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About the, um, flavour of 2300/2320


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In my continuing quest to go mad whilst trying to find the perfect RPG setting without writing my own, I wonder if you folks could tell me a few things about the 2300 (or 2320) setting. I'm sure some of these are naive:

- How big is it? How many systems that humans visit/live on? How long from Earth to the frontier, or one end of space to the other?

- It seems rather military, at least an awful lot of the discussion I see is about navies and so on. Is that the focus of the game?

- Do PCs own/operate ships? Are there "travellers"?

- What are the classic PC careers, the equivalent of merchies and detached scouts?

- Has it heard of Moore's Law?

- How much of it's in the books, and how much is in magazines on eBay?

- What would you say are the commonest two or three adventure seeds?
military in nature for the most part.

kill kafers most common in my experience.

great back story that should have used CT/MT rules imho. probably be easy to convert if you like the background but want to use CT or T20...if i were ever going to play T20 it would have to be a 2300 setting now that i think about it. T20 rules would go well with the sitting while not offending my loyalty to CT and the 3Imp. background

to me 3imp = CT, anything else is heresy.
- How big is it? How many systems that humans visit/live on? How long from Earth to the frontier, or one end of space to the other?

Space is divide amongst different starfaring nation-states, each has something called an Arm which represents the limits of exploration. Travel proceeds at a range 7.7 light years. The colonial atlas highlights about 50 worlds. But, there are many more but most are simply rockballs.

- It seems rather military, at least an awful lot of the discussion I see is about navies and so on. Is that the focus of the game?

Military is just one aspect, that I think wrongly infected the game at an early stage. Exploration was also equally strong as was a sense of a frontier. Just remember it was developed by a wargame company who was engaged in a major roleplaying game that was creating a milieu that was dominated by an interstellar rebellion and post nuclear war world.

So there was alot of war talk in the 1980s. I hope the new edition will go back to the exploration roots...

- Do PCs own/operate ships? Are there "travellers"?

They could in theory...but usually we would rather see Travellers as being employees (however, temporary) of a larger entity. Therefore, think Space Truckers, if you are thinking of an independent shipowner but it is not like Traveller with everyone who has a MegaCredit to spare can own a ship.

- What are the classic PC careers, the equivalent of merchies and detached scouts?

Yes, 2300AD has all that plus something called Foundations, essential interstellar NGOs which will hire freelancers. But, unlike Traveller, there is the emphasis on people creating their own future not so much tied to a character class.

- Has it heard of Moore's Law?

No, the game was written before the computer revolution but was influenced by early cyberpunk which is like saying computers are ever present and will be portable and capable of doing create things. But, their outward appearance is the console that plays Pong.

But, there is nothing to say that you cannot incorporate Moore's Law into 2300, just dated a little later. As the nuclear war of the 1990s would have destroyed much of silicon valley and production in South East Asia of chips was somewhat slowed because of the war.

The major power of the world is also France, so if you have ever used a French computer/ordinature...you will know why computers are scarce...

- How much of it's in the books, and how much is in magazines on eBay?

Most of the basic rules and add-ons are in the books. Challenge had just a few interesting articles when it was still Traveller:2300 but I wouldn't reccommend that you go gungho buying Challenge. Perhaps, we can start a separate thread analysizing the most useful or neat articles from Challenge & the short lived 2300AD magazine.

- What would you say are the commonest two or three adventure seeds?

I have always liked the exploration aspect. Venture to new worlds that no human has ever visited and find a completely alien ecology. This could be a water world like Europa or just simply the deep reaches of the back and beyond.

There is also the whole line of adventures that are military based which was like Aliens except call these critters Kafers...
In 2320 there are several diffeent tacks you can take for your adventures. This was true of 2300 as well, but the line seemed to favor military adventures.
Military- Usually small-unit or mercenary combat. In 2300 it was against the Kafers. In 2320, it's against, well, among other things colonial rebellions, and then there's the Kafer problem...
Troubleshooter- Corporate and colonial intrigue. More problem-solving, though violence was common.
Exploration- A major theme. Many worlds have yet to be explored, even within the Arms.
Trade- Human space is pretty big, though nowehre nears as large as Traveller. 50+ settled worlds, including outposts, makes for plenty of trade opportunities.

As for computers, 2300 was a little off. 2320 is still likely a little off, but at least I explained myself...

Ship ownership- There are increased opportunities for ship ownership in 2320, but ti will be more of the situation where the group owns a large share of the ship, and some organization owning the rest, whether that is a corporation, foundation or government. This gives the players some freedom, but also allows adventures to be structured if desired. (ie Foundation says: go there. You go.)

2320AD uses the Traveller D20 rules. It incorporates additions and modifications for starship, vehicle and world design, along with a relatively complete background.

Colin, 2320 writer
170,000 words (or so)
//2320AD uses the Traveller D20 rules. It incorporates additions and modifications for starship, vehicle and world design, along with a relatively complete background.//


was not a fan of the original 2300 game mechanics
2300AD was the cleaned-up, beefed up second edition version of Traveller: 2300 (the name was changed because of confusion by Traveller fans that T:2300 was part of the Traveller line, which it wasn't... it was instead set in the Twilight: 2000 universe, but 300 years later).

