With pre-order dispatch about to complete, and the books about to be restocked, let’s take a look at some tips for how to make good use of the Jon Hodgson Backdrops books. It’s actually amazingly convenient and easy to take some really good shots of your miniatures with these books. And once you have your set up in place, it’s simplicity itself to grab the book, turn a few pages and select a different backdrop!
So for this walkthrough we’re shooting outside. We’re using a digital SLR, but if you’re using a phone camera nothing changes – the principles remain the same. You might like to find something to lean your camera on to keep it as steady as possible. Here we shot hand-held because there was plenty of sunlight. Remember, the gloomier it is, the longer it will take for your camera to gather the necessary light, so you’re more likely to get shakey shots.
Here’s the equipment we need for maximum convenience. Technical stuff!
Character Queue is an ongoing series where we dive deep into our pregenerated characters that we made as part of our introduction to our BEOWULF:Age of Heroes roleplaying game. We were fortunate enough to fund sculpting and casting these characters, so not only do they appear in character sheet form but as professional miniatures as well.
Our character today is Eadig.
“Bald Eadig is a character that represents one extreme of our alignment system. He is a true believer in the new church and its messageand vocal about those beliefs. But he exists in a world where he’s often the exception rather than the majority and his confidence often provides excellent roleplaying opportunities as others react to him or he has to negotiate a situation among those who feel differently.” – Jacob Rodgers
Bald Eadig, Wrestling Hero
There are a great many dark places in the world, and the Book teaches that the faithful should bring the light, and with it burn out evil wherever it may be found. Blessed with the barrel-chested strength that comes with middle-age, a distinct lack of hair, and a devotion to the word of the Book, Bald Eadig means to carry the news of the saviour far and wide, and in doing so battle the forces of darkness as an example to all. Where he can’t bring the benefits of writing and contemplation, he will bring his big stick.
Possessed of a simple knowledge and an earthy goodness, Bald Eadig is a fearsome enemy of the darkness. He has helped build priory walls, defended pilgrims, and guarded monks. Now he is setting out on the swan road to find the greatest enemies of the Church – the very devils of hell and the sons of Cain.
The Witches and the Wyrm is a brand new, completely extra, BEOWULF scenario – and coming very soon. Written by Jon and illustrated by Jon and Scott, the tides of this adventure carry your Hero away from the Church and The Hermit’s Sanctuary, and back towards the Old Ways and the mysteries of the Goddess.
Heroes are divided by alignment – and in BEOWULF, that’s by the Church and the Old Ways, rather than by the ones you know – and in episode 2, Jacob and Jon talk you through how that works.
This week in the BEOWULF podcast on YouTube, as Jon brings us up to speed on everything going on, and as he and Jacob talk FEATS, character improvements for your Hero.
Speaking of Heroes, you can now download all of our Hero miniatures as single character .stl files, enabling you to print and paint them at home. As well as Blaedswith and Ham Anfaeld, you can also find Bald Eadig, Ibn Uthman, Alys, Cwenhild, Waelwulf and – of course – Muthbona.
They also available to pre-order in metal, in a lovely boxed set at our store.
And we’ll have more BEOWULF treasures in the next couple of weeks. Brand new accessories, just to please the goblins among you (you so know who you are)…
Plus: more news from Handimonsters!
Jacob’s been busy plotting (we worry when he does that), and his JUMP RAT ENCOUNTER is now available to patrons. These rodents may be little, but they’re fast, they’re fierce, they’re feisty, they’ve got long legs, and they can cause all SORTS of trouble for your 5e party. This encounter comes complete with map, index, and pointers for GMs – and it’s available when you sign up to our Handimonsters Patreon.
And don’t forget – when you sign up, you’ll get the full manual of all our monsters, a new monster every Monday, and a whole heap of extra content to play with – starting at only £2.50 a month.
Sign up for our newsletter and you’ll get extra offers, insights and snippets!
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:
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.
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:
Jump on over to DriveThruRPG, where our JON HODGSON MAP TILES are 20% OFF. These include our best-selling Dungeon Tiles, plus SF Tiles (Uptoian and Dystopian), and Tiles offering Forests, Caverns, Desert, Hillforts, and everywhere else you can escape to roll dice. And all of these come with free digital files.
