December 4, 2018 at 7:33 pm #4968
Now, especially with this being my first post on these forums, I want to fully acknowledge that Shatner’s Odyssey trilogy can be a little…controversial.
Setting that elephant aside, the idea of Starfleet Intelligence having an all black Defiant-class (or similar) vessel running around as per the USS Monitor in the novel utilizing more traditional stealth and sensor masking technologies has peaked my interest as the focus of an adventure. What I’m envisioning is the crew being asked to participate in a wargame type scenario designed to test the effectiveness of the ship’s “Silent Running” mode, competing against one or two other crews to see who can located the stealth ship the fasted, and conversely figure out ways to improve the stealth technology. Of course, something unexpected would go wrong in order to kick start the adventure into a higher gear, because that’s what happens in Star Trek?
At this point in time, having only run one session of Star Trek Adventures, I’m looking for some ideas as to how such an idea of a non-cloaking stealth ship might work in terms of game mechanics. What I’m envisioning is some kind of “Silent Running” mode the vessel would engage, combining the sensor/radiation absorbing properties of the hull, some low power mode, and/or some form of additional sensor masking technologies to avoid detection. I figured I’d toss this out you folks on the forums as I imagine most of your are far more familiar with the rules of the game than I am at this point. Not that my players would know at this point if I broke the game system entirely…
PS – Tried to post this once already, let’s see if the second time’s the charm…December 5, 2018 at 9:25 am #4969
Another in-universe hiccup that may be encountered is how use of impulse and warp engines affect subspace. Aside from detecting the hull material, emissions, etc., a big part of how sensors detect other ships is by their subspace signature (or how big of ripples their engines make in subspace).
Perhaps part of the stealth tech (in addition to your other suggestions) is a sort of variable geometry nacelle, like those on an Intrepid (for a Defiant class, maybe part of the armored hull where the nacelle rests can rotate?) which can be adjusted to make the ship’s warp signature appear as just background noise or some random distortion that is easily dismissed.
As far as game mechanics go, maybe entering “Stealth Mode” (involving all the features, like reduced power, filtering emissions, and masking the subspace signature) is a task for either the Tactical or Engineering station, maybe using Engines + Security. Since it’s not as simple as a Cloaking Device where you can just turn it on, I would assign maybe a Difficulty 2 or 3. Maybe while using the Stealth Mode, the complication range for any task that uses power goes up by one or two as well.December 10, 2018 at 11:35 pm #4992
Good point about the subspace signature, I hadn’t thought about that one. Now what I’ve got in mind (story wise) is that the Defiant-class vessel serves as an initial technical testbed for the the microdiffracted carbon hull coating, coupled with an early version of the “Silent Running/Stealth Mode”. One of the issues during testing is that the masking on the subspace signature on the Defiant-class vessel is not as successful as initially hoped for, and the idea is shelved for a time as Starfleet Intelligence isn’t really looking for a heavily armed warship that simply lies in wait for the enemy. Down the road, Starfleet Intelligence would resurrect the idea using the (fan made) Interceptor-class, which is a smaller vessel designed more for speed than combat, and already incorporates variable geometry warp into its design.
Rules wise, here’s what I have in mind after taking another look at the rules for cloaking devices.
Microdiffracted Carbon Hull Coating – Applied to a ship’s hull, this coating absorbs all visible forms of radiation, making it more difficult to detect both visually and by sensors. The difficulty to detect, scan, or target the ship using sensors is increased be one.
Silent Running – By entering a low power mode and employing a number of sensor masking techniques the ship is able to avoid or confuse most sensors making it more difficult to detect, scan, or target. To correctly engage the “Silent Running” mode requires a Control + Engineering Task Difficulty 2 from the Tactical or Engineering Station, assisted by the ship’s Engines + Security. The difficulty to detect, scan, or target the ship using sensors is increased be two. While activated, the ship’s power is reduced by 4. When traveling at impulse or at warp, the difficulty to detect, scan, or target the ship is reduced by one.
Advanced Silent Running – By utilizing variable geometry nacelles, the ship is better able to mask its subspace and warp signatures while Silent Running is engaged. As per Silent Running, however the decreased difficulty to detect the ship while at impulse or at warp is ignored. Requires variable geometry nacelles.
