It started as a pair of pretty nifty Mekton books, set in an original IP that was basically Gundam with all the crazy sucked out. It was thin, but inspiringly cool. Then Dream Pod 9 got a loan from their rich uncle and went solo with their homebrew Silhouette system. It's pretty okay I guess if you like spreadsheets. It manages to still be simpler than Mekton if you exclude crap like Reaction Mass, which nobody uses.
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Tagline : Although often lost in the shadow of her big brother Heavy Gear , Jovian Chronicles is a great game in its own right. The Silhouette system is every bit as powerful as it ever was, and the setting — a future version of our solar system — intriguing, layered, and literally exploding with potential.
Dream Pod 9 has produced and supported three primary games. The first of these, their flagship, is Heavy Gear has been almost universally praised. The second, Tribe 8 , has carved out a place for itself as one of the finest and most original fantasy games in the roleplaying industry.
Their third game, however, has not been quite so fortunate. Jovian Chronicles , like her big brother Heavy Gear is a mecha game using the Silhouette rules system and inspired, at least partially, by anime. Although there are many similarities between the games, there are also many differences.
In Heavy Gear , for example, the mecha are suits of powered armor in completely alien setting far in the future, driven by an overarching meta-story and set of intriguing, deeply developed characters. In Jovian Chronicles , on the other hand, you have a hard SF world in which the mecha serve as space fighters in a setting close to home, both spatially and temporally. Both Heavy Gear and Jovian Chronicles are remarkably strong games, and both would be in my Top 10 list for the industry.
But they are there for different reasons. At a basic level a setting can be either good or bad. In general you can characterize a good setting as one based upon interesting concepts, with a great deal of depth, detail, and originality. In general you can characterize a bad setting as one which lacks an interesting concept and is either shallow, poorly developed, lacking in originality, or a combination of all of the above. A more interesting question is what separates a good setting from a superb one.
What makes one good and the other great? In Vampire I play a vampire. In Terra Nova I can play a cop, a vigilante, a gear pilot, a spy, a terrorist, a freedom fighter, or any one of a dozen different things.
As a GM I can design a campaign around, literally, dozens of completely different hooks. And all of this takes place in a richly developed world, with many different, unique cultures and political units.
Which brings us back to Jovian Chronicles , which possesses all of the strengths of Heavy Gear in this regard. In a prototype fusion engine successfully generates power. Technology and space exploration begins to advance rapidly and by the moon is colonized. They stretched the facts slightly in this regard so that they could have an advanced spatial civilization in a future which was not so far distant as to render humanity completely unrecognizable culturally.
In major development on orbital stations begins; in Mars is settled for the first time; in the Jovian Gas Mining Corp. Social economic pressures cause several nations back home to collapse and people begin to flee Mother Earth in a massive exodus during which Venus is settled for the first time.
As chaos seizes the homeworld, Mars seizes its independence the first stellar colony to do so. Then, in , Earth disappears — rumors of major disasters and civil conflict fill the solar system, but any and all shuttles sent to investigate are destroyed.
The colonies are completely cut off. This period of isolation lasts for nearly a hundred years. In the colonies, much of this time is spent trying desperately to make themselves reliably self-sufficient; back on Earth civil war rages.
As Earth extends back out into the solar system, an era of peace ensues. But such peace cannot be sustained for long. CEGA longs to return Earth to its position as the center of humanity, while the colonies after a hundred years of independence squabble among themselves and no longer recognize any such thing to be true.
By war seems almost inevitable….. In the year the Solar System looks something like this: Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are all major colonies. Mercury, the hottest planet in the solar system, was settled in order to provide raw resources to the New Earth project which terraformed Venus.
It expanded in the 22nd century as disaffected Venusian colonists left to start new lives for themselves. Today it is home to the Merchant Guild. The guild served as the primary transport of goods and services in the solar system following the Fall.
The New Earth project began the terraforming process of Venus in In the time leading up to the events of the Fall, many businesses back on Earth realized that hard times were ahead — and left for other places. Several migrated to orbital stations, but many came to Venus. In the world of , the society of Venus is the result of the mixing of the corporate cultures of Asia, North America, and Europe — with a heavy influence from the Japanese. It is controlled, behind the scenes, by the manipulative Venusian Bank — which now attempts to spread its influence throughout the solar system.
Many believe that Venus largely controlled CEGA for many years, but now the puppet may be getting out of control. CEGA has expansionist plans for the solar system at large, and earthers in general have a hard time understanding that their brethren in the colonies no longer bear as much love for the birthplace of humanity as they once did. Earthers see a manifest destiny for Earth, to bring all of humanity under its control once again and CEGA leads the charge.
Many wonder, however, how long CEGA will tolerate dissension at home as well as abroad. The Orbitals are a melting pot, with almost every cylinder having its own Earth-derived culture and traditions. The Moon. Like the orbitals, the moon is under CEGA control. There are several Lunar cities, with a total population of about one million.
The Selenites, during the Fall, adapted themselves to the hard realities of self-sufficiency. They possess a very Puritan work ethic as a result, with creativity and imagination discouraged in favor of doing the work necessary to stay alive.
