So think near-light travel. Think space navies with giant robots like fighter planes in skirmishes. Think in-solar-system Robotech and Gundam battles between solar nations, with soldiers and civilians alike caught in a web of interplanetary politics and interpersonal intrigue.
Now, kick the level of detail up a notch with superbly executed art of the suits and ships of war in action, along with clean, clear, meticulously detailed technical drawings and specs of all their gear. Mix in a clear sense of generational progression and forking of mecha designs for nearly all things space-based. Add well-crafted logos and insignias of the companies and nations that make up the setting, and cement it together with a solid, yet ever-improving layout -- that's what Jovian Chronicles was all about to me!
Sadly, while I really enjoyed the ruleset for PC skill resolution and interpersonal combat, the 3D mecha combat rules were a bit of a steep learning curve for me, and certainly provided a barrier to entry for most of the people I knew.
Interestingly enough, it didn't start out as its own RPG. Jovian Chronicles began as a Dream Pod 9 / Ianus Games supplement to the mecha RPG and construction ruleset known as Mekton II. Mekton II was put together by R. Talsorian Games (of Cyberpunk / Cyberpunk 2020 and Castle Falkenstein fame).
This green-colored supplement provided rules additions and modifications to the Mekton II ruleset, to better reflect the feel and technological reality of their setting. It provided page after page of illustrated, cleanly laid out pre-generated PCs, important NPCs, and all key mecha used in the suggested epic storyline for the adventure. It was a slim, compact supplement that somehow managed to give the feel of a well-researched, lovingly detailed setting just waiting to be explored.
And so the only actual experience I have of playing in this setting that I love -- a setting that made SF adventuring in a single solar system interesting -- was only ever played in the Interlock ruleset of Mekton and Cyberpunk.
Here's a detailed review, with some behind-the-scenes stories and insights, on this fabulous setting.
Links to the core products, available on RPGNow: