Britain in 2300AD


Canon to the right of them, Canon to the left…




This article intends to examine the place of Britain in 2300AD, specifically in its representation in canon and the interpretation of canon. Britain was perhaps one of the least well described of the major nations in canon and this article refers specifically to canon and not fan work available on the web, or to the forthcoming 2320AD.




The Nature of 2300AD Canon

Britain in Canon

Uncontroversial Characteristics

Controversial Characteristics


Appendix 1: Design Notes
Appendix 2: A Pentapod’s View of Britain


The Nature of 2300AD Canon


canon (WRITINGS)  
noun [C usually singular] SPECIALIZED
all the writings or other works known to be by a particular person:
the Shakespearean canon


Cambridge Dictionaries Online


Traveller:2300 and 2300AD canon is often seen as a single body of work which is self reinforcing and internally constant. This is, however, patently untrue. 2300AD canon was written over the course of several years by numerous different authors, many of whom had differing conceptions of what 2300AD should be.


For example in the original Traveller:2300 boxed set it was clear that France was the primus inter pares power of the setting[1]. This was an unusual and interesting departure for an RPG set in an era with recognisable nations; however this was not particularly beneficial for GDW’s sales figures in their main North American market place. Consequently the role of America became increasingly important in subsequent publications; a US Marine was featured on the front of the 2300AD boxed set, US Marines were the stars of Mission Arcturus and ultimately US Marines liberated an entire German colony virtually single handed in Operation: Overlord.


In a wider context 2300AD writings are not always consistent with each other and indeed are contradictory in places. Indeed most of the later works were written by people who had no involvement with the initial development of 2300AD. Some later articles in a variety of magazines were anointed by GDW as ‘officially approved’ for 2300AD, however these are often far from consistent with the original 2300AD concepts and are little more authoritive than the fan websites that would develop afterwards.  


As a result the reader must make their own mind up which part of canon will take precedent in their interpretation of canon.


Britain in Canon


As has already been stated Britain is relatively poorly described by canon, in that it not often mentioned. This section aims to examine Britain’s place in written canon, in chronological context, without especial commentary except to point out contradictions and reasonable assumptions that could be drawn.  


Traveller:2300 Boxed Set, 1986


- Argentine-British Rivalry[2]. A ‘long term friction’ with ‘governments… more often than not… at odds’ dating from the Falklands conflict, an Antarctic showdown, the Alpha Centauri War and British denunciation of the Inca Republic.


- Bonds of ESA[3]. A ‘tradition of cooperation’ and ‘bond of friendship’ between Britain and the other ESA nations: France, Bavaria (now Germany) and Azania.


- Wellon[4]. The former British colony on Tirane was granted home rule in 2241 and independence in 2277, but remains a member of the British Commonwealth.


- The Royal Society[5]. Notes that Britain took longer than most nations to get back on its feet. It then goes on to say that Britain gained great wealth from its holdings on Alpha Centauri which caused a British renaissance which has lasted for a century. This section notes Britain has a large upper-middle and middle class, which have regained much national pride as wealth has come in from the ‘new Commonwealth’. It states that 2300 Britain is in an age ‘reminiscent of the nineteenth century’ and that once again Britannia ruled the waves ‘gravity waves… but waves none the less.’


- Foundation for Practical Knowledge[6]. This notes the links between the FPK, founded in the British Alpha Centauri colonies, and the Royal Society. The FPK is credited with being behind the peaceful succession of Wellon.


- Nations and Colonies of Earth[7]. Notes Britain as one of the European nations of Earth with English as its main language. Britain is listed with four colonies, one outpost and with an ex-British colony on Tirane.


- The Game[8]. Notes that the background of 2300 was developed by a process of wargaming and that Britain was played by Timothy B. Brown who also played Manchuria and Algeria.


- The York Class Colonisation Vessel[9]. Describes a ship design from the 2220s that was built at Wellington Orbital Station. The concept of the ship was to aid the colonisation of Henry’s Star and 61 Ursae Majoris. The Yorks are said to be behind the revitalisation of the British colonisation effort in the mid 2200s. Britain is then said to be the first nation with half its loyal population living off-world by 2298. The Yorks have been sold on with five owned by Argentina amongst others.




The obvious assumptions to be made from this work is that 2300AD Britain is a relatively powerful and wealthy nation still involved in expansion with its economy reliant on its off world holdings. One colony has gained independence but retains friendly relations with Britain. Internationally Britain has close links with the ESA nations but is not friendly with Argentina.




