USCM Chapter One Overview - WIP

Posted Oct. 14, 2019, 5:52 p.m. by Commodore Sarah Hemenway (Engineering Director) (Sarah M)

Posted by Brigadier General Matthew Bernardin (Assistant Engineering Director) in USCM Chapter One Overview - WIP
So this is everything as it will appear in chapter one overview minus the already presented tables, simply because they are a pain to display in exodus and no new tables are being presented.

Chapter One

  1. Preamble
  2. Choose the ship’s generation
  3. Determine the generational stage
  4. Pick a space frame type
  5. Pick a variant
  6. Understanding SMPC
  7. Finalise SMPC Values


This chapter is meant to serve as both an introduction and a guide in how to design a complaint specification for Roleplaying environments in STF. The process is intended to be both detailed enough to be satisfying and challenging but laid out in a straightforward and easy to comprehend manner.

Chapter One is intended to be used in a cookie cutter manner by providing the designer the method to assemble the framework of a specification. Following chapters in the USCM will be used to provide greater reference details and more expanded specifics and addendums to support Starbases and technology submissions.

Choose a Space frame Generation

At the heart of every design lies the space frame. It determines more than anything else the ships intent, strength and limitations. Since the inception of star-fleet, space frames can roughly be grouped into a series of lineal generations

Determine the generational stage

Each generation can further be broken down into stages, which better reflect the iterative progression of technology over time and allows space frames to be upgraded by various refits. Choosing a generational stage allows the designer to choose a different range of technological options. Late stage frames are more likely to house more cutting edge systems. With early stage frames will house more primitive or prototype systems.

Early, Mid, Late

A classic example of how generational stages can affect a spaceframe design is the Constitution Class, initially the NCC 1701 can be categorised as an early 2nd Generation space frame but was refitted once advancing it to a mid stage frame and then rebuilt with more up to date late stage refinements.With the technology level in each version being widely different.

Space frames can vary in scope, range and technology to a significant degree even within the same generation. The Bonnaventure is an early 1st generation starship, while the NX class represents a mid generation vessel that was progressively upgraded to when it is seen at the end of ENT. It’s warp 7 engines are also a great example of a transitional piece of technology appearing, as the few visuals from the final episode show that it required significant alterations to utilise an engine that had been upgraded to it’s maximum end of life potential.

Note: Primary ships are predominantly built in the Early to Mid stages of a generation and refitted in the mid to late stage with occasional transitional pieces of technology slipping in. Designers are heavily encouraged to build in the early to mid stage as this allows for greater design life via the refit process.

Effect of Generational Stage on Space and Mass costs of system technology. This table conceptually represents that technology over time goes through a process of refinement, with a variety of power, mass and size alterations as technology goes through the various stages of miniaturization.

Example. Computer components usually are boosted through greater voltage/power specs to get faster speeds are large and chunky due to increased chipset and cooling requirements, but over time and miniaturization two or three generations later become more efficient and the same capacity chip takes a fraction of the space power and cooling that it did when it was cutting edge. This principle is applied to all technology in general.

Pick a Space frame Type

All vessels can fit into one of two broad categories. Primary or Ancillary. The difference between the two is that a primary vessel is designed to operate in and of it’s own right for an extended period of time. Ancillary vessels are not.They are designed to be operated from another vessel or host space station/starbase.

As a general rule of thumb ancillary vessels have primary system specifications equal to half that found on equivalent primary vessels. This however is merely a guideline

Pick a Variant


A ship that has utilised less then 80% of the recommended mass for it’s particular space frame. Light ships gain a corresponding benefit in a combination of increased warp speeds, sublight maneuverability and decreased power consumption. Can land on a variety of planets up to heavy gravity worlds without additional protection and regular gravity planets without specialist atmospheric systems.


The normalised baseline by which variants are compared to. A medium ship is one that utilises between 80-100% of it’s rated mass and is subjected to no penalties or bonuses. Medium ships can land on regular and low gravity worlds with appropriate atmospheric rated systems.


A ship that has utilised between 100-120% of the space frame’s rated mass. Heavy ships suffer corresponding penalties to a combination of warp, sublight maneuverability and power consumption. Heavy ships can not land on planets


A ship that has been optimized or has received additional technology further increasing it’s engines and weapons above and beyond an equivalent combat vessel. Tactical ships suffer equivalent penalties to armour and shields


A ship optimized for humanitarian purposes, that has received additional technology increasing it’s shields and engines. Medical ships suffer equivalent penalties to weapons and armour.
Understanding SMPC

All systems installed within a space frame have a corresponding SPCM cost.


