What follows below is an attempt to write down what we have been discussing recently regarding my upcoming attempt to DM…
The Empire you inhabit is called Askror (map to follow). You know the world is much bigger than this realm and the more educated of you (Dave!) know some of the world outside this area. The Empire is in a pretty constant state of war and has been as long as you have both (3?!) been alive and for a good few years before that. (I will send separate emails to both of you detailing your more specific background knowledge based on what we discussed about your characters.)
What you both know is that whilst war has been a pretty constant fact for many years, it is only in more recent times (~10 years) that Askror has significantly expanded its control and land. This expansion has been led by the Emperor who took power in a bloody revolt. You do not actually know the name of the Emperor and nor does anyone else. There is, of course speculation but the night of the coup was masked in confusion and death, such that it is likely only a few people know or remember who the Emperor was before his ascent to the throne.
Whilst there is constant war and the Empire continues its expansion, life within the Empire is actually pretty good for most people. Trade happens, wealth grows, major roads are safe and well maintained, and all in all the Emperor does a pretty good job of running things fairly and effectively. Of course, those recently conquered into the empire may not be quite so happy with things, but if they accept the Empire’s laws and rule they are quickly assimilated.
The Empire has more significant enemies and opposition beyond its borders, but so far this has predominantly been City states and small realms, none of whom have joined their forces to try and mount a more thorough defence (and most certainly not a counter-attack).
You have both recently signed up for the Army for your own reasons and we will start with you reaching the frontline in your new assignments but before you have met each other. This meeting will not take place in an Inn, pub or any other drinking establishment.
The World you inhabit is old. Very, very old. This is common enough knowledge for anyone who cares about these things.
There are other races but they are rare in the Empire. Orcs and other evil creatures you know about from myths or children’s bedtime stories, although both your Elders speak of a time in which they seemed more common.
The power of the world is not high. There are powerful people of course, and magic is known, but day to day, most people are normal. The best city guards are low level fighters, but most are not that good. The elite guards and army units will certainly have more powerful people but you are yet to find anyone quite like yourselves.
Magic users are known. The Empire certainly has some amongst its ranks, but they are rare indeed and rightly feared.
The Gods take their power from the Belief people have in them.