Trevor Farrell, studies Pure Mathematics & Philosophy at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (2022)
If history is any indicator, then here’s my best guess:
- 2040’s: The world watches in wonder as the first person steps forward unto the surface of a new planet, and speaks their first words. “This is but the second stride, in an everlong marathon for all mankind…”
- 2060’s: Due to economic cutbacks and war, the first Martian program is cut to a premature halt. While lunar outposts are maintained, (mostly supported by private organizations) they’re strictly for research.
- 2100’s: The growing fear of climate change, coupled with competition of new rising economic superpowers, mandates a new multi-national quest to inhabit new celestial bodies. Citizens push their governments to form a new home off world, as the effects of global warming become more obvious. New prototypical teraforming technology is developed in the process, but progress is slow.
- Early 2110’s: A deep cave exploration probe discovers rare and exotic natural resources in the depths of Mars’ caverns, most notably, fissionable materials such a plutonium. The race to Mars begins, as governments and organizations compete to be the first to claim the easy stashes.
- 2120’s: The first Martian outposts are established from a variety of backgrounds and organizations. Nations and private organizations alike hold stake in sparsely populated and highly autonomous colonies that work to mine, refine, develop and deliver the valuable material payloads back to Earth. The economy of Earth booms.
- Late 2120’s: While transforming processes are not yet employed, due to the perceived issues with realism, other ISRU methods are developed. Trace hydrogen and oxygen separation methods are employed, allowing for extended living on the surface of Mars without return trips. With time, the mining colonies continue to grow both in territory and in population. The atmosphere slowly begins to thicken.
- 2130’s: Tragedy strikes. In part due to the stress of being overworked by bureaucrats on a faraway world, and in part due to rivalry between organizations, the first Martian skirmish occurs between two neighboring settlements. Although few deaths occur in the battle, the event is globally televised and sensationalized. Unprepared for the consequences of such an unexpected event, world governments unite to discuss methods of dealing with the situation. Space suits are ultimately redesigned by the settlements to be more effectively armored.
- Late 2130’s: World governments fail to produce an appropriate solution to the rising tensions beyond lackluster diplomacy. Despite (or perhaps even due to) the sensationalized negative press, off-world colonization rocket launches are at an all time high, due to the perceived promises of riches, freedom, and a new life. Teraforming slowly begins, with massive electromagnetic fields established at the poles to retain the developing atmosphere.
- 2140’s: Realizing that the control of the governing nations on Earth are stretched thin, and that the resources on Mars are plentiful, a few of the colonies band together and transmit their official expression of independence. The New Martian Free State is formed. The New United Republic (the new name of what once was the United States) expresses outrage, and begins sending diplomats and armed associates in conventional transport: the first primitive warships of space. The New Coalition of Britannia, on the other hand, simply snickers.
- Late 2140’s: War breaks out. The native settlers of Mars, while having stronger numbers, are poorly equipped to deal with the attack of a developed nation and subsequently take massive casualties. The rebellion succeeds, however, as NUR forces fail to take key objectives, and are either killed or imprisoned by NMFS colonists, who are more familiar with the environment and geography.
- Early 2150’s: A second, stronger brigade is launched towards Mars, during the next available transfer window a year later. NMFS settlers begin preparing for the next onslaught by developing weaponry. The Martian atmosphere is rapidly developed to reach stable, warm, and breathable conditions.
- 2150’s: The second brigade arrives and stations itself on Phobos. The second war for Martian independence begins. Massive casualties hit both sides, as war crimes of unearthly proportion are exercised without any negative repercussion.
- Late 2150’s: Resources are slowly depleted from Phobos: with a surface area smaller than Hong Kong and a gravity a fraction of even Earth’s Moon, the NUR is only able to keep fighting for so long while draining material from its appropriated captive asteroid. The tide of the war turns in favor of the NMFS. The situation is exacerbated by mass anti-war protests and rallies back on Earth, coupled with the multi-trillion dollar war bill. Seeing the turning of the tables, several of Earth’s nations begin sending retaliatory forces to assist the NMFS, so as to be on the right side of history.
- 2160’s: The war is over. The NUR withdraws forces, and for the first time in a long while, the NMFS has something to celebrate. (Except for the domestic loyalists, who quietly go into hiding) The door is now forever opened to the possibility of successful off-world establishment of independent countries, and many other people want in. While new nations crop up on Mars’ surface, the NMFS decides to “manifest destiny,” while teraforming the land to be more rich in water, and hospitable for an ecosystem.
Some of these new countries remain loyal and kind to the nations that they were once a part of, and establish an allied commonwealth with each other. Other nations form brutal dictatorships over the resources of Mars, exploiting the labor of their citizens. Almost every nation rationalizes their dark past with “the quest for religious freedom from oppressive government,” while holding a fairly libertarian and fiercely independent perspective of the universe. While a hard past and a harder future are now a permanent mark for the first Martian colonists, with time, perhaps, these nations will develop, and create a new and prosperous world for the people who have chosen, for whatever reason, to call the little red rock home.
If you can do better, go for it!
If not, then it’s a framework to set up your smaller and more interesting story, for your own PCs.