- "It was perhaps typical of my companion that no more than this slim provocation, he was willing to risk life and limb in the wildest and most barren places imaginable. Or perhaps it was typical of the effect of "gold fever" on all his people. As I was later to see, the lure of that glittering metal had a terrifying and potent power over the minds of all of that ancient race. In any event, the decision to travel beyond the Empire's most southernmost borders was a fateful one, and it led to meetings with adventures the dreadful consequences of which haunt me still...."
- —"My Travels with Gotrek", Vol.II, by Herr Felix Jaeger (Altdorf Press, 2505)[2a]
The Border Prince Confederacy, known also as the Borderlands,[1c] The Frontiers or simply as the Border Princes is a vast region within the Old World located between the Black Mountains and Black Fire Pass to the north and the shores of the Black Gulf to the south. This region of vast wilderness is home to a multitude of petty Human kingdoms that were established by highly ambitious adventurers who sought to create a realm of their own. Many times, however, these adventurers usually consist of political or religious refugees from lands such as the Empire, Bretonnia and Kislev.[1d]
As such, these lands are infamous as the homes of a wide variety of bandits, mercenaries, cut-throats, pirates and other lawless fugitives.[1d] Following the Battle of Black Fire Pass, human colonist and adventurers during the time of Sigismund the Conqueror led a campaign of conquest towards the Empire's southern borders and fought off the Greenskin tribes that used to inhabit the lands, clearing the way for many nobles and colonists from all across the lands of the Old World to colonise and claim patches of this territory as their own.[1b]
The lands of the Border Princes had always been a rugged and uncivilised wilderness since ages past. It is said that Nehekharans built settlements within these frontiers during the time of Settra the Great, when he went into an all-conquering quest to take the Old World as his new domain.[1c] After the fall of Nehekhara, the Border Princes now served as the location from which multiple Human tribes have migrated in order to escape the turmoil from the East, some settling within the lands itself while most ventured through Black Fire Pass.[1a]
In former times the Border Princes were largely inhabited by savage tribes of Greenskins, but now the land is fiercely disputed by the hardy human colonists and many Orc and Goblin tribes. Following the Battle of Black Fire Pass, Emperor Sigismund the Conqueror promptly invaded the lands and eradicated what remained of the Greenskin threat, eventually forming the Province of Lichtenberg in the process.[1b] Yet, following the fall of Lichtenburg sometime later in the centuries, the lands would eventually become the frontiers from which new lands and new kingdoms shall form from the desperate, the corrupt, or just the plain adventurous.
Centuries after Lichtenburg's destruction, Bretonnia would send a massive army of Knights Errant to assist King Louis' forces during the Arabyan Crusades, led by Baron Tybalt du Bois de Balzac. The army had to stop to fight countless enemies over their journey, becoming slow in the face of this heavy opposition. It took the army almost a year to reach the vicinity of the Dwarf Stronghold of Barak Varr. Here the Bretonnians received word that Louis had defeated the forces of Sultan Jaffar in a decisive victory at Al Haikk, the war was over. Deeply saddened that they could not experience the riches and honour of the Crusades, the army of young knights prepared for a long trek home.
Never to be put off by minor setbacks, the ingenious Baron Tybalt pointed out to his army that they were already upon the threshold of a new land to be conquered. There was honour and riches to be had by carving out domains for themselves within this new land. All that needed to be done was to vanquish the Orcs and Goblins. After such long hardships this was exactly what the knights wanted to hear, and they set about the task with impetuous enthusiasm. They drove the greenskins into the Blood River and butchered them, and set about building great castles to hold back any future attacks. Thus the region that has become known as the domains of the Border Princes came into existence, and the ancestors of many of the Border Princes who rule there to this day were among those knights who followed Tybalt.
- "Aye, we’ve a prince. Why, we’ve had a dozen in just the last year! They’re pop’lar in these here lands."
