"The Cetemi have a most curious custom that in their celebrations must all men don the garb of women and women... the garb of men, to the aim that none shall... know another." -An Account of Barbarian Lands, Lord Shakthur
A civilization which constructs of irregular shapes constructed of a light metal, heaped together so that they stand on each other; these structures rattle and bend in the wind or at a push, but ultimately hang together except under heavy force (such as cannonballs, falling stones, floods)
"It is said that among those people they have a loathsome custom- that they keep a spotted dog always waiting beside the gate of the yard where they bury the dead, and that in every funeral they allow this spotted dog to feast upon the dead, so that it grows fat and wise with the knowledge of the dead... Many necromancers do seek out these spotted dogs, and ask of them sciomantic knowledge, or take them as familiars." -Author unknown, "The Ways of the Necromancers"
A certain culture has a curious pass-time- muscle art.
Muscle artists (who are called by a special name) work hard to sculpt their bodies, trying to become as muscular and buff as possible. The best among muscle artists look almost grotesque in their amazing muscularity, Atlas-like giants with shiny, oiled iron arms and legs.
I have heard (from an Afghan man that I know) that in Afghanistan, they will construct kites, and then tie or tape pieces of glass and shards of pottery to the kite-strings and have "kite-battles", where they try to use the sharp shards on their kite-strings to cut the opponent's strings.
From an episode of Justice League Unlimited:
The God of War creates a giant, unstoppable robot (golem, animated armor, etc.) as a weapon for one side in a civil war; his purpose is to prolong the war and create suffering and war among humanity.
Quote from Ares in that episode, which would go well with this idea: "That's all you mortals are good for! To fight and fight and fight until there is nothing left but charred land and blood and bones, and to end it all and then start again with the next generation!"
Elves are not actually aloof. They are actually extremely family-based and insular, and often intermarry inside their families, making them uncomfortable around those not of their family. Therefore, they shield themselves behind pretended aloofness and coldness until they are comfortable in others' company.
The king's palace is destroyed by a falling star, which detonates like a nuclear bomb in the center of the city. When the inhabitants grow brave enough to investigate the ruins of the palace, they find a new ruler, one from beyond the stars, emerging from the meteor.
These goatlike animals, who have shaggy coats and layers of scales, are good retainers of water. They are close relatives of Suppoki. Their meat is considered a delicacy in many countries.
No desert tribesman leaves his settlement without a Rakda.
These creatures are desert animals that are much like huge, quadripedal sloths. They have a hide made of heavy scales to keep out gritting sand, and over that, a thick coat of fur.
During sandstorms, and when they sleep, Suppoki bed down in the sand, covering themselves up until they are miniature dunes.
Suppoki derive what sustenance they can from water sinks, dew, and underground insects.
Suppoki are often ridden by desert tribesmen. They are stubborn and slow, but are often the difference between life and death out on the sands.
In a certain nation, no-one except the Emperor is allowed to have a name. Therefore, the people give themselves pseudo-names called "callings". Examples of callings: A family is known as the Red Sparrow family. The father is called Swooping Red Sparrow. The wife is Bright Red Sparrow Blue Lizard because she was called Bright Blue Lizard before marriage. Their daughter, until she becomes an adult, is Daughter of Red Sparrow. Their sons are Eldest Son of Red Sparrow and Younger Son of Red Sparrow.
The Water-Rift is a massive crater in the center of the desert, in the center of which sits a large, unfathomable machine that produces water. Thusly, it is a veritable paradise in the center of the burning desert, and a unique culture exists there.
The Earthblood Warrens are a series of caverns in which dwell men who live around the Earthblood Vein, a river of magma. They use the magma from the Earthblood Vein to warm and light their homes and cook their food. The Warrens are several miles long, stretching along the banks of the Earthblood Vein, and since nobody wants to walk that far, the Earthbloodmen capture large, magma-swimming serpents, which they train and ride.
The desert is a curse from the Water God upon the wicked people who live in the South.
Said people offended the Water God in some way, and so the Water God placed water-trappers, bizarre, water-sucking beings, in the soil, and within years, the wilderness became a desert.
Thus, the desert folk shamans have special powers that allow them to find water-trappers so that they can be dug up and their water harvested.
There are ruins, scattered about the world, and all are sealed with unbreakable locks.
When all of these locks suddenly open, what emerges?
Loud war-screams shatter the silence of the forest. The party, scrambling quickly over the thick forest floor, are ambushed by savage elves, dropping down from the trees and rock outcroppings. Their hair is cropped into mohawks and their arms are striped with tattoos.
They attack, and scalp unfortunate victims.
The heroes find the crumbling, overgrown ruins of what appears to be some sort of grand dining hall in the forest. Deciding that it is a good place to camp, the set up a fire in the center. However, they are woken in the night to see skeletons waltzing in the moonlight to organ music that emanates from the open air. The skeletons touch nobody, dancing around them all night.
In a high canyon in the mountains, the players find a skeleton in a cage suspended from a pole. A few miles further, they find another, and a third contains a partially rotten corpse. The fourth contains a living man who looks as if he hasn't eaten in days. Turns out to be the local way of punishing criminals.
There is a race of beings that have endless lifespans. Because of their eternal existence, the only forms of time which they understand are being and non-being. They do not understand words or ideas such as past, future, present, yesterday, today, tommorow, then, now, when, until, ect. They do understand yes, no, live, die, on, off, there, not there, existent, non-existent, ect.
Recently, agents of a necromancer's guild known as the Guild of Morticians have been seen slinking around the graveyards in the metropolis of Jeffsport. They have been seen with many small undead creatures, leading to speculation that someone may be digging up the corpses and selling them to the Guild of Morticians. The Jeffsport Civil Authorities Office and various splinter groups thereof, including the famous Blue Lampsmen (the Jeffsport city guard), have issued a bounty of 100 silver pieces for information leading to the capture of whoever is selling the corpses to the necromancers, and a 30 gold piece bounty on any member of the Guild of Morticians.
A nifty little encounter appropriate for any powerful sorcerer/magically adept monsters lair.
When the party have penetrated to an appropriatly impressive level/room they encounter The Door, this door is a vessel through which the Sorcerer/Monster can safely work against any intruders, the door is heavy duty iron bound studded oak wrought with craft skill and magic, set in the middle is a crystal orb, once the party get within a preset distance the orb flickers briefly as the door warns its "master" of the intruders, the master can then effectivly possess the door itself, this means that all movement the door is capable of (i.e. opening and closing) come under the control of the master, the master can also cast spells from the door as if he were there himself, all the while any damage that is inflicted in return merely damages the door, this will in effect ruin any of the parties chances of surprise, allow the master to assess the parties abilities while remaining safe and sound and finally will probably cause the party to waste some of their juicier items/spells on a chunk of wood and iron, and if the master happens to have a deadly spell or three it could also reduce the size of the party,
Of course if you wanted to be really nasty you could have the door open to admit one person and then slam shut on the second person (squish) whilst blasting away with every spell in the mastrs repetoir