The First Frontier
The setting: Stormshore, a large island (or small continent) surrounded by a sea that is continually whipped by violent storms. Only the far eastern edge is settled; the entire continent is split by what appears on first approach to be a mountain range – but when the higher altitudes are reached, the deep canyon known as the Gap can be seen. It runs the entire length of this range, and looks almost as though someone has inverted the mountains right down the center. The Western area is about four times as large as the Eastern portion, but uncolonized and dangerous. The only ways to reach it are by sea (dangerous due to the constant storms) or by descending into the Gap, crossing the bottom, and ascending the other side. Flight is an option, but difficult due to strong and unpredictable winds and the occasional random lightning bolt shooting from the completely clear sky. The climate is inexplicable by natural philosophy; gods questioned about the matter are evasive, swearing that a) it’s not their doing and b) out of their hands, but refusing to confirm or deny any other rumors or explanations for the geography and weather patterns.
For the past decade, the five kingdoms of the east coast have been in an uneasy truce after past years of constant fighting. During this peace, the King Tybalt of Montross has done two things – declared a “birth gift” – a 20 gp payment for every child born, ostensibly to repay his loyal subjects after the terrible wars, and funded a secret project to bridge the Gap. A bridge has finally been produced – giant ring gates, 20’ square, set up on each side of the gap that allow people to cross effortlessly. This project required the use of magic beyond the abilities previously known; where it came from is a mystery.
The two policies have a) caused a population boom comprised entirely of children and b) bankrupted the kingdom, although the king is working hard to keep this fact a secret, as well as the fact of the gates’ existence – he knows that speed is his one asset now and is frantically trying to colonize the empty lands to the West before anyone else (or before they invade and wipe out the kingdom entirely). He has some risky political solutions to the threat of invasion but is trying to delay them as long as possible. In secret, to his trusted allies, the king is offering land grants.
One settlement has already been established not far from the gates – a walled fort known as Bridgeport. It contains about 20 young families and a garrison of 40 guards. The central feature is a walled fort (wood and rammed-earth), with a barracks and a keep. The families live in a small village outside the walls, but there is room in the keep for all to retreat, if necessary. There are some small businesses in the town as well, both inside the walls and out.
Westedge will be the players’ base – it is the furthest out settlement and contains a mix of old and new settlers.