Context on the gangs included
|My world is an alternative History Victorian England in 1865. In this timeline, the Railway Mania bubble never burst, and thousands of miles of new railways were built. As a result if this massive expanse, steam engine technology developed at a much more rapid pace, kickstarting the second industrial revolution much faster. As of 1865, its at the point where personal locomotive ownership is common.
The year is early 1865, so Queen Victoria is midway through her reign. Its been 4 years since Prince Alberts passing, and Victoria is becoming increasingly more paranoid and unstable.
The current Prime Minister is Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, under The Liberal Party. Widely regarded as one of the greatest foreign secretaries, Palmerston ascended to PM, but is distrusted by Victoria and many of his peers. This is due to his cowardice in handling the gangs.
The two most powerful men in the country are Robert Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, each the heads of major railway companies and stern industrialist. To the public, these men are civic heroes, rapidly modernising and upgrading the railways and advancing the Second Industrial Revolution at an immense pace. But behind these facades, these men are the heads of ruthless gangs, each competing for gauge superiority across the country.
The gangs hold vast power over the government, effectively running it by bribery and blackmail, as Palmerston is too spineless to stop them. The gangs pressure Him into authorizing more lines to be built.
Robert belongs to the Stephenson Dynasty, started by his father George. They are inherently traditionalists in this sense, opting for the status quo and passing down their power. They favour Standard Gauge (4’ 8 1/2 ”), and are currently dominating the race for superiority.
Brunel is a maverick and eccentric character, rising suddenly, and often in controversial fashion, with wild and improbable promises. While starting out with standard gauge, he now favours his new gauge, Broad (7’ 1/4”).
The sway these men hold over the PM is concerning to Queen Vic. In her paranoid state, she sees them as a threat to her crown. In reality, the men have no intention to usurp the throne, they both greatly respect the Royal Family and being King would place them further into the public eye, meaning their nefarious underground gangs may be revealed. Despite this, Victoria has started her own gang of spies and gangsters to be placed within the Railway Gangs, with the intention of starting a mass war, wiling out both gangs in the process.
At lower levels of their gang hierarchies, various goons and assorted street gangs commit a wide range of dirty deeds, from petty theft, arson, all the way to sabbotaging works projects of rival gangs and even murder.
Overall, its a huge and complicated struggle for political power in an increasingly bureaucratic and Pynchonian/Kafkaesque world.
A good, modern comparison is that these two are like Google and Amazon. Huge companies with massive reach that basically dominate our lives. We use their services massively over lesser companies like Bing. Their named have become part of our common vocabulary. On the surface, they seem all cool and friendly, and appear to work in the interest of the public. But below the surface, they do some real shady shit, like tax evasion, violating workers rights,slave labour in China, and that sort if thing. My gangs are like this, but in a Steampunk Victorian England.
My Main Girls are a lovable bunch of misfits, borderline gang, who tour the country in their steam train, The Luna, performing in their String Quartet at music halls. To fund this venture, they operate a Ponzi-type scheme. But most of their "Crimes" are low-level stuff, like petty theft, speeding in city zones and other tomfoolery. One day, The Girls are inadvertenly dragged into the Stepehnson-Brunel Mob War and find themselves as double agents for the Big Men.