Last night, your buddy was thinking about calling one of those crazy psychic hotlines, he was really depressed, his girlfriend dumped him, and he wanted some good news. You know they’re all a scam, they give you some advice that could apply to everyone and a large bill to boot. You told him to go for it.
But now he’s missing. All you have is his cell phone, and something is wrong with it. You found it in your toilet today. Yeah, your toilet. It’s got all his old numbers and a few you don’t recognize. You tried to call some, but all you got was a what sounded like a bunch of voices muttering at once. What the hell is going on here?
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.