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Classic Elite startup screen
Classic Elite's Instruction Manual
Holdstock's Dark Wheel
Frontier (Elite 2) Box
The first of Drew's Oolite Series

Canon in the Game

There is Strict Oolite - and then there are the over 12655723162254307425418678245150829297671403862274660768187828858528140823147351237817802795619571074765208532598060224803240903782164769430795025578054271906283387643826088448124626488332623608376164081221171179439885840257818732919037889603719186743943363062139593784473922231852782547619771723889252476871186000174697934549112845662596182308280390615184691924446215552586523740084932807259056238962104689731522587564412231618018774350801526839567367444928206231310973619440354723718012867753019556135721376207959558860559933052856914157120622980057169891912595926540427596853441276985006724869558201930657900240943007657817473684008944448183219124163017666607770667585082169598239230274035517738648065600492702095732843492708856036920219883363111527988109277392696562776813446645651238419301586157342867860646666350050113314787911320639668510871569846664873595017518995670958477806411667505346462590471136862647349666243426242677175204732314281064417939041868653741187423064985189556742640111598580035644021835576715752869397465453828584471291269955890393294448315746500268702149708808053100406398480942695623586049403348084970064668900206251516968479727515576425962392136269169089884609794271331061018895634421094082310408889752954265842691732460538911784,960,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different versions of Oolite with .oxp's - and that is ignoring the tweaked/altered .oxp versions (your tweaks will be different from mine...)!

So to establish a 'canonical version' of Oolite the game is no mean feat! Attempts to do this in the past (Realistic Shipyards & Oolite Extended) failed dismally.

Canon in the Lore

IF we turn from the game to the lore, we find instead a sustained argument.

There have been at least three major schools of thought:

  • The first school, the syncretists, seek to link in Classic Elite/Oolite with the Frontier family (which includes Elite Dangerous). It includes those working to incorporate elements of Frontier in Oolite either in the game itself (though writing OXPs) or in literature or writing background material - most notably Selezen and Drew Wagar. See Oolite timeline and GalCop for examples of this approach.
Realistically, if you came into Oolite from having enjoyed Frontier or E:D then this approach may well exert an attraction.
  • The second school, the purists, regards the entire exercise as a waste of effort! But they also wish to come up with an argument as to how things in Oolite evolved into what one finds in their Ooniverse. The main purist proponent is Cim, who created an entire history in his Ship's Manual.
If you stumbled across Oolite before the later members of the Elite family of games but prefer a background with historical explanations, this approach may be your preference.
  • The third school, the pragmatists, just want to enjoy the game without getting bogged down in endless detail or a need to force-fit this or that into a rigid history. See Disembodied's quote here. The Anglo-Saxon world, in particular, has often preferred a more pragmatic approach to understanding their Ooniverse!

You will find the relevant histories quoted on the History and GalCop pages.

Some of the keener exponents of the first school have since migrated to Elite Dangerous, whilst those of the second and third schools seem to have gotten lost in inter-galactic space.

Table of Contrasts between Elite/Oolite and FE2/FFE/ED

Feature Classic Elite Oolite Vanilla game Frontier/Elite 2 First Encounters/FFE Elite: Dangerous
Number of "Universes" 8 8 1 1 1
Existence of GalCop Yes Yes No No No
Existence of Federation & Empire No No Yes Yes Yes
Thargoids Enemy Enemy Inexistent Neutral Neutral...
Non-human races: felines/lobstoids etc Yes Yes No No No
Planet Earth on map? No No Yes Yes Yes

For the Syncretists, there is a need to reconcile the gap between the two families of the games: how did the 8 "universes" disappear in the time gap between Elite/Oolite and Frontier? Where did the species go? How do Frontier's nascent Federation and Empire relate to GalCop (The Federation and the Empire are not mentioned in Elite/Oolite, and GalCop is not mentioned in Frontier)?

For the Purists, the need is rather to make sense of how there can be 8 "universes" and how the various species all fit together (were humans always there or did they arrive later?).

