A college campus for modern day settings, where things are more than they seem at first glance. (Good for a horror or mystery setting)
I would have never had thought one could come to like a rattling pile of walking bones, but Tohm simply grew on me. Watching him play checkers with Formuro was always amusing - whenever he took one of Formuro’s pieces he would rattle his jaw in joy.. From the diary of Professor Ethric, faculty of Divination.
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.