Wretched Époque takes place in the period known as the Belle Époque. This is the time and the fictional place where Umberto Eco’s Simone Simonini crosses paths with Jacques Tardi’s Adèle Blanc-Sec, Edgar Allan Poe’s Chevalier Auguste Dupin and Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin, amidst anarchist bombings, the echoes of the Dreyfus affair, the catastrophic side effects of secret societies conspiring in the shadows and the mysterious results of experiences conducted by mad geniuses. Not yet pulp, not quite historical, it is neither the right time nor the right mood for Steampunk or Dieselpunk. Welcome to the wretched times of Nouveaupunk!
Wretched Époque includes:
• OSR rules for playing fin-de-siécle anti-heroes (expanded Wretched rules for sanity and mesmerism)
• Information about fictional and real-world secret societies, cults and conspiracies
• Plenty of villains, among them criminal masterminds, mad scientists, mythical beasts and Lovecraftian abominations
• The Apache Underworld and Parisian law enforcement of the late 19th century, as foes or allies to the characters
• The Beyond, origin of all supernatural menaces in the Wretched universe
• Timeline and guide to the Arrondissements of Paris in the Belle Époque
The bastard king
In the last months it seems a strange “epidemic” of suicide has taken over Paris, the authorities are trying to ignore it, but a small disturbing detail can’t be overlooked forever: The
corpses of the afflicted were all marked by the same strange sign. Some call it the Sign of the Bastard. Its connection with a famous operetta titled The Bastard King will lead the characters down a road paved by peril and madness. Can they stop the Bastard King before becoming his next victims?
On the night of December 8th 1901, British occultist Ambrose Fanshaw was murdered by a Portuguese friend, poet and student of occult lore, Artur Corvelo, while staying in Portugal. Fanshaw was thrown off Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell), a steep cliff near Cascais, by his associate Corvelo.
Teodoro Albergaria, the lighthouse keeper of the nearby Santa Marta phare, witnessed the murder and testified in court. Even though Fanshaw’s body wasn’t found, Corvelo was trialled, convicted of murder and jailed. However, the poet mysteriously vanished from prison two months after being sentenced. The police are flabbergasted by the scholar’s vanishing act.
But the real story is a little more convoluted than that…
Through the small French town of Royat flows a stream of miraculous water. Still, the spring’s history is also connected to ancient ghost stories, and the locals prefer to avoid it just in case. Until the day an eccentric Russian prince is cured of his long ailment and decides to share the water miracle with the world, building a unique avant-garde Sanatorium & Spa Resort.
However, the townspeople were actually right in fearing those ancient tales; something ancient, unnatural and dangerous lurks in the shadows of the sanatorium and the preternatural cure may come with a heavy price. The answer to this mystery is in the water.