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!
A casual remark by one of the party about something met on a previous adventure leads to a summons to and grilling by the Mages' Guild (or equivalent), probably resulting in an expedition back to that area to recover the things for 'study' by the Guild. The party's presence will be 'requested' for this expedition.