Æthursday: A Turn of the Century, Comedic Tragedy

This week’s Gem was rolled up by our own Allen Thiele. He came upon a Turn of the Century, Tech of the time, Tragic Comedy. His initial thoughts were something akin to Oliver Twist mixed with an early 90’s sit-com. Kevin rolled those elements around, splashed in a little Hogan’s Heroes, and the result is below!

It’s 1900 in the dark slums of the city. No electric lights shine bright here. Hope reigns eternal, but in a place where there are shadows so deep that they are never destroyed by the sun, it also remains eternally elusive.

Welcome to Boneridge Orphanage.

You’ve been here for years now, and the odds of you getting adopted are bad. Really bad. You and your fellow orphans seem to be in a place that time has forgotten, that parents have forgotten. This once dismal boarding house has become decrepit over the years from lack of maintenance, from lack of care, and a distinct lack of love. Those who escape are rounded up and brought back: Mr. Stonesoul gets paid by the state for the number of kids at Boneridge, and the orphanage mother, Ms. Slate seems to be part bulldog, part bloodhound when it comes to dealing with the kids.

Life is hard. No one knows what happens when the kids hit 16 years old and are kicked out of the orphanage. Some say they are taken to a different boarding home, Lightdale, so they can be treated well before they are released into the world at 18 years old, waiting to be bankers and lawyers and engineers. Others say they are taken to an even worse place, the Brickyard, an area of the city that uses kids for hard labor and a place of unspeakable punishment. But to find out either way, you have to survive through Boneridge first.

In this horrible place of random and extreme punishments, the orphans make their own fun, trying to bring a bit of light to the darkness. Mired down by Mr. Stonesoul and Ms. Slate, the kids try to escape, or even try to seek reprisal for past mistreatments. If they manage to escape, they are hunted down by Slate’s henchmen, and packs of dogs, but there’s always the chance they can get to Lightdale. The cops never believe the kids when they report anything happening at Boneridge, so the orphans are on their own; it is up to them to try to escape, while making employing their greatest weapon: laughter. Once the other kids in the orphanage aren’t afraid of the staff at Boneridge, they can rise up as one and defeat their captors!

Will the PCs try to escape, which will rain down punishment on the others until they are discovered? Will they seek to humiliate and use their greatest weapon against the staff? Will they seek other ways to rally against the darkness that penetrates their lives? Jump into this bleak, slap-stick setting to find out!