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9/01/2015

Spoony Plays Ultima IX Bonus: A Look at the "Bob White Plot"

The "Bob White Plot", as it's come to be known, is the original script for Ultima IX: Ascension.  It was not actually written by Bob White, but rather by a collaborative team of John Watson, Brian Martin and Richard Garriott; White simply did some editing and rewrites on the draft they came up with.  He was also the one responsible for leaking it to the Internet later on, hence the name.

Reading through the Bob White Plot makes it clear that the finished game has roughly 20% of the story that was originally planned. This draft also has some faults of its own, but ultimately feels like a far more complete story and lends itself to a much more immersive and compelling narrative than what we got in the final game.  So I've decided to do a side-by-side comparison and highlight the major differences.

(Bob White's plot summary is in lavender, my comments are in plain text)

Some more information on cut and repurposed game elements is here.
Some more information on recut and unused FMVs for Ultima IX is here.
A complete draft of the early script can be found here.

(opening Flic) The Avatar arrives at the start of the game in Britannia. His last thoughts are of being seized by the Guardian in Pagan. Suddenly he was pulled away and arrives back in LB’s realm. 


White seems to be getting this partly confused with the opening of Pagan, which has the Guardian seizing the Avatar from the Ethereal Void and dumping him into the sea near Morgaelin.  At the end of the game he enters a black gate and ends up on a mountaintop in Britannia, now shown to be under the control of the Guardian.  The two do not interact directly at any point during the main game of Ultima VIII, save for the Guardian taunting him on occasion.

Unfortunately he doesn’t recognize where he is. Standing on a mountain overlooking the Guardian’s keep at Terfin. This is where the wyrmguard suddenly flies up and incinerates the Avatar.

Cut to scene of dark throne room with Guardian in shadow talking to Blackthorn. Blackthorn is happy at the Avatar’s death but Guardian realizes he was teleported away by someone and is now in Stonegate. Blackthorn wants to go after him, but Guardian says to wait. He wants the Avatar to see how he is destroying Britannia and wants the Avatar to despair.

This aspect is pretty much unchanged from the released product, though the "Avatar back on Earth" segment is absent in the Bob White plot.

Game opens: Avatar in bed in Stonegate with Hawkwind nursing him. Just to be certain the Avatar is fit and unchanged by his trip to Pagan and the teleport back here, Hawkwind asks the virtue questions, setting up the Avatar character for the game.

They had a much different (and more lore-friendly) idea in mind for the character generation segment at first. However, at some point during development they decided to have the gypsy from Ultima IV fill in the role instead, which necessitated moving part of the tutorial to Earth.  That seems like a lot of extra work for relatively little payoff, not to mention that it creates a plot hole in light of Pagan's ending.

 He then tells the Avatar about what has happened since he left 80 years ago (time in Pagan ran so much slower). 

In the final game we get conflicting reports on how much time has passed.  An NPC in Buccaneer's Den remarks that it's been 200 years, but Dupre says it's only been 20...

Giant columns appear through out the land. Somehow the columns are affecting the climate, drying up some areas and flooding others, in addition there are tearing through the ground causing earthquakes and volcanism on a great scale. These climactic changes have caused wide spread famine in some parts of the world. In addition a plague began to run rampant through the land probably caused by the deplorable conditions. 

The deplorable conditions of Britannia are not nearly as evident in the released version.  The geography has changed quite a bit in places and several prominent locations have been destroyed, but NPCs show surprisingly little reaction to most of it.  The most substantial difference seems to be the many new types of monsters roaming the world...

The people of Moonglow were able to produce limited quantities of food via magic, some of which the export through the land. Britain monks found that the venom of the Silver Serpent would provide relief from the plague, but was no cure.

This idea was somewhat used in the final game; Silver Serpent Venom is refined into Serpentwyne, which has substantial healing properties.  The plague subplot was dropped, however.

Something happened (you discover later) and Britain refused to send serpentwyne to Moonglow and Moonglow refused to send food to Britain. The army divided and civil war is at hand.

The whole civil war subplot was removed from the final game.  The people are still turning on each other, but for entirely different reasons.

 He then tells the Avatar to descend into the tunnels under Stonegate and travel via those dungeon passages to Britain and see Lord British.

