Firelight Stories

Firelight Stories: The Mad Island

Firelight Stories is a short fiction series based on the storytelling card game Firelight. Each story is based on actual play that has occurred as we are testing the game publicly. All of the events in each story are based on actual, improvised contributions from Firelight's testers.

QUEST BACKGROUND

Today's Quest is called "The Mad Island". This Quest begins when our Adventurers are kidnapped, and imprisoned on a mysterious island. Upon escaping, they find themselves ambushed by hideous abominations, creations of a mad doctor who runs the island. Players must search the island for materials to build a raft, all while avoiding the dangerous monsters that lurk in the forest.

Below, you can look over the Quest card's objectives and the builds used by each player in the story. If you've never played a role-playing game before, you can use this guide to see how things are done before diving into actual play yourself! If you just want to read the story without seeing the background behind it, skip to the "The Mad Island" header.

Note: The card content below is unfinished and its content is subject to change. The below descriptions represent Firelight in its roughest state - That's why we're testing! Thank you for your understanding.

DESCRIPTION:

You were attracted to a Quest that seemed too good to be true - and it was. Now you've been spirited away to a strange island, where the mad Doctor Viktor intends to sic his Abominations on you for sport. Flee your cell and escape into the forest, then collect parts to build a raft. Make a daring escape by sea as the Doctor's vicious beasts close in from all sides.

QUEST PHASES:

Each Quest is split into five sequential Phases. All must be completed in order to complete the game, but it is up to the Game Master's discretion what qualifies as "completing" a Phase.

Phase 1: You awake from unconsciousness trapped in a dark, caged room. Escape from your prison.

Phase 2: You emerge onto the island and are attacked by strange beasts. Survive the ambush!

Phase 3: Flee into the forest. Find a way to cover your scent from the island's Abominations.

Phase 4: Collect supplies to build a raft without being discovered as Viktor and the Abominations search for you.

Phase 5: Go to the shore and escape the island on your raft.

ADVENTURER BUILDS:

This section reveals which Adventurer, Personality, and Treasure cards each player started the game with, as well as the name chosen by each player to represent their character.

Lillian

Adventurer Card: Archer

Personality Cards: 

Fearless: You cower from nothing, leaping courageously into frightening situations.

Heart of Gold: You always strive to do what's right, pure and just.

Treasure Card:

Alcohol: Give to an NPC to loosen their lips and their inhibitions.

Archibald

Adventurer Card: Thief

Personality Cards:

Is a Vampire: You have a thirst for blood, and a weakness towards garlic and wooden enemies/weapons. 

Egocentric: You think only of yourself and what will bolster your large ego.

Treasure Card:

Health Potion: Drink this potion to restore 10 HP. Can also be fed to NPCs or allies.

Regina

Adventurer Card: Battlemage

Personality Cards:

Action Hero: You have a flair for bold actions and cheesy one-liners.

Animal Whisperer: You have a way with animals, and many say it seems you can communicate with them directly.

Treasure Card:

Dummy Musket: What appears to be a powerful musket. When the trigger is pulled, the muzzle fires only a sign that says "Bang!". When used during a Persuasion check to intimidate an enemy, it adds +1 to your roll.

Image for "The Mad Island" Quest in Firelight (art by Loika)

Image for "The Mad Island" Quest in Firelight (art by Loika)

Phase One

Drip. Splat.

Drip. Splat.

Drip.

Lillian woke with a start. Her body ached. Her extremities were numb. A damp concrete floor cradled her cheek, and a cold drip of water fell rhythmically from the ceiling to land on her neck. Slowly, achingly, she rolled onto her back.

Splat. A drop of water landed in her open eye. She tilted her head back and pushed the air from her lungs in a half-groan, half-shout. 

With a monumental effort, Lillian pushed herself upright and took stock of her surroundings. She sat in the middle of a dark stone cell. The floor was cave rock, covered in moisture and moss. A small window carved in the back wall of the cell filtered daylight through steel bars. The front of the cell was blocked by more bars, rusted and jagged. An equally decayed padlock rested on the cell door, keeping it shut. Worse, a chain around Lillian's wrist kept her bound to the floor, limiting her movement.

An Archer in Firelight (art by Loika)

An Archer in Firelight (art by Loika)

Next to Lillian, her two friends laid on the floor, still unconscious and also chained down. With a few light pushes, Lillian work Regina the Battlemage and Archibald the Thief. Her old traveling companions, the three had been together since they were children.

Archibald hissed and rolled away from the light filtering through the window. His normal vampiric pallor looked alarmingly red. Regina immediately tried to rush the door, but the chain around her arm pulled her back.

