Wednesday 13 January 2021

Farewell, Osprey Publishing

Some people, places, and institutions have so much meaning that capturing them with words seems almost impossible. Such is Osprey Publishing to me. For over a decade, and excepting only my wife, Osprey stood as the most important constant in my life. At a time when I had left my country, my family, and my friends behind, Osprey provided employment, purpose, and community. For many years, it felt like a second home, a place where I was completely comfortable and accepted. It provided opportunities I never could have imagined and helped usher me into my next phase of life.

As 2020 came to a close, I bid goodbye to this incredible publisher.

Now, before I go further, let me be clear – I still plan to have a close relationship with Osprey Games. There is more Frostgrave and Oathmark still to come. Later this year, they will publish Stargrave and The Silver Bayonet. I hope and expect for them to publish these games for a long time to come and am in constant conversation about how to make these games better.

But, after over 14 years, my time as a salaried employee has come to an end. This was completely my decision and was not the result of any ill will toward the company. I just felt it was time for me to move on and take on some new challenges. I wanted more creative freedom, a chance to completely map my own road as a writer and game designer.

Knowing it is time though, hasn’t made it easy. During this period of heightened stress, I have had days (and sleepless nights) where I have questioned the sanity of leaving a steady job. I have also struggled with letting go of something that has been so much a part of my life. I have so many incredible memories of my time with the company, and I suspect I’ll write a lot more about it over the coming years. For now, here are a few memories that lept to mind:

         -       Having lunch with a pair of ex-SAS soldiers, both of whom played important roles in the Iranian Embassy Siege.

-       Snowball fights on the lawn in front of the office.

-       Digging through the mess in the ‘Marketing Cupboard,’ which was like digging through the history of the company.

-       Walking alone through the back rooms of the National Army Museum.

-       Seeing Phil Smith laugh so hard he turned purple.

-       Watching Peter Dennis paint on our stand at Salute.

-       Getting to play Black Powder with Rick Priestly in John Stallard’s game room before the game was released!

-       Leading the Osprey Games office in a spontaneous rendition of ‘Lord of the Dance’.

-       Filming a zombie video…

-       Old West wargaming with Henry Hyde in the Gettysburg meeting room.

-       GenCon with Christian, Phil, Duncan, and Brent.

-       Shouting matches amongst the Marketing Department in the middle of the office.

-       The ‘Coca-Cola Time’ dance.

    Sitting in a hotel room, during Adepticon, signing 500 copies of Frostgrave, eating a burger, getting high on marker fumes, watching UNC play in the Final Four.

-       Watching Phil get stopped by German police… (for jay-walking!)

-       The announcement that Osprey’s best-selling book of the year was Frostgrave.

-       Every Christmas party.

These were all moments, but really, my biggest memory is a general feeling of warmth, camaraderie, laughter, and a love of the books.

I hope that those I leave behind carry on Osprey’s traditions of great books, but also its tradition of being a wonderful place to work.


  1. Leaving a steady, enjoyable job can seem like madness, but it's why fledglings get shoved out of the nest...

  2. Best of luck on the future road! A big step to take. Looking forward to still getting pretty much all your books.

  3. The Perry brothers left GW, and they’re doing fine. It simply time to have more time to focus on your great projects and ideas. It will help you balance home and work.

  4. Good luck on this grand adventure. The community stands with you.

  5. Best of luck. We look forward to accompanying you on your new journey.

  6. Joe - you've shown such enterprise and imagination with all your games, and taken hundreds of followers along with you, so I'm certain you'll make a success of whatever you now turn your hand (and mind) to. Good luck.

  7. May the winds be fair to your ship!
    Keep enjoying us with your dreams!

  8. As someone much wiser than I can hope to be said “ the bottom rung of the ladder is broad and safe but it was not where we were meant to stay...” or words to that effect..
    Wishing you good luck and you are far from alone in this great journey!

  9. Good luck. It’s a big step but when it’s time, it’s time.

  10. Sounds like a book in itself 😀 good luck

  11. Good luck! Looking forward to your future endeavours!

  12. All the best with the new direction.

  13. What a sweet tribute to a place of employment! Good luck CHUMP Joe!!!!!

  14. “Victory favors the bold!” You’ve got a huge number of fans, colleagues and friends in the gaming community who are behind you and your work!

  15. Yikes! The title gave me a mild panic attack. At first, I thought that Osprey was going out of business :O It is great to hear the Osprey is still there and that you are continuing with your Osprey projects. All the best with your work going forwards, and thank you for everything that you've done thus far.

  16. What a great write up. End of an era. I didn't realise until recently but I'll have a lot of books that you were involved with in some capacity. Congratulations and full support and cheers for the future.

  17. Look forward to what you are doing next.

    Side note: The link to The Silver Bayonet goes to Stargrave.

  18. Based on what you said about mid-2020, it doesn't surprise me that you want to take a step back. With Stargrave, you have 3 versions of Frostgrave and also Oathmark. The publisher probably expects a certain number of books for each system a year. Most other game systems have a team to work on their games. You're one an with that workload.

    My biggest question is about proprietary. I assume Ospery continues to own the -grave games and Oathmark and probably has a non-competition clause with you making anymore -grave games as an independent publisher. What will happen with "Spellcaster" Magazine? Will there still be new material for the other games? Who will write them?

    1. Osprey owns Oathmark, but not the grave games. Those are owned by me, but licensed to Osprey. I will continue to write them on a freelance basis to be published by Osprey. I will continue to produce Spellcaster as and when.