GURPS Infinite Worlds

GURPS Infinite Worlds

Infobox RPG
title= GURPS Infinite Worlds

caption= "Infinite Worlds" sourcebook cover
designer= Kenneth Hite, Steve Jackson, John M. Ford
publisher= Steve Jackson Games
date= 2005
genre= Science Fiction, Pulp, Multiple Worlds
system= "GURPS"
footnotes= A "hub" worldbook for "GURPS". Intended to make it possible to tie campaigns from other "GURPS" settings and games together.

"GURPS Infinite Worlds" is a supplement for the Fourth Edition of the "GURPS" role-playing game, published by Steve Jackson Games in 2005 and written by Kenneth Hite, Steve Jackson, and John M. Ford. It expands upon the campaign setting of conflict between the "Infinity Patrol", which is the time-travel agency on "our" Earth, referred to as Homeline, and "Centrum" across a multiplicity of alternate history Earths. This was presented in the "Fourth Edition GURPS Basic Set" (and originated in the Third Edition supplements "GURPS Time Travel", "GURPS Alternate Earths", and "GURPS Alternate Earths II"). It won the 2005 Origins Award as Best Game Supplement. [cite web|url=|title=Origins Awards winners (2005)|accessdate=2007-09-11]

In this game, only two Earths have full-fledged, public "parachronics" programs (the technology behind travelling between parallel universes); that of the players, known as Homeline, and one other, known as Centrum. Travel between worlds is generally done through ground-based equipment ("projectors") or vehicles ("conveyors"), but magic, parahuman abilities and even stranger methods can and have been utilized by both. Alternate worlds (also known as realities or worldlines) are grouped into "quanta", which have varying degrees of ease of access to either side. Within the game, the two agencies can either be adversaries, or grudging allies, depending on the scenario.

Several of the parallel Earths in the "Alternate Earths" volumes reappear - sometimes in slightly altered form - in "Infinite Worlds": Reich-5, Caliph, Dixie, Ezcalli, Gernsback, Roma Aeterna, and Shikaku-Mon. Of some note is the fact that Reich-5 has gained a tentative foothold on the Infinite Worlds. An ill-advised raid by Spetsnaz troops from Homeline Russia resulted in the capture of a troop conveyor, a handful of live prisoners, and the corpse of a scout with a genetically-linked psionic world-jumping ability. A quick-thinking local Brigadeführer made a deal with the mystical SS society of the Ahnenerbe to take possession of the booty (and to keep it all secret from the mainstream Nazi hierarchy); their scientists and sorcerers are using occult rituals and horrific medical experiments to slowly spread their power across the worlds while avoiding direct contact with Homeline or Centrum.

The book describes itself as the "core setting" of GURPS, with the worlds described in other GURPS sourcebooks as alternate Earths within the Infinite Worlds scenario.



So named because it is the second world discovered by the Infinity Patrol in which the Spanish Armada was victorious over the English in 1588, Armada-2 is a world just now (in "current year" 1812) emerging from the shadow of Catholic Spanish hegemony, with Sweden and industrialised Egypt and Huguenot Nouvelle France.


A parallel where city-razing Mongol hordes under Genghis Khan destroyed first Beijing and then all the cities of Europe, where now their descendants (in "current year" 2004) rule an entirely nomadic continent. The world was mistakenly named for Attila the Hun by early Infinity Patrol researchers who were confused as to which nomadic leader was responsible. Meanwhile, Japan trades across the Pacific Ocean with the urbanized tribes of North and South America, and city-states dot Africa, where steam engines have just been developed.


When Isaac Newton discovered the secret of the philosopher's stone in 1693, he paved the way for an Alchemical Revolution that has left Azoth-7 dominated by the magical might of Britain, Venice, Prussia, and Spain by "current year" 1780.


In Bonaparte-4 Napoleon sacrificed the romance of an Egyptian campaign (which he conducted in 1798 in our timeline) for a stealthy invasion of Ireland, granting him victory over Britain. By "current year" 2024, the world is divided between French, Japanese, Russian, and Brazilian Empires, along with the United States and the Russian Republic, and the world has achieved a stage of technological achievement and social disaffection and tension reminiscent of cyberpunk.


The success of the rebellion of James, Duke of Monmouth against James II of England in 1685 is the point of divergence between our own world and Britannica-3; wiser and more Protestant rule in Britain meant that tensions with the North American colonies never reached the point of rebellion as they did in real history. Despite the rise of other strong European powers, the world is free of major conflicts, which can be attributed to the strong influence of Centrum in this parallel.


In this world the printing press was invented in Baghdad in 796; the current year here is 1684, but the technological acceleration stemming from the change has resulted in a society seemingly centuries ahead of Homeline. Unfortunately a burgeoning global war between the tradition-minded major states (Sofala, Persia, Andalus, Bulgaria and the Umma) and the technocratic Jamahiriya of the western continents threatens the existence of this advanced society.


