Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein

GM’s Day Sale – Philippine Gamer’s Picks: Cubicle 7

Hey everyone!

It’s the happiest week in RPG gaming as DriveThruRPG has it’s week-long GM’s Day Sale. Today we’re looking at some of the best games from Cubicle 7 all on sale for this week alone!

Qin: The Warring States

Hailed as a gold mine of Wuxia setting goodness, Qin: The Warring States has more “realistic” kung fu while painting a beautiful setting that radiates the unique and enthralling tone and mood of Wuxia games.


If Qin paints Wuxia well, then Yggrasill is the last word in Viking games. With unique berzerker mechanics and another extremely well researched setting, Yggdrasill is the best game to pick up the moment your players want to try some real Norse adventures.


Cyberpunk and Horror make for a potent cocktail in Kuro. Set in a post-supernatural-apocalypse Japan, Kuro is a game that has a unique take on cyberpunk meets the supernatural that Shadowrun can’t pull off. It’s a beautiful game with a lot of potential, and interesting expansions that promise to change the game with each release.

Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein

The Dark Harvest is a uniquely beautiful and utterly cruel setting painted in heart-breaking shades of gray. Iain Lowson’s setting is one of the few games that have truly managed to score a bull’s eye when it comes to horror in my experience and this chance to pick it up is one that you shouldn’t miss.

[Review] Tales of Promethea, A Fiction Anthology for Dark Harvest: The Legacy of Frankenstein

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the DH:LoF setting. Promethea, dark, disturbing and terrifyingly wonderful is the kind of rpg setting that gives even the GM nightmares. Iain Lowson, the mad scientist and author that came up with this setting was kind enough to give me a copy of the anthology to review and here it is.

Tales of Promethea is an anthology of short fiction that give a disturbing look at what life is like in Promethea. It explores a variety of differing points of view, from the victims to the authorities and it hammers home a very interesting fact: nobody is actually immune to the horrors of the setting. It’s a lovely truth, as far as horror settings go. In a time when people would much rather think in terms of Black and White, Promethea is presented very much in lovely shades of gray. While horrible things happen to people, it doesn’t seem to pick sides. Even the rich elite of Promethea find themselves experiencing horror, if coming from an entirely different angle.

Among the stories, my favorites include “A Rending Crack of Thunder” by Stuart Boon and “Scar Gang” by Matt Gibbs. Both stories were very compelling and kept me going at a fevered pace towards their respective endings. There’s no sense that the Anthology is meant to be a “meta-plot” of any sort, so RPG readers who are adverse to that sort of thing should find that the anthology doesn’t look to overwrite your Promethea as much as augment it, and perhaps convey a mood to inspire your gaming.

Overall, Tales of Promethea is a powerful addition to the DH:LoF line. It offers an intimate, and visceral look into the setting, leaving you wading knee deep in just what makes DH:LoF unique among rpg settings. Many times in reading the stories I’ve found myself thoroughly unsettled by what was happening, not because it went for a gross-out, but rather from the subtle, soul-crushing horror of the setting and if that isn’t a compliment to horror fiction, then I don’t know what is.


The excellent Tales of Promethea fiction anthology is available for $3.99 from DriveThruFiction

[Gaming 101] Games to Start With Part 4: Alternate History and Pulp

Right, I know I said I’d do Alternate History and Pulp today. Then I realized what kind of trouble I got myself into. There’s an awful lot of this stuff out there right now! Okay, so no preamble, let’s just do this:

Hollow Earth Expedition from Exile Games
Fast, pulpy fun matched with an easy to grasp system that can use any size of die makes Hollow Earth Expedition (or HEX) a definite crowd pleaser. Add some top-notch art, compelling plot hooks for a hollow earth campaign and all sorts of crazy threats from Dinosaurs to Nazis to tribes of cannibals, the game practically runs itself. Add the fact that the supplements and expansions for the game are all aimed at targeting all other forms of pulp (Secrets of the Surface World covers urban pulp, for example) and an upcoming expansion set in MARS, what’s not to love about this game?

All For One: Regime Diabolique from Triple Ace Games
Musketeers fighting the forces of Hell itself! Swashbuckling action against the threats of the supernatural! Add a well-researched history and a very strong series of supplements to fill out everything from War to Fashion, this game presents itself extremely well and has a freeform magic system that is quick and easy to learn without having to trawl through massive spell lists. Imaginative and unique, All For One: Regime Diabolique also uses the Ubiquity system from Hollow Earth Expedition, but for fans of Savage Worlds, they’ve just recently released a version for that rule set as well.