There are no tunnels beneath Britain and Stonegate in the final game; instead there's a teleporter at Stonegate's base that takes you straight into the castle foyer.  The planned sewer dungeon was reused as the dungeon Hythloth (now the opposing dungeon to Humility rather than Spirituality) owing to time constraints.

 Hawkwind disappears saying he must rest a long time now since the summoning drained him so. The area of Stonegate, now surrounded by mountains and cut off by the sea, provided the training or tutorial area for the new interface.

Stonegate still serves as a tutorial area, though it's not quite as large in scale as this paragraph implies.  Hawkwind appears as well, albeit only as a disembodied voice.

Along the way to Britain, the Avatar is knocked unconscious by a teleport area that he must go through. He receives a vision (flic). The Guardian taunts the Avatar and says he is glad he will be able to watch while he shows Lord British what the Avatar was up to in Pagan. LB is has a waking dream and sees the Avatar summoning Pyros.

This FMV was also recut and repurposed, having the Avatar instead summon Pyros (in Britannia!) in order to open the Stygian Abyss. Rather silly considering that Pyros was established as a character who is unlikely to willingly help anyone, let alone the Avatar.  Not to mention the fact that he's kinda dead.

To their credit, they did at least change the FMV to match the rewritten plot, cutting out several shots of LB and obscuring his castle with clouds and trees (though part of the castle wall is still visible in one shot).  However, this does not hold true for the jail scene we'll discuss a bit later!

Once the Avatar arrives in Britain he has already had to deal with one wyrmguard (Damon) and is probably wearing the armor. People in Britain run from him and once at the castle, Geoffrey asks him to get rid of it. LB confronts the Avatar and wants to know about the dream but accepts the ideas that the Avatar had to do what is necessary, but he seems disturbed none-the-less. 

This whole idea is completely dropped in the final; Lord British shows no sign of knowing about any of the events that transpired on Pagan, or Serpent Isle for that matter.

Wyrmguard armor is also wearable in-game, but NPCs show no reaction to it.

LB informs the Avatar that the world is almost at the brink of civil war. LB’s health began to decline rapidly a few years ago so he appointed a tribunal. The leader of Moonglow mages (Verona), the leader of the Valorian knights (Sir Corwin), and the leader of the Britain monks (Amoranth). 

These three characters still appear in the game, albeit with much smaller roles.  LB's declining health is never brought up, though he seems to have lost much of his influence owing to his age and the Guardian's columns corrupting peoples' minds.

Things went well at first, but once the columns rose, famine set in and the plague appeared they would feud with each other all the time. then when the shipment of food, bought and paid for) failed to arrive in Britain Amoranth accused Verona of treason and inhumanity, Verona screamed the same story about a serpentwyne shipment. Ever since then the world fractured into a group of city states. LB is worried since Britain and Moonglow are building armies, one commanded by Corwin’s daughter and the other by his son. If it were not for Corwin’s cooling factor with their generals, they would already be at war. He implores the Avatar to stop the civil war, stop the famine and plague and he thinks the columns are at the root of it all. 

The Columns still cause a lot of grief for Britannia, though they corrupt the eight Virtues rather than poison the land itself.  This also results in the Avatar's allies being brainwashed and joining the ranks of the Wyrmguard, something that never occurs in the original plot (though it is implied that Shamino places himself in a trance to avoid this fate).

LB tires quickly and due to him being so old a frail, he can no longer command the respect of his armies or people anymore and he still thinks the Tribunal is the best thing for the country. LB warns the Avatar to stay away from Asylum, that is run by dangerous, treasonous thugs.

Asylum was completely dropped from the final game.  It still technically exists in the game's files, albeit in a very incomplete state (and not accessible without hacking).

The Avatar finds Shamino in the Abbey in Britain in a trance. He has to use the Bell, Book and Candle to free him.  
He finds out from Shamino that the rangers disappeared a few years back and he felt an unholy call luring him away. He placed himself in the trance in hopes that if the Avatar returns he could wake him and the call would be no more. Shamino no longer feels the call and joins up with the Avatar.

This idea was used, though rewritten to compress the plot a bit.  Shamino instead began a spiritual journey into the Ethereal Realm seeking the Guardian's origins and a way to overcome his might;  the Guardian traps Shamino to prevent him from divulging what he learns.  He is ultimately freed by the Avatar in both cases.

