Edit #1: As I was asked to define the steampunk materials, I should’ve clarify that by this term, I mean materials that consist of metallic elements in general, such as gold, might as well have bronze, with more elements like cogs and screws. That’s how I’ll define the steampunk materials.

Edit #2:For the mobility, the prosthetics are flexible to the point where he can open and close his fingers, like real hands, but stiffer and may have some difficulties contributing to it. They can also rotate like how real human arms do.

Let me give a brief introduction to my world as a header.

My world is heavily aligned with the real world inventions and history, with one of the prominent differences being a way more advanced genetic engineering/bioscience. This allows the humans in the world who has knowledge in this field to create artificial beings just from splice of DNAs.

In my world, there is a group of (in most case artificially created) beings called Organisationhumans, as the name suggests, they’re organisations…but as humans. Their existence is thanks to the aforementioned bioscience procedure, as for some reason the organisations feel the need to have a sentient representation of themselves. However, for the older, more than a century old Organisationhumans, their origins are more ambiguous, as it’s obvious that genetic engineering wasn’t a thing back then. Their anatomy is mostly similar to one of a human, with organs modifications such as maintaining the circulatory and respiratory systems, while don’t have reproductive and digestive systems, and of course, they cannot regenerate their limbs if they’re missing them or got amputated.

The character in this subject that I’m going to ask about is the ILO. He is the Organisationhuman of the International Labour Organisation, he is one of the older Organisationhumans with a vague origin, being born in early 1919. The following picture shows how he looks like.(art by me) enter image description here

(Excuse my bad ref sheet formatting, this is supposed to be part of a personal project I’m working on regarding the United Nations’ specialised agencies.)

But as you can see, he has prosthetic limbs. Both his arms and legs are prosthetic, and they’re steampunk themed, and this got me wondering, since I’ve planned for him to lose his limbs at a young age, would it be reasonable that he’d already possess this kind of prosthetic? Although, if anyone is concerned about his futuristic-looking armband, I like to think that he added it later on his life. And for this, I’ll take the opportunity to shoot another question.

Would it be possible to severely lose your limbs just from your work? All around the same time?

He used to be a victim of child labour. And he had been involved in difficult and extreme works, including the life-risking ones. And one day he got..quite unfortunate.

Advices are greatly appreciated, I still have a lot to work on this little world of mine, as an artist who’s obsessed with international organisations.

  • $\begingroup$ Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ The answer to your side question is, Yes, amputation of the arms was possible for child workers in factories, provided that labour laws didn't forbid child labour. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ However, you need to define 'Steampunk materials'. What materials and capabilities are you considering for these prosthetics? $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 10:27
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the edit regarding materials, but what capabilities do the prosthetics need to have? Do they just look like hands? Do they simply open and close? Are the fingers independent mobile? $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ possible duplicate worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/136734/… $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 15:41

3 Answers 3


In essence, this question is about prosthetics.

Prosthetic legs aren't a problem, since the tasks that the legs perform are relatively simple. Purely mechanical prosthetic legs have been used for hundreds of years.

The problem is with the prosthetic hands. Early hand prostheses were simply hooks. Later, they were simple spring-loaded clamps that could be opened and closed by muscular effort. Realistic-looking hand prostheses were largely non-functional in the 1930s. It wasn't until the invention of semiconductors that electromechanical prostheses became possible, and at that time, such prostheses were not particularly realistic in appearance. Prostheses that are both realistic in appearance and function similarly to a natural hand are still fantasy today, so in a 1930's technological environment, they'd be virtually impossible.


A lot of this depends on what is missing, if he still has his elbow and knees he can have quite mobile and complex prosthetics, quite close to what you want, if he only has shoulder and hips he will have very little extra motion. But he will never have direct control of each individual finger in real time.


Behold Gotz the Ironhand from the 1500's, or more specifically behold his iron hand he had made with which he could write his name, wield a sword, hold a goblet and ride a horse. finger position was set manually. A detailed breakdown of his prosthetics capabilities are here.

enter image description here enter image description here

Why didn't everyone have prosthetics like this because they were ridiculously expensive but as a count he could afford them.


Lets jump forward to the 1800's and look at Anglesey prosthetics, like this rope actuated leg or various mechanical hands. hands worked of cables and ropes, they could grab closing the fingers and thumb by flexing the elbow, but you will never get individual control of individual fingers without electronics. Some combination devices did exist which combined the functional aspect of the paired hook with the advantage of posable fingers fir things like holding a pen

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Some combination devices did exist which combined the functional aspect of the paired hook (pinky and ring fingers fixed) with the advantage of posable fingers (thumb, index, and middle) for things like holding a pen but again you only have a few motions that could be controlled real time. more than that is impossible because there is just nothing to work the lever needed ot move more joints. you can get 1-2 motions by using the variation in the full range of motion of the shoulder and elbow but after that there is no source of mechanical input unless you use the other hand. By the 1920's artificial hands that could be used to drive a stick shift car existed, so don't underestimate what 2 degrees of movement can give you.

For a brief breakdown of how artificial limbs technology has progressed, this is good article.


Prosthetic hands more functional than hooks are documented back to legendary times. The first Irish High King Nuada had one made of Silver

King Nuada of the silver hand

All that is necessary is a brilliant black Smith and someone skilled in medical knowledge.

So feel free to add one to your poor lad made out of whatever you want.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Or a silversmith in Nuada's case. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 0:34

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