Over the course of my time as an operative I have developed relationships with several individuals in an effort to diversify the skills available to me. Some in my profession call them assets, I prefer to think of them as associates.
A list of quick personalities for the many faceless NPCs.
The Crew of the “New Hope”, a fine, and not so fine, bunch of seafaring men.
He shuffles along in his ragged clothing, mumbling “Leave me alone”.
Faster than the wind, this Red Cap Messenger flies (okay, okay, runs - but you get the idea).
A little way up the narrow valley, before they reach the woods, the PCs notice the squat, tumbledown buildings by the riverside. They are hardly big enough for a human to stand in, and the complex cogs and shafts that occupy the central cavity of one of the buildings are perplexing. What were these buildings? And how safe are they to explore?
Alternatively a desolate place is the perfect setting for a derelict chapel or croft. There needn't be any actual physical encounter involved, but it adds atmosphere to a place to see its dead history. For instance, in the Outer Hebrides there are whole deserted villages which were razed to the ground by the English during the Clearances. Such stories give a setting authenticity and character.