Leagues of Adventure from Triple Ace Games
Another Ubiquity system game, Leagues of Adventure takes the Triple Ace Games level of research to pulling off steampunk and mashing it up with the adventure-seeking high of the pulps. Fans of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will find themselves right at home in this game, with strange devices, mysterious ruins and the call of adventure. Go out and heed the call for adventure!

Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein from Iain Lowson
Perhaps one of the creepiest alternate history games I’ve ever had the good fortune to read, Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein is a dystopian steampunk setting where Dr. Victor Frankenstein uses his discoveries to establish his nation of Promethea. Commoners huddle away from the Dark Harvest, while the decadent nobility harvest body parts to live forever. Take up arms as part of the resistance, and fight the good fight in hopes for a brighter tomorrow.

Qin: the Warring States from Cubicle 7
I’m actually reading this book right now, and I have to say that it’s a blast to read. Low-powered wuxia action in a time before the Three Kingdoms Era, with plenty of room for adventure and kung fu action. If you’re interested in following along, just check out my Let’s Study articles.

Yggdrasill from Cubicle 7
Here’s another favorite of mine. Well researched and carefully presented, Yggdrasill gives an awesome look at the Scandian lands and the lives of the Norsemen Heroes that live there. Politics (?!) Magic, and Frost Giants abound, leaving players with more than a number of different avenues to get into trouble.

Spirit of the Century from Evil Hat Productions
These days I can’t mention Pulp without mentioning SotC lest the FATE fans cry foul. :p Seriously though, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this game, and I’m just waiting for someone to run it for me and show me the error of my heathen ways.

Deadlands Reloaded! from Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Welcome to the Weird West. If you’re even remotely interested in Westerns, grab this game (and the Marshall’s guide too.) Deadlands is one of the longer running game lines and is one of the most loved horror-western settings around. Strange card-slinging hucksters and eagle-eyed sharpshooters are just two of the kinds of characters you can play, not to mention miracle wielding preachers and Ghostrock-powered weird gadgetry!

This is by no means exhaustive, and I’m pretty sure I’ve missed more than a few titles here, but I think this is a good enough place to start if you’re looking for adventure and pulps. At this point I’m still thinking of what other areas to cover… anyone got suggestions? Just add them on the comments below!

If you’re interested in picking up any of these in hardcover, you can order them directly from Gaming Library.

To place an order, please go to Gaming Library’s special order express page : http://www.gaminglib.com/pages/special-order-express-page

Take note that placing an order there doesn’t mean you’re committed, rather the Gaming Library team will be giving a quote and you can now choose whether to push through with the purchase or not.

[Dark Harvest] New Downloads in the DH:LoF Website!

Just a quick post, the Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein website has some pretty spiffy files in it’s download section:

  • Map Packs – Woohoo! I really liked the maps in DH:LoF , so showing these is awesome for setting the mood for a campaign.
  • Character Sheets
  • Q&A sheet with the most commonly asked rules questions
  • A Quickplay / Rules summary sheet – Very cool as player handouts, or for people looking to learn the system.
  • And for anyone who can read Polish, a fan of the game also put up a Scenario for anyone looking for a short adventure to run.

If you’re interested, you can grab these over at: http://www.darkharvest-legacyoffrankenstein.com/downloads/

[Interview] Iain Lowson, Creator of Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein

Today we’re featuring something new for Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer, as we feature our first Game Designer interview with none other than the evil genius behind Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein: Iain Lowson.

1) First of all, thanks for giving me this opportunity to ask you a few questions, Iain. First off, for the sake of those who haven’t heard of you (shame on them!) could you give is a quick sketch of who you are, what you do and how you ended up writing DH:LoF?

Happy to chat, Jay. 🙂

OK. Ummmm… I’m a forty-something freelance writer. I’ve been writing for a living for over 15 years now – long enough to not quite remember when it was I started. My day job for the majority of my past writing career has been planning and writing official Star Wars partworks projects. Since 2006 I’ve also been working on and off in the video games industry.

I started writing Dark Harvest: The Legacy of Frankenstein (DH:LoF) in earnest around eight years ago, though the idea had been buzzing around in my head for years before that. I’d responded to an advert on RPG.net’s freelancer forums. A PDF-focused games company were looking for a dark fantasy setting. I convinced them they wanted dark historical. The book hit around 90 pages then, but that company went under and all rights and the text came back to me. I decided to expand the scope and, eventually, it became the book that Jay did that wonderful Let’s Study series on.

2) Promethea is indeed a beautiful nightmare, and I’m very impressed with the morbid fascination that it inspires in those who read about it in Dark Harvest. What were your inspirations in the creation of such a bleak and macabre setting?

