A rich southern landowner once imported hundreds of thousands of spiders and distributed them along his long, tree-lined road. After a couple of days, when the spiders had make an incredible number of webs amongst the rows of trees, he spread fine gold and silver dust on them to create a spectacular shimmering view. (true story) It was for his daughter's wedding day.
A culture must hide its hands in the arm of their clothing as a sign of respect and peace. When approaching somebody you show them respect by crossing your arms and hiding the hands in the shirt sleeves. Nobody worries about hidden knives and such, it is the threat of magic that this custom was created to prevent.
King dresses as a commoner occasionaly and makes his way through the town. It is an unknown occurance so nobody expects it. This time he is mistaken for a thief and jailed. Not wanted to reveal himself, and always curious for the experience, he allows himself to be arrested. PCs also get arrested for something, probably guilty but pay a fine. How they act towards the 'king' could greatly change how their first meeting will be as the players always meet the king at some point.
A nation was conquered and the conquerers took control and put themselves in all positions of authority. One major problem, the new rulers and the now peasant/ruled class speak entirely different languages.
In a small farming community, the only way to cross a river is to basically pole vault across. A small section of river has a small raft on a string to pull items across but for a person to cross they must use one of the many provided poles. Might be interesting seeing what the players do when they come across it. Villagers do it all the time so are skilled and can do it with ease.
To purify the water from a certain river the monks have carved a section of the river that goes over a stone bed. Through holy carvings of gods, godesses, and holy symbols and then the river flowing over them, it purifies the water making it safe for drinking and/or makes it holy water. For rivers that do not have natural rock bottoms, large smooth stones can be carved and added to the water to fully cover the bottom.
As they travel they notice a horrible rotten smell. As they travel it gets stronger and stronger forcing them to cover their noses and mouth less they choke on the horrible smell. Stream full of dead fish. Spawning trout die in mass quantities after they spawn littering areas with dead fish dying and deteriorating in the sun.
As they travel they notice a horrible rotten smell. As they travel it gets stronger and stronger forcing them to cover their noses and mouth less they choke on the horrible smell.A small goblin tribe preparing a wedding feast. The wedding is between two tribes as a gesture for peace, if the PC's intefere, feirce fighting could break out.
As they travel they notice a horrible rotten smell. As they travel it gets stronger and stronger forcing them to cover their noses and mouth less they choke on the horrible smell. Rotting animal carcass that has been ripped apart and tracks all over, covered in maggots.
In nature, for instance, a rhino has flies and ticks etc, that live on the hide and live off the blood. Rhino will visit and lie in ponds where turtles will clean the underwater portion of the ticks and a species of bird will clean the the top of ticks and other parasites. What if where the characters camp there were a species of animals that lived off wounds of the creatures. PCs camp. Anybody with wounds on there body are soon covered with small rodent - insect - shadows - whatever. Would immediately see it as a threat I would imagine. But perhaps one of the wounded didn't wake up when it happened, and when they did finally wake they were completely healed. Perhaps somebody was warned of something attacking them but they were able to notice that the wound was actually getting smaller instead of larger. Or maybe they successfully beat the creatures off them and don't notice an improvement, marking this place never to rest at ever again....later learn that villagers send their wounded there but they keep it a guarded secret because they don't want all the attention or traffic and what comes with such a special gift. Could turn into something more too if characters decide to start blabbing about it.
The PC's enter a town amid a giant celebration, the Spring Wedding Festival. Unmarried men and women from all over the provinces gather her every spring to be matched by the most sacred matchmaker ever to live, Holly Lovard. Holly is now ancient and must be carried everywhere she visits and rumors are that this will be her last visit to the Wedding Festival so any matches made this spring will be doubley blessed.
Enter PC's, wrong place at the wrong time. Molly sees one of them, calls him/her out of the crowd and that are unable to resist the push and pull of the mob. Brought in front of Molly Lovard, the PC is declared the lifemate of
Could be the king's daughter, a peasant, member of the thieves guild. Could be anything to add a twist to an already building plot, or just throw the characters into an awkward situation.
Something lives in the fog in a certain region and travels with the fog. Kidnaps or kills, or is simply heard and "felt". ... fog is rising, heed the warnings the elders spoke!
A revolt or attack happens against a strong city/kingdom. All the losers of the battle that can be captured are brutally crucified along the roads that enter the kingdom to show their strength and as a demonstration of what happens to their enemies. ... a long road, decorated with hundreds of dying crucified soldiers... You see them bleeding, you hear them screaming and whispering for help. Do you really want to enter this reportedly peaceful kingdom?
