Thursday 30 November 2023

PRESSURE from Osprey Games released


After six months of deciding what I wanted to do with a sequel, a year testing and writing it and a few months of tweaking and polishing, 'Pressure' is finally released on PDF worldwide, with the hardback in the UK on Nov 30th and in the US Jan 6th.

It's been a long journey from my initial concept of 'Those Dark Places' to now. So, here's a recap as to how this all came about...
I initially came up with the name in a short story collection I wrote literally titled 'Those Dark Places', and I self published the collection to gauge reaction to my work. It sold okay but it was the title that stuck out and I was determined to do something with it.
In 2009 I wrote a first draft of the game using a completely different system and I write it as a straight-forward horror sci-fi RPG (mainly inspired by 'Dead Space' on the PS3, which had just come out) with lots of nasty creatures and weird stuff. I put it out for playtest and got a luke-warm reaction to it; the system wasn't great and the game lacked focus.
I then started to write for fun, giving away my free SKETCH system and focusing on RPG essays, reviews and interviews. About six years ago I wrote 'To The Stars, Space Cadets!', a tongue-in-cheek pulp sci-fi action game using a single D6, a system I called ODDS (One Die Determines Success) and the genesis of what would become the CASE System of Those Dark Places.
The response to 'To The Stars, Space Cadets!' was pretty good and I decided to try and make something of it. I revisited 'Those Dark Places' and realised that while the premise was solid, the game needed a bit of trimming down and the players needed something to actually *do*.
So I defaulted to what I love about science fiction movies and the kind of things I like to see. 'Alien', 'Outland', 'Silent Running', all these movies about being stuck out in the middle of nowhere with the odds against you, just surviving. That's what I wanted and, after deciding on the seven roles for players as crew members of a starship (yes, I did that to reflect the seven crewmembers of the 'Nostromo', sans cat) I had my setup. I then started writing, and twenty thousand words later I felt I had a game.

It was then that I discovered that Osprey Games were looking to break out into the tabletop roleplaying market so I figured I'd try my luck. At this point I'd already dipped into the TTRPG designer pool with work for the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG - with some success - so I took the plunge. Osprey Games read my pitch, met up with me at the UK Games Expo for a coffee, and after a few days of back and forth, 'Those Dark Places' was given the green light.
It was released November 2020 and it was well recieved - it was turning up a lot on game streams, players were enjoying both the premise and the simple rules which were perfect for online play, and the amazing artwork by Nathan J Anderson really sold the idea and the game. The response to the quirky interview-style of the writing was really good and I felt I'd really managed to capture the kind of game I wanted to play and, thankfully, other people wanted to play it, too.
Over the next two years I'd write four adventures which I published myself through my Farsight Games label, and I'd take part in a few online games myself. The game didn't just fade away after a few months but stuck around, so quite soon after I started to wonder what else I could do with the game, how I could expand on it. I had kept the setting vague so that groups could interpret it how they wanted, and the system design was designed for short campaigns or one-shots. So, of course, I wanted to expand on both the setting and rules.
'Pressure' was conceived as a full rulebook and campaign setting, and I took a bit of everything that I love about dark 1970s/1980s science fiction everything in between, even a bit of cyberpunk. I wanted the game to have a different focus, something that put the players a little more in control of the situations they found themselves in so there's a little more of an adventure feel to it with a military theme, but I also wanted to retain the dark, grim feel of the original game so kept that in for groups who wanted more options but also wanted to hang on to the darkness. In short, I opened the game up to be played however people wanted to play it, across a huge setting covering Earth, the Solar System and the explored stars.