And of course, the Avatar has no traveling companions in the final game besides Raven.  Probably a decision born of the game's rushed development, as the Bob White script also implies that she would frequently be at odds with the other party members over what course of action to take next...

The Avatar sets off for the closest column near Despise. On his way he is confronted by wyrmguards in camp. During the fight a girl jumps into the fray and ends up spearing a female wyrmguard through the eye and driving them off. The Avatar is grateful and she introduces herself as Raven. 

The idea is still there, but the scene was rewritten.  The Avatar is instead ambushed by Blackthorn after exiting Despise and Raven comes to his rescue, killing the Wyrmguard and injuring Blackthorn's eye.

Raven was sent to find the Avatar and bring him back to Asylum (Buc’s Den) 

This must have been rewritten at some point, as the unused map in the final game labeled "Asylum" is shown to be a dilapidated stone tower.  Either that or Buccaneer's Den was meant to have undergone some major changes between Ultimas 7 and 9.

and meet with her boss Samhayne. He has some clues to the problems and he knows the Avatar is here to help solve them.

In the final version he's somehow gotten ahold of the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom (though it's never explained how), and uses it to leverage a favor from the Avatar.

In Despise the free one of the corrupt runes of virtue from the column, thus stopping its power.

They journey back to Britain and then on to meet Samhayne. Samhayne is like a benevolent Don Corleone. He has been running contraband food and serpentwyne throughout the world, even running the blockades of Moonglow and Britain. 
 He knows that the war is closer than anyone thinks, but proof must be taken to LB to get him to dissolve the tribunal and try to assume command. Samhayne is not trustworthy in Shamino’s view and he wants proof of what is going on. Samhayne tells the Avatar to journey to Valoria and meet with Corwin. He will tell you the truth. Then come back here and we will get things going.

Samhayne's role was also downsized in the final game; he instead ends up being manipulated by Blackthorn and betrays the Avatar before being killed off by the Guardian on Terfin.  He is also revealed to be Raven's father, though this never seems to come up in the Bob White Plot (and is a rather arbitrary inclusion in any case).

Corwin makes no appearance in the final game either.

He travels to Valoria with companions and goes to see Corwin. Corwin and his new aide Darkblade meet with the Avatar. He explains the situation and confirms Samhayne’s suspicions.  The Avatar convinces the Lord of Valoria to send word to his kids to disarm and meet at a negotiation table. He agrees once the Avatar gets him over his despair. The Avatar heads back to Asylum and meets with Samhayne. He tells LB that he must get more proof of the war preparations so that LB can confront the factions. The only way he can find out for sure is to make contact with Sam’s guild operatives inside Britain and Moonglow and ’lift’ some papers. Some of the guild objects to an outsider making guild contact so Samhayne talks the Avatar into joining the guild. The Avatar is branded with the secret sign and is sent on his way to his choice Moonglow or Britain.

This FMV plays much later on in the final game, and mostly serves to add more weight to the romance between Raven and the Avatar.


During the sea voyage he gets another third person dream (flic) courtesy of the Guardian. This time LB sees the Avatar joining the nefarious Guild and being branded. LB becomes more distraught and is now wondering about the Avatar.


Lord British continues the theme of being none the wiser to the Avatar's actions.

The plot branches here but funnels back together quickly. Avatar goes to Moonglow/Britain. Makes contact with a guild operative and gets a disguise. He enters the Court of Truth/Abbey of Love and during his riffling of desks and such overhears Amoranth/Verona and their lackey Ebontyne/Shadowbriar discuss the war preparation. Whichever is gone to first, the Avatar escapes with no problem. When spying on the second one the Avatar is discovered and is captured and knocked unconscious.

Here is another dream (flic). This time LB sees the Avatar thrown in prison for spying on one of the Tribunal members. LB looks like he is getting angry now.

This scene was repurposed to show the Avatar's imprisonment in Deceit; that's why the jail cell in the FMV doesn't match the one seen in-engine (and why the quality of the CGI is noticeably lower than the previous scene where Blackthorn captures the Avatar).  The final version is also recut to exclude shots of Lord British, continuing the theme of him being unaware of the Avatar's actions.

Also worth noting:  Wrong still serves as a prison in the final game, though you're breaking in to rescue Raven rather than trying to get yourself out.

