The setting is the frontier town of Oldsted, which is run by an empire that is currently in decline. (In other words, the garrison there is powerful enough to fend off lower-level villains and act as a foil, but weak enough that higher-level villains could wrest control of Oldsted...my way as a DM of giving you something to aspire to, if you wish.) The town has a decent economy of silver and iron mining, with arable land and a lesser river.
My interpretation of rules tends to be somewhat loose; I view the system as existing to support the story, not the other way 'round. Mainly the system is there to rough out the boundaries of character power, to prevent "you hit me, no you didn't, yes I did" situations, and to provide "goodies" to aspire to (remember your first game of D&D and that first +1 weapon or potion you discovered...ah, those were the days...) One element I add is "boons, quirks and banes," which are modifiers applied to characters based on background and conduct during a game. For instance, a character who runs from battle a couple times might get the bane "Doubtful Courage," which would give a -10% to the loyalty of henchmen and hirelings. On the other hand, a character who had grown up in hardscrabble circumstances might get the boon "Brawler," which would give her a +1 to hit and +1 on damage in unarmed combat. A character who charges into battle with little regard for the odds might get the quirk "Hard Charger," giving a +1 to hit on the first attack of a battle, but also assigning a penalty of +1 to his A.C. for that round. Banes are bad, quirks roughly neutral, and boons are good. Characters can also advance through notches in a boon, quirk or bane:
Notch 1: "Brawler." This character has seen her fair share of fights in her rough life. +1 to hit and +1 on damage when fighting unarmed.
Notch 2: "Scrapper." This character is inured to a life fighting for respect on the streets. +2 to hit, +1 on damage, crits on a 19 or 20 when fighting unarmed.
Notch 3: "Martial Artist." This character has shown her aptitude, battle-tested and time-hardened, to getting down and dirty in everything from ambushes to bar-room brawls. +2 to hit, +2 on damage, crits on a 19 or 20, 25% chance to disarm opponent when fighting unarmed.
I usually assign new characters a boon, a quirk, and a bane.
For ability scores, I use a point-buy system. You get 75 points. 15s cost 16, 16s 18, 17s 20, and 18s 22.
Characters may be from any one of the following races. Since some are inherently more powerful than others, I have added mods to try and even things out.
human (no mods)
goblin (gets two extra ability score points and one extra boon notch)
ogre (+2 to STR, +1 to CON, -1 to INT, gets one less ability score point and one extra bane notch)
troll (regeneration, +1 to STR, -1 to WIS, gets two less ability score points, two extra bane notches, and a -10% penalty to XP)
hill giant (+3 to STR, +1 to CON, -1 to DEX, gets three less ability score points, three extra bane notches, and a -20% penalty to XP)
Characters start at first level. Evil priests can choose from the following deities:
Lunis (goddess of the night and moon)
Moort (god of death)
Kalestra (goddess of cunning and conniving, sister of Lunis, above)
Baanid (god of battle and destruction)
Decere (god of winter, may be worshipped by any align)
Terrestro (god of the underworld, brother of Moort, above)
Ba-eth (greater demon)
Clerics can also elect not to worship a particular god, instead being mystics of a given sphere or domain. Sample domains include darkness, death, battle, the underworld, wealth, etc., and can be worked out with me.