Since the plot document is pretty huge and will take at least a couple of hours to read through, we thought it would be better to summarize some of the important and interesting aspect of it, notably things that were not mentioned in Bob Whiteís summary from 1999.
Note that this is his latest plot revision from July 1997 and as such differs somewhat from the leaked dungeon design documents, which appear to be from an earlier revision.
Details of the Bob White Plotís final revision
1. The Guardian and the Avatar are one. This was NOT an addition from Ed Del Castillo. That was NOT an addition from the final plot. This was the origin planned for the Guardian since the very first Britannian iteration of the game. The explanation given is in fact the very same one offered in the Ultima IX Clue Book by Richard Garriott, with the Shadowlords being formed from the Avatarís darkness within the Gem of Immortality and coalescing into the Guardian after their ìdestructionî. This very much give credence to Seth Mendelsohnís claim that Garriott came up with this idea back when doing U7.
2. In spite of the their relationship, it doesnít appears that hitting the Guardian hurts the Avatar as it does in Ed Del Castillo and Seth Mendelsohnís revisions. As a matter of fact, the Avatar needs to battle and ìkillî the Guardian with his Etheric Powers at Stonegate before casting the Armageddon spell.
3. While there is no detailed explanation as to how Blackthorn ended up with the Guardian, the fact that the latter is the Shadowlords reborn seems to be the reason Blackthorn is serving him, in addition to being pissed about being banned. (In all likelyhood the Serpent Isle bit of Blackthornís history had been retconned out of the series at this point).
4. The Columns are dragging the moons out of orbit, notably causing the moongates not to work anymore. This, then, was also a plot point existing from the very beginning. No explanation for the Moongatesí return in the first place are given (but again, this might have been brought up in dialogue).
5. There are obvious hints of romance with Raven, who was actually supposed to be a male if the Avatar was female. So, again, this was not a Del Castillo addition. It is possible the romance might have been optional, but the character was clearly conceived as a love interest for the Avatar.
6. Hawkind IS the Time Lord. While this appeared to be an afterthought in Ultima IX, this was actually the remnant of a much larger point plot. His identity is first spelled out in the very first minutes of the game, but is also hugely relevant during the endgame.
7. Not only is Hawkwind the Time Lord but he is the last survivor of an ancient race called the Ultima (I kid you not!).
The Ultima sought to eradicate the evil within themselves and succeeded by casting it out of them, but every time an Avatar of Virtue arose…and Avatar of Corruption was created. This lead to a long war between the Ultima and their evil siblings which spread across the universe.
8. Hawkwind was the sole survivor of this war, still fighting against his own evil Avatar. At a moment of clarity, he realized he had to embrace his evil side and give himself to it. In doing so, he became one with it again, leading to some sort of Ascension, which in turn gave birth to a greater being — the Time Lord.
9. Hawkwind learned a newfound wisdom from this ascension — that there is no absolute good or evil, and thus a certain balance had to be followed in life. Thus, he created the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom as a way to guide people on the path of Virtue his people found, but also as a safeguard because Virtue must be a means, and not an end. (This is not spelled out, but likely this way was NOT supposed to lead to the creation of a Guardian the way it happened with the Ultima, and it happened because of the Gem of Immortility).
Editor’s Note: That being said, we do learn in the plot document that when the Stranger achieved Avatarhood in Ultima 4, a great force was also created in that moment, which later bound to the essence contained in the Gem of Mondain and became first the Shadowlords, and then the Guardian.
10. The Avatar is given a weapon by Hawkwind at the beginning of the game which evolves as he gains Karma.
11. There are mentions of Etheric powers, but with few details (based on the dungeon documents, it seems that the Avatar regained them gradually each time a glyph was recovered).
12. While the plot document gives no explanation for the Companions’ return from Serpent Isle, it mentions the Avatar discussing past adventures (including Serpent Isle) with Iolo, so this might have come up during dialogue.
13. The Wyrmguards are discovered to be the Rangers, corrupted by the Guardian due to the fact that they were the people the most attuned to Spirituality. Shamino put himself into stasis in order not to fall prey to this corruption. This seems to be very much the only aspect of the game similar to the final plotís mind twisting of the Columns.
14. The Gargoyles willingly serve the Guardian, who has played on their discontent and had actually planted seeds prepping them for servitude since the time of Ultima VI.
