Jovian Chronicles is a science fiction game setting published by Dream Pod 9 since 1992. It introduces a complete universe for role-playing and wargaming space combat, featuring mecha, giant spacecraft and epic space battles.
The setting was originally published as a pair of licensed supplements for the Mekton role-playing game; IANVS Games released the two volumes (Jovian Chronicles and Europa Incident) in 1992. 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 1997 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," though several of the supplemental books feature a dark blue starfield cover.
The game world shows one possible future, a time in which Mankind has expanded and settled the solar system, going as far as terraforming Venus and Mars. The colonists living around Jupiter are at odds with the government of Earth, driving much of the series' intrigue. The game features a blend of action/adventure and hard-science space colonization facts. The books are based on plausible technical details to maintain a realistic hard science fiction setting.
- Mercury: a small settlement, whose main exports are high quality electronics and metals. Mercury is the headquarters of the powerful Merchant Guild, an association of companies which provide most of the transportation throughout the system.
- Venus: terraformed by a consortium of corporations, Venus is now a marginally habitable planet. The Venusian upper class and their workers live in polar arcologies, surrounded by terraforming processors.
- Earth: damaged by centuries of overpopulation and civil wars, the motherworld is home to the Central Earth Government and Administration (CEGA), a bureaucratic planetary government that believes the Earth should lead the solar system.
- Orbital Colonies: the salvation of many who fled Earth, these are huge O'Neill stations parked at the Lagrange points. Orbitals are peaceful people who follow CEGA's lead for protection.
- United Solar Nations: evolved from the old United Nations to provide a neutral arbiter between the various settlements. It has a private peace-keeping army, the USN Guard, and an interplanetary law enforcement agency, the Solar Police (SolaPol).
- The Moon: CEGA's industrial center, its inhabitants are living in huge complexes buried beneath the soil. Many of Earth's heavy industries were moved there long ago.
- Mars: a divided planet, home to the Martian Free Republic and the Martian Federation. Border clashes between the two are frequent.
- The Belt: the asteroids are populated by mobile nomad communities, each a micro-society of its own.
- Jupiter: home to refugees from Earth. The enormous space stations of the Jovian Confederacy were the first to develop and field exo-armors. Thanks to the resources of the Jovian sub-system, the Confederacy is the richest nation in the solar system.
- Titan: the largest moon of Saturn is the farthest human settlement. It is the main source for complex hydrocarbon compounds and plays an important role in the industries of the solar system.
Many recent Western cartoon shows and games have anime styling. Jovian Chronicles also features anime-inspired artwork, though most of the technical elements (ships, stations, equipment, etc.) are illustrated with computer art.
Exo-armors are one of the main hooks of the series. They are personal mecha, big armored space suits with weapons. The main source of inspiration for the game was Gundam, but also included Robotech. Jovian Chronicles would be placed in the Real Robot anime genre.
The most current incarnation of Jovian Chronicles is currently based on the Silhouette game engine, a streamlined set of rules already described in Heavy Gear, Dream Pod 9's other successful science fiction game. It can be played as either a role-playing game, a tactical wargame, or a hybrid integration of both.
The latest edition of the Silhouette rules is sold separately as a book titled Silhouette CORE Rulebook, which is needed to play the Jovian Chronicles role-playing game. The wargame uses the Lightning Strike II Miniature Rules, also available separately. The latter is played using miniatures and tabletop terrain, although some players prefer to use hex maps and paper counters.
Both the RPG and miniature games are built on the same basic rule mechanics. Silhouette is a realistic system that defines characters in terms of 10 base attributes (agility, knowledge, etc.), 5 derived attributes (health, etc.), and a variety of skills. Skill rolls make up the backbone of the system, which focuses on effect-based speed of play over grainy detail. The core mechanic involves rolling a number of 6-sided dice, taking the highest result, adding in modifiers for attributes and/or situation, and then comparing it to a set threshold number. If the result is higher than the threshold the test is a success; if it is lower the test is a failure. The margin by which the test succeeded (Margin of Success, MoS) or failed (Margin of Failure, MoF) helps to determine the final outcome. Combat is handled by the same system, with characters taking penalty-inflicting wounds rather than depleting a set number of health points. As a result, the system can be lethal, especially on inexperienced characters.