BEOWULF accessories

As part of our upcoming Kickstarter campaign for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes we have some marvelous accessories on offer. These both level up your BEOWULF game, and will prove useful in other games. None of these are essential to play the game, (we don’t believe in that kind of thing!) but we think they’re things you’ll find useful and beautiful to own.

Dice Tray

One of the very first products we made at Handiwork Games was dice trays! Partnering with our friends at All Rolled Up, we’ve brought a wide range of different dice trays to market.

All Rolled Up make fantastic trays that simply clip together at the corners. When unclipped you can fold or roll them very easily for transportation.

For this Kickstarter we’re offering an exclusive new design! Here’s the mock up:

Inspiration Tokens

These are GORGEOUS. We went to town on these, with our friends at Campaign Coins. A set of 5 weighty metal coins, in an antique gold finish featuring beautiful BEOWULF designs by Paul Bourne, inset with gems. Ok the gems aren’t real gems. But they look amazing!

These token can of course be used for any 5e game, or indeed any game at all that requires meaty, gorgeous, knot-whorled coins worthy of HEROES!

And you can play BEOWULF: Age of Heroes without any kind of special token. Just use coins, beads, the skulls of the giant worms you slew before you dove into the mere. But for the special BEOWULF game nights we’ve played? It was worth going the extra mile.

The tokens are 39mm across, and 4mm deep. They each weigh 25 grams. They come in a set of 5. Which gives you 4 for the Inspiration Pool and 1 spare in case your character wins Inspiration seperately.

The work on these is complete, we have the first coins on hand. All that remains is to find out how many we’re making.

Beowulf Compass Rose

Ok, let me break character a little bit here. When I first saw the very first metal one of these, I cried a little bit. It’s absolutely beautiful. The team who made it, and the motto on it mean a great deal.

Sorry, back in character. Ahem

So every journey needs a way-finder. Keep your battle maps pinned down, and North at the top with this absolutely STUNNING, unique Compass Rose.

Designed by Paul Bourne, and made by the geniuses at Campaign Coins, this is something to truly treasure, and is a worthy souvenir of the campaign. Measuring 50mm in diameter, and weighing in at 40g, this is a beautiful chunk of metal. I can safely guarantee this will be the one reward that we will hear about for years to come, especially from people who didn’t get one.

It is finely worked with interlaced hounds, the central rondel features a dragon, and the outer rim reads: “Sea cliffs shining/Steep high hills/Heathlands broad/Their haven was found”, taken from the Beowulf poem, where Beowulf and his crew arrive safely in Denmark having made the crossing from their home in Geatland.

The same design appears on both sides. There is no flat, boring side.

The design and tooling work is all done for this amazing piece of treasure. We just need to know how many we’re making.

Inspiration Pool Mat

This is a bit of a luxury. As part of the BEOWULF: Age of Heroes ruleset, each Hero has access to a pool of Inspiration. These are divided into tokens they can use for their Followers, Tokens they can use any way they like, and there is also a deadly pool of dread GM tokens.

How the pool is divided up is determined by the Portent at the outset of the adventure.  

To track the Pool you can use chits of any kind – coins, beads, ancient Dirrams from old Baghdad you found buried in an Anglo-Saxon pot in your garden… and three bowls, or three spaces drawn on a piece of paper.

OR, since you’ll be able to run the same scenario for everyone you know, one on one, you can indulge yourselves and get this Inspiration Pool Mat. With graphics by Paul Bourne, expertly printed by Patriot Games on 3mm neoprene, with whip stitched edges, (Not shown in the image above, which is a prototype) this is the perfect setting for your Inspiration Tokens. Trust us, it’s worth it!

The work on the Inspiration Pool Mat is all done. We just need to know how many we’re making!


We also have a set of miniatures. We’ve covered these separately, and you can find out more here.

Ibn Uthman


Alys, a princess

Born of royal blood, but fostered to a far away land across the sea, Alys found she did not fit in with the other princesses. More interested in learning to read and write, and the wonders these skills revealed, she spurned the traditional crafts of hospitality and needlepoint and the wifely duties expected of her.