The only major contradiction is raised by the York write-up with some being sold to Argentina, not one of Britain’s allies. Also the statement that Britain is the first to have half its loyal population living off-world in 2298 ignores that France and Germany also fulfil this criteria.


Ships of the French Arm, 1987


- Wellington Class Fighter[10]. States that the British haven’t been involved in a space conflict since the Alpha Centauri War in the shadow of their French Allies and that British technological advantages are few and far between and that the Wellington is the latest warship designed and built by the English (sic.). It mentions deployments at Tirane, Henry’s Star and Beta Canum.


- Exeter Class System Defence Boat[11]. States that this class was designed as a result of the 3rd Rio Plato War which the British looked at one stage as being drawn in on the side of the French. Some British in-system facilities were undefended if the French didn’t join in on their side and so this patrol ship was introduced after the war. These ships are located in the Sol and Tirane systems.


- Donovan Class Fighter[12]. An older class of ship which was shipped to the colonies when newer models were produced. It notes that ‘historically’ these ships would use massed volleys of missiles.


- BC-4 Cargo Carrier[13]. Notes that British space transport needs increased in the first half of the 2200s, as previously needs were met from mine in Antarctica or Greenland or from Tirane and shipped on French ships.


- BC-7 Robot Cargo Carrier[14]. Notes that the British followed the ‘Chinese’ in introducing robot cargo ships, which are commonly used in QAS and Henry’s Star Systems.


- Faidi Class Courier[15]. Notes a British corporation buying the first of these class of ships.


- Dalton Class Mining Vessel[16]. Details a British asteroid mining ship.




From the SotFA it could be assumed that the British do not have a particularly modern space military and it has not seen action since the Alpha Centauri War, although there have been some close calls. However Britain still deploys military force in the Alpha Centauri system. In terms of international links Britain is allied to, and in some ways reliant on France, however the rivalry with Argentina is so strong it nearly brought Britain into the 3rd Rio Plato War. Lastly Britain seems to be fairly strongly involved in non-military starship production and in-system mining.




The depiction of Britain as a fairly non-active space military power seems at odds with the Boxed Set’s ‘ruling the waves’ and ‘nineteenth century’ analogies. It is also somewhat internally contradictory with the depiction of the Donovan’s ‘traditional’ tactics in battle, and the production of two new ship classes in the 2270s. In addition, contrary to the write-up the in-service dates for the Exeter are before the end of the 3rd Rio Plato War.


Nyotokundu Sourcebook, 1987


- Attitudes to Azania[17]. Britain is mentioned as being resentful of the black majority government of Azania but that attitude changed with the discovery of Azanian reserves.


- ESAS Pathfinder[18] . A multi-nationally crewed ship built in Glasgow and captained by Lord Geoffrey Ramage which surveyed Nyotokundu. Ramage would go on to become a British national hero.


- OMS Andrew Carnegie[19]. Details an Orbital Mining Station and its predominantly British owning company AMEC as well as details of the evolution of belt mining from the early 2100s.


- Benjamin Whitman[20]. One of AMEC’s OMC’s is named for this man described as a pioneer of British spaceflight and living between 1977-2073.


- Characters[21] . The crew of the OMS Andrew Carnegie are largely British. The include a former member of the Royal Space Corps and scion of the nobility.




Nyotokundu makes it clear that Britain was strongly involved in ESA exploration operations from the start of the era when stutterwarp was available and also had a voice in ESA councils. It also says that Britain was and still is involved in off-world mining efforts from an early age.




The heavy involvement of Britain in space operations in the early 2100s is somewhat earlier than the renaissance mentioned in the Boxed Set, but could be explained away as preliminary operations which made the later prosperity possible. The naming of the British space military as the Royal Space Corps seems somewhat counterintuitive as that nomenclature suggests it is a part of another service, rather than a service of its own.


Beanstalk, 1987


- The British Continent[22]. The British colony on Beta Canum is described in detail as being established in 2207 on the smallest and least easily commercially exploited colony. The colonisation effort is low key, left mainly to adventurous colonists and infrastructure developed to serve as a link between French and Bavarian (later German Continents.) However by 2300 the colony has thrived and expanded and is commonly referred to as ‘New Africa’.


- British colonial policy[23]. The British choice of colony on Beta Canum and low key expansion is noted as being part of a plan to gain better leverage for exploitation of future worlds to be opened up on the French Arm and to save resources for this. It is noted that Henry’s Star was Britain’s pay off in 2217 and by the 2260s this colony is ‘progressing nicely’.


- French protectionism[24]. A major plot device is French protectionism over food standards preventing British farmers from entering a key market in off-world food exports.




