Licensing The Trouble Engine

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!