Part 1: IntroductionThe History of Fronela begins with the Dawn of Time, the land a mostly empty wilderness, populated by a few primitive beast peoples. Only on the coast is there any human civilisation – the descendants of Brithini colonists and the Brithini themselves in Sog City.
This is a “Flow of History” game where the 4 players take on the role of Nations struggling for survival and power in the cold lands of Fronela. Events unfold and new peoples arrive to conquer, settle, or disappear from history in the lands on either side of the Janube River.
This game requires that you know or have access the rules for Britannia.
Design notes for History of Fronela
This game follows on from my attempts to make games about Gloranthan history ; the History of Peloria and the History of Kralorela. I’m still working on the Composite History of Dragon Pass, and the History of Jrustela.
I’d like to thank Jamie Revell , Laurence Whittaker, Greg Stafford, Peter Metcalfe, Jeff Richard and others for their works and ideas on Fronela that I have used as I saw fit as source material. Any inaccuracies or errors are my own. I used Genertela, Crucible to the Hero Wars (RQ3 boxed set); Glorantha; Introduction to the Hero Wars (Hero Wars) , The Middle Sea Empire (Stafford Library), Guide to Fronela (Mongoose 2nd Age) as primary sources, with references from Anaxial’s Roster (Gonn Orta, Grotarons), and Trollpack (the troll history).
The format needs you to get the 4 Wiggles together to play boardgames – each with a colour; one can bring Fruit Salad, another can do Magic Tricks and you may need to wake up Jeff occasionally. I did consider splitting the nations differently - for example I considered a Malkioni, Barbarian, Beastman, Elder Races split, but decided that this was unbalanced and missed the factional fighting between Malkioni which is an essential part of Fronelan history. The 4 way split was simply based on previous games – it could have been 3 or 5, but a 4 player game allows for more player interaction without too much player down time. Plus, there are only 4 wiggles. I am sure the game could be split differently if Captain Feathersword turned up but I have not included any interactions with Waertagi or any mer-people so this may not be the game for him.
I wanted to make kingdoms one of the central themes of the game, but failed in making it as central as I’d have liked despite several attempts at getting something balanced that did not favour the early Kingdom creators too much. I also wanted to include some of the “names” from Fronelan history. Unlike Peloria, where there are too many named Kings, Heroes and Princes to include, Fronela has far fewer personalities which makes it far more workable to include them.
I wanted to differentiate the way the Malkioni worked from the Beast People and Barbarians, and the castes seemed a good way to do this. Later on I used this feature to highlight the priorities of certain Kingdoms. Getting the balance right between Soldier, Wizard, Farmer and Lord is an important part of Malkioni tactics. Initially, I had the Godlearners, Carmanians and Kingdom of War as separate factions, but felt I could remove these later and make the losing Malkioni factions come back as these new groups.
There may be a lot of dice rolling in the game – especially population increase and combat. I prefer dice rolling to record keeping, so this is my solution to hassle of keeping track of population points in Britannia – replace it with a dice roll.
The Elder Races moving along the edges of the areas fit nicely with my view of the Elder Races in Fronela mostly working at the borders of human lands. The trolls sneak around popping up in unexpected places, the Battle of Nebuchaxa occurs fare from human eyes, no one really sees Grotarons, except for occasional appearances as mercenaries. I decided to leave out the Aldryami altogether treating them as more of a terrain feature than an active presence. I could have left out the Grotarons too, but they’re my favourite Gloranthan Elder race and I’m pleased to have included them, although my bias did not go as far as making the Glorious Grotaron Empire an in game reality. I missed out Chaos monsters and Waertagi, even though I think they could have been represented for similar reasons to the Aldryami.
I did try to get an element of theme into the 4 player split; Black is “River deep, mountain high” featuring two mountainous giant races, and the river pasture-favouring Bull People. Grey is “Cold Hearts, Grey North” with the Grey Malkioni most likely to embrace the cold logic of the Godlearners, the Trolls living on the Glacial remnants of Borklak’s Kingdom, and the grey reindeer and Wolverine People both from the northern side of Fronela. I chose Azure as a colour because it comes from the favoured colour of the Knights of modern Loskalm, the theme of Azure being “Stasis and Change”. The Mostali represent Stasis, while the Beast People are either the unchangingly-violent Woolly Rhino people or migratory Porcupine People. The modern Kingdom of Loskalm itself is a result of efforts to create an idealised Kingdom by avoiding change. The Brown player “Tooth and Tusk, Hoof and Horn” is the player with the most powerful beast people – the Bear and Wolf People. They come last among the Malkioni and Barbarians so those groups would often have to fight to make room for themselves. This was the colour that was going to control the Kingdom of War before I made that faction as result of the gameplay rather than a nation.
