2300AD: Big Sky campaign


Hello all! First time poster.

I wanted to share my campaign notes here - and offer thanks to Mongoose for publishing and maintaining a wonderful game.

I'm running a Traveller: 2300AD game I call BIG SKY. It's a about colonizing a recently discovered life-supporting planet in the 2300AD setting. The player characters are the first boots on the ground in the colony. There's also an online metagame component to compliment the weekly game sessions. Seven players on a rotating roster attend the weekly games and another seven play the online game. It's very much a sandbox campaign, directed by what the different players decide to do.

The metagame is fairly simple. It's based largely on the so called "Megagames" which I've read about but never participated in. The players either represent national stakeholders that want to colonize, transNats that have cargo ships and Life Foundation that has all the good data and access to specialist NPCs. Every few weeks or so, the nationals get a new budget and new goals. They buy cargo and interface craft as per the sourcebooks and then give them over to the transNats to deploy as they agree and then the transNats write up mission plans for their ships sent from the Core. The nationals get points for colonists delivered and completing national goals; the transNats get points for money they can squeeze from the nationals; and Life Foundation gets points for each of their specialists delivered onto the colony.

It might sound like a hassle to moderate, with seven players plus another seven on site and all, but frankly it's not. The players figure out deals and shipments via email (or phone or chat or...) and I just read over the manifests and mission plans and check they're legit, then later write reports after each mission and hand them to the online players. It's very much a game of bad, false, second-hand and incomplete information. And as I don't need to be involved in the wheeling and dealing, I've no idea what's happening behind the scenes half the time. The I run the onsite games and figure out how the stakeholder missions affect it.

And it's been absolutely HILARIOUS so far.

The amount of apparent backstabbing, rumour mongering, disinformation, outright lying and actual real-life tradecraft has been ridiculous from turn one. And mind you, I only see a fraction of what's going on as the moderator. The game has been called a "bureucracy simulator", a "sociopath enabler" and "the best game ever" so far. I'll take them as compliments, but in reality the players make the game happen; I just provide the framework.

And then there's of course the on-site player team, who get to interact with the stakeholder NPCs sent to colonize and the cargo sent with them. And they will likely muck up most the noble goals the stakeholders might have for the colony.

Since the Traveller character creation is the cruel beast that it is, most of the PCs created could not colonize their way out of a wet paper bag. This is, of course, theme-appropriate: for research, I've read up on different utopian colonies set up in the 20th century by outcasts, failed artists and political dissidents and have used that information as a loose framework for the game.

As information sharing is a part of the game and some of my players might be reading this, I won't offer a play-by-play of what's going on. Instead, here's some tidbits and quotes from the game so far. Quotes are from online and on-site PCs both:

"SPACE FACT: Nothing BAD can happen in SPACE."
- One the 100 "space facts" that were issued to the different PCs before the game. Some of the facts were valuable tidbits and survey data, some blatantly false, some just nonsense. Of course, the facts were distributed randomly.

The PCs test hot landing a fully-loaded AB400 into a forest in a simulator before heading off to found the colony. The virtual fireball is glorious.
PC: Okay. 500 000 lv for a qualified pilot is not _that_ much.

PC: What's the price and shipping tonnage for 100 bibles and 1 000 litres of vodka?
Me: ...

PC: I have a very interesting Excel sheet open right now.
PC: One cell says "maximized rats". The number currently stands at 2 500.

PC: The transNats are telling me I have to declare the cargo in my sealed container due to OQC request.
PC: Is this true?
Me: You have no way of knowing.
(five minutes radio silence on Google chat)
PC: Can I provide a fake cargo manifest?
Me: YES.

One PC failed every single survival roll during character creation.
Me: You got fired from being a _barbarian_?
PC: Got kicked off the reservation.

Me: Truly, this is most outrageous of all fantasy games.

"We request no more colonists be deployed onto the planet at this point. [...] Send 20 horse embryos."
- The PCs' final tightbeam uplink to the departing transNat cargo ship.

One PC's final career after a life in the merchant marines was that of an artist. He fails first term survival. "Public opinion turns against you." Of course, he did have both depression and the annoying trait.

In fact, most PCs are either annoying, arrogant, depressed or addicts. Or all, in some cases. I like how they start calling their colony effort a "utopian society" from the very moment their band of misfits (crash)landed.

PC: Another Nobel prize!
One of the PCs during character creation as her scholar career kept throwing the "prestigious award" event at her. Then again, she managed to get the exobiology skill to a ridiculous 5.

PC: I'll place the life form samples in the ATV.
PC2: No, you don't.
PC: Then I'll put them in the pressure tent med bay.
PC2: No.
PC: Then I'll-
PC2: No.
-The exobiologist and the security expert discuss containment procedures.

I love how many stakeholders seriously considered emergency re-entry kits as a viable method of getting colonists to the planet. Well, they /are/ cheap, and Aeroshells are expensive.

The PCs are setting up their first camp.
Me: Roll for INT.
PC: I got five total.
Me: Everything seems to be fine.
PC: *glares*

"Before we take off, I'd like to announce that I am leaving the Core behind due to my crippling debts and insurmountable personal issues."
- One of the First Settler PCs, on launch day at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Not quite "one small step".

If someone wants to read over my metagame rules, I'd be more than happy to share. And if you want, I'll post more reports as the game progresses.

And also, if one of my players is reading this right now? This message is a part of the game.

Vagabond Elf

Well, you've prompted me to make my first post too - because I had to tell you that campaign sounds awesome, and the metagame rules are something I'd love to see. I've poked at such things before but never really got something clean enough to use.


Working on a Colonize a planet campaign myself and just wanting to know what System and planet did you stick them in?


Vagabond Elf: Thank you for your kind words! But you can judge the rules framework yourself behind this link:


To clarify, I call the on-site game "2300AD: Big Sky" and the online game goes by "2300AD: Goldilocks".

For sourcebooks, we use 2300AD and 2300AD: Tools for Frontier Living. Or as the players like to call it, "Frontier Living for Tools".

JBRocky: I must admit I sort of handwaved the actual star system. Shame on me, I know! But as travel to and from the colony is done by NPCs and the stakeholders only care about travel times, no one seems to mind. What's relevant is that 1) it's approx. 50 ly from the Core 2) it's in the backyard of Manchurian space and that 3) the actual planet was only recently discovered by a Life Foundation probe mission. Of the planet itself, I do have bunch of details layed out and a glorious A0-sized map of the land masses on the planet hung on my kitchen wall.

I'd love to hear about your own "let's colonize a planet" campaign, though! I'm going for themes such as vaguely western-style frontiersman spirit, building instead of tearing down and man vs. nature survival.


Plan on locating the game out past Eta Bootis in the cluster that has the Klaxun homeworld or just redo that planet for my needs. I want a way to cut them off so having a supply ship or theirs blown up in orbit as they watch does that nicely. Also with the coming Kaefer war it helps cut them off from the rest of humanity.

Vagabond Elf

Looks pretty solid to me!

It's pretty tightly focused on your story (which is fair, since it's for your story) so it's not something I could just steal, alas - but it's given me a couple ideas for how to approach things.