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Game Proposal: Tara

Dawn OOC

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System: The Fifth Column, Alpha Rules - Echelon: Veteran

Genre: Survival/Sci Fi

STs: Dawn, OOC and Malachite Drake (submit characters to both)



2147. Humanity has exceeded the capacity of Earth due to population and the rise of the oceans. Several countries expended the materials necessary to protect their coastal cities, while others focused on relocation. The wealthy live planetside on Earth, while the Moon’s lunar colonies have covered the satellite’s face. Numerous space stations around Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt are in constant states of growth, expanding ever outward like a fungal organism.


Sickness and disease have started to impact the stations, where the majority of humanity lives. Strange new illnesses crop up that prove more fatal than they should, given the level of medical expertise that exists. One immunologist, Dr. Dinesh Shankar, has a theory: most of humanity needs to live on a planet in order to thrive. “When denied access to a living ecosystem, the human system fails.” He calls it Environmental Autoimmune Collapse (EAC) and it gains popularity.


To offset the population crush and the rise of EAC, the Five Great Alliances have put together a plan to colonize another planet. After the failure to terraform Mars, they search for and find a viable planet capable of supporting human life. Naming it Tara, they build and launch the first of the colony ships, named after the lost city of Melbourne.


The Melbourne’s task is simple. Make planetfall and use the supplies to set up the base colony city. Two years after the Melbourne left Earth, the Sydney launched, bound for Tara with the second wave of colonists. Two years after the Sydney, the Venice left. It has taken the Melbourne ten years to get to Tara and five more ships are staggered behind it, each two years apart. They are relying on the Melbourne to to have basic amenities set up at the landing site. The crew and passengers were chosen with this in mind.


In 2157, the Melbourne arrives at Tara and the crew and colonists awaken from cyrosleep, ready to see their new home.


Character Types

The PCs should be "Average Joes" from sensible walks of life; while PC staples like security will be needed, players should also consider occupations like cook, horticulturalist and scientist. Other good choices will be engineer, pilot and doctor. A character that can do more than one task pretty well would also be advisable. If you can imagine a wagon train out West needing your PC's services, then you probably have a good concept. Families are not discouraged, but children smaller than ten are not allowed and would disqualify the entire family. The same for pregnant women; small children would face an unconscionably high mortality risk.


PC’s will have several background options. They should choose one of five political conglomerates:

  • North America Alliance (NAA) - U.S.A., Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, and Australia; their focus was primarily on the relocation of displaced people. Only major coastal cities such as Miami, Vancouver, New York, etc, were saved. Some places. particularly in California, are built on top of the previous cities, creating Venice-like canals: Los Angeles is one of them. Many of those relocated were sent to the Moon, where the NAA has the largest (but not most populous) lunar colony. Primary language: English with some Indian and Japanese words and phrases adopted
  • Naciones Unidas de América del Sur (NUAS) - includes all of S. America, Central America (sans Mexico); only Rio de Janeiro was saved. People have been primarily relocated to the Casebres (Portuguese for hovels), the nickname for the NUAS space stations. Primary language: Spanish (which is a mix of our Portuguese and Spanish).
  • Umoja Uislamu (United Islam, UU) - includes all of Africa and the Middle East; largely unaffected by the flooding, the UU rose to prominence and united the two areas through religion. While other faiths are allowed, the UU remains mostly Muslim. They are also generous, opening their borders to other people of Islamic faith if they need a place to go. They have limited presence on the Moon but have some of the largest and most spacious space stations with the lowest population densities. Primary language: AraSwahili
  • People’s Republic of Asia (PRA) - includes everything in Asia and the subcontinent save Japan and India; China provided economic support in exchange for incorporation into their country. The Chinese empire now covers most of Asia. Relocation to the moon and the stations were the primary means of dealing with the flooding but the PRA was criticized for the extreme population densities they packed into the space stations and their lunar bases. Primary language: Standard Chinese
  • Unionem Europaeam (UE) - Europe and Russia; This union of countries is modeled upon the old EU but taken to an extreme. Militaristic and expansionist, they have a firm presence on the Moon and are seeking to expand it. Their stations are often armed heavily, both internally and externally. Primary language: Russo-Euro


In addition, the player should pick the type of place they grew up in. All of the alliances have a presence in each of the following places of origin:


  • Earth - A character from Earth is generally more wealthy or someone in direct service to them. They are still middle to upper class status regardless of their job. They also have the least economic reasons to be on the colony and would be selected only if there were no other suitable candidates from the Moon or a station.
  • The Moon - The Lunar Bases are more mixed, with lots of factory middle management. These are middle class people, able to escape the stations but not quite wealthy enough for the worst places on Earth.
  • Space Stations - The stations are generally more lower class with a few scientists and their families. Given their higher levels of education, the scientists are often part of the leadership of the stations. Someone has to watch the desperate people.


