Earth Victoriana is an alternate reality universe to Earth Prime that is characterised by the British Empire never contracting but instead dominating much of the planet. Culturally and technologically it is similar to the Victorian Era, but due to subtle differences in the physical laws of this universe, marvellous steam-based technology has permeated the world, able to mimic much of the electronic based technology of Earth Prime in the current era. It should be noted that this particular world has no alternate counterparts for Earth Prime's heroes, both because the setting does not encourage the presense of heroes, and that it is in fact about fifty to sixty years behind Earth Prime.
This universe diverges from Earth Prime firstly in that the physical laws of the reality have subtle differences. Electricity and nuclear forces seem to work badly, erratically, or not at all. However, steam-power (and other chemical processes) releases reliable and powerful energy, with minimal friction. This means that the development of technology diversified quite differently from the 18th Century onwards.
In tandem with this (and perhaps because of it), the British Empire in Earth Victoriana has never lost any territory, and has indeed continued to expand, holding much of the America’s, Australasia, India, large areas of Africa, the middle east, and China, and colonies scattered throughout the globe. Unlike Earth Prime, the Empire here gave votes to all its territories, fully incorporating them into the Empire – and whilst the amount of votes given may swing more heavily in favour of England and a few of its favourite colonies (like America), the combination of this, it military and scientific supremacy (including its reknowned special forces, the SZS, or special zepplin service), and relatively benign rule has allowed it to flourish to its current position.
It is currently governed by the Houses of Parliament, in a constitutional monarchy. Unlike Earth Prime, the royalty and aristocracy is still very much an institution throughout the Empire, with its current Monarch, Charles, being very popular after the tragic death of his wife in Paris a decade ago. The Monarchy has little technical power, but much influence.
The British Empire covers the British Isles and Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Most of North America, Large Parts of Africa (including but not limited to Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria), Parts of the Middle East (‘British Persia’), India, Burma, and a modest part of China named (‘Hong Kong Province’). It has many other smaller colonies elsewhere.
The main opposition to the British Empire is the Vatican. Whilst technically a tiny city state, the Catholic Church in this reality has an oppressive, fanatical flavour, with its dreaded inquisition still active and keen to suppress all technology and science. It has strong support in Spain, Italy, and many parts of South America, but has tendrils everywhere.
The French Empire is an empire of intellectuals and artists, and the only serious contended to the British Empire in the realm of education, art, and science. Paris is the cultural capital of the world and France takes great pride in its liberty, rationalism, and artistic freedom. The French Area controls part of Canada, and areas of Africa.
The German Empire is the only serious contender to the British in terms of technological innovation, where it is probably equal. It has a rather dour faced and antagonistic image, with rumours of sabre-rattling and despotism within the corridors of power. Its only cultural output is loud, violent, and oppressive Opera.
The Russian Empire is a vast area undergoing a slow burning revolution against the aristocracy, who blame the British for stirring up trouble. Ironically, Communism is starting up in Russia and has begun to spread to the British Empire, causing some malcontent amongst the workers.
The Spanish Empire is the Vatican’s largest supporter and also the most openly hostile to the British. It is fiercely (almost fanatically) Roman Catholic, and has well established, similarly zealous colonies in South America.
The Chinese and Japanese both have empires that are adjusting to the industrial revolution and only partially industrialised. They are one of the few areas on the planet totally free from the influence of the Vatican.
The Texan Free State is the one colony of the British that has claimed independence. It is known for its gun slinging’ gambling’ liquor drinkin’ and partyin’ ways and is similar to a Steam Punk wild west. Texan mercenaries occasionally pop up around the world and are respected for their gun slinging, but perhaps not their manners. The Texan Free State is rather wild and corrupt, ruled by merchants more than politics.
Earth Victoriana refers to Earth Prime as “Colonial Earth” or other variations.
The culture of Earth Victoriana is based on 19th Century England with a few differences. Firstly, racism is not endemic – at least no more so than on Earth Prime. Slavery has been completely abolished.
