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One Last Fire

In the Foyer, a slim volume decorated with inscriptions of curling ivy and peasants hunkering amid blackberry hedges has been left on a low table next to a plate of iced cookies. The very first page contains the following account of arriving at the Library.

The day starts like many others before it. You wake up, get dressed, have something light to eat, and settle into a sunny afternoon in your family's drawing room. It is a day blissfully free of meetings with potential suitors, absent of painfully drawn-out etiquette lessons, and void of polite discussions with tutors who always act like they know more than they actually do.

So you take time to indulge yourself: sketching a still life of the manor grounds stretching beyond the arching windows, practicing one half of an unfinished duet on the piano, and breaking for an hour to have a cup of Darjeeling tea and a few nibbles of shortbread.

You had just dug into a particularly captivating mystery book when you feel a pang in your temples. A headache… and the medicine the physician provided is in your bedroom upstairs.

The bedroom is still dark. You had neglected to open the curtains and let some light in. As you move to do so, you pass a floor-length standing mirror which was passed down to you from your great-grandmother. Just as you amend the curtain situation, you realise something… the mirror did not display your reflection in the slightest.

You turn, grab the vial of clear medicine on the bedside table, and stride up to the mirror.

Nothing. Not even a flicker of motion in its glassy surface.

You pinch the skin of your wrist to confirm you aren't dreaming. Still very much awake. Still no reflection, but… the glass begins to swirl, colors bleeding in from the polished silver filigree edges of the mirror frame.

Row upon row of books fills the surface. And walking between the aisles are bobbing orbs of light, tiny figures, and… is that a giant bipedal hedgehog…?!

You lean forward, your mystery novel entirely forgotten. You reach out one tentative hand and as soon as your splayed fingers hit what should be a solid glass surface, they pass through and, before you can even blink, the rest of your body is also enveloped.

You fall…

…and fall…

…and then…

'oof!' you land with a puff of dust on a high-backed leather chair.

In a well-outfitted foyer, a glowing orb offers you a cup of tea.

It would be rude to decline.


One Last Fire is a game about what has been lost in the past, what we may lose in the present, and what we may make of the future, where players explore a Library which is bound to burn unless they can figure out why and how it will be destroyed. It is then up to them if they choose to stop its destruction.

It is based on the ransacking and burning of the Library of Alexandria. The Library was considered to be one of the most significant repertoires of knowledge of the ancient world. Among historians, the destruction of the Library is framed as one of the most tragic recorded losses of knowledge. Some scholars even speculate it set learning back decades, if not centuries.

The emphasis of this game is on historical mystery and suspense. At game start, players will not have all the information they need to discover why the Library keeps being destroyed. They must discover the reason(s) through exploration of the Library itself, interactions with NPCs, and reflection on their own connections to libraries.

One Last Fire encourages players to explore ephemerality, the meaning of being human, and the significance of knowledge.

The Setting

Within a massive deciduous tree laden with pears and broad boughs rising to grasp the sides of a crumbling building, shines a pair of golden slit-pupiled eyes. Slowly, purposefully, coils of thick, muscular, scaled flesh shift and unwind and an oval serpent’s head emerges from the fruit-specked foliage.

Its tongue flicks out with a soft 'hiss’, nearly touching your face. But it doesn’t feel intimidating. It is more like… a caress.

[Greetings, humans… you have come from far and wide to this Library. We hope you will care for it well.]

The voice resounds in your mind, forming the familiar sounds of your native tongue, as the Serpent stares at you and your companions. The people with you, complete strangers in odd clothing, seem just as startled. They clearly heard and understood the voice as well.

You all exchange bewildered glances. Across your faces the same question is written.

[You have a bit of time I assure you,] continues the Serpent. [Here, allow me to provide you with some aid.]

Identical leather-bound tomes are given to you by a young human who refuses to look any of you in the eye. They step back in place beside the Serpent as soon as you all hold your tomes.

[For you to keep your accumulated knowledge. And communicate with one another as you please.]

The Serpent bobs its head and gestures at the tree it curls menacingly around.

[Choose the ones that suit your Quality best. They will make you ready.]

You indulge the creature and then set forth into the decrepit structure, sure that you are to be its saviours.

