I'm pretty sure that a lot of the speculation here is provoked by recognition that the story is devolving into David Eddings' Syndrome
. You know, where the protagonist's side is too powerful compared to the antagonist's, draining dramatic tension and causing the story to devolve into a glorified piece of fanfiction where all the favorite characters go on picnic together and hang out. With two attuned arkentools, a warlord capable of brilliant strategic maneuvers (and getting that extra "player character" bonus), and what is probably the strongest defensive position, Stanley and Parson appear to be better poised than any other faction or even combination of factions in the world. And now, not only are Parson and Stanley getting along but they are getting bonus dwagons! Oh golly gee, where will the drama come from now!
Well the most obvious and most discussed source for renewed dramatic tension would be Stanley's side falling apart, which could happen in a number of ways. Wanda could perhaps engineer a coup if her loyalty dropped sufficiently low -- after all she was the one that prompted Stanley to attack, and consequently to destroy, FAQ. Stanley could get croaked, after which Parson says "the whole side would go Barbarian, which was as good as being conquered." Parson might find a way around duty, either by denying the rules of Erfworld through the same unique abilities that allowed him to swear, abusing Thinkamancy, turning barbarian, or some other less apparent mechanic.
But another source of renewed dramatic tension would come from a more pronounced shift in perspective. Like in Iain M. Banks Culture novels, the conflict can remain interesting if perspective shifts away from the side with all the power and a new protagonist is found among one of the other factions -- even if that side ultimately loses. E.g., telling the story of war against a belligerent Stanley/GK faction from the point of view of Jillian and King Don as Wanda's army swells and they get increasingly desperate. Sure, we've seen Jillian and Don King in action, but the story has not yet been told through their eyes the way it has through Parson's. Here's a storytelling technique that I have never
seen in webcomics, and rarely in genre literature, and if this is what we will be getting in Book 2 then hats off in advance.
Ronfar wrote:Even if Wanda can't start her own side, not being a Royal, I imagine that she can still defect to another, already existing side if her Loyalty is low enough. And if Jillian should decide to become Queen of Faq, well...
Ansom may still count as a Royal despite being decrypted. What a twist!