Each round represents roughly 100 years, although the first round ends in 75 S.T, so started before Time and is of indeterminate length. I am still unhappy that I didn’t come up with a name for round 12, despite some suggestions. I did consider “Xemstown” but that seemed to put too much emphasis on the troll kingdom. “Peaceful Interlude” might have worked if I thought that this remotely described the situation in Fronela during this period. The last round ends in 1675, well into the Hero Wars, and in theory including such events as the Elven Reforestation, the trolls chewing the Glacier off and setting it afloat on the Neliomi Sea to plug Magasta’s Pool and flood the world, and the return of the Waertagi dragonships to Sog. I did not include these events in the game but they can be simulated - from the human civilisation point of view - by the players tipping all the counters off the board, folding the board up and putting the whole game away.
The 100 year split just came about because I wanted roughly 16 Rounds, and saw no reason to start later or finish earlier. I didn’t start at zero as I wanted to have the Sunstop as a break between Rounds, and it seems to fit later events too. The Dawn, with Hrestol wandering around, also needed to finish closer to Hrestol’s martyrdom than 100 S.T.
Naming of regions offered a few challenges; often I could only find a modern name for an area, or couldn’t link a described area to a specific area on the map (mostly from the Mongoose 2nd Age Fronela book) As such, we have a few anachronous names - Galastar, for example - or names that were for a whole region only applied to a single area: Syanor, Oranor and Jonatela, for example are all names for regions that overlapping or are the same area , but I’ve used them for separate areas. I’ve taken some liberties with Mountains, with regions in Junora and parts of Rathorela.
I wondered whether to name the Beast People with their “proper” name: Telmori, Rathori, Zonati etc., but felt that this just made things more obscure.
Going through the game round by round, we start off with a few units on the board, and the imminent arrival of Malkioni factions from the Neliomi Sea. This can be seen as new ideas as well as just new people, spreading among those Malkioni already. The two special units this round, Hrestol and The Blinding Eye, represent the good and bad things happening in the Dawn. I was pleased to be able to have Hrestol’s caste breaking reflected in game terms. Tactically, players need to be aware of what is going to happen in the next round to ensure they have their units in the best areas.
Round 2, Colonies in a Cold Land, sees the rest of the Ancient Horrors appear. I am not sure if I think they are too powerful, or cost too little, but I wanted to add in a few elements that were Fronelan. The Prince of the Malkioni rewards the leading player so is a bit at odds with the idea I’ve adopted in later Rounds which is to give additional help to the player with the least resources to stop a victory spiral. I was going to call this round Colonies of the Silver Empire, as a link to the history of Seshnela, but was persuaded that this wasn’t accurate. The Barbarians arriving in Charg are Orlanthi awakened by Lightbringers and successfully moving to the empty hills from Fronela from Brolia, Talastar and possibly Ralios.
Round 3, Barbarians and Beastmen could also be called the Battle of Twelve Beasts, and is supposed to be a big battle between the Beast People and the incoming Barbarians. Population pressure from the Barbarians should be making them expand in any case. The arrival of Telmori should keep combat on the agenda.
Round 4, the Kingdom of Talsard reflects the growing unity of the Barbarians. I did try to have a complicated voting system to reflect barbarian Orlanthi politics but simplified it into the person of the King of Talsard. I did not include the momentous events of the Sunstop; neither Coteries of Wizards killing pagan gods, or any other of the mysterious events around that period of no-Time, but it can be assumed to have happened.