However, there continues to be a strong sense of “class” with somewhat limited social mobility. Ones accent, upbringing, family, and education are far more important than ones wealth. It is a society of “Gentlemen of leisure” and servants, and everyone is expected to know ones place.
Good manners are expected from everyone, perhaps more so the upper classes (who have more slack in their lives to practice them). Breaking etiquette, rudeness, or impertinence will not go down well in Earth Victoriana. Maintaining a stiff upper lip, self control, and politeness are required.
Society places a lot of emphasis on a ‘Classical’ education, with many Gentlemen literate in Greek, Latin, and History. Conversely, the working classes may be illiterate, although handy enough at the practicalities of repairing steam powered cars for instance.
The culture is not as sexist as Earth Prime 19th Century society, but neither has sexual liberation permeated the culture. Women can vote, handle money, and are essentially equal in the eyes of the Law, but the culture is one of women being more ornamental than anything else. Women must be shown utmost politeness and respect, and men must always act with chivalry around them.
There are rumblings recently of the working class becoming somewhat discontent with their lot. There is a Luddite movement, lead by Ned Ludd, who aim to smash all steam powered factories pushing honest working men out of employment. There is a splinter group, the Cannonites, who have formed as a political group to try and work for better conditions and improvements for the workers, who were inspired by a mysterious figure known as Cannonade a hero of Earth Victoriana who has only been seen a few times and gave some powerful speeches that set of a movement.
Due to the differences in physical laws in this universe, technology has developed differently. Electrical devices are not unheard of but rather crude and work differently. Raw electrical force can be generated fairly easily, but not controlled. An example is the baton of the English Policeman, or “Copper”. This stick has a wind up battery and is wrapped in copper wiring. Once wound up, the stick can release a one off electrical charge to stun and subdue the criminal / vagrant / rapscallion.
Computers, in the traditional sense, are therefore unheard of. The British Empire, following on from Sir Babbage's work, has many “Analytical engines” which are fine steam powered computers of sorts.
Steam powered technology in this universe allows for things that would not be possible in the Earth Prime Universe, inlcuding dimensional travel and crude andriods. It is reminicent of the imagination of Jules Verne. Zepplins fly the skies, steam powered gatling guns are used in warfare, superspeed steam powered rail travel is everywhere.
The finest engineers and technology are based in the Royal society for Metaphysical Engineering, in London, at Greenwich observatory.
One of the most prominent, and certainly the most talented, members of the Royal Society for Metaphysical Engineering is Ms. Henrietta Gertrude Wells, inventor of the Brit Machine and this discoverer of Earth Prime. Unfortunately, residual sexism in this dimension has prevented her from taking the position of president of the Royal society.
Contact with Earth Prime
The first contact between Earth Prime and Earth Victoriana was when Ms Henrietta Gertrude Wells, the finest mind of the Royal Society of Metaphysical Engineering, visited Earth Prime in search of a solution to the freezing weather that blighted England in her dimension.
She recruited Cannonade, Silhouette, Edge, and Grimalkin to help, and they uncovered a plot by Russian Aristocracy to wreak revenge on the British Empire. All four heroes are now Knights (or Ladies) of the British Empire in that realm, having been awarded the order of the Garter.
Contact between the two dimensions is entirely possible with the right technology, although the differences in laws of physics can lead to difficulties in transposing technology, as well as relative time dilatation and contraction.
Lord Steam Is the official ambassador from Earth Victoriana (British Empire) to Earth Prime, but the appointment was at least partly to get him out of some hot water politically.
Ministry of Extraordinary Affairs
The Ministry of Extraordinary Affairs is a division of the British Government on Earth Victoriana that is a counterpart of other intelligence agencies, handling “special circumstances”. These are rather broad reaching but include the affairs of other dimensions, super villains, super heroes, and any exceptional uses of steam punk technology. It is lead by the robust figure of “M”, who is Lord Steam's superior and has also recruited Silhouette as a free lance agent for Earth Victoriana. The elderly Madam Redpowder works within the Ministry, a master of make up and disguise.