Important People

Dr. Dinesh Shankar - NAA citizen, Los Angeles resident, Earth. The genius who outlined the EAC theory, Dr. Shankar is also the driving force behind the colonization effort. While he’s been criticized for supporting the EAC theory, his critics admit that he’s got the world’s best interests at heart. A genuinely good person, he has put his personal safety on the line by joining them on the Melbourne. His grown children remain on Earth.



Capt. Muhammad Sarr - UU citizen, Lahb Allah, Lunar city. Born to a poor miner working for the Pretoria Mining Company, Sarr grew up dreaming of bigger things. He joined the military in the hopes of getting high enough rank to return to Earth, sacrificing family and all other goals to that ambition. Despite the UU holding the largest amount of land, he never managed to reach quite high enough for that reward. When the Tara colonization mission was announced, he pulled every string and called in all the favors he could to receive a posting. He was rewarded with the Captain’s Chair on the Melbourne.



Head of Security: Cmd. Ming-hua Yuan - PRA national, Shengchan PRA station resident. Lt. Yuan was never bothered by impoverished status of her family. She was born with an innate confidence that she’d improve her lot in life and draw her family up with her. She worked her way up through the ranks, both through hard work and between-the-sheets work. Those efforts paid off when she was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and became head of security for her station.. Not long after, many members of her family died in an outbreak of Zheng flu. She was the first pick for the head of security for the Melbourne, and the remaining members of her family are en route on the Venice. She brings no born children but three of her embryos are on ice for later use. The fathers of those embryos are the subject of much speculation.



Head of Engineering: Leonardo Ferro - NUAS citizen, Rio de Janeiro resident, Earth. When the question of who should head engineering for the colony ship arose, Leonardo Ferro contacted the joint committee and volunteered. Brilliant and insane, the Brazil native is globally famous as a modern-day mad scientist; he even changed his name because his birth name was “boring”. Though it took some discussion and negotiation, he was awarded the spot despite his civilian status and the inclusion of his personal Jeeves, Sakura.




Chief Science Officer: Cmd. Darya Bellamy - UE citizen, Budapest Station resident. Cmd. Bellamy comes from a military family. Her parents were disappointed that she chose to pursue science. They would likely change their stance if they knew their daughter had helped design a number of classified weapon systems. The UE was reluctant to let her go but her husband, Oskar Worthington, secured a berth and she insisted on joining him. Their three children, thirteen year old twin boys, Dmitri and David, and their eleven year old daughter, Valentina, are with them.



The Melbourne Jeeves: Hector - Colony property. Hector was built for the Melbourne mission. His programmed personality is subservient and helpful, but someone buried a streak of wry humor in his code. His primary functions are to protect and aid the crew of the ship.




The following are major technological advances in the Tara setting:


Transwave Reactor - TWR’s have replaced nearly every type of power station on the planet and have made long-term colonies on the Moon and space station habitation possible. The TWR’s use spent uranium rods as their fuel source and consume the entire rod over the course of centuries of power generation. This has created an energy boom for humanity, and while the rods will eventually run out, that timeframe is measured in thousands of years. Each colony ship is powered by a TWR and carries enough rods to see Tara through complete colonization of the planet through the next two thousand years.


Cryogenics - This is one of two complementary technologies which allows the colonization of Tara to work. The ability to put people in an artificial slumber and awaken them safely allows the use of the jump engines without ill effect. The wealthy on Earth have also adopted cryogenic freezing as a “death alternative”, choosing to freeze themselves upon the discovery of any terminal or incurable illness and wait until medical technology provides some sort of cure for them. The companies that provide this now popular service are derisively referred to a “popsicle stands” by those too poor or morally opposed to the practice.


Jump Engines - A major breakthrough in transportation technology that occurred only about 40 years ago, jump engines allow a ship to break the light speed barrier. The energy cost is enormous, but TWR’s have made it possible and the colony ships are the first massive, manned ships to use the engines. Smaller science vessels, usually exclusively manned by Jeeves, were sent out to explore the local cluster of solar systems shortly after the engines were designed. One of these vessels discovered Tara, leading to the development of the colony ships. Highly developed organisms (generally anything that actually sports a brain) must be placed in cryogenic suspension while the ship is in jump-space otherwise they suffer Temporal Distortion Jump Sickness. TDJS manifests as an inability properly order events in memory and also usually leads to hallucinations (overlapping memory episodes) and psychosis. The first cases of TDJS were experienced by the small crews of the earliest scientific vessels sent out with jump engines. Cryogenic freezing is now mandatory for all crews and passengers.


Personal Robots - Though not artificially intelligent, these artificial personal assistants are a staple in most companies and the homes of the wealthy. They serve as nannies, assistants, security, and virtually any role which requires the ability to act without independent thought. A series of cascading programming allows them to act appropriately in almost all situations. They can take any shape, from nearly perfectly human to totally alien.