Back to the game: The Avatar awakens in Wrong. Ebontyne/Shadowbriar stands before the doorway and morphs into Blackthorn. He taunts the Avatar telling him that he has been behind all the seeds of war, planting them in the mind of Amoranth and Verona. He tells the Avatar that his only stumbling block is Sir Corwin who is trying to get his kids to a bargaining table, thanks to the Avatar’s meddling, and by this time tomorrow Corwin won’t be troubling anyone anymore. Blackthorn leaves and the Avatar and Raven (Also caught trying to free the Avatar while he was unconscious) their cell and dungeon (turning off another column along the way). the find Shamino outside and waiting. The run to find a ship and get to Sir Corwin as fast as they can, but by the time they arrive it is too late and he is already dead, but the body was stolen also. All that is left behind is an arrow.

Raven still helps the Avatar escape from Deceit, albeit indirectly.

Following the clue of the arrow and questioning Fletchers and Apothecaries (it was poisoned) leads to a description of the perpetrator, the female wyrmguard that Raven fought earlier.  
In addition one of the Apothecary is a medium and through a trance locates the body in the Well of Souls on the Ruined isle of Skara Brae. 

In the final, Skara Brae is shown to have been rebuilt after it's destruction in Ultima VII, though it ends up being destroyed by the Guardian again before the Avatar reaches it.

She tells the Avatar that a spell for speaking with dead cast upon the body would reveal the truth behind the assassination and that she foresees that this could stop the war. The Avatar and companions head to the Well, retrieve the body, fight a bone dragon lots of undead and turn off another column.

The whole subplot about tracking the murderer is discarded in the final.  Additionally, the Glyph of Spirituality is now recovered from the Stygian Abyss (now the opposing dungeon to Spirituality) instead.

When they leave the dungeon a messenger arrives telling them the armies have taken the field near the shrine of justice. Avatar and friends hurry to the shrine in time to meet with Amoranth, Verona and the commanders. Verona casts the spell. Dead Corwin reveals that his lackey Darkblade is actually Ebontyne, Shadowbriar and Blackthorn and he is behind the war. 
Darkblade, who is in the tent, suddenly reverts to his Blackthorn form and the whole area is beset with wyrmguards and dragons. During the fight, Blackthorn exits kidnapping Amoranth and Verona and taunting the Avatar to come and get them at Terfin.

The original concept for the Guardian was to have him be an entity created by a fusion of the three Shadowlords and an intelligent wingless Gargoyle; this would explain how he is able to manipulate Blackthorn so easily, considering they were the ones responsible for his corruption in Ultima 5.

In the final there is no mention of this idea, implying that Blackthorn is acting of his own accord and simply motivated by revenge.  Rather curious considering what we learned about him on Serpent Isle!

At the end of the fight Janna arrives with word that the other old companions awaits the Avatar in the sanctuary of Cove.


Cove, Serpent's Hold and Empath Abbey are all said to have been destroyed in the final game.  The Lycaeum is as well, though it ends up being rebuilt by the time the game begins.

 They think they know where the Plague is coming from and what the columns are doing. The Avatar travels to Cove along the way another dream (flic).  LB sees the Avatar stand before the armies of the world and now look to be swearing fealty to him. LB is furious as the Guardian whispers to him that the Avatar is planning to usurp the throne and seize Britannia. He will no longer allow the Avatar inside the Castle unless he has a member of the Tribunal with him.

This FMV was removed entirely from the final game; it no longer had a purpose with the distrust and war subplots being written out.

Once in Cove the Avatar learns that the columns are causing the plague. As long as they are powered the plague will continue. In addition they are like clock springs, winding up. Even if they are unpowered their energy is not released. In time they will ’let go’ and quite possibly rip apart the world. 


The Guardian's plan in the final game is similar, though the columns play a slightly different role - they instead disrupt the orbit of Britannia's moons, which will eventually cause them to collide with one another, fall to the planet and destroy it.

They also have now received reports that the Guardian is massing his wyrmguard and gargoyle army and is planning on attacking Britain and other cities. 

