If the stars are kind, we will be successfully playing Burning Wheel soon. We haven't settled on a game yet, but I've been thinking for two days now, and here are my top 3 choices. I wonder what everyone else will suggest.
1. Fictional/Fantasy version of 15th-16th-ish century Venice/Florence
Old noble families are dying out, the old order is changing. Cities are giving rise to a new power structure, where money speaks. Merchants, plots, assassinations. Rise to power. Machiavelli, Shakespeare, DaVinci, Medici, Borgias, heresies, plague, Assassin's Creed 2, Lionheart. Maybe you're an ambitious mercenary captain, peasant-born, climbing the ladder. Maybe you're the heir of an all but fallen noble house. Maybe you're a rich trader. Maybe you're an artist, navigating the power web.
I'd focus this on ambition. What will you do to get to the top? What will you do to stay alive? What will you sacrifice? Where will you stop?
All Human Lifepaths except Slave. Encouraged to advance to the City setting, if you're not already City-Born to begin with.
2. 9th century Norway
Harald the Fair-haired is ambitiously leading his unification of Norway, waging war on anyone who opposes him. Maybe you're just a simple farmer, maybe you're a rich chieftain, maybe you pose a thread to Harald, maybe you're just collateral.
What will you do in these troubled times? Will you defend your land to the death? Will you side with the new, christian king, or die for the old gods? Will you stand by your Jarl when the time comes? Will you turn to pillaging, or emigrate to Iceland in search of a better life, perhaps sail to the lands beyond?
All human Lifepaths, except City-Born, Noble-Born discouraged.
Some historical liberties taken, to get more conflict and oomph out of the situation.
3. Middle Earth
I haven't really thought this one out, but basically, either before LotR or after LotR or maybe during the Silmarilion. Problem is, we'd probably have to all go back and read those books again. I can scarcely remember anything specific.
A shadow is rising, perhaps not as epic as those that came before or those that will come after, but it threatens you and your way of life, or perhaps those dear to you, or perhaps something of great value.
Gather your friends and embark on an adventure.
Lifepaths: Men, Elves, Dwarves. Maybe some houseruled hobbits.