Friday, December 6, 2013

Free Forgotten Pulp Friday - The Dwellers in the Mirage As Sword and Sorcery Inspiration For Your Old School Campaigns

 Get It From Project Gutenberg Australia.

I can't begin to say enough about this novel. Seriously its got all of the elements a 'lost land' enthusiast could want.  And its mostly a 'forgotten' classic from A. Merritt and has elements that can easily be translated into a Sword and Sorcery game.  Regarded by many as a classic, the book traces a modern everyman whose sucked into a world right out the weird lost world pulps of the 1930's.

 A Merritt - Dwellers In The Mirage (Avon 413) on Flickr.Via Flickr:
Merritt, A
Dwellers In The Mirage
Avon 413

The plot goes something like this according to wiki : 
The novel concerns American Leif Langdon who discovers a warm valley in Alaska. Two races inhabit the valley, the Little People and a branch of an ancient Mongolian race and they worship the evil Kraken named Khalk'ru which they summon from another dimension to offer human sacrifice. The inhabitants recognize Langdon as the reincarnation of their long dead hero, Dwayanu. Dwayanu's spirit possesses Langdon and starts a war with the Little People. Langdon eventually fights off the presence of Dwayanu and destroys the Kraken.

Dwellers in the mirage.jpg
According to Wiki : 

Gary Gygax, creator of the game Dungeons and Dragons, listed Merritt in "Appendix N" of the Dungeon Masters Guide and often noted that he was one of his favorite fantasy authors.
You can find out more about Merrit right HERE

The Dwellers In The Mirage For Your Old School 
Sword and Sorcery campaigns 
I've used this particular book numerous times for inspiration for quite a few games. 

Khalk'ru is another aspect of the Kraken and basically another aspect of an Outer God akin to Cthlhu and his ilk. Over the years I've kept the two gods separate as to sew confusion and malice among my players. The Tennyson poem really brought home the other worldly menace of the god. 
Below the thunders of the upper deep;

Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

The Kraken is a god of death, destruction, the sea, and other worldly knowledge beyond the ken of men. The Little People in the novel are not the  only group of lost peoples serving this thing. There are numerous others who serve this god and its mutated horrific avatars. These multi tentacled unholy gods from beyond are each slices of the prime alien god. Mutated monsters from beyond the dimensional pale waiting to suck the marrow and souls of men.
 The thing must consume the souls of victims every two months like clock work. It grants spells, communes telepathically with its witches and cleric, and bestows knowledge every fortnight to its chosen people.
 The Kraken was among the chosen pantheon of Altantis, Mu, And Lemuria upon Hyperborea. It is said that secrets to summoning its accursed aspects are still known upon Ancient Terra where its tentacles still tread.
 When creating an avitar of this horror use the stats for a Giant Squid and treasure types J,K, L,and M. Should any last that long against such ageless horror. The Kraken may use spells as a 6th level wizard. 


  1. Nice! I just started reading his novel "The Moon Pool" now,

  2. Try 'The Metal Monsters' by A.Merritt as well. Very cool pulptastic stuff!

  3. Picked up Metal Monsters at a used book store recently. I've read about 6 A. Merritt novels, but never that one. Looking forward to reading it! Dwellers in the Mirage was one of my inspirational sources when I was putting together the AS&SH game. :)

  4. The Metal Monsters is one of his best and an old favorite. I'm glad to hear that Dwellers In The Mirage was one of your inspirations. He was such a rare talent at the time, and Dwellers was one of the only books of its kind to come out that year! I've got more Merritt coming up but tomorrow I've got something different to bedevil your players with folks!
    Thanks for the great comment your Ghulness!
    More coming up tomorrow!