The seafaring people of the Southern Islands value their ships greatly, as do other maritime nations. However, they take the beliefs about ships a bit further. A ship's name is very important, once it is named it shouldn't be renamed anymore, ever; most renamed ships seem to fail sooner or later. Ships do not tolerate parts from other ships, a single board from a wrong source can cost sailors their lives, so it is said.
Most ships are identified as female, very few as male, though there is no tale of how their personality is identified; it has nothing to do with the name, for example. The Clarissa (a well-known male ship) is said to like good wine. So whenever sailors or passangers drink, they have to spill a glass for the ship, too. But that is only the most known example.
Real World: some Indians in the Amazon treat their eyes with a traditional potion applied with palm leaves. Brutally painful, the drug alters vision, giving the jungle's dense green walls greater texture and dimension. You could adapt this to desert or swamps, or other hard to navigate regions.
The lengthy process to do something necessary or a magical scroll needed is inscribed on the other side of a great tapestry and can't be removed. For more fun it could be in the kings throne room. Try to hide in shadows with a 20*5 (yards/meters) monstrosity!
THE GNOMES OF UDNALOR: Part II
Having left the hush of the upper halls, and crossed the depths of the Braeth (an underground river, which is not all that deep because bear in mind we're talking about gnomes here), you would find yourself in Wattling Street, the main road through Udnalor. It's actually a long, well-worn passageway which opens out eventually into the City Centre. The gnome-buildings branch off Wattling Street as small burrows or caverns with boulder-blocked doorways for privacy. You can find armourers and smiths (though their armour tends to be on the small side for humans to buy) and many other types of trader.
There are many streets, ginnels and cooies which run off Wattling Street, the most famous probably being Smell Street, the domain of the infamous gnomish alchemists, the eponymous smell being very distinctive: the stench of cooking fungus, the aroma of subterranean spices, the pungent reek of rotting carcasses (used in some of the more notorious experiments). An encounter with an alchemist can really be spiced up (excuse the pun) if you have a well-stocked herb cupboard, and actually make up the potions, elixirs and draughts as they are ordered by characters.