When running a new party, get around the question of plot density by having the first discovery to be a deck of fate, or whatever you call it. If you use a real deck, you should definitely stack it to have the desired outcome, which is to curse the party to attract weird things to happen and involve them. This should not be told to the players at the time, so that they won't just up and try to get themselves 'decursed'. Though quite why they would want to is beyond me.
Gnomes are famous for their festive springtime celebrations. Farm villages will often dye their hens eggs bright colors; with gnomish magic, the chicks that hatch from the eggs have the very same colors. The chickens eventually lose their hues, but the stronger the magic, the longer the color stays. In a gnomish village, one can easily spot the village shaman by his flock of gaily colored fowl.