+ Log in or register to post
Results 1 to 10 of 41
Thread: D&D's Origins in Gothic Fiction
Tuesday, 1st November, 2011, 04:47 PM #1
D&D's Origins in Gothic Fiction
I haven't read much Gothic fiction -- just Dracula, really -- and the genre has gone profoundly out of fashion, but in its day it was extremely popular, and, as Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorne declared in Fantasy: The 100 Best Books, the first Gothic novel, Otranto, influenced modern fantasy quite a bit.
This is what jumped out at me though:
The prevalence of castles in the literature was no accident, nor was the frequency with which they were built on the iceberg principle, with nine-tenths of their structure consisting of subterranean vaults. These spectre-infested spaces were rooted in the fantasies of an architect, Giovanni Piranesi. A revised edition of his Carceri d’Invenzione appeared in 1761, featuring a series of drawings of prison interiors conceived on a titanic and overpowering scale.Welcome to Blackmoor. (Ravenloft came much later, of course, and reintroduced a lot of Gothic elements quite explicitly.)
Last edited by mmadsen; Wednesday, 2nd November, 2011 at 03:06 AM.
- EN World
- has no influence
- on adverts that
- are displayed by
- Google Adsense
Tuesday, 1st November, 2011, 07:29 PM #2
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Wednesday, 2nd November, 2011, 11:27 AM #3
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
Now you mention it, I've played quite a few sessions that felt like Sheridan LeFanu's Uncle Silas or Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.
What do we say to the God of Death?
Wednesday, 2nd November, 2011, 12:09 PM #4
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Wednesday, 2nd November, 2011, 04:04 PM #5
Thursday, 3rd November, 2011, 05:55 AM #6
Lama (Lvl 13)
I think you're right in that there is a large part of the original and especially later versions directly inspired by Gothic Fantasy, however, I would say that the original concept is much less inspired by Gothic Fantasy and much more by Historical or Just Plain Fantasy.
For instance I find the writing of Fritz Leiber to be almost a verbatim translation of the thief and fighter for OD&D. I would say that the first campaign worlds were probably more inspired by Gothic Fantasy than the game as a whole. But I get where you're going.
Headmaster of Metal School
"I may be unconscious, but at least I still look good!" - - Me (at the Halfling Musketeers game GenCon '06)
On one hand, taking away their weapons is a dead giveaway that they will need them. On the other hand, by the time conflict starts the players will already have opened the rulebooks and found the parts that deal with bare-handed combat, performing disarm moves, and using improvised weapons. Players may blunder through dialog with shocking ineptitude, forget the name of the country they are in, or get confused about which side they are on, but once it comes time to roll for initiative they all turn into Sun Tzu. - Shamus Young DM of the Rings
Thursday, 3rd November, 2011, 04:04 PM #7
Guide (Lvl 11)
I think the Gothic influences of early D&D got there by way of Universal and Hammer horror films, EC comics, Lovecraft and Lovecraft pastiches. I think it's especially underappreciated how much those Universal monster movies contributed to the mish-mash that was early D&D.
<exasperated DM> "Underlying what? ... motivation? Do you want to play Dungeons & Dragons or not?"
<drama obsessed player> "How can I narrate my character's co-mingled sense of alienation and ennui towards modern society in this second-rate dungeon hack? My character returns to the surface and uses his remaining gold to start up an organic coffee shop that caters to left-wing revolutionaries... and hot elvish chicks."
Thursday, 3rd November, 2011, 07:12 PM #8
I can think of a few swords & sorcery stories that borrow the trope, but it certainly doesn't seem central to the genre, the way it is to Gothic fiction.
Friday, 4th November, 2011, 03:46 PM #9
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Some of the gothic influence on RPG's is arguably second hand. The Conan stories, for example, has gothic setting elements ... wizards' towers, tombs and a huge dungeon-like lost city in "Red Nails" and so on. Ruined and lost civilizations are pulp staples, going back at least to Tarzan.
Of course, genre was not as defined then. Fantasy, horror and science fiction were all "Weird Tales".
Monday, 17th September, 2012, 07:45 PM #10
I'm thinking I should try to read Otranto by Halloween.