Conpulsion in Edinburgh: Talks and more!

This coming weekend (March 30-31st) it’s Conpulsion in Edinburgh, Scotland, and we will be there with our stall, as well as taking part in a bunch of talks. We have a long history with Conpulsion, even before Handiwork Games was a thing, so it’s always a delight to be in attendance and to be able to contribute to the show!

Innovation in Games Design
Saturday 13:15—13:45:
With: Tanya Floaker and Jon Hodgson

A panel looking at how you can innovate in games design to create better and more playable games, with insights from two experienced designers and publishers.
Jon Hodgson is a games designer, artist and writer, as well as the owner of Handiwork Games.
Tanya Floaker is a games designer active in the indie gaming scene and has successfully crowdfunded several innovative RPG projects.

See and https://floaker.itch

History and Gaming
Saturday 12:15—12:45
With: Aleksandra Brokman and Malcolm Craig

A panel about projects exploring gaming history and applying multimedia approaches from two celebrated ENnie-nominated games designers with strong links to Conpulsion.
Malcolm Craig, acclaimed author of a|stateCold City and Hot War who is now a senior lecturer in history at Liverpool John Moores University. Malcolm is working with Handiwork Games as an integral part of his research work into the history of nuclear war in roleplaying games.
Aleksandra Brokman, acclaimed author of Wise Women and host of the Lamias actual play stream, has a series of Vampire the Masquerade essays on YouTube deep diving into the evolution of clans over the editions of the game.

See and and

History in Games/Games in History: Live!
Saturday 14:15—15:00
With: Jon Hodgson and Malcolm Craig

Come and be part of a live recording of the History in Games/Games in History podcast. Not only listen to Jon and Malcolm like you can on the internet, but see them live and ask them questions too.
Dr Malcolm Craig is a senior lecturer in history at Liverpool John Moores University.
Jon Hodgson is a games designer, artist and writer, as well as the owner of Handiwork Games.
Together they fight crime talk about history in games and games in history!


20 years of a|state: Ask Me Anything
Sunday 13:15—14:00:
With: Malcolm Craig and Paul Bourne

Malcolm Craig and Paul Bourne, the creators of a|state, launched the first edition upon the world at Conpulsion 2004. Now available in a beautiful, full-colour Second Edition, Conpulsion 2024 gives you the chance to ask them anything about the game and their reflections of a|state’s 20 years.


Get your tickets for Conpulsion in Edinburgh here:

Licensing the Trouble Engine from a|state Second Edition

It has come to our attention that the goodly folks in the Forged in the Dark community are enjoying The Trouble Engine from a|state Second Edition. We’ve had several requests to make use of this set of mechanics in other published Forged in the Dark Games.

The Trouble Engine was designed from scratch by Morgan Davie for Handiwork Games, and is not part of, nor covered by, the Forged in the Dark license. The Trouble Engine falls under regular copyright and as it stands no one can use it without a specific agreement from us at Handiwork Games. 

Until now!

We feel in the spirit of the Forged in the Dark license, and as a thank you for all the appreciative requests to use it, we would like everyone to be able to use The Trouble Engine in their own published games. We’re making The Trouble Engine SRD available for you to use in your published games. The contents of the SRD are available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license.

There are three simple rules we ask you to follow if you would like to use The Trouble Engine your published game:

1: If you use the Trouble Engine directly, add this line to your credits page:

“This game uses The Trouble Engine designed by Morgan Davie for Handiwork Games and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (”

2: If you create something consciously derived from The Trouble Engine, add this line to your credits page:

“This game uses rules inspired by The Trouble Engine designed by Morgan Davie for Handiwork Games and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (”

We kindly ask that you do not use your own wording to indicate use of this agreement on the credits page – please use the wording provided in order to avoid any confusion. 

3: It is very important that you agree not to use any names or information from the setting of The City found in a|state second edition. The place and character names from The City of a|state are not included in this license.  

This is an agreement which specifically allows you to use the mechanics of the Trouble Engine in your own setting. The City and a|state remain the sole property of Contested Ground Studios and are not part of this license.

Defining The Trouble Engine

When we say “The Trouble Engine” what precisely do we mean?

For the purposes of this agreement, “The Trouble Engine” comprises the rules and mechanics which first appeared on pages 148 to 160 of a|state second edition.

To assist you in making use of The Trouble Engine, we have prepared a text document with all the a|state setting material removed: The Trouble Engine System Reference Document.  Think of it like the Blades System Reference Document but for The Trouble Engine. 

The Trouble Engine SRD contains instances of terms in square brackets, which you will need to adjust for your setting. The terms in square brackets are: [character] and [location]. The precise terms you’ll want to use are likely dependent on your setting.

What Does The Trouble Engine Do?

The Trouble Engine keys into the Forged in the Dark system and allows GMs to steadily generate new problems and difficulties at a pace that reflects the current situation in their game. If you haven’t used it as part of a|state, we highly recommend you see it in context within that game to fully understand it.

The Trouble Engine Logo

You have our permission to use The Trouble Engine logo in your work if you want to. You can download a variety of versions here.

