“I will begin with the bold assumption that you, the reader, are already familiar with me through the writings of the popular novelist and my personal friend and traveling companion, Frederick Walden. Modesty wishes that I could say that his tales of my exploits are greatly exaggerated, but alas, they are only slightly exaggerated.
“The last time an account such as this one was amassed was thirty years back from the time of this writing, at the time of the Trebonian Empire’s collapse. It was the great Imperial sage Callock Buren’s Ashes of Greatness. I have great respect for the master’s work, and indeed found it very useful in planning my own journeys, but it is now terribly out of date. The Nasertian frontier has expanded, borders have changed, and the anarchy and unrest that characterized life a generation ago on Atrebor has largely disappeared throughout most of the continent. An updated account is needed, which is why I have taken it upon myself to provide it.
“When I set out to discover the world as a young man, I knew nothing of its breadth and splendor. Looking at a map will tell you that Hussett is almost as far from Nasertia as one can sail, but one hasn’t truly understood the distance until he has seen the plains elves hunt buffalo while holding in his memory the scent of Hussett’s spiced shores. He hasn’t realized the depth of the orcish threat until he has seen the great beacon fire flare up atop the Citadel of the Damned, bright enough to silhouette the painted sails of a fresh and colossal invasion fleet against the dark horizon. He hasn’t fathomed entropy until he’s stood in the great, empty, decaying hall of the old Imperial capital’s shaft car station. Nothing tells instills one’s soul with hope for the future like the spiraling glass towers of Endeavor, the City of Science, except perhaps for the moment when he first boards a ship sailing West.
“I have. I’ve been to those places, taken in those sights, felt those fears. If you desire to go there, too, then I caution you, reader: the wider world is a dangerous place. It is best to go prepared. Read carefully, and tread more carefully still. Keep your eyes open to the dangers, but also to the wonders, and you will be well-rewarded by what there is to find.
“The warm blessings of the Radiant Mother be on you.”
-Nalib al-Sammat, Adventurer
Introduction, A Guide to the New World
Welcome to the world of FRONTIERS, a world of decay and rebirth, of promise and curses, of a troubled past, an uncertain future, and a present of glorious opportunity.
In the year 500, on the 500th anniversary of its inception, the Trebonian Empire was flung into civil war with the assassination of its emperor. The proud Empire has splintered along the ethnic and geographic boundaries that once divided it, leaving five quarreling nations across the continent where once was but one. The initial wars tore up the people and resources of Atrebor. A generation has passed, and while the belligerent conflicts between the young nations have died down, life on Atrebor is still made difficult by strong class distinctions and governments that are alternatingly oppressive and bunglingly incompetent.
Across the Western Deep, even beyond the distant and now poorly named Final Islands, lies Nasertia, the New World. Discovered in the year 470 by a wayward pirate armada and named for the pirate king‘s mistress, Nasertia is an extremely vast and fertile continent, almost entirely untouched by civilization, and only lightly populated by scattered bands of savage humanoids. Its eastern shores open into lush forests and plains, rich in timber and soil, and mountains, nearly bursting with untapped veins of valuable metal. An enormous, wondrous desert, whose end has not yet been found, stretches beyond the mountains to the west. While the Empire tightly controlled colonization of Nasertia, the Empire’s collapse has led to a landslide of immigration and a renewed land rush. Thousands of people of all races have come pouring across the Western Deep to build a better life for themselves, far from the oppression and cruelty of Atrebor’s warring nations.
Nasertia is not without its own cruelties, though. It is an untamed land, wrought with danger. Many of the native peoples are warlike and resentful of the settlers’ presence. Monsters, a danger almost forgotten on Atrebor, thrive and prey upon homesteads and caravans. The lawless frontier holds great potential for those willing to assume the risks of adventuring on its wild soil. Would-be heroes cross the ocean armed with myriad virtues of their own: a sure arm or a strong mind, a deft aim or a steady faith. All are needed to resist the dangers of the wild frontier.
Bounty killers chase their quarry across the deserts, armed with true grit and a shotgun. Dual pistol-wielding rangers defend new settlements from native hordes of orcs and goblinoids. Scholars and filibustering opportunists eagerly make contact with tribes of halflings and elves, some yearning for knowledge, others for profit. And bands of heroes set off to slay monsters with spells and repeating rifles.
Do you have what it takes, partner?
A FRONTIERS campaign is both like and unlike traditional fantasy campaigns. All the elements of traditional fantasy have survived and co-exist with the results of industrialization. Warriors now wield guns alongside their swords, and steam engines and clockwork technology have made new forms of travel and manufacture possible. Adventurers in the Old World have the opportunity to help the struggling new nations find themselves or to search for the riches of the fallen Trebonian Empire. Heroes of the New World have the proud task of taming the frontier, either for the good of others or to find their own fortunes.