Licensing the Trouble Engine from a|state Second Edition

It has come to our attention that the goodly folks in the Forged in the Dark community are enjoying The Trouble Engine from a|state Second Edition. We’ve had several requests to make use of this set of mechanics in other published Forged in the Dark Games.

The Trouble Engine was designed from scratch by Morgan Davie for Handiwork Games, and is not part of, nor covered by, the Forged in the Dark license. The Trouble Engine falls under regular copyright and as it stands no one can use it without a specific agreement from us at Handiwork Games. 

Until now!

We feel in the spirit of the Forged in the Dark license, and as a thank you for all the appreciative requests to use it, we would like everyone to be able to use The Trouble Engine in their own published games. We’re making The Trouble Engine SRD available for you to use in your published games. The contents of the SRD are available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license.

There are three simple rules we ask you to follow if you would like to use The Trouble Engine your published game:

1: If you use the Trouble Engine directly, add this line to your credits page:

“This game uses The Trouble Engine designed by Morgan Davie for Handiwork Games and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (”

2: If you create something consciously derived from The Trouble Engine, add this line to your credits page:

“This game uses rules inspired by The Trouble Engine designed by Morgan Davie for Handiwork Games and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (”

We kindly ask that you do not use your own wording to indicate use of this agreement on the credits page – please use the wording provided in order to avoid any confusion. 

3: It is very important that you agree not to use any names or information from the setting of The City found in a|state second edition. The place and character names from The City of a|state are not included in this license.  

This is an agreement which specifically allows you to use the mechanics of the Trouble Engine in your own setting. The City and a|state remain the sole property of Contested Ground Studios and are not part of this license.

Defining The Trouble Engine

When we say “The Trouble Engine” what precisely do we mean?

For the purposes of this agreement, “The Trouble Engine” comprises the rules and mechanics which first appeared on pages 148 to 160 of a|state second edition.

To assist you in making use of The Trouble Engine, we have prepared a text document with all the a|state setting material removed: The Trouble Engine System Reference Document.  Think of it like the Blades System Reference Document but for The Trouble Engine. 

The Trouble Engine SRD contains instances of terms in square brackets, which you will need to adjust for your setting. The terms in square brackets are: [character] and [location]. The precise terms you’ll want to use are likely dependent on your setting.

What Does The Trouble Engine Do?

The Trouble Engine keys into the Forged in the Dark system and allows GMs to steadily generate new problems and difficulties at a pace that reflects the current situation in their game. If you haven’t used it as part of a|state, we highly recommend you see it in context within that game to fully understand it.

The Trouble Engine Logo

You have our permission to use The Trouble Engine logo in your work if you want to. You can download a variety of versions here.

A Note on Copyright Law

We are, of course, aware that game mechanics do not fall under the auspices of copyright law. Only the written expression of a game rule is protected. This means that should you be so inclined you could simply rephrase Morgan’s work and make use of the underlying mechanics without any license or blessing from Handiwork Games. We have no argument with that – that is how copyright works. You could do the same with any game system or mechanic. 

With the ethos of licensing, sharing and crediting that underpins Forged in the Dark and its collegiate spirit, we know it saves our fellow designers a lot of time and energy if they know can use our mechanics with permission and without the need to file off any serial numbers. 

We very much appreciate how John Harper has shared Forged in the Dark with us, and we want to do what we can to give back to the Forged community.

We also very much look forward to seeing what you can do with The Trouble Engine in your own games!

Thank you

Thank you for all the emails asking to use The Trouble Engine in your games – we appreciate both the enthusiasm and the respectful manner in which everyone has communicated. We hope you enjoy using The Trouble Engine – please let us know how you get on, and by all means send us a link to what you make with it!

Podcasts and Streams

It seems like a busy week for enjoying content around our games!

The latest Yes Indie’d podcast features Paul Beakley, and he has some very kind things to say about a|state: “It is in my opinion the best Forged in the Dark game out right now”.

The a|state chat begins at 43:54, but Paul is a very interesting guy to listen to, so we highly recommend the whole thing. And if you missed his deep dive on a|state, be sure to check that out!

You can grab a|state in PDF at DrviethruRPG here.

Or the physical book, and a range of useful and fancy accessories at our web store here.

This Sunday, Telling Tales will be running Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland at 15:00 BST on Twitch. We’ll be excited to tune in!

We just released the Original Soundtrack for Maskwitches at DrivethruRPG, so you can now enjoy some very strange and disturbing music along with your very strange and disturbing Mesolithic spirit battlin’.

And stay tuned, Maskwitches fans, we’ll have some exciting news for anyone attending UK Games Expo in less than 3 weeks’ time! (And yes we are exhibiting at Expo, even if the UK Games Expo site thinks otherwise. You’ll find us right next to our friends Nightfall Games.)

a|state deep dive review

We love to get reviews of our work – it’s massively important, as getting word out about our games is tough when there are just so many other games!

The word of a trusted reviewer is so much more meaningful than anything we can say. We think a|state is a brilliant setting, and a really good implementation of Forged in the Dark. We’re standing on the shoulders of giants in so many respects.

When a review like this one from the mighty Paul Beakley comes in, we’re delighted. We hope you enjoy reading it.

a|state podcast episode two is out now!

In this episode it’s the turn of a|state co-creator Malcolm Craig to answer Jon’s infeasibly rambling and self-referential lines of questioning. This is a long-form chat between creatives, so expect rambling and opinions!

And if you missed episode one it’s here!:

Gone to the Dogs – coming soon for a|state

Something untoward is occurring at Folly Hills Dog Track. Unfancied hounds are winning races…
Competitive dogs are going to the pot…
The turnstiles are no longer thick with punters…

What has cast a shadow over the once-thriving Track?

