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.
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.
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!
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…
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
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
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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).
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.
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!
In proud celebration our Scots language and people, Jon and Paul bring you BEOWULF Scots portent 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…
Big thank you to DriveThruRPG: our Handimonsters mini-manual is the FREE .pdf of the week – and has already seen almost a thousand downloads. Head on over to the site, and grab half-a-dozen of our fabulous 5e monsters, drawn and designed by our top team of gamers and gaming experts.
Meet the Knacker, and it’s knack (sorry) for digging blind tunnels, ready to upset dungeon-builders and confuse adventurers everywhere. Meet the Spell-Thief, who has a perfect way to upset your mage, and the Holingean, who has one even better. And meet our BEOWULF critter, the Briar Goblingas or Heópapúcan, with all his special rules, allowing you to craft something really clever for your Hero/es to face.
Our Handimonsters Patreon is only £2.50 a month. It gives you a new monster every Monday (best way to kick off your week), plus a load of additional content – scenario suggestions, facts, maps and insights.
It’s less than a high-street coffee, and it’s definitely more fun.
Also now on DriveThru, individual Beowulf minis. If you have a 3D printer, you can download the .stl files for Blaedswith, our Witch of the Old Ways, and for our warrior Ham Anfaeld, who lives for the sea – and for the treasure.
Both these characters can be found in The Hermit’s Sanctuary, our Ennie-Award nominated intro-adventure for our beautiful and legendary BEOWULF game setting. Whether you know your Anglo-Saxon lore or not, BEOWULF something truly special, taking you and your players to another place, to another time, and back to a world of legends.
You can find all of our BEOWULF character .stl files here.
And, as you travel, don’t forget your sampler of our Jon Hodgson ‘Evil Forest’ Map Tiles, all in ‘fuzzy-edged’ .pdf and perfect for your virtual tabletop adventure.
Of course, we all hope that we can escape the virtual and return our own Whale Road very soon – whether it leads to the tavern, to the marketplace, or to meet our mates at the Mead Hall and to roll dem bones. But, wherever we game, it’s always fun to be a Hero!
Keep up with the news, and join us on our Socials:
It’s Spring, it’s a long weekend, and it’s time to celebrate – with a couple of cheeky discounts!
Grab one of our 36” spring neoprene Battle Mats, now £4 OFF. These come gridded or ungridded, all ready for freeform role-play or the for itty-bitty-scritty-nitty-gritty of those all-important combat rounds. They’re made from neoprene, easy to maintain, and they feature no branding or logo – just Jon’s awesome art.
And please remember, if you’re going anywhere this weekend (or indeed for the next while), wear your MASK. Not only do they add +2 to the Fortitude Saves of all those around you, but you can wear the BEOWULF designs of Paul Bourne.
They’re £2 OFF, made for Heroes (of course), and they come complete with filter fabric.
PLUS: there may EVEN be a cheeky add-on discount waiting for you at the checkout. Y’know, just because we love you.
But be quick – these offers are this weekend only!
Plus: on the subject of BEOWULF, this week sees an extra special freebie Handimonster!
The Briar Goblingas, or Heópapúcan (Old English) is a troublemaking spirit that lives in the forest. And this one is a special BEOWULF monster, meaning it comes with special rules, c‘burdens’ and ‘gifts’, to fit with our 5e setting. Each of these changes something about the Goblingas, and you can mix and match, creating something special for your Hero/es to face…
And more Beowulf from our own Heroes! Jon and Jacob take to the Whale Road once more and this week, they’re talking ships!
Written by Marco Rafalà (The One Ring, Star Trek Adventures, Lex Arcana, How Fires End) and illustrated by Jon Hodgson, Horror at Herrogate is a full-length .pdf adventure for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes.
Nightmare lingers at the small fishing settlement of Herrogate, threatening the people and the treasure seat of the lord Thorfinn. Dare you confront the dreadful dréag, the nightstalker, the breaker of bones, the creature unkillable by mortal hands…?
But you’re a Hero. Seriously, how else would you spend your weekend?
The scenario comes with three poster-sized battle maps, tokens for VTT, new Follower cards and separate NPC artwork to show to your players.
