My world is collaborative post between me and my friend.
So, There is one nation that I'm fleshing out and it was overall a fun but I got writer's block.
Most of the evil shadow empire have corrupted nobles and hordes of corpses doing their bidding. But my empire was empire of explorers and salvages. They had toured the library of Shaokia even before they had settled in what OTL vinland was located. They have replicated Shaokkian's castle in the frozen bay to emulate the architecture of long vacant Shaokia, They even broke their ethic forboding slavery and war once just to force the old Shaokia residents to reside in their home. There was a secret lich lords and malicious shaman lurking around, but the empire was born from the hospitality of the shadowlanders and they will never let those magician corrupt their empire. They were good in general.
Enough of that, on to the important questions.
Since they were know as huge admirer of southern culture and have a rather soft policy toward westerner sky-wanderers, how can I make them look strong toward the westward wanderer? Their manpower is low and their Shaokian friends are supposed to be elevated highborn, who don't dirty their hands with blood.
Our world is low fantasy (The Last Avatar's bending ISOT to stone age) and there are no mystic beasts to tame for warriors. The wall is out of question since it would be too costly of expenditure for Arctic empire. The sorcerers were rare and even if they assisted in war, it would only be of help when their undeads were supporting living units.
Shaokia=Cahokia(Notable for building settlements strectching from Appalachia to Miluakwe)
Shadowbinder=Inuit(Notable for preserving the culture of Shaokia while retaining their own culture, And their colonies in greenland)
sky-wanderer=Various first nation migratory tribes(Notable for destroying Shaokian civilization and their strong sense of honors)