Jon Garrad deposited Creature, Monster, Nameless, Created: Frankenstein transformed in role playing games on Humanities Commons 4 years, 5 months ago
This paper explores the transmission of Frankenstein’s Creature – or Monster – into tabletop and computer gaming. It briefly covers the ‘Flesh Golem’ archetype and Frankenstein-esque figures as encounters in Dungeons and Dragons – superficial imitations, influenced more by cinematic adaptations than the novel, and emphasising the ‘Monster’ reading of Frankenstein’s creation. Then, it moves on to more developed versions in which the player or players adopt a persona akin to the Creature as avatar and central character: the Nameless One from Planescape: Torment and the player characters of Promethean: the Created.
These games are transformative works, influenced by and addressed to Frankenstein. While they do not directly adapt Shelley’s novel, their narrative and mechanics evoke a corresponding ‘feel’. They locate the player’s ‘readerly’ perspective within a created entity who is in search of identity, purpose, and sense of the world, and confronted with an evolving moral education, which is developed further by iterative gameplay process similar to repeated readings of a challenging text. By creating complicity in the role of the Creature, Planescape and Promethean engage players in the process of growth, development and discovery which Shelley’s original character undergoes.