Girl Genius
Girl Genius

Mechanicsburg (alternatively Mechanicsburgh[1]) in Transylvania[2] is the ancestral homeland of the Heterodyne family, a town of minions.


From the river gate - the Castle, the cathedral and a distant factory.

History and Architecture[]

Mechanicsburg Coat of Arms: shows the dragon of Mechanicsburg breathing fire with wings spread in black in the center with a trilobite in gold for a body and a lightning bolt in red for legs. The background is split with a toothed line, gold on top and silver below. On either side of the dragon's head are a sun (left) and a crescent moon (right) in red. Below are seven towers in black, three on each side of the lighting bolt and one, split in two, beneath the bolt, in the center. Spaced along the dragon's neck, on a red line, are the symbols for the four classical elements (water, air, earth, fire) in black, inscribed in gold circles.

Mechanicsburg Coat of Arms

The settlement eventually known as Mechanicsburg grew up around the castle that the Ht'rok-din's son, Knife, first built in 1042[3]. The site was chosen because (aside from strategic reasons[4]) it was the location of a spring producing energy-charged water, which later thanks to Egregious Heterodyne (the surname seems to have been westernized) became the river Dyne. This Castle, centerpiece of the town, was razed and rebuilt three times before the current structure, dating from 1298, was erected. At yet another point, Faustus Heterodyne created an artificial intelligence for the castle which allowed it to help with its self-defense and that of the town[5]; he also set up the mechanisms that still extract the Dyne's extra energies for the Castle's use, turning it into, theoretically, an ordinary water source. The town is constructed on a fossil deposit, inspiring the Trilobite that appears on the Heterodyne sigil and the town's coat of arms.[6]

Other prominent landmarks and attractions in town featured or at least mentioned in the strip and/or the print novels include:

As the narrative progresses, some of these become, ah, less attractive. A certain coffee shop is maybe not as big a tourist destination, but is of equal importance.

The town currently has a strongly built curtain wall set with strategic gun placements. The gates have been built with visual intimidation in mind[7]. One gate lets out onto the sharp drop down to the River Dyne bounding one side of Mechanicsburg, and appears to be the entrance for most casual and commercial traffic, as the bridge across the river allows two wagons to pass with plenty of margin. A well-paved road runs along the cliff margin on the opposite bank[8].

The Toad Gate leads to modern transportation. It is named after an unflattering depiction of Franz above the gate.

Mechanicsburg was, for most of its history, notoriously hard to conquer due to the local geography combined with its man-made defenses,[4][9][10][11] a fact which the Heterodynes took advantage of frequently. The Heterodynes deliberately left a large open plain free for potential invaders on the Black Gate (eastern)[12][13][14] side of the town. The "screamer gun" crews, trained to have a perfect knowledge of every centimeter of the plain could precisely target any opponent (for example, the late X de Destroyer, prominent in stories told by Da Boyz) on command[15]. Watchtowers stand around the outside edge of the plain[16]. The Torchmen are an army of clanks that can be launched against airborne assailants, while the entire city can be drenched with a chemical spray that nullifies gas attacks.

At some point, possibly as a result of the attack on the castle, the screamer guns were disabled[17], leaving the castle and town in a precariously defenseless position. However, The Baron's Peace has kept Mechanicsburg from needing a full-scale defensive suite.

At least, until the plot gets rolling. After events in Sturmhalten send the Wulfenbach empire into disarray, Mechanicsburg suffers an attempted takeover by the Knights of Jove in order to further the restoration of the Storm King dynasty as rulers of Europa. Gilgamesh Wulfenbach installs his own experimental weapons system[18] and foils the attack spectacularly.[19]

This, however, proves to be only the opening salvo of the Siege of Mechanicsburg, a multi-sided melee which is suspended when 1. The Castle is finally repaired and recharged with power and 2. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach activates the Take-Five Bomb and freezes the city in time.

Years later , Queen Albia of England suggests that Prende's Chronometric Lantern holds the key to freeing Mechanicsburg from the time bubble. Albia also tells Agatha that Mechanicsburg is guarded against the Polar Ice Lords and their creatures by an alliance the likes of which has not been seen since the days of the first Storm King.

As seen in "Franz Scortchmaw: The Quest for Gold and Sequels," Mechanicsburg is eventually reclaimed by Agatha who lives in residence as the Heterodyne.


During his turn in the spotlight, Ivo Sharktooth does a monologue listing the various neighborhoods of the city:

  • The Hospital District, home of, again, the famous Great Hospital constructed by The Heterodyne Boys. According to the print novels, this area was previously known as The Flesh Yards[20]. The Guildhall of The Mechanicsburg Guild of Monsters is in this district.
  • The Greens, a large open park-like area populated with biological experiments.
  • The Field of Weights, home to the city's commercial markets.
  • The Tumbles, where most of the natives actually live.
  • The Court of Gears, location of the city's factories and manufacturing.

Other locations listed during the Siege of Mechanicsburg[21] include

  • The Bone Quarter
  • The North Windings

Even more locations are listed during the expedition to unfreeze Mechanicsburgh, including

Streets in Mechanicsburg[]

In the Mechanicsburg Solstice Story, it is stated that there are streets in Mechanicsburg named Lightning Street[22] and The Path of Least Resistance, which intersect. This is the corner which Oggie's descendants normally stake out once a year so they can watch the Jägerstomp.


The walls of Mechanicsburg have several large gates, some of which have only been mentioned by title.