So, there's no longer seven crew positions to choose from; a skill system enables PCs to be more focused and gives them a chance to improve over time so the game can be played as a campaign, players can create literally any kind of character they wish, and the universe is open to explore as the players see fit.
But the darkness is still there. The danger and the shadows and the unexpected is still prevalent. 'Pressure' has taken it's predecessor and opened it up to allow gaming groups to go nuts.
Osprey Games had a hand in the focus of the game as we had to come up with a sequel that shone on it's own and was more than just an expanded version of the original book, but I knew I wanted to do something familiar yet different. I also knew that I wanted Nathan J Anderson back on board as artist, as his work had given life to my universe, so when it was confirmed he was in then I threw myself into the book.
And now, after a few months of editing, adjusting and pressure of my own, the book is here. It's out. It's landing in the hands of players and gamers without who I would never have got this far and to who I owe a huge debt of gratitude for playing, enjoying, and talking about the game, keeping it alive these last three years to enable me to write a sequel. For that I can't thank you enough, and I hope beyond hope that I've written a satisfactory follow-up.
And that's the story as to how I got here. This is why 'Pressure' exists, and this is how long I've had this vision in my head for this TTRPG. It's been 14 years since I first visualised the game and now here we are.
I hope you enjoy it. I hope you get years of fun out of it. But, mainly, I hope you realise how grateful I am to you for supporting the game and the setting all this time. I can never, ever thank you enough.
- Jon

Sunday 26 November 2023



When the Stellar War broke out the Moon became a primary prize for all sides and they fought savagely over its resources and tactical advantage over Earth. The Moon-born citizens – Lunarites – either dug deeper or fled, and by the end of the war it was almost totally abandoned, and stayed that way for years.

With an uneasy truce between the nations of the settled stars, the Moon has once again become of huge interest. The Luna surface is dotted with settlements but underneath the surface... what treasures await the cunning explorer, the brave adventurer or the curious scholar?

This 2-page sourcebook gives some background of the Moon's struggles and introduces Luna Delving, exploring deep into the caverns and tunnels of the Moon using a random table. Delving started as a trend but now it is a full-fledged enterprise, with Delvers sponsored by parties of all nations. Regardless of the stories of rogue warbots, genetic monsters, rabid Lunarites and religious cults born from decades in the dark, thousands travel to the Moon for fame, glory and riches.

This business is facilitated by Moonbase Jericho, the first Luna settlement and the main port of call where many of the delves strike out from. This is where your adventure begins...


Saturday 25 November 2023



Working for ECHOES is about exploration. It’s about travelling the galaxy, from one end to the other, and seeing the sights. Oh, and trying to figure out why the human race is the only species left out of hundreds of long-dead alien civilisations.

This 4-page sourcebook is about the mysteries of space. The alien races that have died out and disappeared are not just confined to planets – drifting starships and generation vessels, space stations, colonised moons and asteroids. Vast spaceships hidden in nebulae, rotting undiscovered for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Cities, over and underground, in various states of decay. Some places look like they fell into despair generations ago and are but dust, whereas others look as though they were built only yesterday. The dead races are vast and varied.

We can’t bring them back, but we can use what they left behind. The main problem is that there are differing ideas between governments, corporations and individuals of influence on how the tech should be utilised. ECHOES exists to try and divide the discoveries between everyone equally so that all humanity benefits from new discoveries.


Wednesday 22 November 2023



With a total of 12 star systems in it’s regime, three of which have habitable worlds and are within three light years of each other, the Conglomerate is a large sector of space in which a grand experiment was conducted and inevitably failed.

Once a beacon of cultural and spiritual peace, the Conglomerate was created as a slice of the stars where people who tired of the constant struggle between the other nations could escape to, to live a life of enrichment in a utopia where each person would contribute their worth and their work so that all could benefit.

Within 10 years, a ruling class had emerged and took the reigns of power...

DEEP SPACE SOURCEBOOK #1 - THE CONGLOMERATE is a 2-page book providing information and stats for the totalitarian nation of the Conglomerate including key persons, military forces, starships, and the star systems to be explored... or conquered.


Sunday 19 November 2023



The Battlecruiser Carmichael has ended up within the borders of the Conglomerate after a navigational error.

The Conglomerate – a totalitarian regime with a brutal and oppressive rule – has seized the starship, ransomed the crew back and are in the final stages of stripping the ship bare. However, one of the ransomed crew, Agent Solen of Military Intelligence, has reported that they have vital intel hidden on the Battlecruiser that may avert a war.

