A number of people have commented on how much things seem to have "changed" in the Dwimmermount campaign as a result of the events in Death Frost Doom. Indeed, some have raised the specter of a "story" being introduced into the campaign. How to explain this?
There are several things at work here. Firstly, my own personal disdain for "story" is not a disdain for a coherent series of events that, in telling, follow logically from one another. Rather, it's for planning out that series of events beforehand without regard for player decisions or the vicissitudes of random dice rolls. The events of Death Frost Doom were not inevitable. For one, the players could have -- and indeed nearly did on a couple of occasions -- simply abandoned the crypts and moved on without precipitating the release of the undead horde upon the world. Had they done so, the campaign would have continued as it had. The Thulian "doomsday device" is but one of a great many "story seeds" I've placed throughout the campaign and it's by no means a privileged one.
"Story seeds?" I'm not sure what else to call them. Hooks perhaps? Basically, I litter the campaign world with the places, items, and characters, each of which has the potential for altering the campaign in various ways. Some might do so in big ways and others might do so in small ones, but all have the potential to lead to what, in retrospect, will be called "stories." But I cannot, until the players interact with those seeds and until dice are rolled give an accounting of "what's going to happen." There are no scenes planned out, no turning points designed, no climactic battles prepared, and certainly no expectations that this or that must happen in order for things to turn out "right."
The undead horde released from the crypts is the culmination of several story seeds I placed earlier in the campaign. It most definitely is part of a story now, but it didn't have to be. The story seeds relating to the fall of the Thulian empire, the cult of Turms Termax, azoth, the quest for immortality, and others all intersected in the way the players chose to explore Death Frost Doom, but there was no necessity that that had to happen. Even now, there are literally a dozen or more story seeds the players have either chosen to ignore or haven't yet interacted with in any significant way and any one of them could lead to yet more "stories." Similarly, just what the consequences of the undead horde will be is unknown, even to me. I have several possibilities in my mind -- that's the job of a good referee, after all -- but I don't favor one over the others and, even if I did, the X factors of player choice and the randomness of dice militate against my being able to ensure that any one possibility happens "as it should."
All of this is a long-winded way of agreeing with Rich Marshall's comment that "The advocates of pre-scripted storylines believe that without predetermined ends, overarching stories are impossible. They believe that if you allow the players' actions to create the story, chaos will ensue instead and no story will be possible." I am not in the slightest opposed to the idea that even old school RPGs include "story." Rather, I believe old school gaming generates stories -- many stories -- through play rather than through explicit referee planning beforehand. I can pretty much guarantee that, if I had a different group of players, the campaign would currently be quite different, if only because their dice rolls would have led to different outcomes and thus different decisions in response to them. That imaginary alternate campaign would likely have different stories and, to my mind, that's as it should be.