Thank you! 🙂 The inspiration for the project was originally a half-remembered dream. Sounds a bit emo, I know, but bear with me. I saw two elderly gentlemen, Frankenstein and the Creature, sitting on a cruise ship in the 1920’s, blankets over their legs, having a laugh about their centuries-long conflict. Another big influence was my home city of Edinburgh, where resurrection men like Burke and Hare stole bodies and committed murder to supply the medical school with cadavers for dissection.

After that history and politics did the rest. I started wondering what the ‘great men’ of the Industrial Revolution would have done if they’d had access to the technology of Frankenstein’s science. It all just grew from that. Very organic.

3) Seeing the kind of opposition that the Resistance have to go up against, it becomes easy for someone to feel that the rebellion against Promethea is a tragic cause. Was this a deliberate element in the game, in the same way that Call of Cthulhu is all about delaying the inevitable?

I think any armed resistance is up against it, particularly if the military is loyal to the incumbent regime. That doesn’t mean they can’t win; history (including very recent history) has shown that. I wanted to give players something that was as real as possible, regardless of the fantastical edge the setting has. DH:LoF is billed as an alternative history, after all. I also wanted to have no clear bad guys, just a lot of grey. It’s in those grey areas that the Creature’s Resistance has its best chance for victory. It’ll be a tough, dirty fight, and any final victory may well feel slightly hollow.

Mind you, that’s only how I see it. The delight of role playing is that there are now thousands of different versions of Promethean history being played out around the world! I love that everyone finds something different to latch on to when they read through the books. That means myself and the team did our jobs right.

4) Now that you’ve got The Resistance out into the market, do you happen to have any other expansions in mind for Dark Harvest, or are you considering moving on to other projects that you could share with us?

There’s a fiction anthology being put together at the moment, which is very exciting. That’ll be out as an ebook (to begin with) around Halloween. I hadn’t originally planned to do this, but there will be a supplement out early next year (all being well) that takes material from the anthology, stats it up for use in the RPG, and then expands on it. That came about just because there’s so much amazing writing coming from the contributors. It’s inspirational stuff.

After that, I want to do a campaign pack of four or five roughly linked scenarios. To make things more complicated for myself, I want each to be playable as either Resistance or pro-Promethean characters. Writing that will be… interesting. Beyond that, no idea! Well, that’s not true; lots of ideas, just not sure which to pick. I’ll see what the audience wants and go from there.

5) What sort of advice would you have for anyone looking to become a game designer like you?

Don’t be a game designer like me. Be a game designer like you. I’d much rather play what you come up with.

Find a project you genuinely care about. Sorry to say, but it’s unlikely you’re going to make money out of it any time soon, so your passion for it is what’s going to drive you through the hard times. I mean the times when sitting down to work on it after you come home from a hard day at the day job seems like a serious chore. It’s your passion and enthusiasm for your creation that’ll shine through the pages and draw in the readers.

Equally, make sure what you are working on really does offer something different. Figuring that out takes being very honest with yourself. I want to play YOUR game. Not a bland copy-paste rehash. For example, does your epic fantasy RPG really, honestly do something new and interesting, or is it just a D&D mod that draws too heavily on Game of Thrones or Tolkien? If I want to play a Gears of War game, I’ll play Gears of War, not a Gears clone. You get the idea.

Don’t be afraid to share your ideas around – it’s not the idea that matters (no matter how good you think it is), it’s what you do with the idea. Find people who can give you solid feedback, and that means NOT your best mates. The essence of good game design is to play test the thing to destruction, so find a club and test your idea on strangers. Take notes, remember to take names so you can give credit where it’s due, and develop that thick skin.

You don’t have to do it all yourself (though it helps to be able to do as much as you can). I was able to put together an amazing team thanks to years of networking around RPG events. I knew who I could trust to be professional. Go to clubs, events and cons. Lurk, listen, chat, engage. Don’t just sit on the Internet.

Lastly, and related to all the above, learn. Be open to new things, not blinkered. Read, watch, (shut up and) listen, learn. You will never know everything, not even about the things you create. Go to events and learn from people who are doing what you want to be doing. Find out who and what inspires them and then go find out about those people and that stuff ESPECIALLY if it doesn’t seem relevant.

If you think that’s all crap, I invite you to prove it. Please. Really, I do. I would be genuinely delighted for you to do that. I want you to do that. In fact, I demand you do that.

What are you waiting for? Permission? 😉

Thanks again to Iain for taking the time to answer my questions. Certainly a lot of interesting (and ambitious!) things coming down the pipe. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on anything that Iain comes out with in the future.

