Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Tomorrow's War: Bad Landing Campaign Background

This is the setting information for the colony of Bad Landing in games of Tomorrow's War and Laserburn. One of the things I love most about these games is that it's players are not straight-jacketed into using the systems own setting. Developing my own campaign universe through play, with the results of battle affect the time line of the setting, is one of the most enjoyable parts of the hobby. I've left details of other colonies and factions in the Terminus Omega system deliberately vague so that I accommodate any number of opponents and their armies. When I play against a given opponent, I'll incorporate my opponents faction and back-story into the setting.

Notes: I apologise for the atrocious spelling in this post. For some reason, Blogger has decided it doesn't want to spell check this post. I'll try to clean it up tomorrow when I'm not too tired to spell properly.

BAD LANDING, British Colony of:
Bad Landing.
Colony Type: Mining, Terraforming.
Orbital/Interface Facilities: Space Catapult, Space Elevator (under construction, due for completion in 2318), Interface Shuttleport.
Date of Founding: 2281
Sovereign Status: 13th Colony of the United Kingdom.
Population: 175,000 (citizens), 25,000+ Belters.
Summary: Oldest (but not the largest) of several colonies on the world of the same name. Bad Landing is a colony of the newly Euro-Independant United Kingdom. The British colony shares the world with colonies from several other European nations (all of whom are current member states of the European Space Union) as well as a number of territories leased to private, nationalised and semi-nationalised corporations from other Terran nations.

Terminology Note: In order to prevent confusion between references to Bad Landing (the planet) and the British Colony of the same name on the planet's surface, the colony itself is hereafter referred to simply as "the British Colony".

System Data:
The British Colony is the oldest  of several in the Terminus-Omega system (formerly DM +38 2285), located at the mid-point of the longest finger in the European Arm. Terminus-Omega is a close binary system, with the star Terminus being the brighter of the two. The second, larger sun is called Omega. The two stars lie roughly 35.5 light years from Sol. Five major bodies and uncountable asteroids make up the bulk of real estate in the system, although all but the largest body (Bad Landing) have recently been re-classified as planetoids rather than planetary bodies.

Terminus is classified as G8VI star, with a diameter of 645,850 km and a mass less than .5 of Sol's. It's Stellar Effective temperature is approximately 4540 degrees K will a luminosity .150 that of Sol. As a sub-dwarf, the existence of any planets in orbit would be cosidered extremely unusual, let alone a habitable world such as Bad Landing. Omega, the companion star, is an M0V-class Dwarf with a diameter of 750,410km. It's mass is comparable to Sol yet it's luminosity is merely .06 Sol. The two stars orbit around a common point with an average separation of 2AU.

Numerous planetoids in a highly elliptical orbit testify to the destruction of one or more rogue panetary intruders trapped by the binary system in eons past. These asteroids support numerous large scale corporate and even cottage-industry mining operations. Many, but not all of these operations, are reliant on commerce with the British colony on Bad Landing for supplies essential to life. These include (but are not limited too) H2O, Oxygen, Carbon Scrubbers, Carbohydrates, Protein and Fibre. Many Belters (as the Belt Miner's describe themselves) believe that the British Colony is currently attempting to exert entirely too much control of their activities. The tensions between the independantly minded Belters and the "intrusive" legislation imposed by the British Colony (which, as the initial colony in the system, retains deep-space legal jurisdiction in the Terminus Omega system) is eerily reminescent of the tensions between the fledgling U.S government and various mountain men, prospectors and "free-rangers" in the American Old West.

Bad Landing supports a breathable, but thin, atmosphere and retains sufficient, if meagre, supplies of fresh water in numerous subterranean aquifers deep beneath the planetary surface. Bad Landing orbits Terminus at a distance of roughly .34 AU, in an orbit with minimal eccentricity. It's orbital period is a mere 36 and one quarter local "days". However, due to the minimal axial tilt, seasonal changes within the 36 day planetary year are moot.
A typical view of Bad Landing's surface outside terraformed areas.