Teaching herself to fight with a sword, she escaped the Nunnery where she had felt so trapped. Now she wanders the world, seeking to help others and uncover the mysteries of this ‘middle earth'.

Alys is a neither follower of the Church, nor a follower of the Old Ways.


Blaedswith - A Karelian Witch

Born into a community of witches from the East, and wise in the ways of copper amulets, charms and talismans, and the speech of animals and ways of medicine, the beliefs of her people were changed by coming of the new faith. Blaedswith viewed this as a grave mistake on the part of the newly converted, as a great deal of old wisdom was scattered and forgotten.

The copper mines and smithies now make crosses bearing the outstretched arms of the new god, which hold no magic against monsters. Abandoning her home in disgust, she has set sail in search of a more useful life.

Blaedswith knows that there is no lasting victory against the darkness, and in the great weave of time, the age of people will suffer a great and permanent defeat before oblivion. It can only be held back, but that is her Wyrd, and the fates demand that as the last of her witch clan she continue the fight against the old horrors that will inevitably eat the world.

Her youth and training in magic make her a both charming and powerful follower of the Old Ways.


Cwenhild The Widow-Matron of the House

When her husband was slain, Cwenhild mourned for a year and then set about putting the affairs of her hall to rights. Ruling wisely and cautiously, she waited for her three sons to come of age and rule her lost husbands kingdom. Yet, one by one they were taken: as they flowered into men so they were cut down by war or taken away by creatures left over from ancient times. Now she is alone, with no one else to fight the growing abundance of monsters that herald the end of days and the snuffing out of all good things.

But no straw-death for Cwenhil. No longer the spinning wheel nor the pots of the hearth for her. She has bade broken open the barrow and taken up her husbands mail and his spear. Too long has she spent weeping and awaiting tidings at the edge of the battlefield. Now she will be the bringer of bad tidings to those who take sons and husbands.

Cwenhild is a traditionalist of the old ways. The evidence of the inevitable end of the world is all around her.


Bald Eadig, Wrestling Hero

There are a great many dark places in the world, and the Book teaches that the faithful should bring the light, and with it burn out evil wherever it may be found. Blessed with the barrel-chested strength that comes with middle-age, a distinct lack of hair, and a devotion to the word of the Book, Bald Eadig means to carry the news of the saviour far and wide, and in doing so battle the forces of darkness as an example to all. Where he can’t bring the benefits of writing and contemplation, he will bring his big stick.

Possessed of a simple knowledge and an earthy goodness, Bald Eadig is a fearsome enemy of the darkness. He has helped build priory walls, defended pilgrims, and guarded monks. Now he is setting out on the swan road to find the greatest enemies of the Church - the very devils of hell and the sons of Cain.

Ibn Uthman

Ibn Uthman, The Wandering Warrior-poet of Baghdad


Once a trader and writer, Ibn Uthman was exiled from the lands of his birth for using his prodigious ability with words most unwisely: a tangled financial dispute with a Northern King means that returning to Baghdad and his old life is no longer an option for Ibn Uthman. Resolved to explore the North, Ibn Uthman has found himself far from home.


Telling a tale or two seemed to please the people of these freezing Northlands, and they enjoy his melodious, strange-sounding voice, and his songs from afar. His ability to spin a story has grown with the miles he’s travelled.

Uthman is faithful to the One God, though his version seems somewhat different to those of the Northerners.


Waelfwulf - Doomed Monster-Fighter

When Waelwulf drinks a door is opened in his mind and Tiw, the god of war steps in.

One baleful night, when Waelwulf was barely out of boyhood, roving bandits visited the hall. These false guests demanded the hospitality of the house, and called for drink. As some men will, these fellows commanded all present to keep them company in their cups. Waelwulf did his best to refuse the mead and ale, but as a beardless boy he could not stand up to these men. Not when he was sober at least.

