The old illarion lore had a basic concept. If you read the town descriptions, you can see this concept "shine through" in the weave of the lore. Remember, it's OLD, so what the staff decides for a new background can be completely different.
The basics for Albar and Salkamar were:
Albar (Dark concept): Imagine a society where the leading families had absolute power over the centuries. Strongly patriarchaic.
Albarian Nobles make the law, the people have to live by it. Temples (not churches, the bell-tower-shape thing has to stay in our world) are usually small and some noble families may have a house god, nut in Albar no priest has political influence (or HE ends up framed or imprisoned very quickly, female priests are not allowed either). Only male gods are allowed to be praid to, mainly in the south-western regions of Albar.
Northern albarian regions are very influenced by Norodaj culture, which is nearby, and people and cultures have intermixed over the centuries. What is law in one province of Albar may not be law in another, since the noble families rule different, and as they see fit. Traditionaly, the northeastern areas are more tolerant and not poor, while the southwestern areas have much stricter and very supressive rulers, serfdom and much poverty. There is no real "use" for ethics or philosophy in Albar, since such ideas usually cause peasant uprisings. From the view of the nobles, it's best if the lower class beggars cannot read and stay out of politics and better pay their dammn taxes in time.
Albarian rulers use religion only to found their own, "god-given" positions. Another supportive thing is that magic is forbidden in Albar, only nobles are allowed to use it. That does not imply that albarian nobles are good mages at all! There may, however, be second or third or fourth siblings of an albarian noble family who are not direct heirs and have been sent to an academy, to support their family as court wizard or alike. However, nobles who are completely un-magically talented are usually looked down upon by those with "god-given" power. So, yeah, some of them may be pretty good at it, but not half as knowledgeable as the average Lor-Angurian scholar.
Peasants who are seen doing magic can at least expect to be flogged and cast out to live alone in the woods, well, the actual punishment totally depends on the mood of their noble ruler, that's why most of them flee to Lor-Angur. In a serious case it could easily be that the peasant gets beheaded. In the best case, and if the person showing talent seemed useful and obedient enough, the local lord may occasionally even decide that his long dead uncle may have fathered yet another unknown talented bastard who just happened to have been found. In many cases, that might even be true.
From Albarian View, these Salkamaerians may have brought the world the aqueduct, but their ideas of public school and smart, self-aware serf... uhm, citizens - are a complete pain in the arse because the own peasants tend to glorify their way of a "free" life and get a lot of unhealthy ideas from them. These bloited paladins are therefore a bad example for other countries and by the way, have these bastards not slain my dear uncle when he tried to conquer the crappy border villages that rightfully belonged to our country twenty-five centuries ago ?
Salkamar: It was indeed a little thought-fathered by ancient greece, rome and ancient Mesopotamia. Salkamar sees itself as the blooming center of ciivilisation in the world, and it might very well be that (only rivaled by Lor-Angur, most likely. There might be several far-away elven towns that have a somewhat...older...civilisation, but they are a whole continent further away and therefore do not count as known world for humans). You can expect all sorts of sciences, philosophy, religion, lots of debates and basic human rights there. But also a big military apparatus that acts as military, police, firefighters, road workers and public services at the same time (a little bit like the roman legion, however with paladin knights at the top and also spellcasters in their ranks). Salkamar is very wealthy due to centuries of ethical, "righteous good" based leadership. Which originates in the following:
The Salkamaerian descriptions are the outcome of an idea concept: "What would a society be like that had both its police and best teachers have both a deep spiritual faith and the ability that nobody can lie to them, with the almost fanatical belief that everybody is somewhat equal ?" Welcome to the salkamaerian Zhambra-cult paladin order. Which is one reason why you can expect almost no corruption in Salkamar, and another reason why salkamaerian leaders do pity the albarian people and usually do not get along with albarian leaders.
From Salkamaerian view, Albarian leaders rape their own country and their own kin, their people whom they should have bloody sworn to protect, Zhambra damm them barbaric bastards !
So, that kinda summed it up, i hope you can get a exemplaric picture from all my ramblings.