2020 a Year in Review

What a year, eh? Jon here, with my look back at 2020 at Handiwork Games.

It is always useful to reflect on the year gone by, so here are my thoughts on what we’ve done in year two, 2020. (It’s sort of year two. More like 18 months but let’s call it year two for easy maths and a good story!)

The headline is (predictably) that while Covid has put plans on a slightly different footing than expected, we’re doing really well. 

Year one accounts came in and I was flabbergasted by our turnover. With my head firmly in projects at the time, I genuinely had no idea we’d done as well as we did in 2019, and that shook me into taking the accounts a bit more seriously! The day-to-day can be a procession of fires to put out and rocks to roll uphill. It’s easy to lose sight of just how much we’ve achieved as a team. 

Things we did in 2020:

Map tiles 2 Kickstarter. Map Tiles was an unexpected project we just tried out to see what would happen, thinking it might fund, and the two Kickstarters to date have raised about £40k, and Map Tiles have become “a thing”. They’re very popular on our web store: Dungeon tiles in particular have proved to be a really good seller. Shamefully they’re out of stock right now! We’ll need to fix that in January!

We faced some Map Tiles challenges early on in the pandemic with printers closing, and shipping becoming briefly impossible. However, I take heart that these were only physical delivery delays, rather than delays in making the things on our side. Shipping delays seem to increasingly be a fact of life, and we’ll need to account for that heading forward. 

It was great to find a UK printer to complement our US side of things. I’ve been very happy with Drivethrucards, and they’re incredibly helpful to us. But the Atlantic is not kind when it comes to shipping, so being able to print on both sides of the ocean is a win. Thanks to working with a UK printer on Map Tiles 2, we also have a printer for our miniatures boxes (which turned out really well!) and future games. Nice!

Speaking of Map Tiles, one of the first things we did in lockdown was refocus on providing tools for online play. If we had to be stuck inside, then some useful virtual scenery seemed like a cool thing to provide.

We delivered the Creature Collection for Onyx Path. I’m really proud of that book. It’s a great collection of some high-quality content from a solid team. I’ll be forever grateful to Rich at Onyx Path for letting us loose on the book. It really allowed us to flex what we can do. 

We did tons of other stuff as a studio in 2020, much of which has to remain unsung – some secret things forever!

The Hermit’s Sanctuary for BEOWULF came out as a free pdf and then by popular request a print book. It was nominated for two ENnies which was truly unexpected and really welcome. We didn’t win any, but for once I can genuinely say that didn’t really matter. Being “there” was amazing. And the timing for the BEOWULF Kickstarter was impeccable. 

We spent a great deal of time designing, writing and making art for BEOWULF. And when we took to Kickstarter, it hit my “happy” number (insider info: £30k was the minimum for acceptable funds, £40k was “happy”, £50k was “awesome”). We got well into awesome with late pledges, and we’re a whisker off 1000 backers. That’ll do!

We made miniatures! How cool is that? I’m still somewhat amazed we achieved this, but it all came together so nicely. It is great to be working with old friends on this. I’m really happy we made everything in the UK too. 

Of course we still enjoy working with colleagues further afield. We had a really great time working with our friends at Campaign Coins in 2020. Mark and Andre are so madly supportive, and I love working with them. We’ve made some truly gorgeous things and I can’t wait to ship them in this coming new year. The BEOWULF tokens and compass are really gorgeous, and represent exactly what I want us to be producing. 

We also helped out some friends behind the scenes, and that felt good. There’s a loose little grouping of companies in the UK who just help each other out when they can and all ships are definitely rising as a result. And I really like the people involved. A special shout out to Fil, Paul and David of All Rolled Up/Just Crunch Games. We’ve done loads of projects with these folks and it’s always a pleasure, whichever direction the help is flowing. 

We did the Slay the Spire livestream on Steam, and it was amazing seeing our company name on the front page of Steam! Thanks so much to Tomas for inviting me, and Anthony for being so cool. 

That opportunity came about because of the BEOWULF Kickstarter, and it’s very reassuring to see some other people working in related fields recognise what we’re doing. I also did a bunch of podcasts, and I must make time to do more. I love it, actually. It’s a nice way to break out of working invisibly on stuff, and I sometimes forget there’s a lot to talk about. 

We started work on a 5e setting we haven’t announced yet, with a partner company. We’ll get to work on that in earnest in the new year but it’s already looking pretty cool!

We’re also helping long time friend and colleague Ralph Horsley with his art book. More on that in 2021!

