So, at first there was this world. And it was just... well, full of roaming barbarians, and some crappy level 1's, and maybe the occasional capitol site, ruined or whole, who knows? There were probably a lot of cities that popped with rulers... I mean, someone has to have gotten this royalty idea from somewhere, right?
So, all these cities were sitting with all their royals and living happy, pretty lives, watching the shmuckers flow into their treasuries, and discovering with delight that they could happily disband those troublesome roaming Barbarians who wanted a city of their own and get paid for doing so! And lo, what rejoicing there was to be had throughout the land! They drove off the Barbarian hordes, were fat and happy in their rich cities, and all was well.
......until they realized one quiet night, cold and alone with that beast called the truth, that their cities could not keep popping troops like this forever! And while it had been quiet amusing to watch that silly prat King K. Rool scramble around for cities in a jungle of all places, when he was defeated by the Barbarian hordes it had quiet ruined the local parade. Why, the commoners were even starting to prattle on about the royal decrees! "Why do we have to keep trading these cities", they whine! As if there were a way to pay for the ungrateful lot's upkeep any other way!
Oh, there was talk in the history books of legendary men, such as The Emperor. He was supposedly famous for commanding small amounts of men to perform miraculous amounts of damage, and retreating them with the smallest number of hits possible so that they could survive another day. Even though his score among commanders was unmatched, and the loyalty of his troops high, has even his mighty kingdom bested the reign of time?
No, the men who survived these turns in this world were not unipegataur-riding warrior kings. A magnificent empire draws many a greedy eye, and so the men with small ambitions were the men who survived. Many would try.... raiding cities for casters, or trying to set up an ambush with veiled kidnappers laying in wait. It was through these events that news would spread, slowly, and as a side gathered more and more knowledge its libraries would expand.
The first tri-mancer link was a laugh. It was known that a Thinkamancer could assist another caster, if a function was of vital importance, like the construction of a city. But to link three? Why, you could barely even speak to your casters, ask them questions about just what it was they gained by such a dangerous action! And the first fool to try lost his predictamancer and luckamancer in the same go! Damn fool was lucky he didn't lose his Thinkamancer too! Not all royals talk to their casters, but he should have let her gain at least one single level before attempting such a thing!
But no one could have foreseen the battle of rolfstomp. Who would have guessed that a Shockamancer and Turnamancer working in tandem could turn such a large number of troops against their commanders in such a short time! Even several warlords were said to have turned, which of course led the Hippiemancers to rush to see who can pin an exact number on "what sort of loyalty penalty the linked casters applied to the troops", and the Mathamancers to ponder whether it would have "worked better" if there were fewer troops in the hex.
Of course, it was sweet justice when the casters broke their link and were promptly stabbed by the very Stabbers they had corrupted. The general of Lolwut could only watch hopelessly as his incapacitated shockamancer failed to defend his low-level army from some "allies" who had just come to save them... and then his deranged turnamancer made a bad day a great deal worse by turning his leadership corp over to the enemy.
So, some of these casters in the magic kingdom, they're thinking to themselves "Hmmmm.... maybe we should play around with these links some more.... if we have discussions about magic theory, and we have a relatively safe idea sometime, or one that could net us the money to pay for several turns worth of upkeep, it *might* be worth implementing".
On a turn that doesn't appear to be particularly important to anyone else, a predictamancer decides to ask herself "If we could make just the right spell, could it maybe stop all this fighting in the first place? Turn us all to the same side?" When she found out the answer, she just had to talk to a certain Hippiemancer, who knew a certain Dirtamancer who enjoyed having theoretical magic discussions.
And then, can you believe it, a piker of all things found and attuned to an Arkentool! Ridiculous, but his leader used him to good effect. Under the reign of a competent tactician Stanly the tool won battle after battle, which made Saline IV so proud of this lucky little Piker, why, a brainless guy who just leveled his way straight into a command by being in the right places at the right times and not dying through a lot of battle where other people probably died, a lot.
So, he tells his ruler he's just gonna go out and "tame some dwagons", but really, he's actually going out to bust up a few "secret" cities. And then his ruler like, mysteriously croaks on the same exact turn? Psh, yeah right, we believe that story bunches. So everyone gets together to kill this guy, because he is obviously an asshole (did you hear about what he did to the Milquetoast clan? He wiped 'em out, thats what he did. And he hit the elves! The elves!)
One perfect Warlord and one Zombcano later, here we are.
TL;DR version : I think you are on the right track about Erfworlders, but that it is a little more sinister than you make it out to be since overlords have to worry about upkeep, and casters/warlords/leaders have to worry about earning it (or being disbanded). Units without some sort of leadership special can't even see each other's points, too! So yeah, some people are literally born with the rulebook, but the view is still different. Also, casters get an expanded rulebook. And maybe some Warlords are born with natural luckamancy(Stanly), or mathamancy(Ansom), or thinkamancy(A scouting warlord). But yeah.
Overlord sees - the troops move into an enemy square and vanish.
Troops sees - Dwagony death.