Wagon Train to the Stars


Go Spinward, young man! 20 parsecs Spinward is the Oregon system, E867562-3. A fresh clean world, with open skies and running water, on which to raise your children.

How hard is it to get there? This is for my own musings for a subsector or two I'm rolling up... just how long does it take for immigration to grow a population? How hard is it to fly the Oregon Main and not die of dysentery, pirates, misjumps etc on the way?

What is the equivalent of a wagon? A free trader of course.
Each colonist will bring 1 ton of cargo.
A fuel bladder must be fitted, as there will be J2 rifts to cross. This will consume 22 tons of cargo hold (2 for the bladder and 20 for the fuel)
With 20 colonists in low berth and 6 in the passenger state rooms, we still have 40 tons left. We can buy another 8 tons of low berths (32 colonists), and their extra cargo will fill out the cargo bay. We'll assuming the 6 staterooms are occupied by Expedition Leaders, chosen to keep the crew honest.

How much does all this cost?
I'll assume the 1 ton of supplies they're bringing each costs 10KCr a ton (equivalent of basic machine parts, manufactured goods, electronics). That's 58KCr. They'll have to buy the low berths for 800KCr, and the fuel bladder for (I thought I remember seeing a price for this but can't find it now). Lets assume 200KCr. 1058KCr... before the cost of chartering the ship.

They'll have to cover the cost of the ship for the 10 months there *and* the 10 months back. The ship may of course engage in trade on the way back, but there's no guarantee they'll make any money. So the total cost of the ships upkeep, plus crew salaries, is the minimum payment.
Mortgage: 3,047,834
Fuel: 88,000
Life support (including for new low berths): 472,000
Maintenance: 60960
Salaries (4 @5k): 400000
So all in all: 5126794
That's 88,393 a colonist, or 441,965 for a family of 5.

The above of course is for OTU. I'll be using my "Cheap Ships, Expensive to Run" rules, from:

This gives a slightly better outcome, but it's still the same ballpark.
I get 3,840,525 or about 66k per colonist.

What's intriguing is that it's about the same price... to *buy* the ship, especially one with 10 ship shares on it due to age. And you save a fair bit in my rules for not paying the more punishing maintenance costs... maybe there's folks that make a living buying the ships back off them and flying them back home... if they're still space worthy, that is.

It's an interesting source of surplus (thus PC owned) ships. But I can see a lot of them being used as the core of the new community... i.e. as the village power plant and shelter the first few winters.

Either way, colonisation is *expensive*. Like, more than the mortgage on your house expensive.
It's considerably cheaper if you just pack in low berths and show up with nothing. You'd probably want to have the colony established a bit first. This is more the "Lets move to california and make it big" situation, rather than Oregon Trail.

Even at a rate of 50k colonists a year... that's a *thousand* free traders limping in every year, it seems a lot, or at least, the upper limit on what seems reasonable.
20 parsecs in my setting is from "new york" to "Oregon", rather than from some trail head in Kansas. Getting to "Kansas" (half way there say) by regular shipping would be about:

10,000KCr per person, assuming they go low berth the whole way, and buy all their equipment in "Kansas".

Anything more... i.e. by middle or high passage, or shipping your equipment with you... and it would be cheaper to charter (or in my rules, buy) the ship in "New York". This assumes a massive supply of free traders to charter (or buy) in "Kansas", when that really might not be the case.
IMTU, from core to the frontier, it is a few years, but mostly people went in vast cold-sleep ships, as that was the most economical to reach the frontier en mass.

Example map:

The situation changes greatly if this migration/colonization project has sponsors.

The sponsors might hire one or few of the bigger cargo ships to transport tens of thousands of colonists and necessary tools and supplies all at once. The colonists would either pay for the trip and a chance at new life at the frontier or they might be indentured workers who have to live X years on the planet working for the organization that sponsored their trip. (Much like what happened for some of the people coming to North America.)

In fact, I doubt that random people in Far traders can get enough infrastructure built on a uninhabited planet to colonize it. But if the colonization project has already begun every new ship with more people does help it. And at that point those who weren't selected on the main project or couldn't afford it might arrive on that Free Trader having paid for a slower but cheaper journey. Or perhaps they worked on whatever ships they found that happened to be going in the right direction.
tolcreator said:
They'll have to buy the low berths for 800KCr, and the fuel bladder for (I thought I remember seeing a price for this but can't find it now). Lets assume 200KCr. 1058KCr... before the cost of chartering the ship.

