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The Earth Colonies

"It feels much more like a place that [people] from Earth had explored and colonized. . . ."
— James Maliszewski, "Retrospective: The Solomani Rim"

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A science-fiction role-playing campaign for TRAVELLER®

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

Archaeologists Aitchsee Sandsifter and Ally Wang[α]

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 interstellar game space inspired by the interstellar game space of StarForce,® a wargame designed by Redmond Simonsen, and the interstellar game space described in "3-D Space," a Traveller variant by Bob McWilliams which appeared in White Dwarf #73.  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.

The Earth Colonies Sphere includes several rival interstellar states — independent polities originally settled from Earth: the most powerful being the expansionist Empire of Aztlán, the cosmopolitan Federation of Nyanza, the mercantile Ouroran Community, the missionary Abrahamic Synod, and the Commonwealth of Earth itself.  Other states of the Colonies Sphere include the Republic of Kiangsi, the Rajasthani Confederacy, the Dolphin-dominated Theridian League, the Quebecer Republic, the Empire of Shinnihon and the Realm of Hejaz.

Image - 3D hex-prisms

Detail of three-dimensional game space[β]

Non-human sophonts in the Colonies Sphere include the terrestrial Dolphins — co-equal partners with Humans, the Aeroi (Gaean: "air-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 unexplored regions beyond the Colonies Sphere.

Technological capability of the Commonwealth and the major Colonial States, as well as of the Aeroi and Meren, represents a campaign 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 adventurer in the undiscovered country of the Colonies Sphere.

An Overview of the Earth Colonies Sphere appears at Freelance Traveller.

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 Achievement (TA) 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 had begun 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 to 2100
- Earth Technological Achievement (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 to 2200
- Colonization of near-solar systems
- Earth rises to TA 7 c2150
- Rise of chartered interstellar development companies

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

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

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

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 Achievement 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 Achievement 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 have never been heard from again.  By the end of the century travel to the near-solar colonies came to an end; many 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 Earth civilization was apparent in the fall back to Technological Achievement 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 to 2600
- Earth falls to TA 6 c2500
- Colonial Worlds flourish
- Earth falls to TA 5 c2550
- Most Earth ecological damage repaired

2601 to 2700
- Colonial Worlds interstellar colonization
- Earth returns to TA 6 c2650
- Contact re-established with near-solar colonies

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

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

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

3001: Campaign present time

By the dawn of the 26th Century Earth had fallen to Technological Achievement 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 Achievement on the most successful worlds approaching the 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 Achievement 6 by the middle of the 27th Century.  Meanwhile, the most advanced Colonial Worlds 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 Achievement 7 and the Commonwealth slowly expanded to include the near-solar colonies.  At the same time many of the Colonial Worlds 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 Achievement 8.

The Commonwealth and the most advanced Colonial States reached Technological Achievement 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 contacted by the Abrahamic Synod in 2841 and 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 Achievement 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 Achievement B, matching Aeroi and Meren capabilities in the Colonies Sphere.

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

Image credits:
[α] Commissioned illustration for Melbourne Times by Matt Matteo.
[β] Original illustration by Redmond Simonsen from StarForce.  No endorsement of the Earth Colonies Campaign has been made or is implied.

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

"But long ago . . . [newspapers] were actually printed on paper, and the copies distributed and sold.  They used printing presses as heavy as a spaceship's engines.  That's why we still call ourselves the Press.  Some of the old papers on Terra, like . . . the Melbourne Times, which used to be the London Times when there was still a London, were printed that way originally."
— H. Beam Piper, Four-Day Planet

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