I seldom reuse campaign settings that I create. When I create a new setting, I usually go about things from a decidedly top-down approach. This weekend, I ended up going the other way for once.
My wife and her best friend, who have been playing in my sporadic Savage Worlds steampunk game, asked me if I'd run something with swords and magic and orcs in it. (So, D&D...although actually Pathfinder, since they like d20 best of all and I like Pathfinder better than 3.5) This last week was absolutely insane in terms of real life stuff, so I didn't have any time to prepare or even think about the setting. With scant hours before game time, I decided to just go with the flow.
The setting I'm working on is a kingdom called Sansara. While I originally envisioned it as a Byzantine Empire/Renaissance Italy mash-up, it turned out to feel a lot more like pseudo-Golden Age Middle East. The Byzantine-type place morphed into the Lionus Empire which is situated someplace vaguely north and west of Sansara. I also decided that Sansara has a prosperous coastal trade city called Miruta, (where I intend to provide as a potential base for the PCs) though I keep slipping and calling it Mirut or Miruti. It has a capital called Alsharad, the Jewel of the East. It is ruled by Prince Kassen. That's all I started with, which, to me, is akin to jumping without a parachute.
The following details emerged during play:
There are no elves, dwarves, or halflings, but there are orcs (oruks) and lizard men with dusky yellow scales. (I might add some of the classic races back, but they need a makeover for this setting)
There has to be some place vaguely Asian-y somewhere in the world, because one of the two PCs is an Asian-looking monk with a Korean name.
There has to be some place vaguely Renaissance Italy (probably sans gunpowder, though not necessarily) because the other player was originally from a place like that... though she later decided her nascent PC was more Egyptian, so now there's some place that's kind of Egyptian. It's possibly that the two places will be mashed up together. (Renaissance Italy with huge tombs and a cult of divinity surrounding the ruler)
There are four druidic orders dedicated to the four elements. They each guard one of four pillars that they believe bind the physical world together: the Eternal Flame (southwest of here across a huge desert called the Sea of Sands), the Pillar at the Heart of the World, the Crossroads of the Four Winds (on a mountain somewhere, possibly in the Asian-y place) and the Eye of God (a huge, eternal maelstrom, presumably out in the ocean somewhere)
One of the gods from the core book is worshiped in the Asian-y place. (I forget which one) No other gods have been mentioned yet, unless you count the elemental forces tended by the aforementioned druidic orders.
I find that it's kind of refreshing that I don't know what the currency is called or what's stamped on it, and that I can really only name two countries. I think I just decided that Sansara loves book-using spellcasters and alchemists and frowns upon sorcerers, witches, and the like. (Since the former types have a power that is governed by internal laws and science and it is something that can be studied, while the latter use a power difficult to understand)
Something I never considered about about bottom-up world creation: instead of creating an elaborate setting and watching the players discover it, I get to discover it with them.