Firelight Stories

Firelight Stories: Crash and Burn

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 "Crash and Burn". This particular story is an example of how in Firelight, your objectives can be solved in all manner of ways - Even if you create a ton of chaos in the process.

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 "Crash and Burn" 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:

The Nephele is the world's largest luxury passenger blimp, and she is embarking on a test ride tomorrow evening. James, the Nephele's head of security, has received word of a bombing planned once the blimp is airborne. He has hired you as covert agents to protect the blimp. Blend in with the guests, find the saboteur and stop them before they bring the Nephele down in flames. Then, defend the Nephele one more time as raiders make a last-ditch effort to destroy the ship.

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: Create fake identities for yourselves and board the Nephela. Introduce yourself to at least three guests in the ballroom.

Phase 2: Choose one of the guests who seems the most suspicious and find out which room they're staying in.

Phase 3: Investigate the room and discover the location of the bomb.

Phase 4: Find a way to reach the bomb and defuse it before it detonates.

Phase 5: A gang of raiders appears in a last ditch effort to take down the Nephele. Fight them off and get the ship to ground.

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.

Flynn

Adventurer Card: Thief

Personality Cards: 

Debonair: You are stylish and charming.

Squeamish: You get woozy at the sight of blood.

Treasure Card:

Mysterious Box: A stone box inlaid with strange runes. Nobody's quite sure what will happen when you open it... The effect of the Mysterious Box is chosen and narrated in the moment by the Game Master.

Cid

Adventurer Card: Troubadour

Personality Cards:

Gourmand: You have a passionate love for food, and often overeat.

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

Treasure Card:

Swarm of Bugs: A massive cloth bag filled with hungry bugs. Unfasten the top to unleash them all.

Crash and Burn

Concept art for the 'Crash and Burn' Quest card by Caitlin Scannell

Concept art for the 'Crash and Burn' Quest card by Caitlin Scannell

Prologue

James looked through the window of the ruined Nephele and took stock of the situation. Zombies in the ballroom. Raiders in the hold. Flames licking at the engines. And, lest he forget, the ground loomed ever closer as the massive blimp lilted farther and farther downwards.

He had to reach the cabin. Had to take control. He may not be able to save everyone on the blimp, but at least he could stop it from running aground. Time was fast running out, and he had to get moving. 

How all this would end, nobody could say. But there was one thing James knew for certain - He never should have hired those damn Adventurers.

Phase One

Flynn and Cid were fast friends from the moment they met. The two had first been introduced while attending a luxurious benefit dinner, Cid to sample the fine flavors of the chefs, and Flynn to rub shoulders with the other socialites. The two had bonded over their love of food, and before long they had set out together on a cross-country adventure to write the first great foraged food cookbook. They camped in the wild, and took on Quests to fund their journey.

Their latest assignment had come as all great ones did - Picked up from a stranger in the tavern. An officer named James had hired them to provide added security on the inaugural flight of a luxury blimp called the Nephele. They would need to rub shoulders with the social elite in the blimp's ballroom, while secretly attempting to find evidence of a planned bombing. 

For Flynn, it would be second nature. His charming attitude always managed to win the day at parties. Cid, too, could be a charmer if his massive ego wasn't always getting in the way. He always carried a lute and was quick to break it out during parties. Flynn just hoped he wouldn't get distracted this time.

The two had taken out all the stops for this assignment, using the excess gold from their last Quest to tailor custom-made outfits. Now, they stood in a long line of equally elaborate ensembles on a red carpet waiting to walk up the entryway and inside of the Nephele. 

"Just like old times, huh bud?" Flynn quipped, ribbing Cid as they entered the ship. "Nice cape," Cid snorted, ruffling a small green cape strung behind Flynn's dress shirt. "Hey," Flynn retorted, "A thief's always got to have his cape."

As they made their way inside, the door closed and the blimp lurched as it began its inaugural flight.

A doorman took their jackets, then led them into the heart of the ship, a massive ballroom already teeming with guests. Small circular tables dotted an ornate hardwood floor glowing with polish. Fine china and silver sat at each table setting, and succulent smells of meats, sauces and fine chocolates wafted from a kitchen door inlaid in the right-hand side of the room. Waiters teemed in and out of the kitchen like ants in a hive.

"Let's, uh, split up and find clues," Cid said, his attention already captured by the food. He had disappeared into the crowd before Flynn could say anything.

With that, Flynn took it upon himself to find any suspicious targets. He scanned the room. An older man with a thick silver mustache and an emerald green suit caught his eye. The man was drinking alone at the bar to the left - Somewhat odd for a social gathering.

On the other side of the bar, a portly woman in a rose-colored dress captured the attention of a large crowd, enthralling them with gossip.

To the bar, then. He would start with the older man, before moving on to the woman, and attempt to gather any gossip he could about the partygoers. 

Meanwhile, Cid had migrated to the kitchen door and was enjoying a spiced leg of lamb. He was in prime position to see a band of lithe elves walk into the room, all carrying instrument bags. As they set up their gear in the corner, Cid couldn't help but scoff at the lute that the lead instrumentalist pulled from his bag - It was pitifully tiny and not ornately decorated at all.

"I bet he can't even play," thought Cid with a chuckle. "Not half as well as me, at least. In fact..." Cid was always ready with his lute. He ran back to the doorman to collect it, and returned just as the band started playing. Just as he thought, the music was pitifully one-dimensional.

But... what was this? A crowd was starting to gather around the band, and people looked enthralled. How could they be entertained by music so pitifully basic? Cid decided then and there to upstage them.

Note: Adventurers are encouraged to act with regards to their chosen Personality traits, especially during Phase One when the characters are still being established. This allows players to more easily step into the mindset of their characters without taking hours to prepare first. In this case, poor Cid's fragile ego will give him cause to upset the whole party.

He approached the band as their first song died down, clapping dramatically. "Yes, yes, wonderful," he cooed, swallowing down his last bite of lamb. "But I wonder if the people might be entertained by something a little more... unique." He looked towards the band, his massive ego temporarily blinding him to the mission's true objective, and signaled for them to play. 

Cid knew exactly which song he would accompany them with. It was an old ballad, and criminally underappreciated, but it never failed to entertain in the art houses where he had spent his youth. He started to play. But as the song progressed, Cid noticed something odd. The audience's stares of admiration looked remarkably like stares of... boredom?

The leader of the band waved his hands, saying "I think that's enough", and started to play over Cid to the audience's vocal approval. Stung, Cid's arms moved almost automatically. From across the ballroom, his eyes met Flynn's for just one second - Before he untied the string to the Swarm of Bugs.

Note: Adventurers can use their Treasures at any time outside of battle. Some Treasures can even be used in a fight.

Phase Two

Hungry insects swarmed from the bag and quickly overtook the room. To an outsider, it looked as though they had simply emerged from behind the band. The onlookers screamed, and started to flee the ballroom. Armed guards rushed in from several hidden doors in the sides of the room, ready to take on anything - except a giant swarm of flying insects, that is.

At the sight of the guards the band flinched, but their leader held them back, saying "No - Remember the plan." His followers replied in unison: "Yes Kitalla".

The elf named Kitalla quickly gathered up the instruments in their bags, and lead his band along the back wall towards one of the secret doors that had opened.

This did not go unnoticed by the jealous Cid. He took off following them, intent on seeing where they went next. But even he didn't expect it when, with a flash of silver, Kitalla pulled a blade from his sleeve and plunged it twice into the chest of a nearby guard. The motion was lost to most in the din of the fleeing crowd. Cid shouted, lost in the panic of the moment, and Kitalla attacked. 

Beetles, gnats, mosquitoes and mantises formed a dense cloud, biting partygoers through their fancy clothes and devouring food from fine china. Well-dressed men and women screamed, tripped and fell, all trying to flee the scene.

Flynn had been in the midst of conversation with his targets when the chaos erupted. Now they fled the ballroom alongside all the others. Desperate, Flynn scanned the room for Cid. He didn't have to look far; a tangle of blades in the corner told him that Cid had already entered combat. With the entire band of elves ganging up on Cid, Flynn doubted he would be able to reach his friend in time.

Caught in a moment of indecision, Flynn did the only thing he could. He reached into his pocket, produced the Mysterious Box, and opened it, praying to an unseen omniscient force that its effect would help.

Note: The Mysterious Box Treasure is unique in that its effect is not specified on the card. Instead, the Game Master has the freedom to narrate whatever effect s/he pleases, adding a little Dues Ex Machina to the scene.

