The Gernsback Federation

By Corinth.


(I came up with this yesterday while writing notes for this week's game session. I asked myself "What became of the past factions in the Secret War?" Well, noting that many here are pulp fans I decided to do something about a former faction that got erased. I call it "The Gernsback Federation" because my first choice got used for Mage: the Sons of Ether. Here it is, warts and all.)

The Federation

The Secret War went on long before the current factions entered the scene. Many times human history changed from one paradigm to another because of a critical shift. Factions suddenly get thrown out of the Secret War altogether, wither and fade away. Some, like the Four Monarchs, relocate to the Netherworld and build a new power base there in hopes of retaking the timestream. Most don't.

One of the lucky few was a group known as "The Gernsback Federation." In a time before anyone ever heard of the Four Monarchs (in the Netherworld, that is) the control for humanity's destiny lay in the hands of factions representing the Hyborian Age (the Stygian Society), the Boskone Empire, the First Born of a Mars long-erased and Ming the Merciless. As with the Dragons of current events, the Gernsback Federation was a cross-time faction filled with heroes from all of the active junctures. Eventually, a powerful independant backed the right people in the right junctures and set off a critical shift that eventually led to the rise of the Four Monarchs: their father.

The other factions faded from the Secret War. Many of their minions are now little more than Netherworld Rabble.

The remaining members of the Gernsback Federation fled, like the Four Monarchs after them, to the Netherworld. There, they collectively Shaped their new home. It is their paradise in exile: the city-state of Gernsback. By now, the city sits on a powerful (and hidden) feng shui site their geomancers nursed over the years into its current form. The city itself is a utopian dream of a bygone era, complete with flying cars and antigrav technology. (If you have GURPS Alternate Earths or The Book of Worlds, look up Gernsback. Condense it into a city-state and there you go.) Protecting the city from discovering is an invisibility field powered directly by the primary ether generators.

Since their fall from the Secret War, the Gernsback Federation concentrated on achieving their dreamworld in the Netherworld. Once that was complete, they went out and caught up on current events- especially what happenned in the War. They saw a threat in the new factions that deposed the Four Monarchs, and they realized that they had to return to action. (For the good of all humanity, of course.) However, they didn't have the same means they once possessed. This caused trouble for some time until the Federation Council devised a new plan: infiltrate the open junctures and plant the seeds for their return. To buy them the time they needed, they set the Lensman Corps to the task of covertly manipulating the Secret War so none of them would achieve their goals.

Like the Guiding Hand's approach, this was a long-term plan. The means used are different. Federation members use the media of their juncture to tell past stories of the Gernsback Federation, often with their slant on things. The goal is to revive a sense of wonder they believe is lost now, and then they (rarely) recruit new members and bring them to Gernsback to teach them what they seek so desperately for. As a secondary goal, members garner intelligence on the other factions. At the date of this posting, the Federation Council (always one to see things in black 'n' white) finds the Lotus and the Architects as enemies. They find the Dragons as allies. They are neutral towards the remaining factions, and suspicious of them as a result.

So You Wanna Be a Gernsback PC?

No, and this is why. There are two kinds of Gernsback agents out there. The first kind are Named GMCs of the "I'm a Plot Device" type. They have horrible combat AVs and usually serve as info dispensers or MacGuffins to be protected from the evil bad guys. The second kind are the Lensman. There aren't many Lensman in the Lensman Corps; you can count on both hands and still have digits left over. To be involved in the heavily action of the Secret War- alone**- requires them to be equal with the Major Players. (Individual Lensman have: fought Draco to a stand-still, took on the White Ninja and *beat* her, defeated entire hordes of hopping vampires and then slew the sorceror commanding them, captured vital feng shui sites and then left them to another faction, infiltrated Buro HQ and pounded Boatman senseless on live TV (and lived to talk about it), devastated Buro attack groups and so on.)

All Lensman are Named. They have Guns and Martial Arts at AV 18+, and many have so many Gun and/or Fu schticks that they become scary. In addition, their Lens grants them access to many schticks that fall outside of the rules as they currently exist. (If you know the Lensman series, or have GURPS Lensman, you can convert this yourself.) BTW, many a Lensman actually knows real martial arts by now. Incidentally, though, many of them aren't keen on the concept of chi. They refer to it as "ether", and they have their own Perpetual Motion Machines to show for it. (The big one is the one that counts as a major site.) Oh, I almost forgot! All Lensman are attuned to the Gernsback PMM site at the city's core.

Last modified: July 31st, 1997; please send comments to