"Where are we?", she demanded to no one in particular. "Swamp jail, it looks like," Archibald replied, kicking the moist floor with disdain. "What is the last thing you remember?" Lillian asked everyone. "We need to figure out what happened."

The three pondered for a moment, reminiscing over the last few days: They had been hired for a simple monster elimination Quest by a researcher. Proceeding into the forest, they easily dispatched the wolves and Shroomlets for the doctor - And that was their last memory.

The realization slowly dawned on Lillian - Their Quest had been a sham the whole time. She knew it had been too easy. Shroomlet spores were incredibly potent, and it would only take a few to put three Adventurers into a state of delirium. 

"We have to get out of here," Lillian announced, panic seeping into her voice. "The Doctor... he did something to us..."

"The Doctor, you say?" A gravelly voice seeped through the wall next to them. "Who's there?" Regina asked to the wall. A soft laugh was the only response. For a second, the three Adventurers thought they had been imagining things. But then, the voice returned. 

"If you've met the Doctor, you're already too late." All three pressed their ears against the wall, waiting for the voice to continue. "My name is Allard, if you're wondering. And I've seen what the Doctor can do. My friends and I - We killed his creatures, finished his Quest - And what was our reward? Death, at the hands of those... abominations." 

"What do you mean?" Regina asked. "What is happening?" The voice took a moment to respond. "It's what he does. The Doctor. He lures in Adventurers with a fake Quest, knowing we're duty-bound to respond. Then before you know it, you're fending off his creatures in the hunting grounds." He paused, as if the next words weighed heavily and had to be forced out. 

"I can see it from my window. The hunting grounds. I watched him pull my friends out there one by one, force them to battle those... things. There's no beating them. Every fight just makes them stronger."

"That's it," Regina said suddenly. "We're getting out of here." 

"Aha!" Archibald yelled suddenly. The chains binding his arms fell to the floor. A glimmering lockpick caught the light between his fingers. "Always bring a spare." He went to work on the others' locks, freeing them quickly. The pick snapped in the final lock, but something else stood out to him - A glimmer beneath the window, previously out of reach. The Adventurers' Treasures lay beneath the window in a sack. Lillian ran over and grabbed them, distributing Treasures and weapons to her friends. They were equipped, but how would they escape?

Thinking carefully, Lillian knew that she would need some kind of key or lockpick to open the cell door. But Archibald's lockpick was already broken. It was time to improvise. Scanning her environment, Lillian found a stone, a small sheet of metal, and a piece of string. She grabbed the items, tying the metal to the string, and maneuvered it into the lock. She twisted and shoved, forcing her makeshift lockpick into the lock until - CLINK - the lock opened and fell to the floor. They were free.

Note: The Archer's Perceptive Power Ability lets players scan their environment for three objects and combine them into a helpful item. Players should note which objects they find, and how they combine them to produce the desired result.

The three of them ran from the cell, emerging into a long hallway. Just as Lillian had thought, they were in a cave. An entryway shone light from the outside, and Archibald and Regina took off running for it. But Lillian couldn't just leave their neighbor Allard lying in his cell. She had to help. She ran to the next cell and slid her lockpick into the door, fidgeting it up and down.

"Lillian," Archibald shouted. He was standing by the entrance to the tunnel. "Come o-"

His shout was cut short as he was dragged outside into the sun by and unseen hand. Regina yelled and gave chase. Archibald screamed from outside. Lillian jimmied the lockpick faster. "Come on, come on..." Finally, the lock came undone in her hands. The lockpick broke apart and the door swung open.

Inside of the cell sat a haggard man. His hooded eyes sat deep in his skull, and his head was overrun with a mess of hair and a large beard. He stood with considerable effort and shuffled his way towards the door. In his hand was a worn piece of flint - He had broken the chains around his hands long ago, but hadn't had much luck with the door, it seems. 

With a grimace, Allard shielded his eyes and looked out towards the cave entrance, where Archibald and Regina had been dragged out just a moment before. He looked at Lillian. "Well what are you waiting for? Let's go save your friends."

Phase Two

Lillian emerged from the cave to a scene of chaos. Archibald, weakened from the sun, was shielding his body with his arms as a strange flying creature assaulted him from the air. The creature had the head of a drake and the wings of an eagle, but its wingspan was easily ten feet or more. Even more disturbing, a long clawed tail protruded from its backside and lashed out at Archibald, grabbing and swiping at him.

Meanwhile, Regina was busy with her own creature. A four-legged beast circled her, snarling. It had the appearance of a wolf, but its skin was the porous consistency of a mushroom. Lillian realized with a start that their previous kills had not been in vain; this "Doctor" must have combined their bodies into a new, horrible form.

