There is a big elephant in the room of Erfworld -- one big huge question that Parson recognizes at the end of Book 1, but does not state -- that many readers trivialize. The question is fundamental, but suspension of belief causes us to ignore it. Quite simply:
"Why is Parson in Erfworld?"
Oh, there's a simple, superficial answer to that question. A conspiracy of casters created a special spell which summoned him to fulfill their purpose. Fine. That's an answer, and if that's as deep as you want to go, it works.
But it's not enough for me. Parson doesn't talk to the casters taht summoned him, but to Erfworld itself when he declares he is not bound by the system. Parson sees the deeper truth that some force wanted him in Erfworld, not just a bunch of pacifists. There's a missing piece to the puzzle.
"Why was Erfworld built such that the barrier between it and another universe could be ripped wide open?"
And that also leads to:
"How could the Casters find out that the universe had such a flaw?"
Me? I don't think Erfworld was created such that simple magic like Predictamancy would tell its inhabitants, "You can rip the barrier to other universes." Even with a Link-up. At least, not without something influencing the spell to provide that answer. Someone may try to break the barrier to escape!
I've seen people here mock the existence of Titans. Sorry, guys, but this is a novel, and your personal views of a deity in our world doesn't hold in Rob's Erfworld. Page 1 Book 1 tells us that the Titans existed, they created the world with purpose, and some randomness was included. As another reader pointed out, it is neutral narration, uninfluenced by the inhabitants' views. It contains accurate information they did not have, and is not presented as a belief system, but as fact for us, the reader, not for the inhabitants.
If you don't think they exist because my explanation is inadequate for you, or if you think they abandoned Erfworld long ago for whatever reason, then "Buh-bye, have a nice day, don't bother replying," because it is not up for debate. I think it's adequately proven, but anyone that doesn't should treat it as an assumption. If you can't, just accept that we believe differently, and go on your way now.
So, if the Titans wanted Parson in Erfworld, the question is still "Why?" But now that we have a suspect, we can analyze the world for motivation.
What is the fundamental function of Erfworld? Obviously, War. Constant, neverending warfare. Sides rise and fall. Alliances form and dissolve. Barbarians become Overlords, just to get wiped off the face of the world. We're talking about a world where if a particular Ruler doesn't want you, you disappear. You are a slave to the orders of your Ruler. Death is capricious, merciless, instantaneous, unavoidable. The concept of "old age" doesn't exist. To us, we see a world of game rules. People aren't born, they are created, fully trained to function with none of the nasty childhood problems that might prevent the viciousness of combat, like empathy and sympathy. Only one small element of the world, the discipline called Flower Power, seems to have Peace as a goal, but they rail against a system in which they are unavoidably enslaved.
Why create a world that resembles Civilization and Axis and Allies?
Why else? To play a game. It looks like a game world because the Titans wanted to play a game.
The Judeo-Christian-Islamic paradigm promotes a one-god concept. It promotes the idea of an enemy that fights to corrupt our souls. From one (extremely callous) perspective, our world is a game where souls are the point score. Ultimately, as a creation of the Good power, the Evil power is weaker and will fail. The game is rigged in one side's favour, or so they would have us believe. The point is that the game motif can be applied to our world, too.
How many Titans are there? At least 3. Perhaps as many as 12. But there is one really big difference... they appear to be equally powerful. Adn that would make them equally intelligent. How intelligent is anyone's guess, but smart enough to create the physics of an entire world. Butthey aren't omniscient, since that would prevent any game playing: they would knwo the outcome before the table was set.
So, at what level do they play the game? When we play Civilization, we make all the decisions for all the people. Erfworld appears to be running on its own, so the intervention must be inherently subtle. For minds of demigod status, simply forcing people to your will is dissatisfactory. You want more complex, more difficult decisions to make -- a hint of insight here, a detail fo a spell's effect there. But fundamentally, even in a game where everyone is equal, where there is luck, there should be a winner.
And that is what Erfworld is missing. No one has won. No one was even coming close. Isn't the point of a game to find a winner, and then play again? This game goes on and on. Why? Because the Titans team up against each other as one gets near winning? No, I don't think so. The Titans themselves can determine the Rules by which they deal wiht each other since that isn't ingrained in the world, and so could choose to agree not to team up and let someone win if they wanted it to end. No, the problem is somewhere in the game itself. It doesn't let anyone win.