[Recovered record of Tome in Library of Clay, Chosen Batch #319, Result: Disintegration]

This game takes place in multiple incarnations of a Library across time. This can best be described as a series of points within the same timeline. Within each time and at each location, the Library is set to burn/be destroyed, albeit in different ways. The player characters are among a select few guests of the Library, known as The Chosen (or simply, Chosen) who can travel across different incarnations. Because of this, they also possess knowledge of the Library’s doomed future each time.

Each time the player characters fail to prevent the Library from burning down, they are transported to a separate existing Incarnation of the Library. Each Incarnation is unique.

Some example aesthetics of different Incarnations are:

  • learned scholars seeking to collect, transcribe and preserve the books of disappearing jungle libraries;
  • a group of school children being led on a school tour of a modern urban library filled with tactile, kid-friendly exhibits and smiling staff;
  • a gothic cathedral style library with stained glass windows and flying buttresses that is silent except for the occasional sounds of rattling gun fire and the explosion of air bombs shattering stone and mortar;
  • a cramped library turned book shop with narrow aisles of bookcases on the verge of toppling over and the soft hum of music echoing through the stacks

As this is a historical game, we would like for Libraries to borrow from a diverse range of cultures and time periods. However, we do not plan to make specific references to real world figures or religions or to act out real world events or social movements. This is further discussed in Tone and Style and in the Conduct and Themes Policy.

Library Incarnations

About Language

After becoming Chosen, PCs will quickly discover that, no matter which language they spoke in their original home, that everyone understands each other in the Library. Additionally, most books across Library Incarnations are legible, apart from those written in lost languages. If you wish to decode or translate a text written in a lost language it will take more effort (and certain Skills).

What Are They?

Each Library Incarnation is a separate version of the original Library of Alexandria. They are fated to be destroyed just as their predecessor, even if the method of destruction isn't always by fire.

Throughout both Uptime and Downtime, player characters will spend the majority of their time in different Library Incarnations.

Where Are They?

Each Library Incarnation exists in a different time period of an alternate version of our real world, where history has run much the same course. It is impossible to travel between Libraries without the assistance of the beings known as Guardians. After a Library is destroyed, any non-permanent NPCs caught in the destruction will also cease to exist and PCs must exit the Library and wait to be transported to a new Library.

The time in-between Libraries is often the period when Downtime emails are exchanged and is typically represented by PCs resting up in their Personal Libraries and writing in their Tomes to either PCs or NPCs.

Please see the section on Tomes and see the page on Personal Libraries.


One Last Fire is the Society Game for Michaelmas term 2021 and will run into the first half of Hilary term 2022. It will be run on a Discord server similar to Romancing the Toaster, Starstruck, Emporium and other online-only games run in 2020 and 2021. Throughout the game, players will ‘fall’ into different incarnations of the Library.

All Downtime actions will take place in a library of some description, but emails may take place in an in-between space known as their Personal Libraries. All messages over Discord are interpreted as in-person interactions while emails may represent spoken dialogue or letters/messages physically written to other player characters.

The game will run on Tuesdays from 19:00-22:00 UK time, starting in Week 4 (2nd November) and run for eight sessions. There will be a break for the winter holidays after the fifth session on the 30th of November with One Last Fire resuming on Tuesday, 25th January. The eighth and final session will run on 8th February.

Session Week Date
Character Creation Week 3 26th October
Session One Week 4 2nd November
Session Two Week 5 9th November
Session Three Week 6 16th November
Session Four Week 7 23rd November
Session Five Week 8 30th November
Session Six Week 2 25th January
Session Seven Week 3 1st February
Session Eight Week 4 8th February
Debrief Week 5 15th February

Next Steps

To get you started navigating the Libraries of One Last Fire, we recommend reading the following pages:

  • Tone and Style, for the aesthetics and main themes of One Last Fire
  • The Glossary, where some of the IC and OC terminology used on this Wiki is explained further
  • Setting & Library Incarnations, to understand the purpose of Library Incarnations and read about the most recent Library you have access to
  • Notable Figures, for session by session updated descriptions of NPCs
  • Character Creation, for a crash course on all the key mechanics of the game and what you will need to think about to create your character
  • Uptime & Sessions and Downtime, Emails & Turnsheets, for a detailed introduction of how sessions are run and how turnsheets are constructed
start.txt · Last modified: 2022/01/18 13:00 by gm_peyton