- [+] Imperial City
Map starts with 1 level 10 city and an accompanying level 0/10 province, which are unowned
This gives 10 law, 10 guild, 10 temple, and 10 source levels for ~25 PCs, allowing everyone a decent chance at getting a level 1 holding, but lots of opportunity for conflict
Attempts to invest the city to a regent must be announced publically and can be bid on by anyone with a holding in the city. Possibly holding levels can be used to support or oppose as well?
The city starts with a decree that no armies can enter the city? If you have the required holding levels in the city, you can muster, but they appear in the province. This could be changed if someone manages to invest themselves with the city
Fog-of-war on the rest of the map, requiring explore adventures to discover maps
Every turn, X settlers arrive through the gate, random race, and can be bid on individually
If they don't get bid on, they go try to settle a random province on their own, which would be un-owned, like the original city and province
Settlers could also be acquired through resolving random adventures?
Maybe single-class fighters are the only ones that can start with units
Pros: lots of diplomacy required, lots of conflict, probably result in a slower game that lasts longer before breaking
Cons: lots of diplomacy required
- [+] Blank slate, everyone together
My proposal is similar, but there's no province to start with. All the regents start in the same land, perhaps with one province explored, or perhaps without even that. Each has only one settler, and limited resources--so limited, early theft won't be rewarding. They can organize into expeditions to explore and settle lands together--or they can fight, or scheme, or prey on the settlements of others. The rest of the map is to be explored, without the terrain, the layout, or the scale being known in advance.
The initial land could be of a terrain type that isn't ideal for anyone, or it could be a prime location, a river by the coast with plains. Or anything inbetween. The more of a prime location it is, the more conflict there will be over it, the more hostile it is, the more of a hurry explorers will be to get moving. (I have a particular idea that runs a fine line between the two, but... I'm not going to spoil it!)
- [+] Random location, big starting army, fog of war
Or everyone starts with 6 Tier 3 units in a random location.
You can use war explore or random adventure explore to find new lands. You can then turn a unit into settlers at a 1 unit to 2 settlers ratio.
To settle you have to give up troops. Of course if you don't, eventually you run out of GBs/RPs to pay the troops and they disband on you anyways.
And some of the provinces have indigenous life which makes the DC to explore higher requirement or fields effectively units which have to be defeated/conquered before the province can be settled.