Venture Carefully Into This Those Dark Places Review

Those Dark Places - Osprey Publishing - $25
9781472840936 5

Game title: Those Dark Places

Game description: Space is a hell of a thing but you need to be sure that this is what you want. Like, what you really want. The idea of space exploration to further the frontiers of mankind is noble, but let's not kid ourselves - it's really all about furthering the profit margins. There's money to be made and out there is the place to make it, but you hear all kinds of stories… equipment malfunctions, strange discoveries, crewmembers going insane... You'll be out there in the reaches, alone, for months or years, breathing recycled air and drinking recycled water, with nothing but a few feet of metal and shielding between you and certain death. Are you sure this is what you want?

Overall
3.8
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

What would you get if Alien and Dead Space were deeply in love, then decided to get Event Horizon in for a little extra action? You would get a very disturbing baby named Those Dark Places. Built upon a foundation of industrial science-fiction, Osprey Games’ latest RPG capitalizes on the fear of being alone, with no one for light years to call on for help. You’re just another line item in a corporate spreadsheet, and honestly, you’re not worth very much.

Pros

  • Perfectly captures the feel of industrial space horror
  • Simple rules don’t get in the way of the story

Cons

  • More narrative RPGs may not be for players who enjoy a crunchier experience

What would you get if Alien and Dead Space were deeply in love, then decided to get Event Horizon in for a little extra action? You would get a very disturbing baby named Those Dark Places. Built upon a foundation of industrial science-fiction, Osprey Games’ latest RPG capitalizes on the fear of being alone, with no one for light years to call on for help. You’re just another line item in a corporate spreadsheet, and honestly, you’re not worth very much.

What will you encounter in Those Dark Places in deep space? Will you survive? If you do, will your mind be able to accept what it’s been subject to? Hopefully, my Those Dark Places Review won’t cause you unneeded pressure.

Those Dark Places Live Play

I was lucky enough to attend a Live Play of Those Dark Places GM’d by the game’s designer, Johnathan Hicks, on Victory Condition Gaming’s YouTube channel. It gave me a great feel for the game and how simple it is to create a character and jump right into play. My character, Linux Vannevar, our crew’s Engineer, was created just 5 minutes before we went live.

TL:DR – I died

Those Dark Places Book

Those Dark Places is trim and concise 128 pages long, all single column. While it contains the rules for play, a majority of the book deals with the overall setting that the game takes place in. Written in a very conversational tone, almost as if the book itself was a corporate welcome document.

This makes it incredibly easy to read and understand and drives home the theme to boot. The entire book can be read in a short time, after which you’ll have an in-depth understanding of the game and the dark, cold places where it takes place.

Clear sections for the players and the GM outline each of the roles clearly. At the very end of the book, there’s an adventure-ready module that perfectly captures the tense and terrifying atmosphere that encapsulates Those Dark Places.

The Inner Workings of Those Dark Places

The game uses a basic set of stats for each player that represent their C.A.S.E. file.

  • Charisma
  • Agility
  • Strength
  • Education

Players assign the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 to whichever stats they want. They then pick a primary and secondary Crew Position. These provide a +2 and +1 bonus respectively to any check relevant to their field. For example, an Engineer may have and Education of 4 along with a bonus of +2 if they’re trying to repair a broken terminal.

Those Dark Places only requires each player to have 1d6, which is rolled when making a check. The player’s bonuses are added to that roll to determine if they ultimately succeed, succeed with a condition, or fail a check. In the above example the Engineer would add +6 to their roll to fix the broken terminal.

The Pressure system is another main rule players need to know. By adding their Strength and Education scores they’ll get their Pressure Bonus. This is a bonus added to rolls when the player sees or hears something that causes their mind an intense amount of pressure or stress. Rolling 9 or below means the pressures of deep space start to take their effect.

The entire system is wonderfully easy to grasp and allows for extremely narrative play. It keeps things interesting enough to be useful, yet light enough to not get in the way of what’s important, the story.

This Those Dark Places Review is Nothing to Fear

Over the past couple of years, I’ve become a huge fan of rules-light RPG systems, and Those Dark Places is an excellent example of one. While players who love a bit more crunch to their RPGs won’t find what they’re looking for here, fans of the tale will devour this book faster than an alien life form can devour a crew.

A PDF copy of Those Dark Places was provided free for review by Osprey Games

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