An adventuress, Semma, has returned to her home village, but something has gone badly wrong: it's the furtive glances, the conversations that stop when she approaches, the childhood friends who now have no time for her. She returns to the town or city and enlists your party to help her find out what's going on.
The party must find out what is wrong: something (perhaps a Cthulhoid monster, perhaps a gang of vampires, perhaps just a bunch of bandits) is extorting obedience from the villagers by threatening their loved ones with at least death. Once the source is discovered, Semma and the party and a few brave yeomen (and women) must deal with the threat by finding its base and defeating it, and then deal with the remnant corrupted villagers who willingly served the Evil Force. These may prove to be the most difficult foe...
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.
A rare branch of the arcane masters, encountered only among the deepest hill folk or ramshackle cabins, the Saucerer takes his power directly from the consumption of cheap liquor. Only the strongest, rankest, most nauseating of homebrewed alcohol will do, where it is instantly converted into mana available to the caster. Without a minimum level of inebriation, the Saucerer will be unable to cast any spells, as focus inhibits his spellcasting abilities.
While walking through the mountains, emerging from several small crevasse near you and begin attacking the party member with the most exposed skin. The Beez are creatures the size of a fist, with minimal stats but high agility. There is ten or more beez. Their sting causes a immediate loss of hitpoints.
These humanoids have flesh that resembles a peeled orange or other citrus fruit: semi-translucent with prominent veins. Brightly colored, some Rutaceaens are orange, some are yellow, and some green. They prefer warm climates with lots of rainfall.
Arakis's zombie problem went largely ignored, because it was believed that the Shai-Hulud (sand worms) would effectively dispose of the undead walkers. Unfortunately the problem grew until the roving herds of sunburnt ghouls threatened the flow of spice. While observing one of the great reanimated masses over take a Harvester from the safety of an ornithopter, an Imperial Zoologists noted that the sand caked flesh eating revenants walked entirely without rhythm.
Shortly after receiving this report the Bene Gesserits claimed to have a solution to Arakis's hellish resurrections. They asserted to the agents of the great houses that the worms could be drawn to the walkers using an ancient sonic weapon. According to the sisters, exposing the zombies to an antediluvian ballad composed by the great master M. Jackson would force them to step in time.
Hu was an ambassador of the Seventh Emperor of the Reng Dynasty. Throughout his life he traveled across many miles and lands to entreaty with neighboring kingdoms and the semi-savages who dwelled amidst the Metal Mountains.
During one such diplomatic mission, Hu was gifted a small iron marble as a gesture, by a shaman of the Kiy-Kiy tribe. Little else is known of Hu, but that marble was lost and is now somewhere out there for someone to find.
A tiny, shiny sphere, the marble has several properties. First and foremost it is a strong magnet, considerably stronger than its size and density would indicate.
Secondly, if thrown or rolled upon the ground and the command word is spoken, the iron ball will magically enlarge to either the size of an ogres's head or to that of a great globe, twelve feet in diameter. The rolling ball of either size will continue to roll or fly at the same relative speed it was when launched as a marble, and can thus cause great damage to anything in its path. The magnetic power of the ball will also magnify when enlarged.
Legends claim that the ball has been tossed from besieged castles upon attacking foes and rolled at marching armies in ages past. At the end of such rolls, the larger size globe has been known to not only crush soldiers underfoot, but to also "collect" many dozens of metallic weapons and bits of armor unto itself, appearing as an armored sphere, with swords and spears sticking out from it in all directions.
Owning this powerful marble has its drawbacks. Anyone carrying it on their person, will experience the iron ball's insidious effects after some time. The owner feels no worse for wear, but after two month's time they will suddenly awaken one morning to find that their hair has fallen out completely, their teeth loosened like baby's teeth ready to drop, and their fingernails simply shriveled and sliding off the fingers and toes. Perhaps unbeknownst to the owner at first, the iron ball also renders an owner sterile or barren by this time.
Regular clerical healing will not reverse this horrible malady. Only finding and beseeching a shaman of the Kiy-Kiy tribe to heal the iron ball's effects with their particular brand of magic, will work.
Hu's Iron Ball should be handled carefully by players and gms.
Ursula is a were-bear; she and Stewart, the bailiff of a rural feudal estate, are lovers, sharing all their secrets as lovers often do. Recently something has been taking livestock. *He* must deal with suspicions that a bear is involved (one has been seen nearby...): *she* must defend herself if it is revealed (perhaps by a jealous suitor, perhaps accidentally) that she is a lycanthrope. The adventurers might be called in to track the hungry beast(s) and discover her secret, but be able to reveal that the culprits are a small pack of wolves that has moved in to the area. The adventurers might earn the gratitude of both Ursula and Stewart, depending on what they reveal, and to whom.
These rare, fist-sized spiders do not make webs, but rather excrete secretions which harden upon contact with air. These "droppings" resemble barley-sized spider eggs, or even lustrous pearls, once the slime coating them, dries up. In fact, dried Pearl Spider "drops" are indistinguishable from the marine varieties produced by mollusks, and hence of identical value on the open market!
Several centuries ago, they were studied by naturalists, and several observations were made. Firstly, was that these spiders "lay" these pearls for no apparent or discernible "natural" reason, and secondly, the naturalists had discovered that the more these spiders ate or were fed--and they were true omnivores--the larger the spider pearls came out.
A cottage industry began. Enterprising merchants hunted and collected these creatures across the lands, erecting spider-farms for the manufacture of Spider Pearls. It wasn't long before someone got the idea to force-feed the spiders, ala foie gras geese, and soon, the fattened spiders began pooping out pearls of great size! (relatively speaking). The regular pearl market came to disarray, and prices and value fluctuated wildly.
[b]Plothook[/b] The Mermen Mercantile Alliance hires the party to eradicate all terrestrial Pearl Spider Farms!
Just off the road a man lies dead, pierced through the heart from behind by an expertly thrown and ornate dagger which remains in the body. A long strip of cloth torn from the man's shirt has been tied around his neck; on the tag end an unknown hand has written a cryptic inscription: "For Djaygo."
When you get to the next town, everyone is talking about a mercenary woman found slain in exactly the same fashion in her room at the inn where she was staying.
With a huge number of sacrificial victims, another realm long ago secretly bound a Prince of the land spirits, Iorstonn by name, thus ensuring the fertility, and improving the magical defences, of their realm. But binding that Prince to one spot has disrupted the weather and magical patterns (ley lines?) over half the continent. Things have become bad enough that a coalition has been formed to rectify the situation, once divinations have established the cause.
Your party is one of the teams assembled to do the rectification: find the binding object and steal it ("so that we can destroy it here in our realm, of course"...*) or destroy it over there. Presumably the Prince will be grateful to his rescuers and angry at the binders, but with a greater spirit like Iorstonn one can never be sure: such beings are "tricksy".
* Of course, the rulers of our realm might want to control Iorstonn for their own ends...
You receive a vision of a rooftop "somewhere close by", where a rare moss grows; in the vision, you know the moss is suitable for greatly enhancing the effects of certain types of potions. Now go and find that rooftop. Don't fall off. (Of course, rooftop runners *will* be taken for miscreants by the local City Watch....)
The bronze Gladius Tyrvaard carries has been enchanted by the Spirits to be very heavy to any but the wielder. Tryvaard (or any others who use the blade) will find the sword light and easy to wield. Those on the receiving end receive a strike as if made by a much larger and heavier blade. For such purposes (damage, ease of parry, breaching armor), it strikes as if it were a two-handed sword of great size. The blade, being spirit-forged, is also extremely durable, well stronger then normal bronze.
A shape-shifter of some sort has taken up a post at the War College of an enemy realm, where he secretly picks off only the most promising officer cadets, arranging bizarre accidents that gradually debase the leadership of the hostile army. In the long run, this will improve his nation's chances when the inevitable conflict comes.
As a shape-shifter he can impersonate superiors and peers alike and send the target candidate to the cleverly-prepared site of his (or her?) execution. As long as he is successful, no-one will ever know about the deception--even necromancy will only implicate the one impersonated...
Among the assortment of organized criminals who live in the great city, few command greater fear the Moonbeard Order.
They of course do not call themselves that, but have earned the moniker from their fashion of dying their large beards with lye to produce a distinctive crescent shape running from earlobe to earlobe. This is meant as a taunt for their enemies, for it clearly outlines their throats.
They also wear garb similar to the northern tribesman, carefully tooled leather and showing multiple, colourful glyphs.
They are feared due to the intense discipline that their group maintains, due to their origins as a warrior-sect.