As soon as the box opened, the chaos of the room stopped. In fact, everything stopped. The cloud of insects hung in the air frozen. Panicked partygoers stood like statues, running, swatting or tripping over one another. The entire room had frozen in time. Through the kitchen window, chefs and waiters peered through seemingly unaffected but defiantly unwilling to test the waters. 

The Hail Mary came too late for Cid, though. He had already fallen in battle, and most of his attackers had escaped into one of the side rooms. The only one who remained was Kitalla, frozen in time as he attempted to flee through the door. Over his shoulder he carried his instrument bag, opened to reveal something shiny.

Flynn decided it was time to do what a Thief does best. He walked through the immobile crowd, parting the frozen insects like a curtain. As he approached, Flynn tried to avoid looking at Cid, knowing that even if time were unfrozen his friend's eyes would remain glassed over. Once he reached Kitalla, he opened the bag over his shoulder and reached in.

Note: Situations such as these are perfect chances for Game Masters to hand out new Treasure cards to their Adventurers. 

Upon opening the bag, Flynn found just what he needed - The Cryptkeeper's Tome. He opened the book and thumbed through, trying to find a spell that could help Cid. 

Note: The Cryptkeeper's Tome is a Treasure which can resurrect a knocked out Adventurer with full health, but at the cost of inducing zombification.

Finally, Flynn found a helpful spell - the Spell of Resurrection. He read the runes aloud, and the room began to crackle. With a magical "SNAP" and a bright purple flash, Cid was on his feet again, only now he sported a deathly pallor. He looked around at the frozen partygoers in confusion.

"Flynn!" He sputtered, and weird green spittle came out of his mouth. "What the hell happened? Last I remember, I was..." His hand went down to the gash from Kitalla's blade, which was still very much seeping.

Flynn held up The Cryptkeeper's Tome and smiled. "Looks like this guy had a few tricks up his sleeve." Then his smile dissipated. "Who was this guy, anyway? His friends ran off behind one of these doors." 

"We've got to find them," Cid warned. "They attacked when the chaos started. They must be the saboteurs!" 

Looking around, Cid and Flynn saw numerous side doors leading off into different parts of the ship. "Alright buddy," Flynn said. "Let's split up. We can cover more ground that way." Cid nodded. "Agreed. We need to find their room and get some clues."

With a nod, Flynn took off into the room that Kirill had been running towards, leaving Cid in the frozen room trying to figure out where to search next.

Note: At this point in the game, Cid's Personality cards consist of Egocentric, Gourmand and Is a Zombie.

Cid scoured the room and tried to decide where to search next, but he couldn't concentrate over an urgent hunger. He had always loved food, and was even prone to overeating, but this hunger was... different. Acting on instinct, he looked at the many gourmet foods lined up against the wall. They were covered in insects, which certainly made them more appetizing, but he didn't feel like eating any of them. Then he looked at the partygoers, frozen in time. Their rosy cheeks. Their soft, manicured skin.

It wouldn't hurt to eat a little before starting his mission, right?

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It was easy to track the other elves. A trail of blood led down a wooden hallway, leading Flynn right to one of the guest rooms. The door was locked, but it was no match for his Thief skills. Within seconds the door was unlocked and Flynn was staring at three startled elves.

Phase Three

The three elves were already injured from their earlier fight with Cid, and Flynn had the element of surprise. He rolled forward, kicking the closest one in the chest and sending him tumbling back onto the bed. With a quick flick of the wrist, Flynn unsheathed his knife from its holster beneath his dress shirt and flung it at the second elf. The wooden hilt of the knife struck the elf square in the forehead, knocking him out.

The third elf finally snapped out of it and attacked. He pulled a blade and swung in a tight arc towards Flynn's side. Flynn dodged, swirling his cape around to catch the elf's blade. With a twist, he disarmed the elf and delivered a swift kick to his stomach.

"I know you're the one who delivered the bomb threat!" Flynn shouted, doing his best to be intimidating. "Where is the bomb?"

His intimidation tactic fell on deaf ears; the elf simply snorted and attacked again. Flynn gave him another kick, knocking the elf out. With all of the elves down for the count, he began to search the room for clues.

Note: The Thief Adventurer doesn't have much in the way of Strength, but he can still get one over on enemies when he has Initiative.

