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I don't think I would enjoy a pure historical TTRPG. I think I would much prefer a historical setting but with some fantasy woven in.

For example, one campaign idea I've had on the back burn for a long time is one based on the novel The Scholars by Wu Jingzi in 1750 (Qing Dynasty) but set in the Ming Dynasty (early 16th century AD). I would run it with 5e rules. I would include some form of Fame/Reputation rules and sanity. Unlike the novel, I would work in some elements of Chinese fantasy and folk-lore.

It would start with the PCs meeting up on a journey to take the first level of the civil service exam at the provincial level. Not all PCs would have to be scholars. Some could be monks/fighters/rogues who are hired as protection on the journey. Scholars will need to pass subsequent levels of the civil service exams to level up, requiring them to travel to a big city for level 2, and to the imperial palace for level 3. Subsequent levels would involve appointments in far off places in the empire and the challenges encountered. I would likely only run it to level 5 and use milestone leveling, based on passing civil service exams and obtaining certain appointments. One way to approach it is to have one PC be the scholar and the players be his inner circle. They help protect him, help with his investigations, help do his dirty work, etc. The party would level together.

It would be heavy on travel and political intrique, but there would also be plenty of combat, spy work, etc.

The problem is the amount of work it would take to complete this. I wouldn't worry about being perfectly accurate to the history and culture of the time, but it would still take a lot of time, even to create a "inspired-by" version. It'll be a retirement project. :)

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