After the death of the Shadowlords, their shadow seems to have possessed a wingless gargoyle in the Gargoyle Land, who came to be considered to the Savior of the Gargoyle people. This Savior led the Gargoyles to go to the surface and attack Britannia and the Shrines, but disappeared (with a promise to return) right before the Avatar entered the gargoyle world. When Blackthorn came to Terfin, he promised to lead them to their Savior (which is quite obviously the Guardian), and they agreed to serve him by building the Fortress of Exultation, and also (most likely) the Black Gate used by the Guardian to enter Britannia.
The Gargoyle Land is curiously called Ambrosia in this iteration. Since it appears from revision history that the name Ambrosia tended to come and go, itís possible this is just an honest mistake and these events were originally supposed to happen in the Gargoyle city of Ambrosia, rather than back in the time before Ultima VI.
15. The only remaining Gargoyles that are not in league with the Guardian are Desbet and Vasagralem who are hiding in the ruins of Empath abbey and later help the Avatar to craft weapons against the Gargoyle Hordes. (Revisions history shows that at one point, they were supposed to hide in Ambrosia. It is unclear if this is the island from Ultima VII or the Underwater City from later revisions but leaked dungeons docs seemed to suggest an underwater Ambrosia).
16. New Magincia was razed during the initial Gargoyles attack. The Knights of the Silver Serpent tried to retake it, but found only ruins when the arrived. In the meantime the Garogyles had attacked and destroyed Serpentís Hold. The survivors went on to build the Citadel of Valoria and form its knighthood.
17. There is no Yew in this plot. It is not specified is the city is gone on account of the cataclysm, an attack, or if it has simply been swallowed by the forest as had begun to happen in Ultima VII. The druid council is now in Cove. (Revision history mentions Yew being present in earlier draft, but most of its relevant content was moved to Trinsic.)
18. Minoc is gone as well, and has been replaced by a gypsy camp called Mystvale. (Revision history shows that Mystvale had a tendency to come and go in each revision.)
19. Skara Brae is still a ruined city and has not been restored since U7. The demonic spirit that controlled Horance now possesses a Dracolich in the Well of Souls, and as such has kept its dominion over the undead.
20. Some of the dungeons are not mentioned and appear to just serve as crawlers in the quest to get the Glyphs. It seems their roles in the actual plot were scaled back over several revisions. (Shame, notably, was supposed to be the place where the Avatar was to find Enilno the Quicksword, but it was cut.)
21. The Isle of the Avatar is mentioned to have sunk at the end of Ultima Underworld, with only the Shrines of the Codex and Humility still resting above water. (There is obviously a discrepancy here since the Isle was still there in Ultima VII.)
22. Cove is surrounded by mountains, with no ground access. A secret underground waterway is revealed as the way to get to it, and the mountains are actually an illusion set up by Nicodemus who is the protector of Cove. (Leaked dungeon docs suggest that at one time Cove was to be reached by a flying balloon which might possibly have been removed when/if the idea of using a dual scale map was dropped.)
23. There is also an odd mention of an ìairshipî. This is possibly a reference to the aforementioned balloon.
24. The Codex doesnít appear in the game. Revision history mentions it was there for a time, but was later removed. The Shrine of Spirituality seems to fill its role of giving the Avatar a lot of background information, notably regarding the Ultima.
25. There is a party, though no indication is given as to how many people there would have been in it. It appears however to have been more than the two party members which was originally tried in the 3D version of the game.
26. Jaana leads the High Council in Cove, and as such cannot join the Avatar.
27. Geoffrey remains at the castle with Lord British throughout the whole game and becomes very hostile toward the Avatar when the latter is framed as a traitor by the Guardian. He is revealed to have a daughter named Mistral who serves as a monk in the Monastery and later helps the Avatar to spy on Amoranth.
28. Iolo is a very old and almost bed ridden man. He lives in Cove as well where Gwenno tend to him. Neither of them join the party, although Iolo offers important information when the Avatar is trying to find Corriganís murderer.
Near the end of the game, the Time Lord sends Iolo back in time through a White (!) Time Gate so that he can reverse time on the Glyphs and turn them back to Runes. At the end of the process, Iolo returns as a young man!
29. Katrina is found in Trinsic with Sentri. While Sentri can join the Avatar, Katrina does not on account of being pregnant. (This suggests that Sentri is the father, but it not stated in the document.)