Elite's Core Lore

One Purist problem relates to how much material one has to work with. What is the core Lore?

  • As regards Classic Elite, we have what we see in the game (see table above). There is also the material in the rest of the boxed game.
Instruction Manual mostly written by Robert Holdstock.
The Dark Wheel the novelette written by Robert Holdstock.
Andy Redman's Imprint (part of the PC Elite Plus Elite game version of 1991) is also a significant source of lore.
The Elite Player's Guide was written by Bell & Braben, but did not make it into the original boxed game.
  • But Cody & Smivs, for example, do not see the Dark Wheel as canonical ("there are too many things that Holdstock got wrong" - see The Dark Wheel controversy section).
The purist school is thus split between ultra-minimalist purists who pretty much reject everything apart from the games themselves (ie, the code!) and the moderate purists who accept the Manual and The Dark Wheel etc. See for example, Disembodied's view here (2008).
User2357 on the other hand sees - not only the Dark Wheel & Imprint but - Dylan Smith's The Virtuous Misfortune as an essential part of the core lore (DS is this wikipedia's host).
For an example of ultra-minimalist lore derived from the game code, see Her Imperial Majesty's Space Navy.
In conclusion, our ultra-minimalists will accept Her Imperial Majesty's Space Navy, our moderates will add in Raxxla and our syncretists will be looking to further add in the nascent Federation and Empire from Frontier. Our pragmatists ... !

The relationship between ultra-minimalist purists and pragmatists is probably rather fuzzy!

Oolite's Core Lore

So what is core lore in Oolite?

  • As regards Oolite there is the official Oolite anthology with a mix of short stories from adherents of both schools: Alien Items.
    • Then there are Drew Wagar's well known novels and also Clym Angus's Chronicles of Shulth which are both syncretistic - but in very different ways - regarding Frontier. Drew combines early elements of Frontier into his descriptions of the Ooniverse. Clym portrays a Borgesian multiverse ("The Garden of Forking Paths": 1941) where the Ooniverse (similarly depicted to Drew's above) is purposely transmogrified into a lobstoid-free single EDverse by a mad scientist. Needless to say, the efforts of Drew & Selezen to reconcile the Elite family of games (Elite, Oolite, Frontier, FFE & E:D) were cast aside by E:D (despite Drew's official E:D novels & Selezen's official E:D role-playing game)!
    • Cody's novels are very different, as would be expected (no nascent Empires or Federations for example).
    • Thus, while the official anthology may be labelled as such, it is too confusing from a purist perspective to retain any canonicity.
  • There are also a bevy of OXPs:
Classic Elite lore-based OXPs:
Lave: the old Lave OXP and the newer Lave Academy OXP.
Tionisla: The Tionisla Orbital Graveyard collection.
New Cargoes looks at the planet descriptions from Elite & the associated literature and generates trade items from them (Zero-G cricket bats, Shanaskilk fur, thumpberry juice & noseoid leather).
There is also the Deep Space Dredger and the Generation Ships OXP.
Frontier/FFE/E:D lore-based OXPs: various Empire elements have been added as OXPs - Selezen created Imperial Courier & Eagle Mk II ships for Oolite, and the mix has been further added to.
Oolite lore-based OXPs:
From Drew's novellae: Tianve OXP, Status Quo Q-bomb OXP, Technical Reference Library, Tionisla Chronicle Array, BoyRacer, Torus station, Famous Planets, System Redux (Oolite), Behemoth, Imperial Courier, SuperCobra and Snoopers/GNN.
From ClymAngus/Wyvern's novellae: Kirin, Kirin Sport, Caduceus, Dragon, MilSpec HUD OXP, Automatic Chaff System (now in Missiles and Bombs), Missile Spoof & Military Missile.
From Cody's novellae: Coyote's Run & Green Gecko
Personalities OXP bump into Cody, Selezen, Wyvern, Disembodied, Captain Hesperus, PA Groove etc in-flight (sadly broken).
  • But the very nature of OXPs is that they are optional. You decide what to include, and what to exclude, and what to tweak/experiment with. They cannot be "core lore" by their very nature.

