So I'm something of an obsessive world builder and I was just thinking about pen and paper rpgs in particular. I've been trying to build a world for a campaign setting that might serve as a gateway for what people might think of as less standard settings. It got me to thinking about what one likes most in a campaign setting. So I thought I would ask, what would your ideal campaign setting for a pen and paper fantasy rpg look like? What tropes would you exploit? Which ones would you discard? Is there something you would like to see included in one that just hasn't shown up yet?
Personally my ideal campaign setting would most certainly not be a monocultural one that seems to be entirely composed of vaguely medieval European cultures. There would be people of a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. It would be a culturally diverse place which while similar to earth, would clearly not be Earth. Even though the cultures might be similar to ones found in our world, none of them would come off as an attempt to be an exact parallel of any culture found Earth at any point in history. You might be able to see some parallels, but they would not be somewhat thinly veiled fictional versions of specific real world cultures. However I would prefer a single species world either composed entirely of humans or one non-humanoid species. If the dominant species isn't human, despite the presence of things that defy the laws of physics, I would prefer that the biology of said species seem like something that could feasibly work according to our understanding of biological sciences.
The magic in this world would also be derived from real world magical traditions and occult philosophies and there would be no arcane/Divine divide. You would instead have a Divine/profane division. No one specific religious mythology would be described as more correct than any other. Instead, there would be a hinted at larger truth that all of them are connected to. In other words, they're all true, just not exactly in the way adherents might assume. The Deities themselves would be benevolent but distant and mysterious and unable to be killed. This distance would allow for certain thematic elements to be explored.
Darkness and chaos would not necessarily be played up as evil forces, but rather as part of the natural balance of existence with evil being that which upsets said balance through trying to impose an oppressive out of order or wanton unnecessary destruction. The default society would not necessarily be patriarchal, but might include a variety of patriarchal, matriarchal, or egalitarian cultures.
The time period it's set in would also not be the middle ages. I would prefer either the Iron/Bronze age, the future, the 18th century, the modern period, sometime resembling the 20th century, or some peculiar mash up of aspects of two or more. The medieval fantasy setting has grown a bit boring for me as it has been done over and again.
Those are just a few things that come to mind for me when describing my ideal fantasy campaign setting.
However, given the popularity of medieval fantasy, I do have a question. Are there any particular aspects of the standard medieval fantasy setting you're particularly fond of?