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The Earth Colonies campaign

"[The] third dimension can be added fairly painlessly to produce a reasonable limitation of volume as well as distance."

— Bob McWilliams, "3-D Space," White Dwarf #73


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Latest Update: A Brief History


A science-fiction role-playing campaign for TRAVELLER®

Image - Aitchsee Sandsifter and Alabama Wang (by Matt Matteo)

Archaeologists Aitchsee Sandsifter and Alabama Wang (illustration by Matt Matteo)

The Earth Colonies Campaign is an Alternate Traveller Universe campaign setting focused on 31st Century Earth and its independent interstellar colonies.  The campaign setting adopts a three-dimensional game space inspired by the interstellar game space of StarForce: Alpha Centauri, a 1974 wargame designed by Redmond Simonsen and published by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI), and by "3-D Space," a Traveller variant article by Bob McWilliams which appeared in White Dwarf #73, January 1986.  The campaign's game space of Earth's interstellar neighborhood—the Earth Colonies Sphere—is based upon the original Near Star Map and List from Traveller: 2300 / 2300 AD.  (B.C. Holmes has a great version of the Near Star List created for Star Hero.)

The Earth Colonies Sphere includes several rival interstellar states—independent communities originally settled from Earth: the most powerful being the expansionist Empire of Aztlán (Imperio de Aztlán), the cosmopolitan Federation of Nyanza (Shirikisho la Nyanza), the mercantile Ouroran Community (Comunidade Ouroreana), the missionary Abrahamic Synod (Avraamikís Sýnodos), and the Commonwealth of Earth itself.  Other states of the Colonies Sphere include the Republic of Kiangsi (Jiāngxī gònghéguó), the Rajasthani Confederacy (Raajasthaanee Parisangh), the Dolphin-dominated Theridian League, the Quebecer Republic (République Québécoise), the Empire of Shinnihon (Shin Nihon Teikoku) and the Kingdom of Hejaz (al-Mamlaka al-Hijāz).

Image - 3D hex-prisms

Detail of three-dimensional game space of the Earth Colonies Sphere (illustration by Redmond Simonsen from StarForce: Alpha Centauri)

Non-human sophont species in the Colonies Sphere include the terrestrial Dolphins—co-equal partners with Humans, the Aeroi (Gaean: "sky-folk"), who abhor violence but dominate interstellar trade, and the Meren (Ouroran: "sea ones"), who often resort to militarism in their quest to control hospitable hydrospheres.  Other yet-to-be-encountered sophont species may inhabit regions bordering the Colonies Sphere.

Technological capability of the Commonwealth and the major Colonial States, as well as of the Aeroi and Meren, represents a setting maximum.  Interstellar travel is not commonplace with four parsecs per week faster-than-light (FTL) speeds only available to the most advanced military and technical users.  The vast, low-density stellar neighborhood of the Colonies Sphere adds some interesting aspects to interstellar travel.

Much of the Earth Colonies Sphere has yet to be explored.  There are rich opportunities for adventurers in the undiscovered country of the Colonies Sphere.

A Brief History of the Earth Colonies

As the 21st Century unfolded the damage to Earth's ecosphere from industrialization became increasingly apparent while efforts to counter the effects were sporadic and piecemeal at best.  Technological advancement continued with the most advance regions of Earh reaching Technological Accomplishment 6.  Also in this era supranational economic blocs came to overshadow the nation-states of the previous century.

This was also the era when the first, tentative steps toward space exploration which began in the prior century were surpassed and expanded.  Permanent colonies were established in Earth orbit and on the surface of Earth's moon, Luna.  Exploratory expeditions were launched into the solar system, beginning with the worlds of the inner system and continuing on to the asteroid belt and the moons of the other planets.  In the latter decades of the century the first sub-light expeditions were launched to the nearest star systems.

Earth Colonies Chronology

2001-2100
- Technological Accomplishment at TA 6
- Gaian religion established (2001)
- Rise of supranational economic blocs
- Orbital and lunar colonization
- Interplanetary exploration and colonization
- Abrahamic religion established (2037)
- Human recognition of Dolphin sapience (2057)
- Sub-light interstellar exploration
- Martian colonies independent (2080)

2101-2200
- Colonization of near-solar systems
- Rise to TA 7 c2150
- Rise of chartered interstellar development companies

2201-2300
- Earth ecological deterioration becomes apparent
- Rise of the eco-terrorist movement

2301-2400
- Rise to TA 8 c2300
- "Break-up" - Height of Earth ecological disaster
- Former eco-terrorist groups rise to power
- "Runaway" - Generation ships launched
- Contact lost with near-solar colonies

2401-2500
- Colonial Worlds settled
- Fall to TA 7 c2450
- Gradual rebuilding of Earth ecosphere

(Adapted from Earth Colonies Development League Working Paper ECDL-003)

The Gaian religion traces its origins to the dawn of the 21st Century.  And the peculair synthesis of Judiasm, Christianity and Islam which is Abrahamism also emerged in the early decades of this century.  Humans finally recognized the sentience of Dolphins at mid-century, leading to the long process of integration of Human and Dolphin society.  In the latter part of the century the colonies on Mars gained the self-sufficiency to enable their political independence from Earth.

With the discovery of habitable worlds in near-solar systems by the sub-light expeditions the slow process of interstellar colonization began in the 22nd Century.  Much of this effort was undertaken by chartered interstellar development companies, granted exclusive development rights to the settlement worlds in return for financing the colonial expeditions.  Economic development sparked by these efforts contributed to the rise to Technological Accomplishment 7 by mid-century.

