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.
Woodrats - In a fantasy realm of cooshee (elven dogs/cats) it is to be expected that there is some sort of elven vermin. These mercurial rats are lightning quick, and are capable of hiding in plain sight. Other than this, they have no special ability.