Bad Landing has a mass of .43 Earths and a planetary diameter of 9,140 km. Owing to the relatively high density, gravity is a comfortable .820 G's. The world has no natural satellites, yet larger asteroids are frequently escorted to the upper atmosphere by tugs prior to strip mining before been sent into the sun after depletion. One asteroid in particular has become a staple fixture of the skies above the British Colony.  Commonly referred to by nostalgic Terrans as "the moon" but to Sky Hook construction workers as "the Counterweight", this asteroid is destined to anchor the British Colony's space elevator, currently under construction.  Bad Landing's atmospheric pressure is low, at roughly .718 atmospheres, but survivable without the aid of breathing apparatus after a short period of acclimatisation. The planet retains elements with molecular weights of 17 or more and supports an Nitrogen, Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide atmosphere, with various trace elements that indicate the planet once supported natural, carbon-based life. Oxygen makes up approx 10% of the atmospheric composition. The partial pressure of oxygen (0.071 atmospheres) is enough to comfortably support unprotected humans after a few days of adjustment. Only transient visitors (such as mining executives and shuttle crews) are advised to wear breathing masks for the duration of their stay.

Due to it's proximity to it's parent star and low mass, Bad Landing is tidally locked to its primary, the star Terminus. However, the interplay between Terminus and Omega during the stars' mutual orbits causes libation effects, providing a significant percentage of the "twilight band" with a day/night cycle of  (on average) 22 daylight hours followed by nine hours of night. Finally, Omega provides the dark side of Bad Landing with a faint reddish illumination when the star and planet are in conjunction. Day-time temperatures tend to be high on the day side and in the twilight zone during daylight hours, dropping radically on the dark-side and at night. Temperature extremes produce violent wind storms moving across the twilight zone from the night-side into the warmer day-side. Now that surface water has been introduced to the planet by colonists, this often results in light precipitation in the twilight band.

Bad Landing's radiation belt is barely able to shield the planetary surface from solar radiation. Flares emitted by the M-Class dwarf Omega on an irregular basis (once a decade or so) pose a considerable risk to human life and electronics. During flare periods, the Bad Landing colonists are subject to several weeks of internment in deep shelters while interstellar and system-bound vessels alike flee the system or make for shielded facilities. Plans are in place to ensure that the Space Elevator, it's anchoring asteroid and geosynchronous space station all have sufficient safety protocols and radiation shielding to safeguard personnel and materials during these flares.

During "Flare-Season" surface temperature on Bad Landing can rise by as much as 70 degrees Celsius. The radiation also limits communications to line-of-sight laser comms.

Bad Landings hydrosphere covers just 8% of the surface, consisting entirely of sub-surface water brought to the surface by colonists to fill natural (albeit formerly empty) reservoirs. Fossil evidence exists to suggest that the planet once hosted large surface water deposits. It is hypothesised that these were dispersed into space by a single, cataclysmic event (likely a comet impact) as recently as a few thousand years ago. Prior to this strike, fossil evidence reveals the planet once hosted a thriving eco-system and may even have hosted intelligent life. However, all scientific journals, news articles, images and archaeological research on the rumoured indigenous civilisation have been seized on the order of the (British) Colonial Government pending review by a specialist Xeno-Anthropology research team from the University of Edinburgh,
Alleged traces of indigenous construction on the Day-Side of Bad Landing

The impact site of the supposed "planet-killer" is visible from space, forming a perfectly circular depression 100 miles wide and half a mile deep. This crater is the location of the British Colony and demarcates it's present (internationally recognised) territorial boundaries. The crater floor has an irregular surface pocked with smaller craters. These been exploited by the colonists, who have created several artificial lakes by pumping and purifying sub-surface water. These lakes are further fed by condensation from above. Excess liquid water drains off via a carefully maintained system of pipes and canals into emergency cisterns and irrigation ditches. The crater boasts some magnificently rich mineral deposits, even by the standars of Bad Landing, helping to explain the planets relatively high density given it's small diameter.