The limitations of sub-light travel eventually slowed the pace of interstellar colonization in the 23rd Century.  The extent of ecological deterioration on Earth also becamse inescapable in this period.  The worsening ecological conditions gave rise to scattered eco-terrorist movements which came to consolidate their efforts by the end of the century.

Even as Earth reached Technological Accomplishment 8 in the early years of the 24th Century the damage to Earth's ecosphere led to the Break-up, a period of unprecedented physical destruction and social disruption.  Former eco-terrorists groups across the planet eventually came to power in many regions, often accompanied by extensive conflict and, at times, open warfare.  As the chaos and devastation expanded many quickly-organized colonization efforts were launched aboard generation starships, sometimes officially sponsored and other times organized by dissident or splinter groups.  This was the Runaway and while many Colonial State worlds were settled by ships launched during this period, many other ships which departed during the Runaway were never heard from again.  By the end of the century contact had been lost with the near-solar colonies, many of which did not survive the loss of their connection to Earth.

The chaos and conflict of the Break-up slowly began to fade in the early decades of the 25th Century.  The impact to civilization was apparent in the fall back to Technological Accomplishment 7 as the gradual restoration and rebuilding of Earth's ecosphere slowly got underway. Light-years away—the farthest nearly 25 light-years distant—the first Colonial Worlds were being settled by the generation ships which had fled Earth during the Runaway—as much as eight decades after they had departed (a bit less time had passed for those aboard the ships themselves).  Because many of the colony worlds had not been previously surveyed some of these settlement efforts were unsuccessful while other colonists struggled mightily against hostile ecospheres.  On those worlds with the most hospitable ecospheres the colonial settlements took hold quickly and prospered.

Earth Colonies Chronology (continued)

2501-2600
- Fall to TA 6 c2500
- Colonial Worlds flourish
- Fall to TA 5 c2550
- Most Earth ecological damage repaired

2601-2700
- Colonial States interstellar colonization
- Return to TA 6 c2650
- Contact re-established with near-solar colonies

2701-2800
- Return to TA 7 c2700
- Commonwealth of Earth (2701)
- Return to TA 8 c2750
- Colonial States established

2801-2900
- Rise to TA 9 c2800
- Contact among Colonial States
- Contact with Aeroi (2898)

2901-3000
- Rise to TA A c2900
- Contact with Meren (2913)
- Rise to TA B c3000
- Interstellar warfare

3001: Campaign present time

(Adapted from Earth Colonies Development League Working Paper ECDL-003)

By the dawn of the 26th Century Earth had fallen to Technological Accomplishment 6 as efforts continued to be focused on recovery from the Break-up and on repairing the damage to the ecosphere.  At the same time, light-years away the most successful Colonial Worlds began to fourish with independent Technological Accomplishment on the most successful worlds approaching that diminished level of Earth.  Indeed, as Earth fell to Technolgical Accomplishment 5 by mid-century some of the most advanced Colonial Worlds began to surpass this.  Nevertheless, by the end of the century most of the ecological damage on Earth had been repaired.

With the repair of its ecosphere, development began again on Earth, with a return to Technological Accomplishment 6 by the middle of the 27th Century.  Meanwhile, the most advanced Colonial States began to send sub-light expeditions to nearby star systems, establishing their own colonies.  Earth also returned to the stars, re-establishing contact with those near-solar colonies which had managed to survive or resettling many of those worlds where the original colony had failed.

The global cooperation which had been necessary to repair Earth's ecosphere was at the heart of the establishment of the Commonwealth of Earth at the dawn of the 28th Century.  Earth had also returned to Technological Accomplishment 7 and the Commonwealth slowly expanded to include the near-solar colonies.  At the same time many of the Colonial States were extending their authority to their interstellar colonies, making them interstellar states too. By mid-century both the Commonwealth and the most advanced Colonial States had progressed to Technological Accomplishment 8.

The Commonwealth and the most advanced Colonial States reached Technological Accomplishment 9 in the early years of the 29th Century.  The first jump drives were invented independently on New Canaan and on Nyanza but eventually the technology was diffused to all of the Colonial States.  The advent of faster-than-light travel led to the first formal contacts among the Colonial States.  The Commonwealth was first contacted by the Abrahamic Synod in 2841 and first encountered the Empire of Aztlán in 2860.  The Commonwealth first encountered traders from the Federation of Nyanza in 2873 and made its first contact with the Ouroran Community in 2894.  In 2898, the Aeroi made contact with the Empire of Shinnihon, the first encounter between Terrans and extraterrestrials.

By the beginning of the 30th Century, the Commonwealth and most advanced Colonial States had reached Technological Accomplishment A.  The corresponding improvements in jump drive allowed them to consolidate their rule over their interstellar colonies and sparked new waves of interstellar colonization and corresponding expansion.  Early in the century, the first Meren ships appeared in the Ouroran Community.  As Meren and Aeroi spread throughout the Colonies Sphere the low-intensity conflict known as the Markets War began to unfold.  At times there were smaller, hotter wars between Colonial States as their borders began to run up against each other.  As the century came to a close, the Commonwealth and other advanced Colonial States reached Technological Accomplishment B, matching Aeroi and Meren capabilities in the Colonies Sphere.

The Earth Colonies Campaign begins with the dawn of the 31st Century.




Melbourne Times is dedicated to the memory of Douglas Lent.  May he travel far.


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