Happy Birthday to Merritt and Howard!
Happy birthday to Abraham Merritt (Jan 20) and Robert E. Howard (Jan 22), two authors who influenced DCC RPG in big ways!
Though today Abraham Merritt is one of the more obscure authors listed in Appendix N, he was very influential on other authors of his time and later. Fellow Appendix N author H.P. Lovecraft was a huge fan of Merritt’s work, and Michael Moorcock lists two of Merritt’s books in Fantasy: The Best 100 Books. Today is Merritt’s 133rd birthday.
Merritt was a journalist by profession, and his work writing stories of science fiction and fantasy was a side project. His works often involve ancient advanced races that live beneath the surface of the earth or in inaccessible locations, whose horrific societies and cultures are stumbled upon by people from the surface world. That’s pretty much the very archetype for a dungeon crawl!
The forthcoming DCC #93: Moon-Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom by Edgar Johnson is inspired by Merritt’s works, and DCC #68: The People of the Pit by Joseph Goodman is a tribute to Merritt’s story of the same name.
Robert E. Howard is an author who should need no introduction. His most famous creation, of course, is Conan the Barbarian, but he’s also known for Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane, Bran mak Morn, and more. In addition to being one of the pioneers of the “sword and sorcery” genre, Howard wrote stories in just about every other genre as well: westerns, detectives, historical fiction, horror, poetry, and even comedy and “spicy” stories! He was an amateur boxer and also penned boxing stories featuring several different characters.
Howard died in 1936 at the age of 30. His mother suffered from tuberculosis , and upon learning that she had entered a coma from which she was not expected to awaken, Howard shot himself in the head. He was at the height of his career, having made more money that year from his writing than he ever had before. This year would be his eleventy-first birthday.
Michael Curtis’ adventure DCC #73: Emirikol Was Framed has some Howard DNA in it, mostly in the inspiration for Emirikol’s shifting tower. Harley Stroh’s DCC #84: Peril on the Purple Planet draws from Howard’s “Almuric” stories. DCC #82.5: Dragora’s Dungeon has elements of the Conan story “Red Nails”, and DCC #51.5: The Sinister Secret of Whiterock draws from “Worms of the Earth”.
For those interested in reading the original stories in the original format, Goodman Games offers reprints of select issues of Weird Tales and Strange Tales featuring Merritt, Howard, and other pulp authors of the time!