There's two approaches I could take, here. Maybe you're just looking for me to summarize this setting and tell you about what it is without having to read through the Lore page I lavishly set up and spent days pouring detail into. That's cool, I get it. You just wanna hear "Steampunk alternate history" and get on with your day. I can hook you up. Just go read the two paragraph sections right under this one and get back to pretending like you're totally not cruising Reddit at the office or drunk at ten in the morning on a Tuesday.
The other approach is that you're hoping for some insightful author commentary. Maybe you already did explore (re: skim) that beautiful Lore page, you've got your PhD in retro-futurism, and buddy-boy, you want to probe my brain like a Roswell space man and figure out why I've got so many pictures in pirate costumes and all that jazz. No worries, old friend. We can talk about that too. Just skip past the first two sections I told that other guy about and we'll be in business like the supporting cast of Mulan the night before the Huns invade.
Son, You're Almost a Man Now. It's Time We Talked About Retro-Futurism.
Retro-futurism is the blend of (often anachronistic) technology and historical domain to create distinct, fictional settings born in equal parts of historical familiarity and the reality-bending question of "What if?"
Retro-futurism comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. It's not so much is its own genre as it is a genre element; you can see retro-futurism in the decadent, never-ending 80's corporate squalor of the science-fiction film Bladerunner - right alongside digital technology, sentient androids, and questions more at home in the works of Asimov than in a noir thriller. You can see retro-futurism at play in the neo-atomic Fallout franchise, as greasers with laser guns match off against communist robots. Retro-futurism is the timeless scenario of so many World War II stories that suppose Hitler won, most typically with a fleet of diesel-belching tanks and technology ages ahead of what we have even today. I'm looking at you, Wolfenstein. And perhaps most prolific in today's popculture is Steampunk - the blending of Victorian aesthetics with mad science, improbable and grandiose machines, and fantasy elements ranging from eldritch abominations to flying pirate ships.
At its core, retro-futurism is the combination of history or historical aesthetics (the old, the retro) with technology, science-fiction, or modern ideas (the new, the future).
Lancastria is Retro-Futurism.
If you want me to get down and dirty and spell it out for you without waxing romantic, the Lancastrian setting is an appropriation of centuries of Western European history and its influence on the rest of the world. History becomes fantastical myth.
Lancastria is a world where the British became conquering Steampunk fascists, Germany and Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire became Dieselpunk militants, World War I happened fifty years early, and everything you know about the Knights Templar is probably true and happening under a woefully corrupt Catholic Church. The mad scientists dreamed of by Mary Shelley and Jules Verne are all too real, the Golden Age of Piracy never ended, and cowboys and samurai and robots and pirates and mad scientists all inhabit the same crazy world. Because it's cool.
Lancastria is Steampunk, and Dieselpunk, and a whole bunch of other 'punks that, much like forgotten pagan holidays, greatly influence what we know and experience but are never really talked about. Go check out "stitchpunk"sometime.
Lancastria is a setting where a British commando dressed like a Western outlaw can chase a fugitive in a pirate hat across the world, sailing his airship into the American Civil War to fight definitely-not-zombie plague victims. It's a world where knights armed with grapnel hooks and revolvers fight giant tanks and werewolves roam gypsy forests and the honored dead are kept alive with clockwork parts.
Lancastria is everything cool and badass that actually happened between the years 1700 and 1920, combined with a heaping helping of everything Hollywood probably wishes had happened. If you can dream it, imagine it, throw it in a Saturday morning cartoon or doodle it on a napkin at a coffee shop - well, boyo, it's here somewhere. And all you have to do is keep reading.
Where'd the Idea Come From? aka the Author's Journey
Back in 2009 or 2010 or so, this "Steampunk" thing was all the rage. It was a genre being explored in more and more works of fiction, and was sweeping the world's alternative subculture from Panic! at the Disco to German science fairs. Here in the States, Steampunk conventions were popping up left and right, and genre icons were in high demand. This was the period that helped create public personalities like G.D. Falksen (aka the guy featured in the article picture for Wikipedia's Steampunk page), Thomas Willeford (you might know him as a judge from the television show Steampunked, or the guy who made Nathan Fillion's crazy robot arm in that one episode of Castle), and boy-band sensation Steam-Powered Giraffe. All the above of which have been friends of mine, at one point or another. Decent blokes, all around. Drop Willeford a line if you're ever in Harrisburg.
Enter a ragtag band of misfits, starstruck and looking to get in on the action. We fancied ourselves airship pirates, but really we were a crew of the most loathsome stoners, hipsters, alcoholics, and edgy wannabe goth kids you could imagine - or, in other words, your typical starving young artist. We took to the stage with an action-packed revolving door of vaudeville improv comedy, one-act original plays, and immersive character-driven streetside entertainment - and damn if that's not a mouthful. The only problem was, we needed a story. A world for our characters to inhabit, a well with which to draw inspiration, detail, and juicy, juicy branding. Lancastria was born.
Along with my mates, I traveled across the eastern half of the United States lighting up dive bars, Steampunk conventions, street festivals, and more with tales from the boundless skies of Lancastria. Took a solo stint over to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland; that was a wild good time. We even produced a short film one year, screenplay by yours truly. I'm not going to give you a link to it, but you might be able to find it on the Internet if you look hard enough.
Over the better part of a decade, I blundered my way across stages, past cameras, and through roadside rest stops. Spent more nights than I care to remember sleeping on cold floors and waking up to colder Taco Bell leftovers. It was a wild journey, one perhaps more aptly described as an evolution - a personal one as much as one for Lancastria itself. Wanderlust is a real thing, kiddos, and along with it there was this barely manifested Dream shrouded in fog and dare-not-to-hope possibility. A notion that something great was, could be, on the horizon.
That's this. Welcome to the end of a lifetime, and ground zero for something shiny and new. Something bigger. Sometimes in life, you stumble blindly into things, tripping over yourself and life's hurdles along the way. Other times, you will something into being, using careful and concise planning to make manifest an idea. Then, other times, you blunder into realizing you have an idea in the first place, and somewhere between the tripping and the planning and the whiskey, you make it real. This page you're on - it's the realest the Dream has ever felt.
Below, you're gonna find a couple pictures from over the years that were taken as I played Captain Lovelock across the States and embarrassed myself in front of jeering crowds and reluctant audiences alike. If you really want to know what Lancastria is - broken down into its base atomic structure - it's a vessel for those pictures right there, the memories they made, and the possibilities they created. For me, my fellow pirates, and the people we touched. The people I hope these vagabond tales of scoundrels may continue to touch. Oh, and, if you're wondering about those pirates? They're still out there, blazing a beautiful trail across the Steampunk scene. This isn't some bittersweet adieu. Look to the skies for Captain Luna Amanta and the Pirate Crew of the Dead Rabbit - just check your pockets.