Looking for ideas for a starter ship for a new crew

I’m starting a new campaign in 2370 and I’m looking for ideas for a second line starship for an inexperienced crew. Eventually, I want to move them into an Intrepid class ship although the group has expressed interest in an Akira or Defiant class ship.

Initially, they we be doing basic border patrol missions along the Romulan neutral zone, dealing with pirates and investigating anomalies. I was thinking about starting them in an Excelsior or Constellation class ship.

What makes sense in this time period for a new crew in their first command for this time period?

I’ve got a campaign running a couple of years later (literally months before the dominion war), who were assigned to a Constellation class.

I set it up that Federation resources are becoming a little stretched because of everything that’s going on. The crew were all fast tracked to promotions (the CO in particular) and the ship itself has been pulled out of mothballs to fill in as a support vessel where needed. Its allowed some interesting RP opportunities so far

A Constellation class would make a good starting ship, as would a Miranda class (they still serve, but have been around for a century at this point). I’d not pick an Excelsior class for an inexperienced crew though, while they are older, Excelsior classes are still somewhat prestigious workhorse type vessels, even if older at this point.

What makes sense in this time period for a new crew in their first command for this time period?

Literally any frame active in 2370.

Why is it integral to the story that the characters are on a less prestigious class and they not be in the ship the players want to be on? Perhaps they are on an Akira or Defiant class, but they are stuck on border control. This creates mystery as to why powerful ships like these are doing menial tasks. This can springboard into a whole A, B or C plot.

I confess I do not understand it when GMs restrict access to ships beyond a specific time frame, i.e. having a Galaxy class in TOS.

My suggestion for a starting vessel would be an Oberth (if they are focusing on survey/scanning missions), a Miranda or Constellation (if they are on routine border patrol), possibly even a Centaur class.

It is the same basic concept of why in today’s military you wouldn’t give command of an aircraft carrier to a fresh captain in the Navy. They have to prove themselves and that they deserve to be in the Captain’s chair.
Another analogy would be why you don’t give a +3 Vorpal weapon to a level 2 Fighter in D&D.

I know for a fact that my group wants to ‘earn’ their ship, so they are starting on a Space Station in the ‘lower decks’. I mean they will have access to a ship on occasion for missions. (Oberth is assigned to Space Station, to be replaced by a Nova for a 6 month rotation to test and repair, followed by a Constellation)

I imagine you want to start with a rusty GM-generated ship and then transition to an awesome player-generated ship?

How about a Miranda class ship? They are still in service and appropriately rusty. Excelsior class might be too big for a novice captain.

Unfortunately, the starship rules say bigger = better, so the Defiant class is not nearly as good as she is in the show and actually pretty squishy. That is maybe something to also keep in mind.

Miranda class seems okay or a old constellation class.

Well, the show was the prototype. Probably also had prototype shields on top of everything else, not to mention the most important thing… “Hollywood Plot Armor.” It’s powerful technology…

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Cool thanks for the feedback! Looks like they will start with a Constellation Class ship.

As for my reasoning to giving my crew an older ship, it doesn’t make much sense for a Captain in his first command with a relatively inexperienced crew to receive a state of the art ship in my mind. It’s one of the reason, I chose to start in 2370. That way if they “prove” themselves, they could get one of the first Defiant/Intrepid class ships off of the assembly line in a couple of years.

Yeah, that’s why I will be starting my group in 2369. It gives them ‘2-3 years’ in game time to work their way up the ranks, earn their first command (which may be a ship on it’s way to being decommissioned), and if they do well enough on the missions by earning reputation and milestones, they can get one of the top of the line ships once their ship is either too badly damaged, or it’s being pulled from active service. They could even be on one of the first Luna class ships. (Same with your crew, @Krealiss, The Luna class is a ‘sister ship’ class of the Intrepid, with holographic projectors in key areas in case they need the EMH on the Bridge or Engineering, or something.)

That analogy really does not work. DnD is built around a very specific system which a starting character with a powerful magic item would upset. STA is a lot less 2 dimensional in it’s system and players being in a Galaxy class does nothing to upset game balance.

I understand the real world reasoning, but this is not the real world. In the real world the UK’s youngest captain was 36. In this world there are captains commanding powerful Starships in their mid 20s. Also it is a game, I personally want to leave reality at the door.

Now @Krealiss has a path in mind for the players to earn their prestige ship, but I feel that what “rust bucket / workhorse” ship the players start in should still be the choice of the players.

A lot of those 20 year olds aren’t commanding the top ships of the line that have just come out of the shipyards.Granted, I understand your reasoning there, and I agree. It is a game and as long as everyone has fun that is all that matters. Along those lines, if they have the very best starship right off the bat and don’t feel the challenge of having to work for the ship, they may not have as much fun as they could. A Galaxy class is a very powerful ship for people just starting the game to have. I personally would limit them from getting one early in the first campaign. Now if it’s the second or third campaign and they’ve played several missions in other ships and they want to play new characters in a new setting, by all means break out the Galaxy. (This is my opinion and everything. I don’t think people just learning the game should have one of the best ships out there.)

I understand that as well, and to a degree I agree with you if they are going to be using that ship for half the campaign. One problem I could see with that would be allowing them to choose, and they pick an Excelsior class. When they switch from that to a smaller Intrepid ship, they may feel like they are downgrading. However, allowing the players a choice of Miranda, Constellation, Centaur, and whatever other ship you feel like allowing them to start in might also be helpful.

