The setting: Gholamn (go-lawm) is a generally Earth-like world; a spec of dust coated with a thin film of life, whirling about a modest yellow-dwarf star in a little solar system tucked away within one arm of a vast spiral-arm galaxy. In this universe, though, the laws of physics are a bit more flexible. 'Magic' exists, and scholars of all races have sought to understand its existence for millennia; the study of magic is sometimes called 'arcanology' in civilized places, and occult theoreticians and practitioners work side-by-side with other scientists and academics.
On the continent of Yun (you-n), where the story will take place, steam power is the height of modern technology. But while steam-powered trains travel great distances across the countryside, and various other machines make life easier for those living in large cities, there are still many places not touched by this level of technology. Battles are waged with magic, or with devices of wood and steel, and while a few of the wealthiest might own personal automobiles (perhaps powered by magic or some fictional fuel), the majority of people use horses or other animals for transportation. Many people carry swords, maces, axes, daggers, and so forth on a daily basis, and personal protection is a given if one travels beyond the safety of a town's borders.
Knowledge is widely regarded as the most valuable possession in the world, and books and scrolls are hoarded in a very few, well-secured libraries. New books are often confiscated from travelers on entering a major city, to be copied and preserved. All in all, the world is a dark and still little-understood place, plagued by seemingly unending ignorance, bigotry, and violence. Large cities struggle with unmanageable levels of crime and poverty, and the world outside those few 'havens' of civilization is the realm of monsters and primitive, bloodthirsty, and fanatically territorial savages. Most people live hard, agrarian lifestyles and have little contact with the rest of the world, and many who would otherwise be victims of poverty have turned to banditry.
Yun is divided into several countries, but the divisions seem almost arbitrary in most cases, and maps from one country tend to draw the lines very differently from those of another. Wars are not as frequent as one might expect, largely because the abundance of dangerous creatures and savage races makes war against distant neighbors extremely impractical, but tensions are always high between two countries in particular.
Jentao is an empire known for its powerful military and the greed of its privileged aristocracy; its leaders are mostly human, and their policies are notably exclusive. The majority of non-humans are turned away at Juntao's borders, and those that do live there are largely oppressed and often forced to live in ghettos and scrape together a living by the most menial and physically demanding jobs. Those non-humans who are particularly gifted or attractive can sometimes earn themselves a higher quality of life by selflessly obeying their human masters, often demeaning themselves in the process. Interestingly, the race and genealogy of the emperor himself is not known to anyone except those few in his inner circle, leading to occasional, sometimes dangerous, speculation by social scholars. The emperor and his court are known to despise their closest neighboring country, Lo'mia.
Lo'mia (low-mee-aw), called The Kingdom of Bastards by the Jentai (residents of Jentao) and some of their allies is a very different place from Jentao. While Jentao is a place of great stone walls and iron gates closed to those of mixed or foreign race, Lo'mia is famously diverse and accepting of different races. In fact, Lo'mia has perhaps the most varied and open-minded populous of any country in the world, and its leadership bears the nickname "Kingdom of Bastards" proudly. Humans, elves, faeries, angels, demons- individuals of virtually all races, including unfortunate half-breeds and other people of exotic mixed heritage, all inhabit this pastoral country. It is governed by a large council of representatives elected locally from different parts of the country. In many ways, the government is loose, even anarchic, allowing for a great deal of individual freedom. The country lacks the massive, professional military of Jentao, but maintains strong local militias, and boasts the residency of some of the most powerful, brilliant, and talented individuals in the world. Despite the overall looseness of social structure, the motto of Lo'mia is roughly "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need", and government officials are fiercely devoted to ensuring that every mouth is fed and every body warm.
Lo'mians are also famous for their love of creative arts and philosophy, and the extreme diversity in background makes for frequent, heated, debate and ingenious works of expression.
There are other places, beyond the normal universe, which most beings have very little contact with. These are places like various versions of Heaven, Hell, etc; different planes which embody absolute concepts, sometimes physical, such as Fire, and sometimes abstract, such as Good or Evil. People often worship the most powerful entities from these other planes, calling them gods, and lesser beings sometimes cross over into Gholamn from them. Philosophers in Yun frequently debate over whether the planes exist objectively, independent of the existence of thinking beings, or if they, and the beings that inhabit them, are merely the results of the thoughts or beliefs of mortals. One way or another, the planes affect the people of Gholamn strongly, whether through religious lifestyles inspired by them, or by the physical beings (demons, angels, etc) that cross over and taint the physical world with their supernatural existence.
Summary: The setting is a vaguely 'Oriental-themed' (but moreover diverse and fictitious), fantasy, steam age-ish (think roughly steampunk, with Victorian and various eastern influences as far as fashion, tools, lifestyle etc) region inhabited by an enormous variety of intelligent and less-intelligent species all living, working, struggling, hunting, loving, and killing each other. The world is a dark, mysterious, and frequently violent place in need of heroes. By modern standards, Lo'mia and Jentao are probably the most attractive places for a person to live.
The game: Freeform. The players will each control a single character. The character can be of nearly any fantasy race you can think of, including something bestial (quadrupedal, etc), though it should be sentient, in a generally human sort of way. You might be a straight-up angel, deva, fallen angel, exiled demon, devil, dragon (of relatively small proportions), faerie, oni, kappa, unicorn, vampire, werewolf, human, elf, any kind of anthromorph, etc etc etc, or you could be a half-breed of some sort, or an individual with just a pinch of something else. The character's attributes, powers, profession, reason for being where they are, and such are completely up to you, but shouldn't make them excessively powerful. To use superhero analogies, Superman or the Hulk is too much, Wolverine might be just about right. In short, no god-modding, and there's no such thing as being 'too weak', because there isn't necessarily a single, violently obtainable objective that all the players need to strive for. If you want your character to do or be able to do something you think might be 'pushing it' in terms of power over the world, run it by me first.
Character bios should include: name, gender (not limited to male/female), physical description (pictures optional, as long as it's thorough enough), backstory (doesn't need to be long), and Notable Attributes, which is where you can say things like 'superhuman strength, durability, endurance, etc' or 'excellent swordsman and hand-to-hand combatant', 'gifted spell-caster', 'superior athlete' etc. If a character has magical or supernatural abilities, then more specific information should be given.
For now I'm going to assume the role of GM, meaning that I'll control the antagonists and everything else that isn't a player character, but if a player wants to be a villain, or even 'The Villain', let me know. I could just as easily play a single character myself, and leave the job of running the world to someone else who wants to. One way or another, it should be an exercise in mutual story-telling, and the world should become more detailed and more interesting by everyone's contributions as we go along.
One other thing, when it comes to writing, the general rule should be quality over quantity. I'd rather read just three beautiful, coherent sentences, than three bland paragraphs. That said, there isn't really such a thing as too much or too little, as long as the post contributes effectively and carries the story along.
Now, hit me with all your questions, comments, etc. I may come back and add some more details/important information a bit later.