That Britain’s colonial effort on Beta Canum was one of the smallest and least well resourced, however it was still successful. That the British were looking for a major colonial effort from Henry’s Star and beyond, and that Henry’s Star was successful up to the 2260’s. Lastly that while Britain and France are allies, there are still items of disagreement between them.


Boxed Set, 2nd Edition, 1988  


The 2nd Edition, complete with a change in name, has only a few more elements to add about Britain.


- The Black Scorpion Company[25]. A rather ludicrous mercenary company is described with its leader rising from membership of a London gang to joining the Special Air Service and then going on to make officer and start his own mercenary company.




The SAS and the British Army still exists. There are still slums and gangs in major British cities. It is possible to rise up the ranks of the British Army despite poor origins to become an officer.


Colonial Atlas, 1988


- New Albion[26]. Settlement of this British colony on Tirane was described as initially intense, and then tapering off, although the 2300 population is still 212 million. The British are still said to regard the colony as a national favourite. The colony is described as initially being an agricultural and light industrial colony as well as being home to the nobility.


- Neubayern mines[27]. The British possess active mining concessions on Neubayern VIc


- Alicia[28]. The British possess a colony on Beowulf at Queen Alice’s Star. Discovered by ESAS Vancouver, another largely British crewed ship, in 2164. Named for Queen Alice, then on the throne for 23 years. Her reign would go on to compare with that of Queen Victoria in ‘length, prosperity and colonial development.’ The colony is the most important in Britain’s ‘colonial empire’ and considered a showpiece colony.


- Nature of Alicia. The colony is concentrated on the eastern coast of its continent and has some 26 million population. Predominantly ‘English’, with Scots, Irish, Canadian and Australians, non-‘British’ emigration is not encouraged. The colony has a burgeoning industrial base, much in orbit, as well as agriculture.


- Alician government. The colony has ‘Associate Member’ status of the British Commonwealth, but Britain retains suzerainty. The Governor is elected by the population and is supported by a privy council, he has control of internal affairs as well as the planetary army and police. A senior British officer retains control of other defence assets.


- Alician nobility. There is an Alician peerage, which is not entitled to sit in the House of Lords. The most powerful of these is the Duke of Alicia, who has been created a noble in the British establishment who can.


- Alician conflict with the French. There is tension and some violence between the British and French colonies over a number of islands.


- British Beta Canum colony[29]. This section of the Colonial Atlas is written by the writer of Beanstalk and is consistent with that work. It stresses the importance placed by the British on smoothing diplomatic difficulties between French and German colonies.


- Henry’s Star colony[30]. A ‘thriving’ British colony called Crater is found at Henry’s Star. It was surveyed in 2182 by the ESAS Endeavour under the command of another famous explorer Sir Henry Spence. The stars were named after Queen Alice’s Prince Consort.


- Nature of Crater. Established in 2217 and now has 1.6 million inhabitants concentrated near the city of Rimview. The world is relatively resource poor but has large concentrations of mineral wealth near the eponymous Crater which have led it to be described as ‘the new South Africa’.


- Government of Crater. The colony of Crater is governed in ‘neocolonialist’ fashion[31] with a Governor-General appointed from Earth by the Foreign Office. The colony is somewhat authoritarian with trade restrictions and lack of self-sufficiency causing problems. There is a corrupt Colonial Constabulary under the command of the governor.


- British Joi Colony[32]. The British have a colony called New Cornwall in the 61 Ursae Majoris system. Founded in 2254 it has grown very slowly to just under 300 000 population. It is a very advanced colony, which expects to grow significantly in the near future. It is under the aegis of the Colonial Office. 


- British colonial policy[33]. There is a section which describes the reasoning behind the slow expansion of New Cornwall, describing rushed colonisation efforts so far, leading to dissipation of effort, corruption and poor returns. It mentions that ‘forceful methods’ had been used on Alpha Centauri and had led to independence movements.


- Links with Azania. The British colony is closely linked to its Azanian neighbour and provides it with many services.


- British colonists on Syuhlahm[34]. There are British ethnic colonies on the world of Syuhlahm, some in the Manchurian colony and others in a FPK sponsored settlement of New Liverpool.


- Anglophone peacekeepers on Vogelheim[35]. In the aftermath of the War of German Reunification ground units mainly from Britain, America and Australia are present on this world as a multinational force. 




