So after pointing out some of the horrors the Lunar Empire is built upon, I think it is also worth pointing out that living in the Kingdom of Sartar is hardly paradise. Although the House of Sartar were rich thanks to trade, built cities and roads, patronized learning and the arts, and so on, at the end of the day they are Orlanthi.
That means constantly dealing with challenges to your authority and to the established status quo. That means dealing with demands for vengeance everytime someone is harmed. Cattle raiding is a sport. Your ruling cult demands its members display heroic arete and virtus, which means your leadership class is constantly insisting on displays of honor – which causes feuds, death, and upheaval.
The Sartar Dynasty was skilled and Sartar, Saronil, Tarkalor, and Terasarin all managed to keep juggling things. But during the reign of Jarosar, it nearly fell apart due to internal conflicts. Kallyr’s rule was brief, and Argrath has less than a decade of peace in his nearly thirty years of rules.
And so even under the best of rulers, Orlanthi society is violent. Endemic low level conflict is common, and social cohesion is difficult.
So with in the Lunar Heartlands, Dart Wars keeps violence among the ruling class behind the scenes. Assassinations and intrigue, yes, but private wars no.
Among the Orlanthi, we have a grand and glorious tradition of destructive feuds even during the reigns of the great Princes. Princes throw themselves into battle, leading charges and fighting – of the nine Princes of Sartar prior to Argrath, four died in battle, and three were killed by treachery. Only Sartar and Saronil died peacefully.
Worshipping a turbulent God of Heroes with a strong destroyer aspect carries with it some social implications.
But it is important to remember that the Orlanthi are not “primitives” – any more than the ancient Greeks, Vedic Indians, or Silk Road kingdoms were “primitives”. In terms of art, craft, literature, etc., they are very much the equal of the Lunar Heartlands.
So think about the Bactrians under the the Greco-Bactrians. Cities, trade routes (the original Silk Road), literature, culture, and all that. But they are also feuding clans and tribes, the ancestors of the Tajiks and Pashtuns of Afghanistan.
Please note that the Lunars are not the Soviets, nor do I believe that the Sartarites are the Taliban or Al-Queda. I don’t think the Lunars correspond well to the Soviets. You can draw a few inspirations and few ideas from the comparison, but for me it falls apart very fast. The later Abassids work a lot better (and frankly were a far better run empire).