(These are notes that I had compiled a while back when I was foolishly thinking I was good enough to write modules. I had considered publishing an alternative history deal centered around a Black Ziggurat. Ha! Boy was I dumb. So, I'll just muddle around here with it, and maybe get together some players for it someday...)
What if ...
... the god/dess/es were real, and they influenced PCs on a much greater level - similar to a charm person, or to where the player had to make a saving throw versus an attribute to do something against the will of a god inside of the god's city? And what if this was easier at lower levels, because everyone is basically a grunt, and as you grow in levels/importance, you grow in the sight of the god/dess?
... magic users were really sorcerers and your very first "first level" spell wasn't Read Magic but Summon Demon so that you could use the demon to cast spells? And what if the mage had to have a high Charisma as well as high Intelligence? And what if the mage had to make a Charisma save to have the Demon cast the spell (ala, EPT's Spell Fumble roll prior to casting a spell?) And what if instead of sucking up the Demon's HP when the spell is cast, on a failed save, the Demon would still cast the spell but the hp cost came from the Mage?
... only those who wanted to risk disfavor with the Gods could write?
... technology was something that caused the Gods influence/power to be less? So that yes, you could use the higher technologies of refined metals, writing and what-not -- but then those Cleric spells might not work so well?
... everyone had a shot at divine favor/intervention?
... you could move up in levels, but you also had some measure of how happy your God or the city's royalty were with you... and that depended on how much of your "stuff" you gave?
... gp/sp was only a relative "measure" - coins and money was not as prevalent as jewelry, cattle, slaves, property?
... going into the "Underworld" meant you really did go to a place where the rules changed in how things worked?
... Resurrect spells were really opening portals to the deepest parts of the Underworld where you had to battle to regain the souls of your lost comrades.
... the end game was your quest to become a lugal so that you could be equal to a god through technology, control of the people and worship of a god and how the god's influence was spread to other cities, territories?
... Jeff's game of EPT at Winterwar had influenced my view of "Land of 2 Rivers" a lot more than I had realized?