After years of war, Mars has become split in half by a tense cold war. On the other is the Martian Free Republic, which tends to support the Jovians. Asteroid Belt. The belt has become home to those who choose or need to remove themselves from society. The rest of them are isolationists and fantatics. As the title might suggest, Jupiter is meant to be a primary focus of the Jovian Chronicles game. Although all of these bases orbit Jupiter, it should be noted that they are literally millions of kilometers apart… with all the logistical nightmares particularly in defense matters that this would suggest.
Quite accidentally, Jupiter has become one of the two major powers in the solar system with CEGA being the other. They are the only ones with an existing military capable of meeting CEGA on the figurative battlefield, and they are the only ones with the political clout to possibly avoid that bloodshed.
Tensions run high between these two powers. The setting, as you can see, is a rich one particularly once you begin to add in the complex and dynamic interactions which exist within and between these general groupings — with many different places to set a campaign, and even more hooks on which to base a campaign.
It is easily one of the best roleplaying settings you will find. Indeed, I will say that, like Terra Nova, it is one of the best settings period — in or out of the roleplaying industry.
With all that being said, the setting of Jovian Chronicles as presented in the core rulebook does have two relatively serious problems. To explain the first of these, I must first delve into a digression.
A setting can be crippled not just through a lack of information, depth, campaign hooks, or originality. It can also be crippled by the lack of specific information. Take, for example, the first printing of Trinity. This setting contained a massive number of potential campaign hooks — the proxies who controlled the psi orders were obviously engaged in their own personal machinations; the Aberrants who had devastated Earth a century before had returned; the mystery behind the disappearance of the Upeo wa Macho the psi order of teleporters had never been solved; Earth was going back out to reclaim their lost colonies; and the various alien species were engaged in their own plottings.
These campaign hooks were backed up with a wealth of detailed information, a rich history, and an engaging, original universe.
Unfortunately, there was one thing missing: The keys to unlock this vast treasure trove. Specifically, the original printing of the Trinity manual lacked information on who the proxies were and what their goals were; why the Aberrants had returned; why the Upeo wa Macho had disappeared; what had happened to the colonies during the years they had been lost; and what the aliens wanted.
Jovian Chronicles does not suffer from such a widespread, universal problem. The main rulebook is set in , a few weeks after an event known as the Odyssey. Their efforts to get him safely back to Jupiter spanned the solar system, and resulted in the destruction of Copernicus Dome on the Moon and the orbital elevator on Mars.
One of the major Jovian colonies also came near destruction before the entire incident came to an end. The Odyssey has had massive repercussions on the world of Jovian Chronicles , and things seem to be spiraling rapidly towards war. That makes for a very exciting game setting….
To whit, the setting material in Jovian Chronicles makes it abundantly clear that things are developing very rapidly in this world — within a matter of days or weeks, literally, the solar system could be at war. This problem was compounded as Dream Pod 9 began pouring the majority of their efforts into the Heavy Gear product line, and Jovian Chronicles languished without support. Fortunately, the release of Jovian Chronicles product has recently seen an upswing in support, and the next couple of years look particularly bright for the line.
Due to the depth of material presented it is also relatively easy to start a campaign in the pre-Odyssey state of the setting, and thus give yourself a little bit more breathing room.
The second problem is connected to this one, but requires me to go off on another digression: Jovian Chronicles was originally released as a licensed supplement to R. One supplement was released, the Europa Incident. It was here that the events of the Odyssey were detailed for the first time.
It gets a four paragraph description on the first true page of game information, and then bits and pieces of it are referenced throughout the rest of the setting information mainly in terms of telling you how people, places, and policies have been effected by different facets of the Odyssey. This is frustrating, and I finally put my finger on why: Reading the details of the Odyssey in this core book were like reading a supplement.
The same way in which, while reading a module set in the Forgotten Realms, you are expected to know where the Sword Coast is, this supplement expected you to know the Odyssey in quite a bit of detail even though they did supply the summary. But, again, a minor problem. A good example of this is found in the equipment chapter, where money is given an extensive explanation, complete with a basic primer of the economic underpinnings of the capitalistic system of some of you are yawning, others of you have realized how important this information might be in, for example, a campaign where the PCs portray traders.
A silhouette is simple; so is the game system. A silhouette marks the outlines of an object; the rules outline the game, helping to give form and definition to all situations.
A silhouette is a shadow as a game system should be, to the point where players are not aware of it any more.
Jovian Chronicles is a science fiction game setting published by Dream Pod 9 since It introduces a complete universe for role-playing and wargaming space combat featuring mecha, giant spacecraft, and epic space battles. This first edition is known amongst fans as the "Green Edition" because of the color scheme of its cover design. The game was re-published as a full-fledged game line in by Dream Pod 9, this time using their own in-house rule system. This edition, and all subsequent ones, are known as the "White Editions" for obvious reasons, though several of the supplemental books feature a dark blue starfield cover.
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Jovian Chronicles is a science fiction game setting published by Dream Pod 9 since It introduces a complete universe for role-playing and wargaming space combat featuring mecha , giant spacecraft , and epic space battles. The Jovian Chronicles setting was originally published as a pair of licensed supplements for the Mekton role-playing game; Ianus Publications released two volumes— Jovian Chronicles and Europa Incident— in This first edition is known amongst fans as the "Green Edition" because of the color scheme of its cover design.