Small tavern in an out of the way town. Serve a wonderful delicacy that is simply outstanding. It is a creamy white consistancy, sweet, good to eat alone or a sweetener on any dessert. If the explore or ask they are shown where they get it. They breed a group of large catipillars or some other type of insect that basically spit the product onto a setup that they created for that particular reason. Or maybe the delicacy is the byproduct of feeding them something. Instead of city can be a traveller offering the food.
Mining in a certain area turns all exposed skin (maybe just parts that are actively disturbing the chemicals that cause the reaction) of the those doing the mining to a dark blue color. Will wear off taking as many years/days spent in the mine. ... meeting a party of blue-skinned humans armed with pick-axes etc. Strange disease? Demon offspring? Curse? If they meet only one ex-worker, they will very carefully listen to any stories he says, no matter if drunken or insane, or just makes up to get a beer.
Diseased people, (leprosy or any other such fear inducing disease) when traveling, will often times wear a cloak that entirely covers their body and ring a bell as they travel, used as a warning for any others to stay away. Could be used for a disguise or safe passage. ... you meet strangely cloaked people, sometimes ringing a bell. "Please give us something to eat, mighty heroes!" This is time to show how good they are.
Herbalist in the group mistakes one plant for another and mistakenly poisons the group. Not to death, but pretty darn ill with recurring symptoms until the cause and cure are realized. (Local people may be able to help rather easily. "You ate Dragon's Rot you fool, looks and smells just like mint except it has these small thistles on the root. Only grow in the Hornwood Forest, that must be where ya got them. Eat this and you will feel better in 4 hours."
PCs camp for the night in a dry pine forest. Fire skill of the person that made it is usually pretty good, but during the first watch the unexpected happens: a spark lights the surrounding woods and a brush fire quickly starts. Be quick or it could turn into a disaster that could affect the entire region.
Could come across a band of refugees. Could have been thrown out of their town by a tyrant taking of their land, bought out by somebody unexpectedly, fleeing a battle they know is coming their way. Could be proof of what they are searching for, hints and tips of what is to come, or just to broaden the reality of the world.
Young kid from last town has been following the PCs and doing a rather good job at it. PCs weren't expecting to be followed so weren't worried and the boy/girl was careful. Notice the follower a couple days out of town, kid ran out of food and started getting careless. Followed the 'mighty adventurers' to see if he could join them. Father is a wealthy merchant. Bring him home, bring him with, send him off? What do you do with an unwelcomed guest.
Castoria was once a thriving and prosperous nation, a rich trade center for the surrounding lands. This all changed when, on one fateful night nearly a century ago, the Mist of Eternity rolled in and surrounded the land, obscuring more of the outside world as days and nights passed.
By the time the Mist blocked out the sun, a new light shone during what was assumed to be daytime: The Starpoint Spire, a mysterious place atop Castoria's highest peak in the northern-central region. Some say that there is some sort of building atop the mountain shining the dim "sunlight" onto the land, but it is only ever too bright or too dark to fully make out any structure, not to mention the mountain's immense height.
Not a month after the Spire's light lit up, the stars fell. Flaming rocks and debris from far-flung edges of space plummeted downward onto the eastern region of Castoria. Once the shower subsided, a strange energy from within the fallen stars transformed the eastern lands in what are now known as The Voidwastes, a barren gray land littered with craters and strange alien creatures (these can vary, but I had Pathfinder's Akatas in mind).
To the south, strange mechanism of eldritch origin are again at work after aeons of rest in the Ruins of Kchuthngnl, an ancient city of non-human creation that is estimated by scholars to be no less that five millennia old.
To the west, the once peaceful and serene forest, now known as The Plagued Woods, has been experiencing corruptions of the wildlife and humanoids living there. Some humans have reported creatures that appear not unlike a halfling, except that they can open their mouths to massive proportions to swallow creatures the size of an ogre.
When adventurers and citizens alike try to make an escape from Castoria, they are never seen again, and it is utterly unknown whether they found hopeful sanctuary or agonizing death withing the Mist's depths.
What is unknown to all residents of Castoria is that all of these events occurred because of the actions of a secret but powerful cult loyal to the Elder Gods who call the space between the planes their abhorrent home. The cult still lives on, larger than ever, and their plan is for the alien horrors to incubate and thrive within the dome of mist that now envelops Castoria, so that when the Elder Gods return as the cult's prophecy foretells, they will have an army of blasphemous creation at their disposal that they will use to make war with and enslave the denizens of the Material Plane.