- —Sap Reinhorf, Dirt Farmer[1d]
The regional rulers which have staked a claim within these lands are known collectively as Border Princes, hence where the land gets it name. Each prince would rule a small realm, which have the prestigious and over exaggerated title of Principality, yet it is usually a realm that would barely qualify as a Knight's fief in more civilised lands.[1f]
Most princes have a court, a group of hangers-on who help the prince to run his principality in return for rewards or until they have enough clout to murder him and take over. The size of the court does increase with the size of the principality, but the relationship is quite weak; it is much more dependent on the personality of the prince. A large court tends to indicate a weak prince who feels the need for support. A very small or non-existent court also tends to indicate weakness in that the prince feels he cannot allow anyone else to have real power. Large and small courts are very common in the Border Princes.[1e]
Some princes insist on referring to their dealings with other princes as “international diplomacy,” but some princes have an inflated view of their own importance. The more realistic ones talk about local relations when dealing with other princes and reserve “international” for dealings with real nations, such as Bretonnia or the Empire. Everyone recognises the most significant relations are those with other princes, as the major nations of the Old World do not regard these petty states as important. Since a mayor in the Empire might have power over more people than most princes, you can see their point.[1f]
Still, politics in the Border Princes are vicious because the stakes are so small. A prince who loses his principality might be able to get a new one, just as good, after a couple of lucky battles or one lucky assassination. Thus, there are a lot of princes who think that it is worth risking everything to grab a bit more power or a bit more security. Cautious stalemates and watchful peaces are very rare in this area. This makes life exciting but deeply unstable.[1f]
- "Ha! You call this starving lot of dogs peasants? Why the wretches in Couronne were better fed than this lot. Useless, every last one of them."
- —The Last Words of Sir Jacques Duflot[1g]
The overwhelming majority of communities in the Border Princes are small. Outside the principalities, there are no communities larger than a hamlet, and the largest settlements of the region would only count as small towns in the more civilised parts of the Old World. While the Border Princes are rarely models of good government, they do, on the whole, provide some security to their subjects. They are, in short, better than nothing, and in the Borderlands, “nothing” is clearly visible a few miles away. Hence, most people living in the region live in one or another of the principalities, and all the larger settlements are found there.[1g]
Most principalities contain a large number of villages.[1h] Outside the boundaries of these petty fiefdoms, there are no towns between each individual principalities. There are not many villages, either, but there are quite a lot of homesteads. Homesteads often dot many regions within the Border Princes and are usually home to but a single family of farmers.[1i] Communities in the Border Princes have many features in common with communities elsewhere; homes of varying quality, a Temple or Shrine to the locally favoured God, a marketplace, probably a mill, and so on. One feature that sets communities in this region apart is the level of fortification. There are no undefended communities, and all villages have at least an earth and wood rampart with a gate that is guarded at all times. Within these fortifications, homes are generally built to be defensible. It is common for the entrance to be on the first floor, for example, and for the ground floor to have solid stone walls or thick earth ramparts with no openings. There are, of course, other equally dangerous regions of the Old World, but the Borderlands is more extensive than most of them.[1i]
Communities also have distinguishing features. Some of these are pure colour, as far as adventurers are concerned. Perhaps the blacksmith is very fat, or the villagers are particularly devout worshippers of Sigmar.[1i] The Borderlands are full of perils. War, plague, famine — these kill many of the inhabitants long before their time. The inhabitants of the region rarely worry about these threats, however. They are far too busy worrying about the monsters. Some scholars have speculated that the Borderlands have no more monsters than any other region of the Old World but that the absence of government makes them bolder, making the monsters seem more numerous. Scholars who have actually been to the Border Princes know that this is ridiculous; the inhabitants of more civilised areas might think that their actions have no effect on the number of foul creatures plaguing them, but these scholars know better. Without organised hunts, monsters in the Borderlands are far more numerous, and bolder, than elsewhere.[1j]
- 1: Renegade Crowns (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 2: Gotrek and Felix: Trollslayer (Novel) by William King
- 2a: Chapter 2: "Wolf Riders"
- 1: Sigmar's Heir (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (5th Edition), pg. 13-14