Cybernetics - Continuous improvement of cybernetic technology over the past century has lead ubiquitous use of artificial organs and limbs. This has increased the average lifespan of those able to afford the cybernetics to around 100 years, with the later years also enjoying a much greater quality of life. The black market of cybernetics has also boomed, including technology that can influence minds through manipulation of brain waves, can addict users to direct-to-brain stimulation, and can fool both electronic surveillance and forensic science through various means. Each alliance has its own laws on what cybernetics are legal, restricted, or banned and in general the wealthier a person is the more likely they are to possess some sort of cybernetic enhancement.


Weaponry - Though lasers are not yet practical for personal use armaments, the advances in aiming, ballistics, and engineering has created top of the line firearms. Metallurgy has progressed as well, giving rise to razor steel, a type of metal that holds an edge well for long amounts of time. Mace, tasers, and harmonic neutralizers are all available as well, though they may not be available to all civilians.


Health - Medical personnel of the future have access to portable bio-scanners, bio-printers, and mini-chemical labs, allowing for diagnosis and nearly instantaneous medical care. In particularly, the bio-printers are utilized for food production, creating food with the perfect balance of nutrition without requiring the use of land to grow the food.


Setting Equipment Examples

When you construct your own equipment, please include the IC reasoning behind the mechanics so that we can verify it does what you want it to do.


Glock 121AH - A superior sidearm, the latest iteration of the Glock comes with their Aim Help system. Using laser sights and a compensation system in the barrel, this pistol gives incomparable help aiming.

Mechanics: +1d6 to 4 - Pistols [Athletics], -1 for Equipment; Cost: 3


Omnineer 5.1 - This hand held computer has a databank full of every technical data for every ship, tool, and system known to humans. The search function, TOC, and index are all state of the art, ensuring rapid location of the needed knowledge.

Mechanics: +3 to 2 - Engineering [Craft] rolls, -1 for Equipment; Cost: 6


Fuji CyberEye - “Better than Human” is Fuji Corporation’s motto, and in the CyberEye, they hold true to that claim. For those who have lost an eye or don’t mind replacing theirs, the CyberEye is a basic model that provides superior optical enhancement.

Mechanics: +1d6 to visual 3 - Perception [Education] rolls; Cost: 7


Subaudio Harmonic Modulator - A black market item, this device creates inaudible sounds that alter brain waves. The alterations allow the targets to be more easily manipulated.

Mechanics: +1d6 to 4 - Negotiate [socialize] rolls, -1 Equipment; Cost 3


Additional Options

  • Cybernetics are allowed and should be built through Advantages. However, you don’t get to buy them as equipment so they don’t have the 1 AP cost break.
  • Equipment specific to the game can be suggested by the players.
  • The players do not start with access to their Fifth Column but may spend their starting points on the powers. They may also hold the powers for when the Fifth Column becomes available in play.
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We will be using the Fifth Column rules set for this game (yay! we made a system!). This is very much still in the "alpha" stage, and suggestions and questions are both encouraged. I'm putting it up as a PDF download because the site does not c/p tables well at all. 



  1. An error was found in the Athletics skills column, so a new version of the PDF has been uploaded here. (10/11/2014, 5:17 PM CST)
  2. We forgot to specify that we're using D6's for the game.  :blush: (10/11/2014, 5:24 PM CST)
  3. Condensed the Skill tables and did a few other minor edits. (10/11/2014, 6:10 PM CST)
  4. Edited a bunch of stuff from comments by several people. :) (10/12/2014, 2:07 PM CST)
  5. Added a PDF of our Character Sheet. (10/12/2014, 2:45 PM CST)
  6. Added clarity to the Advantage creation rules. (10/12/2014 3:26 PM CST)
  7. Added four examples of creating Advantages. (10/13/2014 12:47 PM CST)
  8. Adjusted language about NPCs. (4/1/2015 3:09 PM CST)

Fifth Column Character Sheet.pdf

Fifth Column Character Sheet.xlsx


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Well, for building a skill line for piloting, I have a few different suggestions, depending on the character's background (and taking into account the setting). A fighter pilot might have:


1 - Athletics

2 - Fighting

3 - Vehicular

4 - Spacecraft (this could also be Aircraft, Land Vehicles, or Watercraft)

5 - Specific Type of Spacecraft


Someone that isn't combat trained in piloting and does more commercial-type flying might have:


1 - Education

2 - Piloting

3 - Spacecraft

4 - Specific Type of Spacecraft

5 - Speed or Optimal Course or Safe Piloting


In the second line you can get a bit more specific for bonuses to stuff outside of combat, in the first line you can use the skill line more easily during a firefight or whatnot. Also, if the ship under attack (most likely an Athletics attack) and you're "defending" through piloting, you'll get to use your full die pool under the Athletics line and would be at half die pool (barring Advantages that allow otherwise) under the Education line.