Collapsible Tanks (also called fuel bladder) are Cr. 500 per ton, when empty they take 1% of the tonnage they use when full.
Superfreighter from High guard will take over 50'000 tons of cargo and moves at Jump-3. Certainly the cost is also high, but when you need to move a lot of cargo and people (in low berths naturally) it does move stuff quickly.

...And the ship has 176 staterooms (but no Low berths normally. Those would have to be supplied for the mission since it will be much cheaper than keeping thousands of people awake for the journey) and I assume that many of the crew members will be indentured workers so that will make a modest saving as well.
Christian Hollnbuchner did a colony ship, it is STL, but it could be converted. BSG has also been a wagon-train, and there are huge adventure ideas there.
Honor Harrington intersects Traveller, in that big investors get the best lands and titles, and I wonder if those with favourable skill sets got sponsored.
Condottiere said:
Honor Harrington intersects Traveller, in that big investors get the best lands and titles, and I wonder if those with favourable skill sets got sponsored.
Works the same in 2300AD, corporate sponsorship really helps.
1T seems about right for personal belongings - clothing, bedding, personal effects and some basic supplies, but very low for a start-up colony. Some of those low berths are going to be needed for animal stock (even assuming the barest minimum of 1 female and a store of male semen), initial shelters, seed, tools, tools to make tools, education materials (unless the 1st generation plans on forgetting many useable skills by the 3rd generation), etc. A more practical (but more expensive) option might be for a family grouping of around 12 (assuming 2-4 couples, plus a few kids) to hire a free trader and stock it with what they need.
tolcreator said:
It's an interesting source of surplus (thus PC owned) ships. But I can see a lot of them being used as the core of the new community... i.e. as the village power plant and shelter the first few winters.

If you know you're doing this you could try to get away with skimping on maintenance on the way out. It might also be worth stripping out the drives and grav plates once the ships are down, and selling them cheap to ships making the return trip.
One ton per person to colonize a world. I may be missing something big time but that's about an eight week trip, 2 months, if the route is optimal with gas giants to refuel. If there are no supply points especially as you get deeper into 'wilderness' space, it will mean carrying life support for the crew for those two months one way so another couple tons at least.

And only one ton per person for food, shelter, amenities AND colonization equipment? These people won't be living off the land and building mud huts with camp shovels and hand axes. You'll need AT LEAST a second ship with vehicles, machine shops and materials just for basic homes in ideal conditions AND lots of food and medicines for months if not years unless there will be regular cargo runs to the colony. You'll otherwise end up with another Roanoke colony. Even the Plymouth colony nearly died out on lands near identical to Mother England. Oh, and you need about 5000 people to have a viable colony that grows a population for genetic purposes and pray you don't have many losses.

Not that simple.
Like Reynard said they are going to need a lot of supplies.

...Well at least if they aren't planning to set up a TL1 society and working up from there.

There needs to be a reason to colonize a planet.

If the planet has valuable resources, or is used for producing something valuable, they can export it and with the money they get from that they can get the supplies. Actually, they better get those supplies in advance because it is going to get some time before they get the production started.

If they are simply colonizing the planet because they can, because there isn't enough room in their homeworld or because they want to get away from the old country and start a new society that fits them better... They still need a lot of supplies to make the buildings, factories, farms and everything necessary for keeping a reasonable TL society working on a planet. Again, they need sponsors for that.

It simply is impossible for random families to pack their stuff and start up a TL12 society on a random uninhabited planet. Even if there is no need to terraform it the amount of infrastructure they need is massive.

All of this means that starting a new colony requires sponsorship/patronage from an existing government or company elsewhere. The settlers may be random families looking to start a new life on foreign soil, but they simply cannot do it without a lot of money and support.