Again, all I’ve done with ships in the game thus far is have players make a few sensor scans and piloting checks. If anything above doesn’t really work rule wise let me know.
On a side note, is it bad that as a GM I’m already envisioning some nasty outcomes if a complication is rolled while attempting to engage Silent Running?
December 12, 2018 at 9:50 am #5011
- This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Kudos Das.
I look forward to hearing what you all come up with as a final decision. I think this would make a great article to post in the blog forum (all credit to you of course).December 12, 2018 at 10:55 pm #5020
For sure Micheal, I’d be more than happy to share/collaborate on any and all ideas you and the rest of the team here at Continuing Missions feel are worthwhile sharing with the larger STA community. You guys have been doing such a great a job providing content here on your site. Giving something back to you guys, even if it’s just an idea, is the least I can do.
What I’m currently planning on next is mocking up a ship similar to what was described in the book, a Defiant-class vessel with the hull coating and silent running systems, and seeing how the stat line turns out, and how well the whole thing works once some dice are actually rolled. I’ve got some thoughts on porting the captain from the novel into STA, as well as mocking up some ideas on the space frame for the fan made Interceptor-class that Brian inspired me to consider in order to incorporate variable geometry warp nacelles into this whole idea.
On a side note, while the book names the Defiant-class stealth ship the USS Monitor, I’ve renamed it the USS Vigilant in my campaign since the Monitor is already a Nebula-class ship in existing cannon, at least up to 2369. Of course something could have happened to the Nebula-class vessel between 2369 and the ramping up of Defiant production around late 2370 or early 2371, but I decided just to rename it. Figured I’d just mention that now in case folks were wondering why I’m not just using the original name of the ship as presented in the novels in my posts.
I’ll put some pen to paper (or key strokes to digital word documents) and post what I come up with for feedback.December 16, 2018 at 9:18 am #5072
Okay. Let me know when you have the full article complete. I will post. Email me any pictures or PDFs you want to be included. Great work, bro!December 17, 2018 at 3:43 pm #5086
Edit: Okay, let’s try this again…
Alright, here’s the first kick at the can for the USS Monitor. Since someone out there on the internet was kind enough to have already done up an image for the Monitor from the novel, I’ve decided to just go with the original ship name and the NX registry in the images so I don’t have to spend a bunch of time mucking about in Photoshop. Speaking of the NX registry, given that the creator of the images put it in the early 76000’s, I figure the ship was commissioned sometime in 2371, likely launched in early to mid-2372.
Name: U.S.S Monitor
Service Date: Early 2372
Space Frame: Defiant-class
Mission Profile: Technical Test-Bed
Traits: Federation Starship, Prototype, Assigned to Starfleet Intelligence
Engines: 10 Computers: 9 Weapons: 13 Structure: 8 Sensors: 9 Communications: 9
Command: 1 Security: 4 Science: 2 Conn: 3 Engineering: 3 Medicine: 2
Crew Support: 3
Micro-Diffracted Carbon Hull Coating (See Above – Replaced Ablative Armor)
Silent Running Stealth Systems (See Above)
Electronic Warfare Systems*
Phaser Arrays – 7d6, Versatile 2, Area/Spread
Phaser Cannons – 9d6, Versatile 2
Photon Torpedoes – 7d6, High Yield
Tractor Beam – Strength 2
Notes – I’ve switched out Ablative Armor for the Micro-Diffracted Carbon Hull Coating, and Quantum Torpedoes for Silent Running Stealth Systems from the base Defiant spaceframe. Given the growing threat of the Dominion, I figure Starfleet Intelligence is trying to balance the Monitor‘s covert information gathering and stealth capabilities with still being able to show some teeth if it’s forced to turn around and fight.
*Sticking strictly to the options for the Technical Test-Bed mission profile, I would go with Improved Power Systems due to the Silent Running systems upgrades/requirements, or High Resolution Sensors for information gathering purposes. However, Electronic Warfare Systems also seemed like a good fit. If only the Deifant-class was a lager scale…
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