[Game Design] [Feature Request] Frigates - Player-Run Capital Ships

I've come to the conclusion that what Elite is missing in the realm of Very Large Ships is Even Bigger Ships. Those top tiers of faction rank are empty and don't have much of a purpose at the moment, so why not kill a few birds with one stone?

To be clear, these would not simply be Corvette/Conda/Cutter (CCC) Killers. In fact, they might not be very good at that role if run by a player by themselves. My idea behind Frigates is to have them be the flagship of a player fleet, to support and assist other non-capitals (or support full-size capitals, in a figurative sense, since we can't actually command Farraguts or Majestics.) With poor maneuverability and speed, a Frigate's primary means of offensive and defensive firepower would revolve around ship-launched fighters and pervasive use of turreted weapons. Fixed weapons on these ships would not fare well with the exclusion of its C4 and C3 mounts, and even then only against large, slow ships (namely, other Frigates and CCCs). The typical Frigate might have 2-4 C4 and 2-4 C3 forward weapons with a number of C3, C2, and C1 mounts spaced out in areas with wide, overlapping cover and not all necessarily even being able to point directly forward. They would have a considerable number of large internal bays, up to C9 for a stonking great shield generator, as well as at least 8 and ideally 12 utility slots. Frigates might not have a particularly amazing jump range, perhaps 40-50 LY when fully engineered and "strip fit" (guardian tech not included) compared to ~60LY for the same on an Anaconda, but it should be substantial.

Frigates would not be able to fit through the Mail Slot on stations; they'd simply be too large. Landing at planetary bases would be possible, though particularly slow due to the cumbersome nature of these borderline-capitals. Planetary outposts could have a Huge landing pad or two added without too much concern, but walled Bases might have their pads outside of the walls. Stations might be outfitted with up to 6 mooring points (more likely 4 on Coriolis) and/or "exterior hangars" on the back side of the docking section. This quality - being unable to fit safely inside stations - would provide an additional element of risk to using a Frigate.

Certain things would need to change to fully realize a Frigate's implementation as envisioned; the player limit aboard these ships would need to be in the realm of 6 to 12 seats with different players taking the role of gunners, fighter pilots, and even engineers with the ability to fully reassign distributor pips. Either a special fighter hangar with at least 6 bays would need to be added for these ships, or the limit of one fighter hangar per ship would need to be removed (even if for just these ships). Commanders of these ships would need to circumvent the limitation of Multicrew and Wing mutual exclusivity; they're supposed to support a wing, after all.

Frigates might also be able to make use of special Point to Point FSDs. These would be a rather specialized hybrid of the common FSD and the capital FSD. While capable of standard supercruise and hyperspace, Frigate FSDs would also be able to generate wormholes to specific points either in the same system, or within half of their FSD's standard hyperspace limit. These wormholes could be accessed simply by flying within a certain distance of it and triggering the ship's hyperdrive; this would initiate an instant FSD jump. I'm not sold either way as to access limitations - the wormhole might be a persistent tunnel in both directions for the short time that it is open (30 to 60 seconds), or it could only be accessed by the Frigate Commander's wing when it is generated (or anywhere in between). You may think this is overpowered, but the fuel cost for in-system wormholes would be a flat 1 tonne and have half the effective range (with appropriate scaling fuel consumption) for interstellar wormholes, and it might take up to 30 seconds to generate a wormhole. If the trip is two-way and unrestricted, this may have further implications on safety as well; the source and destination wormholes might appear from supercruise as a special High Wake signal or some other means of identification. After passing through a wormhole, a ship's FSD would engage a hard cooldown as if they had been interdicted, preventing supercruise, hyperspace, wormhole generation, and wormhole usage.

Wormholes would be generated by means of the star/system map. Explored bodies could be selected, and a special UI option would appear to Generate Wormhole, available only when the Frigate is out of supercruise and a safe distance (2 Body Exclusion Zone radii or 20km from stations/outposts/POIs) from any massive body or station. This option would be possible in the star map with unexplored systems, but the destination would be the same default system entry body as with normal hyperspace. This might be a reason to actually purchase system exploration data!

If the oft-requested Drone Bay suggestion were accepted as well, I could see these as being a very viable and rugged platform for repair, refuel, and rearmament of wing/squadron craft on particularly long haul patrols. In case it wasn't patently obvious by the first statement, these vessels would be rank-locked behind Admiral/King and be considerably expensive, on the order of a billion credits.
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