Frankenstein FactoryWhat follows is the first couple of pages of Frankenstein Factory to serve as a taster of the game itself for those who expressed an interest to know more. Playtest copies are about to be sent out to those who have already emailed me. I hope you all like it!
Frankenstein Factory is not a typical role-playing game. It is not a great, enormous tome of rules with a heavy hardcover and an expensive cover price. You will not find massive lists of spells, nor will you find a series of profession stereotypes or skills divided into their subtlest minutiae. There are no supplements, yet, no sourcebooks, and it is profoundly unlikely that any adventures or campaigns will be published for it.
Simplicity is the name of the game.
Frankenstein Factory is not an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s book, or a series of adventures based around the existing storyline. It is an extrapolation from the legendary tale, drawing just as heavily on B-movies and the author’s own twisted imagination as it does the original text.
As with any game, the idea is to have fun with the ideas presented - albeit disturbing and somewhat disgusting fun - we hope you enjoy playing with the denizens of Frankenstein Factory. Come inside, they are waiting for you.
The Doctor, Doctor
Victor Von Frankenstein, has constructed a small Factory in the town of
Why does he do it? Nobody knows. The Doctor appears to have gone completely insane. He has severed his ties with the world outside and has shut himself up inside his crumbling castle alone with his experiments. He does not give his “children” much attention, instead he spends his time endlessly experimenting, synthesising chemical solutions, scribbling labyrinthine formulae on blackboards, and tinkering with mysterious devices. He is manifestly uninterested in the operation of the production line. Instead a hunchbacked servant, Igor, adopted by Frankenstein many years ago, oversees the day-to-day operation of the Factory.
During a Frankenstein Factory game, the players take on the role of the tortured monsters created by the Doctor. His hideous Frankensteiners...
Pain. Life is pain.
This is the first stimulus that comes to the reanimated brain of a Frankensteiner.
Pain stretched across an eternal moment, striking with the speed of light and the power of a racing train. This is the Apocalypse of sensation, the Armageddon within as every cell in the body begins anew in the unnatural life that science and electricity can provide. Every single atom is scoured, the body becomes the universe, erupting supernovae of sensation, and whirling black holes of pained despair, all filling the mind with the horrific, infinite pain that is existence renewed.
Despite the pain the Creature would trade his very soul to be alive again, and through the pain dreams are fulfilled, life is restored and sensation and consciousness are dragged back from the very brink of the cyclopean abyss.
Everything fades to black as the machinery falls silent once more, electrodes ceasing to crackle, ratchets clanking back into place. The nerves of the body, dead just a short while ago, now invigorated by pain, begin to transmit faltering signals, boosted by the electrical energy of the Doctor’s perverted science. The coldness of the dissection table, the smell of formaldehyde, the touch of rough, starched sheets pulled across the face.
Next comes sound, the thunder rumbling overhead, the hiss and patter of falling rain as it lashes broken tiles and grimy windows, someone’s breath nearby, and the rustle of the fabric of his clothes as he moves. A deep and difficult breath is taken as if the awakened one is born again, wanting to fill every part of his body with life-giving air. When there is no more room to inhale, there is nothing to do but breathe out in the terrible, piercing scream of rebirth.
A Frankensteiner returned to life behaves much like a newborn child. He is disoriented, inexperienced, curious, and clumsy. Getting used to this new, patchwork body takes some time. Who acts as father to these bastard undead children of twisted intelligence? The Doctor is far too busy with his new experiments, overseeing his “children” only rarely when some insane inspiration takes him. Therefore the Creatures learn on their own, imitating their ““elders” within the Factory, older Frankensteiners that have survived both the Doctor’s experiments and Igor’s “innovations.” Despite being reluctant, Igor gives them some basic explanation on the facts of life, but only so that they can perform their duties more effectively. After all, his master did not create them to be cared for, and on the production line Igor can only spare a small amount of time for each Creature.
At the beginning of his new life a Creature experiences considerable difficulties getting used to his recycled body. His limbs feel chilled as though by frost, clumsy, sluggish, and distant. His hands seem unnaturally big and mismatched, like thick, oversized gloves. Fingers appear to be too thick, round like sausages or perhaps the other way, too long and slender, unfamiliar, disobedient, not the hands that are remembered by the mind. Even the simplest of movements seems slow, the Creature feels strange in his own body, as though he is dressing up as someone else, playing at lets pretend. Constant itching torments the Creature around the crude stitching that binds his form together, it never stops. Unused to his new weight, he is oppressed by a feeling of terrible, heavy awkwardness. Legs, too heavy to move properly, sweep the floor in slow motion, hobnailed boots scraping against the flagstones or knees giving in under the unfamiliar weight of the new body.
It is extremely difficult to rid himself of old habits and reflexes, but these will soon be replaced by new ones: nervous twitches never known before, seizures and violent gestures that seem to come from nowhere.
Every part of the new, scrap-built body has its own story; the life it led with its previous owner, the job it held, and the people it knew. Now all of those overlapping and conflicting memories begin to come to the fore. This is another horror for each Creature-besides having a strange body. Amnesia brought on by the very electrical impulse which brought them back to life allows the fragments of thought clinging to the old body parts to try to fill the gap, tormenting the Frankensteiner while what remains of his own mind, his own memories, his own emotions are scarred and distorted, broken, vulnerable. New fragments of memory replace others, some merge; still others just fill the empty spaces in the Creature’s mind. As a result, he has memories of lives that never were, of things that never existed, of words never said, and of events that never happened. Gaining control over this roiling storm of thoughts and emotions is not easy, but is much less simple than gaining some control over the body. Neither time nor experience will help in untangling his own, true memories. As Frankenstein himself says…
“The brain and reactions taking place within it
remain a mystery, even to me.”
Unfortunately for the tormented monsters, psychiatrists, and psychoanalysts are not to be found anywhere in the Factory.
Who then can help the
Creature, lost within the illusory maze of his damaged memory? People once known perhaps, family, friends,
and the people of Shalleymouth. Finding
the right ones is one thing, convincing them to help a looming, misshapen
monster, is another.
The monster itself is a truly amazing marvel of science. Possessing inhuman strength he is able to wring iron bars with his bare hands, smash brick walls, and hurl carriages with little effort, shattering them to matchwood. Nobody will trust a monster with such superhuman abilities coupled with an inhuman appearance, especially if he is also vulnerable, clumsy and frightened. A Creature unable to perform the simplest of tasks, but able to dash a man to pieces or tear him limb from limb when the pain and rage becomes too much. It is hard to be a child in a giant’s body.
What are the
Creatures’ goals? What do they strive
for? What can they strive for? They do
not know themselves. Simply staying alive
is their most important and immediate goal and their foremost thought. Given a little luck and well-tightened bolts
perhaps this small thing can even be achieved, even with the dangers of the
There will be other goals, in time, as the Creatures progress. They will want to be normal people again, living normal lives. This is impossible of course given what they are. The Games Master should take full advantage of the Creatures’ vulnerability. He should use it as the carrot and stick to bring the Creatures into stories and adventure. “Normal life” should be shown to them from a distance; it should tempt, torment, and provoke them. When a Creature gets too close to life, it should be shut away from him, the door slammed in his face, his former wife running away screaming at the terrible revelation, his one-time friends forming a torch-wielding mob. They are cut off forever from the harmony and joy of a life the Creatures may not have appreciated when it was theirs to have.
Mean? Welcome to Frankenstein Factory.
So why play? Why bother at all?
For fun of
course! To understand that what the
Creatures are looking for cannot be found anywhere outside the Factory, they
will not find it in the town or in their former lives.
Where will they find it?
That is up to you.