Friday News Update – June 11th

a|state – the first overview!

Yes, it’s the news you’ve been waiting for – we’re bringing the second edition of a|state to Kickstarter. A cult hit, built on Forged in the Dark rules, it’s written by Morgan Davie, Malcolm Craig and Gregor Hutton, with art by Paul Bourne, Jon Hodgson and Scott Purdy. And it’s gorgeous

The City

Get your first full overview of the The City, here.

And if you’d like a taste of what it’s all about, grab the free primer, ‘Nicely, Done’ from DriveThruRPG

Nicely, Done

It’s an astonishing setting and we’ve got lots more to share – can’t wait for this to happen!

This week has also seen the anniversary of the launch of BEOWULF: Age of Heroes – and what a massive adventure it’s been!

From warriors and meadhalls to the foam crests the Whale Road, from followers and faithful to monsters and lairs… we’ve battled our way from The Hermit’s Sanctuary right up to facing the fearsome Stoor Wurm – and we’ve lived (hopefully!) to tell the tale.

BEOWULF!

Jon had a few words to say on the project…

A big mug-thumping thank you to those who have sailed with us – and the physical copies of the core campaign book will be with us very soon.

In the meantime, you can grab the .pdf , and a host of surrounding adventures, from Drive Thru. And there’s a brand new scenario, The Elfshot coming very soon.

The Meadhall of Goirsala

Watch this space…

And this week’s HANDIMONSTER is another freebie (honestly, we’re so good to you).

Thallian Scout

Meet the Thallian Scout, a visitor from another reality, securing its safety with a metallic shell and engraved in runes and wards. It wants information, and beware – it may not take no for an answer…

Our HANDIMONSTERS Patreon starts at £2.50 a month, and brings you a brand new 5e beastie every Monday, complete with full stats, artwork, background and lore. Plus loads of additional info including scenario ideas, maps and a dozen ways to add our monsters to your campaign.

And the best bit? Your players will never have seen them before…

Thallian Scout with Extras

Plus, upper tier backers get paper minis, VTT tokens and all sorts of additional extras!  

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BEOWULF – A Year On!

BEOWULF!

Jon here!

So social media (follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) tells me it’s a year since we launched BEOWULF Age of Heroes on Kickstarter.

Right now, all my attention is on shipping books, and if you’re following the world of international games shipping you’ll be aware that’s quite a challenge. But it’s important to look up from our daily trials and see the wider picture.

BEOWULF was one of our very first projects as a company. We assembled a small team, and pondered what we were best at, and what we wanted to make. We knew we all loved that mythic early medieval/migration era stuff. And we knew we loved 5e, and felt we could provide something that brought both together.

Beowulf setting and scenarios

We’ve spent a lot of time trying to remember exactly how the idea of a single Hero in 5e came about – which is silly because we could just look back at the Discord logs. But let’s keep to the appropriately mythic story that its origin is a mysterious one, but absolutely a stroke of inspiration (weak pun intended).

Playing with one player and one GM, with a system lots of people already know, modified to shine for just two, makes gaming really easy to arrange. And we made a game that you can pick up and put down with minimal effort. You can run a campaign, one on one, for your whole gaming group and get huge value from the scenarios, and continue them with whoever is available when the squad can’t all meet up. It’s really smart.

It’s amazing to think back a year, and remember wondering how we would get on. Would anyone back us? Were we barking up the wrong tree entirely? I’m happy to say that with over a thousand backers/late pledgers and pre-orderers we were not. And hey, with their support we made miniatures, beautiful tokens and accessories, and now even a dice set from Q Workshop, no less. There’s a wealth of adventure material available now in PDF. I was just hoping that we could make a book with a bit more art than we could really afford.

Chest with Tokens and Compass Coin


At the risk of utter cliche, it’s been an amazing ride to this point, and while the story is far from over we’ve made so many friends along the way I consider it to be an unmitigated success so far. We have a lovely community of BEOWULF players, we have enjoyed working with so many new friends and partners, who have been staggeringly supportive and kind, and I really couldn’t have asked for more. And it’s incredible to think that it’s all down to the support of you – gamers.

