An ominous emblem begins appearing in tapestries, paintings, engravings, streets, etc. across the town or city in which the players are staying.
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?
The air had grown chill the minute they descended into the strange valley, which was unmarked on any of their maps. It was so strange here, devoid of animal life and completely silent. The horses were nervous the entire journey through the vale. As they set about to collect firewood for the campfire they could hear their own voices as dim echoes through the eerie silence.
The food didn't taste anything that evening and their sleep was cold and troubled by nightmares. While they are clearing camp the next morning, one of them stumbles over a piece of stone jutting out of the ground nearby the horses. On closer inspection there seems to be runes engraved into the polished surface. The symbols true meaning is no more known among mere mortals and if they decide to dig deeper, they will discover that it is an ancient altar buried within the soil.
Any historically oriented party member will recognize the largest symbol to be the insignia of the powerful warlock who ruled this realm several centuries ago. At their departure from the area, something will seem amiss with one of the party members and all will remember the stories of the warlock's thousand curses.