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Jovian Chronicles - Technology


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The exo-armors (short for exo-skeleton, armored) are the ultimate evolution of the personal combat space suit of the early twenty-first century. Originally no larger than a man, they increased in size until some of the biggest were nothing less than small ships. This was necessary in order to carry the enormous amount of fuel, armament, and electronics necessary to accomplish their assigned mission. Spacefighters remain in use, but their lack of maneuverability (compared to exo-armors) confines them to patrol, strike and fire-support roles.

A vehicle is called an exo-armor when its control system is a linear frame (see below). Exo-armors are usually classified in five categories: exo-suit, light, medium, heavy, and (the theorized) exo-ship.

The classification chart gives a general outline of the actual Jovian classification system. The CEGA does not have an official classification because they tend to reserve the use of exo-armor to officers.

Since the other nations of the solar system have only recently begun to use exo-armors, they normally adopt the Jovian classification.












The linear frame is the main control element of the exo-armor. It looks like an industrial exoskeleton and completely supports the pilot; it also reproduces his every movement. The exo-armor's onboard drive computer then interprets the motions and moves the armor's limbs accordingly, firing apogee motors as needed to compensate. This gives the exo-armor an uncanny maneuverability as well as a strangely human grace. Additionally, a trained pilot can actually use his body motions to shift the exo-armor's center of mass around and change the exo's position without expending propellant. Veteran pilots are thus often able to stay much longer in battle. All this gives the exo-armor a definite advantage over the classic spacefighter (which has to fire verniers whenever altering its course).

The frame also protects the pilot from shock and strong gee forces, reorienting itself in the cockpit as needed. Because of these particularities, some special training is required to operate an exo-armor.

Space flight is controlled via special joysticks located near the hand controls (see illustrations). Again, some training is necessary to fully control the armor, even if the computer can provide verbal and visual assistance. All relevant information (IFE targeting, velocity, etc) is displayed in the special virtual reality helmet worn by the pilot. The head and the main sensors are slaved to the motions of the helmet, adding to the "humanity" of the exo-armor.



A Typical Linear Frame




All space vehicles are powered by a compact reactor using a high-energy magnetic "bottle" to hold a micro-fusion reaction. These powerplants come in a variety of size, from the small engine of the scout exo-armors to the huge plasma drive of the biggest ship. The Jovian designs are the most advanced and efficient in existence; heavily shielded, they do not react as violently as do most other types of powerplants when their core is breached.

Exo-suits and small vehicles use a super-conductive battery instead of a fusion powerplant, as their size prevents the use of a normal reactor.

The main type of propulsion system in existence is the plasma drive. Using an inert gas or liquid as reaction mass (most often helium), it enables the ships and other space vehicles to achieve great acceleration for extended periods, reducing the travel time between planets to mere weeks and, sometimes, mere days.

Smaller vehicles, like spacefighters and exo-armors, also use ion thrusters, where an intense electrical arc ionizes and expels reaction mass at high speed to produce acceleration.

In atmosphere, the flight system of the exo-armors are sufficient to lift and enable them to fly for short periods of time. Unfortunately, this places great strain on the thruster array, so most pilots only use their thrusters as jump jets to allow them to cool down periodically.

Contrary to what most people believe, space is not an empty void. Micro-meteors, dust and solar radiations cause a slow degradation of all space constructs. The problem was lessened by the development of the magnetic screen (see below). but small vehicles and space ships must still be protected from these elements.

Armor is generally made from a special polymer-ceramite composite with good heat conduction and limited flexibility. Sometimes, a special mesh of artificial diamond fibers is added for extra strength and durability, although this increases the cost of the material.

Exo-armors rely on either hydraulic jacks or high-strength myomar fibers to move their limbs around. The smaller exo-suits almost never use hydraulics, as myomars are easier to adapt to the human form and contours.

Some experiments have been made in combining the two in one system for added power, but the dissimilar ranges of motion of each method are causing more problems than actual benefits.

Acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, the laser has been widely used since its development both as a tool and as a weapon. Many exo-armors are equipped to use at least one type of laser cannon because of its unlimited shot supply and great accuracy.

Unfortunately, the weapon also has two major flaws: all of the beam's energy is concentrated in one small spot, and the energy conversion factor is rather low. This means that unless the gunner is a marksman, the shot won't do much collateral damage i.e. only the section hit will be damaged. This limits the usefulness of the laser to anti-missile and light assault work.

Lasers are beam weapons, usually causing less than 3K in a single attack. Continuous-firing lasers (or "strafing" lasers) often use a Burst Value to simulate their near-constant fire.

These weapons cause damage by kinetic energy (movement). They are divided in two classes the railgun and the massdriver. A railgun uses a single projectile and accelerates it via twin rails supplying the necessary current along the length of the barrel. Massdrivers use the same principle, but instead of a single projectile using the rails' current to accelerate, they employ a series of magnetic rings to fire a hail of smaller shells Each impact causes less damage, but the attack is spread over the whole of the target instead of just a spot. It also allows a greater rate of fire

Both can use various special effect ammunition, like shaped armor-piercing crystals or even explosive grenades.

Railguns are single shot cannons while mass-drivers are guns with a Burst Value.

The particle cannon (also known as beam cannon) is a magnetic accelerator designed to shoot ions instead of a solid slug. They cause damage through a combination of kinetic energy, heat, and electrical charge. More powerful than lasers, they also cause a lot of collateral damage by frying and burning electronic circuitry in the target.

Although a very efficient weapon, the particle cannon is one of the most expensive weapons in existence, in addition to being an energy hog.

Beam weapons causing 4 Kills or more in an attacks are often particle cannons.

Missiles are self-propelled, self-guided projectiles. Using sophisticated guidance computers and laser targeting technology, the missile is one of the most deadly weapons available to an exo-armor.

Various types of warheads are used, from the simple shaped explosive to the low-yield tactical nuclear charge (although the latter is rather rare and expensive). There are no set standards: some designs call for a few accurate and powerful missiles, while others use dozens of small unguided rockets.

Missiles are used as per normal Mekton rules. It is possible to shoot them down with a projectile weapon or missile(s) instead of pawing or using a laser-based AM system. This costs a defensive action; the defender must make a weapon attack roll with a WA penalty of -3. For each point above the attacker's roll, projectile weapons destroy one missile up to their BV (no matter how many Kills they cause per hit), while missiles destroy one enemy missile per point above the attacker's roll. up to (half of total damage of the defensive missiles, rounded down).

A recent development in the arms race IS the Plasma Lance. The resurgence of hand-to-hand combat prompted the Jovian designers to upgrade the capacities of the JAF's exo-armors, who previously had to defend themselves against better equipped opponents like the CEGA's Syreen.

The Lance is a compressed-gas cylinder with an ionizer ejector system at one end. When held by a specially designed hand, a direct current from the exo-armor's main fusion reactor is transmitted to the ejector and transforms the gas into a giant plasma flame. The overall device looks like a sword made of light and is very effective against armored opponents. Unfortunately, the small gas supply limits the usefulness of the weapon and the exo-armor must often carry several lances.

Up until the twentieth century, human warfare had an up-close-and-personal outlook. The lack of reliable ranged weaponry limited the fighting distance to less than 200 meters, and even then the various projectiles couldn't do much harm.

The development of the radar and the improvement of the existing weapons pushed back this distance, and soon the soldiers didn't even have to see their opponent to utterly destroy him.

Unfortunately, armor refinement did not follow the same curve as weapon efficiency. Soon, there was no way to create an armor plating capable of stopping modern weaponry while at the same time being light enough to be carried by a fighting vehicle.

A new approach was needed, and soon the stealth principle was the norm. After all, you cannot hit what you cannot detect.

Each modern fighting vehicle, be it a tank, a spacecraft or an exo-suit, carries a host of defensive electronic modules. Some break up the radar signature, others interfere with the opponent's targeting equipment, etc. These modules are built-in, and no vehicle would be designed without them.