In this 2-page adventure, the Explorers are tasked with getting on the Carmichael and retrieving the data.


With huge thanks to 'The Boys from the Baltic Star' Twitch stream for letting me put them through this adventure and their ongoing support!

Monday 30 October 2023

OUT NOW! INVASION - 2 Combat Missions for FIRETEAM


SITREP – Over the last week, forces of the Gene League Separatists have crossed the border and landed an occupation force. Local forces and orbital defences were overwhelmed in a matter of hours and the GLS have quickly overrun all locations and burned the capital city to the ground, forcing refugees into the mountains. How they managed to cross the border undetected by several listening posts and get past the defences of a heavily guarded world is still under investigation.

At this time, the Second and Fourth Fleets are moving to engage the enemy and land a liberation force. They will be joined by the full might of the Combine Navy in this sector in six days, once the fleets are mobilised.

Why the GLS have chosen now to to attack Newgrave is of great concern; they are either desperate for resources – which seems the most likely, considering that the worlds of the GLS are not rich – or this is the first move in a much larger operation.

Two Operations for 'FIRETEAM - Rules Light Military Science Fiction Roleplaying Game', includes:

- New weapons; Combat shotgun, Explosives, Rocket launcher, Mortar, Smoke grenade and Sniper rifle.

- New equipment; The LOIS (Low Orbit Insertion Suit), TORTOISE armour, Silencer and Jumping Jacks! 

- 5 new specialist roles; Sniper, Covert, Sapper, Fire Support and Observer.

- Optional High4 rules for faster action!

- Rules for War-mechs, inclduing two example war machines to get you started! 

We have a one-way ticket to sh*tsville and you’re in first class. Suit up and get to briefing stat. Don’t stand there staring at me, move move move!

Wednesday 18 October 2023




A great gathering is expected at an interstellar peace conference in the Barnard System, where dozens of starships from dozens of nations and independent worlds are going to gather to discuss their not-so-steady relations.

Into this conference comes Samantha Bridger, an outspoken political commentator with no particular allegiance other than to the future of humanity, and she has a single aim. She wants to announce what she thinks is the only thing that can save the human race; for all nations to combine under one banner and become the First Terran Empire.

But she is not offering an ideal. She says she has seen the future and this will happen. Behind her is an almost cult-like following – including people in high levels of politics, business and society – and her popularity and influence grows every day as some see her as a prophet, here to help humanity take their first steps into the future under her family’s benevolent rule.

Of course, not one single nation wants to see this happen and there is a rumour that her life will be at risk if she attends the conference...




Byron Hendoo has lost his heart to the woman of his dreams. Literally.

During a mission on the water world of Kilo-Charlie-Foxtrot, interplanetary spy Byron Hendoo saved the life of and fell in love with Holly Bane, who he then decided to leave the service for. Then, one night, she stole his heart straight out of his chest.

Byron is a CyberSpy, an elite undercover operative with several cybernetic modifications to make him both a ghost and a killer. Recently he put out a distress call to his handler; his cybernetic heart has been taken and along with it several years of data regarding his operations as the false heart is also a databank. His backup pump is barely keeping him alive and he cannot operate, so he needs a team to intercept Holly Bane before she can get off-planet.

With nobody else available on this wet planet, the handler has passed the job on to the Explorers. Grab Holly Bane and retrieve the CyberSpy’s heart!

Tuesday 10 October 2023


1938 – as the world careers into the horrors of what will become World War II it seems that the darkness is already here...


Playing as characters with an inquisitive nature – detectives, journalists, scholars, or just average folk with an itch they just need to scratch – and who have experienced the horrors that await the human race in the dark, the players will come across creatures once thought of as folk tales and myths, monsters that defy description and eldritch creatures from outside of time and space that have come to earth, attracted to the sweet scent of life and intelligence. Abominations that have existed throughout human history, and have a secret, hidden mythos within the old dusty pages of ancient books that should not be read.

