Welcome to The City. There is no escape.

Under gas lamps and flickering electrics, the Provosts pull a body from a canal, a ceramic blade jammed in its chest. You know this wasn’t a robbery gone wrong. In a distant office, a red line was drawn across a map, and now your home is in danger.

This is the story of how you fight back.

Step inside a baroque urban nightmare, the dystopian sci-fi world of a|state, using the acclaimed Forged in the Dark game system. Defend your corner from selfish authorities, angry gangs, and heartless industries, and deal with the spiralling consequences of your own actions as you struggle for a better tomorrow.

  • A smooth, powerful iteration of Forged in the Dark
  • Seven character playbooks with many variations to explore
  • The Trouble Engine, a creation tool that will throw problem after problem at your corner
  • A vibrant and instantly usable guide to life in
  • The City Full details of 26 locations and every major faction
  • Revelatory insights into The City’s deepest mysteries
  • You will never forget The City. But The City will forget you.

Bringing the wine-dark visual vibes of Dark City and the socially-aware dystopia of Metropolis, a|state delivers Dickensian anti-Thatcher sparks and knives sci fi.

Paul Beakley of The Indie Game Reading Club takes a deep dive into a|state in this thorough review.

Actual Play recorded 9 sessions of a|stste play for your enjoyment. Check it out at their YouTube channel.

Get editable PDF files of the a|state playbooks at DrivethruRPG as a pay what you want title. These files are also included as part of the corebook PDF.

Included are:

  • Devicer Dinginsmith.pdf
  • Devicer Fulgurator.pdf
  • Devicer Scientist.pdf
  • Devicer Wiretapper.pdf
  • Guiler Performer.pdf
  • Guiler Salesperson.pdf
  • Guiler Stringer.pdf Guiler Socialite.pdf
  • Operator Broker of Secrets.pdf
  • Operator Entrepreneur.pdf
  • Operator Gang Boss.pdf
  • Operator Mapmaker.pdf
  • Stalwart Activist.pdf
  • Stalwart Priest.pdf
  • Stalwart Community Voice.pdf
  • Stalwart Street Healer.pdf
  • Warrior Cripplecut Champ.pdf
  • Warrior Ganger.pdf
  • Warrior Ghostfighter.pdf
  • Warrior Soldier.pdf
  • Wastrel Artist.pdf
  • Wastrel Mudlark.pdf
  • Wastrel Sneakthief.pdf
  • Wastrel Urchin.pdf
  • Wayfarer Antiquities Hunter.pdf
  • Wayfarer Foot Courier.pdf
  • Wayfarer Lostfinder.pdf
  • Wayfarer Nomad.pdf
new edition
nicely, done

Welcome to The City. There is no escape.



Children tilt down alleys, chanting bloody nursery rhymes, while withered men shout warnings from tenement windows.

Factory workers crowd sweating into cable cars, hoping their pay will last the week. Aerostats roar above them, bearing the rich to luminous towers.


Under gas lamps and flickering electrics, the Provosts pull a body from a canal, a ceramic blade jammed in its chest. You know the truth: this wasn’t a robbery gone wrong. In a distant office, a red line was drawn across a map, and now your home is in danger.

This is the story of how you fight back.

new edition

Cult favourite role-playing game a|state is back in an exciting new edition.




  • Legendary game setting The City returns, loaded with mesmerising and unsettling detail. The new edition of A|State is Forged in the Dark. Experience The City through intense, fiction-first role-playing.
  • Create your own corner of The City and protect it from the powerful factions who want to tear it down.
  • Choose from seven playbooks, including the lethal Ghostfighter, the savvy Mapmaker, and the dogged Lostfinder.
  • Encounter the Shifted and other strange mysteries of The City, a closed environment you can never leave.

You will never forget The City… but The City will forget you.

nicely, done

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.
Nicely, Done with its primer to The City is available to everyone for free. There is also a print version available.

We gathered 40 groups who are familiar with Forged in the Dark games, willing to give our playtest scenario, Nicely, Done a go. With two rounds of external playtesting complete, we're happy that Nicely, Done gives you a great intro to what we're doing.

We recommend familiarity with Forged in the Dark games to run Nicely, Done.


Working on a|state 2nd edition are:

Paul Bourne

A co-originator of a|state Paul Bourne is known for his amazing imagery and fantastic layout and design skills. Having cut his teeth on Contested Ground Studios’ original games, he spent many years working for Cubicle 7, being responsible for graphic design on a host of titles including The One Ring, before joining the team at Handiwork Games in 2019. Paul is secretly one of the best graphic designers in the business.

Malcolm Craig

Malcolm is the co-originator of a|state. As a games designer he was prolific in the early 2000s wave of British Indie games, creating a|state, Cold City and Hot War. Now working in academia as a history lecturer specialising in the Cold War era, Malcolm has generously come out of games design retirement to become an active member of the a|state 2nd Edition design team. We’re amazed and delighted that he has agreed to become such an integral contributor to this new edition, bringing an updated vision of The City to 2e.

Morgan Davie

Morgan Davie also worked on the original a|state, and is another prolific and accomplished indie game designer. His website taleturn.com is a treasure trove of unique ideas. Morgue also co-hosts the Diceratops: Live show & podcast. Morgue is a thoroughly thoughtful and innovative designer with a unique voice and approach, and we’re delighted to have him aboard! His latest project, The Deck of Monkey Things is exactly what you think it is.

Jon Hodgson

Jon Hodgson is the owner of Handiwork Games, and is also making character art for the new edition. A long time freelance artist, Jon has worked on mainstream games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, as well as indie gems like Spione and Dust Devils. Jon is also a writer and games designer in his own right, being a contributor to the writing of The One Ring, Adventures in Middle-earth and more recently co-creator of BEOWULF Age of Heroes.

Gregor Hutton

A member of the original a|state production team, and probably to blame for this whole second edition, Gregor is renowned for his numerous acclaimed indie games - most notably smash hit space murder game 3:16. Gregor’s game design work is as charming and welcoming as the man himself, bringing fresh perspectives and razor-sharp wit to all kinds of aspects of games design.

Scott Purdy

Scott Purdy is Handiwork Games’ lead artist, and is helping with character art for the new edition. Scott has worked for almost everyone in roleplaying games, from the smallest to the largest, Pathfinder and Monte Cook Games’ various games being the stand out titles. Scott is a relentless art machine known for his reliability and consistent high quality contribution to the world of gaming art.



a|state began in the notebooks of Malcolm Craig. Inspired by the layers of built history in cities like London and Edinburgh, and a sense of gloomy science-fictional possibility, he created memorable locations like Mire End and Folly Hills and a game system to explore them. The project gained enormous momentum when Paul Bourne joined. His vivid illustrations rapidly drew attention in the UK gaming community, and soon a|state games regularly featured at UK conventions.



Interest continued to grow, so Malcolm and Paul developed a|state into a beautiful hardback book. This debuted at Edinburgh gaming con Conpulsion in 2004 and went on to find an enthusiastic audience around the world. Further books with more contributors followed over the next few years, and the audience for a|state was still hungry for more when Malcolm and Paul eventually moved on to other projects. Now a|state returns, with a retooled system and all the original creators on board.

The a|state podcast

An occasional podcast where Jon asks members of the a|state team difficult and rambling questions, and they discuss the themes behind the game, and a little bit about its history and rerelease in this new edition: