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Thread: D&D's Origins in Gothic Fiction
Monday, 1st October, 2012, 04:02 PM #21
I recently finished The Castle of Otranto, and Corathon's right; it's not very good. It reads like a bad Shakespeare pastiche, actually, with all the tropes dialed up: mistaken identity, long-lost family, comedy-relief servants, star-crossed lovers, etc.
I do believe that Otranto is the source of one now-cliche trope though: the door that opens for no apparent reason, followed by a sudden draft that blows out the lamp.
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Monday, 1st October, 2012, 04:49 PM #22
Scout (Lvl 6)
Frankenstein is, IMO, the first science fiction story and still contains a lesson for scientists today (and that lesson is NOT "don't tamper with God's domain"). Perhaps because I'm a scientist myself, I prefer it to Dracula.
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 03:20 AM #23
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 04:32 AM #24
Time Agent (Lvl 24)
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 06:43 AM #25
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
That doesn't feel familiar with my own recollection of The Castle of Otronto. IIRC, there were a couple of underground chambers and a trapdoor (that needed a key and had a complex latch) leading to a tunnel that allowed for escape from the castle off to a monastery or some such. The "iceberg principle" is not something I recall at all. Perhaps I should dig it out and have another look. As to the rest, more along the lines of mid-Twentieth Century horror than D&D. So, too, Dracula and Frankenstein.
In undergrad, we took the text of Dracula and between two playwrights and many editors, constructed a scene-for-scene stage play which started as a five hour script and was pared down over a couple of months rehearsal to a taut (nearly ) three hour production (I scored the titular role! ). The multiple styles used for the narrative, not so unlike Frankenstein, made for a rather cumbersome and awkward story and we wound up scrapping many of the scenes and backstory, discovering that much of what is found in the classic movie versions is really most of the action worth recreating for an live audience.
In grad school, as in many MFA programs from what I understand, we had a full course on Frankenstein and came at the text from many angles. We used it primarily as a way to highlight various styles of Literary Criticism, some of which weren't really a good fit, but that's really an aside to this discussion. The creature is much more compelling than that which most people would find familiar from film versions. Even De Niro's turn as the monster falls short of the depth that the original text imbues. It's definitely a more interesting read than the other two aforementioned novels but clunky in parts where it coasts along on journal-like exposition.
In any event, I suspect much of what might have been gleaned from such novels for early gaming structure (or "tropes") is minimal and more along the lines of snagging merely the seeds of ideas here and there and morphing them into something else entirely rather than grabbing large swaths of material and transposing it to fit the Medieval Fantasy setting/genre we've come to know from D&D and similar RPGs. As someone familiar with those texts, it doesn't quite ring true.
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 01:27 PM #26
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Actually, although whatever you get out of a novel is what you get, and can hardly be gainsaid, in general, I'll point out that the majority of literary criticism, and the background in which Mary Shelley concieved the novel in the first place would argue quite strongly that not tampering with God's domain is in fact one of the main themes of the novel.
"I realize that I am generalizing here, but, as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care." Dave Barry
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 02:41 PM #27
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Which if updated Hobo is: Do not tamperi with the DM's domain, or you will get it.
Bad players ruin any game. No gaming is better than bad gaming.
Saturday, 6th October, 2012, 08:12 PM #28
Saturday, 6th October, 2012, 09:29 PM #29
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
Wednesday, 10th October, 2012, 08:57 PM #30