Your space frame’s generation and type will determine the limits of Mass and Space available to you, while the choices you make with regards to your ship’s power and computing cores will determine those resource values.


Space is an absolute. Your starship is not a TARDIS, and has exactly X amount of volume and no more. That is why it is the first resource that must be considered. Each component occupies a fixed unalterable quantity of volume within the space frame. Different stages within a generation can produce variations to the cost of a component. Eg. A late stage sensor array should be more somewhat more compact OR more powerful than an earlier stage model.


Each space frame is also rated for a specific mass. While star fleet technology helps to limit it’s impact it doesn’t eliminate it as for each additional kilogram of mass placed inside a space frame there is an increased strain applied to the frame. This is why heavy variant ships are unable to land within planetary atmospheres. They are over their frames maximum mass limits.

Mass is represented the simplest of all.

Capacity - How much mass your frame is rated to handle
Cost - How much a component weighs (in metric tonnes)


Your power resource is represented by three subtypes. Main - Auxiliary and Reserve. Your power resource is the SUM of all three types. Main power is generated by the warp core. Auxiliary by the fusion reactors and Reserve is your internal energy storage capacity. Power comes as

Peak - The absolute maximum your reactors can generate
Sustained - The amount your ship is rated to generate safely
Drain - A system’s energy cost


As each system requires power so too does it require computer resources to adequately control it. Computer power unlike reactors can not be overstressed. However computational power can be prioritised

Capacity - Represents your computer’s resources
Load - How much it costs to run or control that system

Finalising SMPC Values


Calculating the physical dimensions and the Space and Mass values of any given space frame is/can be a complex endeavour. Not all designers will feel comfortable with doing so. This being the case there are two options


The designer consults the expanded frame type table in chapter 2, which details a breakdown of baseline physical dimensions with accompanying generational dimensions, space and mass values per frame subtype, The downside is all ship specs generated with this method will have the same physical dimensions in terms of length, width and height for each subtype. But it’s quick and easy if you don’t want to do any math.


Or I can choose to calculate custom values.

Example : 5th Generation Medium Explorer

So I take the Specs from the 5th generation values from the appropriate section and table in chapter 2 with tell me the volume range of that type for that generation. I then simply choose a value within that range.

Note : I STRENUOUSLY recommend finding an online tool to calculate cubic meters from physical dimensions. It allows you to play with the physical dimensions without having to calculate volume every single time.

So the table in chapter two states that the range for an explorer is between 20-24 thousand cubic km’s of space and I’ve chosen a Space value of 22494 cubic km’s of space.

(If your wondering why are the numbers different we approximate how much of the rectangular block is actually being used by a space frame so while a galaxy class starship has approximately 59 000 cubic km of space if it was just a rectangle it’s only utilising 23271 cubic km’s of space due to it’s shape.)

Calculate volume if space frame was a rectangular block

22494 / 0.4
= 56235 cubic km x 1000 = 56 235 000 cubic meters (note this is my goal value)

Note : I used a cubic meter tool here and just played with the values until I got a physical dimensions of 636.9 x 457.73 x 192.9 m and an exact rectangular volume of 56 235 796 cubic m’s

Confirm Space value by approximating utilisation

Convert Cubic m value to km’s and apply utilisation percentage

56 236 x 0.4 = 22 494.4

If your curious as to how this compares to the original galaxy class, this ship is about 4.3 percent smaller.


So thankfully the mass value is a lot simpler to calculate

You take your Space value (from the previous example of 22 494 ckm) and you times it by the averaged density rating for the generation.

(Note I only have 1st generation density ratings worked at right now. It’s not hard to do, I just haven’t worked the rest out yet and will just utilise this value for sake of example)

So first convert cubic km’s back to cubic cm’s

2249400000x 1951
= 43 885 794 00 kg
= 4 388 579 metric tonnes (Galaxy Class is 4 500 000 metric tonnes)


Power is based on the Warp Core generation value (lifted straight from MNP)

7192 cochranes

Convert that to Watts (from the TNG tech manual)

1 Cochrane = 3×10^2 MW/cochrane,

= 7192 x 3x10^2
= 2 157 600 MW

(Plus the Auxiliary value, which I haven’t worked out for fusion reactors, but you get the point)


This comes from a table look up and is tied to computer type within a generation. These are values I grabbed from the TNG tech manual, but they don’t make much sense and would seriously appreciate some input here.

Type : Isolinear
Capacity : 1 290 000 kiloquads
Load : 4.600 kiloquad’s / second

Ok so a lot of material here. I’m going to leave this to stew for up to a month before moving on the chapter 2.

– Matt

Just bumping this so it stays on the board!

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