A party of adventurers walk along late on an open plain, on a moonless night. Abruptly, War screams, the clanging of metal and death-cries are heard. It is an open plain, and nothing is seen, but the sound of a huge battle is all about them. The sounds continue for a half hour before stopping as suddenly as they started. What was it? Perhaps the ghouls of a long-gone battle, reliving their unfortunate last memories...
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.