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: