Friday, August 9, 2019

D66 Reasons Why the Colony Failed

A few months back I asked a question of one of the Facebook Traveller groups that I read. I have a scenario in mind where the PCs are exploring an abandoned habitat. No specific setting, no specific arrangement. Just some kind of colony. The idea may have grown out of the tables in Stellagama's Pirates & Privateering source book, which lists abandoned space stations as a random encounter.

The question was: Why did the colony fail?  Much to my delight, the answers poured in. I have collected here the bulk of the answers (deduplicated for near identical answers) and arranged them in a D66 table. To roll D66, roll 1D for the 'tens' digit and a second 1D for the 'ones' digit.
Clearly something has gone dreadfully Wrong here.
If you have any ideas that don't appear on this list, share in the comments!

D66 Reasons why the Colony Failed
11 Pilgrimage site for some religion that was later deprecated as a forgery
12 Fast-acting or slow-acting contagion (bacterial/viral/fungal/parasitic)
13 Mining site, better yield found elsewhere and everyone moved.
14 Mining site, ore vein tapped out
15 Colony set-up was a scam. Shells of buildings only, no infrastructure. Scammers on the run.
16 Environmental factor not initially detected caused health problems (i.e. death)

21 Temporary facility during a war, abandoned in peace time
22 Resource point for a project nearby, abandoned when resource no longer needed
23 Hostile neighbors
24 Predatory animals attacked settlement
25 Research base- abandoned when research was concluded
26 Mass murder by a resident killed too many to continue running the colony
31 Solar flare/radiation spike forced evacuation.
32 Financial backer was bought out, new owner did not want to continue funding
33 Philosophical colony rejected childbearing and died of old age
34Cult of personality. Followers abandoned the colony when leader died or was disgraced.
35 Chemical weapon attack by hostile force
36 Crop failures or death of livestock
Honey, who left this window open .?. . WHOOSH

41 Youth depart for better living in cities. Old folks die off.
42 Avalanche or mudslide buries the colony, flooding submerges it.
43 Water supply fails.
44 Fire.
45 Supply ships do not return in time (cargo cult?)
46 Colony made economically redundant by another nearby colony (still extant)
51 Penal colony, closed by administering municipality.
52 Monstrous creature kills or drives off residents.
53 'Ghost story' scares everyone away.
54 Piratical raids steal resources.
55 Piratical raids kidnap populace.
56 Sabotage by rival colony.
61 Internal strife between colonist factions.
62 Alien abduction.
63 Poor leadership caused general collapse
64 Affected by ongoing local war (whether party to it or not)
65 Low-level psionic disturbance drove colonists away/insane
66 No specific reason, colony failed financially

Here is a link to the discussion thread on Facebook:

Image credit


  1. Great list, Mr. Weaver. Quite thought provoking too, just like nearly all of your columns! I've been having fun linking historical examples to each of the list's entries. In many cases, two or more reasons come together to doom the settlement in question.

    Please consider this list stolen, just like so much of your work! ;)

  2. 34 was close to what happened to the Popham Colony. Unlike the bloody-mindedness that led at Jamestown, the entire colony with one exception survived the first year. It was the death of the founder and discontent with his successors that lead to them leaving. However, the information led to the founding of modern Bath, Maine upriver, reducing the exposure to the elements.

  3. Popham is a great example, Mr. Thompson. Here are a few others which came quickly to my mind:

    - Darien, the Scots colony in Panama, failed due to a combination of #12, 15, 16, and 36.
    - The US' "mountain west" region is full of ghost towns which failed or were abandoned due to a combination of #13 and 14.
    - As part of the Great Awakening, the antebellum US saw hundreds of utopian communities founded by various religious and/or philosophical sects. Nearly all failed within a generation or two due to some combination of #23, 33, 34, and 41.
    - Depending on which theory you like, Croatan was lost due to #45 or 55.

  4. I came upon this recently; although there surely are other pages/sites like it.

    as a source of inspiration for the exact type of structure or location that's been abandoned.