Industry and Agriculture:
Although the planet remains largely barren, covered by several metres of pulverised stone and pumice from numerous super-volcanic eruptions following the comet strike, hardy forms of Terran life have been successfully transplanted to the world. Scrub grass from the Andes mountains on earth, oats from the Scottish highlands and even some mutated strains of wheat and barley thrive especially well in areas with only minimal terraforming. These same grasses provide good grazing and fodder for sheep, goats and cattle. Terrestrial fruits and vegetables are grown in Hydroponics farms. Together, these provide a staple diet for the British Colony as well as Asteroid Miners from the Belt.
Many Bad Landing colonists view the Belt Miners as Madmen

Other than Mining and agriculture, the British Colony has little industry save for that related to maintaining life support (both on world and for Belt Miners) and cottage industries. Most vehicles and clothing are imported from off-world or at a premium from neighbouring Bad landing colonies. One thriving local cottage industry concerns manufacturing and assembling parts for simple combustion engine-based vehicles. All Munitions used by the 13th Colonial Police Division are also imported from off-world. Other than farming and construction vehicles, Vehicle-based forms of transport are rare, outside of public transport and civil government. Riding horses are becoming more common now that suitable grazing is being grown in hydroponics farms in the British Colony and elsewhere. Ownership of a private, non-farming related vehicle is considered a mark of high-status. Most transport is wheeled, rather than G.round-Effect based, due to the dusty terrain and the difficulty of maintaining complicated electronics without domestic production. Tracked vehicles are of limited utility on the very arid world of Bad Landing and are likewise rare, at least in the British colony. However, it is widely known that several other colonies on the surface have access to military grade tracked vehicles of various sorts.

Colonial History:
The Skyhook Facility (under construction) forms the  central "hub" of the British Colony.
The British Colony was founded in 2281 AD and has flourished for the last nineteen years. The world was charted and explored by the European Space Union Scout (ESSU) Ascendant Agenda, under Captain Rory McDonald in 2271. Unfortunately, the ship's arrival in system coincided with a Flare-Season. Captain McDonald was forced to make an emergency landing on the planet, finding a shaded location within the crater itself, but causing severe damage to the ships systems 9and in particular, it's landing gear) in the process. Despite being one of the foremost feats of piloting skill in the history of human space exploration, the second officer, Leutnant Eisenshimmel, chose to make a quip about the captain's "Bad Landing,". As off-hand comments frequently do, the description stuck and became something of a European Space Agency institutional legend. The world was formally re-named, "Bad Landing" when the Ascendant Agenda finally limped back into Earth Orbit in late 2273.

Further survey expeditions revealed that the system was indeed habitable and that flare activity was much rarer than previously supposed. The first colonists (mostly of British descent -particularly Scots and Welsh) arrived a decade after the famous Bad Landing incident and settled at the supposed location of the scout vessel's "crash". In actual fact, the actual landing site is some twelve km distant from where the colony ship set down. With typical British humour, the colonists voted to name their fledgling settlement after the world itself, despite the fact that the Colony Ship's Captain (and the settlement's first Governor, Robert Clemence) executed a text-book perfect landing. To date, Governor (now Lord) Clemence has tried on three occasions to have the settlement's name officially changed to "Perfect Landing" in part (or so he claims) to prevent further confusion concerning references to the planet and the British Colony itself.

