Is a novel by Mary Shelley, and it is one of the first intentional works of both science fiction and horror. Though, I believe it was categorized as a romance back when it was written. This categorization isn’t because the novel is a Harlequin bodice ripper, but because it was a work of fiction. Basically, you had two types (or genres) of novels, those that were based on actual factual events, such as travel logs or biographies, and those that were not (Frankenstein). Though, even Frankenstein has some basis in reality.
During the time the novel was written there was a natural philosopher (physical scientist) by the name of Giovanni Aldini. Aldini experimented with electricity and the human body to try and animate dead flesh by running an electrical current through it. These attempts succeeded to an extent. Running an electrical current through a corpse will cause the muscles to spasm and jerk, but there was no restoration of life (and not a single mention of a zombie). And, while the method of animation was not described in the book, it is implied that electricity was involved in the experiment. This also runs along the same lines as the multiple plays and movies based off the novel where the experiment itself occurs during an electrical storm and Dr. Frankenstein uses a lightning rod to harness the power of a bolt of lightning.
The novel could also have multiple inspirations coming straight from mythology. In a way it mirrors two of these tales. One being the story of Pygmalion and his statue named Galatea who was brought to life by Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and lust. Then there’s the tale of the golem in Jewish folklore, where clay, stone, or mud are shaped into a humanoid form and a piece of paper with the Hebrew word “shem” (one of the names of God) and was inserted in to the mouth or forehead of the golem. This act animated the golem, but did not give life, as God is the only one with the power to give life to the unliving.
As for working Frankenstein into a Dungeons & Dragons game, there is little more to it than opening the Monster Manual, Frankenstein’s monster, the flesh golem, was one of the original monsters included in the game, albeit the Dungeons and Dragons flesh golem lacks the intelligence Frankenstein’s monster developed over the course of the novel. The flesh golem is much more like the monster shown in the many movies and plays that have been based on the novel.
To get an actual representation of the monster (its name is not Frankenstein, just saying) you would need to craft the flesh golem (meaning you’re probably a necromancer, it’s not a requirement, but a likely path considering the nature of the construction materials), then once the monster is animated use a spell called Awaken.
Awaken is a spell that “awakens” an animal, plant, or construct by giving it an intelligence score higher than three. And, in the case of the plant, it generates an intelligence score, a wisdom score, and a charisma score. Animals have intelligence scores, usually below three, which makes them unsuitable as player characters, but with awaken they’re intelligence score is increased above three (the base minimum for intelligence) changing its type from animal to magical beast, animals also come with a wisdom and a charisma score. Constructs lack intelligence, completely, their intelligence score in a statistics block actually reads Int—. Awakening them generates an intelligence score (3d6), and it gives them the living construct subtype.
So, now I’ve got things set up for a particularly nasty villain, or a potential player character. But, that’s not really the way I plan on using it right now. No, the closest I’m getting to putting a flesh golem in the game (for right now) is a short story I’ve been working on. It’s called Respect for the Dead and the protagonist, Phelix Goldleaf, is fighting against one. Even more so than the undead he’s also fighting against, Phelix feels that the flesh golem is the most obscene thing done with the corpses of the dead. Mainly because it inflicts such disrespect on the former bodies turned into construction materials. And, if I talk about it too much more I’ll give away what happens in the story and then nobody would want to read it.
So, on that note, I shall talk to you all later.