Imperial debacles, heroic last stands, the valiant defence of an island, arduous desert crossings and a deadly hunt with the PCs as prey, not predator can all be found in The Variscan War, a mini-campaign (25-40hrs) for medium-high level characters.
The evil mage Zarakoth is dead, but with his death the world has gone mad. The aging characters are confronted on all sides by rot, death and decay whilst around them the world regresses rapidly to the stone age. Furthermore, Zarakoth seems to have miraculously not died - and to be more powerful than ever.
The master thief Slith could steal a ring from the finger of an elf or the crown at a king’s coronation. He had stolen the great jewelled idol from the Temple of Imor at the climax of the Festival of Summer. Stealing the Ruby Sceptre from the archmage Bryseis should have posed no trouble to a thief of Slith’s talents. It didn’t: it was only afterwards that the trouble started.
Sometimes, just sometimes, the best response isn’t to go for your sword first and ask questions afterwards.
Most advenurers have been forced to do a stint as caravan guards at some point in their career, just to see them through hard times. One would hope that they’d learned enough from the experience to pull off a successful raid themselves. The only catch - they mustn’t kill anybody.
Nearly every primitive culture has had rituals and celebrations to guarantee the proper passage of the seasons and to ensure the fertility of crops and animals. Oversight of these ceremonies was generally the provenance of local kings or priests.
Suppose that the adventurers dispatch one of these fellows. The local peasants may become hysterical, fearing famine and death will stalk the land. Alternatively, they may want one of the new heroes to become king. For a while, this can be a good thing, but the first time that the crops fail, the superstitious locals will want to sacrifice their new leader.