How would I have freighters be of use within the existing gameplay of STO?

 

Without changing the base gameplay, how would I design freighters – or – how would I make them interesting enough to buy and play with?

  • Make them fun to play
  • Make them have value for the player, but not replace combat vessels
  • Give them value for other players
  • Give them a chance to do combat if they wish, but at a cost to deploying them.

What makes a Freighter?

My head canon comes up with a number of ideas that would align with the existing broader Star Trek mythology and onscreen usage, while utilizing existing game mechanics. To make that work, they’d have to follow some basic rules:

  1. Freighters are not meant to be combat vessels.  They are designed to get cargo safely to and from a destination, and function with little to no crew.  ‘Just enough’ in offensive capability, and relying on a decent hull, speed or maneuverability for defense.

    This doesn’t mean that a freighter would not be able to fight, but rather occasionally and temporarily upgraded to do specific missions. Think ‘Return to Grace’ where Kira helps Dukat upgrade the freighter Groumall to fight the Klingons with a ground-based Disruptor cannon.

  2. Freighters are almost fully self-sufficient. Whether for short-term charters or long haul boomers, they can effectively operate without the need to visit a starbase for repairs. To  me that means they can be builders or act as many of the functions you’d find on a starbase. Think La Serena’s EH series

  3. Freighters come in all shapes and sizes, but for the purpose of this conversation I would envision 3 classes at the start, each with unique capabilities.

    Ref: https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Freighter

    [Courier Class] Speed Freighter / Courier – La Serena 

[Hauler Class] Long-Haul Cargo Freighter – Deep Space Freighter, ‘Boomer’, Kobiyashi Maru

[Support Class] Service & Support Freighter – Mobile Drydock, Baron Grimes personal freighter, Colonial Support

  1. They are highly customizable – limited universal seating, universal consoles.

  2. Lastly, Freighters generate revenue ingame. The revenue should not create an imbalance, but yet create a desire by current p[layers to try them out. (Unique R&D, Special Assignments)

 

Freighter Build Basics

 

Courier Class Hauler Class Support Class
Space Gear Deflector, Warp / Singularity Core / Shields Deflector, Warp / Singularity Core / Shields Deflector, Warp / Singularity Core / Shields
Weapons 2/1 2/2 3/3
Limited to arrays & single cannons, and existing 360 turret/beam weapons already accessible in-game. No military torpedoes.
Hangar 0 0 1
Limited to those hangars currently available not bound to specific ship classes.
Hull T1-T2 equivalents T3-T4 equivalents T5-T6 equivalents
Freighters are 60-80% of their Tier starship equivalents
Consoles 3 Universal 4 Universal 5 Universal
Making them all universal creates enough flexibility for the role the ‘owner’ wishes.  Again, combat isn’t necessarily the focus of these ships. Normal restrictions – e.g. limit of one applies
Special Abilities Pilot maneuvers
Industrial Transporter

Industrial Transporter
Industrial Replicator
Industrial Transporter

Industrial Replicator

Pilot Maneuvers – self explanatory.
Industrial Transporters – the large-scale, multi-target transport of cargo
Industrial Replicators – capable of replicating ship components (full engineering facilities like a stardock), repair and medial components, creation of ‘cargo’
Other ships or persons you can host that can dock with you to access features like the bank and the exchange, mail, dabo, common area, and in the case of Support class sized vessels, access to repair, medial and industrial replicator access.

Cost to access could be EC, or refined Dilithium set by the ship owner (from free to max 50 dil, or 500 ec)
Cargo Hold(s) 2 4 6
Cargo Holds are what sets freighters apart from starships. Holds are interchangable. While they can store anything, they are always considered to contain expendable items. They can be used as storage for Cargo or they can be outfitted to be passenger/prisoner compartments.

This description is more for color than numeric use, as each unused cargo hold is effectively a device slot for craftable, droppable, exchange-resellable consumables.