As mentioned, the original plot reveals the Guardian to be a fusion of the Shadowlords and a Gargoyle.  This Gargoyle became known as the "Savior" and covertly spurred on the war that occurred during Ultima VI, acting as the Gargoyles' champion against the "False Prophet".  He never confronted the Avatar directly and vanished before the war's conclusion, but gave a proclamation that he would return to challenge the False Prophet again when Britannia was threatened with destruction.  This explains why he is able to amass a force of Gargoyles against the Avatar, and is more in line with the Guardian's manipulative nature.

In the final game's plot the Guardian's origins are rewritten to exclude his Gargish element and the Shadowlords, but a few elements of the original story remain. Gargoyles are still seen in his employ on Terfin, and a statue of the three Shadowlords is seen there as well.   Most of the remaining Gargoyles take up residence in the secluded undersea city of Ambrosia and have (rather arbitrarily) regressed to thinking the Avatar has come back to fulfill Ultima 6's prophecy and destroy them.  A civil war between the winged and wingless gargoyles is also shown to be underway, which may be a small nod to the original story.

They must perform a pre-emptive attack before all of his forces can muster. Samhayne will provide ships and the army is ready but they need and air force and the only thing that could help are the dragons of Destard.

The Avatar journeys to Trinisic and goes to see the Queen of the Dragons in nearby Destard. He has to rescue her and a clutch of eggs from some new wyrmguard raiders after which she agrees to help. 


This idea is completely reversed in the final game; the dragon queen is now a villainous character in the Guardian's employ and supplies dragon mounts to the Wyrmguard. The Avatar ends up slaying her to gain access to the town of Valoria.  This change may have been necessitated by the fact that no dragon-riding Wyrmguards are seen in the game, save for the one in the opening FMV.

Her name also changed at some point in development, from "Alexadraconia" to "Talornia".

Now with all the forces moving to place, the Avatar sets off for the other dungeons in order to turn off the remaining columns, except the Abyss

The sequence of events is much different in the final, turning the main focus of the Avatar's quest into disabling the columns and restoring the eight shrines in order to revive the eight virtues.

He needs one of the Gargoyle lenses from LB to open the path. 


This may be a subtle homage to Ultima VI, where the lenses allowed the Gargoyles and Lord British to peer into the Ethereal Void and read the Codex.  In the final game, the lenses are needed to read the Codex regardless of its location, which doesn't make much sense given established series lore...

Once they are done a ship arrives to take Avatar and companions to Terfin to meet the Guardian and Blackthorn.

Lots of fighting and wandering in Terfin, finally the Avatar reaches the throne room and finds Blackthorn there, but the Guardian has already left for parts unknown. 


In the released game the Guardian never leaves Terfin.  However, a brief confrontation (and losing battle) occurs there at roughly the midpoint of the game, which may be a remnant of the original script.

The final game also seems to imply that the war with the Guardian has already taken place and subsequently been lost, hence why only the Avatar and his closest allies are willing to stand against him now.

Blackthorn grovels and pleads for mercy. Shamino suggest bringing him to LB so he can confess. The Avatar takes Blackthorn to LB and he confesses. LB has Blackthorn put to death.

Again, this idea plays out much differently in the final. Lord British and Blackthorn instead have a duel to the death in the Stygian Abyss, with Lord British emerging the victor.

LB is getting some strength and vigor back thanks to the shutdown of the columns (save one) and Hawkwind’s arrival in the castle a few days ago. Hawkwind warns that the columns are primed and will release soon destroying everything and funneling the power of that destruction into the Guardian making him greatly powerful. 

I don't believe this plot element is ever mentioned in the final.  The columns still have a sinister purpose, of course, but their role in "powering up" the already near-omnipotent Guardian was left out.

He says that the plan had been to keep the Avatar busy and off balance long enough for the columns to finish the wind up. Hawkwind says that the runes of virtue can save the populace if we can get them to Skara Brae as soon as possible. He says to place the runes at the carnal points of the compass marked on the island and the virtues will take care of the rest. 

In both versions of the script, the virtues now seem to be forces of nature than conceptual guidelines, which is rather contrary to the message of Ultimas IV and V (but elaborated upon in Hawkwind's expanded origin, see below).

One slight difference in the final is that you utilize the eight Sigils to cast the Barrier of Life spell, rather than the Runes.

He then indicates that LB and the Avatar must make a final journey to Stonegate to confront the Guardian for it was from there that he cast forth the runes to form the columns.

