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Henry "Hook" Booth, Private of Her Majesty's Army, 45th Penal Battalion. Convicted of treason for his participation in the Thames Riots in 1891. Honorably Discharged in 1899 after being injured during the Second Arfican War.

Hook is in his late 30s living in a tenement in the Whitechapel section of London. In the war he lost his right arm during a major German offensive on the Rorke's Drift Redoubt, which was a site of massive British military pride. The army replaced it with a crude steel prosthetic. Since outfitting a non-commissioned soldier with an intricate hand replacement was too expensive and improper the appendage ends in a hook, which earned him his nickname when he returned to London. It's an antique and was not installed with a great deal of finesse. He has since become an adept mechanic, performing self-repairs on the arm's mechanism and improving it's dexterity in some regards. He hasn't quite mastered making a true hand for himself, mostly due to not having the equipment and materials necessary for such a delicate project.

Hook receives a monthly stipend for his service and medical discharge, but is far too small to make ends meet. In spite of his skill as a mechanic factories and garages will not hire him because of his criminal record. There is also a judgement that since his replaced limb lacks a hand he's incapable of working at the level needed. Hook is extremely bitter about this, especially since he's sure he could craft something for himself but can't get work that would help him pay for his own upgrade. He gets by doing odd jobs on the street. Repairs, grunt work for small merchants, and the occasional bodyguard job. Hook just radiates intimidation. He was a strong man to begin with, but now that he's carrying the extra weight of his steel arm around he's become even stronger. Add that to the fact that his hooked arm is powerful enough to punch holes through solid brick walls and he finds himself in very high demand. However, bodyguards or "tour guides" for the aristocracy wanting to see how the other half lives are a dime a dozen and the pay is as lousy as it comes. Add onto the fact that tour guide jobs in general are rare. High class Londoners are easily able to outfit themselves with top of the line weapons and armor that make them more of a danger to Whitechapel residents than the criminal element of the city.

Body modification is something common in this modern London. It is not unusual to see the highest forms of personal technology throughout the city, especially the higher up the social ladder that one goes. The aristocracy and rich of the Empire will go so far as to have body modification as merely a way to show their status. Clockwork eyes that allow people to see great distances, machine limbs that make one stronger and faster, and the surgical techniques to make it possible have been perfected by the British for the last century. Queen Victoria herself is said to not have aged a day since she took the throne. The lower rungs of society subsist on the scraps of this progress, while the lowest of the low make do with whatever is left. Men like Hook are common. Metal legs and arms and jaws are frequently given to wounded veterans of the Empire's many wars and the rich pat themselves on the back for bestowing such wondrous but dated gifts. Hook is one of the lucky ones as his arm has a great deal more dexterity than most cheap, older models.

In the current day, Hook is viewed as the neighborhood jack of all trades. He'll sweep your store front in the morning and bounce trouble makers out of your pub at night. He'll deliver a love letter for you or take a package of opium uptown to some curious art students. He would be you're turn of the century Shadowrunner if that was the universe we were in. There's other people like him in the underworld of London: black market tech dealers, mechanics making illegal modifications, guys who rob others of their technology, hitmen, gangsters, gamblers, you name it. They're all trying to get by in a world that is increasingly looking them over. And in some ways that does suit them.

In this world, the Crown rules all. The British Empire spans all it's old territory: Canada, India, parts of the Middle East and East Asia. France is comprised of all the French speaking nations: Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Alps region of Italy, and portions of North Africa. Germany is the main competition for the British Empire as they comprise Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungry, and the traditional German bloc. The Russian Empire makes up their eastern boarder, absorbing all Slavic peoples as well as Central Europe. Italy is under the complete control of the Catholic Church which operates under an Inquisitorial Council. The pope is just a figure head. It is a theocracy and treats nations like Greece, Spain, and Portugal as fiefs to itself. Japan, China, and Korea have united in the East Asian Entente in response to the growing might of the European Empires. They have effectively closed their borders and cooperate fully with each other while attempting to advance their technology to catch up fully with Europe.

Africa, the Middle East, and South America are effectively carved up by Europe. Italy and their allies are currently at war in the Middle East trying to retake Israel from the British Empire under religious pretenses. The EAE is at war in Mongolia with Russian armies attempting to expand their influence. The United States exists, but has closed itself off from the rest of the world. Following a horrific war with Mexico where Italy allied itself with the Catholic backed government there, the populous of the USA demanded extraordinary measures be taken to defend the boarders. The entire country has become a super fortress that none of the vast armies of the great Empires could break.

Aside from the Empires, the other great powers of this world are the government licensed companies. Their nation will grant a petitioner full autonomy almost as if it is a nation unto itself. Almost like privateers in the age of piracy, these companies have extraterritoriality and answer directly only to their nation's leader. They are free to make trade arrangements with any foreign power they choose and will often put their company's financial welfare ahead of national pride. In this way, entities like The East India Trading Company have gained undue global power.

So the planet is in an almost constant state of war. Technology strides forward at a faster pace thanks to huge advances in mechanization. The rich are super rich and the poor are super poor (which is always true). None of the European empires shows any signs of waning. As long as the wartime economy thrives very little will change.

This ended up being a lot more than I thought it would be lol.


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