Scarred Lands Creature Collection 5e Previews

We’re working with Onyx Path to bring the best of the classic Creature Collections to 5e!

The first Creature Collection was the very first bestiary ever released for 3rd edition of the world’s favourite RPG, predating even the official Monster Manual. It was also the birth of Scarred Lands as a setting. Other volumes of foes followed, fleshing out the setting and providing a wealth of enemies for Scarred Lands games.

With the success of Scarred Lands Player’s Guide for 5e, we’re aiming to bring a big slice of adversaries to Kickstarter with Scarred Lands Creature Collection!

We really want to show off what you can expect, so before launch we’ve completed an initial 50 monsters. Not just converted them to 5e, but illustrated them with all new full colour art, and laid them out with some gorgeous new graphics. A whole bunch of those will be made available as previews to backers through the campaign. We’ll also be sharing some before we launch.

To whet your appetite, check out these first 3 spreads. We’re running final proofing on our text, so that’s obscured for now. In the coming days we’ll be beginning our full previews with some free monsters to enjoy!

Also to come is the preview of our navigation system. The overriding thing we heard from you, the 5e players, is that you want to be able to find what you’re looking for when using a bestiary. So in addition to several handy indexes created by topic, the Scarred Land Creature Collection will include a handy graphic navigation system to help you find adversaries to fit your needs, be they by terrain or Challenge Rating.

Art by Scott Purdy and Jon Hodgson, layout by Paul Bourne. ©2019 Onyx Path Publishing

Beowulf art and news

Gosh, it’s so busy at Handiwork HQ right now! We’re working on imagery for Runequest, and powering through conversions of all the great monsters found in the various Scarred Lands Creature Collections. We’ve been making art for the ever-awesome Monte Cook Games and doing some print consultancy for Nightfall Games.
We’re also pulling together some really epic work for BEOWULF. Check this one out, which has been developing as we work!

BEOWULF provides epic one-to-one play for 5e in the world of ancient myth. We’ll be bringing it to Kickstarter this year.

We’ll have more detail on all our current projects in our next newsletter – be sure to sign up on our landing page:

Conpulsion report

We took the show on the road again this weekend, attending Conpulsion in Edinburgh. 

Conpulsion is a games convention run by the Edinburgh University games club. It’s usually of a modest size, but has a really unique feel. As one of our local shows we’re keen to show Conpulsion some support.

This time out it wasn’t just Jon flying the Handiwork flag – on the booth we had help from Paul, Duncan and Rory. 

It’s always hard to accurately assess exactly how busy or quiet a show is, but there seemed to be plenty of folk about and lots looking to try a new game. 

We broke our previous convention selling record (of precisely one show, Airecon!), and Bang & Twang was definitely our hit of the weekend. That it won the hearts of many of the volunteers running the show was a huge help, with spontaneous games of Bang & Twang occurring around the venue. The Forest Dragon wasn’t far behind, and we brought a tiny fraction of our ambitious stock home with us! Yay!

Conpulsion is in no small part about catching up with friends. It was great to see Cat Tobin, Andy Hepworth, Gregor Hutton, Phil Harris, Shevaun Frazier, Brian Nisbet, and many more friends we’ve duly insulted by not naming here. 

It was also a treat to make new friends! Paolo Grecco is making some fabulous books through his company Lost Pages. We thoroughly urge you to check out his beautiful little books.  

The fine folk from Murphy’s Vault sold Rory (the designer of The Forest Dragon by Rory Age 9) his first ever Magic starter set, a copy of adorable card game Kodama: The Tree Spirts, and the D&D starter set. Which is all pretty exciting for Handiwork HQ! We’re a family business and the next generation of gamers is coming along nicely! The Murphy’s Vault team also picked up some trial packs of our games, so fingers crossed they enjoy them and stock loads!

Throughout the weekend Rory produced unique cards for The Forest Dragon which was pretty special. Hopefully he can remember what he made because there were some great ideas being spontaneously generated, and we probably have an expansion’s worth!

We donated one of each of our games and a set of coins to the charity auction, and they raised £90. Not too shabby!

There was amazing news at the annual Griffie Awards, hosted at the show. Bang & Twang won best new card game! Yay!

And then during the closing ceremony there was a display of weapons grade awkward as Jon was awarded the Banquo Award for the Spirit of Scottish Gaming. Jon has promised to make a better acceptance speech which contains some… content, in a video. 

Looking ahead to next year we really hope to see more game makers at the show – it’s an ideal venue for small Scottish companies to share what they’re doing and make connections.

We had a great weekend, and we very much look forward to the next Conpulsion!

Our next show is Carronade in Falkirk! A surprisingly large games show for a small town! There’s a small but mighty contingent of boardgame and RPG stuff in amongst every last miniature or piece of gaming terrain you ever wanted to buy, spread across three or four halls. It’s bigger than you think! Maybe if you’re lucky enough to live within travelling distance of Falkirk we’ll see you there?

Airecon Report

We had a great time at Airecon! Jon headed down from Scotland to Harrogate in Yorkshire for two days this weekend.

Our kind hosts were our old friends Travelling Man, and we demoed dozens of games of Bang & Twang and The Forest Dragon on their booth. It looks like we have a good number of new Forest Dragon fans!

We also got to chat to folks about our RPG plans for Beowulf and Hellenistika, and were pleasantly surprised by how many people have heard about what we’re up to!

Jon gave his talk to an unexpectedly full seminar room, and it seems to have been well received! With lots of experience there were three sets of slide on hand depending on what people wanted to hear about – games design and publishing, art direction or art creation.  Jon delivered a bit of a mix, and thank you if you came along. We hope it was useful!

We also got a chance to catch up with our friends Wotan Games, All Rolled Up, artist Ralph Horsley, rpg writer Steve Emmott, gamer and TV presenter Marty Jopson, baker extraordinaire Kim-Joy, our friends from Yog-Sothoth and meet fellow designers from just down the road in Scotland, One Free Elephant.

As ever there wasn’t time to catch up with everyone we saw in passing or in the distance! Sorry if we missed you!

The show has a really wonderful family atmosphere and we enjoyed gaming late into the night. If you can get to Harrogate then Airecon is well worth the trip!

Thanks to Ben and Mark for inviting us down!

If you weren’t able to get to Airecon, you’ll soon be able to find Forest Dragon by Rory Age 9 and Bang & Twang in Travelling Man stores.

And if you can’t get to a store, then you can mail order copies from our shop right now.

Ropecon 2019 Guest of Honour

We’re delighted to share that Jon will be a guest of honour at this year’s Ropecon in Helsinki.

Ropecon is a really well thought-of convention and we’re excited to be involved – from the Ropecon website: 

“Ropecon is the largest non-commercial role-playing convention in Europe. The three day event offers a diverse program schedule suitable for all ages from tabletop and live-action role-playing games to card games, miniature war games and board games. In addition to tournaments and other gaming related programs Ropecon also features lectures, panel discussions and workshops on a wide variety of topics.”

Find out more here:

Airecon 8th to 10th March

Jon will be appearing as a guest at Airecon in Harrogate, UK, 8th to 10th March 2019!

You can check out his seminar on Saturday morning, and then try a game of Forest Dragon by Rory Age 9, and The Forest Dragon Bang & Twang at the stand of our kind hosts Travelling Man!

Find out more about Airecon here:

Runequest Art Direction

We’re absolutely delighted to be helping Chaosium with art direction, on Greg Stafford’s classic roleplaying game Runequest!

Jon Hodgson, owner at Handiwork, has a long history of working on Runequest Gloranthan art, having provided cover art for the award-winning Guide to Glorantha, as well as Heroquest, Sartar and Sartar Companion, and more!


I’ve really enjoyed exploring Glorantha as an artist, and now stepping up to help with art direction feels really positive. Chaosium are proving to be a leading company in tabletop games right now, with a truly dynamic approach. The new Runequest is a stunning benchmark in visual design, and I can’t wait to see what we make together!”

We’ll be working with the established Runequest art team, as well as bringing in some fresh faces.

Here at Handiwork Games, as well as producing our own gaming titles, we’re also working with a highly select group of fellow publishers as part of our Handiwork Studio programme. You can find out more about what we do here:

You can find out more about Runequesthere:

We’re sponsoring Tabletop Scotland 2019

We’re delighted to be not only attending Tabletop Scotland for the first time, but to be one of the show sponsors! Tabletop Scotland is a fantastically well organised games convention, and we’re honoured to be a part of it!

The show takes place in August in Perth, Scotland, and we’re really looking forward to seeing you there! Find out more at the Tabletop Scotland website here.

Beowulf Designer​ Diary 1

We’ve seen a lot of excitement around our upcoming RPG projects – Ken Hite’s Hellenistika and BEOWULF. Today we present our first designer diary for BEOWULF!

Our designer diaries will be irregular updates on how things are progressing behind the scenes, what we’re working on, the challenges we’re facing and so on.