It all turned out alright. I’M NOT CRYING YOU’RE CRYING!

And now back to getting those books shipped!

Friday News Update – 4th June

Lots of new goodies in the news this week!

Our brand new BEOWULF scenario, Seven Stones, is now available at DriveThruRPG.

Written by Elaine Lithgow, with art from Jon and Scott, this adventure takes your Hero/es to a desperate village, living in terror of a gargantuan sea serpent. Find a rocky peninsula blasted by frigid winds, and the genrations old legend of the Stoor Wurm…

Seven Stones

Plus, the original file has now been updated with:

.pdf poster-sized battle maps by Jon

VTT battle maps

VTT tokens for NPCs and adversaries

Kelpie by Scott

Also out this week – our first BEOWULF Digital Pack. Likewise at DriveThruRPG, this contains:

Fetch quests .pdf by Jon

VTT tokens for the first 11 Beowulf monsters

Battle maps – a ship at sea and on the beach

Music – four atmospheric tracks for your games

All the BEOWULF interactive sheets

And a video tutorial from Jacob on how to use the Monster Worksheet, and get the best out of your beasties

Digital Pack

You can also find the worksheets on the Handiwork Games site.

Stay tuned, as there will be more of these to come!

And, with suitable symmetry, this week’s Handimonster is an additional BEOWULF freebie!

Mennbana, by Jon

Meet the Mennbana, the Man-Troll. Not lurking on your socials, but found in mountainous or deep forest areas, and emerging to raid the local farms and settlements. They’ve got a great sense for defensive magical items, but beware the consequences, if you take one of these for yourself…

And, of course, we have our DICE. Many of you sharing some very cool pictures to our Discord (thanks, guys). But hey, they’re not a thirst trap, honest…

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BEOWULF Art and the Aloy Meme

Hello! Jon speaking.

I saw a thing doing the rounds on the internet over the weekend and was moved to write something about what we get up to hereabouts at Handiwork.

It’s worth mentioning before getting into it that I’m a man-flavour human, with the combination of specific experiences and limitations of perspective that come with that. 

So I’m a bit of a simpleton. If you ask me who our games are for I’ll gleefully tell you “Everyone!” And I mean it. 

But, of course life isn’t quite that simple. We all carry various prejudices, (and here I’ve had to Google synonyms for “blind spots” in order not to use ablist language. Learning, trying etc) and areas that might help inclusion that we’re less aware of. 

I’m am also aware that good intentions are not enough. It’s rare to find a person who does harm deliberately, and there are many reasons to remain ignorant of how your work comes across. 

But I want Handiwork Games to try a bit harder than that. 

So it was with interest that I saw the Aloy meme doing the rounds at exactly the same time as we coincidentally released a montage of art from Elaine Lithgow’s scenario for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes, ‘Seven Stones’.  (It’s at the top of this post.)

The connection to a woman archer with red hair was enough to tweak my brain. It was good to see we’re among the kind of publisher the person in the tweet/meme dislikes (or perhaps… wait it’ll take too long to unpack it if the tweet is trolling for effect. Hopefully you know what I mean).

We don’t aim to make sexy characters. Sometimes, as part of a scenario, a character may of course be attractive, if that’s an appropriate part of the story. We’re not in any way morally against creating attractive characters. But we are aware that “attractiveness” is a very broad church. If we consider it as narrowly as the above tweet purports to do, then we’re sending a built-in message about who our games are for, and what they’re about. 

Now, of course, it would be foolish to pretend that we don’t this inadvertently anyway. The title of the game “BEOWULF” sets out a certain stall. I hope we’ve succeeded in making a thoughtful and inclusive approach to that subject matter. But all artistic creation can come with with baggage, and we make the same amount of mistakes and missteps as anyone else. It’s why, as creators, we need constant discussion and to have our ears open. 

The NPC in our artwork is Murrin, a character who challenges the Hero in something of a True Grit style. She’s not taken in by flashy heroics, and she’s travelled a long way to get help for her people. She doesn’t suffer fools, and she’s a great character to play at the table. She provides a critical voice that really adds something to a BEOWULF game. Murrin is certainly not there to be lusted after by a subset of the audience.