30. Julia works as blacksmith in Trinsic and later helps the Avatar by forging Blackrock weapons to fight the Gargoyles with. She doesnít seem to be able to join the party.
31. Mariah is in Moonglow and can join the party. She helps the Avatar to join the Circle of Mages through a ritual in Deceit.
32. There is a young paladin named Evan who joins the party when the Avatar goes to look for the lost Paladins. He was the Squire of Dupreís own Squire. (This is one of the only mentions Dupre gets ñ he does not appear in any other form in the plot.)
33. After Blackthornís execution, Lord British joins the Avatar as a party member and kick the Slasher of Veils’ ass in the Abyss (ìCome get some!î yells our liege!). He seems to remain in the party up until the end of the game.
34. You actually get to fly a Dragon if you convince the Dragon Queen in Destard to help you.
35. When Britannia teeters on the brink of civil war, there are events showing the tension across the land such as mages being executed in Britain or a tavern being burned down in Trinsic.
36. There are some pretty gross moments (such as Slaine the Wyrmguard carrying a necklace made of Gypse eyes…eww).
37. To attack Terfin, you need to set several things in motion to deal with Blackthornís flying Wyrmguard, his naval forces and sea serpents, and gargoyle ground troops. Depending on how you handle things, the huge battle of Terfin might get easier or harder with more or less ennemies to face.
38. It sounds like dialogues might have been keyword based.
39. The game doesnít appear to be as linear as the summary makes it sound. There are multiple mentions of things that could have been done at other moments in the game. Most notably, the part about getting the Glyphs from the dungeons seems relatively non linear, and seems to be doable at any point during the game. It does feel like Britanniaís mainland was rather open.
40. At the end of the game, Skara Brae is taken into the void in an orb of light and travels to a world called New Britannia that Hawkwind has selected. This scene is actually seen through Richard Garriottís own telescope!
41. In this revision of the plot, the Skara Brae/New Britannia bit appears before the Armageddon movie, and the game seems to end with the Avatar and Lord British contemplating the devastated world (as seen in the video leaked a couple of months ago). There is no specific mention of Armageddon triggering the Avatarís Ascension or Lord Britishís death like the summary from 1999. Itís quite possible specifics of the ending kept being shifted around with each rewrite; this is version 4.1 of the Bob White Plot, after all.
Differences as compared to the dungeon design documents
The Dungeon Documents are from May 1995, over two years before the final revision, which should explain the differences. On the whole, it would seem that the design had been scaled back a bit in between those dates.
1. Cove can indeed only be reached by a balloon in the dungeon documents.
2. Despise, in the dungeon documents, contains half of the plans of this balloon, making it a mandatory passage early in the game. In the final revision, Despise appears to serve no purpose other than having one of the Columns to deactivate.
3. The subplot in Destard of the Dragon Queen hiding herself in human form appears to be nonexistent, and the dungeon documents only say that the Avatar has to convince the beast to help him.
4. In the 1995 version of the plot, the Avatar needs to travel to the ruined Ambrosia to find Desbet and Vasagralem. Ambrosia is underwater and can only be reached by a whirlpool near New Magincia. Desbet joins as a companion and the Avatar has to escape through Hythloth, which links the underwater Ambrosia to the Sewers of Britain.
There is no mention of whether this is the Ambrosia from Ultima VII or the underwater city from the later revisions, though I would assume the later. If it is the latter, this might suggest the whole background bit about the Guardian and the Gargoyles was meant to happen in the underwater city of Ambrosia.
5. Hythloth is not mentioned in the final plot revision, suggesting it had no other purpose than having a Glyph to find.
6. Shame serves as trial for entering the Guild in the dungeon documents; the Avatar must steal the Quicksword from a bandit leader name Kaeden. There is no mention as to whether this is actually Enilno from Ultima II. In the final revision Shame had likely no other purpose but offering a Glyph to find.
7. Wrong is were the Avatar is tossed (with Raven) after spying on Verona/Amoranth in the 1995 version of the plot. In the final revision, this has been changed to a different unrelated dungeons depending on who the Avatar was caught spying on. This suggests that, like other dungeons, Wrong had the sole purpose of offering a Glyph to find.
8. The entrance to the Abyss is underwater and is reached by a diving bell in the dungeon documents, while the final revision mentions a ìpit-likeî entrance reached by a gateway created by the Shrine of Humility and the Shrine of the Codex.