Canon to the right of them, Canon to the left…
article intends to examine the place of
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.
example in the original Traveller:2300 boxed set it was clear that
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.
has already been stated
Traveller:2300 Boxed Set, 1986
- Argentine-British Rivalry. 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. A ‘tradition
of cooperation’ and ‘bond of friendship’ between
The former British colony on
The Royal Society.
- Foundation for Practical Knowledge. 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.
Notes that the background of 2300 was developed by a process of wargaming and that
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
only major contradiction is raised by the
Ships of the French Arm, 1987
- Donovan Class Fighter. 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.
Notes that British space transport needs increased in the first half
of the 2200s, as previously needs were met from mine in
- BC-7 Robot Cargo Carrier. 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. Notes a British corporation buying the first of these class of ships.
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
Nyotokundu Sourcebook, 1987
ESAS Pathfinder . A multi-nationally crewed ship built
- OMS Andrew Carnegie. 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. One of AMEC’s OMC’s is named for this man described as a pioneer of British spaceflight and living between 1977-2073.
- Characters . 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
heavy involvement of
- The British Continent. 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.
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
- French protectionism. A major plot device is French protectionism over food standards preventing British farmers from entering a key market in off-world food exports.
Boxed Set, 2nd Edition, 1988
2nd Edition, complete with a change in name, has only a few more elements
to add about
The Black Scorpion Company.
A rather ludicrous mercenary company is described with its leader rising
from membership of a
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
- Neubayern mines. The British possess active mining concessions on Neubayern VIc
The British possess a colony on Beowulf at Queen Alice’s Star. Discovered
- 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
- 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. 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. 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
- Government of Crater. The colony of Crater is governed in ‘neocolonialist’ fashion 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. 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. 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.
- British colonists on Syuhlahm. 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. In
the aftermath of the War of German Reunification ground units mainly
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.
- 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
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
British Royal Space Navy.
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’
deep-space fighter carrier. (Listed equivalents are
- A British privateer. 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.
The Fall of Beta Canum.
The Kafers attack Beta Canum destroying the Beanstalk plunging the colonies,
- The Fall of Crater. 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. 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.
Under a Treaty of Darwin British, American and Australian warships are
present as are ground troops from these nations and
- British leadership of the Reserve Fleet. 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.
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
- 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.
- British crewman. There is a British interface pilot with the AR-I ship Bayern.
- HMS Impressive. 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. It is mentioned that a German hover APC, the GfPzTr-XIII is in British service.
Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook, 1989
British trade. Key trading partners are
The Royal Navy.
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
following are what I believe are uncontroversial characteristics of
Development of Space
Economy and Trade
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
Colonies and Outposts
In addition to these there are several characteristics that rise from contradictions in canon and can be somewhat controversial.
Royal Space Navy
most significant of these arises in respect to
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.
question of the status of
Wellon. The colony is called Wellon and it gained home rule and then
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.
is some contradiction as to
- 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
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?
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
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.
brings us to the 50% of
conclusion it seems that the main characteristics of canon
article was started to check my own assumptions about canon
article aimed to look systematically at
alternative view is provided by KevinC in
his work on Colonial Demographics, Status of Wellon/New Albion and the
Decline of the
of British colonies on
KevinC follows Colin Dunn’s 2320AD in positing there being both
an independent Wellon and a New Albion still controlled by
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
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
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
KevinC’s statement that ‘GDW clearly
intended for the
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.
this article KevinC sets out to use the preceding article and other work
on colonial demographics to set out his reasons why
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
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
In his conclusion KevinC takes it as a further sign of decline that
in fact there is no canon statement that states
- 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
- 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
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
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
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.
 Rear of Traveller:2300 Boxed Set ‘The world is dominated by the Third French Empire.’
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.9
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.9
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.16
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.18
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.19
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.46-47
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Referee’s Manual Inside Cover
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Referee’s Manual pp.29-30
 Ships of the French Arm, pp.28
 Ships of the French Arm, pp.32
 Ships of the French Arm, pp.34
 Ships of the French Arm, pp.60
 Ships of the French Arm, pp.62
 Ships of the French Arm, pp.72
 Ships of the French Arm, pp.88
 Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.3
 Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.3
 Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.32-33
 Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.33
 Nyotokundu Sourcebook, pp.xx
 Beanstalk, pp.9-10
 Beanstalk, pp.9
 Beanstalk, pp.10
 2300AD Boxed Set, pp.13
 Colonial Atlas, pp.5
 Colonial Atlas, pp.9-10
 Colonial Atlas, pp.11-14
 Colonial Atlas, pp.19-21
 Colonial Atlas, pp.22-25
 How can a colony be neo-colonialist?
 Colonial Atlas, pp.26-29
 Colonial Atlas, pp.28
 Colonial Atlas, pp.55
 Colonial Atlas, pp.35
 Best of the 2300AD Mailing List http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Arcade/2303/kevin.htm
 Invasion, pp.6-7
 Invasion, pp.52
 Invasion, pp.5, 10, 12
 Invasion, pp.27-28
 Invasion, pp.34-37
 Invasion, pp.38-39
 Invasion, pp.42-43
 Invasion, pp.44-45
 Invasion, pp.52-54
 Bayern, pp.16
 Bayern, pp.29
 Ground Vehicle Guide, pp.60
 Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook, pp. 49
 Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook, pp. 28
 Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook, pp. 28
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Referee’s Manual pp.29-30
 Traveller: 2300 Boxed Set, Player’s Manual pp.19
 ‘The loss
12 August 2004
Copyright D Hebditch, 2004