Round 5 introduces 4 characters from Fronelan history that help define the 4 Malkioni factions – the King of Akem represents the rulers of that Kingdom, Arinsor the Chaos Wizard represents the Gbajists who came to corrupt that Kingdom, while Talor the Laughing Warrior and Varganthar the Unconquerable Knight start by fighting each other but end up allied against their common foe. I Would have liked to include the Gate of Banir as some sort of unit, which needed one or more of the Five Ancient Horrors to get rid of, but I could not find a way to do that. The Battle of Nebuchaxa, far from human eyes, is also expected to also happen in this round, a battle between Mostali and Trolls that drives the Trolls from Oral Ta. If the players are human they should try not to look or remember what happens in this phase. Round 5 is the first instance of a Malkioni faction doing a switcheroo on its counters, in this case the Kingdom of Akem faction losing all its farmers and gaining Soldiers. This is a mechanism that reflects people changing allegiance, with Malkioni Factions representing ideas and religious beliefs rather than some ethnic group, rather than simulating Farmers becoming Soldiers. The Kingdom of Akem had Orders of Chivalry and appears to have been a cruel oppressor, so the Faction that rules that Kingdom becomes militaristic. It may not be clear from the rules but the number of counters is limited and part of the game. Each Malkioni faction has a 10 Soldier counters, for example, and these can be either on the board or off it but there cannot be 11 Soldiers counters.
Round 6 has the first appearance of the Kingdom of Loskalm, which I interpreted as a political solution to the problem of the cruelty of the Kingdom of Akem and a move away from strict religious rules and more pragmatic leadership. This is where the switch from Wizards to Lords come from. Lords value land, and coordinate the other Malkioni units.
Round 8 introduces the Godlearners. Again I wanted the give some choice to the factions. The Syranthir unit is supposed to be a good option for the faction with the least to lose, while the Godlearner ally is supposed to be a good option if you already have a strong base.
Round 9 is expected to be dominated by whoever gained Arim Adalla. At the end of the round the extra Soldiers and Lord represent the rabble army of coastal people displaced by the Closing of the Oceans and sent north by the Emperor through the Aldryami forest of Erontree. They are a bit out of sequence since the Closing has not appeared on the board yet.
Round 10 sees the return of the Malkioni faction that disappeared with Syranthir. They are now Carmanians led by Shah Nadar, who has come to Fronela to chew gum and kick ass, and he’s all out of gum. King Gwainric is designed to bring back into play a Malkioni faction that might have lost all of its units, and is neither a Godlearner nor a Carmanian.
Round 11 just sees Jonat and his companion Xem appearing from the South and creating their Kingdoms.
Round 12 is Nameless. Perhaps it should have been named the Nameless round out of respect for the Nameless Man who is blamed for a lot in Glorantha, Crucible of the Hero Wars. Another alternative “Xemtown!” sounded too much like some sort of Musical, and I didn’t have any more inspiration.
Round 13 features the Kingdom of Valmark, a Kingdom based on trade along the river, and influenced by all the people along the shores. I did consider making the Janube an “area” similar to a sea, that can be moved on but not stopped in, which would make all areas adjacent to the river close to each other, but decided against that option.
Round 14 was originally going to introduce a new nation tribe called the Red Moon Refugees, but I decided to use an approach similar to the Malkioni Factions with Tribes given the option of removing some units. The Zoria unit is the reward, who takes over the Zoria area. It may not be clear from the rules but the Barbarian Tribe that gains Zoria can enter the Zoria area.
Round 15 sees Black Hralf appearing to helping and encourage Beast Peoples and Barbarians to slaughter anyone they can. Malkioni fleeing to the Glacier represent Prince Snodal and gain the advantage of the King Siglat counter in the following round.
Round 16 is the Syndics Ban so the turn order is not the same as previous rounds. It reflects what happened to people locked in their small areas within the Syndics ban. King Siglat, the son of Prince Snodal, the architect of the Ban, helps his Kingdom become an ideal state.
Round 17 is really the Thaw, but I’ve called it the Kingdom of War in line with the Kingdom theme. It sees the appearance of Harrek the Berserk, Lord Death on a Horse, Lunar Moon Boats, Harrek the Berserk again (and again, and again, until he sacks Sog City and disappears). Lord Death on a Horse brings back the Malkioni Faction was doing the least well, and helps them get revenge, and a chance of victory.
I am disappointed that I was unable to include or explain the lush and luxurious hair enjoyed by Fronelans, something which alienates me from the region, nor more have any of my pet theories about Grotarons included (that they’re Vadrudi butlers, servants from of the Castle of Wild Storms now a ruined pile of boulders called the Maidstone Mountains).