You’ve read the BFCO’s last announcement (I hope, you naughty slackers, you). Task Forces aren’t running lore anymore, they’re not responsible for a quarter+ of a quadrant anymore. They just have themes. I’m sure you’re thinking things like: What does a ‘theme’ mean here? What do I do as a writer now? Who’s making story happen? Who are you? How did you get in here?
In short: BF canon is now accessible by everyone, wherever you are. But I’ve never been concise in my life, and don’t intend to start now.
Previously we always said a TF member, or a sim in a TF, were not nailed to the floor in their area of operations. A sim in TF72 could go have Klingon adventures. A member of TF9 could write about their ship in the Romulan Neutral Zone. But if you really wanted to invest in a region, really contribute to the canon through your storytelling, it was much harder if it wasn’t your Task Force’s area of operations. Or if you wanted to bounce around, you maybe had to check in with a different TFSS every mission. No more!
Now, each Task Force has a theme that relates to the broad type of mission they focus on. IC, Task Forces are no longer running vast sectors of space, but are experts at what they do, going wherever the galaxy needs them. This will be the main influence on TF activities, like competitions or, yes, any collaborative writing. It’ll be part of your identity in a way we expect to limit you less than being ‘the Klingon TF’ or ‘the Romulan TF.’
Task Forces also have IC Headquarters, just as they do now, and those will continue to be writing hubs for junior officers and those who want to use them. You’ll find many of them haven’t changed; for eg, Task Force 93’s HQ is still in the old Neutral Zone. Think of that as home, where a ship might resupply, pick up orders, train – if you want. But the region an HQ is in is more like the Task Force’s back yard, synergising with their operational mandate, rather than being the mandate.
From there? You can write anywhere. Any quadrant. Face any species, any challenge. Of course, sims aren’t tethered to a TF anymore, but remember: this isn’t the old days. The Fleet is more than its sims. A Task Force is its members. And when a member reaches Lieutenant Commander, they get a ship that they can use for anything, like a vast, ongoing narrative, or just for one-shots in fiction competitions or also just for imaginary fun.
(we’re actually allowed to do that. We all enjoy imagining the adventures of our very own Trek characters. It’s not more valid just because you do it with 6 people or 50,000 words. It’s all silly make-believe that we love very much)
This is why all BF canon development has fallen directly under the Lore Office. We will provide a robust overview of 2399, and you can go and tell stories within that framework, wherever you want, whatever TF you’re in. I still have things up my sleeve, surprises I won’t spoil for you (more setting material to write for you), but that’s the long and short of it.
And where your stories make waves, we’ll work it into the BF canon. You can stay in your little corner if you want, and nobody can tell you otherwise. Or if you want to keep the story dynamic, influenced by it and influencing it in turn, write that. Engage with the Lore Office, and we can help.
Task Forces can, and I’m sure will, whip up stories. Have things going on in their HQs. They’re still IC organisations, elite units tackling their unique challenges. This is also part of taking burdens off Task Force Senior Staff; now they can work on supporting you, their members.
This should make canon better. Work can go into areas people care about, and where there are good ideas. We don’t have to artificially keep Klingons and Romulans apart, or Breen and Cardassians apart, etc, without TFs having to spend effort sharing notes. We don’t have to try to convince you that you really want the Kzinti, or the Gorn, or the Talarians to be important just to keep a Task Force’s area of operations varied! More power to you if you want them. But now, you can go anywhere.
If you have further questions on how this works, please, ask me, ask the Lore Office, ask your TFSS. But before I sign off, I guess I better tell you all what the Task Forces are now about, huh? It comes with a little paint job for the mandate of the 4th Fleet in 2399.
For 15 years, Starfleet and the Federation have maintained policies of non-intervention, border protection, and the prioritisation of Federation interests. While this has not changed overall, 2399 marked a bold new move with the repurposing of the 4th Fleet. Specialised Task Forces undertake key operations across the galaxy on matters of diplomatic intervention and deep space exploration, with Starfleet ships pushing beyond borders and involving themselves in political engagements of other powers on a scale barely seen in two decades.
As specialists, each maintains a headquarters in the region of the galaxy that most benefits from their presence. However, any ship may be dispatched to any sector requiring their expertise and involvement. With more limited resources and support from Starfleet, and many apprehensions that their mission might draw the attention of threats to the Federation, old and new, the 4th Fleet faces an uphill battle in upholding Starfleet’s legacy of diplomacy, exploration, and peace.
Task Force 9
Frontier Support. Based out of Farpoint Station in the Alpha Quadrant, Task Force 9 operates at the edge of Federation space, far from the comfortable infrastructure of the Core Worlds. These ranging operations include monitoring frontier outposts and settlements, supporting their development, and protecting them from local threats.
Task Force 17
Deep space operations. Task Force 17 conducts deep space exploratory and diplomatic missions far beyond Federation borders, in challenging, distant corners of the galaxy such as the Delta and Gamma Quadrants. They are specialists in long-term operations with little support from Starfleet infrastructure.
Task Force 72
Diplomacy and peacekeeping. Based out of Starbase 72, close to the Cardassian border, Task Force 72’s ships are at the forefront of diplomatic intervention and peacekeeping. Their duties focus on engagement with political powers in volatile regions, ensuring stability between major governments and the protection of local populaces.
Task Force 86
Border defence and counterinsurgency. Based out of Starbase 86 and bordering the unclaimed Triangle region of the Beta Quadrant, Task Force 86 has a mandate of maintaining local stability and security. They operate in regions beset by insurgency or criminal forces, primarily through cooperation and support of local governments and civilian populations.
Task Force 93
Humanitarian operations. Based out of Devron Fleet Yards on the border to the old Romulan Neutral Zone, Task Force 93 is tasked with providing humanitarian support and protection to struggling regions of the galaxy. While this includes protection from predatory factions, Task Force 93 aids worlds devastated by natural disasters or violence, and treats with local and major powers to coordinate this assistance.
Expect to see BFMS and the forums updated very soon for this change, but, really, you want to write somewhere you “couldn’t” before?
Go for it.