Fire in the Mountains (1990)

Pretty much as soon as Enemy Within wrapped up with Empire in Flames in 1989, Games Workshop spun off Warhammer Fantasy Role Play to a subsidiary called Flame Publications. Same brains, same artists, different company. Sort of. Flame’s main project was the Doomstones campaign, which manifested in four softcover books, one for each of the titular stones. This is Fire in the Mountains (1990), the first part, concerned with the locating of the Crystal of Fire.

Like Enemy Within, the narrative is initiated by a chance discovery — the corpse of a dwarven messenger sent to get help in the face of an orcish siege. This leads the party to the ruins of the dwarven stronghold, sacked a century previous, though the orcs left a trail that is still visible all these years later. At the end of it might be an artifact of great power (spoiler: there is!).

Where Enemy Within leads to a web of plots and mystery that subverted a lot of my Warhammer expectations, Doomstones plays right into them. This journey, for the most part, about sticking swords into monsters. The variety of that sword-sticking is pretty good — there are chaos bands and undead orcs (I feel like the Flame era is pretty preoccupied with the undead), there are caves and wastelands and a lonely old tower. It’s fine, it just doesn’t thrill me after Enemy Within.

Tony Ackland and Russ Nicholson provide the interiors. I assume that is Ackland on the cover — it definitely isn’t Russ, and there is no clear credit inside. I am sure one of you Warhammer-heads will let me know if I need to correct that.

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