Although it is not the heart of the heshira empire (and nor is anything really), it is certainly elegant and grande for the minor land mass it occupies. The rumored throne of the empress is called
Certain areas are medieval and other areas aren't so much - some might exist in the dark ages and some are more late middle age or rennaissance-period (in terms of technology; not necessarily culture, because this is the middle east after all - you might find the occassional grand perspective painting though). The desert sands are too deep and bereft to make travel worth while (except in small amounts; there's hardy bandits and barbarians and enterprisers out there that live in the deserts) - entire civilizations are separated, but those that know magic can travel from varying city to varying city, with spells such as teleportation or wind-walk.
There may also be the occasional 19th century type of artifact from a lost civilization here and there.
In that sense, the world is schizotech.
To the north is gothic russia (in theme), known as 'old country', farther north is the fae realm, and far west is teutonic germany (in theme; although teutons and goths can mix in various towns). Heshirol itself has existed for at least 1000 years, and before, was most likely not called the kingdom heshirol (and the presence of men in the desert was unknown and unrecorded in anything but artifact or heiroglyph), but old country has supposedly been around longer, despite being less dense in population. However, the focus right now is Heshirol and not the Old Country.
Korean and just about every other south east asian culture you can think to include. The exclusions are China and Japan - I think those two cultures have been covered enough in other games (same goes for England and France; saxony and norse cultures are always cool, however).
So, no, you can't have samurai and their silly martial arts or cho ku no with 'arrows everywhere' - instead, you get huscarls, rajputs, burburs, dervishes (middle east isn't just about dervishes though, I'm sure we know that these days) mamalukes (I gotta look that one up actually)... Pretty much every other unique racial unit from age of empires 2.
The janissary muskets and hand gonnes are the elite. The grey guard sword and flail is the law.
Hm. I suppose heshirol could also just be a vast country of deserts with well defended towns, but the churches (that look like mosques or hindu temples, for that eastern flavour, for kicks), are basically going to get raided from the old country (vikings travel the rivers). The rest of the area is surrounded by mountains and occassionally mongols (hobgoblins, bugbears and another culture of orcs; yeah, two cultures of orcs - humans aren't the only multiculturals), flow over the mountains, seeking new pastures or a creative rite of passage from an upstart commander after his position for clan chief was usurped over by his second cousin or whatever.
Heshirol itself is a kingdom with a lot of free imperial cities. That's because the only royalty is the empress - a sorceress that's been alive for nearly 1000 years.
Heshirol reflects the cultural pinnacles of the east, but excluding the orientals. It combines a bit of indian culture (not the deities; just elements, such as temple architecture) as well as the areas that came under invasion during the crusades of the 11th century. The population is mostly human, although there are gnomes and halflings here and there as well. Orcs hail from a war with the east, only descending into heshirol partly for survival purposes, exiled from eastern forts, a passion for independent pursuits.
Orcs only talk like ‘barbarians’ if they have a poor grasp of the language (even so, all are considered barbaric anyway). Their predator mentality (a characteristic of the species; just like the desire to forge relationships and have sex, is a characteristic of herd-mentality humans) makes them less empathetic, academic and apt to enjoy conversation as other races. Orcs have their own logic which works surprisingly well from a pragmatic point of view, and can make the best use of limited technology of anyone. In self defense, they have an almost psychic ability to enter a rage - a temporary state of psychosis, rage so deep that they care not for their own well being. Here, they are no different than rabid wolves, tearing into a foe like nobody’s business.
The north is the more savage elements of europe during the 11th century. There are larger men here, and dwarves dwell along the mountainous borders. Gnomes hail from the lighter mountainous regions, and their love for travel and curiosity has driven them into heshirol. Gnomes now live mostly within enclaves, only associating with the human masses every now and then.
In the north also dwells the monstrous and ever-lusting many fae creatures. In the deepest woods are the nymphs, dryads, tree folk - many entities of which think in pure emotion and survive in sense of all logic. Their language is psychic and difficult to grasp even for the elves and sylvan. The wild elves are bit more adaptable, although they share the closest bond to fae.
Fae are where sorcerers and wilders get their magic. Sorcerers are indebted to fae pacts that their ancestors or close relatives may have made at some point in the past, and for whatever reason the strange laws, poorly misunderstood by humans, are only now taking their toll on individual souls. Each time a sorcerer relearns spells, they renew their pact. Sorcerers can be cured of the pact, but they will lose their magic (change levels of sorcerer for levels of commoner). Wilders have a special connection with fae - and take with them, a permanent power.
The fae lands are often referred to as ‘Old Country’. In here is said to lie absolute conflict, but also absolute love. Many go insane before they can even tame the limited abilities of various fae. Individually, fae are sparse in power, but in many, they are unstoppable. Lacking any sense of humanity and logic, they don’t desire to conquer heshirol, let alone whatever lies in the rest of the world. The psychology of fae cannot be comprehended and even a conversation with one can make it seem like one exits reality altogether - such is the force of their charisma. Defeating a fae usually ends with their surrender more than any death. Violence is so rife that fae don’t mind surrendering.
Most fae are evil and unfathomably mad, in a human sense - equally desiring passions as much as meaningless violence. A fae that is slain will be because they tired of violence at that exact moment (gives a GM more control over the plot; encounters with fae shouldn’t always be unwinnable).
The elves have managed to shape some fae magic into bardic music, and now bards travel all over heshirol. Bards come from all races, and tend to work for the sake of the unity of stories, passions and crowds, for what else is there in life that cannot be enjoyed with the right ‘spin’ on it?
Elves are lesser fae, curious travelers that are no longer able to bond with fae or share any synergy - their ancestrally thin and hairless bodies are grim ethnic reminder of their former magical background. The hair grown from the heads of these elves are alchemical - generally only growing to a certain limit, and never out of place. The elven anaeorexic beauty is the only reminder of fae origin.
The wizards in the northern holds along the dwarf hills, study and test magic via a symbiotic rune language that they hope can be comprehended by man, but wizards are few and their obscure arts have never managed to truly touch civilization - not to mention their knowledge has driven several of them insane, altered their brain chemistries and prevented most from being able to mingle in a decent, non-isolated society ever again. Alchemy is the result of attempts to take from the wizards. Magic in heshirol inspires fear. Most sorcerers, although numerous, are regarded with suspicion. This, despite the empress being a great sorceress in her own right. Divine magic is only permitted so far as the empress allows. Janissaries (the standing army of the empress) and grey guard paladins, are the prime practitioners of divine magic.
The east is reflected in the steppes of mongolia. Many primitive forces descend from the east.
Heshirol used to be a grand empire, with outposts that ranged the mountain steppes, but has since desolved into various free cities, separated by mass swathes of jungle and desert. The only real kingdom is the central city - name pending.
Really scrapped for ideas right now (my brain is dead, and I wanna play diablo 3).