a|state second edition
A new edition of the dystopian scifi RPG a|state powered by Forged in the Dark rules.

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Welcome to The City. There is no escape.

Step inside a baroque urban nightmare, the world of a|state. In The City you’ll fight off threats to your canalside home, trying to make this grim and haunted place safer and better, somehow.

a|state brings a new, hopeful approach to the much-loved Forged in the Dark ruleset. Your ability to Care counts as much as your ability to Fight.

Create Troublemakers such as the deft and deadly Ghostfighter, the caring and curious Lostfinder, the persuasive and passionate Activist, and the striking and stealthy Sneakthief. If they can trust each other they might have a chance.

Defend your corner from selfish authorities, angry gangs and heartless industries, and deal with the spiralling consequences of your own actions as you struggle for a better tomorrow. 

Bringing the wine-dark visual vibes of Dark City and The City of Lost Children, a|state delivers Dickensian anti-Thatcher sparks and knives sci fi.

Children tilt down alleys, chanting bloody nursery rhymes, while withered men shout warnings from tenement windows.

Factory workers crowd sweating into cable cars, hoping their pay will last the week. Aerodynes roar above them, bearing the rich to luminous towers.

Under gas lamps and flickering electrics, the Provosts pull a body from a canal, a ceramic blade jammed in its chest. You know the truth: this wasn’t a robbery gone wrong. In a distant office, a red line was drawn across a map, and now your home is in danger.

This is the story of how you fight back.

'This new a|state takes Forged In The Dark and drags it kicking and screaming into a dystopian urban hell.' - Howard Bishop, Tabletop SPIRIT Magazine

The second ediiton of a|state will be a full-colour, hard cover book of 228 pages.  It will be traditionally printed in an off-set print run. The PDF version will be fully bookmarked and hyperlinked.

On Kickstarter we unlocked copious extra content, setting sections, glorious spot-UV on the cover, and added an appendix of media inspiration and analysis by original a|state co-creator Malcolm Craig, which will further expand the book. We'd also brought some new fresh voices on board the writing team.

Here’s a glimpse of some of what you’ll find in a|state 2E, in chapter order:

  • A smooth, powerful iteration of Forged in the Dark
  • Seven character playbooks with many more variations to explore
  • Rules for creating your own threatened corner of The City
  • Guidance for going on missions as you struggle to bring hope to your community
  • New rules to bring downtime between missions to life
  • A toolkit for exploring the unknown reaches of The City beyond your home
  • Focused assistance for the GM to create missions, support players and manage the whole struggle
  • The Trouble Engine, an innovative creation system that will throw problem after problem at the corner and those who defend it
  • A vibrant and instantly usable guide to life in The City
  • Playable details of 20 locations (or more, depending on stretch goals!)
  • Full descriptions of every major faction in The City and how they will make life difficult for the corner
  • Insights into the deepest mysteries of The City and the strange beings known as the Shifted
  • And throughout, there will be songs, poems, folk tales, advertising, and ephemera that vividly bring to life the world of The City

‘An exciting, cutting edge RPG that takes on cyberpunk and noir shapes and moves them on enormously, in ways informed by the future shock we’ve all experienced in the last few years.  Playable, prescient and wise.’ - Paul Cornell, writer of I Walk With Monsters 

The Limited Edition book will be strictly limited to a maximum of 200 copies, though we anticipate fewer will be made, and it will never be reprinted. It will feature the same gorgeous internal pages, but boasts a unique red foil-stamped design by Paul Bourne on a dark grey faux leather cover.

If you'd like to try a|state 2e for yourself, then you can download Nicely, Done and a|state Setting Primer for free, from DrivethruRPG

This handsome PDF will give you an introduction to the setting, and a complete scenario to play.

To make use of Nicely, Done it helps if you have some familiarity with Forged in the Dark games - however, the full a|state 2e book will contain all the rules you need for play.

The new edition of a|state makes use of the Forged in the Dark rules. 

Forged in the Dark games cast player characters as a bunch of badasses united by a strong reason to work together, the GM is encouraged to follow their lead without preparing too much, and everybody around the table gets to put their stamp on what is happening.

The Forged in the Dark dice mechanic is very simple (but with lots of little levers you can push and pull as you learn how it all works), and it spits out lots of complications. Those very competent player characters spend a lot of time living out the “well well well if it isn’t the consequences of my own actions” meme. It gives Forged in the Dark games a lot of momentum: you set out to do something, and then you do it, but now you have new problems to deal with.

Gregor Hutton (author of famed indie RPG 3:16, and a key part of our team) was the one who first said “Forged in the Dark would work perfectly for a|state”. The first Forged in the Dark game was about a group of chancers sneaking about in the alleyways of a huge, gloomy city, which is an instant match. But it goes a bit deeper than that!

