As I’ve been working/playing through the Second Sathar War in the Detailed Frontier Timeline, I’ve used a bunch of designations for the various groups of ships that the UPF has created. It thought I’d give a quick overview of how I’m using them and what each name represents. This may evolve in the future, but it’s what I’m using at the moment.
In the setting material, there are two designations explicitly given, namely Task Force (Prenglar and Cassidine) and Strike Force (Nova). It then goes on to say there are other patrol groups and strike forces exist. The exact quote from the rules is:
Each of these battleships is the flagship of a fleet task force.p48 -Knight Hawks Campaign Book
Task Force Cassidine (flagship: Admiral Harsevoort) is centered
at Triad; Task Force Prenglar (flagship: Admiral Morgaine)
is based at the UPF base orbiting Morgaine’s World; and
Strike Force NOVA (flagship: Admiral Clinton) has a home
base at Gran Ouivera, but spends much time patrolling the
travel lanes of the Frontier.
Many smaller strike forces and patrol groups are active
throughout the Frontier. The composition of these task forces
does not remain constant, as ships are often reassigned from
one group to the other. The patrol groups usually consist of one
or two assault scouts and a frigate. Small strike forces often
contain several frigates, a destroyer and a light cruiser.
From there, I’ve expanded things out a bit. Here’s what I’m currently doing.
Task Force (TF)
A task force is a large group of ships, centered on a battleship or heavy cruiser, that is organized for a specific purpose. In the case of Task Force Prenglar and Cassidine, I see that purpose as the defense of the two core worlds of the Frontier, which is why these task forces include the UPF minelayers and are named for the systems they defend.
Strike Force (SF)
Similar to a task force, a strike force is a larger group of ships that is centered on a light cruiser or larger vessel (but not an assault carrier, these are always ancillary vessels). The main purpose of a strike force is rapid deployment and offensive action.
The main difference between a task force and a strike force (other than the light cruiser requirement) is speed. In a strike force, no ship can have an ADF of less then two and thus the strike force is capable of risk jumps. The inclusion of a minelayer, with its ion drives and ADF of one, precludes this designation. For example, in the Detailed Frontier Timeline, the group that was going to be Strike Force Meteor initially has a minelayer added to it when the battleship arrives (in a few days from now in the timeline as I post this) so it gets the Task Force Designation instead of the Strike Force as originally intended. When the minelayer leaves, it will probably be reverted to the Strike Force designation.
As I’m writing this, I thought of a related designation that I have never used. That would be Rapid Strike Force (RSF) and would be a group that is all light cruisers or smaller and have a minimum ADF of 3. There would be no fighters or assault carriers in this group. But maybe that’s being a bit to specific.
Patrol Group (PG)
This is the generic designation for any group of Spacefleet vessels but typically carries the connotation of a traveling group that is moving around the Frontier. These groups could be organized for any reason, from pirate deterrence, to exploration, to local militia support, to just showing force around the Frontier.
A notable example of this from the Detailed Frontier Timeline was Patrol Group Virgo. Originally constructed to be a show of force in the Dixon’s Star system to help cool the corporate war heating up between PGC and Streel, it was augmented by some Streel vessels and the Truane’s Star militia to deploy to the Zebulon system to counter the imminent sathar threat there. (Had these ideas been more crystalized in my mind back then, I probably would have changed the designation at that point to Strike Force.) After that fight, and with the events surrounding the militia/civilian Discovery Squadron, they were deployed into the Rim to support the Flight. Thus they took on a number of different roles before finally being dissolved.
Repair Group (RG)
This is one I made up for the timeline. I needed a designation that allowed me to refer to a small group of ships that were currently non-combatants that were traveling to a shipyard for repairs and so the repair group was born. I don’t know that this one would get used much outside of wartime but I’m still thinking through its use.
Shuttle Group (SG)
This is another one I made up for the timeline but imagine that it could be used regularly. The specific use I invented it for was a designation to give an assault carrier that was transporting fighters between the shipyards and the systems (that don’t contain shipyards) where those fighters were going to be stationed.
The thought was that this was primarily for a non-combat role but if an assault carrier with 8-12 fighters showed up, pirates might very well think twice as they are definitely combat capable, especially against small numbers of vessels. But I can also see it being used in other contexts. For example, if you use the Jump Tug (Star Frontiersman issue 9, also a write-up on the starfrontiers.us website) in your setting, I can see Spacefleet having a few of these to move assault scouts and fighters over long distances to save on having to do overhauls every jump. In any case, this designation would be used for any group of ships, military or civilian, used by Spacefleet to rearrange their assets in the Frontier.
A Note on Sathar Designations
If you’re following the Detailed Frontier Timeline, you will have noticed that I’m referring to all the sathar fleets using SBF designations. SBF is short for “sathar battle fleet.” The SBF designation is then followed by a letter-number combination, i.e. SBF-E1 or SBF-J3. The letter designation simply represents the sathar starship construction center the fleet originated from and the number is just incremented for each fleet.
This was just a shorthand to help me keep track of the sathar ships. It doesn’t even reflect how Spacefleet would refer to them. They would probably either refer to them by the system they first appeared in or just give them incrementing some index for them.
Those are the designations that I’m currently using. Beyond the three main fleets (TF Prenglar, TF Cassidine, & SF Nova) I see most of the Spacefleet ships grouped into Patrol Groups as this is the generic designation. The others have more specific uses.
What designations (if any) do you use in your game? What other ones do you imagine Spacefleet using? Share your ideas in the comments below.