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Space Patrol

“Space: A contested frontier. These are the voyages of His Rajah’s Ship ‘Goa’ it’s 5 month tour is to patrol the outlying colonies of the Empire, defend colonies, resolve frontier disputes and enforce the law in open space.”

A potential scout ship

I’ve been getting a bit of a frustrated with TV space operas, particularly Star Trek. A bit of an empty grumble as has been observed by no less authority than @geeksyndicate there’s precious little of it about at present. Personally I don’t miss it huge ships which have a tiny proportion of the crew have adventures, with some noticeable exceptions, doesn’t do much for me.

I’ve been catching Sea Patrol on the Universal channel which is a drama about a fictional patrol ship of the Royal Australian Navy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_patrol. I think this presents a different model a small ship with a small crew dealing with smaller size issues.

Now I don’t own a movie or TV studio and my writing is at an amateur and dilettante level so I’m unlikely to get a novel or movies series done. However I am a roleplayer and wargamer…

A small ship patrolling small exploratory colonies and outposts presents a lot of scenarios . I would envisage a small inter-stellar ship with sufficient weaponry to deal with pirates, merchant vessels and small vessels from other navies. It has a small crew to match something like

Command Staff

  • A Ship’s Captain (that’s a position with but he’d be lower rank like a Lieutenant or Lieutenant Commander.
  • Executive Officer (Second in command.)


  • A Helmsman
  • A Navigator
  • Communications/Electronic Warfare rating


  • Chief Engineer (a Petty Officer) with prime responsibility for propulsion and power.
  • A life support specialist
  • An armourer specialist

Support Staff

  • Medic
  • A Master of Arms (Security officer.)

That’s a mere 10 crew with a typical roleplaying party of 4 cover 40% of the crew (80% if each player plays two characters) so players are right in the thick of the action. What’s more failure matters the nearest base might be days if not weeks away so characters actions matter as there is no cavalry over the hill. Everyone will have to have a second specialism to help out ina  crisis and if the ship has shuttles or dropships they will be lightly armed small craft.


What kind of scenarios can our patrol ship some examples could be:

  • Colonial Security (scenarios should have diplomatic solutions are well as muscular ones)
    • Any kind of scenario you’ve  seen in a westerns
      • Disputes between big business and small farmers/miners
      • Disputes between different groups (ethnic or ranchers/homesteaders)
      • Bandits
      • Restless indigenous aliens
      • A colony declaring unilateral independence
      • Preventing a lynching
      • Protecting an election from  independence
      • Squatting ‘illegal’ colonists
  • Or a Sci-Fi movie
    • ‘Monsters’ from ruins
    • Lost alien technology
    • Bug Hunts
    • God aliens (if you must.)
    • Open Warfare
      • Hit and Run raids
      • Hunting down stealth ships (submarine type scenarios)
      • Scouting/Reconnaissance
      • Convoy escort
      • Deploying and picking up special forces
      • Search and Rescue (both in space and planetside.)
      • Law Enforcement
        • Dealing with hijacks by criminals and terrorists
        • Chasing down fleeing murders or robbers
        • Counter-piracy operations
        • Search and Boarding Operations
          • Stop smugglers of drugs, endangered species, alien artefacts or alien slaves.
          • Enforcing customs laws
  • Dealing with disputes between salvage ships

I’m fortunate in that I have a ready to run SF background in Prodigal Empires to sketch a campaign onto. I guess I better get my thinking cap on.


One comment on “Space Patrol

  1. I actually had some ideas along these lines myself a few years back that inevitably never came to fruition. I think its an inherently interesting setup, but I think there are a few things you’d need to be careful of.

    – level of authority: you don’t want to give the players too much power or they’ll just force majeure their way through a lot of scenarios, equally too little and they’ll struggle to get anything done. I’ve used in other games letting players have a high level of theoretical authority but little practical method of enforcement beyond “i’ll tell my boss on you!”, so they need to be careful how they deploy that.

    – communication: this sort of ties in. when players are in some sort of larger structure then sticky situations can be bounced upwards to the “grown ups” but equally you want grown ups around to enforce consequences one suggestion would perhaps be FTL courier drones but no FTL communications, possible with one-off AI breifing software for missions?

    – Resources: i’d definately make sure you have a good grip on what capacity the crew has at their disposal, otherwise you’ll have massive tech escalation problems on your hand. also restricted resources are more fun. for the GM, at least.

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