Lillian looked over to Allard. "Can you fight?"

"Lady," he growled, "I've been waiting months for this." He charged the creature circling Regina and slashed at it with the flint. Its skin opened up, revealing gills, and spores began to pour out. "Don't breathe the spores!" Regina yelled, covering her mouth with her hand.

Lillian pulled out her bow and notched an arrow just as the flying creature attacking Archibald reared its tail back for another strike. Her arrow flew true, piercing the creature's tail and causing it to fumble mid-air. It lashed out, but Archibald dodged to the side, uncorking a Health Potion and downing it with one swig. His burnt skin began to repair itself, to an extent.

The four dove into combat, Regina using her magic to send currents of energy cutting through the floor, Archibald lashing out with a dagger, and Lillian firing in all directions. Even Allard, armed only with his flint, fought hard. 

At last, the beasts went down. But they only had a second to breathe before more bad news arrived. On the horizon, flying out to meet them, came a terrible sight. Five more of the flying abominations were approaching fast, and they carried more of the wolf-like creatures with their tails. The closest creature had a second passenger - The Doctor, soaring along on the back of his creation. He raised his hands in triumph, and his harsh laugh could be heard even from Lillian's distance.

"Come on," she yelled, turning to look for shelter. A thick forest sprawled out beneath them to the north. "Into the woods!" She grabbed Archibald and Regina, the latter of whom was looking rather pale. "Allard!" She yelled. "Follow us!" 

But Allard had a resolute look about him. "No," he said, turning to face the incoming assault. "This is my fight. You three get out of here." He tossed the flint to Lillian, then grabbed the tail from the fallen beast. He ripped off the claws and held one in each hand like daggers. The flying creatures were really bearing down on them now. They would be here any second. "I said go!" Allard yelled. One of the creatures swooped down from the sky; Allard plunged the claws into it, one in either side, and it shrieked.

"Come on!" Archibald said. "I'm burning up out here!" He grabbed Lillian and the lilting Regina, and pulled them off into the forest. They ran and ran, until the sound of combat behind them was nothing more than a whisper on the breeze.

Phase Three

The three Adventurers fled into the forest, weaving through trees, over vines, and around thickets. But soon they had to slow down; Regina was faltering. She had inhaled spores from the strange creature, and she was going fast. Her face was pale, and small green dots had appeared on her skin. Her eyes were dilated, and she was starting to mumble under her breath.

"Regina," Archibald started, approaching her. He had recovered quite a bit beneath the shade of the trees. "Are you alright? We need to move." He tried to console her, but she swatted him away. "OFF!" she yelled. "Okay, okay." Archibald backed up, then turned to Lillian. "This is not good. She can't handle her mushrooms like me."

"Don't joke like that," Lillian scolded him. "We need to get out of here!" She tried consoling Regina, but was met with the same response. In fact, her situation seemed to be worsening; she was swatting at imaginary beasts around her and shouting.

"All that yelling is going to attract those... things!" Archibald warned. "We need to make her quiet." As if on cue, a roar shook the earth around them. The trees in front of them wavered, pushed aside by some massive force, and an enormous creature reared its head in front of them. It resembled a grizzly bear, but with six speared tentacles protruding from its back. It roared again, and birds flew from the trees above.

"Mom!" Regina yelled with glee. "What are you doing out here?" She ran to greet the bear creature with a hug. "Oh no, this is not happening." Archibald said, and he rolled to intercept Regina as a sharpened tentacle swung overhead. 

But their problems weren't over yet - Three shadows appeared on the horizon. The flying creatures had found them, and they were fast approaching. Thinking fast, Lillian flung herself between Regina and the bear creature, shielding her friends with her body. Tentacles crashed down on them, sending them all sprawling across the ground. Lillian's flint and alcohol fell from her pocket and rolled across the floor. The spark of an idea lit in her head.

"Archibald, grab Regina and run!" She yelled. "I'll be right behind you!" 

"You sure?" Archibald said, struggling to drag along Regina, who still thought the bear was her dear mom.

"Just go!" Lillian yelled back. Archibald didn't need any more convincing. He grabbed Regina and pulled her off into the forest. Regina turned to look back just as Lillian threw the bottle of alcohol at the bear creature's feet, splattering the forest in liquid. The flying beasts descended, closing the distance quickly. It was now or never. Lillian struck her flint and sent the alcohol up in a shower of flames. The forest quickly caught fire, and it spread fast.

"MOM!" Regina yelled. Archibald dragged her flailing form away from the danger. "It's... not... your... mom...", he grunted.

The creatures recoiled. The forest went up in flames around Lillian. She charged through a flaming patch of brier to rejoin her friends as the fire covered the forest - and the Adventurers' scent along with it - in white-hot flame.

