"I’m sure this fancy windup chrono does indeed mean you’re wealthy -- somewhere else. On this world, you’ll be needing to use that pretty laspistol of yours instead if you’re wanting to impress anyone."
- —Tildi Galloph, trading post dealer
A Frontier World is a planet only recently discovered by the Imperium of Man through the explorations of Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator fleets or Rogue Traders and is home to a relatively small number of Imperial colonists.
The Administratum may not have even had sufficient time to fully explore the world and set up an Imperial planetary government. Frontier Worlds can serve as a refuge for those who want to escape from the repressive Imperial regime (for a time at least), though they can also be a destination for those who want to escape its justice, and have a reputation for lawlessness and crime as a result.
Frontier Worlds occupy the desperate, lawless fringes of the Imperium. Inhabitants quickly learn self-reliance by necessity, knowing that they cannot expect outside aid against marauding humans or ravenous aliens. As always, where there is little Imperial attention, heresy and mutation festers unchecked.
Frontier Worlds swarm with the violent dregs of humanity, with pirates, bandits, outlaws, and worse ruling many areas. These planets easily become breeding grounds for rogue psykers, misguided heresies, and vile cults, and can threaten Mankind across the wider Imperium should their contagion spread.
A Frontier World is more than simply a world or system that sits upon the edge of the map; it is far away from centres of Imperial power, the protection of the military, and the influence of the Ecclesiarchy. Many of these worlds consist of a small number of population centres, and often times their environment is every bit as deadly as any Death World.
Some planets are barely habitable; others are hardly explored. These are rough-and-tumble places with few luxuries and fewer defences. Because of this, many are left open to the predations of xenos invaders and pirates.
Frontier Worlds are also havens for those who are seeking to escape Imperial justice. Due to their unique position on the frontier, it is not unusual for the populace to have extensive dealings with xenos and Abhuman species. In fact, some settlements can only get by because of the trade they conduct with outsiders.
Life on a Frontier World
Whereas life on any Imperial world is harsh and unrelenting, except perhaps for those of high birth who endure more subtle or insidious burdens, frontier worlders often stand apart.
The populace is rough and determined in equal measure, and many settlements on these worlds are ramshackle, resembling primitive, run-down, dry, dusty spots where life is harsh and unforgiving and justice comes from the barrel of a gun (or at the end of a rope).
There are no Adeptus Arbites precinct-fortresses to maintain law, no PDF to protect the citizens from invasion, and no fleet waiting in orbit to take them to safety, and Planetary Governors might only rule from orbit or from another system altogether.
As such, frontier denizens must face many threats on their own, from xenos raiders to natural hazards to hostile native species or tectonic instability.
These worlds are often newly-discovered, distant from regular interstellar traffic or trade routes, and settled with incomplete or poor analysis of the planet's dangers. Many were found by accident, uncovered from ancient Warp charts, or mentioned in the margins of a Rogue Trader's logs.
Frontier worlds might instead be locations previously inhabited; many reveal signs of earlier civilisations, ranging from ancient human societies to long-dead alien empires. These remnants of the past might even be the reason for some settlements, or drive explorations to uncover relics from ancient times.
While other citizens of the Imperium might have domestic resources or imports to support themselves, frontier worlders are forced to scrape and scrounge for survival. Many are dependent on, or at least familiar with, Imperial technology, and thus their societies become a mix of refurbished devices and native constructions.
This can lead to near-barbaric existences, with tribes of Chainaxe-wielding Renegades attacking settlements for precious promethium or Lasgun sentry arrays guarding isolated homesteads from predatory creatures. Still, Frontier Worlds always seem to attract new settlers.
Many come to the borders of the Imperium seeking escape from local religious authorities. Some might wish to worship the Emperor through means thought heretical or deviant on their original homeworld; on a Frontier World, they might be able to establish their own sect, and in time perhaps make it the world's version of the Imperial Creed. Those whose worship of dark entities would rightfully earn them burning pyres and tortuous deaths also seek their version of religious freedom.
Escaping to a world where there are fewer prying eyes or torch-wielding mobs, these cults might conduct their foul rites openly or even establish control over a settlement. Many also might seek out Frontier Worlds for the lucrative possibilities they offer. There might not be any signs of obvious riches, but there could be xenos relics, useful native species, or even wonders from the Dark Age of Technology all waiting to be uncovered.
Not all frontier worlders chose their homes willingly, in search of a better life. Hive populations can be tithed to populate a newly-established world, and entire hab blocks might be stripped bare to begin new lives away from comforting crowds and metal cities.
Penal Legions could also be used to establish footholds on empty planets, all understanding that their new lives might be grim but still better than certain death on the battlefield. Existing on the far edges of Imperial Law and often outside the commandments of the Imperial Creed, frontier worlders can develop a heretically relaxed attitude towards aliens.
Locals wielding xenos weaponry, living in habitats crafted for non-human entities, are common. Some frontier outposts even openly trade with travelling xenos, thus spreading the taint of the alien. This acceptance of the impure can also extend to mutated humans or unholy witches. For frontier worlders, survival requires terrible alliances, with lives saved at the cost of souls. To live on the fringes is to exist in shadows, and in these shadows heresy breeds.
Living on a Frontier World is often an exercise in daily survival: an existence not as extreme as that on a Death World, but still fraught with peril. Those who do survive learn to rely on themselves, but can still go on to act as part of a wider society in the Imperium. Given the scarcity of any clearly worthwhile resources, even raw manpower, most of these planets are tithed at a relatively low grade.
Raising new Astra Militarum regiments might only happen once a generation. For many, the only regular contact with the Imperium might be visitations from the Adeptus Astra Telepathica and its League of Blackships.
Where proper Imperial oversight or societal watchfulness is lax, unculled psykers can exist or breed with impunity for Terran years before discovery, giving them time to increase in power and danger. This also is true for those twisted in body as well as mind, with physical mutants both subtle and gross untamed, especially in wilderness areas.
Combatting these deviations, missionaries of the Ecclesiarchy often look to these worlds to bring the faith and ire of the Emperor to those who have strayed. Many become martyrs to their holy causes, and their offspring may perhaps be called to the Schola Progenium and become excellent Arbitrators on other worlds across the Imperium.
Others natives, though, retain their sense of self-reliance and refrain from becoming part of any organisation, living for themselves according to their own code as countless other frontier worlders do each day.
Notable Frontier Worlds
|88 Transfer||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Drusus Marches||Unknown||Unknown|
|Atonement||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Falon's Lament||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Herisor||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Kaggeran||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Marnine||Segmentum Obscurus||Askellon Sector||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Orask||Segmentum Ultima||Inquathan Deeps||Unknown||Orask System||117,000,000|
|Sedu||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Vanitor||Segmentum Ultima||Unknown||Ultramar||Konor System||Unknown|
|Vaxanide||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Periphery||Unknown||3,000,000,000|
|Zanatov's Harbour||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Zanatov System||0|
|General||Dead World • Death World • Desert World • Ice World • Jungle World • Ocean World|
|Imperium||Adeptus Astartes Homeworld • Agri-World • Armoury World • Cardinal World • Cemetery World • Civilised World • Feral World • Feudal World • Forbidden World • Forge World • Fortress World • Frontier World • Hive World • Industrial World • Knight World • Mining World • Pleasure World • Penal World • Quarry World • Research Station • Sentinel World • Shrine World|
|Xenos||Craftworld • Crone World • Exodite World • Maiden World • Ork World • Tau Sept • Sept World • Tomb World • Xenos World|
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 326
- Dark Heresy: Enemies Within (2nd Edition) (RPG), pp. 28-29
- Dark Heresy: Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 150
- Dark Heresy, "Worlds of the Calixis Sector," (accessed at http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/)
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (RPG), pg. 9
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse II, pg. 79
- Galaxy in Flames: Fate of Konor Website
- Week Four: Vanitor