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Van Richten’s Guide to the Created (1994)

Frankenstein, rooted in science fiction and humanity, has always been the classic monster story that got me the least excited. I still dig it (Bride of Frankenstein is a fab movie), but I am always going to be a little less likely to pick up stuff riffing on it. Imagine my surprise at how much I enjoyed Van Richten’s Guide to the Created (1994). The slight recontextualization from the re-animated corpses of Frankenstein to the various golems of D&D makes a lot of difference to me.

Ravenloft introduced piles of golem types (stained glass is probably my favorite, because Young Sherlock Holmes) but also has an affection for Frankenstein, going so far as to have an off brand Victor von in the shape of the darklord, Dr. Mordenheim (who shares his realm with his flesh golem creation, Adam). As such, it is unsurprising that a large chunk of this book is devoted to flesh golems and ways of tweaking them with unique qualities. Other types – metal, clay, glass, straw, bone, wood and stone – get some pages too. But this is very much a book length Ecology of the Flesh Golem. Weirdly, there is also a brief adventure involving an asylum.

It is nice seeing Stephen Fabian’s take on Frankenstein’s monster (and Robh Ruppel’s, too, for that matter), but it really comes down to the stained glass golem for me.

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