Phase Four

The forest burning behind them, the three Adventurers had little time to form a plan. They sprinted through the trees, hoping to stumble upon a way out. Instead, they nearly ran themselves off of a cliff. With a sheer drop before them and flames behind them, it seemed there was nowhere to go.

Just them, a Shroomlet emerged from the forest. Archibald and Lillian prepared to attack, but Regina beat them to it. She bent down to the diminutive mushroom creature and put her arm around its tiny shoulder. "You," she declared definitively, "are my friend."

The Shroomlet's beady black eyes grew, and it put its stringy arms up to its mouth in shock. It seemed quite happy to have a friend. What happened next was a mystery to Lillian and Archibald. Regina, in a series of squeaks and chirps, spoke to the Shroomlet. And the Shroomlet, through a series of chirps and gesticulations, spoke back.

"I'm sorry," Archibald interrupted. "There's fire closing in on us, and you're talking to a mushroom?"

"Shush!" Regina said. "His name is Pokey! And he wants us to follow him!" Pokey the Shroomlet reinforced the statement with an authoritative series of arm wiggles. With the flames closing in fast, Lillian and Archibald conceded that they had little choice. They followed Pokey along the side of the cliff, to a small path that wound down its sheer side. With a deft series of leaps (and a series of squeaky sounds that emitted from his mouth), Pokey bounded down the path.

A Shroomlet from Firelight

A Shroomlet from Firelight

"Let's go!" Regina said enthusiastically, and bounded on down after him. Lillian and Archibald looks at each other, shrugged, and ran on down the path. 

At the end of the path was a beachhead jutting out into a crystal blue sea. Pokey gestured at the sea and squeaked. Then, he gestured to the beach around him, which was rife with driftwood. 

"He wants us to build a raft!" Regina said. "We can escape together!" The pallor was slowly disappearing from her face, and she seemed to be getting more cognizant of her surroundings by the moment.

The team set about gathering wood from the beach and piled it all together. There was no shortage of driftwood - It seemed like this beach had been hit by more than its share of storms. Regina used her flame magic to warm and dry the wood, making it stiff and easy for Lillian to tie off using rope arrows. After a while, they had a semi-functional raft. Holding it between them, the Adventurers ran into the sea. Pokey followed, splashing through the shallows and diving onto the raft as the water got deeper.

Phase Five

The raft floated out to sea with the Adventurers and Pokey on top. The island burned in the distance, filling the air with smoke. Had they really done it, Lillian wondered? Had they escaped this savage island?

Not quite, it seemed. Three silhouettes appeared on the horizon, and soon the flying creatures were upon them again. The Doctor rode on the back of the closest creature, perched atop a saddle and holding reigns in his hand. He spurred the abomination downwards, and it swooped over the raft, lashing out with its tail.

The Doctor cackled with glee. "My my, you are intrepid." He giggled. "My creatures will relish tearing you apart!" With a shout, he spurred the abomination to dive at the raft. At the same time, another abomination flew overhead, dropping one of the wolf creatures onto the raft.

Regina swept her hands out to either side, flames trailing between them. She had recovered from her stupor, and it was time to unleash some magic. She blasted all three of the flying abominations with a flurry of magical flames. The Doctor screamed, wreathed in fire, and fell from his mount, plummeting into the sea. 

The wolf creature landed on the raft, unbalancing it and sending one side hurtling into the air. Lillian was propelled upwards as the back of the raft rose. Pokey, who had been perched next to her, flew into the sky. Regina and Archibald had been standing next to one another when the wolf dropped onto them, but now they were plunged underwater as the weight of the creature unbalanced the raft.

Time seemed to slow. Regina breathed in sea water. Archibald put his hands up beneath the water, shielding his face from clawed paws. Pokey flew through the sky, about to drop into the sea.

Clinging to the top of the raft, perched above the water, Lillian sprung into action. She shot a rope arrow into the top of the raft and took a flying leap, snatching Pokey out of the sky just before he hit the water. She cradled him close as they fell underwater. The rope arrow attached to the top half of the raft pulled downwards, flipping the raft upside down and trapping them all momentarily underwater.

The Adventurers swam around the raft and surfaced, taking ragged breaths. The wolf creature swam up at them, but it couldn't quite reach - Its progress was slowing, and its porous skin was absorbing too much water. Slowly, the wolf stopped swimming, and then sunk underwater.

The three Adventurers clung to the raft for dear life. Pokey jumped off and landed on the raft, safe and sound. In the distance, the Doctor's island was a mile-wide fireball. The Doctor and his creatures would never bother another Adventurer again.