Category Archives: universe

Five Reasons for Establishing a Colony

In looking through my notes from previous story and game design ideas I came across one about the reasons why colonies might be set up. This was primarily for a set of scenarios for science fiction games set in Jim Wallman’s Universe that a group of us having been playing around the Full Moon each month since 1996.  That said, they are based on actual historical reasons why people left the UK and other European countries to live elsewhere (although not always on an uncertain and dangerous frontier).


1. Religious/Ascetic Freedom

This covers people leaving to avoid discrimination as well as those that might want to live in a place where the temptations and ‘polluitng influences’ of modern life are not present. Examples of this include Amish and similar sects that avoid advanced technology (although quite why they’d get in a spaceship I’m not sure). Features of this sort of colony may include:

  • lack of high-tech industry (unless necessary to sustain the colony – even them imports would be more likely);
  • Colonists will be complete family groups, from birth to death;
  • no luxury housing or flashy entertainment (forget the five star hotel complex or New Vegas);
  • primarily farming, fishing and hunting;
  • minimal mining & raw materials processing (mainly for construction and export);
  • very tight group, outsiders would be obvious and shunned if not co-religionists. There may be restricted areas only for the faithful if there are frequent visits by groups not sharing similar beliefs;
  • no significant police/security apparatus, discipline would be enforced by social norms and religious leaders;
  • Outside support may be a necessary requirement to maintain the colony;
  • Only co-religionists would be accepted for settlement.

2. Mining Colony

In a place where surveys have shown significant concentrations of valuable minerals then there may be an attempt to settle on a commercial basis. This would be the equivalent of the oil rig workers in remote parts of Earth, or perhaps similar to some of the mid-19th century Californian or Australian pioneers looking for gold. Features of this sort of colony could include;

  • everyone on the colony is employed by, or contracted to, a specific company or consortium;
  • Colonists are likely to be single adults without dependents and of working age;
  • heavily geared around mineral extraction and perhaps also processing ores into metal;
  • they could be focussed on producing stuff for export, and also on individuals returning home again when they’ve completed their tour, or struck it rich;
  • minimal manufacturing, agriculture or any construction not required for the mining and export operations;
  • limited off-world support, if not profitable within a short time period the colony will be closed down again and all colonists repatriated;
  • small security capability, mainly geared around dealing with drunk & bored miners on an off-duty binge (i.e. a security team rather than a police force, discipline is company and offenders are likely to have pay docked or be sent home as sanctions).

3. Farming/Ranching

This one is perhaps more an outcome of a collection of other motivations, but perhaps also from people that can’t get the space to have their own farm in the home country, and instead choose to emigrate in the hope of getting their own land. Certainly this seems to have been a common enough motivation for some of the 18th & early 19th century settlers in North America. Features of this sort of colony may include:

  • lots of agriculture, and strong exports of food and other agricultural products (especially luxury products);
  • Colonists will be heavily weighted to adults of working age, but will also include family groups, although perhaps few elderly in the early stages;
  • lots of small settlements, spaced reasonably far apart, perhaps 10-20kms from each other with cultivated land between them;
  • limited mining and heavy industry, and what is there will be geared to supporting the agricultural industry;
  • well developed chemical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as food and materials processing to turn produce into saleable goods that are worth more as exports;
  • Neglible police/security (think more one man sherrif/constable alongside his farming/other duties with backup from the posse if required).

4. A Better Life[TM]

Isn’t this really the motivation for everyone that decides to get up from where they are and go somewhere else? The typical example here is probably the current migrations of people to other countries. This sort of thing is less likely to directly establish a colony, but is probably a pretty common second wave that could make the difference between a colony bumping along at subsistence level and really making it. Features of a colony with a high proportion of better lifers might include:

  • mature long established colony (perhaps at least 5-10 years old);
  • lots of recent arrivals, with a broad population mix (including babies and children, but not likely to have many elderly unless the colony has been around for more than 50 years);
  • an above average economy with relatively high living standards (luxury housing, entertainment complexes, wide range of consumer goods and agricultural produce);
  • a work hard, play hard culture (immigrants tend to be harder working, and they have a determination to succeed – regardless of what you might have read in the Daily Fail);
  • high productivity leading to sustainable living at better than subsistence level;
  • likely use of robots, automation and other high tech industries within a broad economic base;
  • Mature police and justice system, as a consequence of maturity of the colony with a sustained population growth.

