In the Vrynenwood, the leaves are not what they seem.
When an opposing army brings in the big weapons, your kingdom has no choice but to ante up or fold - and a trained Battle Mage from the Guild of Arcane Combatants if nothing if not a big weapon. But what happens your generals and their generals have a common goal?
When running a new party, get around the question of plot density by having the first discovery to be a deck of fate, or whatever you call it. If you use a real deck, you should definitely stack it to have the desired outcome, which is to curse the party to attract weird things to happen and involve them. This should not be told to the players at the time, so that they won't just up and try to get themselves 'decursed'. Though quite why they would want to is beyond me.