a|state call for playtesters


The first edition of a|state was released in 2004 by Contested Ground Studios with writing by Malcolm Craig and art by Paul Bourne. It was widely praised for its setting and presentation and was a very ambitious game for a young Scottish studio. It became a cult hit, with players all over the world.

a|state invited players to The City – a sprawling, apparently endless, futuristic dystopia, where the repressive rich enjoy lives filled with technology and comfort, and the poor… do not. The game’s action centres around trying to eke out an existence in this bleak vision of an alternate world.

With influences from JG Ballard, Upton Sinclair, the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the movie Dark City, a|state presented a uniquely fascinating world to explore through play. 

Mire End, Dreamingspires, The Trench, Burningfell, Fogwarren, and Calculus Tor all provided unique and evocative locations for Ghostfighters and Lostfinders to discover.

Never entirely satisfied with the original game system, Malcolm moved on to create other games like Cold City and Hot War, which had rules truer to his design intentions. Pursuing an academic career, Malcolm decided to retire from the pressures of the RPG industry.

a|state slipped from view, but never from memory.

Fast forward to 2019 and a chance encounter at Tabletop Scotland. A discussion about using Forged in the Dark rules for a new edition of a|state made it a tantalising possibility. Could it be done?

It turns out that it could!

With Paul Bourne already working for Handiwork Games, and Malcolm prepared to lend a hand on this new edition, we’re delighted to also be joined by Gregor Hutton and Morgan Davie, both of whom have a long association with a|state, and many impressive gaming credits under their own belts.

You may know Gregor from the smash hits 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars or Best Friends. Morgan has also written some truly amazing games, which you can find at http://taleturn.com

Welcome back to The City

In the Second Edition of a|state you and your friends will define a corner of The City, and set about defending it and making it a better place to live. We’ve fine-tuned the Forged in the Dark rules to fit the themes and tone of a|state and The City.

And with a complete scenario laid out and illustrated, we’re now ready to start recruiting playtesters! We’re looking for some groups who are familiar with Forged in the Dark games, willing to give our play test scenario, Nicely, Done a go.

If you’d like to try it, please email us at jon@handiwork.games with the subject line “Playtesting a|state”

Find out more about a|state at: https://handiwork.games/games/astate