About the story of Beowulf
For those that don’t know, Beowulf is one of the oldest recorded stories in Western literature. As such it’s right at the root of a lot of the kind of heroic stories we enjoy. In terms of events it’s very simple – Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, a people living in Southern Sweden, hears tell of problems in Denmark. A wonderful meadhall, Heorot, has been built there, but it’s been largely abandoned due to the malign influence of Grendel– a monster who has been killing the inhabitants. Beowulf being a heroic type resolves to slay the hellspawn of the haunted hall. And he does. After figuring out the monster’s weakness he abandons his traditional war-gear, wrestling the creature and ripping its arm off. Poor old Grendel limps off to die.

But things aren’t over. The victory comes with consequences! Grendel’s Mother presents another monstrous threat to happy life in Denmark. Never being one to shy away from great deeds Beowulf must also figure out how to defeat this new adversary. Which of course he does!

Time travels on, and Beowulf becomes a King of his people. Word comes to his meadhall that a great dragon has awoken after its hoard is disturbed by a thief… We won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t read it. But we strongly recommend that you do. Both Seamus Heaney and JRR Tolkien have made marvellous translations of Beowulf, and they’re well worth your time.

In addition to the heroic events and inevitable battling, there’s a lot of exciting “meta” stuff in the way the tale was recorded, and the accompanying glimpses we get into cultural details of Anglo-Saxon life. We love it!

BEOWULF the RPG setting

Taking our enthusiasm for Beowulf the Anglo-Saxon poem as our inspiration, we set out to make an exciting setting and set of additional/amended rules for 5thEdition. 

The world of Anglo-Saxon stories is something we’re all really interested in from a historical and fictional standpoint. We love the style of the stories, the way the world looks and feels, the arms and armour and so on. BEOWULF will feature all the feel, but it isn’t intended as strictly a historical treatise. It’s a strongly-flavouredstory book” world of heroic tales.

Heroes in BEOWULF will sail across a story book version of the world of roughly the 5thto 11thcenturies, solving mysteries and ridding kingdoms of monsters, just like Beowulf in the original tale.

Duet Play
The first “rules thing” we wanted to offer was really high quality duet play for 5thEdition. None of us have quite the time we’d like to play RPGs, and by making a great set of rules for just two people we can really help with that. So it is that BEOWULF is designed primarily for one gamesmaster and one player. 

That in turn led us to develop a really strong structure for duet play for both the player and the GM: we’ve been analysing what having just one player means for the 5thEdition rules, as well as the social side of play. The results of that work all come together really nicely in BEOWULF as a setting and ruleset. 


The Beowulf of the story is a singular hero, just as the rules are for a single player, but Beowulf is not entirely alone in the story. Like so many heroes of legend he has his followers with him, occasionally chipping in to help when relevant to the story. (This is also true of Achilles’ Myrmidons, Jason’s Argonauts, Gilgamesh’s Enkidu and so on)

So with BEOWULF we are creating a special set of rules for the actions of a hero’s followers. And as far as we can tell it’s rather unique! Just like in the story of Beowulf, followers are on hand when you need them, but there’s no need to track them as if they were full non-player characters. They’re there when it matters, and they’re in the background when they don’t. 

Followers support the hero, and a hero will need to recruit help along the way as he or she tries to figure out any mystery he or she encounters.

Play beyond the session
Followers in BEOWULF also offer some unique additional features. We’re really keen to offer the chance to actively “play” betweensessions – The gamesmaster always has opportunities for fun in creating adventures, but in BEOWULF the playertoo can invest some time in enjoyable and rewarding game activity on their own between sessions. 

The exploits of followers becomes the focus between games, and that mechanically feeds into the next session. 

Recently, we’ve spent a lotof time discussing what it means to lose a follower, and precisely how we want to pitch that. As something you’ll be invested in, and something more than a simple resource, we want the loss of a treasured follower to matter. The interactions with your band of followers matter. But we don’t want it to hobble your character mechanically beyond reason when a follower parts company with your hero. Indeed, we want the loss of valued followers to happen as part of the story of your hero.

We’re finding the balance between the loss of a follower being akin to the loss of a favourite magic item in a regular 5e game, or the loss of a whole level in a more old school game. Those are loose analogies, but they give you an idea of what we’re wrestling. The answer we’ve come up with relates to our core maxim when making BEOWULF – that you can lose in the short term to gain in the long term – and we’ll have more about that in a future diary.

Whither Multiplayer?
The way we’ve put BEOWULF together means that if you do want to play with a group you can! If you wish to assemble a team of heroes from across the world that have to come together to battle a threat too great for one hero you can totally do that! Followers fade much further into the background, and the group of heroes comes to the fore, replacing the need for followers to support their hero.

What’s next?
We’re finishing up our current round of rules polishing, and once that’s done we’ll be reaching out for more playtesters. That call will go out via the Handiwork Games newsletter, so be sure to sign up! You can find details on our website at