Sunday, December 29, 2013

OSR Entry 2013-02: Jovian Chronicles

The Jovian Chronicles RPG is one that combines the 'space mecha as weapons in a war' genre (from anime and manga popularized by the first trio of Gundam anime series and shows like AT Votoms) and a kind of accelerated hard science fiction future.

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:


  1. Very cool! Thanks for covering two different games for the Roundup! I'll admit that the sci fi RPGs kind of passed me by during the 90s, but years later, I've found myself interested in both the cyberpunk and mecha genres. Thanks for telling me more about these classics! I plan to check 'em out, and maybe play in a cyberpunk game at a future con! Thanks for participating in the Roundup!

  2. I am not sure if I have the Mekton version any more, but I have many of the books for the DP9 version. I am a big fan of the artwork of G. Barbe so this book and Heavy Gear (and first edition Exalted) really hit a sweet spot for me. Never got to plan any of them though.

  3. +John Till, I only got a handful of stuff for the DP9 stuff, but I'm trying to collect the PDFs. I still have my green books, thankfully.

    +Tim Snider, here's hoping your find a cyberpunk game to your liking!

  4. The Jovian Chronicles setting really is fantastic. I have both the green Mekton book and the first DP9 book and it's just a ton of fun to read. Great to see it getting some attention.

  5. +fractalbat, I agree. I hope to run it (perhaps with the Interlock / Fuzion ruleset) in the coming year!

  6. I remember seeing some of the books for this game at The Source long ago. I never saw potted the main book, so I never picked it up. Looks like I missed-out on something cool.

  7. +garrisonjames, well, it's never too late! :)


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