I'm working an an open world RPG for VR with another guy. I'm responsible for everything artistic, which includes story and world building. I'm really not good at writing though. I have a rough story in mind and I've made a map in Unity: http://imgur.com/Gzxuu6H
The map is 8kmx8km big, there's no vegetation and details added yet.
The story I had in mind goes like this:
Two Kingdoms have coexisted peacefully for hundreds of years, Trade flourishing betweeen them. The capital city of one kingdom lies at the mouth of the great river, just where the great swamp starts (I have no names yet, this is where I need help.) This kingdom is culturally like medieval dutch/german culture, with a king and a council and courts and a strong set of laws and many soldiers and officers to enforce those laws. Most power and wealth is concentrated in the main city. Think Imperials.
The other kingdom is located in the highlands in the east of the map. They are culturally more like Vikings, strong, independent and tribal, with a King/thane/whatever ruling. The main city doesn't stand out much from the other villages, except for the King's castle.
It comes to pass that a merchant in the imperial Kingdom becomes so wealthy that he lends money to the King (and to other surrounding implied Kingdoms) and through that gains almost complete control over the Kingdom. The Viking King refuses to borrow and become enslaved, so the merchant hatches a plan. A village from the imperial kingdom is attacked and burnt to the ground, all inhabitants gruesomely killed and made it all to look like the vikings attacked. The imperial peasants upon hearing this of course rally for war, fueled by fiery speeches from the King and his Dukes. In the Viking Kingdom people are outraged and upset with the King that he would order such an atrocity. Tensions arise within the population and the Kingdom threatens to split.
This is the backstory, the player starts as the daughter/son of a blacksmith in an imperial village. Soldiers of the King show up one day and demand your father make weapons for the coming war for almost no compensation. When your father refuses he is hauled off to jail under trumped up charges.
That's how far I got with the story, I thought the player would of course try to get the father out of jail and in the course uncover the whole plot and be the hero. I also need a lot of sidequests and just general lore, e.g. for books.
A word on magic: The world is supposed to be somewhat realistic medieval ages with light magic and some mystical creatures, like Dragons and Trolls. Magic and Alchemy will be the same thing. There will be no mana or scrolls etc, only potions you drink, throw or somehow use. So for example a fire potion would give you "ammo" for 10 shots or something.
Alchemy is not forbidden but kind of shunned, like using drugs. Many potions will have drug-like effects too and many will be addictive. In addition, the more you use alchemy the more your appearance changes until you look like a full-on demon. In this end stadium an alchemy user is completely crazed and aggressive, except for a certain few that have learned to keep their insanity somewhat under control. There are healing restoring potions and restoration spells from local churches, so rich people aren't as affected by it.
There is another kind of magic, which is based on artifacts uncovered from ancient ruins. These artifacts need to be recharged at special sites though, which are usually located in those ancient ruins. I was thinking it could be hinted at that those artifacts are super advanced technology but never confirmed. I have no backstory for the ancient ruins and I'm not sure one is needed. They are just kinda there.