Friday News Update – October 30th

Some spooooooky deals at Hauntiwork Games… click the image for Hallowe’en bargains!

Spooky Deals at Hauntiwork Games!

£2 OFF Spooky Map Tiles – Evil Forest Tiles, Backstreets Tiles, Dystopian SF Tiles and Moorland Ruin Tiles.

£5 OFF Autumn Battle Mats – Autumn Battle Mat 36″ Gridded, and Autumn Battle Mat 36″ Ungridded 

£2 OFF Spooky Dice Trays – Horse Devil Square Dice Tray, and Barrow King Compact Dice Tray

Sunday’s also the last day for our battle-mat-and-dice-tray bundle. You can grab one of our three-foot-square tabletop mats, either with or without grid, alongside a matching dice tray, at a bargain price. We know your mates possibly won’t be round for a while, but where there’s dice, there’s hope, as the saying goes.

Autumn Battle Mat and Forgotten Tower Mars Dice Tray

And, with that in mind, please don’t forget that our Map Tiles come in digital, as well as physical form. We supply them in .jpg format, for use on Virtual Table Tops, so you can head out on adventure. And you don’t have to either a) leave the house, or b) share your snacks.

Gridded Hillfort Tiles

We’re delighted to say that our a|state primer, ‘Nicely, Done’, originally released for AlbaCon, has done so well that we’ve released it as a print book. Written by game creators Morgan Davie and Malcolm Craig, with artwork by Jon Hodgson, Paul Bourne, Gregor Hutton and Scotty Purdy, it’s truly a thing of gaming beauty. 

And you can grab yours from DriveThruRPG.

And in BEOWULF news, Jon was asked to give a school talk, this week – about the legend, about how it was changed into a game, and about how the game works for one player and one GM. This too, is on YouTube, and well worth the watch!

Grab your treasures at Handiwork Games.

Find us on Redbubble and DriveThruRPG.

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Writer Morgan Davie Talks About a|state!

Morgan Davie is one of the writers of a|state, and has popped in to tell us little about the new edition, and about the brand new primer, ‘Nicely, Done’, now available from DriveThruRPG.

Hi Morgue, and we’re very pleased to talk you, here at Handiwork Games!

Can you tell us a little about the cult RPG hit a|state? Is it fantasy or SF, utopia or dystopia?

I recently described a|state to a friend as “electro-punk anti-Thatcher dirty humanist SF” which demonstrates the futility of assigning it a simple label! It presents a dystopian science fiction vision, but more grimy than grim, sad and angry and loaded with black humour. 

What is The City, and why is it a good place to start?

The City isn’t just a good place to start, it’s the only place you can possibly be, for it is cut off from the rest of the world. Residents can see the stars when the fog clears at night, and they can send out machines to collect raw materials from the world around them, but none of them can leave. Everyone is trapped in The City, desperately trying to find enough security to sleep easy. That’s where the characters come in: their corner of The City is under threat, and it’s up to them to stand up and fight back!

Welcome to The City.

Who are some of your favourite characters/NPCs?

A|state doesn’t strongly emphasise pre-established characters. Each group will populate their own corner of The City with unique characters and there’s nothing more important than that! However, if I had to pick a favourite it would be Janus Kripitsch, the Lostfinder of Mire End, a generous soul determined to help those in need in return for a hot meal or two. (Janus is also a pre-generated character in Nicely, Done, the a|state Primer adventure!)

Characters for Nicely, Done

What kind of PCs would suit the environment? Are there character classes, as such, or can a player build something of their own?

Characters in a|state are built around seven archetypes called “playbooks”, but it’s easy to tilt any of them into whatever form you like. The archetypes are useful starting points, not straitjackets! The seven playbook options are: a community stalwart (e.g. an activist), a technical expert (e.g. a creator of clockwork computers), a warrior (e.g. a deadly ghostfighter), a wayfarer and explorer (e.g. a lostfinder), a smooth operator (e.g. a fixer), a wastrel (e.g. a thief), or a master persuaded (e.g. a journalist).

There are many different types and styles of RPG. Would you describe this one as adventure-based, story-based, or something else?

This game is all about a situation. The characters are known troublemakers, working together to keep the local community safe from outside forces. There are plenty of adventurous missions, where the characters take incredible risks as they take the fight directly to the dangerous powers arrayed against them. These are interspersed with periods of downtime where the characters pursue their personal goals, mix with local NPCs, and try to burn off the great stress of their shared purpose.

You can forget The City, but The City will never forget you.

Would you need previous RPG experience to be able to play the game/primer?

a|state is a Forged in the Dark game, complete in the book. Anyone can pick it up and work out how to play, no prior RPG experience needed. 

The primer, however, is just a taster and assumes the person running the game knows how Forged in the Dark games work.

And finally, tell us what your very favourite thing is about a|state! What are you proudest of?

It’s just exciting to be working on a|state! The original vision of The City presented by its creators Malcolm Craig and Paul Bourne took my breath away back in 2004. It feels great that we can return to it now, and make it come alive more vividly than ever!

