There exists a prestigious academy with a history going back hundreds of years. Graduates are highly skilled and very much sought after for employment. For purely traditional reasons, the academy requires its students to become proficient in a skill or area of knowledge that has no use in the modern world. This could be Ancient Egyptian, an antiquated form of writing such as shorthand, knowledge of building or repairing antique steam engines, programming COBOL, etc. PCs who graduated from this academy must be sure to have this skill in their repertoire.
In the harbour of a major city a large and terrifying ship made of human nails docks. Nobody seems to inhabit this ominous vessel, someone needs to go on board and unveil the mystery. In comes the PCs.