For all intents and purposes, it appeared to be a normal guest room. The elves hadn't bothered much with settling in. There was only a baggage cart with space for three suitcases. Only one suitcase remained. Flynn used his lockpicking kit to crack it open - And found himself looking right at a ticking time bomb.

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Cid had overeaten again. He always did this. At least with his stomach full, he was able to concentrate a little more on the mission at hand. And to make matters better, one of his meals had even dropped a neat little trinket - The Storm in a Bottle! 

Note: The Storm in a Bottle Treasure lets Adventurers unleash a raging storm just by uncorking the bottle.

"I had better catch up with Flynn," Cid thought. "Maybe he's found something by now."

As Cid shuffled out the room, everything flickered. Time seemed to jump forward by just a bit. The time warp that had slowed the room was slowly undoing itself.

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The bomb still read 30 minutes, so Flynn knew he had time. That was good, because he had no idea how to actually defuse a bomb.

"Okay," he said, pacing back and forth. "Okay. Bomb in the luggage. Think..."

There was one suitcase, but space on the baggage cart stored up to three. There might be more bombs in the hold, where all of the luggage was stored. He had to make it on time.

Phase Four

Flynn grabbed the bomb and ran outside. As he sprinted into the hall he ran smack dab into Cid. He briefed him on the situation, and the two ran off following signs for the hold. They found themselves at the end of the hallway, where a staircase beneath a trapdoor led into the belly of the blimp.

Flynn ran off down the stairs, and Cid shuffled behind as quickly as he could, almost losing his footing on the stairs more than once.

What they found at the bottom of the stairs was disheartening to say the least. Hundreds upon hundreds of different suitcases sat stacked in the hold, all different shapes, sizes and colors. Even if they ran to grab James, there would be no way for them to search even half of the suitcases before the half-hour timer on the bombs reached its conclusion.

"There must be another way," Flynn said, frustrated. Cid grunted in agreement. The two busied themselves searching for another solution.

Note: When Adventurers are stuck, they can perform a Perception check to find clues in their environment. This is a good opportunity for Game Masters to flesh out their world or even fabricate solutions for the Adventurers on the spot.

A thorough search of the hold revealed light shining in through cracks in the right-hand wall. "It must be the door that the crew use to load cargo," Cid reasoned aloud. His words came out slow and muddled, like molasses, but Flynn still understood. They began moving towards the door, pushing luggage out of the way.

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Back in the elven band's room, the first elf stirred. His eye opened, and he reached into his cloak. He pulled out a small metallic orb, squeezed. A greenish glow emanated from the orb. The cloudy night sky outside of the Nephele began to flash green. Three airships emerged from a cloud and made for the Nephele, looming large against the green sky in the distance. Back in the room, the elf smiled. Reinforcements were coming.

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The hold door was locked, and Flynn was all out of lockpicking tools. There was no choice but to kick the door down. Flynn and Cid looked each other in the eye and nodded. "One, two..."

On three, they both kicked the door. Neither was the strongest, but together their kicks were able to dislodge the wooden door. It flung itself open. The wood of the hold groaned and the suitcases inside were sucked out as the cabin pressure attempted to equalize itself. A large suitcase tumbled towards Cid and struck him in the chest, sending him flying out of the open door and into thin air.

"No!" Flynn cried. He took a great leap, grabbing Cid's hand in his. With his other hand, Flynn desperately grabbed at the hold's doorway. His hand found purchase, and the pair dangled out into thin air as luggage streamed past them into the night sky. Behind them, three small airships emerged from a cloud...

Phase Five

With a cry of effort, Flynn pulled himself - Cid dangling from his other hand - back into the hold. The ship was cleared of all suitcases, the bombs among them.

But now they had a new problem. There were raiders on those airships outside, and they were intent on bringing down the Nephele. The small ships were lithe, and quickly pulled alongside the bulky blimp. Small guns emerged from the sides of the ships and began firing, perforating the Nephele's soft balloon.

"Alright," Cid half-slurred. "I've got something perfect for this, but... Well, we might go down with the ship, so to speak." A report of gunfire shook the Nephele, and bullets ripped through the wooden wall next to them. "Better down with the ship than down on the ship," Flynn cried over the gunfire. "Do it!"

Cid nodded, then crawled hand over hand towards the open door. With a gulp, he uncorked the bottle and tossed it out into the night. 

