VAE: In more a steampunk vein you’ve written GURPS Infinite Worlds: Britannica-6. Despite its late 19th century setting Britannica-6 is *not* Victorian setting. What makes this different than other steampunk and Victorian settings out there?
PM: The origin of that was a typically brilliant one-paragraph note by Ken Hite in his GURPS Infinite Worlds, which I initially took as inspiration for a convention demo game, and then expanded into this publication. It’s an alternate history in which Queen Victoria was never born, because a rather peculiar incident in early 19th century history turned out differently (and if you look, Victoria was only born as the result of some quite strange political stuff!), and a very different British Empire has got into internal squabbling involving some weird-tech super-weapons and gadgets.
So I took the absence of Victoria as the key. It’s not a Victorian era! And the easy replacement for Victorian society is a continuation of Georgian/Regency society, which has the right flavour of dynastic squabbling, too. (I think that this is what Ken had in mind from the first, actually.)
Then, I decided that the technology, having had 70 years to run away with itself, could have got beyond steam. Dearly as I love steampunk, it’s become a bit of a cliche; I wanted something a bit different. And Ken’s paragraph had mentioned things like “the Electrical Terror”.
Right. Electricity! Let’s go for a post-Victorian feel here. After all, diesel power and electrical gadgets can give these crazy science- loving aristocrats and royals a bit more credibility to their mad science. Steam is a bit too cumbersome for a society with the dial
jammed on fast-forward, let’s face it.
So it’s diesel-electric rather than steam, and Regency rather than Victorian.
VAE: The fashions of Brittannica-6 are strikingly different than the buttoned up conservatism of the Victorian era. How do you sum them up for people?
PM: The tag line I sometimes use is “Georgette Heyer with glide bombs”. A player in one of my demo games pointed to a bit of unconscious ’70s/’80s cop show influence, too - fast cars and garish nylon clothing.
It’s all a bit decadent, in a very Regency way. (Remember, the Victorian era was in many ways a reaction against the Regency. There’s not been any reaction on Britannica-6.) Technology is running away, and while a lot of people seem to be having fun, if you want a dark undertone, there’s a sense that the whole thing may run into a brick wall at some point