I had a few ideas for supporting ships that would act as force multipliers. It might be unbalanced depending on how the effects stack, but what about a frigate or cruiser module that would increase the targeting effectiveness against it’s target for all ships within a certain radius that are also targeting the same ship. It would work similar to how the target painter works, I’d assume.
Another support ship role could be a module to launch remote repair drones (possibly the size of fighters and could be shot down?) or shield rechargers/enhancers. If the engine would support it, you could even have a shield projector that would allow a ship to project a shield wall if kept in formation in front of your other ships.
As a support ship would intuitively give up some offensive power to supply this supporting role, the support modules could take up weapon slots rather than module slots to force the lower offensive capabilities.
I can see an issue with this being a support ship potentially wandering away, or not “assisting” the right ship. Sounds like you would have to give it a lot of special commands and it might be too tedious or overwhelming for the average gamer.
I’d like to see something like this. I’d use support modules on my Cruiser Flagships to support escorting ships around it.
You could make support ships target things they were escorting, and those things only (or possibly things escorting -them-). That would keep the targetting confusion to a minimum… although you could also be a little more relaxed, and just have things target their escortee by preference, and anything else in range if not, similar to how guns target at present.
The support effects could also be done by area. Everything within a certain range of a ship receives the benefits.
For example, put a “targeting computer support module” on a cruiser and all the escorting fighters (within range) receive a bonus to their targeting (but not the cruiser that the module is installed on). With a bunch of these modules, you would have a “carrier” type of ship where the large ship does little fighting and “escorting” fighters (or bombers) become much more powerful.