Sorcery and Steam
Languages: English & Gaelic
Religion: Protestant, Catholic(minority)
Population Breakdown: Human-45%, Beastman-12%,Halfling-10%, Dwarf-7%, Goblin-6%, Gnome-3%, Elf-3% Half-orc-2%, Half-elf-1% and Half-troll-1%.
Class Breakdown: Upper class – 5%, Middle class – 25% and lower class – 70%.
Britain is the centre of the most powerful, globe spanning empire of 1867. Britain’s position as a world power is secured through her monopoly on trade routes to the east and the might of her naval fleets. Britain has recently defeated Russia in the Crimean war, sealed with the Treaty of Paris, ensuring safety for their Turking allies, at least for a time. Britain is a unified kingdom of three countries: England, Wales & Scotland. England & Wales are unified completely; Scotland still retains a measure of independence in social and civil convention although they do share the same government and monarchy.
The young Queen Victoria rules Britain, Victoria is the very embodiment of all the laws and qualities that society holds dear – dignity, breeding, and resolve. Britain is one of the most class-conscious countries upon the globe, in Britain money matters less than class and breeding. It is better to be poor and aristocratic than it is to be middle class and rich. Britain is leading the way through the industrial revolution, boasting the invention of the train, the cotton mill, and many other types of machinery. Indeed, the industrial revolution began with the building of the iron bridge in Staffordshire in 1780, Mr Stephenson built the first locomotive in 1796 and Mr Kingdom Brunel is currently building the first iron steamship at Bristol. Britain’s cities expand at an exponential rate, especially Birmingham and Liverpool, the first as an important industrial base, the second as a major port for the cotton trade.
Unfortunately Britain’s success at industry has had its price. Social and health problems caused by the industrial revolution are commonplace. Disease, particularly work related illness such as respiratory and hearing ailments have reached unprecedented levels due to the combination of cramped, unsanitary conditions and the pollution of drinking water. Pollution has also now become a problem, in many parts of cities there are entire blocks around every factory that remain permanently covered with soot and grime from the chimney slacks. Child deaths are common, especially amongst the poorer sections of the industrial population. Another effect of the industrial revolution is to draw workers from the countryside into the cities until the national census indicates that 50% of the total population is now urban, and that 20% of the total population of Britain lives in the capital, London.
As a result, many areas of the agricultural countryside are now in peril of ruin, whilst many of the cities’ disillusioned workers dream of revolution and returning to the countryside. Consequently, the population explosion in the cities combined with an underpaid workforce has led to a mammoth increase in crime, alcoholism and drug abuse: in 1830 there were 22,000 tons of opium imported into Britain; in 1850 this has tripled to over 66,000 tons per year!
Many philanthropists have attempted to change the conditions of life within the cities of modern Britain but their progress is slow, hampered by those in the upper and middle classes gaining money from the misery. Ironically enough, the sheltered womenfolk of those same upper and middle class landlords and factory owners are appalled by the stories and reports that they read (mainly by Mr. Charles Dickens and Mr Henry Mayhew, two influential journalists), and constantly wonder, “why does someone not do something about it!”
The British character could be summed up as being phlegmatic and stoic, or to an outsider just as equally as ‘arrogant and patronising’. The British have built the greatest empire the world has ever known – they know it, and they’re not going to let ’Johnny Foreigner’ forget it. Even the working poor – with no possessions and in danger of being committed to the workhouse, feel superior to their continental neighbours and American cousins.
The British are tolerant of the faith and beliefs of other cultures, albeit in a patronising way, as they naturally assume their reasoning to be right in all matters. This dichotomy tends to present itself as excusing another’s oddities by saying, “its okay, they’re foreign, they don’t know any better!” However, all British citizens have a firm belief in reward through hard work, knowing your place in society and bringing the light of British virtue to all corners of the globe.
The people of mainland Britain vary greatly in appearance, but all tend towards a medium build. The upper classes tend to be taller due to better nutrition and quality of life. Many of the lower classes have a wide array of medical problems, such as rickets and other nutrition linked conditions.