LOST WARHAMMER: TOWER OF SCREAMING DEATH

This is part of a series on unpublished Warhammer supplements.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

Also coming from the Workshop, Tower of Screaming Death – a solo Warhammer supplement.

White Dwarf 78

Tower of Screaming Death is a quiet, thoughtful solo scenario for Warhammer, with floorplans and stats for other systems.

White Dwarf 79

These quotations date to June and July 1986 and are, as far as I know, the only mentions of this supplement in a Games Workshop publication.

The only other official trace of it is the Josh Kirby painting that GW commissioned for it. The picture was never used for its intended purpose, but was subsequently re-used as an interior illustration in WFB third edition and the covers of Warhammer Companion and Apocrypha Now.

Graeme Davis and Bob Naismith have, however, shed some light on the story.

The Tower of Screaming Death was a Warhammer solo boardgame in which you played a band of Orcs exploring a wizard’s tower and coming across a lot of undead. Bob Naismith was the driving force behind it. A Josh Kirby cover was commissioned but never used because the game was canceled….

From the bits and pieces that I do remember, it seems that the game petered out some time in the design stage and never got onto the development schedule.

Both WFRP and 40K were just out at that time, WFB3 was in the works, and Blood Bowl was in development, so it was hard to get a new game on the slate. It probably didn’t help that Bob wasn’t one of the regular game designers. He really needed to find a champion for the game within the design department, and all the designers (including me, I’ll admit) were a lot more interested in promoting their own ideas.

– Graeme Davis, blog post

I was, like many people, a fan of Steve [Jackson] and Ian [Livingstone]’s Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, and I loved not just the world that was in them, but the mechanics and how they were engineered. And I said to Bryan [Ansell], “I’m sure we could do, like, a solitaire scenario for Warhammer that was driven by one of these books or a book type like that. So Bryan said, “Well, off you go and do that!” So I did.

It might be upstairs on my Amstrad 8256, PCW… possibly, possibly. All I’ve got left at the moment is the cover art for it.

Sadly, it never to production. I think it was one of those points where it probably needed serious editing, you know, and that meant handing over and maybe I’m not sure we had the resource to do that….

My wife studied history at Edinburgh University, and one of her topics were the Icelandic sagas. So I remember the stories of Egill Skallagrímsson…. All the names! I thought, “These are just fantastic names!” And, of course, at Citadel that was what we loved doing: making up names for everything. So all the figures and the characters that were in that set were all derivatives of Egil’s saga, I think it was.*

– Bob Naismith, Inside the Rookery, series 3, episode 5

There remains one further mystery, though. As I have pointed out elsewhere, Josh Kirby’s illustration of the Tower of Screaming Death is almost exactly the same as John Blanche’s of Hrothyogg‘s Tower in the WFRP1 rulebook.

You can see the resemblance more closely in the following blown-up images.

I have found nothing to suggest that the two towers were intended to be the same location in the Warhammer world. It seems most probable that Blanche simply copied Kirby’s design. But it does raise the intriguing idea that there was some connection envisaged between them in the nascent Warhammer background.

FOOTNOTE

* An English translation of Egil’s saga is available for free here.

The next post in this series can be read here.

Title art by John Blanche. Used without permission. No challenge intended to the rights holders.

5 thoughts on “LOST WARHAMMER: TOWER OF SCREAMING DEATH

  1. Or more likely Kirby copied Blanche’s tower?

    The John Blanche picture was one of the full page colour plates in WFRP, wasn’t it? Which surely means that Kirby’s picture post-dates it.

    Anyway, a very cool tower and one I like to think has some connection to the Ogre Hrothyogg (though what relation he had to Blanche’s tower I have never seen explained either…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a good point (as usual). I had it in mind that TSD preceded WFRP1, because of the timing of the WD comment above. But of course this only proves they were in development at around same time. It is just as possible that Kirby copied Blanche, as you say. I do feel pretty confident, though, that one of them had the other’s work in front of him when he made his drawing.

      It is tempting to imagine some sort of connection. Perhaps the orcs hired Hrothyogg’s mercenaries to help them take the tower, but Hrothyogg liked the tower so much he kept it. And probably ate a nearby halfling village in celebration….

      Like

  2. I had the opportunity to ask Bob Naismith about the project. It’s the last question, but he shares some fascinating insights about creating Space Marines and other memories of his pivotal time at GW:

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.