One thing I’ve never found really interesting is the pseudo-medieval settings many fantasy games. For one thing, it’s been done too many times. One reason for this is that game writing is frequently derivative: people who write games seek inspiration for their games from other games. Which of course is perfectly ok, but doing this to settings turns them into ill-defined mush.
I am to a degree inspired by medieval Baltic history, but the main flavor is the change to to the Early Modern period. This includes things such as technological progress, rise of secular politics, the decline of feudalism and the Reformation. Of course, since religion is mostly ignored in SotE because there’s nothing like the catholic church as a powerful political entity, the religious aspect tends to fall on the wayside.
In game, this means that adventuring in the classical sense mostly takes place on the fringes of civilization and beyond. Firearms are available, but they’re still expensive due to both game reasons and setting reasons. The states themselves are powerful actors and they create a framework for adventures. The endgame for heroes in early RPG’s tended to be things like building castles and towers for themselves and that doesn’t happen anymore, instead there’s social mobility and direct service for the state.
The Early Modern period also works in the sense that while states are more organized and powerful than in the Medieval era, they still occasionally need to hire someone to get things done, especially in areas that are normally not prioritized by the state or areas outside the reach of the normal state organs.