With a thunderous crack, the bottle burst and a massive gust of wind emerged. Simultaneously, a torrential downpour began and lightning arced through the sky. The wind threw the enemy airships off course. The pilots scrambled to course correct with varying degrees of success. Two ships veered towards one another. They collided midair with a deafening crash, and a ferocious explosion lit up the night sky.

The burning husks of the airships rained down on the Nephele. Their shrapnel was sucked in through the blimp's fan-like engine, splintering the metal and sending a second explosion ballooning through the sky.

The Nephele shook. The third airship, rather than brave the torrential downpour outside, chose to land the only place it could - Inside of the hold's open door. It made a beeline for the doorway, but the ship was too big to fit cleanly inside. Flynn and Cid dove towards the stairway they had come in on, and just in time; the airship burst through the door, sending splinters flying, and slid to a halt in the center of the room. Five more elven raiders leapt from the crashed ship, weapons in hand. One pointed towards Flynn and Cid, and the others took off running towards them.

"Follow me," Cid said. "I've got an idea!" He started shuffling up the stairs, and Flynn impatiently pushed him along as they ran. They made their way back towards the ballroom, with raiders in tow. As they passed by the elves' room, Kitalla's men emerged - Lead by Kitalla himself. Flynn shouted, but to Cid it just confirmed his theory - Time in the ballroom must have returned to normal.

Nine elves in total gave chase as Flynn and Cid ran into the ballroom. The scene they found was even more chaotic than the one they had left. Zombies had overrun the ballroom entirely, and were presently occupied with eating the kitchen staff and the guards. It seemed as if Cid's earlier snacking had gotten the best of him - Ever the Gourmand.

At the sight of fresh meat, the zombies turned and swarmed on the intruders. Flynn and Cid wove through them, but the elves weren't so lucky. The zombies descended on them. 

Just then, James emerged through the crowd. Sword in hand, he was hacking his way through one well-dressed zombie after the next. "FLYNN! CID!" He yelled. "Are you insane? A bomb would've done less damage than all this!"

Suddenly the ship shook. Lightning arced through the sky and tore at the blimp's tender membrane, and the Nephele quickened its descent towards the ground. "Nevermind," James growled, though he clearly intended to bring this issue up should they ever reach the ground. "We have to reach the cabin. Follow me!"

James led them into one of the many side rooms, where a staircase wound upwards towards the cabin. Cid slammed the door behind them as the zombies shuffled ever closer. They wound their way up the staircase to find the pilots struggling with the controls in the cabin. James and the Adventurers ran to the controls, helping the pilots pull upwards on the steering levers. The ship straightened slightly, but not enough to correct its course. The ground loomed close. Impact was imminent.

Just then, Kitalla appeared in the doorway. He spun Cid around and dealt a powerful blow to his head, knocking him aside. Flynn yelled and attacked, but his Thief speed wasn't enough to overcome his lack of strength. Kitalla growled and punched Flynn in the gut, casting him aside and working his way towards the controls. James and Kitalla wrestled for control of the steering levers, sending the Nephele moving at awkward angles as it plummeted further towards the ground.

And that was it - The ship crashed. It struck the Earth in an empty field. The force of the impact shattered the cabin's main window, sending Kitalla flying into the field and underneath the girth of the blimp as it slid to a halt in the field.

James, the Adventurers and the pilots crawled safely from the wreckage. So too did the zombies, being undead and all. Though they remained zombified, their appetites were sated for now, and they were able to come back to their senses much as Cid had. The passengers were, aside from their odd new diets, safe and sound.

Epilogue

One year (and one jail sentence, cut short with James' good word) later, Flynn and Cid had finished their cross-country tour. Their book, "Wildly Delicious: Foraged Food for the Living and the Undead" had just released to wild acclaim. In it, Flynn discusses foraging food from the wild, and Cid reveals how to live as a zombie on a brains-free diet. The book was wildly popular, especially with the many zombified passengers of the Nephele. 

Wrap-Up

This short story is just one example of the type of storytelling that can unfold in Firelight. Each Quest changes drastically depending on who plays, which Adventurers they choose to play, and which Treasures they bring into the Quest with them.

We hope you enjoyed this sample Quest! For more updates, stay tuned to HobbyHorseGames.com, and be sure to come back for our Kickstarter on July 11, 2017!