It makes sure actions spark reactions, solutions are almost never clean and tidy, and problems arise easily and ripple outwards, all of which fit perfectly with the messy density of The City.

Forged in the Dark games have a faction system that works for huge City-wide forces that don’t know you exist, but also for that one grumpy family in the next tenement who keep spreading rumours about you.

The rules are entirely player-facing, so the GM never needs to come up with detailed stats for what lurks in The City – very handy when dealing with the strange and unknowable Shifted.

Forged in the Dark elevates details. Whenever there’s an action roll, the player and GM both have a say in how the rules apply, and everyone can show their work and talk through the reasons for their decisions. You don’t roll any dice until everyone’s on the same page. This means you get an intense focus on the details of the fictional situation, which plugs right into one of a|state’s big drawcards, its vividly imagined setting. Every time you make an action roll, you also work together to bring The City to life. It works great!

We're brought a completed game to Kickstarter. The rules adaptation and several rounds of extensive play tests are done. A huge amount of artwork has been created, and the setting sections are written and edited. We have completed 20 areas of The City for inclusion in the book.

We unlocked a bunch of stretch goals on Kickstarter, so there's even more to add. We've allowed ourselves plenty of time to do this, and the framework is complete. Any extra unlocked material will slot into the main book in a modular fashion. Unlocked extra art will open up the layout making it even more glorious to use.

You can pledge for:

  • The hardcover, full colour hardback of a|state 2e
  • The PDF version
  • The Limited Edition version
  • The hardcover with all Add-Ons
  • The Limited Edition with all Add-Ons

All of these come with the a|state Digital Pack - which is a collection of digital resources, articles and extra "stuff" as a bonus for being a backer. If you've followed our BEOWULF Age of Heroes kickstarter you'll know just how much stuff we like to give our backers. 

If we're successful we may also unlock a series of a|state scenarios that will be free to all reward-level supporters as part of the Digital Pack.

You can also customise your pledge by Adding-On the following rewards items:

  •  The Three Coins zine
  •  a|state coins set
  • signed book plate
  •  a|state art cards
  • The City compass rose
  •  a|state play mat
  •  a|state table tower 
  •  a|state punchboard clock set

To add on items hit "Manage your pledge". You need to be at a physical reward level to add on these items as part of the kickstarter. There will be some more flexibility around Add Ons in the post-campaign Pledge manager, so you can also simply add extra credit to your pledge and select what to spend it on once the campaign is over.

The Three Coins zine £12

A 32 page zine-style booklet detailing The Three Coins, a story-telling roleplaying game played in The City. Featuring annotations by both authoritarian censors and players of the game, The Three Coins provides a unique insight into the world of The City and is a playable game in its own right. Play requires 3 to 4 coins.

Presented in a square 148cm format, with a 250gsm cover. The physical version comes with a free PDF of the booklet.

• You can also add on for the PDF separately.

Please note that The Three Coins was unlocked during the course of the campaign and is not included in the "All Launch Add Ons" pledges.

a|state coins set £10

The perfect companion for The Three Coins - four intricate coins from The City, made in partnership with our friends at Campaign Coins. These coins are 30mm across, and approximately 3mm deep, which is a good chunky size for playing The Three Coins. They come in an antiqued bronze finish.

Please note that the Coins Set was unlocked during the course of the campaign and is not included in the "All Launch Add Ons" pledges.

Signed book plate £10

We'll send you a stunning print of a|state artwork, professionally printed, with a space for as many of the team as we can reach to sign it. You can choose to paste into your book, slip it inside or frame it. The choice is yours!

a|state art cards £10

A set of six A5 postcards featuring our favourite images from The City, supplied in a hardback envelope. This is a superb collector's set and memento of the campaign. The images you see here are for demonstration purposes - we'll choose the very best images once we've made all the artwork!

The City compass rose £10

Direct from the pocket of a City-dweller - this heavy-weight metal compass rose features the compass directions of The City. Made with our friends at Campaign Coins this is both a precious souvenir of The City and this campaign but crucially can also be used with the a|state play mat during games.

a|state play mat £12

The a|state play mat makes every dramatic action in your game a vivid, hands-on experience. The playmat features a risk/reward chart sized to the a|state compass rose. Put the compass (or other marker) in the starting position, and slide it from square to square as you work out the exact balance of risk and reward for your roll. It’s fast and easy with no room for confusion.  Dice results are given so you know what’s at stake before you roll. 

Printed on flexible neoprene like a card game play mat or mouse mat, the play mat is 8 inches by 11 inches, to fit nicely within the footprint of the rulebook, and features art and design by a|state co-creator Paul Bourne.