This was the original plan for the "Armageddon" FMV, which now only plays in a recut form upon checking the mirror in LB's room and as a vision when the player talks to Lazslo in Minoc.  This is also evidenced by the roof of Stonegate being fully modeled yet inaccessible in the final game, and a leaked earlier version of the FMV with shots of the two on the roof casting the spell.

Elements of the original script (and screenshots of early FMVs) also imply that the mirror was the means by which the Guardian sent Lord British his visions, which may explain why the Avatar gains Karma for destroying it in the final game.

Before the Avatar can go to Skara Brae he gets the lens from LB (and one he got earlier from Vesagralem ,the Gargoyle king...another story)


Neither version of the script seems to mention what became of Draxinusom, but Vasagralem seems to be his successor in any case.  He also stands as a "rogue" Gargoyle against the rest of his race in both versions.

 and journeys to the Abyss. He fights the Slasher of the Veils, turns off the column and releases Amoranth and Verona which journey with him back to Skara Brae.

The Slasher of Veils makes no appearance in the released game, though this would have been a clever way to show off the Avatar's Titanic powers, as the Slasher was shown to be far beyond the Avatar's strength in Ultima Underworld.

Lots of people on Skara Brae when Avatar, LB, Verona and Amoranth arrive. Companions all stay while Avatar places runes and leaves with LB. They arrive at Stonegate and face the Guardian in one of the lower chambers and slay him, but LB is weakened in the battle. 

In the final version, the Guardian and the Avatar are shown to be linked during their first confrontation in Terfin; any harm Avatar attempts to inflict on the Guardian is reflected back onto himself, hence why simply defeating him in combat is an impossibility.  The original script shows that this is not the case, but he is still extremely powerful, requiring the full might of the Avatar's Titanic powers to defeat him.

Hawkwind appears once more and tells the Avatar that even though the Guardian is defeated for he moment the power of the unleashed life energy when the columns let go will restore him and power him up. The life force of Britannia must be eliminated to defeat him for good.

This leads to a very dark turn for the ending!  Hawkwind also has a much more significant role in this script than he does in the final plot, which I will elaborate on a bit further down.

 LB mentions the Armageddon spell. They must get to the roof of Stonegate pronto! Once getting there LB is incapable of doing the spell, he is too weak and decides if Britannia must die then he will go with his world. The Avatar discovers that he too must infuse himself into the spell and that he will ’pass on’ with its casting. Hawkwind’s voice tells him that this is but a step and that he will ascend beyond this realm to a higher place. Avatar casts the spell.

The idea does get used, albeit in a rewritten form.  More details below.

(The really freaking cool flic occurs): Spell of destruction rips forth from Stonegate moving forth in waves across the land. Deer flash into ashes, trees blow up, cities are destroyed. Worried people stand on Skara brae as they can see the wave of destruction heading their way. Suddenly waves of light pulse from the runes and lines of power form a dome over the island just as the destructive wave hits. 


The original cut of the "Armageddon" FMV did indeed feature Lord British and the Avatar casting the spell from the roof of Stonegate.  They also had some extra dialog afterward.  However, the script states that Skara Brae is protected by the Barrier of Life and blasts off to settle on a new planet after Britannia's destruction, so the peasants being wiped out was most likely a later addition to the scene.

Another odd thing to note is that in the final game, Skara Brae is destroyed again by the Guardian during his first confrontation with the Avatar.  However, this scene utilizes a new, completely different FMV.

Slowly the island pulls loose from the planet (looks like an old Roger Dean painting form the Yessongs album) and rockets out into space. A cut from above shows the speck of light zooming off into the distance with most of Britannia and the companions on board. Slowly we see the planet crack and tear apart, then a final explosion. Closing credits...........................”

Yeowza. Blowing up the whole planet to stop the bad guy is a bit extreme (and definitely not very virtuous!), so that's one change made for the better at least.  In the final game the scenario is largely reversed, with the Armageddon ritual's power mostly contained within the Barrier of Life.  When activated, it only destroys the Avatar and Guardian's physical forms and the eight columns, leaving the rest of Britannia's populace unharmed.

