I once read a book about a group of people who discovered a hidden temple city in a mountain range, where the Incas-the ancient civilisation of Peru- had fled to when the spanish invaded. When this group found the burial chamber of one of the inca high priests, they unleashed a powerful curse upon them all...
What about a 'criminal' society with distinct laws - for stealing, the larger the value of something stolen, the less punishment the courageous thief recieves (but must return it of course). For this pirates(?) caught petty thieves deserve to be punished harshly. If you take, you better take a lot.