I would also highly recommend the Education -> Insight line of skills, as that's your ability to notice stuff. 

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I am assuming that there is no antigravity or other type of gravity tech am i correct in this assumption?


Also are the Colony ships on a one way trip IE do they become material for the colony once they arrive or is the plan for them to arrive and offload and then return to earth for more colonist?


My character concept is that of a Astronaut Pilot/Scientist and a member of the Ships Crew.

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I'm considering making a geologist/outdoorsman who is a widower and looks at the expedition as a way to start a new life after losing his wife and child. Probably from the NAA, for origin I was thinking The Moon, though has done a lot of work on Earth (even if he couldn't afford to live there), if that is reasonable.


BTW, if we see things that look like grammatical errors, c/p issues, missing references and the like in the PDF, do want a heads up?

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I am assuming that there is no antigravity or other type of gravity tech am i correct in this assumption?


Also are the Colony ships on a one way trip IE do they become material for the colony once they arrive or is the plan for them to arrive and offload and then return to earth for more colonist?


My character concept is that of a Astronaut Pilot/Scientist and a member of the Ships Crew.


The ships do have artificial gravity. What are you looking for specifically?


Yes, the ships are one way and will be cannibalized upon arrival. In fact, the plan is to land on the planet for ease of breakdown and unloading.



I'm considering making a geologist/outdoorsman who is a widower and looks at the expedition as a way to start a new life after losing his wife and child. Probably from the NAA, for origin I was thinking The Moon, though has done a lot of work on Earth (even if he couldn't afford to live there), if that is reasonable.


BTW, if we see things that look like grammatical errors, c/p issues, missing references and the like in the PDF, do want a heads up?


That sounds reasonable. He could work in a park, guiding and pampering wealthy tourists.


Anything that bothers you or impedes you from using/learning the system, please do bring it up. You can PM any concerns or errors to Mala and I. :) Thanks!

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The ships do have artificial gravity. What are you looking for specifically?


Yes, the ships are one way and will be cannibalized upon arrival. In fact, the plan is to land on the planet for ease of breakdown and unloading.



Just wanting clarification for backstory.


Also does the setting have FTL communication with earth or are we cutoff completely from earth until the next ship arrives or we send someone back in a smaller ship? assuming we have one or the means to build one from the remains of the larger ship if such is the case.


and how many colonist are on each ship, roughly?


hope im not being a pita with my questions :)


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FTL Communication - There is such technology, but the ships cannot make use of it while in their FTL travel bubble. The Melbourne includes everything needed to set up communications with Earth once it lands and gets the initial settlement up and running. FTL communications require a massive amount of energy, though, so they'll have to have the colony's power plant up and running before they can make contact. 


As for population count...uhh...we didn't have a number and Carver is not available at the moment. We'll get back to you on that. A lot. They're exporting excess population and the first ships are the "we're poor and want the hell off the stations" settlers, so they got crammed in. 


Questions are awesome! Keep 'em coming! :D

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3 D printers can lay down cells on an armature made of organic plastics, and those cells will form tissues, which can with repeated applications of the appropriate cell layers, become organs. The armatures are designed to break down over time, essentially metabolized by the cells they supported.


The tech is kind of sort of already existing today. We haven't printed a full, working organ yet, but tissue layers have been done.

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Jer - have you heard of 3D Printers? I assume a Bio-printer is the organic analog. Right now, they have made an artificial liver or spleen by placing cells around an frame. Figure in 100+ years, the tech has improved and become more common place.


Yes, I have. I wasn't sure if the Bio-printers operated on that same general scheme or it meant something else entirely, hence I asked.

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The concept interests me and I even have a character concept (military cook.  hey, someone's gotta make the chow :) )  However I am having a terrible time understanding the rules.  They aren't very clear (at least to me...)


I admit that I generally learn by example than by study but yeah.  having real difficulty making my way through the ruleset


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Okay just to make sure I was working off the most recent copy of the document, I just downloaded the file again and I see there are differences between the 2.  For example the Skill Lines have a much better explanation of what they are and what they do.  I will read again and see what I can come up with.


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Game will kick off November 1. Characters who'll start that date have to be fully approved by 11:59 p.m. on Halloween. Please do not submit a character at 11:45 p.m. on the 31st - I'll be working or hanging out with friends that night! 


Thanks to all who are getting into this game. I'm looking forward to running something here on the boards again. :)

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  • 1 month later...

So, and I mean it this time, for those interested, we'll be starting next week. If you have any questions or alterations to make to your character, now is the time to make them. If you want to join, now is also the time to speak up. :)

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