Possibly undead, possibly a golem or some other kind of construct, this creature appears in Mary Shelly's novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus as the creation of the eponymous Doctor Victor Frankenstein. The creature - never named in the text except by epithets such as "the monster" or "the accursed thing" - was known to its author as "Adam" but to subsequent generations of readers as "Frankenstein" or "Frankenstein's Monster" - named, appropriately enough, after its "father".
The actual means of the creature's creation are perhaps deliberately vague - the narrative mentions the use of human remains, but whether the creature was built entirely from "100% post consumer human" or not is not certain. Most interpretations have taken it for granted that it was. That it was brought to life with lightning is entirely in keeping with the state of science at the time of writing, although subsequent interpretations have introduced elements of magic into the mix.
Intended to be a thing of beauty the monster turned out huge and hideous with semi-transparent yellowish skin - Frankenstein rejected it in disgust and it fled into the night, only to find itself rejected by almost all of the rest of humanity as well. Eventually the monster came to blame its shortcomings on its creator and sought revenge against him - a phenomenon which has come to be known as "Frankenstein Syndrome1" and is a common trope in fiction2 - only to find that revenge left it no better off.
Interestingly, before killing Victor, the monster demanded that he make it a mate of its' own kind - that he demured in the fear that the two would reproduce adds more fuel to the undead/construct/living monster debate, but is, again, entirely reasonable given the state of science at time of writing. It is worth noting that the monster's stated desire was for companionship, not for offspring and throughout it appears as a lonely and generally sympathetic character with Victor as, at best, an antihero.
Mrs. Shelly's intellectual property has suffered a great deal of abuse in subsequent years, not least by the cinema industry, but has also seen more thoughtful interpretations - including those that touch on the golem myth and those that tend toward the monster as a homunculus of some kind, drawing on the alchemical allusions in the original work.
Game and Story Use
- If using the monster (or derivatives thereof) you'll need to decide what they are - are they dead tissue, returned to life (and if so, why does the personality vary from that of whoever supplied the brain), are they machines with the semblance of life (like golems), magical artificial life (like homunculi), some kind of rubber-science biotech or something cold and (un)dead? Would Victor's fears about the monster reproducing have come about if he had made a female - why wouldn't they have born normal human offspring (if any at all)? Perhaps the creature grew in a retort from homgenised human tissue rather than being sewn together as normally depicted.
- Does the monter's creator know how he made it? Did he (or some mysterious observer3) use magic without his knowledge? In the pre-modern era, does he even understand fully what is animating his creation?
- The role of "monster" would make an interesting - albiet offbeat - origin for a PC.