A Note on Copyright Law

We are, of course, aware that game mechanics do not fall under the auspices of copyright law. Only the written expression of a game rule is protected. This means that should you be so inclined you could simply rephrase Morgan’s work and make use of the underlying mechanics without any license or blessing from Handiwork Games. We have no argument with that – that is how copyright works. You could do the same with any game system or mechanic. 

With the ethos of licensing, sharing and crediting that underpins Forged in the Dark and its collegiate spirit, we know it saves our fellow designers a lot of time and energy if they know can use our mechanics with permission and without the need to file off any serial numbers. 

We very much appreciate how John Harper has shared Forged in the Dark with us, and we want to do what we can to give back to the Forged community.

We also very much look forward to seeing what you can do with The Trouble Engine in your own games!

Thank you

Thank you for all the emails asking to use The Trouble Engine in your games – we appreciate both the enthusiasm and the respectful manner in which everyone has communicated. We hope you enjoy using The Trouble Engine – please let us know how you get on, and by all means send us a link to what you make with it!

Podcasts and Streams

It seems like a busy week for enjoying content around our games!

The latest Yes Indie’d podcast features Paul Beakley, and he has some very kind things to say about a|state: “It is in my opinion the best Forged in the Dark game out right now”.

The a|state chat begins at 43:54, but Paul is a very interesting guy to listen to, so we highly recommend the whole thing. And if you missed his deep dive on a|state, be sure to check that out!

You can grab a|state in PDF at DrviethruRPG here.

Or the physical book, and a range of useful and fancy accessories at our web store here.

This Sunday, Telling Tales will be running Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland at 15:00 BST on Twitch. We’ll be excited to tune in!

We just released the Original Soundtrack for Maskwitches at DrivethruRPG, so you can now enjoy some very strange and disturbing music along with your very strange and disturbing Mesolithic spirit battlin’.

And stay tuned, Maskwitches fans, we’ll have some exciting news for anyone attending UK Games Expo in less than 3 weeks’ time! (And yes we are exhibiting at Expo, even if the UK Games Expo site thinks otherwise. You’ll find us right next to our friends Nightfall Games.)

a|state deep dive review

We love to get reviews of our work – it’s massively important, as getting word out about our games is tough when there are just so many other games!

The word of a trusted reviewer is so much more meaningful than anything we can say. We think a|state is a brilliant setting, and a really good implementation of Forged in the Dark. We’re standing on the shoulders of giants in so many respects.

When a review like this one from the mighty Paul Beakley comes in, we’re delighted. We hope you enjoy reading it.

a|state podcast episode two is out now!

In this episode it’s the turn of a|state co-creator Malcolm Craig to answer Jon’s infeasibly rambling and self-referential lines of questioning. This is a long-form chat between creatives, so expect rambling and opinions!

And if you missed episode one it’s here!:

Gone to the Dogs – coming soon for a|state

Something untoward is occurring at Folly Hills Dog Track. Unfancied hounds are winning races…
Competitive dogs are going to the pot…
The turnstiles are no longer thick with punters…

What has cast a shadow over the once-thriving Track?

Explore the cutthroat world of the dog track, the home of avaricious betting syndicates, vicious organised crime groups, disgruntled dog owners, and many bemused punters.

This supplement for a|state presents the Folly Hills Dog Track, a location teeming with trouble and opportunity that can become part of your game in many different ways.

The most straightforward way to use the Track is as an interesting location in The City, sitting alongside those described in the a|state book. Like those locations it is a source of inspiration and ideas, a potential place for troublemakers to visit, and an additional glimpse of the rhythms of life in The City. As with all those locations you can use it as presented, or strip this whole resource for parts to make your own version of the Dog Track.

The Track is presented so you can weave it into your struggle. The large number of people who converge on the Track, and the number of different interests that collide here, provide many opportunities to link it to your troublemakers. In the text following you will find many specific suggestions for ways to tie the Folly Hills Dog Track to the characters and conflicts at the heart of your game.

It is also possible to use it as your corner. Gone to the Dogs presents everything you need to build an exciting game of a|state with the Folly Hills Dog Track as the focus. If you and your group like the idea of getting into a game fast without having to build your corner from scratch, this will give you everything you need.

However you use the Folly Hills Dog Track, you will find that it gives you a robust starting point. The people, schemes, events, and rumours detailed here can branch off in infinite ways, depending on the actions and reactions of the troublemakers.

Gone to the Dogs will be heading out to backers of a|state second edition early next week. It will shortly thereafter go on sale to everyone at DrivethruRPG.

a|state second edition spreads

a|state second edition is making its physical presence felt as copies make their way to backers, late pledgers, and pre-orderers around the world. (Our friends in the US will need to be the most patient, since your books need to complete their sea voyage).

Of course in the mean time the PDF is out, and looking great! All pre-orders come with a free copy of the PDF.

Check out these spreads:

You can grab your copy here:

a|state coins coming soon

With a|state books on hand, and backer copies heading out right now, orders for all the accessories from the a|state second edition campaign will open very soon!

Let’s take a look at the a|state coins, made by our friends at Campaign Coins.

These are ideal to use in a game of The Three Coins, which is the story telling RPG played within The City, the setting of a|state. Games within games!

Find out more about a|state.

Find out more about The Three Coins