Although the game starts in Britain, much of the activity is placed in Britain and the ‘default’ character descriptions assume British, there is no obligation to play a British character.
It is impossible (for this GM) to work up alternates for every possible foreign born character, here are a few defaults to work off of. If, as a player, you have an idea that is not covered please contact me and we will talk about it.
All travelers are assumed to be at least Middle Class in their home land, otherwise they’s lack the resources to travel The exception being Working Lower Class whose job brought them to England (Example: Sailor) and who chose to stay.
Speak Native Language: Naturally a Frenchman’s native language will be French, an Italian will speak Italian and so on. However, the character will need to invest AT LEAST a half point into English if they are going to have a hope of functtioning without some one to interpret.
Reading, Writing, Math…: The character is assumed to be literate in their native language, not English. That must be purchased separately. Math is universal. 2+2 is the same where ever you come from.
Area Knowledge, Local: This will be of the Character’s home region, NOT England. If he/she is from Antwerp, then that is what they are knowledgeable on. Not London. It will take at least a year living in an area to have local knowledge of that area.
General History and Religion: Though General History will be predominantly focused on the native country, there will still be some general knowledge about the rest of the worlds, especially as it pertains to current events. Religion, like math, is universal at least in regards to that faith. Though unlike math there may be some minor variations in customs that are reflective of the local area.
Manners and Social Graces: An outsider’s knowledge of English customs, especially in matters of social class and etiquette, is somewhat limited. The skill starts at -2 but this penalty is removed at a rate of 1 per six months living in England.
Life Skills: Most life skills are pretty much the same no matter where you come from, but the English monetary system can be a challenge to visitors. Life Skill will start at -1 because of this, however this penalty will disappear pretty quickly. After a month living in England it will be removed.
Americans: An American visiting Britain for business or pleasure. Language is not too much of a problem, though they do talk funny across the pond… Reading comprehension will be normal. Legal systems have enough similarities to get by though terminology and some details will seem strange. East coast Americans, especially those from the big cities, will be reasonably knowledgeable of current events in England, though a few days to weeks behind, because the major newspapers in the US follow events in England pretty consistently.
Many English tend to regard their American cousins as cowboys and country folk (no matter their actual background) and will assume that the Yankee is at best, uncultured.
Europeans: French, Dutch, Spanish, German, etc. All characters will need to take English as a Language Skill if they want to communicate. In general they will be familiar with most major happenings in England due to proximity of their homelands.
Lower class English have some deep rooted suspicions towards these foreigners, if for no other reason then Britain has been at war with almost all of them at one time or another.
Bearing in mind that most English are followers of the Church of England, they will assume that French, Italians, Spanish and Portuguese are Catholics. Dutch and Germans are Protestant. (Such may not be the case!)
Irish, Scottish and Welsh: To the non English these would all seem to be English. To an Englishman (and each other) they are not! For most game purposes they will be treated as if they are in fact English, or at least British, but there are some points to note.
Language is mostly not an issue, although Irish also speak Irish Gaelic in addition to English. Scots speak Scot Gaelic in addition to English. Welsh speak Welsh in addition to English. Because of the various independent movements in Ireland, bombings and similar, many English may prove suspicious of Irish characters. Also, Englishmen often have stereotyped views of Scots and Welsh as being belligerent, uneducated, uncultured and so on. The threat of Irish ‘terrorism’ was such that Scotland Yard formed the Special Irish Branch, in March 1883. The “Irish” sobriquet was dropped in 1888 as the department remit was extended to cover other threats, and became known simply as Special Branch.
Africans, Asians, Middle Easterners and Indians, etc: Characters will need to take English as a Language Skill if they want to communicate. EXCEPT those from India. English involvement in the subcontinent has a long history and any character from India can assign a half (.5) point of English to their character in addition to their native language. This half point does not include literacy in English.
Although England lacks the deep rooted prejudices against skin color that can be found in America, there are stereotypes and assumptions made by the average Englishman in regards to non European foreigners. Most locals will treat the foreigner as a Social Class lower then they are UNLESS the foreign character possesses obvious wealth. In which case they will assume they are a social class higher then they actually are. The average Englishman will assume that the foreigner is either a servant, laborer, ship crewman, low class shop keeper, employee or similar. OR the foreigner is a wealthy noble or similar in their home country.
The average Englishman will assume that foreigners from these parts of the world are ‘Heathens’ until they are shown that the character is in fact Christian.
Special Note: British Ghurkas
The British Army has a long tradition of raising and using regiments of Ghurka Troops in India, though in fact most Ghurkas come from Nepal. Ghurka troops are well respected in the British Army and amongst ex servicemen. It is not unusual to find a Ghurka in England. Most will be retired and in service to retired officers, some will be reserve duty and in England for various reasons, some will be on active duty and present for training etc. British law does not (at this time) allow permanent residency for retired Ghurkas on their own.
Ghurkas are fluent in English as well as their native tongue.
The majority of British Gurkhas come from four major ethnicities. Kirat Rai and Limbu which are from eastern Nepal and Gurung and Magar which are from western Nepal. Kirat Rai and Limbu are ancestor and nature worshipers follow their religious scripture called Mundhum. Gurungs are Buddhist (80%) and Hindu(20%). Magars are Hindu(50%) and Buddhist(50%). But all these also follow the Nepali version of Hindu faith and its traditions/festivals integrating their ethnic traditions/beliefs into it.