What if potions and tonics had negative side effects? Potions of increased strength cause violent tempers, or damage joints. What if potions of dexterity caused tremors, or palsy?
What if they were addictive, and had withdrawal symptoms?
Could someone make a bad batch? No one use the brown strength potion!
Tarot Cards are used by Magic folks to predict the future (cartomancy). Since the present becomes the future through the interplay of elementally alligned forces, the tumble of cards can give clues to the way the pattern of elements will be in the future.
This means a wizard will have a deck of cards with them. Since cards were used to train wizards in legerdemain, Since they have cards with them, they frequently know how to use them. Guild magic users often have a knack for fancy shuffles, palming cards, and a variety of card tricks and games.
Mages/ wizards and such use cards (playing cards or tarot cards) as training tools. The patterns created by certain layouts of cards are mnemonic devices to teach key elemental associations and paths. With such interesting names as the Tree of Life, Phoenix's tail, Rythm of Heart, and Balance of the sphere, there pattern represent the matrices used by magic users to focus and present power. Spell processes can be represented by a sequence of cards.
So mages will often be seen handing around hands of cards.
Wizards will have a deck of cards with them. Since cards were used to train wizards in legerdemain, Since they have cards with them, they frequently know how to use them. Guild magic users often have a knack for fancy shuffles, palming cards, and a variety of card tricks and games.
A simple flag, faded by time and sun, tattered and worn by untold years flying from the pole of a bannerman, passing hands from officer to officer, from one generation to another. It is a humble symbol of great importance, and greater inspiration to those who see it. Soldiers become heros filled with espirit de corps, enemies loose their nerve and fire. It is not an enchanted item, but a powerful item still...
As the PCs cross a brigde/tree over a deep river they see the glimmer of gold and jewels lying at the bottom. At further inspection they notice that it is the skeleton of a man still holding on to a sack of treasure. Will the PCs try to dive to get it? What killed the man? Did he simly not let go of the bag he could not swim to the surface with? What cleansed his bones so? Are there flesh-eating beings that dwell in the deep? Can the players resist the chanse of being wealthy for once?
The PCs have travelled long and far. As nightfall approaches a mighty storm is unleashed. Luckily there is a lush wood nearby the path.
A good shelter for the rage of the unnamed weather gods it seams at first. As the PCs enter under the roof of this dense wood, they are welcomed by only a few drops wich is allowed trough the thick forest crown. A fire is offcourse required to warm the weary bones of the travellers. As one of the party is set to the task of collecting firewood the others settle down at a suitable location. But alas, they did not know the perils of this forest. But it seems clear to the rest of the party that something ill is at work as the woodcutters scream echo from afar.
Imagine a tribe of nomads where all the males have the blessing of being were-stallions. The tribe would not need to have ordinary horses to move around, all mounted warriors would be female and a curious custom could be that when a couple gets married, the girl rides her chosen to the altar.
There is a certain kind of silver-coloured spider who's bite injects an addictive drug into the person that creates a sense of euphoria. Once bitten the PC has a 50% chance of being addicted to the spider's bite and will carry it around with him or her.Long term use leads to serious injury or death.At first the PC will just seem a bit slower or sleepier then normal.
Within a kingdom the prince or princess has died or been killed and the Queen has been driven half-insane with grief.What if one of the PC's was mistaken for the dead prince or princess and not allowed to leave? There would be advantages in accepting the role, but would it be worth it?
A character who is undergoing changes of personality (like buying off mental disadvantages - flaws - or changing alignment) might confront personifications of aspects of his personality in dreams: a griffon representing the courage he needs to face a terrible foe, or a satyr standing for the lecherousness a warrior must overcome to be admitted to an order of knights who must uphold vows of chastity.
If mana recovered slowly enough, and mages could pass it on freely between them, the ephemeral force would become a valuable trading commodity on its own.
What if a mage passes his powers on to his firstborn son, and a female mage to her first daughter, leaving the parent POWERLESS? A plain mortal, a sorcerer no longer, all wizardly might gone?
Or: what if a female wizard recieves the power of a mage who sires a child with her? Could lead to promiscuous witches and overly careful mages.
What if cancer is not an ailment if one has a will powerful enough, and knows what do do. What if one using the right techniques could control it and use it to become immortal, or to grow into something else?
Pick up a pathology/microbiology book, and add the diseases/syndroms to your game. Your players will freak out.
Coughed at? Diphteria. or tuberculosis?
Drunk from a muddy stream? Or just walked through? Well, let us introduce you to schistosomiasis...
Hit by a stream of energy? Too moch mana is ust like too much radioactivity - perhaps all mages could develop cancer early if too powerful...
Elves are not actually aloof. They are actually extremely family-based and insular, and often intermarry inside their families, making them uncomfortable around those not of their family. Therefore, they shield themselves behind pretended aloofness and coldness until they are comfortable in others' company.
The PCs traveling along the road/path/trail begin to hear a low droning sound. As they approach they find their path obstructed by hundred of thousands of droning insects. Locusts swarm though the air, feasting on the grass and plants. Passage will be slowed, but the insects pose no threat to the party, aside from being crunchy and disgusting underfoot, climbing into pouches and eating exposed food goods.
Expansion from the Horse Brass item: Specific Armor charms.
Cooling Touch Charm: protects horse against extreme heat, and fire, magical and mundane
Jove's Favor: tin charm shaped by a lightning bolt that protects a horse primarily from natural lightning, but also potentially from lightning based attacks. In real life, lightning kills quite a few horses and cattle a year.
Hermes' Blessing: gold charm that grants the horse magic resistance, and perhaps immunity to cantrip level magics.
Vulcan's Steed: This large iron charm in epic fashion renders the steed invulnerable to iron weapons. Such things clatter off of the animal's hide like twigs.
You wake in a pub and see that it's full of were creatures, and they're all staring at you with a scared look on their faces. As you continue on into the pub you look at your arm. You notice that your arm is covered in thick brown hair. As you continue on into the pub you look in a mirror, and staring back at you is a 7 foot werebear. As you continue into the pub people start to shy away form you. Once you go the bar you ask the weretigress that's the bartender and begin to ask her why everyone is shying away from you, and she begins ro tell you why.
The king's palace is destroyed by a falling star, which detonates like a nuclear bomb in the center of the city. When the inhabitants grow brave enough to investigate the ruins of the palace, they find a new ruler, one from beyond the stars, emerging from the meteor.
Animals have parasites and diseases, so do plants, there are even bacteria that cann dissolve oil spills or plastic or what have you - why couldn't there be a disease living off magic - a magic item could be infected, losing power and speading the plague to other equipment it contacts, while a magic user would slowly lose his powers and contaminate all he works with or casts a spell at...