We’re exploring strange new worlds and new civilizations today, as well as featuring a space whale that has nothing to do with Eclipse Phase! Today I’m looking at some of the flashiest, fanciest science vessels in Star Trek Online, some of which are fan-favorites from the extended Star Trek canon in books. Check them out and expand your game’s science capabilities!
Reconnaissance Science Vessels
The most famous example of a Luna-class reconnaissance science vessel is definitely the U.S.S. Titan, led by Captain William T. Riker after his commendable service as first officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprises-D and -E. The ship also had many famous Starfleet officers and was in fact the most diverse crew in Starfleet history. The class was originally designed for exploration missions to the Gamma Quadrant before the violence of the Dominion War sidelined the project. After the war, though, the project went ahead and the Luna-class became a staple of Starfleet. The Luna class is detailed in the Command Division Supplement and alternate versions can be found in a few different places (check out the Spaceframe Index for all of them).
The Sol-class reconnaissance science vessel was launched less than a year after the first Luna-class ships and is outfitted with design elements from cruisers like the Galaxy and Sovereign classes. These elements are not all external either: the Sol-class science vessel is an advanced research ship but also more than capable of serving in diplomatic situations. These vessels advanced Federation politics as well as knowledge in the Gamma Quadrant and other bordering regions. To make a Sol-class spaceframe, start with the Luna-class stats and reduce Engineering to +0 and increase Command to +1. Additionally, exchange the Advanced Sensor Suites Talent with the Diplomatic Suites Talent in the spaceframe’s default list.
After the success of the Luna and Comet classes, the Polaris-class was a revolutionary change to the spaceframe design. It strongly resembles the original Luna-class design but has sharper, more pointed features due to experimental changes in the nacelle structure. More dramatically, the Polaris class’s upper pod section uses design elements from the Nebula-class research vessel which allows a drydock station to exchange that part of the hull for a mission-specific pod. The Polaris-class variant uses the mission pod rules from page 60 of the Command Division Sourcebook which means it gains two more points in Systems, one more in Departments, and two more Talents. To make room for this reduce Computers and Comms by -1, reduce Engineering to +0, and remove Advanced Sensor Suites from the ship’s list of default Talents. A Polaris-class ship with the Command & Control mission pod will gain back the lost Systems points and the Sensors mission pod will restore the Talent, so this is really a move to a more specialized design.
The Comet-class variant of the Luna class was launched in the year after the Polaris class and it was another reinterpretation of the proven Luna-class basic design. It has a more elongated saucer section like the Sol class with advanced navigational arrays and a power management system that provides adaptation when needed. While some Comet-class ships have excelled at maneuvering when pressed into service, the variant class is designed to explore and survive spatial phenomena. To create a Comet-class ship, start with the Luna-class stats and decrease Computers, Sensors, and Weapons by -1 then increase Engines by +1 and Structure by +2. Reduce Engineering to +0 and increase Conn to +1, then replace Advanced Sensor Suites with Secondary Reactors in the ship’s list of default Talents.
Deep Space Science Vessels
The Trident-class deep space science vessel is a cutting edge science vessel produced by Starfleet in the final decades of the 24th century. After years of hardship during the Dominion War, a rekindled spirit of exploration led Starfleet engineers to design a new science vessel for long-range explanation. The Intrepid-class was doing fine but wartime had led the Federation to favor autonomy more and this generation of science vessels would feature enough engineering capability to enact repairs and servicing on its own. The Trident class was launched in 2391 and is much smaller than the Intrepid or Nova classes. With a smaller crew and less need for dilithium, missions aboard a Trident-class ship were known to be very long and very trying. The class saw limited production but has seen a revitalization as new corridors of travel have opened to Starfleet and long-range missions to the Gamma and Delta Quadrants have spiked.
The Oracle-class variant was designed for a very specific need: visiting and surveying potential supernovae. With more radiation protection in its hull design and warp engines to carry it to farflung systems, the Oracle-class design is a combination of the Trident-class basis and ongoing research by Starfleet on avoiding another crisis like the Hobus supernova that destroyed the Romulus system. Like the Trident class, the Oracle-class starships didn’t quite live up to their promise and saw only limited production until decades later when the Federation had a sudden need for dozens of comprehensive stellar surveys in unexplored territories.
After several years of disappointing receptions to their work, the Trident-class production team released a two new variants starting in 2395. The first of these was the compact Destiny-class science vessel which was an extensive redesign of hull (as can be easily seen by the drastically different silhouette) and a modification of the Trident class to serve as a survey ship in more dangerous regions. Because of the autonomy that the Destiny class owed to its Trident-class heritage, it could be deployed along the Demilitarized Zone or the Klingon border and operate for months without needing to send subspace messages. The systems still focused on scientific rather than military operations, but these regions of space contained dozens of unique phenomena previously unknown to Starfleet.
The other class in this “second wave” of Trident-class variants was the bulldog-like Nimbus-class design. Though it may look like an armored escort ship, the Nimbus class was outfitted to support away missions and planetary surveys. In a time of expansion, the Federation was eager to have a dedicated ship for surveying new worlds and the Nimbus-class had both the personnel support and small craft resources to visit hundreds of new worlds and prospective colony sites.
In the late 2380, Starfleet launched three spaceframes that utilized the slipstream drive technology brought back by the U.S.S. Voyager from the Delta Quadrant. Each of them are much larger than the Intrepid-class ship so some changes were required. Rather than putting everything into one design (perhaps remembering the transwarp debacle of the U.S.S. Excelsior) Starfleet launched three designs all incorporating slipstreams but with different focuses and approaches.
The Vesta-class multi-mission explorer was the first released and the U.S.S. Aventine under the command of Captain Ezri Dax proved the class’s abilities as an independent long-distance survey vessel. The Aventine-class was launched next and had more design elements of a standard exploration cruiser like the classic Galaxy-class. The Rademaker-class blends the designs of the other two but it’s focus is geared more to strategy and fleet coordination. All three of these spaceframes were detailed on Continuing Mission where they only differ from each other subtly.
At the dawn of the 25th century, Starfeet updated each of these spaceframes with a new version incorporating the latest technologies and design aesthetics for 25th century spaceframes. Among other things, this means the spaceframes’ Quantum Torpedoes Talent is redundant and can be replaced. The three were launched a quarter-century after the original spaceframes, so in 2405 there are two refit points for each variant. The Brigid-class multi-mission explorer has even more teeth and power than the successful Vesta class it’s based on. Starting from the Vesta-class stats, increase Structure andWeapons by +1 and add Backup EPS Conduits as its new default Talent.
For a strong combat vessel, though, the Palantine-class variant of the Aventine class was redesigned using lessons from the U.S.S. Aventine’s hostile encounters with the Borg and others. Starting with the Aventine-class stats, increase Weapons by +2 and add Fast Targeting Systems as its new default Talent. Lastly, the Esquiline-class variant of the Rademaker class is the new technological testbed, following the legacy of the U.S.S. Aventine. To the Rademaker-class stats, increase Computers and Sensors by +1 and add Modular Laboratories as the spaceframe’s new Talent.