The world of Pax Britannica is a world of adventure, but also one of corruption and of danger. The world is allegedly united under one benevolent government, but, in reality, the Governors are tyrannical hedonists, the Royal Shepherds are as much a black-bag hit squad and secret police force as peace keepers, and the weight of the Empire on the world is causing economic stress that leaves millions in poverty while the very rich eat caviar-covered toast points off of bone china in London, Paris, and Hong-Kong.
Your characters may seek to oppose corruption or aid the lawful government, or to simply avoid the dangers of a world full of ghosts, witches, and monsters in equal measure to its assassins, witch-hunters, and sadists. Perhaps you will avoid the all-pervading grasp of the government by seeking new frontiers, by exploring ancient ruins and far-flung climes, or perhaps by living a double life, smuggling or racketeering. Perhaps you will fight injustice wherever it lies, in the houses of governors or false prophets of change, in the church or the coven. Perhaps you will fight for yourself, for the Pound Sterling, for the chance to meet a challenge and best it, for the simple thrill of adventure. The world has a place for everyone, all flung together by events that move kingdoms and shake the very foundations of the world.
Western Europe still has its charm, and is in many ways the largest beneficiary of the largess of the Empire and Her Majesty. However, the industrialization and the proliferation of new animals and plants have made the markets colorful, and that color often black. Drug and sex trade is commonplace in every major city, as it is in most of the world. England is ostensibly ruled by Her Majesty, though it is often said that the true hands behind the Empire are the Royal Shepherds and the Governors. Parliament has long since been relegated to a largely ceremonial role.
Scandinavia has the good luck and grace to be under the thumb of fairly level-headed governors, and so quietly exports petroleum and fish while improving its universities and making quiet gains for science. The Royal Shepherds are its only great plague, and they are met by fierce resistance, in an underground war quietly waged in frigid woodlands and night-emptied city streets.
Eastern Europe does not get the respect it deserves, and the many peoples that inhabit it are furious at being consigned to the backwater, assembly-line, underpaid, sharecropping lifestyle that the Empire has thrust upon them. Also a land strong with tradition, where herbalists and spiritualists are common enough. Witches have become more commonplace, as more seek power to defy the Empire.
Russia is an Empire-loyal Czarate, thanks to the Imperial destruction of the Bolsheviks. The monarchy continued to go downhill, especially due to the continued interference of Rasputin. Rasputin’s life lasted three monarchies thanks to his alchemical skill. Russia is a mirror of England, but more so: the Monarchy is more corrupt and feckless, the local government and secret police are more brutal and unabashed in their iron-fisted control, the people are more downtrodden, the black markets are seedier, and the weather is worse. Out in the vastness of Siberia, rebels have claimed independence, and a war is being waged between legions of Imperial soldiers and the Rogue Platform Unit, a fierce resistance group empowered by their mastery of engineering.
Eastern Asia is a vast and diverse region, peppered with technological innovation and a wealth of spiritual knowledge beyond what the West can conceive, but it is still treated as a sphere of influence, as colonies to be plundered and exploited. Here are the dirtiest factories and the most fanatically loyal party officials to be found in the world, resisted by those who owe allegiance to older, deeper brotherhoods. And in the Forbidden City in Cathay, sorcerer separatists have claimed autonomy from the British Empire, boldly daring the British to mount an Imperial incursion into the heart of their own Empire confident in their mastery over the Qin domain. Despite the British claims otherwise, the Qin loyalist movement is still alive beneath the patina of soot and slogans that cover the streets.
India is a land of deep division – Muslim and Hindu remain tensely uncomfortable, but are somewhat united against the continued oppression at the hands of the British. The cities teem not only with people but with promise and ambition, but the Great British Empire sees only tea plantations and herb harvesters, another resource to collect.
North America is somewhat more free, though both coastlines are masses of industrialism and Imperial control. The great mass of the south and the wide prairies and towering mountains of the American West hold no interest for the Empire other than wheat, however, and so the free spirit of the American Colonies is maintained in lawless mining towns and on arduous cattle drives, out in the land the Empire doesn’t want. America continues to boil with conflict as sub-societies carry on the work of old grudges. The people are deeply divided, by race, by place of birth, by ideology and by choice. Gunfights are common and law scarce among the mountains, bayous, and plains of “Wild America”.
CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA
Central and South America are still seen as uncivilized natural resource pits to the Imperial overlords, despite a number of major cosmopolitan metropolises developing and science and industry taking off in recent years. The discoveries in herbalism and the location of dinosaurs have made the export of herbs and creatures a major endeavor, with much of the grassland of Argentina converted to Doylasaurus grazing land patrolled by gauchos riding Carnotauruses, and significant portions of the Andes dedicated to high-altitude rare herb farming. Cocaine is also a recently popular diversion among the international upper class, resulting in an unwelcomely thriving drug trade.
Africa is the source of the empire’s much-beloved diamonds and gold, and some coal for powering steam turbine electrical plants. It is also prime land in which to raise and, ultimately, kill sporting animals, like lions and Santanaraptors. Its governors are cruel and callous, and its people kept in poverty and left to sickness more often than their European brethren. These hardships have bred violence, violent resistance, and violent support of the British all in equal measure, but despite the grim state of the world there are still many who would say that there are no places more beautiful and no people more hospitable than those to be found in Africa.
Australia has been brought back under the British yoke, and is once again being used as housing for penal colonies. The release of criminals from around the world among honest native-born Australians has caused some friction, though in many cases the unifying disdain of the world government allows a bond to form. The frequency of seizure of property and exile being levied as false punishment by the corrupt executors of what is supposedly Her Majesty’s will ensures that every boatload of criminals is comprised only of those undeserving of death in the Royal Shepherds’ eyes (so few they are), and many of them truly innocent of any crime. It is largely debtors and activists that are dumped into Australia’s embrace.
And, since the disappearance of Adam Weishaupt, there have been rumblings of the goings-on in Antarctica – of vast, cyclopean caverns beneath the ice from long before man crawled from the sea, of detachments of Imperial soldiers sent south and south, never to return…