All the math on this one should be done by the DM. Let the wielder suffer for a little as he rolls a 19, misses, and his thief friend rolls a 17 or something and hits. Isn't messing with players fun? Go to Comment
Maybe a person starts off using this sword (knowing nothing about it, of course), and quickly gains a reputation as a great swordsman (due to the sword.) Imagine their surprise when they use another sword and discover that they use another sword and discover that they're really extremely bad. Go to Comment
There's always the age-old possibility that the sprite was confined for a good reason and that letting him out will have bad consequences: maybe he was a thief or murderer. Maybe the sprite is a carnivorous scavenger and wants the mage to fall into the gorge and die providing him with a tasty meal. Go to Comment
Back to the plot!
Combine that comment above with another plot on this page...
After freeing the spirit it will be so thankful that it becomes the mages unwanted companion, helping where it can (thievery included). Solve this. Go to Comment
What exactly was the lesson the sprite was supposed to learn? Also, consider the possibility that the sprite can't read, or at least can't read the scrolls the mage had. The sprite could become a companion, at least for the trip to the bottom of the gorge, for some time.
What killed the mage? Yes, there's undead at the bottom of the gorge, but are they really so powerful or numerous to have overwhelmed the mage? There could be a more nefarious force that killed the mage - A magic poor area. The victim mage blundered into the undead and tryed to use his spells to destroy them, only to find his magic unavailable. Even simple skeletons and zombies could overpower a magicless mage. Go to Comment
What about the scroll? Has it survived all these years, or is it useless? Maybe the magic on the scroll is differnt in essence from common-day magics?
What about the sprite, it might bot be alive after all these years (even if he thinks he is alive) & can never truely leave the area. Go to Comment
Besides this plot seemingly being submitted for the wrong category (I agree this is more of an encounter as opposed to a side-quest but then possibly the author has his own interpretation of what constitutes a side-quest), I think this is a solid submission. Not that original and refreshing in itself but then it did spark nice inputs from others that have added a great deal to it. Go to Comment
I wish I had something I could contribute to the submission to make it better other than a vote, but I don't. It's riddled with unanswered questions and any I might say are more or less echoes of previous commenters.