I'm reposting my same reply from another topic. I think the uniqueness of the game should revolve around essence, and essence should only be available for Sov. Mana and Essence completely separate. As an addition to the below post, I think Essence amount should be a game setting - all sov start with 0, 5, 10, 20, etc. So the ability to make a godly light/godly heavy game since it would essentially be a finite resource.
Back when I heard of this game I thought the coolest feature was the sovereign - a badass with the capability to restore the land, you could walk the land as a wrecking crew or use your essence to improve the land and your kingdom. The way it is now, he's just the first spell caster with the ability to grant others essence...whee.
Sovereign should start the game out in mid game form. Essentially a "god" compared to everything else - barring the other "gods" who so happen to have their own agendas. At the start of the game they can move with impunity and take on large armies (of weak troops) single handedly - casting spells or laying about them with their weapon (depending on initial starting preferences...make them mean something!!!). Essence would be limited, say 10-20 or so and very very difficult to recover. The essence is the source of their power (i.e. 1 essence = 3 in every stat or 1 essence = 3-5 stat pts that can be configured) (possibly also tie into spell availability (or stat based spells) and spell/weapon damage). Once essence is spent, it reduces their power...and when 0 - they die.
Essence would then become the most important feature in the game, or at least the most game changing. The use of and permanent loss of becomes a continuous strategic decision - stay strong, or weaken self to make empire strong.
The primary/necessary use of essence would be to enliven the land - create bounty where desolation exists. Get rid of the initial free food resources, keep most of the food technologies. Make finding grassland or a food resource a rare event. Go back to the idea that food is needed to grow, but cities can be built on grassland.
High level spells would cost essence (huge summons, volcanoes, etc)
Imbuing a hero with mana would cost essence (possibly have some heros start with mana). Possibly make imbue a +mana or +melee ability, or (back to stat based spells) a configurable stat exchange.
Essence would be used to create unique and powerful artifacts
Essence would be used to create resources/permanent city/kingdom enhancements. Possibly kingdom "auras" - Spend 2 essence to give your empire magically enhanced mining capability = +50% mining bonus.
Dying would cost essence.
At some point in the game a decision needs to be made to keep the sov at home and protected as the wandering mobs and armies get too tough, or restrict his essence use to remain a force out in the open. The goal would be that the troop output of an essence buffed kingdom could equal (in different ways) that of a buffed out sov + army to allow different playstyles. Hypothetically a 3 city kingdom and big sov could be the equal to a 20 city kingdom and now weak sov.
Could also tie in dynasty here, kids could be the one of the few ways to generate essence into the world. Sov+Norm would potentially create a child with reduced essence (say 3 kids, 1 has good stats, 1 is a normal or maybe mana, 1 has stats+mana+a bit of essence or if lucky you get multiples with essence)
Back to the original point of the post, with gargantuan stats normal equipment isn't feasible and there would have to be sov only equipment.