That Britain has four existing colonies and had a settlement on Alpha Centauri. Government is progressive with colonies gaining internal autonomy as they mature. There are separate establishments for law enforcement and military forces separate from those raised in the home nations. The aristocracy still exists as does a House of Lords in the British governmental system. British outposts exist in many places formal colonies do not. The colonies of Crater and New Cornwall are somewhat troubled and not really developing as hoped. 


British explorers were active in the early years of ESA explorations. A Queen Alice oversaw a period of strong growth in the mid- to late- 2100s. That Britain seeks to play a diplomatic role between France and Germany on at least two worlds. That Britain is able to work in a military alliance with the Americans and Australians and has the capability to deploy force to a world it does not have a colony on.




- The main contradiction with previous work is the naming of the British Alpha Centauri as ‘New Albion’ rather than the previous ‘Wellon’. Also by the naming of the colony as a ‘national favourite’ it raises questions as to whether the colony is still under direct British control or not and it is still referred to as a colony. 


- The depiction of Crater ‘thriving’ after 80 years with fewer than 2 million colonists, and New Cornwall, with fewer than 300 000 after 40, is at odds with the ‘revitalised’ colonisation effort directed at these worlds mentioned in the Boxed Set. It also contradicts the colonial policy described in Beanstalk with effort saved from Beta Canum for rapid exploitation of Henry’s Star.


- The description in the New Cornwall article of British colonial policy and ‘forceful methods’ used in Alpha Centauri leading to independence movements contradicts the description of ‘New Albion’ and previous writings of Wellon describing a peaceful succession.


- It would perhaps be fair to say that the above three contradictions are mainly the result of there being three different writers covering the colonies. Loren K Wiseman wrote the New Albion section, Lester W Smith the Beta Canum and J Andrew Keith detailed Beowulf, Crater and New Cornwall once. This is why New Albion is described as ‘a national favourite’ and Alicia the ‘showpiece’ in the same work. However even with articles written by the same author, with the Foreign Office in charge of Crater and the Colonial Office in charge of New Cornwall. 


- There is a minor contradiction between the longevity of Queen Alice described in this work, described as similar to that of Queen Victoria, so between 50-60 years and so reigning from 2141 until around 2190-2200. She is still Queen by the discovery of Crater in 2182. The ‘official 2300AD’ list of British monarchs[36] has Alice reigning from 2141-2177. Perhaps more importantly a ‘neo-Victorian’ era then contradicts the British renaissance as staring at the end of this era posited by the Boxed Set. 


- Another minor contradiction comes not with canon but historical British practice in governing colonies. Alicia is described as having an elected Governor supported by an unelected Privy Council. It was British practise to appoint a Governor-General as the Monarch’s representative to act as head of state. Local governments would be headed by a Prime Minister selected by the elected ruling party. As colonies matured the Governor-General would still be appointed by the Queen, but on the advice of the local government not the British one, as still happens in modern Australia, Canada and New Zealand.


Invasion, 1988


- British Royal Space Navy[37]. The module details the size of the British space force and its deployments at Earth, Beowulf, Beta Canum, Beta Comae Berenices and Vogelheim. It includes 11 heavy warships, 30 light warships and 41 fighters including one ‘newly fielded[38]’ deep-space fighter carrier. (Listed equivalents are France 14/46/116 and Germany 10/24/28). The RSN use traditional Royal Navy ship names.


- A British privateer[39]. The activities of British privateer Avenger under the command of a British aristocrat are noted. Several members of the crew are ex-RSN and the captain is the brother of the Duke of Alicia. The ship is an Exeter Class acquired as a result of the captain’s wealth and connections.   


- 2nd Battle of BCB[40]. In combination with a German squadron and following the successful first defence of BCB a British squadron of four ships attempts to defence BCB and is defeated, loosing half its ships and retreats to a hidden base in a neighbouring system.


- The Fall of Beta Canum[41]. The Kafers attack Beta Canum destroying the Beanstalk plunging the colonies, especially France’s, into chaos. There are only German and no French or British warships in the defence of the colony. On world the British attempt to aid the French, but across Beta Canum defences are left unprepared. The Kafers return and overrun the surface quickly. There is some sporadic resistance on the British continent but by and large the population accepts Kafer governance. The world is eventually liberated by Rochemont’s Fleet.


- The Fall of Crater[42]. Crater is attacked and occupied without resistance, however the government and miners in cooperation set up a guerrilla war against the aliens. Eventually the colony is liberated by Rochemont although Kafer remnants escape to the fringes of the colony.


- The Attack on Joi[43]. The Kafers launch and attack on Joi. British ships are involved in the battle, but the colony of New Cornwall is unaffected by the invasion.


