By Al Spader
Welcome to part five of an ongoing series about the FASA Star Trek The Next Generation Officer’s Manual.
While FASA continued to imagine what the Alpha and Beta Quadrants would look like, they realized that Star Trek The Next Generation was going to rapidly expand Federation space. Knowing that these borders were expanding so rapidly, the designers came to understand that those borderlands were going to be havens for piracy.
While needing to deal with piracy on a galactic scale from the likes of Ferengi and other seedy cultures trying to take advantage of people, the Federation also continued their outward push to spread the word of peace, education, and science. The FASA designers knew that because of this, the Federation would also need more research and exploration ships.
The key to continuing this outward push was building efficient ships at a rapid rate that were perfect for their niche. For this reason, both the Paine-class and Moscow-class ships had a great impact on borderspace. Being able to build three to four ships of a particular class each year allowed Starfleet to quickly get the tools needed to the job that needed them. With the Paine-class policing and deterring pirates, as well as protecting trade routes, the Moscow-class ships were able to safely recon the vast reaches of space beyond Federation borders.
Though these designs were never seen in a show, their game design by FASA made sense based on the information they had. The FASA designers were able to imagine what issues would arise as borders were pushed further and further outward. By having this vision, the designers created two logical and important ships that fulfilled specific niches to help with Federation expansion.
That Moscow class is fugly with a capital F. Paine not too bad.
The assumption of highly prevalent piracy is a weird one. It wasn’t an especially common occurence in TOS, and I think it misunderstands the nature of piracy. Pirates don’t like remote fringes, because trade doesn’t pass that way. Historically, they’ve focused on areas where trade is booming and established, but policing is limited, usually due to war and other conflict. Piracy has also usually been a symptom of poverty, an act of desperation. Poverty is hardly a major motivator within the Federation, and TNG begins from a period of long peace and prosperity. Even in season 1, that was clearly spelled out.