We’ve taken a short break over Christmas and New Year, but we’re back, we’re beautiful, and we’ve got all sorts of new projects on the go…
First up: Handimonsters! This week’s 5e monster is FREE over at our Patreon page – go have a nose at the Quicksilver Troll. He’s fast, he’s clever, he’s an alchemical creation, and he’s ready-and-waiting for your campaign.
You can also discover the Glass Spider, the Blazedog and the Bog Bug, our Patreon patron the Knacker, plus a host of additional content. And if you sign up to our top tier, there are all sorts of extras!
In BEOWULF news, the first part of the book has now gone to our Kickstarter and Crowd Ox backers. Thank you, all of you, for your support on this – the BEOWULF project is very close to our hearts and we’re over the moon with the finished product. We’ve had some really positive feedback, as well – Pandatheist calls it ‘the best hack of 5e ever made’. Which is fantastic to hear!
If you weren’t a backer – fear not! All of our BEOWULF treasures, including the manual, the coins and the compass, and the real metal minis, will be available for order on the website very soon.
Speaking of a|state – the second edition is looking absolutely incredible! Offering gorgeous new artwork and layouts from Paul Bourne, the setting includes a fascinating mix of technologies, of places and peoples, and of towering, crumbling concrete. And the game is very much character-driven, giving you the chance to defy The City’s oppressive powers, and to explore and defend your hard-won corner of territory.
While you wait, you can grab the free primer and intro adventure, Nicely, Done.
What a year, eh? Jon here, with my look back at 2020 at Handiwork Games.
It is always useful to reflect on the year gone by, so here are my thoughts on what we’ve done in year two, 2020. (It’s sort of year two. More like 18 months but let’s call it year two for easy maths and a good story!)
The headline is (predictably) that while Covid has put plans on a slightly different footing than expected, we’re doing really well.
Year one accounts came in and I was flabbergasted by our turnover. With my head firmly in projects at the time, I genuinely had no idea we’d done as well as we did in 2019, and that shook me into taking the accounts a bit more seriously! The day-to-day can be a procession of fires to put out and rocks to roll uphill. It’s easy to lose sight of just how much we’ve achieved as a team.
Things we did in 2020:
Map tiles 2 Kickstarter. Map Tiles was an unexpected project we just tried out to see what would happen, thinking it might fund, and the two Kickstarters to date have raised about £40k, and Map Tiles have become “a thing”. They’re very popular on our web store: Dungeon tiles in particular have proved to be a really good seller. Shamefully they’re out of stock right now! We’ll need to fix that in January!
We faced some Map Tiles challenges early on in the pandemic with printers closing, and shipping becoming briefly impossible. However, I take heart that these were only physical delivery delays, rather than delays in making the things on our side. Shipping delays seem to increasingly be a fact of life, and we’ll need to account for that heading forward.
It was great to find a UK printer to complement our US side of things. I’ve been very happy with Drivethrucards, and they’re incredibly helpful to us. But the Atlantic is not kind when it comes to shipping, so being able to print on both sides of the ocean is a win. Thanks to working with a UK printer on Map Tiles 2, we also have a printer for our miniatures boxes (which turned out really well!) and future games. Nice!
Speaking of Map Tiles, one of the first things we did in lockdown was refocus on providing tools for online play. If we had to be stuck inside, then some useful virtual scenery seemed like a cool thing to provide.
We delivered the Creature Collection for Onyx Path. I’m really proud of that book. It’s a great collection of some high-quality content from a solid team. I’ll be forever grateful to Rich at Onyx Path for letting us loose on the book. It really allowed us to flex what we can do.
We did tons of other stuff as a studio in 2020, much of which has to remain unsung – some secret things forever!
The Hermit’s Sanctuary for BEOWULF came out as a free pdf and then by popular request a print book. It was nominated for two ENnies which was truly unexpected and really welcome. We didn’t win any, but for once I can genuinely say that didn’t really matter. Being “there” was amazing. And the timing for the BEOWULF Kickstarter was impeccable.
We spent a great deal of time designing, writing and making art for BEOWULF. And when we took to Kickstarter, it hit my “happy” number (insider info: £30k was the minimum for acceptable funds, £40k was “happy”, £50k was “awesome”). We got well into awesome with late pledges, and we’re a whisker off 1000 backers. That’ll do!
We made miniatures! How cool is that? I’m still somewhat amazed we achieved this, but it all came together so nicely. It is great to be working with old friends on this. I’m really happy we made everything in the UK too.
