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.
In a small farming community, the only way to cross a river is to basically pole vault across. A small section of river has a small raft on a string to pull items across but for a person to cross they must use one of the many provided poles. Might be interesting seeing what the players do when they come across it. Villagers do it all the time so are skilled and can do it with ease.