The players unknowingly awaken an ancient army. Viewable by all, yet unseen by the players, people flee in fear of the marching army of spirits on the path to a major walled city. On arriving at the city the players cannot figure out why the gates are closed, the towers are manned and on the defensive - from them…
The characters must travel to Muspells-heim, the Nordic underworld, to find Wanrefax (DarkMane) the Black Dragon, subdue him, and ride him to joust with the Sky Wolves, releasing the sun from the cavernous belly of Hati
The characters are unwittingly embroiled in a rebel organisation, and must lead the Black Shield fighters to victory against the evil Halar, seeking out new hideouts, rescuing people from towns and generally doing what Robin Hood would have done in their situation.
The king is having a new wine celler dug when they find a ancient opening to a hidden dungeon.
The entire city is in an uproar. Two factions proudly identify themselves to each other by wearing red or white scarves or handkerchiefs on their bodies in plain site, or hanging them from their place of business identifying themselves and their belief. Apparently a very respected high priest of the local religion has recently disappeared and so has the entire church coffers leaving it penniless. A city divided on the possible guilt of the missing.
Nearby the village is a large lake said by the villagers to contain a water god. They tell the party that if they want good luck on their journey they should hire a boat and go to the center of the lake and give a donation to the god.
A long forgotten and abandoned mine has been recently rediscovered by a local village.
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.