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.
A large river that is continuously covered in a thick layer of fog. There will be either a rope ferry to get across or possibly a boat that is rowed across by worshippers of the water elementals. It is very thick fog to the point where it even muffles voices even at close range and visibility even beyond a foot is almost impossible.