Political/Doctrinal Dissidents

There will be loads of different political systems and doctrinal variations that will lead to people choosing to leave. Possibly some of these may co-exist on the same continent/planet as fallings out happen and it is too expensive to relocate somewhere radically different. Others may be new colonies that are settled from a homeland. Historical examples of this could include the Jacobites that moved to Canada in the 18th Century, or perhaps some of the dissidents from Eastern Europe that made their home in London in the nineteenth. There may also be examples of small towns in North America settled this way too. Anyway some features of these colonies may include:

  • some oddly extreme governance models;
  • mostly adults of working age, perhaps towards the younger end of this (I’ve noticed that people tend to soften in their political activism with age). Total population is likely to be relatively modest, and may be kept that way by frequent splits;
  • unless the political/doctrinal belief prohibits it, there will be a lot of automation and robots in use to run the economy (after all there isn’t time for a good political argument if you need to work very hard all day to make ends meet);
  • the economy is likely to be based on a few things and be relatively spartan (from necessity rather than for doctrinal reasons);
  • strong police/security environment. This may not be immediately obvious, but there is a close relationship between extremism and strict enforcement of thought typical of police states.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Megagame: Invasion from Mars – the end

Dateline 3127.160

General Buck’s HQ, BRADLEY

It’s all over bar the talking.

Army Group West is now all back on the East Continent. With due pomp and ceremony (we got a band in) the Mech Brigade left by sea and then my HQ flew out. I was the last member of the DRC forces to leave the East Continent having handed over FAREAST to the MAFC Marines I got on the last flyer out and flew back to BRADLEY.

Troops evacuated from the West Continent have been deployed into our cities in the western part of the East Continent. If the negotiations break down then all forces have been withdrawn to defend the homeland, and most of the losses have been made good using the Repair and Maintenance Points (RMP).

As a conclusion, the DRC are all very surprised at where we got to with this game. We always thought that we would be well and truly stomped into the ground by the Martians using their standard ‘Plan A’, i.e. ‘drop a GF division on it’. ‘Plan B’ of course being ‘repeat Plan A until it works’!

We have been amazed at the relative non-aggression of the MAFC forces (despite the bluster and politicking, it remains that the MAFC didn’t really try hard to defeat us militarily). I expected the MAFC force to try and decapitate us, landing on our home continent and forcing a withdrawal by directly attacking our cities. I also expected them to be a bit more mobile, using shuttles to flit about from place to place rather than landing somewhere and then moving on the ground like the rest of us.

From a political perspective we’ve gone from being cast as the bad guys to being seen as having a legitimate grievance that is generally acknowledged, and which the INN reported much more favourably than we had expected. That said, we went to some effort to ensure that the two press players got plenty of material from us, and most turns I personally briefed them about what my troops were doing before I carried out the orders. I also made sure when I spoke to them that I knew exactly what the message I wanted them to get was. Classic press briefing techniques, which I’ve been taught for my day job.

As Jim Wallman said at the start “no game survives contact with players”, and at the end “you’ve all done terribly well” (insert punctuation as appropriate).

Enhanced by Zemanta

Megagame: Invasion from Mars 11

Dateline 3127.150-154

General Buck’s advanced HQ, FAREAST

The political negotiations continue, there is much discussion of setting up a supra-national bode to co-ordinate trade, although I do not believe that our government is terribly keen on this idea unless there are appropriate safeguards in place.

Close-Air Support
Image by The National Guard via Flickr

I have done another deal and persuaded the New Cydonia Station head of security to help me evacuate a tank brigade (3rd, at full strength) by providing an additional shuttle unit to supplement my transport flyers. The Brigade is flown to BRADLEY which now means that we have a Division plus there (three brigades, and AIR support).

Another Mech Brigade and a Tank Brigade get shipped out of FAREAST back to the East Continent, leaving only my HQ and the last Mech Brigade (which I could have shipped out as well, but thought I’d string it out a little longer). Also I needed some time to arrange the departure ceremony and invite the INN news crews to film it.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Megagame: Invasion from Mars 10

Dateline 317.145-149

General Buck’s advanced HQ, FAREAST, West Continent, Cydonia

Having brokered a deal via the Earther Military Attaché the Infantry Brigade near ENSEMBLE is flown to BRADLEY (the DRC capital city) by the shuttles of the North Continental Company. This happily bolsters the defences in the capital just in case there is any unpleasantness if negotiations break down. No danger of an internal coup or revolution though, the people seem delighted by our performance and (rightly) credit the President’s leadership for this.