People don't see games in Beta development. When you play a game, you see it after it has been tested beyond belief. Games go through many iterations before release, and some of those are entirely unwinnable, due to an oversight in the mathematics.
In this case, we have several issues that may be wrecking the possiblity of creating a winner.
1) Royal Sides split
First and foremost, the simple fact is that Royal Sides split. This rule ensures that no Royal Side can ever win the game, because when it grows large enough to threaten a victory, it creates its own competition by dividing into two Sides.
2) Royal Sides gang up on Non-Royal Sides
A non-Royal Side could win the game, because it will not create its own competition, but the Royal Sides ensure none becomes large nough to threaten victory. Sides that can't win ensure Sides that could win will not win.
3) Revenue vs. Expenditures
The Law of Diminishing Returns dominates our Earthly economies. Adding one more worker increases company productivity by less than the percentage of the work he represents. Some games include this function, but Erfworld doesn't seem to. At least, there's no mention of it. The only place I can detect that it would be present is in the upgrading of a City. If a Level 3 City costs 2x as much as a L2 City, does it generate 2x as much revenue? The Law would say no, it would generate less than 2x. This is a game world where people can simply blink out of existence: these things don't have to make a lot of sense, so we can't know for certain until someone tells us.
The issue of expenditure is more complex than that. We know that as a unit increases in power (ie. gains levels) it costs more upkeep. This means that a Unit costs more from the treasury as it levels up. This can explain some things like why Don King is considering getting rid of Caesar, who may be extremely expensive. But what it really means is that through levelling, Units can cause their Sides' treasury to drain. Higher level units drain more revenue until their Sides' revenue turns negative. Money must be made to ensure Units don't have to be disbanded (read "murdered"), so the Side must go to War to pay its bills. Peace is not permitted on Erfworld. Even peaceful FAQ funded its population via mercenary work.
We can see Transylvito solve this problem by plundering Carpool. That's not inconsistent with Earth, if you're wondering. Julius Caesar didn't invade Gaul to conquer it, but to turn a profit he could use to gain power in Rome. The cost of raising an army was more than offset by looting for much of our history. And how does this turn out for Transylvito in the long run? All attacking units wiped out. The profit from plundering that small city would replace all of that firepower? If it didn't, they would stop risking their forces.
4) The Ineffectiveness of Fixed Defenses
Erfworld is a game where controlling Cities is important, but land is irrelevant. On Earth, the more land feeding your City, the more poeple you could feed and the larger your City would be. This would allow larger armies. To control more land, you build Forts that housed troops that protected more land that could be safely farmed.
Forts also defended against invasion. The soldiers they housed, if bypassed, could attack supply trains or hary the enemy's rear. Rations from upkeep, however, prevent the need for supply, making this function nonexistent.
In Erfworld, Farms are inside Cities. (Note that Natural Allies can survive by farming and mining, so farming outside Cities is permitted by the Rules.) Controlling terrain to farm provides no economic advantage (At best, it provides provisions that reduce upkeep.) It splits your forces, making them easier prey for Barbarians or long range enemies.
So Forts provide no military advantage, and are not built. They might be useful in restricted terrain, like the road into Gobwin Knob, but on open terrain the occupants can't interdict enemies, since they can't cross hex boundaries anytime an enemy is in their region of influence when on-Turn.
By taking defensive works out of the picture, the fights stop being anywhere, and the concentrate on fixed points. Predictable battles are cause crushingly large losses. It's called a Pyrrhic Victory... a battle win that costs you so much you lose the War. I suspect there are a lot of Pyrrhic Victories in Erfworld. To win, you need to keep your troops alive longer on average than your enemies.
5) There is Nothing to Control
The concept of power projection is fairly simple. Navies are the best example of power projection. It is the capacity to use your military power at range. Navies do this best because movement through oceans is unrestricted by terrain features, like rivers and mountains. All you need is fuel and food, and your power can threaten people across the world.
Power projection for infantry is much shorter range. Movement is slower. You aren't taking your home with you, like a sailor. The infantry walks, and then must build a home and defences every night, which reduces the amount of time you can march. But it is also more complex. The ability to interdict (intercept) the enemy as it moves through the region you can move into ensures that enemies cannot pillage the villages.that feed your Cities. Obiously, this cannot be done in Erfworld. An enemy can move in, attack, and then retreat on its own Turn when you can't move out of your Hex to get in its way. That means you have no capacity to project power, even in your own self defense. (In many games, to prevent this, you can move then attack, but afterwards, you can't move away, ensuring the local defenses can respond to your intrusion.).
