|Wymondham: Where the Holme Boys Are?|
The imaginary universe of Dungeons & Dragons obviously lies not too far from the Middle Earth of J.R.R. Tolkien's great Lord of the Rings trilogy. The D&D universe also impinges on the fantasy worlds of Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, Gardner F. Fox, classical mythology and any other source of inspiration the Dungeon Master wants to use (41).
Maze of Peril is given a threefold dedication by Holmes:
- Gary Gygax (singly credited as the game's creator, unlike the rulebook)
- His sons (and their fellow unnamed players) who invented the characters, and
- (in order) J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, and L. Sprague de Camp
While Holmes does not name Lovecraft in his edition of the rules, Lovecraft comes to the fore in MoP. This is not surprising, given Holmes' Lovecraftian enthusiasm which bore fruit in both Dragon Magazine and Deities & Demigods (for which, again, see ZA. Seriously, the guy is amazing: his blog and his website are major -- as far as I can tell, unequaled -- repositories of JEH scholarship and game aids). In particular, Dagon and his cultists provide the main antagonists in the Underworld of MoP, introducing the possibility that the local town (Porttown, but not named?) could have been in danger of becoming another Innsmouth, someday.
By the way, assumption of Christian clerics and the Christian religion operating in a pagan fantasy setting is everywhere in MoP. (Though I cannot find that Fr. Dave of the Blood of Prokopius blog treats the novel anywhere, it is full of material for his religion & RPG reflections.) Christian names, the sign of the cross, and the invocation of St. Swithin (an alternative spelling for St. Swithun -- an alternative to St. Cuthbert?) abound.
|St. Swithun of Winchester - from here.|
I hope this glimpse into Holmes' inspirations will spur further rambles on my readers' parts, and highlight one direction the D&D pastiche takes in one of its practitioners: in particular, the desire to mash Lovecraft and Tolkien, different as they are, is far from new. That's the installment for this Mythopoeic Monday. Don't be confused, however: I will produce these Holmesian meditations as they come, so don't look for them to be the regular Monday feature.