So, what is the Ven Cluster?
In programming, ideally, we try to write reusable code. We tuck it away into a library and pull it out when we need to use it again. Once you have a routine written to handle mouse input, you file it and then reuse it the next time you write a program that uses a mouse.
So my goal was along similar lines - to make a reusable setting, one that I could use for a series of games. Since I'm not an artist, that ruled out a fantasy settings, as smooth straight lines of science fiction objects are much easier than the bumps and curves required by organic-looking things, such as monsters. And similarly, it rules out a modern setting, as the level of detail we expect from a game in a 'modern' or current setting is exhaustive - not to mention, it's harder to carry versimilitude with some concepts. So, that left me with a science fiction setting.
I also wanted a fairly tight game world, to able to control where the player resides and how they move around it. Given that it's science fiction, it's reasonable to think faster-than-light travel is workable in some way, but I didn't want to be jetting around a whole galaxy! So, a star cluster, instead - a closely arranged group of stars. I also have the freedom to expand if necessary, and introduce new elements, by extending the cluster to new stars or other sci-fi phenomena, like wormholes or whatnot. Then further, to provide factions for intrigue that were again, reusable, the star cluster became an Empire, with a court and noble houses. This also allows the flexibility for the games set in the Cluster to have the player take, or choose sides, as none of them are intrinsically "bad" or "good". Furthermore, the Empire setting allows dynastic games, where there are the constants of noble houses, but variations of who is emperor and who is the duke of this or that.
The end result is the Ven Cluster - a group of 29 star systems, over which is spread four noble houses, an Imperial noble house, a Church, as well as groups of pirates and other minor affiliations.