As a result, combat is once again short-ranged: weapons that could hit an unprotected target thousands of kilometers ahead now have to be used almost at visual range.

The electronic warfare is a convenient excuse for having giant robots slug it out in hand-to-hand combat without the usual flimsy reasons of lost technology, mysterious particles or a weird sense of honor. But we promise we won't tell if you don't.

This ECM system has no game effect in itself. If the mecha designer wants to build a specific electronic warfare mecha, he should then buy the ECM system.

Data-processing machines have evolved the most of all technologies. Once simple calculators, they are now capable of limited intelligence and problem solving. While calling them "sentient" would be exaggerating, modern computers can often sound very human on the comm system (although they don't have much imagination and have no sense of humor whatsoever). Relying extensively on superconductive neural nets and complex expert system programs, they are used as crewmembers on spaceships and as copilots in fighters and exo-armors.

All space vehicles are assumed to have an Al computer to figure out trajectories and burn time, freeing the pilot to perform more important tasks (like fighting and arguing with his opponents). They have no effect on game play, but can spice up role-playing:

"The present course of action will lead to the destruction of this unit in 32.356 seconds. A course correction is advisable. "

Again, this Artificial Intelligence has no real game effect. If the mecha designer wants the computer to be able to handle the actual piloting and gunnery, he should buy an Automation system.


The space industry movement of the early twenty-first century and the colonization boom that followed wouldn't have been possible without the development of the fusion engine and the plasma drive. Using water (and, later, helium) as a reaction mass, a ship could lift off from Earth and accelerate for lengthy periods of time without needing to refuel.

Soon, drone tugs made of lunar ores were sent to the Trojan asteroid groups (see below) to bring back the much-needed raw materials for the space colonies and the various ships. They usually operated in pair. one in the rear of the rock for propulsion and one in front for breaking. Upon arrival in Earth's orbit, other drones separated them from the rock and refueled them for another trip.

The supplies from the Moon, added to these asteroids', were used to first build wheel-type stations, then, later, the larger O'Neil Cylinders

In the late eighteenth century, French physicist Joseph Louis Lagrange discovered something quite interesting while studying three-body systems. The problem was simple: calculating the gravitational influence of two masses, like the Earth and the Moon, on a third body in their vicinity. He found that at certain points, the gravitational forces of the two bodies were equal (but did not necessarily cancel each other out), creating "stable" points in space. These points actually orbit their calculated positions because of the influence of the Sun and the other bodies in the solar system.

The first three Lagrange points are located on the axis linking the two main bodies. The first, L1, is located between the two bodies; it is the only point where the gravity of the two masses cancel each other. The second point is behind the larger body while the third is behind the smaller. All three points are relatively unstable: any perturbation of the satellite along the axis would cause it to gradually fall towards one of the bodies.

The other two points, L4 and L5, are on the orbit of the smaller body at 60 degrees on either side of the axis. These are extremely stable points, as demonstrated by the clusters of asteroids found there. In fact, the latter, called Trojan Asteroids, were used as on-site material for the construction of the Earth system's cylinders.

Most of the colonies in existence are O'Neil-type cylinders, with the exception of the Jovian colonies, which had to be built on the closed Gray Vivarium model because of the increased radiation levels. They are huge cylinders varying between 25 and 40 km in length, usually with thrusters and zero-gee docking bays at both end. Each is being home to up to 20 million people.

Gravity is simulated by rotation along the axis of the cylinder. O'Neil colonies have the same number of ground panels alternating with clear panels to let the sunlight inside using giant reflectors to direct it; Gray Vivariums use a special "sunline" running the axis of the cylinder for light, since the whole station is thickly covered by rocks for protection against radiation and meteors.




L5-6 "Oscar"

"Oscar" is typical of the colony cylinders found in the Earth system. This particular station is the sixth of the L5 group, as indicated by its identification code.









"Alexandria II"

This is a typical Jovian colony. The Jovian cylinders are always of the closed "Gray Vivarium" type because of the strong radiation fields of Jupiter.