Explore the cutthroat world of the dog track, the home of avaricious betting syndicates, vicious organised crime groups, disgruntled dog owners, and many bemused punters.

This supplement for a|state presents the Folly Hills Dog Track, a location teeming with trouble and opportunity that can become part of your game in many different ways.

The most straightforward way to use the Track is as an interesting location in The City, sitting alongside those described in the a|state book. Like those locations it is a source of inspiration and ideas, a potential place for troublemakers to visit, and an additional glimpse of the rhythms of life in The City. As with all those locations you can use it as presented, or strip this whole resource for parts to make your own version of the Dog Track.

The Track is presented so you can weave it into your struggle. The large number of people who converge on the Track, and the number of different interests that collide here, provide many opportunities to link it to your troublemakers. In the text following you will find many specific suggestions for ways to tie the Folly Hills Dog Track to the characters and conflicts at the heart of your game.

It is also possible to use it as your corner. Gone to the Dogs presents everything you need to build an exciting game of a|state with the Folly Hills Dog Track as the focus. If you and your group like the idea of getting into a game fast without having to build your corner from scratch, this will give you everything you need.

However you use the Folly Hills Dog Track, you will find that it gives you a robust starting point. The people, schemes, events, and rumours detailed here can branch off in infinite ways, depending on the actions and reactions of the troublemakers.

Gone to the Dogs will be heading out to backers of a|state second edition early next week. It will shortly thereafter go on sale to everyone at DrivethruRPG.

a|state second edition spreads

a|state second edition is making its physical presence felt as copies make their way to backers, late pledgers, and pre-orderers around the world. (Our friends in the US will need to be the most patient, since your books need to complete their sea voyage).

Of course in the mean time the PDF is out, and looking great! All pre-orders come with a free copy of the PDF.

Check out these spreads:

You can grab your copy here:

a|state coins coming soon

With a|state books on hand, and backer copies heading out right now, orders for all the accessories from the a|state second edition campaign will open very soon!

Let’s take a look at the a|state coins, made by our friends at Campaign Coins.

These are ideal to use in a game of The Three Coins, which is the story telling RPG played within The City, the setting of a|state. Games within games!

Find out more about a|state.

Find out more about The Three Coins

a|state books arrive!

If you’re an a|state backer then you’ll already have read in Friday’s update that a|state books have arrived! As have the limited edition books and the Table Tower. Check out the video to see more.

Our fulfilment partners are now working as fast as possible to get copies dispatched. Naturally copies heading further afield will take a little longer than copies sent to UK addresses!

We’ll also be adding more a|state items to our web store now that we have the books on hand.


Wow, what news we have for you. More details on the forthcoming Handimonsters 2021 Annual, a sneak peek at a|state accessories and lots of details on BEOWULF Age of Heroes!

BEOWULF: Age of Heroes

We’re almost done getting all the BEOWULF rewards out, BEOWULF hits the top ten best sellers, and Digital Pack Seven is almost ready, and you can order the Art Book in both PDF and the Print Edition.

Kickstarter US Shipping Wrapping Up

It’s been a big task getting the books to the US during the global shipping crisis, and a challenge while we waited for them to get through customs, and of course fulfilling any successful kickstarter has a lot of moving parts, but we’re almost there! We’re wrapping up the last few backer orders and starting to get the preorders into the process. Most backers have got their rewards now and we anticipate the great majority of those still in progress will arrive before the end of this coming week.

BEOWULF hits the Top Ten!

We were delighted to learn that BEOWULF Age of Heroes was in the top ten best selling Historical RPGs of 2021! Find out more at Geek Native.

Digital Pack Seven Coming Soon!

Our next BEOWULF Digital Pack will release before the end of the month. It will bring some new Followers and some new Gifts and Burdens to the game, present some more monsters to challenge your Heroes and more!

Art Book Available Now!

The BEOWULF Art Book in PDF form is now available for everyone. If you are located in the US and backed the BEOWULF: Age of Heroes kickstarter, then check your email/spam folder for a free coupon for this PDF as a thank you for your patience.

The BEOWULF Art Book print edition is a compact and beautiful 32 page booklet in full colour. It’s 210mm x 210mm square, and packed to the brim with BEOWULF art and commentary.

The free PDF will be sent to you via DrivethruRPG coupon within 24 working hours of ordering, and the print book will be dispatched in the new year 2022 – it is at print right now. We are sending books from both the UK and the US, so it should arrive very early in the new year.

Please note: If you are a US-based BEOWULF backer we have sent a discount coupon for you to use on this book as a thank you for your patience during the global shipping crisis.

a|state Video Review of Accessories, Late Pledge Window Extended

We’ve received the very first samples of the Compass and Coins from our friends at Campaign Coins – check out the video:

We’re keeping the pledge manager open just a little bit longer… we realise how busy this time of the year is and we want to make sure everyone who’s interested has a chance to put an order in.

Handimonsters 2021 Annual, Preview of Mad Man Jack

The pre-order for the Handimonsters annual will open in the new year!

A full colour 64-page softcover book covering a range of monsters that we released during 2021 along with bonus material, this print edition will cost £10.95 ($15.99 US), plus shipping. Preorders open next week, and we will print in both the UK and US for fast delivery.

A devilish sort of fellow, Mad Man Jack is quite dangerous, with his abilities to leap over moderately sized buildings and do horrendous damage with his claw-hand. Fortunately, he’s only found in cities. You’re not planning to visit one any time soon, are you?


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