I'm sorry in advance if this is going to be a completely noobish question, I'm about to try something bigger than tweaking some lines of code here and there in RunUO/ServUO and I could use some advice in establishing a good starting point...

For the sake of learning the in-depth ServUO server creation and management and for some old-school UO related fun I'm considering trying to make a custom shard, initially tested with friends in case it works out, and quite possibly making it public in case something bigger and good enough ever comes to fruition. However, I'm thinking about making it a Pre-AOS one, possibly a Renaissance era one, since that's the era I remember and feel nostalgic about the most. I know there are some pretty big Renaissance-centric shards out there already (UO:Renaissance being the one that immediately comes to mind), I'm not really aiming to compete with anything huge like that, but like I said, it's going to start as a learning experiment and will progress as the time permits to see how far I can take it and how well I can make it. Even if nothing workable comes out of it in the end, the learning experience will already be worthwhile.

The question that I have is what would be the best starting point for creating and spawning a shard set in that era.

First of all, would using the most up-to-date ServUO version be a good idea here? I know that ServUO is mostly centered on running the latest possible version of the game and providing a feature set for the newest expansions. I've seen a toggle in ServUO for the expansion set, would switching that to UOR be good enough as a starting point to work with the older rule set, or does ServUO contain limited support for older rule sets?
Would it, perhaps, be a better idea to start with an older build of ServUO and/or a build of RunUO that would suit the feature set in question better? If so, what version would you advise to stick with, if you have experience with code bases centered around UO:R? I've seen some efforts online to recreate a more or less pure pre-AoS rule set by removing the unneeded newer features, such as RunUO.T2A by Grimoric or Ravenwolfe's Publish 16 release - would those be better starting points for an UO:R era shard?

Also, there is the question of basic spawning for the shard. ServUO has a really nice set of modern era spawns built into it, but I don't think that'll work well for older UO:R era locations (probably it doesn't support the old Haven and Occlo and whatnot?...) There are several older spawner systems available, such as the fabled Nerun's Distro or a release called "Accurate XML Spawns" dating back to 2016, but I'm not sure which one of them (if any at all) would be suitable as a good enough initial spawn for the UO:R time period. What would you recommend to start with? I'm sure there will be a lot of editing and tweaking along the way, so I'm not looking for a "perfect spawn set" (since there isn't one, at least publicly available), but I'm at least looking for a decent enough starting point that would spawn the correct facets and would provide a more or less decent coverage for them so that can result in something acceptable and workable that would be comfortable enough to work with and tweak and improve. If ServUO spawns or Nerun or Accurate Spawns can be used here, what would be the proper way to limit them to the facets and locations needed, so that nothing non-existent is spawned?

I've checked out some public Github releases of older shards but haven't found almost any that would refer to the UO:R period specifically. The only one I found (Defiance, for memory) did not have any spawns in its code base, and I couldn't figure out what was used as a base there unless it was spawned completely from scratch.

At any rate, any advice you can provide would be very good. Thanks a lot in advance for anything you may recommend and advise.