We’ve been working on the new edition of a|state. There’s a really great team on that one and it’s really coming together. We released “Nicely, Done” as a free PDF and lovely print book that includes a gorgeous primer to the setting. A new round of a|state playtest will happen in the new year, with the new edition itself is almost entirely complete. There’s still a bit of artwork needed. Bit of extra setting stuff. But it’s “there” at the core as a playable new edition. It’s been a very smooth process, and I’ve been delighted to be in a solely admiring, occasionally overseeing role. 

We worked with two projects that use games to involve the community in history and environmental issues. Covid scuppered the first, with no chance of doing workshops in the community, but the second has advanced to the next stage of funding.

Similarly, we attended no events this year. That was a challenge, given how much we’d invested in stock and equipment for shows for 2020. We were fighting fit and ready to go for a super convention season. Which never happened. Ah well. 

On a vastly more positive note, we brought Danie on board to help with marketing and social media. That’s worked out really well, and if you’re reading the his you’ll have seen lots of Danie’s work online. It’s been incredibly helpful to have another brain able to focus on social media and marketing. And one with so much experience!

We also moved from my now-way-too-small home office to a much larger garden office, which includes dedicated areas for stock storage and mail order processing, as well as a photography booth, reference library and creative work areas. 

Moving everything was hard work, and getting it built in the first place was a trial for us and the builders during a global pandemic. But it’s done, we’re in and I love it. It’s brilliant. 

In December we launched Handimonsters. This is a subscription service that offers new monsters every week, along with something free each month. Based on prior experience, that won’t hit its stride as a patreon for a couple of months – the back catalogue patrons gain access to is currently building to a nice collection of stuff. From a process perspective that’s been great. Absolutely zero drama in that project. 

Right at the end of the year we sent out the first chunk of BEOWULF to backers. It’s been very well received, which is lovely. You just never know how things will fare once they head out into the wide world, but BEOWULF has been an absolute labour of love, and that seems to be communicating. 

We managed, through some amazing timing and me managing to be extra brave, to secure a foreword from Maria Dahvana Headley, who’s so hot right now in the world of Beowulf translation. I’m still a bit boggled by that too. What an honour. 

As ever, pulling this ad hoc list together I’m reminded why I was pretty tired at the end of the working year. But looking back for the first time in a little while, it’s heartening to see how much we’ve done! There are some notable absences from this review – Hellenistika is something we get asked about a lot. It’s going to be one of those projects that happens when it happens because you just can’t rush magic. 

We have two new Forest Dragon games ready to print. We just need some time to tell people about them, and maybe do a cheeky Kickstarter to gather the faithful once again. Both Hellenistika and FD games are still very close to our hearts, even if they don’t have news headlines to share from 2020. 

Overall, we have faced the same challenges as any company in startup in 2020, and it certainly hasn’t all been a bed of roses. There’s been plenty of sleepless nights along the way, and we’ve made our fair share of missteps. Such is life! Looking back on what could so easily have been a disastrous year, I think our whole team can be very proud of what we’ve achieved, and we’re coming into 2021 with a lot of… “2020 experience” under our belt. 

And so, from everyone at Handiwork Games, I’d like to wish you a very happy new year, and hope that 2021 brings good things for all of us. 

Jon

Useful links:

www.handiwork.games

Map Tiles

The Hermit’s Sanctuary

BEOWULF

Nicely, Done for a|state

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Map Tiles 2 Sets On Sale Now!

Today’s big news is that Map Tiles 2 are available to buy right now!

We kickstarted this second round of gorgeous tiles, and now all our backer rewards are dispatched, so now Map Tiles 2 can be bought by everyone!

If you’re in the US, you’ll want to get them from DrivethruCards.com
If you’re pretty much anywhere else, then head to the Handiwork Games store

To learn more, read on!

Continue reading “Map Tiles 2 Sets On Sale Now!”

VTT Tiles and Scenery

Finding unique high-quality visuals for your VTT games can be a pain. We have just the thing: Our digital map tiles combined with our Digital Scenery ranges allow you to make endless battle maps and locations for your players to explore. By using the painted .png scenery as tokens in your preferred VTT app you can customize any location to make it a unique adventure.

Browse the full range here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/10726/Handiwork-Games/subcategory/26693_30773/Jon-Hodgson-Maps

Don’t miss the great value digital tiles bundle, and the super convenient Scenery Bundle.

Map Tiles 2 go on sale tomorrow!

