In our second blog for Pressure: Industrial Science Fiction Roleplaying, author Jonathan Hicks dives into the worldbuilding behind this dark vision of the future...

Behind the original concept of Those Dark Places was a setting that was only hinted at, with a wasted Earth barely hanging on to life and the companies sending ships out into the dark to find resources to keep the solar system going.

Now you get that setting in full. Not only is there a timeline going back decades, detailing the rise of the corporations and the expansion of the human race across the stars, but you also get a detailed description of Earth and the state it is in, how people live and work there (there’s a list of careers and costs so you can base entire campaigns in a HyperCity if you wish), the stations that orbit the planet, and the planets beyond. With breakdowns of the big companies and the people that run them, and a comprehensive history of humanity up until the setting’s current year of 2345 AD, there’s plenty of inspiration and material to give GMs plenty of ideas as well as give the universe a real depth.

Instead of being crammed into a tin can in the depths of the galaxy with just seven crew positions to choose from, players can now create whatever kind of character they want. While the focus of the game is the military SOS teams, if you can imagine a character you can create it. With a new skill list to peruse as well as the chance to create new skills to suit their character concept, the party can be as multi-skilled and diverse as you want them to be. Soldier? No problem. Mechanic? Of course. Chef? Absolutely. The only thing that holds you back is yourself – go nuts!

An illustration of an armed man and a woman peeking round a corner while a futuristic guard approaches on patrol

Once the players have decided on the team, they then have the chance to travel the explored galaxy. They can mortgage a starship, earn their passage, or go old-school and join a starship crew and go where they’re sent, just as they did in Those Dark Places.

There’s also plenty of guidelines to help flesh out a PC, with 24 questions you can ask to give the character more depth and motivation. What made them the way they are? Why are they doing what they do? It’s a role-playing game, after all, and a good role requires a layered character.

All of this creates a PC that will be able to face the dark, unforgiving future. GMs will be able to create interesting situations in a variety of locations and how the players react to it will depend on the personality of their PC, which will create excellent roleplaying opportunities in a galaxy of danger.

An illustration of a wrecked spaceship floating in space surrounded by debris

And what are these dangers? The threats that actually exist are the corporations – Cambridge-Wallace, Wayne/Tanaka, HedgeLundis and Hudson Automatons to name a few – the corrupt government of the State, the criminal underworld known as ‘The Rug’, and the terrorist group ‘The Children of the Cradle’, whose motivations and activities are detailed. With rogue AIs, monsters imagined and real, genetic abominations, ghosts, and things in the shadows… there’s plenty to keep the PCs busy.

Keep your Militaris MIL-69 10mm single-shot coil rifle with the 40-round drum handy. And slap on that BallCom Mk II Body Armour, just to be sure.

Pressure is out 30th November in the UK and 9th January in the US.

Pre-order now.

And next Wednesday we have our last blog, about the game's mechanics!

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