Early space vessels relied on sensors and heavily shielded "storm room" to protect the crew against solar flares and other cosmic radiations. The problem became more acute while setting up the mining colonies in Jupiter's orbit: the radiation belts forced the construction of specially armored stations, very costly and not all that safe.

With the space emigration boom, a solution was found: why not equip each station and vessel with magnetic shield generator similar in effect to the field surrounding Earth? Power was plentiful, and the new equipment stopped almost all harmful radiations. It even had two side bonuses; it stopped the smallest space debris (which could damage a spaceship) and, more importantly, it reduced the effectiveness of the weapons used against the vessel.

The screen system is free and do not actually affect the game. They exist solely to explain why humans can live near a dangerous radiation belt and not start glowing after a few minutes. They also help explaining why a multi-megawatt laser or a hyper-velocity slug does not vaporize an exo-armor on the spot. Future technical refinements, however, may make the reactive field possible...


Space ships of the twenty-third century are very different from the practical designs used in the early age of space exploration. Instead of just being a support frame for habitat modules, fuel tanks and engines, modern vessels sport a thick ablative skin and a massive architecture designed to stand erosion and lengthy acceleration.

Each ship relies on powerful fusion thrusters (called plasma drives) to accelerate at a rate of 1 gee (the normal acceleration at the surface of the Earth) for half the voyage, then turn around and decelerate at the same rate for the rest of the trip. Except for a short weightlessness period midway through the trip, the passengers feel a normal gravity during the transfer, much to the relief of some weak-stomached travelers. When the ship is in acceleration, "up" is toward the nose and "down" toward the engines. The internal organization of a ship is thus very similar to a skyscraper, with decks stacked on top of each other instead of following the length of the hull like a plane or a boat. Because of the occasional periods of zero-gee, the furniture has small Velcro straps to tie down free-floating objects.

Ships are generally not equipped to descend on the surface of a planet. Aside from being non-aerodynamic, they are much too heavy to land on anything bigger than an asteroid. The exceptions to this is the Moon, were small ships routinely land to transport cargo. To boost them back in orbit, a special system called Laser Lifter uses a high intensity laser beam to heat special solid boosters mounted under the ship and thus propel it back into orbit.

The bridge of a modern spaceship has a rather peculiar design. It consists of an enormous half-sphere covered with high-definition monitors (much like a state-of-the-art planetarium), with the operator and crew stations attached to pivoting mounts much like a 6-cockpit. Each station is equipped with individual monitors and controls configurable both for the job and to the operator's taste.




Typical Bridge Operator's Station




War tends to cause great advances in the medical field out of the need to get trained personnel back to health in the shortest possible time, and keep them that way. Medicine in the twenty-third century uses limited genetic engineering to create custom drugs and viruses designed to specifically treat an illness. It is customary for an individual to be gene-mapped at birth to check for any possible disease. This map is often saved for future references in designing a suitable cure, and is considered copyrighted by the person.

Limited accelerated cellular regeneration is possible and often used to regrow missing limbs and organs. It is not a routine procedure, however, and places severe stress an the body of the patient. Nanites (microscopic robots) and various custom-designed viruses are used; with the patient is immobilized for the duration of the treatment.

Human cloning is possible, in fact attempts were made as early as 2027. Using cells from one or several donors, zygotes were prepared and placed within an artificial womb. Although it was a success medically, the "bottled humans" (as they were called by the press of the time) were mentally unstable and most committed suicide in their teens. A popular hypothesis states that the lack of human contact during their growth in the womb is responsible for the long-term failure of the experiment. Whatever the actual cause, cloning is frowned upon by most people and is an almost forgotten corner of medicine. It is illegal to clone someone without his or her consent.


The technology of the twenty-third century is less advanced than most people would expect. There are no teleporters, no faster-than-light drives and most common technological items used would be recognized by a twentieth century human.

Almost all the personal items described in the various Mekton books can be used in a Jovian Chronicles campaign. They are not listed here because of a lack of space.


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