All Map Tiles from Jon Hodgson Map Tiles 2 kickstarter have now been dispatched! Which means that the tiles will go on sale tomorrow! If you’re in the US, they’ll be available on drivethrucards.com, and if you’re based anywhere else you can grab them here at our webstore.

Wave One tiles are available now.

About Map Tiles

Supplied in sets of 30 tiles, Jon Hodgson’s double-sided, card-stock map tile sets will fit in a coat pocket and won’t break the bank.

The art is all hand-made using digital painting programs rather than 3d renders, so everything has a nice handmade feel that blends right in with painted miniatures.

They’re six inches square –  It’s a great balance of flexibility, allowing you to build very different encounter maps from a few tiles, with extreme portability. 210 tiles will fit in your bag with ease and allow endless set-ups on the fly.

  • 30 tiles per set
  • Full-colour
  • Double-sided
  • Printed on 270gsm card-stock, like playing cards
  • Highly connectable within each set
  • 6 inches square
  • A one-inch grid is built into the artwork of the Dungeon Tiles
  • Printed in the US and the UK
  • Free digital files of the map set included!

The latest BEOWULF news!

We just made an update at the BEOWULF kickstarter. Late pledges are available now here.


The headline is: progress is great, and everything is on track! September is going to be a busy month here at Handiwork HQ – we’re moving office, and taking delivery of basically everything other than the book itself! Fingers crossed the new office door arrives before all the miniatures/other goodies! Below is the more detailed breakdown – some of this is catching up on things we’ve shared on our discord channel, so my apologies if you’re seeing some of this stuff again.


Alternatively, if you’d like to join up and see this stuff sooner, point your browser at www.discord.me/handiworkgamers

There’s loads more to read under the cut!

Continue reading “The latest BEOWULF news!”

BEOWULF: Pregenerated Characters 2 Updated

We’ve noticed that Ham Anfeald and Bald Haeri were missing VTT tokens in Pregenerated Characters 2 for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes. It has now been updated to include those tokens!

You can grab it here.

About The Hermit’s Sanctuary

The Hermit’s Sanctuary is the ENnie-Award nominated, free, full-length, introductory adventure for the forthcoming BEOWULF: AGE OF HEROES for 5e!

Designed for one player and one GM, BEOWULF provides unique rules and support for single-player games in the Age of Heroes. Take to the Whale Road as a monster-slaying hero! Voyage to the island of the hermit, and investigate the cause of its woes!

Lavishly illustrated in full colour, The Hermit’s Sanctuary includes:

  • a complete, 52-page adventure for one GM and one Player
  • optional poster-sized PDF battle maps for all locations
  • optional VTT-friendly battle maps for Virtual Tabletops
  • 4 pre-generated characters
  • printable accessories: inspiration tokens and inspiration pool
  • blank character sheet
  • rules reminder sheet
  • handy adventure flowcharts

About BEOWULF: Age of Heroes

One of the oldest recorded stories in Western Europe, the poem Beowulf is an epic tale of hero against monster. And then the monster’s mother. And then a dragon.

BEOWULF is a setting and rules set for 5th Edition, designed for duet play – one GM and one player. Set in the world of Anglo-Saxon myth, no deep knowledge of history is required – the themes are eternal and instantly recognisable, adventures occur in the story-world of the Saxons, and we’ve done all the historical reading for you!

BEOWULF presents a host of new and specially adapted rules to create epic and thematic adventures for your lone hero and his or her companions. 

BEOWULF features a unique new set of subclasses: The Hero, with subclasses for each ability score. It has BEOWULF specific backgrounds, and unique rules for sea voyages, inspiration, alignment, followers, a new condition and more!

Explore mythic, migration-era Europe and beyond, solve mysteries, and do battle with dreadful monsters. Fully funded with numerous stretch goals unlocked, and with writing and rules design from hand-picked 5e and folklore geniuses, and with art from Jon Hodgson and friends, BEOWULF will be a thing of epic wonder. 

Our Kickstarter for BEOWULF blew the doors off, and if you missed it, late pledges are available now – click below to find out more!

New at the store – Viking Dice!

Made by the dice experts at Dice Dudes, this gorgeous set of 7 rune-carved polyhedral dice will bring a taste of the doom-laded North to any game. But they’re especially cool for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes!

The set comprises: 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1 regular d10, 1 d10 for tens, 1d12, 1d20
Get some now! https://handiwork.games/product/viking-dice

Don’t forget!
Late pledges for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes are open now! https://app.crowdox.com/projects/jonhodgsonmaptiles2/beowulf-age-of-heroes