Of course we still enjoy working with colleagues further afield. We had a really great time working with our friends at Campaign Coins in 2020. Mark and Andre are so madly supportive, and I love working with them. We’ve made some truly gorgeous things and I can’t wait to ship them in this coming new year. The BEOWULF tokens and compass are really gorgeous, and represent exactly what I want us to be producing.
We also helped out some friends behind the scenes, and that felt good. There’s a loose little grouping of companies in the UK who just help each other out when they can and all ships are definitely rising as a result. And I really like the people involved. A special shout out to Fil, Paul and David of All Rolled Up/Just Crunch Games. We’ve done loads of projects with these folks and it’s always a pleasure, whichever direction the help is flowing.
We did the Slay the Spire livestream on Steam, and it was amazing seeing our company name on the front page of Steam! Thanks so much to Tomas for inviting me, and Anthony for being so cool.
That opportunity came about because of the BEOWULF Kickstarter, and it’s very reassuring to see some other people working in related fields recognise what we’re doing. I also did a bunch of podcasts, and I must make time to do more. I love it, actually. It’s a nice way to break out of working invisibly on stuff, and I sometimes forget there’s a lot to talk about.
We started work on a 5e setting we haven’t announced yet, with a partner company. We’ll get to work on that in earnest in the new year but it’s already looking pretty cool!
We’re also helping long time friend and colleague Ralph Horsley with his art book. More on that in 2021!
We’ve been working on the new edition of a|state. There’s a really great team on that one and it’s really coming together. We released “Nicely, Done” as a free PDF and lovely print book that includes a gorgeous primer to the setting. A new round of a|state playtest will happen in the new year, with the new edition itself is almost entirely complete. There’s still a bit of artwork needed. Bit of extra setting stuff. But it’s “there” at the core as a playable new edition. It’s been a very smooth process, and I’ve been delighted to be in a solely admiring, occasionally overseeing role.
We worked with two projects that use games to involve the community in history and environmental issues. Covid scuppered the first, with no chance of doing workshops in the community, but the second has advanced to the next stage of funding.
Similarly, we attended no events this year. That was a challenge, given how much we’d invested in stock and equipment for shows for 2020. We were fighting fit and ready to go for a super convention season. Which never happened. Ah well.
On a vastly more positive note, we brought Danie on board to help with marketing and social media. That’s worked out really well, and if you’re reading the his you’ll have seen lots of Danie’s work online. It’s been incredibly helpful to have another brain able to focus on social media and marketing. And one with so much experience!
We also moved from my now-way-too-small home office to a much larger garden office, which includes dedicated areas for stock storage and mail order processing, as well as a photography booth, reference library and creative work areas.
Moving everything was hard work, and getting it built in the first place was a trial for us and the builders during a global pandemic. But it’s done, we’re in and I love it. It’s brilliant.
In December we launched Handimonsters. This is a subscription service that offers new monsters every week, along with something free each month. Based on prior experience, that won’t hit its stride as a patreon for a couple of months – the back catalogue patrons gain access to is currently building to a nice collection of stuff. From a process perspective that’s been great. Absolutely zero drama in that project.
Right at the end of the year we sent out the first chunk of BEOWULF to backers. It’s been very well received, which is lovely. You just never know how things will fare once they head out into the wide world, but BEOWULF has been an absolute labour of love, and that seems to be communicating.
We managed, through some amazing timing and me managing to be extra brave, to secure a foreword from Maria Dahvana Headley, who’s so hot right now in the world of Beowulf translation. I’m still a bit boggled by that too. What an honour.
As ever, pulling this ad hoc list together I’m reminded why I was pretty tired at the end of the working year. But looking back for the first time in a little while, it’s heartening to see how much we’ve done! There are some notable absences from this review – Hellenistika is something we get asked about a lot. It’s going to be one of those projects that happens when it happens because you just can’t rush magic.
We have two new Forest Dragon games ready to print. We just need some time to tell people about them, and maybe do a cheeky Kickstarter to gather the faithful once again. Both Hellenistika and FD games are still very close to our hearts, even if they don’t have news headlines to share from 2020.
Overall, we have faced the same challenges as any company in startup in 2020, and it certainly hasn’t all been a bed of roses. There’s been plenty of sleepless nights along the way, and we’ve made our fair share of missteps. Such is life! Looking back on what could so easily have been a disastrous year, I think our whole team can be very proud of what we’ve achieved, and we’re coming into 2021 with a lot of… “2020 experience” under our belt.
And so, from everyone at Handiwork Games, I’d like to wish you a very happy new year, and hope that 2021 brings good things for all of us.