Thank you very much for stopping to talk to us!

Thank you!

You can find out all about our a|state primer – here!

Friday News Update – October 23rd

In this week’s news: Scarred Lands goes out to backers!

Backers of our Scarred Lands campaign, your Creature Collections are now winging their way! In true Monster Manual/Fiend Folio tradition, this book of beasties contains the 5e stats for such wonders as the Berserker Wasp, The Bitter Tree, the Dream Shadow and the Marrow Knight. And our favourite quest dispenser, the Sage Camel.

All coming soon, to a postbox near you.

Scarred Lands Creature Collection – now on its way

Last night, we were delighted to see our own Jon Hodgson taking part in Steam’s DIGITAL TABLETOP FEST. Jon was chatting to top game designer Anthony Giovannetti, as Anthony played through the smash hit Slay The Spire. If you missed it don’t worry, we’ll have the link very soon!

Handiwork Games on Steam

If you love a bit of DriveThruRPG, our a|state primer, Nicely, Done is their top choice of FREE .pdf download this week. The setting is incredible, the artwork amazing, and the adventure complete. You’ll need the basic rules for Forged in the Dark, but otherwise, THE CITY is ready and waiting – you only have to lose yourself.

Find it, here.

a|state primer, Nicely, Done

And let us take you back… back… back… back to the world of The Forest Dragon. Designed by nine-year-old Rory, and winner of two Awards upon its release, The Forest Dragon is a creative and fun, family card game that takes you to a world of adventure. Find Swords, Coins and other treasures, find Sticks and Acorns and helpful characters to set you on your way. But beware The Forest Dragon!

And, while we know that we’re not supposed to mention Christmas ’til Hallowe’en is over… if you <are> thinking about gifts, we’ve got a whole merchant-load of gaming-related goodies, great for keeping you and yours entertained. And not only for the festive season!

Shop with us at Handiwork Games.

Or find us on Redbubble.

Beowulf Tee from Redbubble

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Friday News Update – October 16th

It’s been a busy week here at Handiwork Games!

First up, BIG NEWS: we will be taking part in Steam’s DIGITAL TABLETOP FEST! Join Jon, chatting to top game designer Anthony Giovannetti, as Anthony plays through the smash hit Slay The Spire. Our event takes place at 11pm UK time, on October 22nd, but the Fest will be going on all week.

Come and get your tabletop on, at

In BEOWULF news, our Award-nominated intro-adventure, released last week as a print book, is coming soon with an original sketch from Jon Hodgson. We know that quite a few of you had been asking about this, so we’ll fed Jon all the tea and make him start drawing.

The results, as you can see, should be pretty spectacular!

We’ve also had our first look at out gorgeous, real oak display boxes for the BEOWULF tokens and compass coin. These will go on our site very soon, and we should be offering them both with and without the shinies. And big thank you to D Taylor Woodworking for a beautiful job!

In MORE news, our a|state primer, originally released to attendees at AlbaCon, is now available to download from DriveThruRPG. The .pdf is free, the artwork beautiful, the setting rich with nuance and character. Let us take you to The City, and to the introductory mission ‘Nicely, Done’. You’ll need the Forged in the Dark system to play the scenario – but all other info is included. And hey, it could just be time to take that urban vacation…

While you’re packing – so to speak – do come find us on REDBUBBLE. We have lots of tees, homewares, merch and other treasures, from Beowulf to The Forest Dragon, all just waiting to be liberated. They make perfect and original gifts, for others and for yourself. (Go on, you deserve it, you know you do).

And DON’T miss it – the battle-mat and dice-tray bundle is not going to be available for much longer! Our battle mats are three feet square (seriously, they’re huge), and in a variety of atmospheric shades. They come with or without grids, and every one comes with a matching dice tray, so you can control your manoeuvres, and your maths rocks, all at the same time.

Or, if you don’t fancy the mat, try the map. Our second batch of map tiles feature floor plans for both utopian and dystopian SF scenarios, plus all sorts of features from hillforts to moors to evil forests (hey, who doesn’t love an evil forest?). They come in packs of thirty, double-sided, and can take you and your party on any adventure you can dream up.

Handiwork Games – helping you get out the house, without, y’know, actually leaving the house…

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Friday News Update – October 9th

Welcome to the Friday news update from Handiwork Games!

Each week, we’ll be giving you a quick round-up of what’s going on in the office – what’s in, what’s new, and what’s coming up.

This week, we’re really pleased with our beautiful, full-colour print version of The Hermit’s Sanctuary, the ENnie-Award nominated intro-campaign for our BEOWULF 5e setting. Offering rules specially adapted for one player and one GM, The Hermit’s Sanctuary comes with full maps, backgrounds and NPCs. All you have to do is imagine.

Find yours, here.

And to help with the imagining, we’ve just taken delivery of our gorgeous BEOWULF miniatures. From The Hermit’s Sanctuary adventure, they’re all real metal, each carefully sculpted by artist Richard Dickens. They’re a full set of eight characters and one monster, and they come in a really cute box!