You can also find all of our digital scenery packs, featuring everything from walls and posts and logs and sticks, all the way up to fireplaces and furniture.
Perfect backgrounds for all your lockdown gaming adventures!
And, taking you down the Whale Road this week, we have two brand new BEOWULF videos. Join Bald Eadig in the third instalment of The Hermit’s Sanctuary adventure, presented by our friends at Campaign Coins. This week, The Search…
Join Jon and Jacob, discussing the first chapter of our BEOWULF setting in this week’s podcast, over at our YouTube channel.
YOU DID IT! The day after its release, BEOWULF: Age of Heroes was an instant Top Ten bestselling title on DriveThruRPG. Give yourselves a good round of table-thumping and a big ol’ flagon of mead!
Needless to say, we’re over the MOON – really, really pleased to see our Hero doing so well.
But the tale doesn’t end there!
In the Handiwork Games store, we have all our beautiful BEOWULF accessories for pre-order – so if you missed these on Kickstarter, you can place your orders now. Find our Compass and Inspiration Tokens, both from Campaign Coins, plus the real oak box.
And find our specially-made, white-metal minis, along with wolves (who doesn’t need wolves), and the full digital minis pack that allows you to print your own.
And don’t forget to place your pre-order for the print book version, coming very soon – because books are always the best. (You’ll get your .pdf download free as well).
And still, the tale continues…
Jump on over to our YouTube Channel to find our newest RPG panel. In this one, Danie talks to Jon about BEOWULF, and to author Lou Anders about his Viking Age 5e Kickstarter Norrongard, Thrones and Bones. Jon and Lou shed their insights on the recent rise of role-playing, on adapting the 5e system, and on who they’d like to game with, if they could.
You can also catch Jon and Jacob Rodgers in the first of our BEOWULF podcasts!
Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about BEOWULF, and about the imminent arrival of the .pdf…
…but not as much about the story behind the game, or about the detail and attention that have gone into making it happen.
Lots of this can be found on the BEOWULF page on our website. There, we talk about how we’ve used and adapted the 5e system – including character classes, abilities, alignments, and equipment.
But we also talk about the things that make BEOWULF unique, and about how we’ve tied the game to the original poem.
Things like the ‘Portent’. Before Beowulf goes to face Grendel, he asks permission of King Hygelac, and seeks out omens of the road ahead. In the game, we represent this with a series of random rolls, each generating the next part of your hero’s journey. These Portent rolls tie in with the 5e inspiration rules – they may favour the hero, bringing them inspiration tokens, or they may give those tokens to the monster, which brings a very dark omen indeed. They also give the GM some strong ideas and imagery, which can be woven back into the story. However the Portents turn out, they map your hero’s adventure, and show them the road ahead.
We have beautiful, specially crafted tokens just for this purpose. For those of you that missed the Kickstarter, these should be available to pre-order next month. They’re made by Campaign Coins, and they’re a really gorgeous prop.
There’s also our use of ‘Followers’. Our game is specially designed for ‘duet play’, one PC and one GM (though it can be played with a group), making it not only true to the poem, but the perfect game for a new player, or to play at home. And this means, like faithful Wiglaf, your hero will have followers!
While those followers may only turn up rarely in the story, they’re always in the background. And in a duet game, where there’s less engine noise and no need to ‘take turns’, they offer huge potential for personal role-playing, dramatic interactions and ‘theatre-of-the-mind’ scenario development. They support your hero in times of tension, and they offer the GM a good way of feeding information or clues. If you’re playing with a larger group, the followers may not get quite as much air-time, but they can still be fun to have around!
Like our tokens, we’ve made special Beowulf minis – all eight pre-generated heroes plus one monster – which will be arriving on our website very soon.
If you’d rather not wait, then please have a look at the intro-adventure, the Hermit’s Sanctuary, on DriveThruRPG.
And you can find out more about Beowulf, and how it all goes together at Handiwork Games.
And – a quick and cheeky footnote! If you’re an a|state fan, please be aware that our printers are discontinuing the staple-bound copies of the intro adventure, Nicely, Done. Instead, copies will be in ‘perfect bound’ format – but that does mean the stapled versions will soon become very rare!
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.