But fear not! We’ll be taking UK orders, for Christmas delivery, all though the weekend – our last posting date is Monday 21st. If you’re Questing for presents for yourself, for your family and friends, or for your gaming group – we have a whole treasure-chest full of beautiful and original gift ideas.
We’re also running December Daily Deals – each day, every day, a new chance to grab a bargain. Today (Friday 18th), it’s £10 OFF our 36” SPRING BATTLE MAT. Each deal is only active for the day – so don’t miss out!
Handimonsters is our brand new Patreon, bringing you a whole menagerie of monsters, all ready for your adventure. And every one is original, designed and illustrated by our RPG experts, coming with artwork, a complete run of stats, and a full outline of its background and lore. Add some surprise to your 5e campaign!
If you head on over to our Patreon page, you can grab your FREE monster, plus some extras for patrons only. Including the Bonus Bog Bug Battle Map – complete with a rotten surprise…
And some BEOWULF news! The Hermit’s Sanctuary, the intro-adventure to our 5e BEOWULF setting, is once again available as a print book, over at DriveThru. Rooted firmly in the Anglo-Saxon legend, and rich with artwork, tables, characters and content, it’s the ideal escape.
And just for this week, we’re offering an extra-special sneak peek at one of our favourite ongoing projects. If you subscribe to our newsletter (spam-free, we promise), we’ll give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse at something we’re VERY excited about…
Wishing you a very Happy Christmas from the team here at Handiwork. Stay safe, play games, and enjoy the break!
If you haven’t seen Handimonsters, it’s our fantastic PATREON service bringing you brand new, completely original monsters every single week. It’s got various subscription tiers so you can spend as much as you like, and, each week, you’ll get specially created, 5e beasties that your PCs will NEVER have seen.
Every monster comes with full artwork, with a complete set of stats, and also with all its own background and lore – so you can fit them to your game, campaign and setting. Designed and illustrated by RPG experts, they’re just waiting to chomp your party.
Head on over to our Patreon page for your FREE monster, and to find out more!
While you’re there, you can also catch game- and monster-designer Jacob Rodgers talking about the project and its folio of fiends.
Plus: our December Daily Deals are still continuing. Every day, over on our Socials, we’re offering a discount on one of our products. Today, (December 11th) we’ve taken 20% OFF our digital Map Tiles bundle – so you can get to dungeons, hillforts, caverns and backstreets, all without leaving your home.
Here are the basic tools for Step 1: a self-healing cutting mat, a sharp knife, a scoring implement (in this case I used a toothpick, but something a touch stronger might have been advisable — I should have hunted up the rotary pizza cutter that I often use for such purposes), a steel straight-edge, and the print itself.
The print is on medium-weight cardstock. You’ll get better final results with as thick of a paper as you can get to go through your printer, but scoring heavier paper becomes even more important. You’ll notice there are red score lines. Go ahead and make all your scores (just making a line into the paper so that it will cleanly fold on those lines). You can score all the minis at one time. (Larger size minis have less minis per sheet, but for Small/Medium creatures you’ll get quite a few up.)
Then line up your steel straight-edge onto the cut lines instead of the score lines. Notice that I’m going to make a cut on the right side of the steel edge and my fingers are on the other side/top. We want you to keep all fingers!
Once you’ve cut the minis out, it’s time for Step 2. Taking a look at the folding diagram, go ahead and fold the mini as if you were putting it together.
Then lightly apply PVA glue to the non-printed side. It’s a balancing act, you want enough for everything to hold together, but not enough that it makes the cardstock wavy or seeps out the sides. You may be tempted to smooth the glue with a finger, if so keep a damp cloth nearby for the actual folding step, as you want to clean your hands and not transfer glue to the outside of the mini. (Yes, I’m telling you this, but you’ll see in the next step that even my efforts are still a work in progress. 🙂 )
Once you do that, fold up the minis, pressing the sections with glue on them firmly together. Give it a few moments to dry, and then grab some cross-promotional acceptable tiles and place them down. Voila!
Game- and monster-designer Jacob Rodgers spills the beans on The Knacker, and on how it was created to fit with the 5e setting…
You always need someone to blame, I suppose. In Welsh and Cornish lore (not to mention Pennsylvania and the west coast of America), (tommy)knockers are semi-helpful spirits or fey creatures that steal tools and food, but also warn of the impending collapse of mining tunnels with their strange knocking sounds. During development, we decided to call our creatures Knackers, using an older spelling and not wanting to step on any toes, especially those belonging to Mr. Stephen E. King.