All cargo holds have port and starboard doors on them.  

Bridge Seating 2 Lt. Com Universal 2 Lt. Com Universal

1 Lt. Universal

2 Lt. Com Universal

1 Lt. Universal

Ship Features Full Bank Access
Exchange Access
Doctor Access
Full Bank Access
Exchange Access
Doctor Access

Engineering Access

Full Bank Access
Exchange Access
Doctor Access

Engineering Access

Dabo Wheel

 

Cargo Hold Options

  • Standard Cargo Hold (2 free included the base freighter, each Hold has 4 inventory slots)
    Purchase Price 100,000 EC 
  • Passenger Hold (used for duty officer assignments)
    Purchase Price 250,000 EC
  • Universal Hold, configurable for cargo or Passengers
    Adds 5% additional hull and shield reinforcement, 50% chance items deployed can be used 2x.
    Purchase Price Zen, Dil, EC, or dropped as lockbox reward.

 

Freighter Duty Officer Assignments

The Freighter has access to a select group of unique Duty Officer Assignments from the communications console. Like duty officer assignments they provide rewards with an emphasis on EC or consumables.  Unlike duty officer assignments they also require available hold space for the duration of the assignments. Programatically I think that could be accomplished by creating duty officers that manage each hold.  Like duty officers they would come in common, uncommon, rare and very rare 

New missions would be added with new content releases, matched to the mission involved.

Assignment ideas:

  • Transport [material] to [location] uses 1 cargo hold for the duration. % reward of material and ec based on rarity of difficulty. Bonus dilithium on critical.
  • Transport Colony Materials uses 1 cargo hold, + 1 cargo hold by rarity. % reward of material and ec based on rarity of difficulty. Bonus dilithium on critical.
  • Transport [Federation/KDF/Republic/Alliance] Fleet Materials uses 4 Cargo Holds (4 duty officers?). % reward of material and ec based on rarity of difficulty. Bonus dilithium on critical.
  • Assemble Supplies for Client uses 1-6 cargo hold(s) and X consumables (groups of resources, consumables, raw materials, components, etc.) % reward of material and ec based on rarity of difficulty. Bonus dilithium on critical.
  • Transport Fenris Rangers uses 1 cargo hold for the duration.Flat EC payment. Bonus dilithium on critical. High failure rate 😉
  • Smuggle [Contraband/Slaves/Spice] uses 1 cargo hold for the duration. Flat EC payment. Bonus dilithium on critical. High failure rate 😉
  • Intercept Information – take a [Federation, Klingon, Republic, Alliance, Dominion] spy to a specific location, and return them alive. Flat EC payment. Bonus dilithium on critical. Very high failure rate.
  • Build a Deployment Rack (Unique Component for R&D) Think of this as a rack in which deployable items can be placed. 1 rack created from each assignment.

 

R&D Recipes for the  – “Industrial Replicator”

This is the fun part for me. Items that are craftable, and only usable on transports – or possibly – single-use devices that can be used on any player ship, created by and sold by players to everyone else.  Only freighter owners can build these, creating value for those owners.  They can’t be game changing, but cool enough that people will want them.

These devices are single use, and come with a guarantee of failure.  Just as Kira and Dukat discovered, they could use something once or twice, and it would then fail.  I suggest these be single use devices in standard holds.  In universal holds, there’s a 50% chance they can be used 2x.

  • [Energy] Planetary Defense Battery, single use. Targets 1 ship and delivers a large blast of energy and physical damage. Cost includes use of components, Dil and ec.  May be stacked up to 2 per hold.
  • [Energy] Turret Cluster, single use.  Deploys 10 offensive satellites in a pattern, which remain in play until destroyed or the run out of power. Requires the deployment rack component.
  • Jettison Cargo Distraction, single use. Deploys clusters of storage containers (lock boxes) that temporarily remove target locks on your vessel. Requires the deployment rack component.