The role of the players is to create characters that have found themselves on the front lines of this secret conflict against the monsters from the stars. Perhaps they’re a reporter who pulled on the wrong thread and found themselves knee deep in black magic and cultists, or maybe they’re a detective with a strange case that they can’t quite explain but feel the need to follow to the grisly end. Maybe they’re just an average citizen who witnessed something that they need to know more about, even if everyone around them thinks they’ve already gone mad.

Whatever the reason they’re in this, each PC should be unique with a good spread of skills because they’ll be doing two things in this game; hunting for clues and getting into fights. It’s H. P. Lovecraft if he wrote detective dime novels in the 1930s, or if Philip Marlowe ended up getting involved with the Mythos; there’s a good dollop of cosmic horror but it’s underpinned by the danger of the streets and the stories only the big city can tell.

Some artwork © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Those Dark Places adventures - available from DrivethruRPG

Those Dark Places has four official adventures - or 'Reports' - available now from Farsight Games.

Explore an empty ship, solve a missing persons case, fight against the odds or survive a lethal space station...

The Ana-Sin-Emid Report

'About an hour ago the Deep Space Transport Vessel Ana-Sin-Emid dropped out of FTL and has been steadily coasting to the outer marker. There has been no communication from the vessel or any responses to hails and the staging nature of the deceleration has the signs of being automated.

The Deep Space Reconnaissance Vessel Grahams is on dock C. Be ready to launch within the hour. Get on board the Ana-Sin-Emid, get to the bridge and report back to us. The outer marker is an AU out so it should only take you a day to get there. We’ll have a fully-equipped support ship loaded and ready to follow in about 12 hours, but you’re our first response to help and, if possible, lay a salvage claim.’​

The AMC-222 Report

This is a good one.

Asteroid Mining Catch 222 in the Peller System has sent out an emergency request for assistance. They have two members of staff deceased, probably murdered, and another member missing. After the station started a new mining shaft two workers were found mutilated in the mine and there appears to be foul play in the disappearance of the third. I’ve attached what we know to this message but these deep space mining facilities don’t have the best hypercom transmitters so the data package was quite small. Anyway, there should be enough information to give you an idea of what’s going on.​

The Gamma-Sigma 12 Report

Well, this doesn’t sound good. Listen to this message we received.

“Is anyone out there? This is Resource Station Gamma-Sigma 12, we are under attack from a life form…
Our escape ships have launched only half-filled – cowards! - and there are no vessels left here to get us off the station – there are about twenty of us here and we’re scattered all over, requesting…
(static, crashing sounds, an inhuman screech)
Ben! Ben, they’re through! Get the gun! Patricia, take this and get ready! They’re through!
Just shoot! Fire! Fire!
(gunshots, screeching, a cry of pain)
Dan, no! Keep firing! Keep…
(static, transmission ends)”

The nearest warship is two weeks out – you’re six days away on your route. We’re sending you as an advance team to get on board and secure and extract civilians before the big guns show up because Resource Station Gamma-Sigma 12 sent that mayday on every channel available, unencrypted, to make sure someone heard. That means any other company or private enterprise could be on their way there right now to claim the station and take the Calium-3 for themselves. So time is of the absolute essence.

Review the information included, including the station layout and statistics. We don’t know the condition of the station, who is there or what the threat is so go in hot...

... and expect trouble.

The ED-WARD Report

Look, we’ve got a weird one here and the DSSV Right Stuff is the only ship in the vicinity that can get there in a decent amount of time. There’s a research station called Greylight in the Eta Vultura system orbiting a barren red planetoid doing all kinds of secret work for Cambridge-Wallace, and it’s gone dark.

Cambridge-Wallace are eager to have a salvage ship go and collect the station. They’ve neglected to give us full details of the mission. All they’re saying is that the station doesn’t communicate any more and they want it investigated, possibly salvaged, with all pods present and no questions asked.​