That actually makes me think of another point concerning this, actually. A lot of the older ships will have a number of refits that almost bring those particular ships right in line with the top of the line ships, so @Krealiss, I would be careful and try to keep that in mind while you are setting up their ship.

It all depends on the set up. I don’t think its unreasonable for a young newly promoted captain to be more likely to be given something a little less state of the art (although if you’re going that route, I’d normally give them the commander rank to start with), but then there is Janeway.

That said, there is nothing to say that your crew have to be newly promoted, or even new to this ship.

If it’s important to the setting then assign a ship you find appropriate and justify the reasoning. If it doesn’t matter, let the players have whatever they like. It’s all about context and reasoning for the limitations

A problem I personally see with this idea is that the ship is not being treated as a character, which to me is an integral part of the system, and as such the players will not want to invest milestones into it.

It is not unreasonable but again that is real world logic. We are playing a game where pretty much anything is possible. In the multiverse where all probabilities are true, why, when something as ultimately insignificant as to what ship the players want to crew, settle for the universe where things are more likely.

This is the crux of my opinion. If you honestly feel that a certain ship, or selection thereof, is integral to the story, then fine, have that limitation. But I do honestly feel that it requires frank, open conversation with the players and not a discussion online with strangers where the players themselves have little to no input in their own game. If on the other hand it ultimately has no bearing on the story then let them fly whatever they want.

Well, my crew is absolutly proud of their old Constellation-Class starship, which has proven to be a capable and reliable companion for many crews before them.

But, that was a desicion which was discussed around the group.
And I support StephenBirks opinion, that the group should be included into that decision but for another reason: What if your crew get fond of that old ship and don’t want to change to a new fancy toy?

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I’m mostly with Stephen here, in that there’s no reason a new crew can’t start with a top-of-the-line ship. But that they can have something lesser if that’s what the players and GM agree on.

In my upcoming game, the players have been very specific about having a small vessel (probably a Nova, but we’re still casting around - TNG ship design makes this difficult!), to avoid the overwhelming power of a Galaxy or Sovereign.

My reasoning is always that I’m creating an unshown TV series. A Trek show usually treats the ship as a character in its own right, and it is the home for the characters, so unless you’re basing the series around a station (DS9) or featuring a ship changeover as part of the plot (DS9 again, DIS, movies) then it doesn’t really match the source material… I’m also in the “this is a fantasy” and “game balance is not an issue” camps, so I want to see the good stuff early!

Having said that, another real world issue to contend with is that real world navies do not have whole crews (or even groups of senior officers) change ships. Individual officers and crew will go in all directions at all times, as a result of promotions, transfers and - which would make it difficult for a group of PCs to stay together…

They cover this issue a couple of times in regards to Star Trek. When the original ship is destroyed, they get a new one with the next letter of the alphabet! Most of the Senior staff stays on, while the lower deck crew transfer to other ships instead of waiting around for their ship with the ‘new ship’ smell.

This is one option I am considering doing with my group without informing them of it before hand. There are a few missions I have planned where their ship may encounter superior forces and be out of their depth. If they fail at talking the opponent down, say the wrong thing, or any number of things, their ship may get destroyed.

This is where my crew is at, to an extent. My crew is new, even commanded by a Commander posted as captain, and we agreed on a Nova class. Overall, they like it a lot. We’re getting close to possible promotions, and will have to decide on what to do regarding their posting.

Overall, it really helped set the tone. We are a crew of explorers. Warbirds are big and scary! To boldly go.

I think we’ll roleplay promotions/possible transfer, and they can choose what to do. Should be fun!

@StephenBirks the real world logic argument is an interesting one. Again, I think it comes down to the sort of game that you and your group are planning on playing. I personally prefer mine to be more grounded in real world logic, as else I feel like my decisions are purely based on a whim. But that is personal preference and as I say, each to their own. Different groups prefer different things.

On the ship transfer/upgrade topic, I dont personally agree with this as a story telling technique. The ship is a character after all, and you wouldn’t be planning on just throwing out a player and replacing them with a new one (unless it gets organically destroyed, which is a different matter with it’s own complications- would the whole crew even survive??). New isn’t always better, and the players should be encouraged to develop a connection and relationship with their ship.

I’d be interested to know the reasoning behind the planning to have the group replace/‘upgrade’ their ship from those planning it.

For me, it is simple. They want to ‘earn’ their ship and promotion to Captain of the vessel.

Because of that, I am starting them off on a space station (Similar to the DS9 series), which has a ‘rust-bucket’ on it’s way to being decommission Oberth attached to the station for any emergency distress calls that Runabouts can’t reach or handle, as well as scientific surveys in an area of space that has only recently become remotely habitable due to the decrease of radiation from a previous star going Nova. After a time, that Oberth will be replaced with a Nova for a 6-month detachment and shakedown, followed by the actual USS Stargazer. (It was recovered by Picard from the Ferengi, and returned to active service after being refit.)

From there, they’ll most likely have enough Rep and Milestones to signify being promoted to Captain if they didn’t reach that point during the time the Stargazer was assigned to the space station, and the crew will be able to vote/choose their ship before being assigned to Narendra Station.