---

So as you can see, the two versions of the script are not as different as most people originally believed.  A lot of the more controversial plot points in Ultima IX are still present even in the early draft, including the Guardian's direct link to the Avatar, the eight Virtues being forces of nature rather than conceptual guidelines, the Gargoyles becoming villains again, and Blackthorn acting in league with the Guardian.  Of course, as the development process went on and the script ended up being cut down more and more, the explanations behind these events were slowly done away with or hastily rewritten, leaving them feeling like arbitrary and nonsensical additions.

A few other general points and comparisons not addressed in the plot summary:

  • A minor point, but noteworthy nonetheless: The Avatar seems to have forgotten a lot of things he should logically know in the final, leading to dopey moments like asking who the Gargoyles are and not knowing what the Codex is.  The original script implies that these are still in place, but at least offers an explanation for the Avatar's forgetfulness by saying that he is "disoriented" from traveling between worlds and thus needs to be brought back up to speed.
  • The final game never really acknowledges the Avatar's powers as the Titan of Ether, but the Bob White Script mentions them in passing a couple of times, implying they were to be a gameplay element.  Richard Garriott once (perhaps facetiously) remarked that the Avatar lost these powers upon being attacked by the Wyrmguard and teleported away at the beginning of the game, hence why they never appear.
  • Another unused FMV was seen in some early trailers, showing Lord British sitting on his throne before being dragged into the ground by demonic red hands.  This was likely intended to be another nightmare/vision sequence, but its context and purpose are unclear.
  • The Wyrmguards' origins are never elaborated upon in the final game, but the early script makes it clear that they are former Rangers corrupted by Blackthorn as part of his campaign to demoralize and conquer Britannia.  In the final game the Rangers are said to be the one population of Britannia the Guardian could not corrupt, hence why he simply destroys Skara Brae instead.
  • Dupre's resurrection is made into a plot point in the final game, which is flawed for two reasons.  First, it cheapens his sacrifice on Serpent Isle, and second, he is now part of the Chaos Serpent and therefore an integral part of upholding the balance of the universe, so taking him away from that role seems rather unwise...
  • Malchir is not mentioned in the Bob White Plot, presumably because the Pyros FMV was not yet repurposed and he had no role to play in the story.  This also avoids his corny dialog with Shamino and the Avatar.
  • Sentri and Nicodemus had roles to play in the Bob White Plot, but make no appearance in the final game.  There is a magical item called the "Legs of Sentri" that improves the Avatar's jumping, but that's the only remaining trace of the Avatar's former companion...
  • The Sentinel that served as a protector to Skara Brae is not mentioned in the Bob White Plot, presumably because there is no indication that the town was rebuilt after its destruction in Ultima VII.  It is also seemingly powerless to prevent the Guardian's attack, making its inclusion in the first place rather questionable.
  • The Gargoyles are revealed to have a queen in the final game, which goes contrary to what we're told in Ultima VI - namely that they have no concept of gender in their race.
  • One of the early concepts for the Guardian was to have him be a new entity created through the fusion of the three Shadowlords and a Gargoyle, making him the embodiment of the three anti-virtues and, essentially, the "Anti-Avatar".  This would explain the Guardian's influence over the Gargoyles and Blackthorn, as well as his tremendous powers; the Shadowlords were shown to be dangerous and nearly indestructible in Ultima V (unsurprising as they were born from Mondain's Gem of Immortality, an incredibly powerful artifact in its own right).  This also gives him a much more plausible link to the Avatar than the one seen in the final game.
  • Hawkwind and the Time Lord are revealed to be one and the same in both versions of the plot.  In the final this is a rather arbitrary inclusion, but the original plot gives this revelation much more significance: Hawkwind is revealed to be the last of a powerful race called the "Ultima" who sought to cast away the evils within themselves.  In doing so they became the Avatars of Virtue, but also inadvertently created the "Dark Avatars".  These two powers went to war for millennia, destroying nearly all of creation and themselves, until Hawkwind and his dark half eventually gave up their battle and became one entity again.  In doing so he "ascended" and attained great power and limitless knowledge, creating the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom and the eight Virtues as a means to maintain balance within the universe as a whole.  The battle between the Avatar and the Guardian mirrors that war, hence the urgency of the quest.  A very clever way to tie the whole series together! 
  • This idea was somewhat reused in the final game, albeit in a much less grandiose form.  The Avatar and Guardian take up the roles of the "Light" and "Dark" Avatars instead, with the Guardian being a direct manifestation of the Avatar's "evil side" which was cast away upon completing the Quest of the Avatar (which, again, goes contrary to the message of Ultima IV).  There is no mention of the Codex's origins or the Ultima race, but the story still acknowledges that the two forces must become one again and ascend from Britannia in order to save it.

