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Next week is the 200th Anniversary of the famous night when eighteen-year-old Mary Shelley conceived the idea for her immortal novel “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”. In honor of that event (which also resulted in the creation of the first modern vampire tale), I present Victor Frankenstein and his Creature, described for use with the Ghastly Affair role-playing game! The descriptions are inspired primarily by the original text, so there may be some surprises for those who only know the cinematic versions of the two characters. For example, not only is Victor’s first language French, it is the primary tongue of his fast, agile, and eloquent Creature! Although Victor dies in the original novel (and the Creature proclaims that he will kill himself), here we’ll assume that both actually survived the events if the story to continue their battle.
Victor Frankenstein (1798)
The Modern Prometheus
Full Name: Victor Frankenstein
Aliases: Doctor Frankenstein
Class: Mad Scientist
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: Well-dressed, but sullen and wild-eyed. Prone to gnashing his teeth.
Charisma: 11 Intelligence: 19 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 9 Dexterity: 12 Constitution: 15
Assets: Talent for Science
Afflictions: Obsessive (currently obsession is destroying his Creature)
Hit Points: 28
Attacks: 1 (pistol or dagger). +2 Damage Bonus
Special Abilities: Academic Credentials (University of Ingolstadt), Laboratory (Mobile), Mad Inventions (see below), Monstrous Servants (see below), Scientific Knowledge
Weaknesses: Attracts Angry Mobs, Incurable Madness (Manic-Depression with Hallucinations),
Typical Equipment Carried: 1 set of fine clothes. A personal journal detailing his pursuit of his creature (on many pages of which are also scrawled pleas for “William”, “Justine” “Henry” and Elizabeth” to forgive him). A loaded pistol. A dagger. A purse with 5,000p in local currency. Ointment of Close Wounds (7 doses). Magnetizing rod of Mending (7 uses). Powder that will Purify Food and Drink (7 doses). Eyewash of Nightvision (7 does in vial). Glass globe filled with a chemical that will emit Light when shaken properly (7 uses). Ointment of Ignore Pain (7 doses).
Residence: Originally Geneva – now of no fixed abode.
Background: Victor Frankenstein was born to a wealthy family in Geneva, the son of Alphonse and Caroline Frankenstein. As a boy he became fascinated with electricity after seeing a tree blasted by lightning. He read the books of ancient alchemists and magicians, hoping to replicate their abilities. A brilliant student, he studied chemistry at the University of Ingolstadt (home of the Bavarian Illuminati). There he isolated the force that animates all life, and discovered how he could bestow it upon dead flesh. He built a humanoid Creature from stolen corpses and animal parts scavenged from slaughterhouses, but fled from the laboratory in horror once it awoke. When Victor returned, the creature was gone. Returning to Geneva, Victor discovered his young brother William had been killed by the Creature, who also framed Victor’s beloved family servant Justine for the murder. The Creature confronted Victor in the mountains, and after relating the sad tale of his miseries among humanity, demanded that Victor create a female to be his mate. Victor consented, and after some wandering he retired to Scotland to build a female body. Overcome by fear of her potential for evil, however, he destroyed the female body before reanimating her. The betrayed Creature promised revenge against Victor, and murdered his creator’s friend Henry Clerval (a crime for which Victor was later detained in Ireland). Victor eventually returned to Geneva, where he married his beloved cousin Elizabeth. On their wedding night, however, Elizabeth was strangled by the vengeful Creature. Driven completely mad by the experience, Victor swore to chase the Creature and finally destroy him. Lured to the Arctic by his creation, Victor was found by an explorer’s ship. Delirious and overcome by the elements, he related his story to the ship’s captain, and apparently expired. Frankenstein didn’t actually die on the ship, however, but was brought to England instead. He and the Creature now chase each other across Europe. Frankenstein seeks to finally destroy the Creature, as the Creature plots to inflict ever more miseries upon his creator.
Personality and Role-Playing Notes: Victor is sensitive and well-spoken, but suffers from alternating fits of ranting mania and morbid melancholy. He sometimes talks to his dead family and friends as if they were there, and will insist that invisible spirits aid him. He is consumed with profound guilt and shame, and feels responsible for everyone his Creature has killed. Victor’s first language is French, but he also speaks fluent German and English. He speaks some Russian as well, but is not fluent.
Victor Frankenstein in Your Game: Victor could be a family friend of one of the Player Characters, arriving on their door bearing a letter of introduction (and with a mobile laboratory in tow). Alternately, they could encounter him at an inn, or in an academic setting. He will tell his story to whoever will listen. Since Victor went to University in Ingolstadt, Presenters who want to introduce some intrigue into their games could make him a member of the Bavarian Illuminati. Mad Scientists who want to learn the secret of reanimation might seek out Frankenstein. Perhaps Victor is himself creating another Wretch to help him destroy his first creature, and requires the aid of a Player Character Grave Robber. Maybe he has already created a a second (or even third) creature that has also gone rogue, and now Frankenstein has to contend with multiple monsters that hate him!