Named for the early death of influential science fiction editor John W. Campbell which occurred in this parallel but not in real history, Campbell is a world notable for the poverty of its scientific advancement. While military applications of scientific research advanced rapidly enough, science as an intellectual pursuit became associated exclusively with death, destruction, and catastrophe (especially after World War II ended with the military bombarding Germany with radioactive dust, killing hundreds of thousands of people). This led to an anti-scientific wave of pacifist Luddism and charismatic religious revival in the 1960s. Lacking the positive fruits of scientific inquiry, the world heads (in "current year" 2004) through ecological disaster and failing economies to a nigh-inevitable showdown between its capitalist and communist societies.


The nominal villains of the campaign, Centrum is a totalitarian, homogenized world-state, and the only world other than Homeline to have a major parachronic program. Its point of departure was in 1120, when the White Ship carrying William the Aetheling, the heir of Henry I of England, did not hit a rock in the English Channel. William's survival precluded The Anarchy and the Hundred Years War, and ultimately the "Anglo-French Empire" became a world-spanning power, with technological progress centuries beyond that of Homeline.

However, in 1902 unknown rebels decapitated the ruling house by detonating a nuclear device in London. The resulting succession wars (which included nuclear and biological weapons) wiped out much of humanity and reduced most of the survivors to preindustrial barbarism. But Terraustarils (Homeline Australia) escaped much of the destruction, and the techno-military cabal known as "The Centrum" that took control there ultimately extended its authority across the globe.

Centrum is a socialist technocratic meritocracy; the government provides all employment and handles the economy, which is bolstered by the massive resources acquired from other worldlines. They believe other worlds should be aiming to follow their example and have a dedicated program of supporting political and economic groups that reflect their own values -- stability, meritocracy and an unconscious prejudice toward speakers of English . They view the mix of competing government agencies and private companies from Homeline as dangerously anarchic.

Centrum Beta

One of the most important parallel Earths from the Infinity Patrol's point of view, Centrum Beta appears to be an exact copy of the home parallel of Centrum - except that the "current year" is only 1895. Understanding Centrum Beta as it is now might give the Infinity Patrol the key to understanding and besting Centrum proper.

Deadly Settings

Also known generally as "Reality Vanish", there are at least 41 parachronic coordinate settings where people or objects sent into them never return. These are assumed to be worlds where the laws of physics are sufficiently different from that of our own universe to kill visitors and/or cripple their equipment (see Rustic under Puzzle Worlds, below).


In this world, William Walker succeeded in conquering Nicaragua in 1856; during the American Civil War this provided a way around the Union blockade for the Confederacy that ultimately ensured their victory. Today ("current year" 1993) the U.S.A. and C.S.A. watch each other warily across a border that stretches to the Pacific, while India and its neighbors expand their economies at the expense of the moribund European monarchies that never fell after 1918.


Here the Columbian Exchange occurred two thousand years early, when a Carthaginian fleet was blown across the Atlantic to discover the New World. The reduced technological disparity allowed the native American civilizations to recover from the shock of disease and conquest; in addition, the early introduction of the potato to the Old World removed Rome's ability to control its subjects through Egyptian grain. The Empire ended with Nero, and the patchwork of European successor states were ill-equipped to resist subsequent barbarian invasions. In the "current year" of 1848, the expansionist, steam-powered Tenochca Empire faces off against the Hotinohsavannih League to the north and the Songhay Empire (the last remnant of Roman culture) to the east; whoever wins is likely fated to take on the somnolent but fearsomely large Mongol Khaganate that covers most of Eurasia.


This parallel world is named for the Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa, who in this timeline managed to be the great imperial unifier and conqueror that the vagaries of fortune prevented him from being in our history. In "current year" 1219, seventeen years after his death, Friedrich is notable for being a hotbed of activity by the SS Raven Division from the Nazi-dominated parallel Reich-5, who seek to turn his Holy Roman Empire into a First Reich and breeding ground for Aryan warriors.


Gallatin is named for Albert Gallatin, the dominant member of Thomas Jefferson's government due to Alexander Hamilton having died in the Battle of Trenton. Without Hamilton to defend and explain the "Federalist Papers", the U.S. Constitution of 1787 was never ratified and the independent colonies balkanized into nine separate republics across the continent by 1860. In "current year" 2004, Gallatin's great powers include Texas (whose nuclear arsenal shields the other libertarian American republics), German-dominated Europaverein, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Japanese Empire; peace is maintained by the fear of mutual destruction in an atomic war.

Hell Worlds

Many timelines have suffered catastrophes (some natural, others man-made) that have rendered humanity either extinct or nearly so. These are colloquially known as the "hell worlds". Examples include Ariane (where the Spanish Flu killed 99.9% of the population), Lenin-2 (where nuclear war and unconstrained industry have combined to crash the biosphere) and the worrisome Gotha parallels (where a prion-based disease has turned almost all humans into bloodthirsty cannibals on 19 otherwise dissimilar worlds).


