel being shielded must be within Close range. This is a Control + Engineering Task with h a Difficulty of 2, assisted by the station’s Reactor + Security. If successful, until the character’s next turn, the shielded ship’s Resistance increases by 2.
  • Focus Shields: An officer focuses the power of the shields in the direction attacks are coming from. This is a Reason + Engineering Task with a Difficulty of 2, assisted by the station’s Reactor + Engineering. If successful, until the character’s next Turn, all attacks against the station increase their Difficulty by 1. This has a Power requirement of 1.

Reactor Damage

Damage to the station’s reactors reduce its ability to generate power and maintain systems. The effects of damage to a station’s Reactor’s is identical to damage to a starship’s Engines.

10 comments

  1. This is really awesome! My player’s were discussing playing a DS9 style game and I was just going to start making things up. Looking forward to the next installment of this article!

    1. Glad to save you some work… If you have feedback, let us know and we can work on an errata update. We’ll be coming out with spaceframes too, though the Nor style won’t be the first one out.

  2. Looks good. I had it in mind to do some homebrew for stations, and my thoughts so far were pretty close to yours. Besides, you’ve gone farther by considering variant tasks.

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