"I am very old, oh man of the waste countries; long and long ago I came to this planet with others of my world, from the green planet Yag, which circles for ever in the outer fringes of this universe ... We saw men grow from the ape and build the shining cities of Valusia, Kamelia, Commoria, and their sisters. We saw them reel before the thrusts of the heathen Atlanteans and Picts and Lemurians. We saw the oceans rise and engulf Atlantis and Lemuria, and the isles of the Picts, and the shining cities of civilization ... All this we saw ..."After reading the recounting of the last session of my Dwimmermount campaign, a perspicacious reader wondered if the wounded space traveler Xaranes, worshiped as the Iron God while he convalesced in an otherworldly pocket dimension, was inspired by Robert E. Howard's character of Yag-Kosha from the 1933 story "The Tower of the Elephant." I am not ashamed to admit that the answer is a resounding yes.
"The Tower of the Elephant" is one of my favorite Conan tales, precisely because it defies so many expectations about both the character of Conan and the Hyborian Age. Before Terry Brooks proved that aping Tolkien was the secret to mainstream success, fantasy literature had no compunction about freely adding "science fiction" concepts to "fantasy" stories. Indeed, such a distinction didn't even exist, as evidenced by the fact that, for example, Fritz Leiber's "Ill Met in Lankhmar" won both the 1970 Nebula Award for best novella and the 1971 Hugo Award for the same, competing against other stories that would today be considered "science fiction" without qualification. This sort of elision between what are now considered two distinct genres is something that was very much in evidence in the early days of the hobby, if you consider Dave Arneson's Blackmoor, Dave Hargrave's Arduin, Barker's Tékumel, and Bledsaw and Owen's Wilderlands, among many others.
It was to these settings that I looked for inspiration when I started thinking about Dwimmermount. I wanted a setting where a space traveler mistakenly worshiped as a god would seem perfectly natural and so that's what I created. From the beginning, I made "extraterrestrial" contact a fact, with the Red Elves -- the Eld -- being ancient conquerors from another world. With that established, it's no great leap to then imagine other alien beings traversing the ether in like fashion. I was reminded too of Smith's Zothique, which he described in February 1931 as being
more subject to incursions of "outsideness" than any former terrene realm; and more liable to the visitations of beings from galaxies not yet visible; also, to shifting admixtures and interchanges with other dimensions or planes of entity.Smith's description could easily be used for Dwimmermount as I conceive it and as the setting is slowly beginning to reveal itself to the players. As I've noted before, Dungeons & Dragons is primarily a game of exploration, which is why it's essential that there always be new places to explore. I wanted to be sure I never ran out of unique realms to visit and so I unhesitatingly penciled in a vast campaign universe, of which Dwimmermount itself is a focal point and lightning rod, for reasons the characters have only just now begun to uncover.
So don't be surprised if future Dwimmermount sessions see the characters journeying to other worlds, interacting with alien beings, or plumbing the hidden depths of the wider universe. This is exactly what I'd always intended to do with the game and it's perfectly in keeping with its -- and D&D's -- inspirations.