John Eric Holmes

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John Eric Holmes
Born (1930-02-16)February 16, 1930[1]
Died March 20, 2010(2010-03-20) (aged 80)
Resting place National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific[2]
Occupation Educator, author
Nationality United States
Genre Non-fiction, fantasy, science fiction
Notable works Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set
Relatives Wilfred Holmes, Isabelle West Holmes

John Eric Holmes M.D. (February 16, 1930 – March 20, 2010)[3] was an associate professor of neurology[4] at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, an author and promoter of fantasy role-playing games, a noted fan and enthusiast of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and an American writer of non-fiction, fantasy and science fiction. His father, Wilfred "Jasper" Holmes was also a writer of adventure stories under the pen name Alec Hudson.[5] His writings appeared under his full name and under variants such as Eric Holmes and J. Eric Holmes and the pen name Sidney Leland.[6]

Writing career[edit]

Mahars of Pellucidar by John Eric Holmes, Ace Books, 1976, cover art by Boris Vallejo.

Holmes's non-fiction related to both his chosen profession and the role-playing game phenomenon. He was a one-time editor of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set RPG rule book. His fantasy consists of a series set in a D&D-influenced world, including four short stories and one novel, while his science fiction included two pastiches of the Pellucidar novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Buck Rogers novel Mordred.

Holmes was the author of the Pellucidar pastiche called Mahars of Pellucidar.[4] The first of his Pellucidar pastiches, Mahars of Pellucidar was authorized by the Burroughs estate, but it reportedly blocked his follow-up novel, Red Axe of Pellucidar. Ready for publication in 1980, it only saw print thirteen years later in a private printing. A planned third novel in the series, Swordsmen of Pellucidar, remained unwritten.[7]

Holmes approached TSR with an offer to write an introductory version of D&D, to expand the game's demographics to younger players and possibly get it into the mass market as well.[4] His Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977) was a revision of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson's original game plus the early supplements, Greyhawk, Blackmoor, and Eldritch Wizardry.[4] Holmes created the wereshark monster for Dungeons & Dragons, first publishing it in Alarums & Excursions #13 (July 1976).[8][9]

Other writing projects included two unfinished novels, one a collaboration with Burroughs' son John Coleman Burroughs, whom he helped treat for Parkinson's disease, and the other a "Conan the Barbarian" novel contracted and paid for by Tor Books but later canceled.[7]

Holmes was a regular guest at Burroughs fan conventions such as the Edgar Rice Burroughs Chain of Friendship (ECOF). He received its Lifetime Achievement Award for his Burroughs pastiches at ECOF '93 in Willows, California.[7] He was slated to appear as Guest of Honor at 2004's ECOF Convention in Sacramento, California, but suffered a stroke and was unable to attend. He was a special guest at the June 2005 ECOF in Portland, Oregon.



Boinger the Halfling and Zereth the Elf[edit]


Buck Rogers[edit]


  • "Beachhead on the Moon," in Blue Book, v. 92, no. 4 (Feb. 1951)
  • "The Cenote," in Doppelganger, no. 8 (1987)
  • Danton Doring (with John Coleman Burroughs) (unfinished)
  • Conan on the River of Doom (unfinished)


  • "Brain Waves and Thought Patterns" in Analog Science Fact -> Science Fiction, v. 69, no. 5 (Jul. 1962)
  • "The Educated Flatworms" in Analog Science Fact -> Science Fiction, v. 70, no. 3 (Nov. 1962)
  • "The Split Brain" in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, v. 93, no. 6 (Aug. 1974)
  • "Lovecraftian Mythos in D&D," in The Dragon, no. 12 (Feb. 1978)
  • "A Rebuttal to 'The Cthulhu Mythos Revisted'," in The Dragon, no. 16 (May 1978)
  • "Lost Civilizations: Fantasy Supplement for Source of the Nile," in The Dragon, no. 24 (Apr. 1979)
  • "The Psychopathology of Wargamers: Shrinks and Simulations," in Space Gamer, no. 26 (Jan./Feb. 1980)
  • "Confessions of a Dungeon Master," in Psychology Today, v. 14, no. 6 (Nov. 1980)
  • Fantasy Role Playing Games - Dungeons, Dragons and Adventures in Fantasy Gaming (ISBN 0-88254-514-0) (1981)
  • "Basic D&D Points of View,"in The Dragon, no. 52 (Aug. 1981)
  • Basic Human Neurophysiology (ISBN 0-444-00797-0) (with David F. Lindsley) (1984)
  • "Mail-Call of Machen Society Cthulhu Meeting," in Crypt of Cthulhu, v. 7, no. 7 (1988)
  • "Lovecraft in the Comic Books: an Update," in Crypt of Cthulhu, v. 17, no. 1 (1997)


  1. ^ "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 Feb 2013), Johneric Holmes, 20 March 2010; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  2. ^ "John E "Eric" Holmes". Find a Grave. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "In memory of John-Eric Holmes". Leber Funeral Home. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  4. ^ a b c d Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 
  5. ^ University of Hawaii biography of Wilfred Holmes
  6. ^ "Who's Who in This Issue", Blue Book, p. 145, February 1951 
  7. ^ a b c Martin, John. "John Eric Holmes: Mahars of Pellucidar and Red Axe of Pellucidar".
  8. ^ Holmes, John Eric. Alarums and Excursions #13 (Lee Gold, July 1976)
  9. ^ "Save or Die Podcast #122". 2016-05-11. Retrieved 2016-05-31. 

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