Terra-forming efforts by the British Colony continue to make the world of Bad Landing more hospitable.
Although the colonists were mostly European citizens from the United Kingdom,  small French, Romanian and German minorities made up a significant portion of the initial population. Despite the the staunch opposition of the French and German governments to the succession, the British Colony was spared civil conflict during in the Second European War of Succession from 2185-2187. The war had been prompted by the passing of a motion in the European parliament to formally dissolve all the remaining European monarchies, prompting many colonists to return to Terra and enlist in their repsective national armies. The Successionists were successful in their goals, both military and diplomatic. The 2187 Treaty of Royalist Succession formally recognised the sovereignty and independence of Spain, Monaco and the United Kingdom. In what was considered only a very minor coup at the time, Bad Landing was the 13th of  the 15 European extra-solar colonies that voted to succeed from the European Space Union and declare allegiance to the United Kingdom.

In 2289, partly as a show of economic strength, the United Kingdom declared that it would construct the first extra-solar Space Elevator on Bad Landing. Due to the relatively low gravity and wealth of suitable industrial metals available within the territorial boundaries of the British Colony and the happy chance that the Bad Landing colony straddled the planets equator, the project has thus far been considerably less expensive -and progress far swifter- tha was the case during construction of the two existing Space Elevators on Earth (controlled by the European Space Union and China respectively) on Earth.


A 13th Colonial Police Division "Panda" Patrol Car.
The Treaty of Royal Succession specifically barred the United Kingdom and other succeeding states from permanently stationing a military garrison on any of it's colonies. However, clever wording of the treaty permitted the creation of an armed constabulary that resembles an army in all but name. The British Colony of Bad Landing is defended (and policed) by the 13th Colonial Police Division, a paramilitary law enforcement organisation with military grade equipment. The Division's 1600 officers are divided into three ground sub-divisions (reinforced company strength formations) and a single naval division. The sub-divisions are in turn divided into single space-vessel or reinforced-platoons known as Stations (otherwise known as Precincts to non UK nationals). Each Station is responsible for policing a given geographical area in peacetime and for undertaking asymmetric military operations within the same area (in cooperation with local militia) in war-time. One sub-division (the space-bourne  Customs and Excise Sub-Division) is actually a small squadron of Naval Escorts tasked with protecting shipping from Pirates. The C&E subdivision is als responsible for policing the cargo-transfer station half-way up the Space Elevator, in geosynchranous orbit of Bad Landing, above the British Colony.

As the United Kingdom currently lacks a domestic defence industry of any note, weapons, equipment and vehicles are obtained from a variety of sources in order to reduce dependence on any one foreign supplier. Presently, much of the 13th CP Division's equipment is procured from Russia, China, Israel, Brazil and Japan.

Current Status:
As of 2300, construction on the Space Elevator is well underway and due for completion in less than 20 years. Resident apploications from British Citizens wishing to emigrate to the colony have increased three-fold since construction began. Relations with other colonies sharing the world of Bad Landing vary from co-operative to tense but stable. Relations with the Belters (Asteroid Miners) Union is tense and growing daily more hostile. Several violent incidents between the British Colonial government (who seek to formally exert their legal authority over the Belt territories) and the independently-minded Belters have resulted in recent deaths.

The Space Station that will act as the Space Elevators Cargo Exchange point is a near-copy of the French Built "Byzantium", pictured above.

Note: A few days ago I posted the Tomorrow's War background for the 13th Colonial Police Division along with a typical roster. At the the time I'd suggested that Scotland had been independent from the UK for quite some time and had newly won independence from Europe as well. I was never 100% happy with this concept but I gave in to the temptation of being topical in my background. This new background information assumes that it was the United Kingdom as a whole (including Scotland) that succeeded from the European Space Union. Lets just hope the SNP doesn't have it's way in the referendum next year and ruin my background (let alone the whole country)!


  1. Very interesting read. This is a great background for gaming this world. Nicely done.

  2. Some nice background there mate, I may have to borrow a few little bits for my eventual sci-fi game I'm planning on running

  3. Thanks guys. I always like to think of my games as forming a narrative, even when they're not strictly part of a narrative campaign. Now we just have to work out where Mecha's high-tech humans fit into the picture before we have our first game.