When inventing fantasy cultures I like to draw inspiration by combining real world examples. In much the same way that many writers us people they know, or a melange of acquaintances in order to create unique, compelling, and believable characters. I use a similar technique by combining multiple real world cultures into a unique new culture. In my own Tarniss for example Gabrell is a combination of Norse and American Indian, while Dolmaranthuz the "great empire" of Tarniss is a combination of Rome and Arthurian Britain.
This does not exclude injecting a liberal dose of pure fantasy and imagination into the equation. I use real world cultures as a stepping stone to make fantasy cultures have more depth.
Here is a table to help generate the cultures of Lavivrus:
Roll 1d20 twice, reroll duplicates
3. Ancient Greek
16. Ancient Egyptian
17. American Indian
Unfortunately this table omits many great cultures, as there are so many it's likely impossible to summarize them all, so think of this as a sample.
For example let's try to detail out one of the cultures/nations in Lavivrus: Lanrod
Roll a d20 twice and I get: 4, 17
Babylonian and American Indian. Good result. There is so much we can do with that. A brief bio of the two cultures gives us this:
Babylon, one of the earliest "world empires', it is featured prominently in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). Recently famous because of Sadaam Hussein's attempts to rebuild the capital in the same style as the ancient city. Some of the key traits of that civilization are:
American Indian, a patch quilt of tribes spread throughout North America, they have a variety of beliefs. To generalize, some of the key traits are:
At first glance these seem too opposite to reconcile, one is free and semi-nomadic, the other builds epic cities. But I think we can find some synergy here.
This once mighty empire has fallen into crumbling ruins. It is an ancient land filled with the skeletons of great cities whose builders have long since died out. It is a forlorn place of massive ziggaret ruins now occupied by the fierce Antoli tribes who immigrated from the cold northern lands after being pushed out by the barbarians of Loka Dranel.
After wandering the plains surrounding Landrod, the Antoli tribes have made their homes in the ancient haunted cities long abandoned by its ancient builders. This has proven to be a formidable defensive position and the tribes have prospered in the fertile land.
The chieftains of the Antoli, who once warred with one another, have formed a great council. They have realized that they must band together to form a strong union if their people are to survive. The council has chosen the great chieftain Brak Pokanta (which, transliterated, means Raven's Claw) as the head chieftain of all the tribes. Together they have formed a powerful nation that can defend itself against its enemies.
The tribes worship many gods, but these gods are forces of nature like Grondal which means "stone" and Alowatta which means "water". There are no greater or lesser gods, they are all co-equals that maintain balance in the world.
The Antoli have long been hunter, gatherers, but they are learning to farm and take advantage of city life, and have even opened up trade routes with their neighbors to the south Kcish and Keintol.
The wise shamen have discovered the ancient libraries of Lanrod and are fascinated with the knowledge of astronomy and law they have uncovered. This is having a profound affect on the tribes, which have began teaching literacy, medicine, and science.