- Peacekeepers on Vogelheim[44]. Under a Treaty of Darwin British, American and Australian warships are present as are ground troops from these nations and Canada. Cooperation between these forces is informal, but there is initially little cooperation with French and Germans.


- British leadership of the Reserve Fleet[45]. The Terran Reserve Fleet which eventually halts the Kafer is based in the Beowulf system and includes British, French, German, American and Ukrainian ships under the command of the British Admiral Graham. The decision to remain at this chokepoint is taken by the British government on Earth but backed by most commanders. Internal and external coordination is poor, with French and Ukrainians uncooperative, but the fleet’s combat power allows it a decisive victory.




That Britain has a strong, slightly stronger than Germany at any rate, space fleet including modern warships. That Britain is able to allow some minor warships, presumably retired from the main force, to act as privateers. That British colonies were unprepared for ground assault and largely undefended by British ships and troops. That Britain has enough diplomatic and military clout to lead coalition forces.




- The main and glaring contradiction is with the Ships of the French Arm, which insists the British have not built a new warship since the late 2270s, whereas Invasion has the British fielding a new carrier warship. However this does fit with the depiction of Britain ‘ruling the gravity waves’ in the Boxed Set. Also some deployments in Ships of the French Arm are not seen in Invasion.


- A minor contradiction is the use of ‘Royal Space Navy’ rather than ‘Royal Space Corps’ seen in Nyotokundu.


- The fall of Beta Canum, and indeed other colonies, stands in contrast with the defence of Aurore depicted in the Aurore Sourcebook. A world of 12 million with only militia to defend it from a shock attack survives for 3 months before help arrives in spite of losing its power supply. A world of 45 million with internal tensions between French and Germany and with months to prepare for the invasion looses its power supply, falls in a week and becomes largely collaborationist.


- Not a contradiction, but where did the British squadron based at Beta Canum go? It is mentioned in the opening order of battle but then refuses to make an appearance leaving British colonies on Beta Canum, Crater and Joi undefended. Guesses would be it either joined Rochemont’s Fleet for the Relief Expeditions, joined the squadron at BCB and escaped to Grosshiddenhafen or it retreated to join Graham at Beowulf. Or maybe the author just forgot about it.


Bayern, 1988


- British crewman[46]. There is a British interface pilot with the AR-I ship Bayern.


- HMS Impressive[47]. At some point in the late 2280s a British vessel rescued the survivors of a German cruiser in the Beta Canum system.


Ground Vehicle Guide, 1988


- German AFV[48]. It is mentioned that a German hover APC, the GfPzTr-XIII is in British service.


Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook, 1989


- Britain’s place in 2300AD[49]. ‘Britain runs a close race with Germany in terms of economic and political power in 2300’. ‘Politically, three nations dominate Europe: France, Britain and Germany… Economically, these three are only slightly above the rest of the continent’. ‘Britain… remained a major European power and stood in uncontested place until the formation of the Scandinavian Union’ [sic, Germany?]. Britain has a population of around 110 million on Earth.


- Britain’s economy. ‘Income from trade with its interstellar possessions, along with a continued emphasis on scientific research, has ensured the British economy remains strong, and British technological expertise is still in demand.’ Britain has an industrial capacity rated at 11 Rudells (a rudimentary measurement) as opposed to 11 for European France and 10 for Germany. The economy is very reliant on the importation of raw materials.


- British trade. Key trading partners are France, Britain’s off-world, America, Germany and Japan. Other trading partners are Canada, Bolivia, Uruguay, Spain and Iran.


- Links with Canada[50]. At the start of the 2100s Canada is described as providing agricultural and minerals which support a ‘massive industrialisation’ of Britain. Both nations share a close trade and military relationship and Canada participates in the exploitation of Greenland’s resources in the mid-2100s.


- The Royal Navy[51]. In the mid-2100s Britain is described as having the world’s largest naval force which it uses to win a bloodless standoff with Argentina over Antarctic resources by ‘vastly outgunning’ the Argentines. This further strained relations between Argentina and Britain.




That Britain is one of the most powerful nations in Europe, in the same bracket as Germany. That Britain has an economy, with strong industrial and technological sectors, reliant on imports of minerals and other resources. Initially from Earth and increasingly from off world. That Britain once again had a strong wet navy tradition. There are probably continued strong bilateral links with Canada.  




The population of Britain being 110 million raises a contradiction with a statement in the Boxed Set about half of Britain’s population living off earth. This would mean an off-world population also around 110 million. However the total population of UK colonies (taking Wellon out of the equation) is actually around 38 million. A short fall of 72 million.


