STO Spaceframes: Pilot Escorts

We’re getting into the more complicated options for spaceframes in Star Trek Online in the spaceframe project. Starting at Tier 5 there are some advanced starship types that I have different rules for. Today I’m presenting rules for pilot escorts and would love some feedback. Post your ideas in the comments!

Additional Conn Stations

Normal bridge layouts on 24th- and early 25th-century vessels, there are three main stations: conn, operations, and tactical. More information on these stations can be found on pages 257-258 of the core rulebook. Pilot escort ships, however, feature three different conn stations on the bridge, each of them with access to the ship’s propulsion system. These stations, arrayed in a small arc at the front of the bridge, are…

  • Nav-Conn: The most traditional of the three stations, this console has access to helm and navigation actions.
  • Org-Conn: Short for “energy systems organization,” this conn station has access to helm and internal systems actions.
  • Tac-Conn: Working with the tactical bridge officer, this console has access to helm and tactical actions.

Additional Helm Tasks

The term “pilot escort” is a misleadingly simple term. In some ways it is like “heavy escort” or ‘tactical escort” used by Starfleet: designations that specify the design focus of a spaceframe. More than general design concerns, however, any pilot escort also has a technology called “lateral cohesive impulse.” The impulse engines of pilot escorts have crossed vectors allowing them to maneuver forward and backwards but also sideways. They also have powerful, coordinated inertial dampening systems that allow pilot escorts to perform maneuvers that would rip other spaceframes apart as well as seriously injure the crew. In an instant, and a great velocity, pilot escorts can shift direction and literally run circles around enemy vessels.

Image © Cryptic Game Studios

A character at the helm station of any vessel with the Pilot Escort Trait can attempt the following Tasks in addition to their normal options described on page 222 of the core rulebook.

  • Afterburners: The flight controller engages the impulse engines while using the lateral cohesive impulse system at the same time. The result is a quick burst of movement forward which can also break target locks. The flight controller moves the ship anywhere within Long range and attempts a Daring + Conn Task with a Difficulty of 2, assisted by the ship’s Engines + Conn. If successful, until the flight controller’s next Turn, all attacks against the ship, and attacks made by the ship, increase their Difficulty by 1. This has a Power requirement of 2.
  • Barrel Roll: Using the lateral cohesive impulse system along with maneuvering thrusters, the ship can dramatically roll to the side and come up unexpectedly next to the enemy. The flight controller moves the ship anywhere within Medium range and attempts a Daring + Conn Task with a Difficulty of 3, assisted by the ship’s Weapons + Conn. If successful, until the flight controller’s next Turn, all attacks made by the ship reduce in Difficulty by 1 (to a minimum of 1; if already at 1, then gain one bonus Momentum instead). This has a Power requirement of 2.
  • Retrorockets: In one of the most dramatic maneuvers possible for a pilot escort, the lateral cohesive impulse system is pushed to its limit. Reversing the ship’s vector, it “jumps” backwards creating an advantageous position. The flight controller moves the ship anywhere within Medium range and spends 1 Momentum to provide a Firing Position Advantage on the next attack made by the ship. This Advantage disappears after the attack or at the start of the flight controller’s next Turn, whichever comes first. This has a Power requirement of 1.
Image © Cryptic Game Studios

Non-Pilots Aboard a Pilot Escort

A strength of Star Trek Online is the shared spotlight for characters of all backgrounds in a variety of situations. Ship combat is a particularly good example since each member of the senior crew (including the chief medical officer and chief engineer) has ways to contribute in a space battle. Having a ship with such a focus on the pilot’s role threatens to unbalance that, so here are some suggestions to realign the game for the crew of a pilot escort.

The Commanding Officer and Tactical Systems station perform their usual actions, managing the Momentum pool for the ship’s bridge crew and making attacks respectively. The tactical officer is sharing the attacks with the Tactical Helm station, however, so assistance is definitely possible. The Operations station, however, can feel a little anticlimactic attempting Scan for Weakness over and over. Instead, consider using the following role instead of an operations manager (core rulebook, p. 126).

  • Operations Coordinator: Engineering department only. The operations coordinator acts as a bridge between the different bridge stations, normally from the Operations station on the Bridge. During complicated ship maneuvers, they are the hub that keeps everyone on the same page. When the operations manager attempts a Task to Create an Advantage assisted by the ship’s Computers or Sensors or using a tricorder, the Difficulty of the Task is one less than normal. If the Difficulty is already 1, the operations coordinator instead gains one bonus Momentum on a successful roll.

An operations coordinator can be part of any bridge crew that wants a dedicated crew member in the position. On larger ships or those with specialized designs (like pilot escorts), an operations coordinator handles the technical aspects of the ship while the operations manager handles the personnel and data. With three conn stations, of course, there are also more positions for pilots. To accommodate, here are some more flight-related roles for characters.

  • Energy Control Specialist: Conn department only. Working from the org-conn station, the energy control specialist manages the flow of energy through the ship’s systems to keep the complicated maneuvering systems in operation. When aboard the ship, the energy control specialist always has the Advantage “EPS Management Training,” which represents their specialized knowledge of electro-plasma systems.
  • Tactical Operation Specialist: Conn department only. Typically seated at the tac-conn station, this role specializes in combat piloting. When the tactical operation specialist is required to assess the threat and tactics of an enemy vessel, they may use the Conn Discipline instead of Security.

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