All present ERTs (WY PMC's, Freelancer Mercenaries, UPP Marines, Colonial Front and maybe UPP/WYA Commandos) have a alternative 'Troop Transport' that is admin only restricted. This Troop Transport can hold by default ten ERT members, but admins could spawn in more ERT members if needed. In addition this system would be open to further groups, such as perhaps a USMC Troop Transport?
This Transport is under the command of the ERT Commander and starts detached from the Almayer, once ready the Commander or Admins (under guise of ship AI) can move the ship to either the northern or southern docking umbilical.
These transports will only appear in game either if the admins manually activate it as a in game event at any time, or they can chose to replace the standard ERT Boarding Pods with a transport instead.
This suggestion DOES NOT remove the standard ERT Drop pods, they remain the go to standard for ERTs to entre a round.
Benefits: ERTs are criminally under used as a concept and group, 99% of the time appearing very briefly at the end of a round. This suggestion gives the Admins a lot of power to employ the use of any ERT group for events or other admin shenanigans.
Events could range from a UPP full scale attack via two Troop Transports, or a event where a high ranking WY official is boarding via WY Ship. Maybe USMC command has hired some mercenaries to help with the ground operation. Perhaps high command is so annoyed that the Executive Officer won't shut off his backpack radio so they send a Commando ship in to deal with it?
The disadvantages of this system are three fold. Firstly, it's a lot of work mapping and code wise. Secondly this system may fall into the Commando's sphere of never being used due to its power (though I don't think this will happen). Finally this puts a massive amount of power, and responsibility, in the hands of the ERT Commander, who typically is randomly chosen not selected.
Details: All of the ERT ships would be placed off the Almayer Z-Level, likely on the Centcom level (or wherever counts as being "dead"). Each ERT ship has a somewhat similar layout but that layout is different based on who owns the ship (PMCs have a very expensive and sleek looking ship, Mercs/Colonials have a converted Civilian transport, UPP have a minimalistic Russian warship, Pizza Guys have a ship full of freezers for pizzas, xenos likely get the merc ship but infested). The ERT ships have a bridge, a briefing and mess hall, a equipment room (with individual equip rooms for Specialists/Snipers/Commander, a small medbay (if the owner can afford that luxury), a engine room and one or two escape pods (again, if the owner can afford that luxury).
The ship's power is based on a form of Fusion Power, but it would not require maintenance unlike the USMC variant. The ship has its own Red Alert and Evacuation procedures which if activated can allow the ship to launch its escape pods. Likely anyone can attempt to call for the ship's escape pods to launch, but the AI (Admins) need to confirm or deny the request.
The entrance to the ship via umbilical likely has some form of defence depending on who owns it and who can afford it.
Implementation: Code wise this would be akin to spawning in things like Commandos, an ERT or something like the Deathsquad on regular SS13. Except it will spawn the players on a seperate ship. Map wise this would require multiple different ships to be mapped out and placed on a off z-level area, best case the ships use similar sprites but different layouts, worst case the ships need new sprites to fit the theme of the owning faction (PMC would be mostly white like medbay, Iron Bears would be red and black, Dutch's Dozen would be dark green and rust, Pizza would be bright red, Mercs would be standard grey).
Lore wise each group would have its own reasons for being close enough to respond to the distress call.
- WY PMC - This transport is part of the PMC's 'Rapid Reaction Force', they typically station themselves close to vital WY installations and respond in a emergency. They did not respond to the initial emergency at the planet due to orders to let the USMC deal with the issue, somehow its cheaper that way.
- Mercenaries - Mercenary groups are typically found either at dock or moving to a dock. Sometimes a Merc ship may come across a call for help, and even rarer they'll be close enough to respond to that call. Answering a very fresh distress call is a dream most Mercs have. One way or the other, they come out of the ordeal as very, very, wealthy people.
- As per the UPP lore, the UPP have decided to take advantage of the USMC's discration with the unknown threat on [Insert Op Planet Here] and have attacked the USMC ship.
- Pizza Delivery - Fresh pizza is a booming business among the frontier, large cargo ships using advance cryo technology can freeze freshly made pizzas, only to thaw them out and have the pizza be fresh and ready to eat. Cargo ships tend to staff very new or inexperienced crew members, and in this case it seems a very young crew member mistook the nature of the distress call, thinking it was a pizza delivery order.
- XRT - A group of colonists made one desperate attempt to escape the massacre on the planet by taking their one ship in a attempt to flee. Sadly they brought along a few uninvited passengers. With most of the crew dead, the last survivor, in desperation, flees towards the USMC distress beacon hoping for rescue, but possibly instead delivering damnation to all.