Uncontroversial Characteristics


The following are what I believe are uncontroversial characteristics of Britain in 2300AD derived from the examination of canon.


Britain’s Position in 2300AD


Britain is a starfaring nation which although is not in the same league as France is one of the top three nations in Europe and is almost as influential as Germany.




Britain has a range of allies, including France, Germany, America, Australia and Canada. While these nations are allies, and usually, trading partners there is room for disagreement in particular with France over colonial issues. Britain has attempted to mediate between France and Germany.




Britain seems to have only one real enemy, Argentina, fed by rivalry and confrontation lasting over three centuries. There is the implication that Britain is friendly with Brazil, it almost joined the 3rd Rio Plato War, on the basis of ‘my enemy’s enemy is also my friend’ if for no other reason.


Development of Space


Britain seems to have developed an orbital spaceflight programme in the second half of the 21st Century. The early first half of the 22nd Century saw Britain, and British companies involved in development of in-system mining technique that still exist to this day. British built ships and crews were heavily involved in ESA exploration expeditions in the mid- to late- part of this century. British transport capability increased dramatically in the early 23rd Century and Britain is still heavily involved in in-system mining in a number of systems.


Economy and Trade


The British economy seems to have finally recovered from the Twilight Era in the early 22nd Century and went through a period of rapid industrialisation. This process was fed by mineral resources from Canada, Greenland, Antarctica and the off-world colonies. Britain’s economy is strong, with an industrial sector stronger than Germany and equal to European France and continues to be reliant on imports of raw materials from off-world. Scientific research is strongly encouraged and British technology is in demand.  


Colonies and Outposts


Britain has initiated colonies on five different worlds and continues to directly control four of these. There are several British outposts of varying sizes across space, many of these are involved in mining operations. These colonies are a source of pride for the British. 


Controversial Characteristics


In addition to these there are several characteristics that rise from contradictions in canon and can be somewhat controversial.


Royal Space Navy


The most significant of these arises in respect to Britain’s space military. Essentially there are two different approaches to this topic.


- That Britain has a very weak space arm with no new ships and little warship development. This is supported directly by one ship write-up and indirectly in another write up, both in Ships of the French Arm.


- That Britain has a strong space arm, including new build capital ships. This is stated by Invasion and indirectly supported by inference from Britain’s position described in the Boxed Set and the Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook.


In the author’s opinion either of these view points are valid, although the second seems more likely given acknowledged British industry, technology, ship building capability and reliance on off-world trade.  


Wellon or New Albion


The question of the status of Wellon, Britain’s Alpha Centauri colony has sometimes been raised.


- Wellon. The colony is called Wellon and it gained home rule and then independence from Britain in a peaceful manner. It still has close links with Britain. This is stated in several places in the Boxed Set.


- New Albion. The colony is called New Albion, the implication from the paragraph in the Colonial Atlas is that it still remains under British control.


In the author’s opinion the Colonial Atlas is simply wrong and there was poor fact checking and editing by GDW and the colony is Wellon and independent. However the imminent 2320AD has both an independent Wellon, and a much smaller New Albion.  


Colonial Management


There is some contradiction as to Britain’s colonies are managed.


- That British colonies are given increasing internal sovereignty as they develop. Wellon having been given home rule and then independence, Alicia effectively has home rule. Crater and New Cornwall are still relatively immature and are under direct control. Nothing is known about the Beta Canum colony. This pattern of development is implied rather than stated, but would fit with past British practise for example with Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and British policy since the Durham Report of 1838.


- That British colonies are by and large badly run and authoritarian and in some cases force has been used. This is stated in the work of one writer in the Colonial Atlas and draws upon the historical example of the British colonies in America and the American War of Independence.


The author’s opinion is that both of these can be true. By and large the British policy is for colonies to head towards home rule and self sufficiency, yet there are instances of bad management and corruption. 


Colonial Population. Or whatever happened to Henry’s Star and 61 Ursae Majoris?


An interesting question arises from the examination of earlier with later works of canon. The Boxed Set and Beanstalk both mention that a major effort was made in the colonisation of Henry’s Star and Joi, which was the raison d’être of the 13+ York Class vessels. Beanstalk mentions Henry’s Star progressing nicely in the 2260s. The York write up mentions that a ‘large proportion of the population [of 61 Ursae Majoris] can trace its roots to a berth on a York Class vessel[52]’.


