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!