The Book That Never Should’ve Been, Part 2: The Decker Class Starship

By Al Spader

            Welcome to part two of an ongoing series about the FASA Star Trek The Next Generation Officer’s Manual

FASA was well known for their TOS and Movie RPG supplements to their Star Trek RPG into through the early 80’s. As the line progressed, many of the designers wished to push content toward a more militaristic view of Starfleet. This can be seen with the release of the Starship Combat Simulator in 1983 and its rerelease in 1985. Some say that this direction was what prompted Paramount to pay closer attention to its licensed products.

            In 1987, Paramount introduced the world to its bold new direction for the Trek franchise with Star Trek The Next Generation. FASA, seeing a whole new market and line of products, jumped on board and made two RPG supplements for the new show. However, without insight into the design of the series, the company created new ships and equipment that they thought would complement the series as well as fill in the years between TOS and TNG. This gave Paramount the opportunity they needed to pull the license and eventually shop the RPG product to other companies. 

            The creators of the Star Trek The Next Generation Officer’s Manual wanted to pay homage to TOS in many ways, including creating space frames and ship designations named after prominent characters from TOS. Enter the Decker Class Destroyer. Named after the famous Decker family and with designations such as the Christopher Pike, Hikaru Sulu, Samara Uhura and more, this frame was the very embodiment of this homage. Designed as a rapid deployment, armed to the teeth military ship, the Decker class even epitomized the vision that some at FASA had of a more militarized Starfleet game.

            When designing the space frame, I considered speed and weaponry first, followed by command and structure. Without firing arc rules in STA (FASA gave this ship almost a 360֯ firing arc with its torpedoes), it is tough to realize how terrifying these ships were on the battlefield, often causing skirmishes to end with just their presence alone.  One could even imagine a late, surviving model of the ship being upgraded to carry a terrifying number of quantum torpedoes because of this.

6 comments

  1. What I find interesting, while reading the book, is how much these concepts would be at home with the Star Trek Universe during and after the Dominion War.

  2. According to a game shop owner I was friends with, FASA wrote it as a supplement, with little in way of game-specific data, but charged it as a game sourcebook. That meant FASA got a larger cut, and is why Paramount forced them to later put out the First-year Sourcebook, charged as a supplement. It was basically everything missing from the first book. They also killed the 1701-D deckplans just before shipping.
    I don’t know how true his claims are, but they make sense to me.
    The stats of the ships didn’t add up under their ship construction manual, as if they just threw the ship stats together, without doing any math, and the flavor text referred to things not actually in the stats.
    I also wish they’d actually fleshed out the ‘Long Lance’ plasma torpedo. Range, damage, and game effects of a weapon that supposedly damaged shields, power, and sensors, at long range, and yet was only ever used on one class of ship would have been nice, as well as some idea why it didn’t get rolled out to other classes.

  3. I have this book. I sort of love it and every now and again I get it out and flip through it. Very TNG S1 and 2.

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