Krosp: "I get it. A whole town of minions, and no master."[24]

According to the third Girl Genius print novel, the aforementioned Faustus also roamed The Known World deliberately collecting skilled artisans, workers and technicians of all stripes to populate his expanding city.


happy little helpers

And so, after long centuries being used as the home base for House Heterodyne's savaging of the countryside, and of being "in on the take," the cosmopolitan descendants of those collected by Faustus have become accustomed to venting their collective energies in serving their liege lords.[25] In return for their loyalty to their masters, the people of Mechanicsburg served as minions, guards, troops and fencers of stolen goods; as opposed to everyone else, who served as experimental subjects, victims, sources of wealth and decoration SB.

The people of Mechanicsburg were the minions of the most vicious, insane and powerful sparks in the world. One would think that people hated living in a town ruled by dangerous crackpots, but they didn't. Their loyalty didn't originate from fear only. As Carson von Mekkhan states it : "People who aren't local won't understand it, but there is a lot of pride here." The people of Mechanicsburg were proud to serve the Heterodynes. While most of the Mechanicsburgers aren't sparks, they nevertheless easily got caught up in their masters' enthusiasm. Working with sparks is fun for them. Some of them also participated in the goot fighting , alongside the Jägers.

The missing Heterodynes left a big gap in Mechanicsburg. Most people desperately wish for a new Heterodyne. They don't like being disappointed, though. Just like their masters, they have a certain tendency for violence, and if the latest "long-lost Heterodyne heir" who comes to town turns out to be a fake, things will get nasty .

Some townspeople seem to have the same accent as the Jägers, so one could hypothesize that Jägerspeak equals the local dialect. After all the Jägers were originally part of the human Mechanicsburg population. The local monsters use the same way of speaking.

Officially the town is governed by a town council appointed by Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. Unofficially, it is led by the seneschals[26].


It appears that for many centuries Mechanicsburg was mostly known for producing a steady stream of Heterodynes, who would spill out at regular intervals and extract hefty tribute from the surrounding countryside. (Some members of the family being more aggressive and wide-ranging than others..) Following the Other War and the disappearance of the Boys, the town is now mainly a magnificently-crafted Heterodyne-branded machine designed to separate tourists and the gullible from their money. It is, however, also the center of several thriving black markets and smuggling operations, and has become famous throughout Europa for the work done at the Great Hospital, and for its export of numerous varieties of large eatable snails. Still, many of the older people fondly remember the Glory Days, when "Made in Mechanicsburg" brought terror to the world at large SB.

Mechanicsburg Tourism Song[]

The Mechanicsburg Town Council commissioned this from Professor Tom Smith of Transylvania Polygnostic University, and he has generously allowed its reproduction here in addition to its original printing :

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
Welcome to Mechanicsburg!
There's no finer city from
St. Petersburg to Rome.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
The loveliest we've ever heard of,
Jewel of Europa and
The place where we call home.

How mighty are her mighty walls,
How shiny are her clanks,
How beautiful her dairy farms,
And for her cheese we all give thanks.

How glorious her Hospital
Which helps folk far and near,
Bill and Barry Heterodyne
Built it for us here.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
Welcome to Mechanicsburg,
We thank you so for visiting,
With every erg and ohm.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
The greatest burg we've ever heard of,
Jewel of Europa and
The place where we call home.

The recording may be found in Professor Smith's archives.

Original Anthem[]

The appendix of the textbook Agatha H. and the Siege of Mechanicsburg explains that the Mechanicsburg Tourism Song is really an edited version of the official anthem of Mechanicsburg. The tourism song was designed to be a more palatable version of the anthem that could be sung to outsiders rather than the more harsh original. The text of the official anthem, as contained in the professors' textbook, is as follows:[27]

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
You're wise to fear Mechanicsburg!
A name that causes nightmares from
Zelenograd to Rome.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
The Heterodynes' Mechanicsburg,
The scourge of Europa and
The place that we call home.

How mighty are her mighty walls,
How deadly are her clanks,
How impassible her mountains tall,
With monsters in their endless ranks.

The Heterodynes, they rule us all.
We load their guns, we forge their steel,
We know their house will never fall,
They keep us safe beneath their heel.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
We live to serve Mechanicsburg,
With blood and sweat and hearts and mind,
With every erg and ohm.

Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg,
The greatest burg you've ever heard of,
Scourge of Europa and
The place that we call home.
Scourge of Europa and
The place that we call home.

Outside World and Speculation[]

Mechanicsburg appears to be tucked into a particularly advantageous spot in what appears to be the equivalent of the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, just north of the river Olt, possibly in the location of modern-day Sibiu.

Considering the open plain on the east side of town, the mountainous area around Mechanicsburg, the salt-deposits (in reference to a footnote in the second novel, which speaks of fossil finds) and the central castle hill, modern-day Sighișoara might be a better match.

The Ht'rok-din himself may the chief of a particularly brutal tribe which is speculated may have come from the east, perhaps Huns, or some other predecessors of the Mongol armies (likely Pechenegs, considering the time period and location), speculation inspired by a sketch labeled Ghengis Heterodyne, which can be found in the Secret Blueprints.

On the other hand, the Dniester (see The Dyne#The Dniester) also rises from the Eastern Carpathians, but on the northeast side (so the plains are to the east). Hence the city of Drohobych, in the Ukrainian Carpathians near[28] the source of the Dniester, which city also boasts ancient saltworks and fossil (fuel) extraction, may be alluded to as well. Invasion from the east suggest the eastern side of the mountains as a stopping point, and indeed the map of Mongol invasion of Europe shows Halych, further down the Dniester, as a hub of that invasion.


See also: Characters from Mechanicsburg