We’ve added the extra two figures as a free thank you to our backers. And, just so you know, the price of the box will go up once the late Kickstarter pledges have been delivered.

So, if you haven’t backed us yet, don’t miss out – our smash hit BEOWULF Kickstarter is still open. To get your miniatures and a great deal more, get those late pledges in on Crowd Ox

In other news, if you were at AlbaCon you should have downloaded your copy of our a|state primer, ‘Nicely, done’. If you missed the Con, don’t worry; we’ll make the FREE .pdf readily available, very soon.

You can find out more about a|state on our Games Page

Coming shortly: our brand new Patreon! It’s called Handimonsters, it’ll be a monthly subscription, and it’ll be the ideal way to shock your players… no, wait… to get some fantastic new beasties for your 5e campaign.

Watch this space for more info!

And we do still have SALE BUNDLES left. Make out like a bandit when you grab one of our three-foot-square (seriously, they’re enormous) battle mats, along with a matching dice tray. With artwork by Jon Hodgson, it’s a deal any rogue would be proud of.

Autumn Battle Mat and Square Dice Tray

Thank you for being here with us at Handiwork games. We’re role-players too, and we get it – we understand how the game goes together.

Follow us on Twitter @GamesHandiwork, Facebook @HandiworkGames, Instagram @HandiworkGames and our new Pinterest page, and sign up to our newsletter here!

Welcome to the City – FREE Early Access to our a|state Primer!

Very good news for a|state fans, and for everyone attending AlbaCon this weekend (3rdand 4th October)…

We’re giving AlbaCon attendees FREE early access to the .pdf Primer for our a|state setting that uses the Forged in the Dark rules. This is a full-colour, 32-page introduction to The City, featuring some absolutely gorgeous, highly atmospheric artwork, a full description of The City itself, character sheets for a suitable slink of local wheelers, dealers, stealers and NPCs, and a FREE mission scenario, ‘Nicely, done’. 

About Nicely, done

Mire End is a forlorn place: miles of brick and concrete tenements, all slowly disintegrating. Water covers the streets, the drainage systems destroyed long ago. The damp and rotting lower floors of most buildings are left empty.

Reports of child slavery in Mire End have led the group to investigate a woman named Hosanna Nicely…

If you’re attending AlbaCon, your membership will include access to the AlbaCon Discord, where you’ll find the download link for Nicely,Done. 

About a|state

A sepia tone world lit by guttering gas lamps and flickering electrified filaments. Stinking canals radiate out through The City, thick with the detritus of untold millions of lives. Dank alleys wind between corroding concrete tower blocks, wide boulevards swarm with peddlers, traders, thieves, and marks…

First released in the early 2000s, a|state was a cult hit. Now it’s back.

Welcome to the city. You will never forget the city. But the city will forget you.

a|state call for playtesters


The first edition of a|state was released in 2004 by Contested Ground Studios with writing by Malcolm Craig and art by Paul Bourne. It was widely praised for its setting and presentation and was a very ambitious game for a young Scottish studio. It became a cult hit, with players all over the world.

a|state invited players to The City – a sprawling, apparently endless, futuristic dystopia, where the repressive rich enjoy lives filled with technology and comfort, and the poor… do not. The game’s action centres around trying to eke out an existence in this bleak vision of an alternate world.

With influences from JG Ballard, Upton Sinclair, the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the movie Dark City, a|state presented a uniquely fascinating world to explore through play. 

Mire End, Dreamingspires, The Trench, Burningfell, Fogwarren, and Calculus Tor all provided unique and evocative locations for Ghostfighters and Lostfinders to discover.

Never entirely satisfied with the original game system, Malcolm moved on to create other games like Cold City and Hot War, which had rules truer to his design intentions. Pursuing an academic career, Malcolm decided to retire from the pressures of the RPG industry.

a|state slipped from view, but never from memory.

Fast forward to 2019 and a chance encounter at Tabletop Scotland. A discussion about using Forged in the Dark rules for a new edition of a|state made it a tantalising possibility. Could it be done?

It turns out that it could!

With Paul Bourne already working for Handiwork Games, and Malcolm prepared to lend a hand on this new edition, we’re delighted to also be joined by Gregor Hutton and Morgan Davie, both of whom have a long association with a|state, and many impressive gaming credits under their own belts.

You may know Gregor from the smash hits 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars or Best Friends. Morgan has also written some truly amazing games, which you can find at

Welcome back to The City

In the Second Edition of a|state you and your friends will define a corner of The City, and set about defending it and making it a better place to live. We’ve fine-tuned the Forged in the Dark rules to fit the themes and tone of a|state and The City.

And with a complete scenario laid out and illustrated, we’re now ready to start recruiting playtesters! We’re looking for some groups who are familiar with Forged in the Dark games, willing to give our play test scenario, Nicely, Done a go.

If you’d like to try it, please email us at with the subject line “Playtesting a|state”

Find out more about a|state at: