The setting: In and around the decadent, diminishing Royal City of Thelav, called by its inhabitants "The Knife." Thelav sits at the edge of desert highlands to the east and open sea to the west, marsh and farmland to the south and forests to the north. It is a center of culture and trade. It is under threat of colonization by the militarist Onderban Empire, which already has come over the sea and established settlements in what used to be Thelav's southern provinces. In the provinces, Thelavian dragoons and clockwork armor squadrons frequently skirmish with regiments of Onderban pikers and fusiliers. In the city, the sharps of the Knife carry on daily life in full awareness of their culture's contingent existence. In the palace, the Queen of the City sits tied to her throne by alchemic life support equipment, dispensing wisdom and favors.
The game revolves around rumors and favors asked and granted. It is principally an urban adventure, although random tables and a listing of dangerous creatures are provided for expeditions into the forested mountains or the desert highlands.