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Bubble kingdoms are considered almost mythical by Erfworlders because of their anonymity and rarity. No one knows how many Bubble kingdoms are active at any one time. A Bubble kingdom's secrecy is its best defense; being discovered usually means it will very quickly be conquered and burst like its namesake. There are libraries full of books on failed Bubble kingdoms.
Bubble kingdoms may have some or all of the following traits:
- Exists without any of its neighbors knowing it's there
- Exists without any other side knowing of its existence
- Doesn't engage in war
- Doesn't engage in constant war
- Has a reduced military
- Is usually small, or has very few cities
- Engages in mercenary work to earn Shmuckers
- Is fully economically self-sufficient
- Is hidden by geography, like a hidden valley or far off island
- Employs magic to stay hidden
Some of the Casters in Faq didn't consider it a "true" bubble kingdom because they took mercenary work. So it may be that there are degrees of isolation that sides attempting this strategy can take. Total isolationism being the measure of a "true" bubble kingdom.IPTSF Text 33
In the case of Faq, this involved a combination of remote, inaccessible geography and Magic. Faq was in a valley surrounded by High mountain hexes, making it unlikely ground or flying units came by, with only a single point of easy entry through a river. So the only units that could potentially wander close to them were flyers, mountain-capable, and tunnel-capable units. For whenever units did come by FAQ employed a Predictamancer to predict when they would come, a Lookamancer to find them, and a Master-class Foolamancer to veil whole cities.TBFGK 82
There are many stories and books about bubble kingdoms falling. During her mercenary work Jillian Zamussels heard stories of Bubble kingdoms and how they fell, despite whatever "clever tricks" they used.IPTSF Text 32 Lord Crush liked to study Bubble kingdoms by reading about fallen ones through books in his library. That these were automagically published because the bubble kingdom fell provided an object lesson on how they could fail.WB2014 Lord Crush - Part 2
More specifically, Jillain suspected that Faq's tri-caster system could be overwhelmed through numbers.IPTSF Text 32 Since their Foolamancer Jack could only veil one city at a time, two separate groups of units couldn't be fooled simultaneously. This may have been what caused Faq to be discovered and fall in their war with Haffaton.
Betrayal is another means for Bubble sides to fail. When Faq fell to Stanley, it was due to betrayal from within. One of its residents, Wanda, contacted Stanley and gave him its location in exchange for her capture.LIAB Text 27 She thought he'd be croaked and she'd be able to attune to his Arkentool, but he overwhelmed the side.TBFGK 147
One problem Bubble kingdoms face is how to pay for their Upkeep. Most sides get Shmuckers by going to war and razing cities. Even with a reduced military Bubble sides still have expenses, and their need for invisibility means they can't trade with other sides. Faq engaged in mercenary work for far off sides to help stay solvent. Parson Gotti theorized it may be possible to use a Dittomancer to double Heavy unit production and harvest them to create a financially self sustaining Bubble side.
Real World References
Bubble kingdom may be a reference to Economic bubbles, which happen when a commodity or asset is believed to be growing more valuable, when without the hype it would be considered to be worth a lower price or have a lower value. When bubbles burst, investors or owners who traded in the bubble's commodity find themselves much poorer as the market price drops dramatically. The real estate market bubble that lead to the crash in 2008 was a recent example, and of the earliest and most famous is the Tulip mania.