The main world in the game. The world of "our" timeline (apart from the development of parachronics) and home base of Infinity Patrol, and of players in the game. Seeks to counteract Centrum and its efforts to interfere with natural development of alternate worlds.


Here Franklin Roosevelt maintained Henry Wallace as his vice president when he was reelected in 1944; consequentially Wallace became president in 1945 upon Roosevelt's death. The passive stance of him and his successors against the Soviet Union resulted in the steady expansion of Communism across the globe. In the "current year" of 1989, the isolated and malaise-stricken United States is essentially the sole remaining capitalist country on the planet.


Named after the wizard of that name, Merlin-1 is a world where magic entered the world due to the Trinity nuclear test in August 1945. In "current year" 2004 America (where much of the magic is centred) uses both magic and technology to be the dominant superpower. Homeline has begun investigating this world to obtain information about this mana-rich reality, but unbeknownst to them the Merlin-1 American government is aware of their actions and has begun spying on them in return. The setting of "GURPS Technomancer".


A world where magic entered the world in 1916, and is centered in Germany. In "current year" 1942, World War II is being fought with magic. The setting of "GURPS WWII: Weird War II".

Myth Parallels

Many worlds have inhabitants that closely resemble characters from the myths, legends and stories of Homeline. The characters from the Arabian Nights stories, three different King Arthurs (Riothamus, the Vulgate Cycle Arthur, and Thomas Malory's version) and Sherlock Holmes are all represented by various worlds, along with hundreds of others.


Shalmaneser III of Assyria wiped out Jerusalem and Tyre in this world in 854 B.C., and his successors destroyed the Greek city-states a century later. In the "current year" of 1678, various empires based on slavery and human sacrifice cover the globe (except for an Infinity Patrol-supported haven in southern Africa) while an anomalous ice age threatens to wipe out those unfortunate to live in a world where monotheism, democracy and the Greek and Latin alphabets were destroyed almost before they could begin.

Puzzle Worlds

Some worlds do not follow the generally accepted laws of physics in one way or another or otherwise demonstrate unusual characteristics -- it is important to note that in the Infinite Worlds setting, most magic fits under the category of "accepted laws of physics". Rustic (where artificial electric discharges are impossible to generate), Enigma (where the entire population of the world disappeared on July 12, 1982) and Blip (where one day spent there is equal to a little over six minutes on other worlds) are some examples.


In this world Giuseppe Zangara succeeded in assassinating Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. His successors Garner, Lindbergh and Wallace proved unable to handle the Great Depression, and America stood by while Hitler conquered Europe and Japan took over most of Asia. In 1944 Japan attacked Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii; in the ensuing chaos William Dudley Pelley became President. Pelley quickly assumed dictatorial powers, and his blatant theft of the 1948 election from Robert Taft triggered wholesale civil war. The president called for aid from Nazi Germany, which quickly sent over 40 Wehrmacht divisions. The pro-democracy resistance collapsed after Werner Heisenberg developed the atomic bomb which was used on four American cities in 1950. A second attempt at rebellion in 1976 failed, and America is now a (very) junior partner of the World-Axis that dominates the planet. Reich-5's technology (military or otherwise) is superior to that of any Homeline country, but fortunately their parachronic program is well behind that of Homeline or Centrum.

Roma Aeterna

Here Nero Claudius Drusus did not die in 9 B.C. In turn, he became the successor to Augustus instead of Tiberius. The imperial line that followed was so successful that when the First Empire fell apart in the fifth century the guiding ideals of Rome were never discarded and were ultimately restored. After the Mongol invasions broke the Second Empire in the 1300s, colonies in the Hesperides preserved these ideals in turn and ultimately re-restored the empire in the late 1700s. The "current year" is 1893, and the musket-wielding legions of the Third Empire are found from the Magna Campania to the Ganges and show no sign of stopping.


In this world Juan, Prince of Asturias, the son of King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain survived to take the Spanish throne as King John III. The resulting changes in history spread all the way to Japan, where an increased Jesuit presence prolonged the life of Oda Nobunaga and prevented the closing of the country by the Tokugawa shogunate. In the resulting cyberpunk "current year" of 2027, the dominant powers include a Japanese Empire that covers Australia and most of East Asia, the economic superpower of Brazil, the totalitarian Swedish Empire and the technologically advanced Kingdom of France.

United States of Lizardia

A world very similar to our own, except reptilian creatures descended from a species of Troodon are the dominant sentient lifeform. The similarities exist down to cultural and political divisions (resulting in this world's colloquial name) and are assumed by Homeline scientists to be evidence of a "law of temporal inertia" (or "gods with a strange sense of humour").


A fantasy world, inhabited by humans, dwarves, elves etc., all of whom have been involuntarily taken from other worldlines. The setting of "GURPS Banestorm".

See also

*List of "GURPS" books
*List of campaign settings


External links

* [ Timeline Map]

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