The Mad Inventions indicated are ones that fit in with Victor’s actions and character as described in the novel. If you would rather make a completely-deranged Victor into a terrifying Antagonist for the PCs, give him these Mad Inventions instead of the ones listed above:
Vial of a drug that allows him to Beguile (7 doses)
A salve that will Cure Light Wounds (7 doses)
A tube that shoots Lightning Bolts (7 uses)
Also, give him a 7th Level Degenerate (or possibly a new Reanimated Wretch) as a Monstrous Servant. In that case, Frankenstein’s original Creature might become a powerful ally for the PCs.
Frankenstein’s Creature (Reanimated Wretch) (1798)
Victor Frankenstein’s tragic creation, dark twin, and sworn enemy.
Full Name: The creature has no name.
Aliases: The Daemon, The Fiend, The Monster, The Wretch
Creature Class: Monster
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: An eight-foot tall man with yellowish skin textured like mummy’s, but shockingly fast and agile. His hair is long and lustrous black, and his pale, watery eyes are sunken in their sockets. His cheeks are likewise sunken, and his lips are a straight black gash across the face. His veins and ropy muscles are prominent under his almost translucent skin, and he appears to have no body fat at all. On close examination his facial features appear to be a grotesque parody of Victor Frankenstein’s.
Charisma: 8 Intelligence: 15 Wisdom: 10
Strength: 40 Dexterity:18 Constitution: 20
Assets: Resistant to Cold Weather
Afflictions: Obsessive (inflicting misery on Victor Frankenstein, obtaining a mate)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Points: 30
Attacks: 1 (strangle, punch, or weapon). +5 Damage Bonus
Special Abilities: Difficult to Control, Fast Learner
Weaknesses: Emotionally Unstable
Typical Equipment Carried: A set of clothes re-sewn from smaller ones. A loaded musket. 3 loaded pistols. A knife. A haversack filled with preserved food. A pouch with bullets and wadding. A powder horn.
Residence: Wherever Victor Frankenstein is.
Difficult to Control: Any attempt to control the mind or emotions of Frankenstein’s Creature through Preternatural Effects will result in the creature reacting in a random manner.
Fast Learner: Frankenstein’s Creature learns languages and other complex subjects in half the usual time. He needs only be shown an action once to remember how to perform it.
Emotionally Unstable: Frankenstein’s Creature has great difficulty controlling his emotions. He can turn from despondent to furious in the course of a conversation. Canny opponents can manipulate him by playing on his feelings, although (as in indicated above) any attempt to do so through Preternatural means will almost certainly end in catastrophe.
Background: The Creature was awakened to life in Ingolstadt, but found himself abandoned and alone. His mind blank, he grabbed a nearby object and wandered off into the night. He eventually found himself hiding out in the hovel attached to a farmhouse inhabited by a family of French exiles. By watching them he learned to speak and read. When he tried to reveal himself, however, they rejected him and fled the farm. After learning to read he had realized that the object he took from the laboratory was Victor Frankenstein’s journal. Reading it, he realized what he was, and sought he creator’s home. In Geneva he found Victor’s young brother, killed him in a fit of rage, and framed a family servant for the murder. He confronted Victor in the mountains around Geneva, and told Victor that if he would create a mate for the Creature, the two of them would leave to live in the wilds of South America, away from humanity. The Creature followed Victor all the way to the Orkney Islands of Scotland to watch his mate being made. Frankenstein betrayed his Creature, however, and destroyed the female body before animating it. Enraged, the Creature set on a path of vengeance, killing both Victor’s friend Henry, and his bride Elizabeth. Intending to prolong and intensify Frankenstein’s suffering, the Creature then lured him to the Arctic. All along the way the Creature left Victor taunting messages and food. Frankenstein appeared to expire after being picked up by an explorer’s ship in the ice. The Creature has learned, however, that his creator did not in fact die on that ship, but has escaped back to Europe.
Personality and Role-Playing Notes: The Creature speaks in a startlingly articulate and eloquent manner that seems completely at odds with his monstrous appearance, and will pepper his speech with frequent literary allusions. He is consumed with self-loathing, and will hide his face whenever possible. Although he will sometimes speak of himself as the first member of a superior species, in truth, he wants nothing more than for someone to truly love him. He feels every slight and hurt deeply, but is quick to respond to overtures of friendship. The instant a friend proves untrue, however, the Creature will fly into a murderous rage, not caring who he hurts in his expression of anger. After such rage, he will deny responsibility for any consequences, and blame whoever made him angry. Above all, the Creature hates his creator, Victor Frankenstein. He does not want to kill Victor, however, but instead wants him to live and suffer in misery. The Creature is essentially Victor’s shadow-self, an inescapable reminder of his maker’s failings and vices. His emotional extremes of manic rage and bottomless despair mirror Frankenstein’s own. The Creature’s first language is very proper and aristocratic French, but he has learned every major European language.
Frankenstein’s Creature in Your Game: Whatever Frankenstein does, the Creature will oppose it. The primary obsession of the Creature is inflicting misery on Victor, but also still desires to have a mate. On the night of his creation the Creature left the laboratory with Victor’s notes, so the Creature could be spreading knowledge of the techniques to create more Reanimated Wretches like himself. If the Presenter is making Victor Frankenstein an Adversary for the the PCs, the Creature may decide to aid them. On the other hand, characters who align themselves with Victor will gain the boundless enmity of the Creature.