But when he was drunk? Many died. Friend and foe alike fell to his axe. And when his axe broke he used a sword. And when his sword broke he used a knife. And when his knife broke he used his hands.

Cast out by his frightened kin, along with two of the cowed brigands who survived that dreadful night, his secret wish is to die. But it seems he is yet to find a worthy foe capable of doing the deed. It seems he is doomed to battle monsters until at last one overcomes him.


Múthbona the Eater

A hulking brute, with corded muscles bulging under a pale, leathery hide. Its face is flat, with beady red eyes, and great broken tusks protruding from its blood-stained mouth.

Across its back and shoulders can be seen dozens of broken spears, javelins and arrows. 

During the long ages spent slumbering in its cave, the troll’s skin has lost all colour, and its flesh is now bleached bone white. This presents a terrifying apparition by torchlight. Despite its size it moves almost silently, looming out of the dark like a hulking blood-mouthed ghost. The Monster primarily wants to feed, after centuries of hungry sleep.

BEOWULF All Rolled Up

To keep your game-gear safe you need an All Rolled Up! These unique and wonderful dice bag/card holder/pen holder, dice tray holders were designed by Fil of All Rolled Up, and once you’ve used one it’s hard to imagine not owning one. When Fil saw our BEOWULF art, she immediately suggested making All Rolled Ups with some really attractive matching fabric.

Here’s an example that’s available in our store. We’ll have a special unique design for the Kickstarter.

The BEOWULF All Rolled Ups are ready to… roll. All the work is done, we just need to know how many to make.

Art Cards

A set of beautiful heavyweight art cards, featuring the Beowulf graphics of Paul Bourne. If you can’t wait, you can get these in our store right now!

If these have whetted your appetite for BEOWULF, then make sure you download the free sample adventure, The Hermit’s Sanctuary!

BEOWULF – Alignments

BEOWULF: Age of Heroes is a new setting for one player and one GM for 5e. In this article we take a look at one of the changes we’ve made to base 5e- alignment.

Beowulf the poem is a study in contrasts when it comes to religion. Its visions of meadhalls, monsters, sea creatures and dragons remind us of pagan legends and make us think of great adventure novels. But Beowulf is given to thanking the Christian God for his good fortune and the poet tells us that Grendel (and his mother) are the kindred of Cain. So the poem blends both the Church and the Old Ways into a seamless whole.

Continue reading “BEOWULF – Alignments”

BEOWULF: The Portent

Beowulf! A story as old as literature itself! Monsters! A hoard of dragon-guarded gold! Ancient magic swords! The very roots of fantasy adventure!

Beowulf! A lone hero leads their band to do battle against an ancient evil. In the game Beowulf: Age of Heroes YOU are the hero.

In this series of articles we’re taking a look at how we’ve adapted Beowulf to a 5e adventure setting with unique new rules, classes, and backgrounds. In this article we check out “The Portent”.

Continue reading “BEOWULF: The Portent”

BEOWULF: Backgrounds

Every Hero in BEOWULF: Age of Heroes is human, from somewhere among the many lands that surround the Whale Road. They may be from nearby, Baltic-born and stern as the sea. They may be from strange lands to the south, with strange speech and tales no one has ever heard before. Each Hero comes to a life of adventure by a different path. Their background represents both their lineage and their life experience.

First and foremost, every Hero has access to the same Ability bonuses as any other. Adding such modifiers allows you to customise your character but is not dependent on where they were born or what they look like. Similarly, you can roll on a table (or pick) a special quirk (benefit) that is personal to you. You make some other choices, such as your age, alignment and languages and every Hero gets to start with a Feat. You then choose a background, and start building a story of how your Hero came to be. We posit the existence of a Trader’s Tongue that the folk of the North Sea and Baltic use when making deals that has loan words from a variety of languages, so that everyone can understand one another.