Because, as mentioned, I like characters like Murrin. Because she reflects something of the world I see around me. She’s real, and she broadens the scope and appeal of what we do. 

And, all respect to Elaine who created her – it’s a great adventure, please do check it out – it’s not really such  a new or threatening idea to have a young woman NPC who isn’t there to appeal to the specific sexuality of the player. Or at least it shouldn’t be a novel idea in 2021. But the conversation caused by the Aloy meme means it still seems important to talk about this topic. 

Like I’ve said, I’m a simpleton. I don’t have a big agenda beyond wanting the largest number of people to feel like they want to play our games. Because that just seems fair. So if you saw the Aloy meme and rolled your eyes, then we’re right there with you. 




Seven Stones is out now for BEOWULF backers, and releases to the general public tomorrow.
Learn more about BEOWULF Age of Heroes, 5e for one player and one GM here.

Friday News Update – May 28th

OUR DICE HAVE ARRIVED!

Dice loose in the wild!

And they’re gorgeous – three 31mm d20s (rather than the usual 19mm), coloured for our BEOWULF alignments. If you just love dice, though, they’re proper-shiny click-clack-maths-rocks and we still have a few of the Special Edition Packs left – all three dice, in a linen pouch, coming with exclusive pin badge and a card signed by both Jon and Paul.

Special Edition dice!

In more BEOWULF news, a new scenario coming very soon! Seven Stones takes us to a desperate village, living in terror of a gargantuan sea serpent. The village lies on a rocky peninsula blasted by frigid winds, and here, people have lived in fear of the Stoor Wurm for generations…

Seven Stones

Written by Elaine Lithgow, this should come to DriveThru next week.

And this week’s Handimonster is a real beauty. With art by Scott Purdy, the HEARTWOOD GUARDIAN dwells in the centre of the ur-forest. With skin of bark and wings of leaves, it seems both benevolent and peaceful. But beware its wrath, should you harm the trees.

Heartwood Guardian

Join our 5e Patreon for new monsters every Monday.

Plus, in case you missed it last week, you can catch Jon talking BEOWULF, HANDIMONSTERS and everything else over with our friends at Rolistes…

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ALL THE DICE!

Friday News Update – May 21st

The first copies of BEOWULF!

Yes, they’re real – we finally got out mitts on the very first copies! And just have a LOOK at this artwork:

Muthbona by Jon Hodgson
Battle by Jon Hodgson

With huge thanks to our friends, supporters and heroes…

‘An epic tale deserves an epic game system. This is that system’ – John Kovalic

Breathtaking… staggering… atmospheric in the extreme. It’s as if you were stepping into 6th Century Scandinavia and boarding a longship’ – John Gwynne

 ‘Really magical’ – Will Hindmarch

‘A vast treasure hoard’ – Francesco Nepitello

‘A magnificent accomplishment’ – Lou Anders

‘Brimming with brutal authenticity’ – Snorri Kristjans

‘Ingenious, beautiful, epic, enormous’ – Angus Watson

And to Maria Dahvana Headley for our foreword.

Thanks, John!

In more BEOWULF news, catch our latest podcast!

While BEOWULF was crafted for duet play (one Hero and one GM), in this episode, Jon and Jacob talk about how it can be played by a full adventuring party.

And you’ll need full adventuring party for this week’s Handimonster! Additional content for the Clatterbones is now available to our patrons – a desert-based scenario for a party of 4th– 5th level. We’ve all seen skeletons before, but not like these…

Clatterbones!

And in a|state news

We’ve updated our pages with some info on the game’s history. From its earliest notebook appearances, to its first hardback manifestation at Conpulsion in 2004, it’s been an amazing project. And it returns very soon with a retooled system and all of the original creators still on board!

Downtime

“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.”

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It’s real!

BEOWULF is Here!

It’s happened: the very first copies of BEOWULF: Age of Heroes!

There’s no feeling like it – to get your hands on the thing you’ve made, to realise it’s fully real. Many of you have shared this journey with us, from Kickstarter all the way to completed article, and we’re delighted to have had you on board. It’s been an epic Whale Road of it own!

So – a great big mead-thumping thank you, to you our readers, and to our lovely and supportive friends:

‘An epic tale deserves an epic game system. This is that system’ – John Kovalic

Breathtaking… staggering… atmospheric in the extreme. It’s as if you were stepping into 6th Century Scandinavia and boarding a longship’ – John Gwynne

 ‘Really magical’ – Will Hindmarch

‘A vast treasure hoard’ – Francesco Nepitello

‘A magnificent accomplishment’ – Lou Anders

‘Brimming with brutal authenticity’ – Snorri Kristjans

‘Ingenious, beautiful, epic, enormous’ – Angus Watson

And to Maria Dahvana Headley for our foreword.

We’re almost ready to lose ourselves in the ultimate adventure – orders for the book will replace pre-orders in our SHOP very soon. Whether you’re a follower of god, or of the old ways, whether you’re a lone Hero with your trusty companions, or part of a party of intrepid and courageous adventurers, this is a world of great legend and old lore, of mysteries and monsters, and of true, high-hearted heroics…

So join us, as we journey in the world of BEOWULF!

It’s arrived!

Friday News Update – May 14th

Back to the Table SALE! 

This weekend, we’re celebrating the return of round-the-table gaming with a SALE on our RPG accessories.

Sign up to our newsletter for your SALE code, and you can save precious gold on mats, maps, dice trays and our award-winning family card game, The Forest Dragon. Almost everything you need to get back to dungeoneering (apart from the biscuits).

Dungeon Tiles – just add Adventuring Party (and monsters)!

Signing up for our newsletter will also give you regular extra peeks from Jon and the team – including exclusive info, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and early warnings when cool new stuff hits our stores.

This week, though, the big news: BEOWULF has arrived in Germany!

The Eormenultur has landed!

If you’re a kickstarter backer, or you’ve pre-ordered your copy: – 

From the UK, then the books should here any minute, and we will ship them to you, along with your UK rewards

From the EU, you should receive your book in the coming weeks.

From the US – more info as we have it.

You can follow our updates on the Handiwork site.

If you haven’t yet ordered your copy, the book is available to pre-order in our STORE. In the meantime, you can download the .pdf from DriveThru, and have a good look through our BEOWULF scenarios and adventures!

The Whale Road, by Jon

And on the subject of adventures – have a cheeky freebie!

In proud celebration our Scots language and people, Jon and Paul bring you BEOWULF Scots portent tables:

BEOWULF Scots Portents Tables

If you’re not a native speaker, then have fun looking these up on Google!

We also have a new BEOWULF quest coming very soon! This one is written by Elaine Lithgow, comes complete with Jon’s always-gorgeous maps, and is suitable for a Hero or Heroes of 4th/5th level.

From the opening paragraph: Our Hero is approached by a desperate young woman who begs them to come with her and save her village from a gargantuan sea serpent known as the Stoor Wurm. The village lies on a rocky peninsula blasted by frigid winds to the farthest-north. Here, people have lived in fear of the Stoor Wurm for generations…

Seven Stones, written by Elaine Lithgow

Plus, this week’s HANDIMONSTER is one of our favourites.

Jacob and Scott have truly outdone themselves. Meet the Lord of Ambition, wanderer of the multiverse, unstuck in time and space. He may offer you knowledge, but beware…

Lord of Ambition – art by Scott Purdy

Join our Patreon for a new, fully detailed monster every Monday, plus all sorts of adventure and scenario ideas.

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BEOWULF Limited Edition. We may have squeeed a little.

Friday News Update – May 7th

Updates for BEOWULF – and a|state!

We now have have FOUR full adventures for our BEOWULF setting. These include our ENnies-nominated intro, The Hermit’s Sanctuary, The Three Ogre Brothers, which comes as part of the main BEOWULF rulebook, plus two adventures more recently released – Horror at Herrogate and The Witches and The Wyrm. And, thanks to feedback from our backers, we’re delighted to release some updated content!

Horror at Herrogate Player-Facing Map
Continue reading “Friday News Update – May 7th”