[Review] Dark Harvest: Resistance from Cubicle 7 Entertainment

It hasn’t been that long since I took the time to run a 6-part Let’s Study series of articles for Iain Lowson’s Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein. Still, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to check out the first supplement for the game, Dark Harvest: Resistance.

As the name implies, DH:R is about the Resistance movement in Promethea, providing all the sordid details of their origins, the reality of their struggle and methods and recruitment. It’s a sobering take on the harsh reality of it, and despite all the talk of taking back what’s theirs, the Resistance lives a harsh life. As always, Iain’s writing brings the setting to life in a fashion that plays up the bleak nature of the setting without it being too depressing to play.

But what surprised me about DH:R is the fact that it goes deeper than just talking about the Resistance. There’s also a discussion about the Promethean Authorities, whichs I feel is an excellent addition. Sure the corebook communicated the fact that many of the larger cities of Promethea felt like military camps, but we don’t really get to see the details behind how they operate. DH:R goes into great detail about the Promethean Domestic Security Forces and the Promethean Military Forces, who work hand in hand to keep things under control.

But what truly shines about this is that there’s ample information to try and portray why people would actually actively support Victor Frankenstein’s vision for Promethea. Entirely new avenues of play with players serving the Promethean ideal are opened up for exploration in play.

DH:R Also provides even further detail with an entire chapter dedicated to maps of Military Bases. It’s a lovely addition to the game, and the cartography is downright inspiring. I can imagine the looks on players faces if a GM prints one of these maps in a large format, ages it a bit and makes sure it’s got creases and folds and puts it under a lamp in a dark room.

Like in the corebook, DH:R also has a few short stories in it, all written by Iain Lowson. Nice for a few inspirations on the tone for Resistance games.

DH:R Isn’t just all about fluff, of course, the next two chapters add new Rules and Mechanics, while providing clarifications and additions to the corebook. I have to admit that I did like the detailed listings of equipment and weapons with the occasional illustration. It’s a handy thing to have just so you have a visual aid for players who aren’t too familiar with the weapons of the time period. These chapters also provide a character creation example, and a whole bunch of sample NPCs, both in a full character sheet and in the NPC stat block format.

Finally the last chapter is a complete adventure for Dark Harvest. It’s a good thing to have, both for something to run, as well as something to study and steal ideas from.

Dark Harvest: Resistance joins the ranks of those few first Supplements that actually feel like they contribute to the game as a whole, and isn’t a money grab. The detail on the Resistance and the Promethean authorities expands the scope of the setting and opens avenues of play that were only hinted at in the corebook.

I’m very happy with the kind of quality of content that the Dark Harvest line is showing and I’m looking forward to seeing where Iain Lowson is taking the game next.

Dark Harvest: Resistance Is available via DriveThruRPG for $16.99 or roughly PHP 765.00

[Let’s Study: Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein] Part 6: Conclusion and Review

Few games come even close to the kind of heart that Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein has. Iain Lowson’s work in Dark Harvest could be described as a love letter to gothic horror with a little wink to the steampunk aesthetic.

Setting-wise, Promethea is a strong one, full of interesting and disturbing detail. It is a world gone wrong, with atrocities committed in the name of science, ambition, greed and selfishness. The abuse of power is a prominent theme, but for good reason. The writing of the setting chapters serve to fan the flames of indignation, where any person with half a heart can find the spark needed to DO something about the conditions in Prometha. It is a setting of martyrs and heroes fighting in the purest battlefield for sacrifice, one where their valor and courage will never be recognized.

The rules for DH:LoF are a variant of the Victoriana mechanics. I’d put this in the rules-medium category, similar to that of Legend of the Five Rings, and Savage Worlds. The mechanics are easy enough to learn and teach, though it does require about 10d6 per player. Combat is closer to that of the World of Darkness, where “Tactical” concerns aren’t really the highlight, though tweaking the system to allow for some measure of advantage to those who think ahead before engaging an enemy isn’t too hard to do.

Character creation is meaty, and the book itself suggests minor variations depending on the group’s preferences. Characters can start off with a host of advantages, and the use of social classes to determine the difficulty of certain tasks and the avilability of other advantages is an inspired touch that I wish I could see more of in other games.

Overall, Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein is an inspired and flavorful game that lends itself well to many gaming groups. The blend of Horror and themes of rebellion is a rare one, and DH:LoF finds a way to inspire players to fight, rather than just give up in the face of the inevitable. I would definitely recommend this game to anyone looking for something different as far as RPGs go.

Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein is available in DriveThruRPG for $19.99 or roughly PHP 860.00

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