After the Twilight War (i.e. World War III) of Twilight: 2000, it took about a century or so for most nations to recover enough to even contemplate space travel. That's why most exploration by 2300 hadn't gone much further than 50 light years from Earth. France emerged as the planet's superpower because it didn't partake in the Twilight War, though there are other strong nations that emerged as well.

There were three main arms of exploration, each with its own unique problems. The French Arm consisted of a massive war with the Kafers which would eventually make its way to Earth; the Chinese Arm was riddled with pirates and smugglers; the American Arm eventually reached an impasse in that after a while, the available stars close enough to each other for available starship engines to discharge their stutterwarp drives became scarce. So each Arm provided a different playing experience, depending on what you were looking for.

While it certainly leaned more toward hard sci-fi than space opera, it wasn't nearly as entrenched in the former as Traveller was. As a matter of fact, a pseudo-Cyberpunk aspect was later added to the game for the more developed worlds such as Earth and Alpha Centauri.

The alien races in the game were some of the most detailed and realistic I'd seen in RPG's, yet contact between the various nations of Earth and the aliens were generally in the farthest reaches of one of the three arms of exploration - you generally wouldn't see a Kafer or a Pentapod (to take two examples) walking on the streets of Earth, for example.

And of course, the game had its corporations, megacorporations, Foundations and the like. :cool:

There was also a great starship combat boxed set for the game called Star Cruiser. 2300AD (though not Traveller: 2300, as Star Cruiser was released sometime between the game's two editions) even included rules for roleplay when playing Star Cruiser. It was a blast!

I hope that helped!

"The major power of the world is also France, so if you have ever used a French computer/ordinature...you will know why computers are scarce..."

:confused: I can't believe France would emerge as a post-apocalyptic leader. As soon as the nukes start going off somebody is going to blame the "snail-munching surrender monkeys" and make dang sure they get more than their share.
Hey now, just because the French national flag is usually solid white doesn't mean they are stupid. They closed their borders and did not partake of the war. Just how devestated has Switzerland gotten in the last few wars? Historically, the French are very good at talk and at not taking sides when doing so would get them into trouble, unless the Germans are on a side, and then the French usually take the other (until the last 50 years or so), but before the Germans, it was England they'd get a bee up their bonnet about. Just because nowadays WE are their national hate does not mean they would get into a direct war with us if it was in any way avoidable. Despite Wierd Al's (honest?) lament, the French are not dumb, just stubborn.
France (and Belgium later absorbed into France, and independent Switzerland) benefitted from choosing to remain uninvolved in the NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict in Germany. There were nuclear attacks against French and Belgian targets. I suspect, though, that France's initial neutrality gave it a relatively greater standing as the other military powers of Europe suffered attrition and war damage, while France's retention of a nuclear force de frappe likely discouraged large-scale Soviet or NATO nuclear attacks.

France was horribly wounded, certainly, but France was functionally intact.
Also, for the decade or two immediately following the end of the Twilight War, Japan pretty much dominated the world's maritime trade as it had also remained outside the majority of the fighting (particularly from the USSR/China confrontation that had started the whole war in the first place) - and thus had the world's only fully-functioning (relatively speaking) navy during that time.

Whilst surfing the net, I found this article...might help you if you decide to go retrospective or if FFE ever get their act together and get the reprints done...

2300AD Product Recommendations
for various Campaign Themes
Copyright © 1999, 2002 by Kevin Clark. All Rights Reserved.
Here is a list of how I rate the various 2300AD products released by GDW ( and now owned by FFE), which depends, in part, on the type of campaign you want to run.

All Campaigns
First, you definitely need the main RPG rules boxed set:
2300 AD Boxed Set -- This is the second edition/version of the game. You get double the background material, plus GDW fixed the broken rules that were in first edition ( Do NOT buy the first edition/version called "Traveller:2300", unless you are a collector).

Note that the last batch of 2300AD boxed rules released had a free copy of the module "Kafer Dawn" included inside -- so it might be cheaper to get them in one box, versus as separate items.

Plus get these two equipment books, as they will provide you with most of the equipment you'll need for any type of campaign ( military, exploration, crime, etc.).:
Ground Vehicle Guide ( a few were from the main RPG rules 15%)
Equipment Guide ( although about 40% is a repeat from the main RPG rules -- so if on a tight budget you could skip this one to get something else).
Plus for details on the colony worlds get:
Colonial Atlas

Starship Combat campaigns
Second, if you want a slightly more detailed set of starship combat rules than those given in the RPG boxed rules, then buy:
Star Cruiser ( a boxed boardgame with cardboard ship counters).
Ships of the French Arm ( more starship's for use in the game).