Some thoughts about Frontier/FE2

  • Dylan Smith wrote in his page on the Frontier game that "Many rumours abounded following the release of the game that Frontier was never intended to be a sequel to Elite, and was simply written as a new space simulation. The rumour states that someone suggested tacking the Elite ships onto the game, and the decision was eventually made to include the popular elements from Elite into the game, including Lave and the surrounding systems and the ships from the older game. This, although never confirmed to this author's knowledge, does explain why there are very few other elements of Elite present in the game other than the most well known systems and the ships".
  • It should be mentioned that both Drew & Selezen now (in 2021) also see a lore-based disjunct between Elite Dangerous and its predecessors. Whilst in the early days they were trying to harmonise the lore in ED with the earlier variants (and inter-alia were campaigning for the Orbital Graveyard to be installed in ED's Tionisla), with ED game changes driving ED further away from its earlier versions, they have since thrown in the towel. See The calamitous consequences of corporate states for more on this.

So What?

At time of writing (end 2021), Oolite probably offers something like 1,200 oxz's/oxp's!

Many of these happily co-exist with each other from a lore-based perspective. But not all.

Example: Space Navies

Take the Navies. The game code for Elite features no navy at all, just a couple of references to it in the missions. There are under a dozen references in the The Space Traders Flight Training Manual:

  • The Navy Training Manual recommends the following approach and dock sequence;
  • Though most of the Thargoid Space Fleet is currently engaged by the Galactic Navy in InterGalactic Space, a few of the smaller battle ships make occasional destructor-raids into human space. ...
Additionally, most Thargoid battle ships carry several small, remote-controlled "thargons", killer-craft each equipped with a single, but highly advanced, pulse-laser. The Galactic Navy are developing their own deep-space RemCraft, and pay a large bounty for any thargon craft that are brought to them.
Galactic Navy vessel designed and manufactured in government workshops, incorporating secret self-destruct devices which are primed to activate when the astrogation controls are used by unfamiliar hands. Integument has chameleon properties enabling the ship to assume effective camouflage in any type of environment. Intended for reconnaissance and the transport of high-ranking military personnel from combat it is very fast and maneuverable.


The original novels have a little more.

So, at various stages, people have started writing Navy oxp's for Oolite. None of these are currently on the in-game Expansions Manager (Galactic Navy lacks a license, HIMSN was banjaxed by E:D's emergence in 2014 and still needs a couple of finishing touches).

Matt634 & Nemoricus wanted to create a strong powerful Navy. They did. The Galactic Navy has a strong powerful presence in the eight galaxies with lots of SecCom Navy bases, patrols, battleships, etc etc. If you add it to your Ooniverse, it totally changes the feel of the place!

Others reacted against this. On the one hand, Reese249er wrote 249th Naval Reserve Wing OXP which uses civilian patrols to supplement an invisible navy off fighting Thargoids elsewhere. On the other hand, others who wanted an actual navy, created Her Imperial Majesty's Space Navy instead. Much more self effacing (off fighting the Thargoids in InterGalactic Space, not much encountered otherwise), and a more modern oxz, using newer graphics techniques, etc.

These three probably all work together with some minor tweaking. But the lores and underlying philosophies are quite different - and GN clashes with HIMSN & 249th Naval Reserve Wing in this respect.


We are all different. Some of us want Lore and explanation - we find it gives colour to our game. Others of us just want to get on with playing and not get bogged down in insignificant details. In Oolite, you decide what goes into your Ooniverse - and you decide how you wish to make sense of it. Enjoy!


The Lore (accumulated knowledge or beliefs held by a group about a subject) can be defined by the Canon. Thus arguments about Lore often end up as arguments about the Canon.


BB threads

On a lighter note ...

Tionisla Chronicle Array

Lore-laden OXPs

OXPs bringing lore from the literature into the game. They include

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OXPs introducing new lore into the game. These include