LOST WARHAMMER: THE FIFTH DOOMSTONE

Flame Publications originally advertised the Doomstones campaign as comprising five parts. The first four were published as Fire in the Mountains, Blood in Darkness, Death Rock and Dwarf Wars, but Flame closed before releasing a fifth adventure. Hogshead added a finale, Heart of Chaos, when it reprinted the campaign, but this was a new composition. What was the story of the campaign’s original conclusion?

Doomstones was originally adapted from the Complete Dungeon Master series. This was a generic fantasy campaign produced by an independent publisher, Integrated Games, between 1984 and 1987, with statistics for D&D/AD&D and RuneQuest. It comprised four parts, which correspond to the WFRP adventures as follows:

CDM1 The Halls of the Dwarven Kings: Dwarf Wars

CDM2 The Lost Shrine of Kasar-Khan: Blood in Darkness

CDM3 The Watchers of the Sacred Flame: Fire in the Mountains

CDM4 The Feathered Priests: Death Rock

There was also a fifth part planned in the campaign, CDM5 Deep Water – Shallow Graves, but this was never finished. Apparently a number of copies of the rough draft were sold by the authors. I have never seen a copy, but one of the authors did provide a short summary of it:

Plot very simple.  Unlike the earlier scenarios you got the crystal right at the beginning, but then had to use it (in combination with the others) to fight your way out again.

As the name suggests, set under water (using water-breathing ability of crystal). Scenario starts with party rowing across a marsh to a mysterious leaning tower (on one of the earlier CDM artefacts maps) part submerged in marsh (in actual fact marsh was formed due to crystal attracting water long after tower built). En route attacked and swallowed (boat and all) by huge mutant creature that lairs in bottom of tower. Party have limited time/air before digested to find crystal and some other artefacts that have survived the stomach acid and hack way out of body to emerge in flooded cavern at bottom of tower. Tower now colonised by sahuagin, and basically a fairly linear trek up the tower to get out again, but with all the problems of moving/fighting/using magic underwater (even if you can breathe).

– Basil Barrett, Legion 7

However, it seems GW did not intend to use this adventure for Doomstones:

We were really excited about CDM5. We offered to develop for/sell the ideas to GW, but they just wanted material they could quickly convert to WFRP and get on the shelf.

– Basil Barrett, Legion 7

Instead, GW seems to have planned an original finale:

What would have been a fascinating development, if it had happened, was the Flame proposal for the Doomstones finale. The draft, written by Graeme Davis and Mike Brunton, was made available to Robin Laws, who wrote Heart of Chaos for Hogshead, and he has wisely borrowed some of the themes. There are so many parallels in fact that if I were to outline it in full I’d be giving players reading this article an unfair insight into what’s in store for them! Basically, though, it involves the players spending time in the Yetzin valley researching what to do with the crystals, before setting off to the Chaos Wastes in – you guessed it – a Dwarfen flying ship.

There are actually some excellent ideas sadly missed out of the Hogshead version. For example, there is a sort of “Battle of Four Armies”, where the two Dwarfen warring factions meet up with Rothnogg’s Bloodaxe Alliance survivors and a Chaos Horde from the Twisted lands. What a cool way to tie up those loose ends! Also there is an interesting meeting between the players and a Greater Demon of Nurgle, who, as an enemy of Tzeentch, is inclined to help them achieve their objectives.

– Toby Pilling, Warpstone 16

It is clear from this that an outline for the GW adventure was drawn up and was still in existence around 2001. It would be interesting to know if the original authors remember anything of it. Presumably it was never published because of GW’s general withdrawal from RPGs.

This is part of a series on unpublished Warhammer supplements. The first post in the series can be read here. The next can be found here.

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3 thoughts on “LOST WARHAMMER: THE FIFTH DOOMSTONE

  1. Thanks for another great post.

    The Doomstones tale started when GW hired Simon Forrest onto the studio staff in 1988 or so. He worked closely with Paul Cockburn and Phil Gallagher in some kind of administrative capacity. When Flame was set up, we were given the CDM manuscripts in digital form, with WFRP stats that had been done by a freelancer named Brad Freeman. I had never heard of Brad, or of this project, until the files landed on my desk.

    Tony Ackland had a book on geometrical paper models among his extensive library, which is here Mike got the idea for the cut-out-and-build crystals. I did what I could to rewrite the adventures so they had at least some kind for WFRP feel, but it was a balancing act; the intention at the Studio (apart from getting WFRP material out quickly and cheaply) was to offer something more “dungeony” than the Enemy Within campaign.

    I never saw anything relating to “Deep Water, Shallow Graves.” Basil Barrett’s comments are spot on – GW would not have wanted to spend any significant time or money on a WFRP product at this point.

    Derrick Norton should also be given credit for co-writing the Doomstones 5 brief. The reason Flame never developed it, I think, was because I left. Carl Sargent was hired to replace me, and since he had been the Studio’s go-to WFRP writer for Flame products (Lichemaster, Death’s Dark Shadow, Castle Drachenfels) there was no one to do the writing. I did a little freelance work for Flame after I left, but as always I was only allowed to edit other people’s work: never to write anything. Well, almost never, since my work on the AHQ supplement Terror in the Dark was technically done for Flame.

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  2. Many thanks for the additional detail.

    It baffles me why GW seemed to use you as an editor, not a writer, for WFRP. You wrote two of the best and most popular WFRP adventures (Shadows Over Bogenhafen and A Rough Night at the Three Feathers), but it was as if you were never trusted to write anything after that. What were they afraid of? A third classic adventure?

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  3. I was always told that I was too valuable as an editor. There may be some truth to this: with Jim Bambra gone, Phil Gallagher moved into middle management, and Mike Brunton running Flame – not to mention the slew of cheap-and-cheerful conversions that formed most of Flame’s output, all needing a significant amount of development – there was a lot that needed editing and no one but me to edit it. Even if I had been allowed to write something of my own once all these were cleared, no one can edit their own work, and there would have been no one to edit anything I wrote.

    I did what I could. I wrote bits for Marienburg here and there, and pieces for White Dwarf in the evenings – including the Three Feathers. A lot of my unpublished WFRP articles were collected in the Warhammer Companion: seven of them in total. Mike did the editing on those, but it was not something he routinely had time to do.

    I have to admit, I probably would never have resigned from GW if I had been allowed to write a WFRP product once in a while, or if I felt that my WFRP product proposals were being taken seriously. What made things worse was the fact that editing a Doomstones or Carl Sargent manuscript took me just as long as it would have taken me to write the things from scratch. Carl, in particular, was a very fast writer but needed a lot of editing.

    In the end, though, I think GW management’s main concern was for profits. They could make more from putting the same amount of manpower into a new WFB or 40K product, since those generated miniatures sales where WFRP products did not. WFRP was effectively doomed, in my opinion, when it was realized that no one was going to respond to the miniatures deals in the early printings of The Enemy Within, Shadows over Bogenhafen, and Death on the Reik.

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