A month after the game’s publication, we ask Jon Hodgson and Jacob Rodgers how they think it’s all gone…
It’s been a month since BEOWULF was loosed to the public – were you nervous before the release?
JACOB: Yes, I certainly was. It felt like we had done the best job we could, but you never know what others will think of it. I’m glad that it has had such a positive reception.
JON: Gosh yes. This is a really big one for us. While our first book as a team was the Creature Collection for Scarred Lands, which we made for Onyx Path Publishing, this was the first one that’s truly “ours”, and there’s always that fear you’ve just done it all wrong. Somehow.
You and the team have poured a great deal of love into BEOWULF – can you estimate how many hours’ total work has gone into the setting?
JACOB: It was a gleam in our eyes back in 2018. It took a good long time to hash everything out, between other work and the challenges of 2020. The good news is that we feel very confident in the direction we’re headed.
JON: I think I’d prefer not to guess at that in case my accountant is reading. Too many hours. We seem unable to just bash stuff out. Every part was worked within an inch of its life. Which is good in the end. BEOWULF feels very complete and whole.
What did you find hardest? And what was the best fun?
JACOB: Jon and I have mentioned before that the Followers system took a lot of work. But it also led into the thing that “clicked” the most for me — burdens and gifts. Once we had a consistent presentation, I knew that we could use the concept for any space in the game where we wanted to present options to the Player.
JON: I think the bit for me that was hardest was what became the Alignment Die: we wanted a mechanical system for alignment, which tied into the outlooks of the two faiths represented by Alignment in BEOWULF. It was really hard, and certainly not one where inspiration struck and things fell into place easily. We got there though – thanks to Jacob coming in with a wholly different approach. The most fun thing was drawing all the swords. Love a sword. I did a little cry when I got to stand near a Ulfberht sword in the National Museum of Finland back in the before times. I am that much of a sword nerd.
BEOWULF is designed for duet play, and to follow the mythic feel of the original poem – hence it’s seen a significant tweak to the 5e rules. Do you think this has been well-received?
JACOB: 5e is often seen as an inflexible system, with its adherents expecting a certain style as well as mechanics. However both of those are actually very mutable within the system. Player response has shown that folks will go for pretty extensive changes to the core assumption if you tell them the whys and hows of the new mechanics.
JON: Playtesters, backers and then early adopters have definitely reported enjoyed the ease of setting up a “group” for BEOWULF. You literally phone a friend. And much of the feedback we’ve had to date has been very grateful for a complete, grounded “Dark Ages” 5e. We have a couple of groups playing it multiplayer too, and really digging it.
You’ve had a lot of critical acclaim, from authors and gamers both – including other creators of BEOWULF settings. Do players need to know the legend to be able to play the game?
JACOB: Absolutely not. We provide a tremendous amount of setting info and opportunities for research. However, at its core, all you need to know is that a Monster is threatening the people over there and that you’re a Hero who’s going to go make everything right. It can be very simple and straightforward.
JON: Yup, as Jacob says, this was a key point. We wanted a framework into which you can slot your own knowledge, whether that’s the first two episodes of Vikings, or knowing the poetry of the Finnsburgh Fragment off by heart.
Recently, Jon, you won a poll for best gaming artist – beating some very well-known names indeed! Where does the inspiration for your BEOWULF art come from?
Jon: Yes that was all rather weird, although jolly nice of people. I’m very lucky to live in a place which allows views of some truly epic scenery – The Ochil Hills and the Trossachs here in Scotland. It’s just so moody and melancholy, with ever changing light and an ever-changing quality to the air, that it’s hard not to be moved by it. I’m also just a history nerd, and I love reading and researching this stuff, and trying to spin gaming gold out of some quite dry straw.
BEOWULF already has some gorgeous accessories – dice and dice trays – and it has a whole treasure hoard more incoming – Inspirations tokens, and real metal minis. Do you feel these are necessary to play the game? Or were they just something you needed to do?
JON: We’ve made sure you don’t need anything other than dice and a pencil. Maybe some paper would be handy. I think that’s a really core thing to RPGs in my mind – they are very accessible to those of us without the budget for all the fancy toys. And as has come up on line lately, we as creators often aren’t in the bracket to get all the toys. So it matters that they’re not necessary. You can get a great gaming experience making your own tokens. Of course we also want our accessories to be really, really nice, so that if you do drop some pocket money on them, they’re good value.