They serve as paid thugs, enforcers and assassins within the city, with the client simply ordering a service from the organization, not hiring an individual. Apart from making the request and providing payment in full in advance, the order completes the assignment themselves.
Their order has many moles through the organizations of the city, and more than a couple of nobles. As such, no organized move has been made against them since their chief activity is directed against other members of the crime world. It is said that their services have been useful for those in power as well, further protecting them from persecution.
Their religion holds that their time in this world is vanishingly brief, and largely unimportant except as training for the Great Battle.
The order is very utilitarian with weapons choice - they simply use the tool needed for the occasion, though not without having trained extensively with it beforehand. Daggers, garrottes, swords, bows, battle axes, polearms, wagons, even siege engines have been used to carry out their contracts.
Appearing a small ballista bolt, this ‘bolt’ is actually an arrow used by a god from a long-dead pantheon. Some sages theorize it was a weapon crafted by Loki to slay the world tree. Why it was never used escapes them however.
The spear has a divine-level anti-plant effect. When driven into the soil point first, a ever widening circle of destruction radiates out from the point, killing any plant material. Perfect for holding a kingdom’s food supply for ransom.
How far it extends depends of course on the GM, of course.
If it was a castle, it was the strangest one he had ever seen.
He of course saw the main tower - taller than anything he had seen outside of Stoneholt, the spire looked fragile and was topped by a glassed-in chamber.
The outer wall was so gently sloped that it would have only stopped a horde of hobbling old men, an able-bodied soldier could stride up to its crest with little effort. Within one saw a huge, nearly perfect bowl-shaped area with the base of the tower in the centre, covered in hundreds of mirrors.
This structure is a massive solar collector designed by the Wizard-King Aardwal in centuries past. He used the concentrated light in his investigations into the magic of light, and in the fashioning of flash crystals.
These magical boots empower the wearer with several abilities at once. Wondrous leaping, water-walking, and even flying! Yet the boots possess an insidious curse upon them as well. A deep and almost unfathomable (by others) feeling of listlessness, boredom, and even apathy affects the boots' wearer at all times whenever they are donned. Magic will not dispel the effects.
And so while the wearer of the boots can perform great feats of action during combat or at other opportune times and key moments, they'll never really want to do so, complaining "Meh, what's the point of it all anyway?" or "I would fly up and save us all guys, but sigh, maybe uhm, soonish, mkay? Bit bored by this whole burning tower at the moment."
Naturally the boots wearer's fellow PCs will grow quickly frustrated with this arrangement. There have been numerous occasions when one angry PC literally tears off the boots from his companion's feet in anger, and dons them in turn, only to immediately suffer from the same effects.
The solution lies in constantly "motivating" the boots' wearer with successful rolls, involving threats, flattery, fiery speeches, or even bribery.
A PC Conjurer or summoner, basically any mage whose sole purpose in life is summoning creatures to aid in battles and various situations, is cursed with a hex, and needs to find a way to undo the curse...before he goes mad, or his fellow PCs throw him out of the party, or worse.
Everything he/she summons, never goes away. So you'll have to figure out what the heck to do with that dire bear or fire elemental once it's done fighting the orcs for you. Eventually a caravan of bizarre creatures either annoyingly ends up following the summoner around, or they go off to cause mayhem elsewhere. Bad news for the poor spell-caster regardless.
Once every decade on the eve of St. Poskov's Day during mid-winter, the coastal city of Tiyabon experiences a horrific event. Quool's Tide rolls in, depositing hundreds of bloated, fish-eaten corpses upon the pebbly shores of Tiyabon's wide bay. This singularity is to this day unexplained, though countless theories abound. It is said for example, that these corpses are not eaten by the myriad fish of the seas completely, due to the fear all creatures of the seas hold for Quool.
Named for Quool, a terrible, antediluvian god of seas and storms, who no longer exists for he has no worshipers, the Tide chokes the beaches and surf with the countless rotting bodies of those who had perished at sea in a violent way.
Almost immediately, the lifeless corpses are fed upon by crabs, gulls, and worse things that await the horrid feast. The townsfolk let nature take it course with disinterested disgust, though lately some enterprising adventurers have taken to searching along the beaches of flesh for former deceased companions, with intentions of raising them again!
Surprisingly no undead ever rise from among the many corpses. This is also a mystery.
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.