A Mech Brigade and Logistics Base A are evacuated by sea, the remaining forces are converging on FAREAST. My HQ is set up in FAREAST. All available air assets are covering the port to ensure evacuation continues to go smoothly.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Megagame: Invasion from Mars 09

Dateline 3127.140-144

General Buck’s Advanced HQ on West Continent, Cydonia

The cease-fire holds and the politicals keep on talking, apparently the discussions have been focussed on the acts of terrorism against the DRC and that this was a legitimate casus belli. The NCC and DMC have been taken to task over their refusal (so far) to outright condemn these actions.

The sea logistics base has completed its move back to SOLENT so we can start the sea evacuation across the narrow FREEDOM STRAITS. Logistics base B flies back to the West Continent too. We abandon the front line and move almost 2,000km to the East, also handing back the cities of BLACKBERRY and FOSTER. The Infantry Brigade in FAREAST is evacuated. At this stage all the remaining forces on the West Continent (other than the Infantry Brigade near ENSEMBLE and logs base A near FAREAST) are mechanised. Air cover is supplied over FAREAST and the two furthest West columns.

At this stage the MAFC pull a stupid stunt that nearly de-rails the whole ceasefire. They land a Starship Marine Regiment in each of BLACKBERRY, FOSTER and FAREAST. Our rules of engagement specify only harsh language is to be used, and fortunately the MAFC Marine colonel at FAREAST sees sense and orders his men back into the shuttles. The threat that two DRC Armoured Divisions were coming to kill him if he continued to block their passage home probably assisted his speedy decision making…


Enhanced by Zemanta

Megagame: Invasion from Mars 08

Dateline 3127.135-140

General Buck’s advanced HQ on West Continent, Cydonia

The politicians have agreed the cease-fire. The terms are that we need to evacuate the West Continent and the Martians will occupy behind us. A political conference has started on MITLAND island to come to a negotiated end to the war (although this is expected to take some time).

I hold the front line for a little longer, with air cover over it just in case. The transport flyers move logs base B back to the west continent, logs base A moves towards FAREAST. The sea flotillas land 2 Tank Bde on the West continent and it moves into SOLENT where there are 2 RMP to make good some of its losses.

Negotiations continue on the air evacuation of the infantry brigade near ENSEMBLE. However I realise at this point that we are no longer capable of doing this ourselves as our shuttles have been shot down and the air logs base has moved back to the East Continent. I don’t tell the MAFC/NCC this, but I do suggest that either then provide the transport, or that we get someone neutral to do so. Eventually the MAFC get told by the politicians to allow this.

Elsewhere the NCC and MAFC move up into contact with our rearguard, but take care not to engage us.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Megagame: Invasion from Mars 07

Dateline 3127.130-134

General Buck’s advanced HQ on West Continent, Cydonia

It is looking increasingly likely that there will be a cease-fire to allow political negotiations, but this is not yet fully agreed.

More negotiations with local commanders about the evacuation of the Infantry Brigade near ENSEMBLE. The MAFC General still cannot give assurances.

I order my transports to move the air logistics base back to the West Continent and relocate all my air assets to there as well. The ground logistics bases also move West as do the sea flotillas.

The Martians shoot down both our shuttles in orbital space, this shocks the other nations as they were conducting trade rather than directly engaged in military action. It also isn’t clear whether the Martians fired without giving a warning first.

On the ground the Martians move to conform closer to our positions, but are still out of contact with the front line. NCC forces re-occupy DEANVILLE but take no further offensive action.

My other forces use up the last remaining RMP, so less to evacuate.

Previous  next

Megagame: Invasion from Mars 06

Dateline 3127.125-130

General Buck’s advanced HQ on West Continent, Cydonia

Political negotiations are proceeding at a fast pace, with the Earther Attache appearing to be playing the key role of middleman. From reading the news we appear to be coming out well, MAFC are attacked for causing needless civilian deaths and throwing their weight around. We continue to press for a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement and INN report that these overtures are being rebuffed.

My orders are to withdraw to my start line as at 3127.100. As well as doing this I re-position troops to cover all the cities in my area, including flying in another infantry brigade to secure FAREAST. Logs base A (in blackberry) starts its move towards FAREAST.

Air cover is split between the Northern and Southern coast roads (our front is the narrowest it can be across the base of the isthmus). The 3rd Tank Brigade (now back at full strength having absorbed two RMP over the last few turns) retires from DEANVILLE back onto the front line as it was at 3127.100. Logs base B is with it at that point.

The sea flotillas move East along the north coast back towards home. The MAFC agree not to attack the Infantry Brigade to the north

Soldiers from Alpha Company, 1-18 Infantry Bat...
Image via Wikipedia

of ENSEMBLE, but refuse to give guarantees that would allow it to be flown out. Even when the NCC commander points out to him that this is what the NCC government want to happen he is recalcitrant. The INN have a reporter present and it is very clear that the Martians are ignoring the wishes of their local allies.

So much for being in favour of freedom and self-determination, these guys just want to kill people!


previous  next

Enhanced by Zemanta

Megagame: Invasion from Mars 05

Dateline 3127.120-124

General Buck’s advanced HQ on West Continent, Cydonia

Having made sure that the INN reporters were fully briefed on what we had offered (and been rebuffed) we then offered to withdraw completely from the West continent and for that part of it held by us on 3127.100 to be declared a DMZ. We also made sure that it was clear that we started this war because of state sponsored terrorism committed by the NCC and DMC. That we had processed most of those arrested at the start of the war and released the majority as innocent, convicted a significant minority after due process and in open trials where the evidence could be reviewed and had a small number still under investigation who would be released or charged soon.

I asked both the NCC and the MAFC to allow my forces in ENSEMBLE to be allowed to fly out. While the NCC agreed that we could leave unmolested the MAFC General (Brigadier Arthur, AKA the butcher of KUTCHI) refused to give any assurances.

Accordingly, to avoid needless civilian casualties I declared ENSEMBLE an open city and my infantry brigade moved to the north on the only road away from the city we had. The sea marine force also there dispersed as guerrillas because they were unable to move without Shock diamond

transport and I couldn’t be sure that the transport flyers could get them out unmolested. At the same time I put all available AIR and flyers on a combination Cover/Support over ENSEMBLE (the decision to pull out being a last minute one). This gave us temporary local air superiority, and if we’d chosen to fight would have made the enemy pay dearly.

Elsewhere I started to prepare an evacuation plan. The logistics base in DEANVILLE started to move along the road back to where the sea logs base was located. 2nd Republican Tank Brigade (now at 1/3 original strength) was loaded onto ships to be taken back to the East continent. Other units were brought back up to strength using remaining RMP. The Mech Brigade on the Southern coast road fell back to the neck of the peninsula (just to the west of BLACKBERRY).

Lastly I made sure that INN were fully aware of our unilateral actions to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties and that our retirement was in good order and of our own choosing rather than as a result of enemy action.

Previous  Next

Enhanced by Zemanta

Megagame: Invasion from Mars 04

Dateline 3127.115-119

General Buck’s advanced HQ on West Continent, Cydonia

Following our previously agreed strategy the DRC Government wanted to appear ultra reasonable to external parties (and we’d spent some time working up our DRC Press Briefing and also making sure that we had briefed the INN reporters covering our war.

On Cromwell’s Land (the DMC continent) the Diggers & Miners Collective had agreed to our proposed cease fire and lines had stayed stable since 3127.100. Their willingness to compromise was helped by the assault landing by the IDA on their Northern coast (which was spontaneous and not co-ordinated with us).

We offered the New Cydonia Colony government an immediate ceasefire and offered to withdraw all our forces to the line as at 3127.100 in return for peace talks. While waiting for their response I was to avoid active military operations. All my units stayed in their current locations, using up four RMP to replace losses in units not engaged.

The enemy rebuffed our cease-fire offer rapidly, stating that they wished a personal apology from the President and reparations as well as a complete withdrawal. Accordingly we destroyed the remaining cadre of their tank brigade to the south of DEANVILLE. We also fought an inconclusive sea battle with their flotilla offshore from their capital AGRIPPA.

The MAFC GF Division moved south and assaulted KUTCHI capturing it at the cost of 2,500 civilian casualties. Our sea marine force (which was incapable of movement) caused casualties to the enemy before being destroyed. Some of the GF Division was able to bypass KUTCHI and move further towards ENSEMBLE given their massive over-match to our forces.

One of our Mech Brigades that had previously pushed south along the southern coast road in an attempt to secure a join-up with the advance air mobile forces withdrew to its previous start position.

previous next

Enhanced by Zemanta