When it was released, BEOWULF made the Top Ten bestsellers on DriveThru – no small achievement for an indie company. So what’s next, what additional adventures are waiting for us as we travel the Whale Road?
JACOB: We will be releasing our first digital expansion pack to backers and that will include an adventure alongside other new materials. If you didn’t get signed up for that, the adventure itself, Horror at Herrogate, will be available for purchase on DriveThruRPG.com. That’s just the first one, and there will be many more.
Jon: Yes! There is plenty more where that came from!
Find these in the Handiwork Games store and on DriveThru, and this includes all of our big Tiles Bundles, to bring every kind of adventure to your tabletop. And don’t forget, our Digital Map Packs – ideal for your VTT games – are still on SALE.
Next up – congratulations!
This goes to Simon H J Williams, who’s won himself a print copy of The Hermit’s Sanctuary, complete with original sketch by Jon. Which is winging its way, even as we speak.
If you didn’t win this one, worry not – there will be more competitions soon…
To follow The Hermit’s Sanctuary adventure, join the Campaign Coins team, over on Twitch. This week, the fifth instalment sees our Hero, Bald Eadig, get to grips with ‘Baleful Grief’ – and we hear rumours that the Eadig/Thormund/Saewine love triangle may be heating up…
Stat a Hero of your own, with this week’s podcast! Those all-round-renowned RPG geniuses (genii?) Jon and Jacob talk you through the first part of creating your Beowulf Hero character, so they’re armed and ready to… erm… break benches.
A Hero, of course, needs an adventure. Make your awareness checks for Horror at Herrogate, a new full-length BEOWULF scenario coming up at DriveThru – very soon!
If you backed the original Kickstarter, your Hero gets their Horrors for free – we will send you the .pdf next week.
In the meantime – all you painters! We’re delighted to share the skills of the wonderful Sonic Sledgehammer Studio, making a gorgeous job of our white metal minis. Chosen by Sonic’s fans, the Hero Ibn Uthman is first for the brush. Once a trader and writer, he was exiled for using his prodigious ability with words – and returning to Baghdad was no longer an option.
Check out Sonic’s awesome painting…
Pop over to our friends at GeekNative for a chance to win our Bang & Twang card game. It’s fast and fun and easy to learn, great for kids and an ideal family game – but look out for the Forest Dragon!
Keep up with all the news, when you join us on our Socials:
Grab yourself a cup of tea (or a mug of mead), because it’s been a packed week at HandiworkGames …
First up – join our World Book Day Twitter giveaway. Follow us at @HandiworkGames and RT our tweet to win a print copy of The Hermit’s Sanctuary, our BEOWULF intro-adventure, complete with an original sketch from Jon.
Thanks to our friends at Campaign Coins, you can follow the live play-though of The Hermit’s Sanctuary over on YouTube. This week, Bald Eadig meets… the SEA RAIDERS!
You can also follow Pellam’s Wasteland on YouTube for a solo play campaign.
And, of course, you can join Jon and Jacob over on our own YouTube channel, for our BEOWULF podcast. This week, it’s all about the 5e rules!
Gaming for good, and launching Tuesday 9th March – a fantastic charity offer, sold in aid of The Trussell Trust. This mini-deck and map pack will fuse Jon’s bestselling Map Tiles with the fantastic RPG encounters of Venger’s Decks, offering you the perfect backstreet package, ideal for any campaign.
And every sale is for a good cause. Find out more, here.
In more news: Handimonsters! Our 5e monster Patreon is now at a new price, with easy-to-understand tiers. And this week’s monster is FREE! Add some giantish romance to your adventure with the Hölingean, tattooed and magical. They like summers of idle dalliance, and keep human mages as pets.
And catch Jacob, talking Handimonsters, over at d20 radio!
And finally – we’re very pleased to be involved withHeinzcon! Offering a wonderful programme of gaming related events and panels, this will take place in Twitch – and you can catch Jon (again – he’s been a busy fella) talking everything from BEOWULF to a|state.
Keep up with all the news, when you join us on our Socials: