Empathic Frontier, The

The outermost Communion of Worlds Volumes, to rimward and Galactic South of the Terragen Sphere

The Empathic Frontier
Image from Steve Bowers
The Communion of Worlds territory looking to rimward;
the stars grow thinner and further apart as the Frontier moves away from the galactic plane and centre. By convention the top of this image is oriented towards Galactic South (known as 'up' in this region)

This frontier is expanding 'up' through the disk, stretching across the rimward facing border of the Communion of Worlds. Note: 'up' in this context means towards Galactic South; in the Communion of Worlds, south is regarded as 'up', perhaps reflecting the fact that a high proportion of the population originated in the Southern Hemisphere of Old Earth.

While an investigation of single frontier worlds or areas may seem to indicate that the expansion is happening at a furious pace, this is actually a symptom of the influence of the Communion of Worlds into the newly settled systems. In actuality, the Empathic Frontier as a whole expands more slowly than most other frontiers of the same scale. This Frontier holds a smaller number of pioneers than other frontiers of similar size, which means that though the pioneers jump from system to system at a quick pace, they can often jump sideways, rather than outwards. The reason for the pioneers' rapid relocation is a result of the conflict between the philosophies of the Communion and the pioneers. The pioneers settle new worlds seeking independence, self-sufficiency and self-governance. However, as normal settlers follow from Communion space, they are followed by the official instruments of government relatively quickly. And before long a proper body of governance stretches into the areas that the pioneers had previously called their own. Soon many pioneers become restless and dissatisfied and move on.

The time between arrival and departure for the pioneers lies somewhere between 25 and 200 years, depending on the distance to the nearest settled star. Consequently, empathic pioneers tend to seek out resource-poor systems, as these systems tend to remain untouched the longest. This, along with a high demographic concentration of empaths, contributes to the development of more unified cultures among empathic pioneers than among pioneers of other frontiers. As many as 80% of these pioneers live together in crews, or wings, rather than working solo. Clustering in resource-poor systems leads to a higher overall rate of interpersonal communication, leading to a strong common value-set and a broad sense of comradeship.

A high percentage of the independent systems lying behind the Communion's border are inhabited by old pioneers that never moved on but rather claimed the system for their own, resisting efforts by the Communion transapients to bring them into the main empire. The Communion transapient empaths are sympathetic to most needs and desires, and understand many different points of view, even of those who disagree with them. In many cases, the self-reliant and independent pioneers are unhappy about being subsumed by the mainstream Commonwealth culture. The Commonwealth understands their point of view, so allow a certain number of pioneer societies to continue to develop independently. These independent systems are comparatively lawless, with few of the empathic attributes of mainstream Communion society; tourists are warned that the locals often don't appreciate outsiders. As the star density thins towards the 'top' of the spiral arm, travel time between the stars becomes longer and longer. While some experts predict that this will in the end cause this mobile frontier to fizzle out. Others point out that the distance might also delay the arrival of the Communion to the new worlds, and thus give the pioneers a breathing room that will reinvigorate this slowly homogenizing frontier.

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Development Notes
Text by Thorbørn Steen with additions by Steve Bowers and David Jackson
Initially published on 26 April 2007.