With no ability to project power, controlling terrain is a meaningless concept. I know this doesn't superficially seem to prevent victory. What this does is limit the entire world to a number of fixed points where cities can exist, making the world itself illusory. Controlling points, instead of area, linearizes the system and strangles growth. On Earth, if you could double the range of your men (by mounting your troops on horses, for instance), you controlled 4x as much territory. This raises income by 300% since doubling radius quadruples area, allowing you to increase your troop capacity to 4x original, simply by being able to feed 4x as many troops. On Erfworld, mounting your troops confers no extra power. You can attack more Cities with more strength, but you control nothing more (because there is nothing to control) and your revenue does not rise by increasing the area you can control.
6) .No Technology Tree or Control over Production
This game is truly restricted to military conflicts. Other games of this nature will include Technology developments, allowing victory through creating more efficient units, or units for which the enemy has no defense. And by focusing on developing production, a Side could simply produce more units than enemies can face. In Erfworld, Cities are fixed points, with Rulers that cannot rezone to optimize production and overwhelm enemies with numbers.
Look at Stanley at the beginning of Book 1. He has an enormous treasury, enough for a fleet of Archons, but he can't spend it. His Side's production is strictly controlled, regardless of revenue, and so the treasury builds even though he is producing units as fast as permitted.
7) Weak Cities are a Money Drain
Again we look to the conflict between Transylvito and Carpool. Transylvito uses Carpool's smaller cities as leverage for tribute, or pillages the cities to increase revenue. The only way to increase your Unit production is to increase your number of cities, but smaller cities are vulnerable and a drain. In most games where this is a problem, I save up powerful forces to defend it, and the money to develop it, and then ensure when I take the city, it will be powerful and capable of self-defense before the enemy can gather enough forces to abuse it. For some reason, this is not done in Erfworld. I ahven't figured out why, yet. Some cities are limited in growth, and will never be larger than Level 3 or whatever. When there is no technology to boost the defenses of those cities, they can never be made less vulnerable without making your Main City less vulnerable. Having to defend small cities drains your treasury and prevents building up forces to swamp a nearby enemy. The constant replacement with green troops obviously prevents Side growth.
8) Losing on Defense means 100% losses
You can't leave the Hex. You can't hide until dusk falls and wait out the night. If your Leadership falls, you are even forced by the Laws of the environment to attack an enemy you see. It is impossible in a military situation to always be invulnerable, unless you have overwhelming power. What this really means is that if your units are vulnerable even once, they are destroyed and need to be replaced. This causes your firepower to constantly degrade, losing veteran troops and setting you back in a major way if you have gained an advantage. Parson points out a clear fact to that all gamers understand: no one never loses, no matter how much of a genius you are.
So you can't win through production. Can't win through technology. Can't win if you're Royal. Aren't allowed to win if you're not Royal. Can't strengthen cities. Can't create defenses. Will eventually see your units destroyed.
No one can win. And if Erfworld is a game for Titans, then that is a huge problem. So, why not tip the board, wipe it clean, and start again? They are god-like after all, right?
How do you prevent cheating? You lock the world so that no one can change it until the game has ended.
Whoops. It's perfectly arrogant. When someone of great intelligence and ego creates something, he does so with the self-confidence necessary to believe that if he is infallible, anything he creates is infallible. And when it isn't, there's nothing that can be done to fix it.
And that brings us back to the weakness between universes. If not created intentionally in the birth of Erfworld, this may have been the only thing they could change that would break the game and bring forth a winner to allow the Rules to be changed to allow victory..
And so that answers, "Why Parson was brought to Erfworld?"
The Titans created a game that could not be won. In order to reset the board, it must be won, so an external force needed to be brought in to win the game. To that end, the Titans used what influence they had to ensure that the right combination of people came together to create a non-Royal Side that had the power, ambition, and right combination of abilities to win, and an alien force not restricted by the Rules that could ensure Victory..
And that's all, folks!
(Ain't it enough?)
Except for one thing I suppose. Will Parson realize the board will be wiped out after he wins, before he "wins"?