Finally, here's a list of some of the major changes introduced by the fan dialog patch, which rewrites a good portion of the game's text in order to better fit it into Ultima canon as well as fixing several other inaccuracies.  They couldn't fix all of the story's problems, of course, but they at least made a valiant effort to rein in a lot of the really cringe-worthy moments.

  • The tutorial sequence is now narrated by Shamino rather than Hawkwind, who also comments on the Avatar's Titanic powers (implying that he still has them, but simply lacks the ability to control them until late in the game).
  • Lord British now explicitly states that Britannia has already waged war against the Guardian and lost, hence why nobody but the Avatar and his companions stand against him now.
  • Sentri and Sherry are now mentioned in dialog, said to have died during the war with the Guardian.
  • Gwenno offers an explanation for how she, Iolo and Shamino returned from Serpent Isle; specifically, they enlisted Erstam's help to open a Black Gate.  The Guardian is also said to have used this gate to enter Britannia and begin his invasion.
  • The many new kinds of monsters are said to have been brought to Britannia from worlds the Guardian has already conquered, as are the Wyrmguard.
  • Several books in the game acknowledge the events of Ultima Underworld 1 and 2, giving a bit more of a link to the rest of the series.
  • Draxinusom is mentioned in passing by Vasagralem, giving a bit more of a link to past games.
  • The dark mirror in Lord British's bedroom is said to have been acquired from a Wyrmguard, and is an object of study by Lord British.  Presumably the Guardian had some sinister purpose in mind for it...
  • The "Skull of Mondain" in Britannia's museum is now changed to be the skull of Zog, which fits in better with series lore.
  • The Amulet of Infinity in the museum is now an Amulet of Turning (from Ultima 5).
  • The patch also makes a point of mentioning the Teleport Storms that ravaged Britannia, which Lord British mentions in passing during Serpent Isle.
  • Ambrosia is renamed to Baltergres to better fit its Gargish origins (and physical location).
  • The "Gargoyle Queen" is now just a guard and is given a more Gargish-sounding name.
  • The Gargoyles are given a more plausible reason to distrust the Avatar again; namely, they mention several elements of the prophecy like the missing Codex.
  • Mariah is now said to have assisted the Avatar's escape from Deceit by placing the phase spider statue.
  • The Daemon guarding the Heartstone in Moonglow is now said to be Arcadion, which gives slightly more closure to his story arc after Pagan.
  • The Oracle of Moonglow is now given some explanation, and the Lycaeum is no longer referred to as such (implying it has been destroyed as Empath Abbey and Serpent's Hold were).
  • The new magic system is also acknowledged in Moonglow, said to have been the result of the Guardian's invasion and the prevalence of his particular kind of magic.
  • The Sentinel of Skara Brae is given some back story.  It's said that it was built by Horance after Ultima VII to prevent another disaster from taking place (though he clearly didn't expect an event of the magnitude the Guardian could muster).
  • An explanation is given for Dupre's return; namely that the Great Earth Serpent "releases" him from the void.  ...Still an unavoidably bad plot element, but at least they tried to do something with it.
  • Pyros is never said to be an inhabitant of the Abyss this time, though the player must still summon him to enter it.  You are also said to be utilizing his raw power rather than his status as a Titan in order to open the seal, which fits the story slightly better.
  • Malchir is now an unnamed sorcerer, which avoids a lot of his contradictory dialog and the corny morality lesson of his scene.
  • The Isle of the Avatar, rather than being rendered invisible (somehow...) is now said to be protected by a barrier raised by the Guardian.  Once the Avatar's link with the Guardian becomes clear, he is presumably able to utilize his powers to breach the barrier.
  • An explanation is given for Raven's knowledge of the secret entrance on Terfin.  She states that it was used for storage by the Guild before the Guardian's arrival.
  • Many of the really dumb bits of dialog were changed throughout the game, such as the infamous "What's a Paladin?", Katrina's self-contradictory line about humility and the Avatar not knowing what the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom is.