The Incident


The Incident sets out the facts of the Knife's arrest.

  • First, you'll state that The Conspirators arrange for The Knife to be wrongly arrested but you'll wait to determine their specific involvement in The Conspiracy.

  • This is about the crime they were framed for, the circumstances of their arrest, and their place of imprisonment.

  • Each of those three facts is presented as a choice about in a similar way to The Choices—each with a sentence explaining something that is true about them, then two options to further specify.


The Knife's arrest is essential to the arc of the story in the larger game. Whether they are arrested by traditional law enforcement figures, thrown out into exile by a creepy sect, banished to a far-off planet to work in the slave mines or anything else, the fact remains that they are cut off from society, unable to return and left for dead by The Conspirators.

The crimes (or transgressions of other kinds, if you don't have formal policing) that you present players to choose from for The Knife's imprisonment are another way to build out the Playset's society. Both options let you suggest what the society considers to be serious – often the highest – offences. The players' choice may introduce new characters and pressures into their story—a political assassination, a secretive cult, a resource scarcity, etc.

The circumstances are mostly a way to flesh out The Knife's tragic story, but they can also introduce characters (parents, friends, children) who might become prominent later in the story.

The place of imprisonment is a thematic choice for the players about the physical place The Knife is trapped within. Consider what forces – physical barriers, armed guards, strange phenomena – keep them contained. The players will have more opportunities to explore this place over the course of the story.

In playtesting, I've found that it helps to establish these facts before players begin the more difficult task of constructing The Conspiracy that their characters concoct.

Example – Introduction

So, now we have our central cast of characters and know a little about Émile’s life. They were blessed with good health, honest work and a loving family—and were on the precipice of getting all their humble heart desired.

But then, of course, our villains played their part. They plotted together in the shadows to frame Émile for a crime they never committed, each of them playing a pivotal, active role in the conspiracy.

Émile’s halcyon days were cut short, and they were arrested and imprisoned far from those they love.

To establish the truth of this incident, we’ll first sketch the basic facts of their arrest by making three choices: the crime they were framed for, the site of their arrest, and their place of imprisonment. Once we have this sketch, we’ll work out how our Conspirators were involved.

Add notes to the board as you make these choices.

– The Count of Saint-Lazare Playset, Jack Harrison

Example – Choices


Émile was framed for a heinous crime. Choose one.

  • The murder of Sylvette St Pierre, a celebrated magnate turned political demagogue. Beloved by the working class.

  • Conspiracy to treason, caught with a coded message from Napoleon addressed to the Bonapartist L’ours—’the bear’.


They never had a chance to say goodbye. Choose one.

  • Arrested outside the church, Émile left their spouse-to-be alone at the altar—jilted, and wondering what they did wrong.

  • Émile’s parents, busy preparing a family meal, watched in horror as their child was arrested on the steps of their home.


Now they are confined in a dank, distant prison. Choose one.

  • A half-crumbling tower on a windswept islet several miles from the coast—all salt-rusted iron and gale-worn stone.

  • A medieval estate in the foothills of the Pyrenees, now a dusty prison of flaking gilt and moth-bare carpets.

– The Count of Saint-Lazare Playset, Jack Harrison

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