Continue reading “BEOWULF: Backgrounds”

BEOWULF – The Classes

BEOWULF: Age of Heroes is designed primarily as a duet game, with one gamemaster and one player. Thus when it came time to design the classes, we quickly resolved that the idea of class roles was something that wouldn’t quite work. It was okay for a player to choose a focus for their Hero’s class, because Followers (non-player characters that accompany the character and are able to temporarily aid them) can help support the player in weak areas. But every character needed to have a certain measure of toughness and some ability at combat. We decided to create just a single class, the Hero class, and use 5e’s subclasses to allow a player to choose a focus for their Hero. We ended up with six different subclasses. Each based around an Ability score.

Continue reading “BEOWULF – The Classes”


BEOWULF: Age of Heroes is a roleplaying game inspired by the ancient epic poem Beowulf.

As gamers and designers reading and enjoying the poem, we quickly realised it focused on Beowulf’s struggles against the various Monsters he faced and his relationships with the folk that he met, such as Unferth, who was at first critical of the hero but then gave him his magical sword to hunt Grendel’s mother, and Wiglaf, his loyal follower.

Continue reading “BEOWULF: The Game”


What is “Beowulf”? Why is it good? Why are we making a game about it?

About a thousand years ago, the epic story of Beowulf was written down and it has been a source of wonder and inspiration for hundreds of years. 

It tells a story of the Migration Period (or “Dark Ages”)— between the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Middle Ages. 

Continue reading “BEOWULF: The Poem”

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

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 with the subject line “Playtesting a|state”

Find out more about a|state at:

New Digital Map Tiles Out Now!

We’ve released two digital map tile sets today! Water Tiles and Linking Tiles 2.

Digital Map Tiles are an easy and effective way to build complex maps for VTT adventures in a fraction of the time it would take to create them from scratch. With no limit on how many times you can use a given tile, the possibilities are almost endless. And with Linking Tiles allowing sets to be joined together, your VTT adventures will never be the same again!

  • Each set contains fuzzy-edged pngs, gridded jpegs and plain jpegs, all intended for VTT use. 
  • Gridded tiles have 6 squares per side
  • Each tile is 1000px across in full colour 

Linking Tiles 2

These tiles allow you to link different sets together, in a variety of combinations.

These tiles provide links between 
Cavern, Dungeon, Heathland, Forest, Mountain Pass, Backstreets, Water, Evil Forest, Hillfort and Desert.

And between Utopian Scifi and Dystopian Scifi 
They’re really useful tiles that add a ton of value to other sets.

Once all our backers have their physical tiles we’ll be making the print versions available!–Linking-Tiles-Set-2-Grid

Water Tiles

Expanding on a feature from the Wave One Extra Detail tiles, this set gives you loads of options for lakes, rivers and streams, or even the sea. You can build islands, and shorelines, and includes a bunch of water tiles to create open water. This set is perfect to mix up your wilderness adventures. The Water Set connects to the Heathland Tiles.

You can also grab ALL our Digital Tiles in one great value bundle here:–Wave-Two-Digital-Pack

Evil Forest Digital Tiles Available Now!

Evil Forest Digital Tiles are now live on DrivethruRPG! This digital set contains files for both gridded and ungridded tiles, as well as “fuzzy-edged” .png tiles.

Currently available as digital files, the physical versions will be made available as soon as all our Kickstarter backers have received their tiles! 

Digital Map Tiles are an easy and effective way to build complex maps for VTT adventures in a fraction of the time it would take to create them from scratch. With no limit on how many times you can use a given tile, the possibilities are almost endless. And with Linking Tiles allowing sets to be joined together, your VTT adventures will never be the same again!

  • Each set contains fuzzy-edged pngs, gridded jpegs and plain jpegs, all intended for VTT use. 
  • Gridded tiles have 6 squares per side
  • Each tile is 1000px across in full colour 

Please note these files are intended for Virtual Table Top, on-screen use, and as such, they are not suitable for home printing.

Evil Forest Tiles are also available as part of this great value bundle:–Wave-Two-Digital-Pack 

The physical Backstreet tiles will go live as soon as all Kickstarter backers have their sets!