The Outline is 250-300 words giving an overview of life in this Playset.
You'll describe the structure of society, how it's stratified and who's in control.
If it's not apparent from The Pitch, you might also describe where and when the Playset takes place.
Whether real or fictional (or a bit of both!), you might also include recent events and key history.
The utility of a Playset is that players don't have to create a world from scratch. This short section is your best opportunity to convey the fundamentals of the setting.
You should leave a few fun decisions for The Choices, so focus on the things that you believe are essential to it's success. Typically this means context ("what's going on?"), society ("how are we organised?") and strife ("what threatens the status quo?").
To that end, aim to create an unstable situation by the end of your Outline—a ruler deposed, a revolution brewing, a resource scarcity, etc. Things should feel tense and dangerous, even within the upper echelons of society that The Conspirators are a part of. The rise of The Knife from ruin to revenge is implausible within a stable, satisfied society—you need a little chaos for it to work.
The years between the French Revolution (1789–1792) and the start of WWI (1914) are some of the most densely-packed with politics & change across all of history.
However, we do not need to be historians to enjoy this playset. A passing familiarity with rapiers, frilly shirts and the guillotine will do us just fine. Instead of interrupting to check a fact, we just say “in our France, this is true”.
IT'S ALWAYS KING LOUIS
In 1815, as we begin, the French Revolution is history.
King Louis XVI was sent to the guillotine, Napoleon Bonaparte rose to Emperor and was then exiled to the island prison of Elba. Now, royalists have restored yet another King Louis to precarious rule once more.
LIBERTY, EQUALITY OR DEATH
However, the revolution was not for naught. The country lurches with volatile, often bloody, steps towards a somewhat-fairer society.
The emboldened workers of Paris are bullish, knowing just how much can be gained when they organise. The burgeoning bourgeoisie hold no reverence for the rule of old. Together, they are rapidly transforming a feudal aristocracy into a capitalist paradise. Do try to keep up.
A BLACK CLOUD
For our story we should understand that this is still a time of great privilege for the nobility and landed gentry, but they are not untouchable. A demagogue’s fiery mob, a jilted lover or an outdated political opinion can all result in a swift and unceremonious end.
Capitalise on other’s misfortune to seize vast amounts of wealth, twist public perception to send frenzied masses to your rival’s door, and don’t forget to watch your back.
– The Count of Saint-Lazare Playset, Jack Harrison