The Aslan, "Ihatei", way of getting new planets is actually a good example of this kind of thing happening.
Agreed. You can ship people in and readily start a low TL society, but realistically you're going to need capital-ship scale freighters full of stuff. Which means MCr worth of investment, which in turn needs either corporate or noble sponsorship. Possibly the latter, as Imperial Nobility tends to be better at long-term thinking as it's less driven by the 'bottom line' - colonisation of 'far, far away' is certainly a loss-making prospect over any realistic time frame.

Harrington style land-grants and titles would make sense for a noble-sponsored expedition, too.
First off, here are a few ideas about why the 'orgeon system' is suddenly available for colonisation.

* It's J3+ from the nearest system, but a chain of brown dwarfs suitable for gas giant refuelling has recently been discovered, opening it up a J1 route to it.

* Until recently there was an active war/hostile faction/horrible plague acting as a barrier between the Imperium and the Orgeon system preventing access, but that issue has recently been resolved.

Regarding equipment needed for colonisation, the assumption seems to be that the colonists will need to carry everything they need all the way there. That’s not necessarily the case. There may be developed worlds closer to the destination system, in which case the optimum strategy would be to carry compact trade goods and buy what you need there. Of course that would need a few back-and-forth trips between Oregon and the system you want to trade with, but it doesn’t have to be a super high-tech system. Just developed enough to be able to supply bulk equipment and supplies needed for colonisation.

Also, it may well be that the Oregon system itself isn’t completely uninhabited or undeveloped. It may already have some small-scale settlements.

Simon Hibbs
"Also, it may well be that the Oregon system itself isn’t completely uninhabited or undeveloped. It may already have some small-scale settlements."

Ah, just like the original Oregon Trail, the inhabitants already there become casualties during expansion by new emigrants.

Back to the original premise, small groups making passage in very small ships a mere distance of 20PC to a world outside civilized known space. First thing, is Oregon already inhabited? ( E867562-3) or is that the stats for the first colonists, hundreds of thousands of people living at 1800s tech level? This sounds like an experiment for getting away from civilization and back to an idealized 'Good Olde Days' either hippie commune style or maybe a religious conviction or ideology. Are these the Amish in space? This would cut down on starting infrastructure supplies though not much less. I can see the need for horses, farm animals, carriages and old style tools to put up the first farmsteads, blacksmiths and mills. Several hundred thousand people need a LOT of startup.

Something like this could be financed by a mix of selling off the colonists' original property and assets and looking for loans with stipulation of producing a value heavy resource satisfactory to both sides until the loan is paid which could possibly decades or longer. The E port can represent the hands off nature of the new civilization. The fact the world government is a '6' shows this is not an independent society and probably sold their soul for their 'freedom' to their backers.
I was just thinking - maybe, just maybe, the original concept was about right. Consider a mega-corp opening up planets for colonisation; they could sell plots including pre-built prefab shelters, livestock, vehicles, power plants and skillsofts all waiting for the colonists at their destination; all they would have to do is pack up and get there. It would be a designer Oregon trail for the fairly well-off; catering for the disillusioned urbanites yearning for the freedom of the great outdoors!
Askold said:
There needs to be a reason to colonize a planet.

If it's an earth-like, which the OP stipulated, that's the reason. Get in on the ground floor and their grandchildren will be major land owners or stake holders (they believe) of a garden world.

Also, there's a lot of room between TL1 and TL12. You don't want to forget exactly, but holding the first generation up to TL12 standards may not be the most efficient way to break ground and get crops in.

But all that said, nothing says the migration has to be "wagons" and nothing else. I imagine a heavy freighter packed full of supplies in the first wave, maybe even in every "train".

Reynard said:
Are these the Amish in space?

There's a thought that's crossed my mind before, I'm just not sure how to develop it in a way that's meaningful but not on the the nose. And that's the Traveller future being descended from today's high birth rate groups, rather than today's dominant, but replacement rate or below nations. Among which are the Amish: 5000 in the US in 1920, 300,000 today. And apparently not counting the ones who say screw it and don't stay in the church/community - they actually do fairly well if they just go out and get jobs.

All of which is to say, yeah, maybe they are Space Amish. Perhaps not literally holding to 19th century technology, but a comparable group looking to live a certain kind of life. That's how the US got colonized, was a mix of fortune hunters and religious dissidents. It doesn't even have to actually pencil out for the first ones down, they just have to think it will, as the first years of our colonies show.