Starship Sundays: Archer

Welcome to Starship Sunday, presenting a new spaceframe for the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game, filling in some gaps until official material can be released.

We’re returning to the era of The Original Series this month, adding a few ships for those years. This week is the Archer-class scout.

The Archer is beta canon, being created for the Star Trek: Vanguard novel series. Vanguard was a space station at the fringes of the Federation that was supported by a number of vessels, including an Archer-class scout. The Archer serves a similar purpose to Runabout in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. They’re small craft that engage in short duration missions, primarily supporting a station or larger ship.

As a tiny yet self-sufficient ship, an Archer is perfect for a game that wants to avoid using many supporting characters, or for games with smaller numbers of players. They’d also work for games set on a colony or space station, being the primary ship for missions abroad. A ship performing missions near a station might a new captain’s first command, or even assigned to a commander that’s serving on a station between missions on the field.

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  1. Hey Jester! Love this little ship. Gotta say, Starship Sundays is my favourite for Continuing Mission. I’ve only recent gotten into STA, but am loving it. Currently, I’m working on a TOS era ship for my tabletop game, and I’m wondering if you have any advise for those of us making ships. Basically, what is your “process?” Its one thing to find a ship image that you want to put together for game purposes, but how do you break it down into the overview and capabilities? Do you have go-to sources for ship ideas? Engineering terms for those not of this background? Thanks for reading and THANK YOU for your contributions to a FANTASTIC site. Keep it up!

    1. Themes drive a lot of my design. I pick a theme for each month and hunt down ships that seem appropriate to the era, with a focus on ones where I can find art. (I can draw or photoshop together a species, but a ship is much harder.) Canon ships take priority for this reason (as does Star Trek Online) but the longer this series goes on, the more I will likely drift into beta or fan canon. Even then, ships where I can find multiple images will take priority.

      When making a ship entry, the first step is figuring out the year it came into service, as that determines the total value of its Systems (the later the year a ship was built, the higher the sum of all the Systems, which increase by 1 each decade). Then I try and do things like figure out its scale.

      I tend to put background details in Overview: why the class was created, the purpose of the design, and the role of the ship in the fleet. The information in Capabilities tends to be what the ship can do and how it performs, as well as any specifications and descriptive details of the ship (number of crew, armaments, unique designs, etc). I also tend to place a description of the ship there, because less canon ships might be less well known and I like explaining what they look like.

      For researching, I default to, and then for details not on the first site. I make point form notes of the ship’s details and then compile that into the entry. For less seen ships I need to extrapolate and invent more.

  2. It looks like most of the published ship classes have a couple of talents as well. Any recommendations for this class, or is there a reason it doesn’t have them? Did I miss a rule on number of talents based on scale?

      1. I’m not sure if all Scale 2 ships are “Small Craft”. The book says “Small Craft are normally Scale 1, or Scale 2 at the most”. I’ll have to do some poking around and see if I can find either some other Scale 2 small craft that are bigger than the Shuttlecraft, or what size the smallest Scale 3 ship I can find is. I’m not sure what the cut off between the two would be.

      2. It’s always tricky to remember where my head space was while designing a ship several months back. In cases like this, I usually try to be flexible.

        As you say, there’s arguably no hard rule that a large Scale 2 ship has to be a small craft. So the Archer-class scout could be a small craft or not depending on the needs of the game (and even the era).
        If not a small craft then it gets two talents (equal to its scale). By not listing the talents, the ship is more flexible and you can customize it more, rather than having half or all of your talents decided in advance.

      3. Thanks, I think for my game I’m going to “promote” it to a Scale 3 ship. It fits better with what I want to do and I think it is roughly the same size, or at least number of crew, as the B’Rel Class Bird-Of-Prey, at least from what I recall from Star Trek III-IV especially when the crew is exiting the ship. Looks about the same scale as the figures on the Deck Plans I have from Starship Dynamics.
        Thanks for doing up the ship, it’s one I obviously like and it gave me a great head start 🙂

  3. Based on the description, I’m thinking of giving it “Advanced Shields” or “Improved Warp Drive”. Being Scale 2 it will pick up one more talent based on Mission Profile which would give it a total of 2, equal to it’s scale

  4. The other thing that makes me think this might be either an exception to the Small Craft ruling is that the restrictions on half Power and half Shields would seem to contradict the description of the ship. But, that’s the nice thing about games, we don’t all have to do things exactly the same way 🙂

  5. While I respect the aesthetic of the Original series, it’s not my favorite one. That being said, I really wish somebody would take the Archer Class and refit it, much in the same fashion the Constitution Class was refitted, beginning with the Enterprise. I understand that this might change part of the ship, but I would still love to see it done – not necessarily into the TNG era, but into the late-Kirk era.

      1. Very good! The only thing I’d change overtly is to enclose the dish. Apart from that I like it.

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