Game Development, Firelight, Tabletop Games & Culture

How Firelight's Quests Are Made (And How You Can Make Your Own, Too)

Each Quest features elaborate artwork from Michelle Czajkowksi, Loika and Caitlin Scannell

Each Quest features elaborate artwork from Michelle Czajkowksi, Loika and Caitlin Scannell

Firelight is, at its core, a game of many different stories. Every copy of the game comes with 20 jumbo-sized Quest cards, each of which represents a completely self-contained plot line that can be played out in about 90 minutes.

All Quests consist of five "Phases", sub-objectives that must be completed by the Adventurers in order to finish the game and complete the story. Quests fall into a number of genres, and serve to give players an easy way to dive into Firelight's fantasy setting without taking a bunch of prep time.

But ultimately, our Quests are just a framework for your storytelling. More experienced players can create their own Quests, and in fact, we encourage expanding the game with homebrew stories, characters, and treasures.

Below, we'll outline the types of Quests in Firelight, our process for creating storylines and Phases, and a few tips for creating your own Quests in the future.

Firelight's Quests

Despite being a much more streamlined game than many of its RPG peers, Firelight supports just about any kind of story you want to tell. Our Quests fall into the following main archetypes (with examples below):

Action Stories

These Quests are driven primarily by action sequences and combat, and include premises like:

  • Executing a train heist
  • Surviving a wrestling tournament gone wrong
  • Making a frantic escape from a mad doctor

Stealth and Subterfuge Stories

These Quests might involve sneaking or social manipulation, and include premises like:

  • Solving a murder mystery
  • Navigating a sinister masquerade party
  • Performing a bank robbery

Magic-Driven Stories

These Quests involve players in the ethereal magic of Firelight's world, and include premises like:

  • Entering the dreams of a troubled magician
  • Chasing an art thief through a series of enchanted paintings
  • Exploring a wild new continent

Character-Driven Stories

These Quests generally feature little combat and center instead on improvising engaging characters in scenarios like:

  • Paying remembrance to a fallen adventuring companion
  • Preparing a wedding ceremony for two lovers

Of course, because Firelight is a player-driven game, any of the Quests listed above can feature action, strong character work, or magical interference. Most good weddings involve a brawl or two, after all, and the magic of Firelight's world may be conducive to revealing more about the characters you create.

Which brings us to the core tenets of Quest creation in Firelight...

Making a Quest

Each Quest begins with a strong idea. Those bullets above are generally the first thing we write down (often hastily typed into a Google Sheet just before we fall asleep). There are dozens of these ideas "pitched", but ultimately only a few have what it takes to make it to a final Quest. We tend to avoid generic "loot the dungeon" scenarios in favor of more flavorful stories, as looting is naturally built into the flow of the game by default.

The next step to making a Quest is expanding upon that initial premise. Where is the player, and why is this story taking place? A few details are necessary in order to avoid too much pre-game planning time.

Following the creation of a premise, five Phases must be created. Each Phase must come in the form of a specific objective that the Adventurers need to complete, so a certain level of specificity is needed. On the other hand, each Phase must be open-ended enough that players can solve it in a number of ways. Game Masters, too, should be able to put their own spin on the objectives; otherwise, they wouldn't have enough agency during the game.

After this, the Quest is playtested with a group of 3-4 players. Flaws in the premise and the Phases are often pointed out in this part of testing, and it's back to the drawing board. Some Quests are scrapped entirely during this period, in favor of more interesting premises or objectives.

Once the Phases are locked in, production on the artwork begins. Each Quest features beautiful artwork from some of today's most talented artists. Art production needs to begin early, even as the final small wrinkles in the Quest Phases are being ironed out. As long as we know the Quest will center around certain elements, those elements can be featured in the images without worry of scrapping the work and starting again pending changes.

Creating Your Own Quest

To create your own Quests, start like we do: Come up with a premise that you want to see your Adventurers solve, and expand on it. Answer questions like:

  • Who has given your Adventurers this Quest? Why?
  • What type of setting does the Quest take place in?
  • Who will be the enemies during this Quest?
  • Will players have any allies?
  • What types of actions and interactions are you looking to provoke from your Adventurers?

Next comes creating the Quest Phases. This is the most difficult part of Quest creation, as Phases must be open-ended enough to allow for player agency, but specific enough to give all players a sense of direction.

Phrase each Phase as a specific, yet simple, objective. You should be able to communicate your objectives in one sentence, two max, using your description above to provide context. Similarly, each Phase should flow naturally into the next. Going from a ballroom to a fight scene might not make sense. Never assume that your Adventurers will follow one path of action over another, as the whole game is improvised.

In the future, we may look into providing materials for players to expand the game on their own terms. For now, we hope that the above gives you enough guidelines to begin creating your very own Quests in Firelight!