I’m going to lay out the world I’m designing, both because hopefully my wordsmithing skills will be interesting and worthwhile enough to be a gift to the forum, and also because I would appreciate feedback and suggestions. I’ll upload a map as soon as my cartography minion manages to drag his behemoth masterpiece to a scanner that can accommodate it. For now, I’ll describe.
The central theme of the world is that the Unnamed Empire has recently expanded into the Unnamed Pagan Kingdoms. The Empire’s colonization process is slow because the only access to the Pagan Kingdoms is through a fairly narrow land bridge, bordered on one side by the Stormridge Mountains (which are both cursed and full of goblins) and on the other side by the Sea of Terror. Recently, the Empire appointed an Exarch with a sizeable army to stabalize the Eastern kingdoms and bring them fully under the dominion of the Empire.
The Pagan Kingdoms have theoretically bent their knees and voluntarily accepted entry into the Empire, but there are many who would see them united against their common foe. The Kingdoms are the primary setting of the game, consisting almost entirely of borderlands territory.
The Unnamed Empire is heavily based on the Roman Empire culturally, (or at least, on my 7th grade history recollections of the roman empire. If anyone feels compelled to give advice regarding their culture, that’d be great). The primary innovation is that the gods in their pantheon have a dual nature: They believe that the god of the sun, when displeased, becomes the god of storms. The god of the sword becomes the god of the axe (He’s the god of war in either case, but as the sword he represents things like discipline, honor, and good strategy, while as the axe he represents negative qualities of war like bloodlust, destruction, and chaos) and so on.
Meanwhile, the Pagan Kingdoms are a mixture of my 7th grade recollections of Native American culture with a little bit of Eastern culture mixed in. Their pantheon consists of animals, each of which embodies a personal trait (So where a Roman general might pray to the gods of Knowledge and War, a Pagan general would study texts regarding the Raven and Bear to learn Cunning and Strength.) The animal’s domains are thus loosely based off the tenants of Bushido as I remember them from my days playing L5R. “Worship” for these gods involves performing acts that exemplify their key attributes, often through ritual. (So, for example, theoretically any show of Strength would please the Bear, but traditionally, most people carry a pig to the top of the nearest mountain, because that’s the USUAL show of strength.)
Finally, the subhuman races have their own Chaos Pantheon- The Teeth (pain), the Claw (destruction), the Tendril (temptation), each of which represents a different aspect of the Outsider. There are also cults of the Eye, who do not act against civilization directly, but are sworn to give aid and protection to those who do.