I had originally planned to get a rough draft of Jupiter Sovereign up for everyone to see over the three-day weekend, and that did not happen.
So, here's a brief update about the process.
Right now I'm working on something like a proof of concept version of the game. It won't be fully featured, but it will be mostly complete.
The method I'm going with for the game is to have a brief intro (done in this post), then a brief rules overview, then sort of a hybrid rules-setting section, because each major setting component has a reflection in the rules and vice versa ("as above, so below" to quote the Hermetics).
Right now the goal is to make enough to play a psion without introducing the Gigas as a core element of the game yet. To accomplish that I'm making rules for coming from any of the backgrounds and then going to alternate steps.
Psionics and Boosts
So I've already mentioned that the mechanics of Jupiter Sovereign utilize matched dice and straights of dice.
This provides a result in the form of two numbers: X (the size of the matches/straights) and Y (the number of the straights of size X or greater).
The idea here is to make it possible to adjust probability in two ways: requiring a large match or straight (X) and a certain number of the same (Y). If you set X to 2 and Y to 2, the average chance of this happening is possible even with three dice (roughly 10%; I'm relying on old-school guesstimation because I'm not sure the exact probability of this or even how to calculate it), but you don't see a good chance of this happening until there are more dice than X+Y combined.
There are some issues with this probability system, and I'm contemplating switching to just doubles instead of counting straights; this has the downside of making the probability a lot less generous (e.g. a 2x2 with 4 dice is actually really difficult, but it's also functionally the same as a 4x1 since you're asking for a particular die outcome; there's no reason to use this system except for complex actions that can be attempted over the course of multiple rolls).
With that said, there may actually be a redeeming factor to all the complexity, namely the fact that it's opaque to the end user means that people will behave in ways that lead them to accept the weirdness.
Anyway, the idea right now that I have is that characters will have a Boost pool that reflects their ability to utilize psionics. This will start at something relatively small (e.g. 4).
For one point expended from the Boost pool the player may choose to reroll an arbitrary number of dice from their pool, or boost the Y part of the equation (e.g. count as having one more match/straight than they actually made).
The idea that I'm leaning toward right now for characters is to use a conceptual system of tags, but allow them to be mixed and matched. Characters get ten "points" to spend, can choose freely from a buffet of options, but only each option no more than twice. So, for instance, a character might choose Proserpina x2 (at 2 points each); Aries (2 pts); Leo (2 pts); Psi x2. This could also be represented in the following symbols, giving us the dubious honor of having perhaps the most compact method of recording distinctive characters in tabletop roleplaying history.
To talk a little more at depth about how the system works, the idea behind it is as follows:
Characters are going to be built, ultimately, from five distinct types of elements:
• Origins, which indicate where the character has lived and trained (not necessarily strictly in a geographical sense; someone trained in Jovian-style academies on Mars might choose the Jovian origin).
• Signs, which reflect the domains of psionics that a character is adept in. Each of these inflects the ways that characters use their psi abilities (e.g. having the Leo sign reflects digestion, represented in mechanics by a lingering effect on psionic abilities). Characters are limited to two signs, and may only take each once.
• Boons, which have direct mechanical implications.
The character above is sort of an ultimate psion type at the expense of all else. Proserpina reflects pure psionic training in Zaman's forces, but also carries the stigma of being ostracized by the rest of humanity (gaining the character the beneficial tags psionics, psi-tech and extrasensory, but also the negative tag untrustworthy). Since this character chose it twice, they may use these tags twice. The Aries sign adds the beneficial tag fighter and adds the effect of calcination; when a character with the Aries sign uses a psionic boost with two or more points on a given action, they gain a free point of additional boost to that action. The Leo sign adds the beneficial tag survivor and adds the effect of digestion; when a character uses a psionic boost on an action they get a free one-point boost on their next action. Finally, the boon Psi grants two additonal Psi boost points.
As a result, the character would have the following tags and effects:
Psionics 2, Psi-Tech 2, Extrasensory 2, Fighter, Survivor, +1 Psi Boost after spending 2 points or more, +1 Psi Boost to next roll after using Boost. Psi Boost Pool 8/8.
It may be worth discouraging players taking the same origin more than once; perhaps forcing two separate origins would be a good idea.