Monday, October 17, 2011

Mordenheim by Chet Williamson

In between reading the Invisible Man on my Toshiba, the Brunner trade paperback collection, and various other books, I've been reading Mordenheim by Chet Williamson. This is another book I bought at Half Priced Books for the kingly sum of $1.00.

Mordenheim is one of the books in the Ravenloft series. This series brought a touch of gothic horror to the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons setting initially through a single module and then through a meta-setting that could reach any other setting and was heavily inspired by many a tale of the classics.

Mordenheim is in many ways the answer to Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. The interesting thing, to me, is how the author plays off the differences inherent in such a take. Mordenheim, the name of the doctor, lives in a setting where magic is real. Being a true man of 'science' however, he has long discounted magic and relied only on those things that he himself can bring to the table.

This makes him an interesting stand out from other villains. He seeks a deeper understanding of the world through the physical attributes that he can disect. This started off with animals and worked its way up to humans, including the associated grave robbing inherent in such a task. But his goal, of extending life, of curing disease, or making man immortal and invicible, well, to him, and to many throughout history, the ends justify the means.

And that makes him a dangerous villain and makes for a great nemesis motivation. If the GM can play such a villain correctly, if he can choose his words and examples with great care and catered to the players, he may even be able to lure some of them to the villain's side. But it has to be a compelling arguement. It has to be something grand.

And more importantly, there has to be some evidence that the villain is capable of doing what he wants. In this case, Mordenheim is no idle scientist, he has created Adam, which in Dungeons and Dragons, amounts to a unique, advanced Flesh Golem with its own will and mind and its own desires. But to Mordenheim, it is a truimpth of science. And to anyone who sees it, physical proof that Mordenheim is capable of showing his theories in the flesh.

Keep the motivation of the villain out front where the players cna see the strength of it and either take up arms in rebellion against those ideas which tye consider foul or pause and wonder if indeed, the ends do justify the means.

And for one more furthe price rant, the cover price of this book was $4.95 in 1994 and most paperbacks these days cost $9.95. So... 100% inflation in less than twenty years... but surely everyone is making double what they made back then right? The minimum wage has doubled since then right? Righ? Ugh. And the Kindle Price? No such animal. Ugh again.