Please note this Add-On does not come with the Compass Rose - it is a separate accessory.

a|state table tower £16

The a|state Table Tower is your new favourite accessory! A sturdy four-panel screen, printed on hefty 2mm board, that you fold into a three-sided tower, it sticks up above your cluttered table so essential info is just a glance away for everyone.  Two panels show handy references for players along with beautiful a|state artwork by Paul Bourne. Cover the artwork with sticky notes when you need to remember important stuff!  The rest is packed with GM reference. There’s a mission panel for the mission phase, and a downtime panel for the downtime phase. Fold the tower so the one you need is showing, and the other one stays hidden until you need it.   But that’s not all! When the need hits, unfold the tower to access stacks more detailed references. You’ll be ready for every unexpected twist in the game!   The Table Tower does all this and makes your game look epic, and it all fits in a space about the size of a single piece of paper!

Find out more in this update.

a|state punchboard clock set £15

A set of 5 heavy-weight card punch boards (the kind of material board games counters are made from), which function like a bunch of Forged in the Dark clocks, but in the style of an a|state dingin (pronunced "din-jin"). The circular buttons all pop out as tokens, which can be replaced one-by-one to fill in a space in the punch clock. You can track multiple clocks simultaneously on each board, and there are enough boards in each set for players and the GM. Space is provided to attach sticky bookmark post-it notes to each clock being used, so they can be easily labelled.

 BEOWULF Age of Heroes £40

Our previous campaign created BEOWULF Age of Heroes for 5e. If you'd like one of these glorious, lavishly illustrated, 272 page hardcovers delivered with your a|state rewards then add one on! Includes free PDF version.

Please note BEOWULF books added on will be delivered as part of this kickstarter. If you can't wait for a BEOWULF, simply head to our webstore or friendly local stockist, and buy one there.

 BEOWULF Age of Heroes PDF £15

The PDF version of BEOWULF Age of Heroes. Fully bookmarked and hyperlinked for one-on-one 5e monster-slaying.

Let's be honest, with the pandemic and a global shipping crisis in full swing, it's hard to be absolutely definitive about shipping right now. However, we have warehouses in 3 locations around the world which should mean we are able to offer customs-friendly shipping from the EU, the UK and the US. 

Please note, we do have a retailer pledge level, which will allow retailers to stock and sell the book as soon as their rewards are sent. Due to the vagaries of our round planet, that may happen to occur before you get your rewards. 

We're a small team, dedicated to making creative, independent-spirited games that offer excellent value at the games table, and which are presented with the highest quality visuals and physical components. 

We're a team with very deep experience and we've worked on countless projects for other companies, as well as our own roleplaying games. We have successfully crowdfunded two Forest Dragon card games, Map Tiles, and the 5e setting BEOWULF: Age of Heroes. We're very proud of our Kickstarter record, and encourage you to check out those campaigns to see how we work.

Working on a|state 2nd edition are:

Paul Bourne

A co-originator of a|state Paul Bourne is known for his amazing imagery and fantastic layout and design skills. Having cut his teeth on Contested Ground Studios’ original games, he spent many years working for Cubicle 7, being responsible for graphic design on a host of titles including The One Ring, before joining the team at Handiwork Games in 2019. Paul is secretly one of the best graphic designers in the business.

Malcolm Craig

Malcolm is the co-originator of a|state. As a games designer he was prolific in the early 2000s wave of British Indie games, creating a|state, Cold City and Hot War. Now working in academia as a history lecturer specialising in the Cold War era, Malcolm has generously come out of games design retirement to become an active member of the a|state 2nd Edition design team. We’re amazed and delighted that he has agreed to become such an integral contributor to this new edition, bringing an updated vision of The City to 2e.

Morgan Davie

Morgan Davie also worked on the original a|state, and is another prolific and accomplished indie game designer. His website taleturn.com is a treasure trove of unique ideas. Morgue also co-hosts the Diceratops: Live show & podcast. Morgue is a thoroughly thoughtful and innovative designer with a unique voice and approach, and we’re delighted to have him aboard! His latest project, The Deck of Monkey Things is exactly what you think it is.

Jon Hodgson

Jon Hodgson is the owner of Handiwork Games, and is also making character art for the new edition of a|state. A long time freelance artist, Jon has worked on mainstream games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, as well as indie gems like Spione and Dust Devils. Jon is also a writer and games designer in his own right, being a contributor to the writing of The One Ring, Adventures in Middle-earth and more recently co-creator of BEOWULF Age of Heroes.