However when details are provided in the 1988 Colonial Atlas Henry’s Star/Crater has a population of just over 1.5 million after 80 years of colonisation. Joi/New Cornwall has a mere 0.3 million after 40 years. That ‘large proportion’ is in fact actually turns out to be a whopping 3%. Beta Canum’s British Continent, largely neglected in favour of the two outer colonies, has 10 million colonists by this stage.    


The suspicion is that the writer dealing with the later works simply made no real reference to the earlier work. Indeed there is a wide variation of scale in colonial populations across the Colonial Atlas, very large in others and very small elsewhere. Poor editing would again seem to be largely responsible.


This brings us to the 50% of Britain’s population said to live off world, and the missing 72 million colonial Britons. In this author’s opinion it is highly likely that when the original quote was written then final population figures had no yet been put in place, and the quote should be taken as being indicative of the spread of British colonial society. Those disagreeing could, if they so desire, bump up British colonial populations in Crater or New Cornwall, although an extra 72 million would be straining Britain’s reproductive capacity somewhat!




In conclusion it seems that the main characteristics of canon Britain are relatively clear, in terms of position, economy, trade and allies. There are minor contradictions in terms of space power and colonies, but these are issues most GM’s are more than able to deal with in their own campaigns.


Appendix 1: Design Notes

This article was started to check my own assumptions about canon Britain which I have been working from since I started writing for 2300 in late 1996. I never systematically looked at canon in the way this article has, but I’m largely pleased that the conclusions I originally worked from in writing for Etranger and later Tirane have been largely validated.


This article aimed to look systematically at Britain in canon in a dispassionate way and has not drawn on any work except for core canon publications from 2300AD. It is in no way intended to tell other writers or GMs how they are to interpret canon or foist my view point on others. 


Appendix 2: A Pentapod’s View of Britain


An alternative view is provided by KevinC in his work on Colonial Demographics, Status of Wellon/New Albion and the Decline of the UK available on his website[53]. It is an interesting exercise to analyse these articles in the light of canon.


Status of British colonies on Tirane in the 2300AD rpg


KevinC follows Colin Dunn’s 2320AD in positing there being both an independent Wellon and a New Albion still controlled by Britain. The primary justification for this is the use of the term ‘British Alpha Centauri colonies[54]’ in the write up of the FPK in the Boxed Set. He then quotes the contradictory presence of Wellon in the Boxed Set and New Albion in the Colonial Atlas, whilst noting the absence of Wellon from the Colonial Atlas and Boxed Set.


His clinching argument are the missing 72 million colonial Britons, which he has as the population of the loyalist New Albion. Kevin also notes that for there to be a ‘national favourite’ there must two colonies on Tirane with British roots.


However Kevin has somewhat misquoted what GDW wrote. The quote about ‘colonies’ actually says that ‘…the British Alpha Centauri colonies, [on independence] , making the Commonwealth Nation of Wellon.’. This has historical analogy in Australia, which was a number of separate colonies before becoming the single Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. It clearly refers to a single political entity.       


Similarly the quote about ‘national favourites’ is, in full: ‘Now the English have colony worlds along the entire French Arm, but New Albion is arguably the “national favourite.”’ The quote refers to New Albion’s position amongst other British off-world colonies, and not between two entities on Tirane.


KevinC’s statement that ‘GDW clearly intended for the UK colonies on Tirane to be the game's "Irish Troubles", but with a twist.’ is a touch disingenuous. If they’d had clearly intended this they’d have spelled it out. Canon actually says that there is either a single independent colony of Wellon or a single British colony of New Albion, but not both.


In fact what KevinC (and Colin Dunn in 2320AD) describe is actually a very interesting location to set an RPG, however it is, to use KevinC's own term, a variant setting. 


Britain's Tax Base Loss in the 2300AD rpg


In this article KevinC sets out to use the preceding article and other work on colonial demographics to set out his reasons why Britain in 2300 is in decline. The initial stage of which draws upon his Wellon and New Albion work mentioned above as well as the assumption that taxation is the only way to raise funding. Of more interest is his supporting text as to why he believes Britain is in decline as this draws upon his conception of canon.


KevinC’s key reasons are:


- The lack of new ships from 2280 onwards stated in Ships of the French Arm. The building of patrol craft for in-system duties is seen as a weakness.


- The failure of Britain to come to the aid of France in the Central Asian War. Although he does not state why this is a sign of decline.


- That Invasion has ‘most of the British fleet in reserve’ and with reference to Ships of the French Arm that ‘Invasion's positioning of the British fleet only makes sense if these are relatively old ships ( built in the 2260s or earlier).  If the UK actually had modern 2280s/2290s designs, then they would have been on the front line.’


- In his conclusion KevinC takes it as a further sign of decline that Britain launches only one colonial effort from 2254.


Whilst in fact there is no canon statement that states Britain is in decline it is interesting to examine KevinC’s key reasons for believing this in the light of canon.


- Ships of the French Arm absolutely says that the last British ships were built in the late 2270s.


- There are no canon statements as to why Britain did not aid France in the Central Asian War and it would seem unusual for Britain not to aid an Ally, especially given the involvement of another ESA partner Bavaria. However Britain has not always gone to war alongside even its closest allies if it feels its interests are not threatened, there were no British troops in Vietnam despite American pressure for example. Perhaps the exposed nature of British mining concessions in the Chinese Arm was a factor? Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that the same player ran Britain and Manchuria in The Game?


- Lastly KevinC’s reading of Invasion is flawed. It is clearly stated that new build British ships are present, in addition military naval forces require a balance of new and old ships in order to maintain their strength and run efficiently. KevinC’s comments as to the positioning of the British ships are puzzling as at the start of the Invasion there are 8 ships ‘forward’ of Beowulf and 5 ships at Beowulf. Invasion also states that the decision to keep the Reserve Fleet at Beowulf is both a British and international decision and taken at the time of the fall of Beta Comae Berenicies i.e. from which time QAS essentially becomes part of the front line. Lastly the notion that a reserve force is where you keep your worst troops would surely come as news to Napoléon’s Garde Impériale.


- It is true Britain’s last colonial effort was launched in 2254. France’s last effort was launched in 2248, Germany’s in 2241, Australia’s in 2217, America’s in 2229 and Manchuria’s in 2235.


KevinC basic argument is that the loss of an Alpha Centauri colony has led to a British decline, which is a valid argument and one equally as applicable to Germany’s loss of Garten/Freihafen. Although overlooking the value of trade[55] over taxation and the need not to directly fund a colony.


However his supporting quotes are flawed and he tries to support the position painted of the British Ships of the French Arm by transposing his interpretation of canon onto Invasion, which does not support his interpretation or his strategic theorising. Lastly there are no direct quotes in canon supporting the supposition that Britain is in decline.


Once again KevinC presents an interesting RPG background which is supported by one element of canon, however it is contradicted by several more. What is presented in this article would definitely fall under the variant category.


[1] Rear of Traveller:2300 Boxed Set ‘The world is dominated by the Third French Empire.’

[2] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.9

[3] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.9

[4] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.16

[5] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.18

[6] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.19

[7] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.46-47

[8] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Referee’s Manual Inside Cover

[9] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Referee’s Manual pp.29-30

[10] Ships of the French Arm, pp.28

[11] Ships of the French Arm, pp.32

[12] Ships of the French Arm, pp.34

[13] Ships of the French Arm, pp.60

[14] Ships of the French Arm, pp.62

[15] Ships of the French Arm, pp.72

[16] Ships of the French Arm, pp.88

[17] Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.3

[18] Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.3

[19] Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.32-33

[20] Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.33

[21] Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.xx

[22] Beanstalk, pp.9-10

[23] Beanstalk, pp.9

[24] Beanstalk, pp.10

[25] 2300AD Boxed Set, pp.13

[26] Colonial Atlas, pp.5

[27] Colonial Atlas, pp.9-10

[28] Colonial Atlas, pp.11-14

[29] Colonial Atlas, pp.19-21

[30] Colonial Atlas, pp.22-25

[31] How can a colony be neo-colonialist?

[32] Colonial Atlas, pp.26-29

[33] Colonial Atlas, pp.28

[34] Colonial Atlas, pp.55

[35] Colonial Atlas, pp.35

[37] Invasion, pp.6-7

[38] Invasion, pp.52

[39] Invasion, pp.5, 10, 12

[40] Invasion, pp.27-28

[41] Invasion, pp.34-37

[42] Invasion, pp.38-39

[43] Invasion, pp.42-43

[44] Invasion, pp.44-45

[45] Invasion, pp.52-54

[46] Bayern, pp.16

[47] Bayern, pp.29

[48] Ground Vehicle Guide, pp.60

[49] Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook, pp. 49

[50] Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook, pp. 28

[51] Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook, pp. 28

[52] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Referee’s Manual pp.29-30

[54] Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.19

[55] ‘The loss of America had not damaged the country’s transatlantic trade; indeed, exports to the United States were booming… In the six years 1782-1788 British merchant shipping more than doubled.’ Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, P Kennedy (London, 1988)


12 August 2004

Copyright  D Hebditch, 2004