A|State: Gothic Sci-fi Horror

A|State was a sci-fi horror game released back in 2004 by Contested Ground Studios. It's gothic horror and cyberpunk, with gas lamps and superstition, set in a city which you cannot leave. Now, Handiwork Studios has just released a trailer for a new edition, which will use the Blades in the Dark system.

"The game itself is set in The City. Isolated from the outside world, it is a place riven by horrors, plagued by inhumanity and crushed under the weight of its own population. Rotting concrete towerblocks and dank brick tenements house the millions who work, live and die in The City. Ghostfighters, Scops, Lostfinders and Flowghosts make their way along the winding streets and stinking canals. a|state is about hope in a dark place. It is about characters who bring hope to themselves, their families, their friends, even to the whole city."

Handiwork Games is the company launched by ex-Cubicle 7 art director Jon Hodgson, which is also working on 5E properties based on Beeowulf and Greek themes.


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

I love AState, and I really tried to get a campaign going. I hope they answer a few of the countless questions that surround the setting.

Don’t know either the original game or the new system. Looks interesting, though.

THe system wasn't great, but I wasn't planning on using it.

But the depth of the detail was astounding, and it has to be one of the only books I have seen since 1979 where the fiction pieces actually were useful and informative. The writers got deep into the entire setting.

It was recommended to me, and I was extremely doubtful: a city no one can leave? They would starve to death.

Yes, they would, except the writers very carefully addressed that issue, and every other objection.


Don’t know either the original game or the new system. Looks interesting, though.
Written by Malcolm Craig, the guy behind Cold City and Hot War, it was an attempt to create more elaborate and longer lasting setting. As all his pieces of work, it is of very high quality, beautifully laid out and presented.

It was one of the settings that had a big city and the world outside of it mysteriously gone. The game themes and elements included, among other things, Dickensian poverty and gangs, disposable teen pilots and corporate politicking, conflicts between almighty guilds and mysteries (like what happens to people who guard the edge of the city).

British mystery post-apocalyptic urban techno horror at its finest.

Here's a link of Contested Ground Studios products - look at the previews where available:

Since the preview is not working for AIState, here's a copy and paste of an example from the book:

Brickworks Y-10

Description: Disused brickworks

Now disused after a disastrous strike a few years ago, Brickworks Y-10 lies as a mute reminder of the futility of resistance in the face of macrocorporate power. When manual workers in Y-10 organised a sit-in to protest against working conditions, they found themselves quickly surrounded by IOC troops, hemmed into the building with little food or water. Attempts at negotiation were met with gunfire from the troops, requests for food were denied. Gorunna decided to make an example of the strikers and bricked up the entrances and windows of the factory and left the strikers to starve. Y-10 has been left as a silent testament to the utter pointlessness of resisting macrocorp power. It’s chimney crumble and chinks gradually appear in the bricked up entrances. It lies desolate and alone, the wind whistling through its workshops and machine halls.
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