Military Campaigns
Third, if you like military sci-fi ( things like the movie Aliens), then you definitely need the supplements that cover the Kafer War:
Kafer Sourcebook
Aurore Sourcebook
Invasion -- details the Kafer Invasion of Human space in 2301.
Mission Arcturus ( my favorite adventure module)
Kafer Dawn ( adventure module that was included in some of the boxed main RPG rules)
Operation Overlord ( adventure module published by 3W, also has some details on game's history, after the Invasion supplement ).
The two sourcebooks plus Invasion and OpOver are more important than the two modules ( MA and KD) if you just want facts and background, but all are good if you like the genre.

Adventure Campaigns
Fourth, if you like non-warfare adventures try these modules:
These two are terrific:

Ranger -- Texas Rangers on a frontier world dealing with friendly alien species that starts acting uncharacteristically violent.
Nyotekundu Sourcebook -- a less violent mix of Outland meets 2001, taking place on an ice asteroid mining station.
This one needs an experienced GM:
Bayern -- science vessel voyage to the Pleides constellation/star cluster, the basis of a campaign, but leaves most of the encounters/adventures along the voyage to the referee to invent. You will need to detail about 80% of it, if you try to run it as a full campaign ( they give you the ending, plus two encounters on the way).
These next two were weak modules -- only buy them if you can find them dirt cheap, or really desire a complete collection.
Beanstalk -- adventure dealing with sabotage on a space elevator ( from planet surface to orbit). Note: If you plan on running a lot of campaigns in the French Arm and think your players will visit Beta Canum Venaticorum frequently you may want it for the few pages it has detailing the world.
Energy Curve -- your ship crashes, can you make friends with a new plant based alien race, and survive the harsh winter.
Fifth, if you want details about Earth in 2300AD consider getting:
Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook -- But you can get by without it. It was not my favorite supplement since it was the start of GDW trying to make the game more 'cyberpunk-ish', which was all the rage back in the late 1980's. They added netrunning and cyberlimbs, but the rules were poorly done compared to say Cyberpunk 2020 by R.Talsorian. After this supplement was released, all the modules that followed it were also unfortunately 'cyberpunk', and very poor adventures.
Deathwatch Program
Rotten to the Core
I don't think I missed any of GDW's ( now FFE's) 2300AD products. If you want my opinion on any others, or more information on the above, just ask.
Hope this helped.

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Last Update: 2002 Oct 24
First Online: 2002 Oct 24
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Website maintained by: Kevin Clark (kevinc AT cnetech DOT com)
Centuries of history has nothing to do with modern trans-Channel relations, except that France still lives in the delusion of being the center of European culture. Always among the first to decry American "imperialism" and they'd be the ones annexing neighbor states wholesale. Pretentious gits.

That's almost as annoying as timelines that propose the US would annex parts of Canada. :rolleyes:

France has always made allusions to declining its NATO obligations. If they'll passively help the enemy by default, why trust they won't actively betray NATO? Probably dissolve the National Assembly and vote the dang Commies in.

Britain and US would nuke France just for thinking about annexing Switzerland to cover cowardice with a stolen mantle of neutrality. They'd barely constrain themselves to wait for the NATO-WP conflict to heat up. Oh, yeah, and Switzerland and Belgium might have something to say about being annexed, too.

The instant the Cold War turned hot and France reneged… boom: a couple strategically placed, high altitude bursts would EMP everything south of the Seine and west of the Rhone. A few tac warheads to take out EMP-hardened command centers. Wouldn't want to get any closer to American forces at Cologne. The Belgians (or the Wallachians among them at any rate) would gladly help take northern ports and rails.

Harumph! Take that!
Well Okkkaaayyyy - not only is nuking a nation to death possible but now it sounds like fun. Somehow I can't imagine killing millions of people would be something, even the Belgians, would "gladly" help in. And in 1997 the Americans have some more serious things to get worked up about (like WW bloody 3 with the Soviet Union) than perceived slights from the French.

But seriously I always found the Twilight War as presented in T:2k and what happened after as in the history of 2300AD not to sit together well. Every nation in Europe would be devastated after the Twilight War (yet somehow the French survived, the Brits rebounded in two decades and Europe somehow found the capital to industrialise South America?). When the Sovs start nuking neutral ports and fuel production facilities in early 1998 France cops it big time and the Rhine is no barrier to the massive disease outbreaks.

The only European nations likely to survive are Switzerland and Sweden. Not only are both neutral but both were far better prepared to absorb damage. The Swiss civil defence system was (and still is) huge; every house in Switzerland has to be built with a bunker. Plus a hell of a lot of concrete has been poured in the Alps the past 60 years.

The same goes for the rest of the world. How can Manchuria the centre of the huge war between the Sovs and China with massive tac nuke use somehow rebound from 5% of its pre-war population to the centre of industry in all China? It certainly isn’t the centre now (maybe was in the 1920s) and would be nothing but radioactive, anthrax breeding grounds in 2001. All the non-European and North American countries around the world collapse to anarchy just because what they see on TV is so damn scary, etc (all except the most vulnerable – Japan). Any realistic Twilight War would see the world 300 years later controlled by the industrialised south – Australia, South America, South Africa and India. The North Americans and Euros would be begging them for food aid for at least 100 years while their soil recovers from a serious dose of Chernobylisation.