The Knife


The Knife is the person whose life was ruined, and who will return to have their revenge.

  • The Knife is the central character to the story, in a traditional telling they would be the protagonist.

  • However, since we focus on the villains of the story in The Slow Knife, players see them only in glimpses or from the perspective of their characters.

  • Here, players can define who they were before The Conspirators ruined their life.

  • You will provide a paragraph or two to describe them and their circumstances.

  • In a similar way to The Choices, you'll offer two choices about the Knife—each with a sentence explaining something that is true about them, then two options to further specify.


Although the focus is on the villains, The Conspirators, the hero of any story in The Slow Knife should be the Knife themselves. As such, it's important to make them a suitably virtous character. Like heroes across all of fiction, this doesn't mean they need to be impossibly pure and altruistic (though they might be), but on balance they should come across as a fundamentally good person to the players.

As players develop the story of the Knife through play, they may twist the virtues of this character into something closer to a villain—revenge can be ruinous for all involved, after all. But for now, your job with the playset is primarily to make them a sympathetic character. The scheming and vindictive Knife can follow later, at the player's behest.

With the choices you present the players, you should consider what you think is most important to be true about the character and put it in the introductory sentence of the choice. The two options should then give players the opportunity to take that truth in (hopefully very) different directions, without invalidating its core meaning.

Example – Introduction

Born in the coastal city of Marseille, where our story begins, Émile had all the typical hubris of youth and fair features. They drank a little too much, thought themselves a little too clever and scoffed at the jaded elders who grumbled at their posturing.

But they were, at heart, a decent person.

– The Count of Saint-Lazare Playset, Jack Harrison

Example – Choice


They took pride in their trade, and did it well. Choose one:

  • An apprentice carpenter to one of the finest and most successful cabinet makers in France—the visionary Olivier Clément.

  • A merchant sailor on the Saint-Vincent, beloved by the ship’s owner-captain—the rakish troublemaker Luc D’Aramitz.

– The Count of Saint-Lazare Playset, Jack Harrison

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