Gregor Hutton

A member of the original a|state production team, and probably to blame for this whole second edition, Gregor is renowned for his numerous acclaimed indie games - most notably smash hit space murder game 3:16. Gregor’s game design work is as charming and welcoming as the man himself, bringing fresh perspectives and razor-sharp wit to all kinds of aspects of games design.

Scott Purdy

Scott Purdy is Handiwork Games’ lead artist, and is helping with character art for the new edition. Scott has worked for almost everyone in roleplaying games, from the smallest to the largest, Pathfinder and Monte Cook Games’ various games being the stand out names. Scott is a relentless art machine known for his reliability and consistent high quality contribution to the world of gaming art.

At Handiwork we like to run what we like to call "Friendly Kickstarters". This is based on the philosophy that we're all just people, and our backers are people too. We like to chat to you on that basis, and work together to make something amazing that we couldn't make without each other.

By joining us, you understand that we're human, and will doubtless come up against challenges as part of the project, but that you're here to help us overcome them. We'll be open and honest, and in return we ask that you are kind, polite, and try to understand the challenges involved.

While we've run many kickstarters for both ourselves and other companies, and we've never left any backer hanging, but this isn't a shop or a pre-order. We're working together to make a thing real. It's very exciting!

We can all be friends if you'll let us, and we've made a series of lasting friendships with our community on other projects. We hope this one will be the same.

You're genuinely supporting the creation of a project from a group of independent creators.

In return we ask that you please do follow along with updates, especially those marked "Important", which will contain vital information to help us get you your rewards.

We understand that we're all bombarded by spam emails these days, but if you lock down your supplied email address, and don't check in here on the campaign page, then we might not be able to get you your rewards or let you know important information.

Now that we've funded, you can expect at least one progress update per calendar month from us at the Kickstarter page. These are always public - open to late pledgers and kickstarter backers Seems fair.

Please note that we have a Retailer pledge level. This means that retailer backers will be at liberty to sell their stock of books just as soon as they receive them. Which, depending on your location around the globe and the vagaries of international shipping, may occur before you receive your rewards. We love game stores and we hope you do too.

License and Credits

All art is by Paul Bourne, Jon Hodgson and Scott Purdy.

Blades in the Dark™ is a trademark of One Seven Design. The Forged in the Dark Logo is © One Seven Design, and is used with permission.

This work is based on Blades in the Dark (found at http://www.bladesinthedark.com/), product of One Seven Design, developed and authored by John Harper, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

£15 5 claimed

a|state 2e PDF

Get the second edition of a|state in PDF. Your PDF will be delivered to you as soon as it is ready vis DrivethruRPG coupon.

Pledge Now £15
£36 15 claimed

a|state 2e hardcover + PDF

The hardback book of a|state 2e, in full colour, plus the PDF included for free.
Pledge Now £36
£75 1 claimed

a|state retailer

This reward is a bit different — you'll make a minimum deposit of £75 and we'll verify you as a retailer after the campaign. You can then use your deposit (and additional funds added later) to order copies of the standard rulebook and accessories at a retail-friendly discount. We'll reach out to you after the campaign ends to take your order.

We offer free shipping on larger orders, and shipping at cost once the books are printed.

Please don't add any products as part of check out here on Crowd Ox - we can't manage your retailer discount here.

Pledge Now £75
£100 1 out of 30 claimed

a|state limited edition

This pledge level gets you the limited edition version of the a|state 2e hardcover. This contains the same contents as the regular hardcover, but has the strictly limited edition cover. We will never make these again, and there's a maximum of 200 available across two pledge levels.
Pledge Now £100
£100 3 claimed

Book, PDF and All Launch Add Ons

You'll get the hardcover a|state 2e, the PDF, plus 

  • a signed bookplate
  • art cards
  • compass rose
  • play mat
  • table tower
  • punch clock set

    Please note this pledge level does not include the coins, or Three Coins zine which were unlocked later in the campaign. You can add those on separately.
Pledge Now £100
£170 2 out of 30 claimed

Ltd Edition, PDF & All Launch Add Ons

You'll get the limited hardcover a|state 2e, the PDF, plus a signed bookplate, art cards, compass rose, play mat, tower and punch clock set.
Pledge Now £170
£350 All claimed

Enter The City

If you've always dreamt of finding yourself as a denizen of The City now is the chance for you to embrace that dream and make it a reality. Just three people will get the chance to be immortalised in the artwork of a|state second edition. We'll ask you to send in a photograph of yourself, or a person you're gifting this experience to (with their written approval) and we'll incorporate you into the panopoly of character art in the book. You'll also enjoy get a limited edition rulebook and ALL the unlocked a|state physical rewards so far, including the Three Coins and Coin Set.
All Gone
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