Stories of miners arguing with management about the presence and well-being of the Knackers inspired the introductory fiction, and also pointed at a source of conflict — apparently Knackers and dwarves don’t get along. That kind of makes sense, as they’re both well-known miners and diggers, so there might be some sort of competition there.
We also learn about the Knackers and their tendency to help expand mines. But we also learn that they’re somewhat obsessive about their work and, if left alone, tend to create structural weaknesses and tunnels that go nowhere. In other words, the next time you need to explain a non-logical dungeon design to your players, just blame the Knackers.
One section that every Handimonster will include is the Tactics section — we find that it’s not always super obvious what the best combat options are for a given creature and we want to let you know what was in our heads as we designed their features and actions. So not only do we learn about how the Knackers use their environment as a weapon, we’re also reminded about their darkvision and their tendency to attack dwarves above all other targets.
Crafted by an experienced team of 5e game designers, graphic designers, and artists, Handimonsters is a brand new PATREON providing you with a steady stream of completely original, never-before-seen beasties.
Every month, thar be monsters! There will be free monsters, monsters for patrons, and even more monsters for the higher tiers. And not just monsters – they’ll have Virtual Table Top tokens, top-down tokens, paper minis and art cards.
And, even better, every single ghostie, ghoulie and long leggerty beastie will come with a beautiful and original piece of art, plus an inspirational description, just bursting with tabletop ideas.
We love monsters that work. Our Handimonsters aren’t just numbers, lists of stats and hit points (though they have those, too). Every creature comes with its own lore, a real story, and a different and unique feature, tying in with the 5e rules.
Individually designed by the Handiwork team, they all have hooks (occasionally literally), so you can add them to your plot, campaign and game world. They’re made to inspire (and to terrify) GMs and players both.
So, How Does It Work?
Each month, depending on your tier, you will get up to four brand new monsters, complete with artwork and information. And, since we email the .pdfs direct to you, your players won’t have seen them – no more sneaky flicking through the manual – and you’ll have every opportunity to surprise and terrify.
Your Handimonsters will be ready to fit to every dungeon, castle and outdoor adventure… and your PCs will have no idea what you’ve got in store!
Suitable to Every Budget
We really want Handimonsters to work for everyone – so, each month, we’ll give one monster away for free.
Go to the PATREON page, or to www.handimonsters.com, and we will take you through the tiers, explain how it works, and how you can subscribe. And you can grab your FREE monster!
Handimonsters, bringing the magic of discovery back to your tabletop.
Happy Friday, and our December Daily Deals have begun!
Every day, over on our Social channels, we’re offering a discount on one of our gorgeous gaming products. Today, (December 4th), it’s £2 OFF the price of our TUMBLING BROCH COMPACT DICE TRAY – and we’ll have lots of other offers throughout the month.
Really – no Black Friday spiel, just a lot of gaming goodies.
But first up, a huge thank you to Colinomicon and the crew for their live play-though of our a|state Primer, ‘Nicely, Done’. They really enjoyed their time in The City, and if you’d like to join them, you can find their adventures on YouTube.
And (of course) Christmas is getting close! If you’ve got your tree up already, then you need some great gaming gifts for the rest of your Questing Party. For the rogue? Map tiles. For the wizard? Dice. For the cleric? Iconic jewellery. For the fighter? Well, there’s a little BEOWULF in all of us…
And in the subject of BEOWULF, this is the VERY LAST CALL – make sure you get that Late Pledge in on Crowd Ox. We are shutting the longhouse doors next week!
The countdown to Christmas begins, at Handiwork Games!
We have a whole dragon’s hoard of gaming goodies and gifts – ideal for you, for your family, for your friends, and for your fellow adventurers. From dice to dungeon tiles, from maps, both physical and digital, to merchandise, and all of it offering top-notch art… there’s treasure to suit every party member. Including the dragon.
And – as we’ve been promising – some shots of our new den. Jon and the team have been working very had to get everything shifted in time for those lovely Christmas orders, and – we’re done! Our hardworking elves (cough) have finally explored their new home!
For all you a|state players, don’t forget – this Sunday, at 7pm EST (midnight GMT) you can escape to The City. Join the live, single mission play-though of our Primer, as our intrepid team of adventurers uncover what’s really been ‘Nicely, Done’.
(Don’t worry if it’s a bit late – we’ll let you know where to tune in!)
We’ve also got some news. Big news. Big, big news. It’s under wraps at the moment (sorry), but Something Is Coming and it’s something we’re VERY excited about. If you’re not yet following us on our Socials, now might be really good time to join the conversation…