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.
You pass through a woodland with a floor that seems remarkably clean of debris. Suddenly your attention is drawn to a twisted bit of wood by the trail side, a short broken twig with several stubs of branches along its length and most of the bark missing. When you reach it, the twig blurs and turns into a small brown lizard, caught in the middle of its body-twisting run. The little reptile darts away down the trail with impossible speed, no doubt magically enhanced, and is lost to sight in a moment. Now someone knows you are coming...
Molk Peruda is encountered by the PCs on the second day of their journey west from the salt-choked port of Quyn, as they prepare to explore the jungle.
He appears a gaunt, wolfish man, with matted, dark hair that sprouts from his head in dreadlocks, contrasting with his well-oiled, blue-black, conical beard. His eyes are hidden ebon shards beneath thick arching brows, his nose, crooked, long, and reminiscent of a snout. His mouth is a thin, dark line, his teeth unseen even when he parts his lips to speak.
His skin is the color of tallow, surprising perhaps for a renowned jungle guide, yet his natural helm of dreads and the jungle's canopy keeps the sun from bronzing his originally pale flesh. On his back are tattooed three women from the waist up, side-by-side, each resembling the other but of different ages. This is a tattoo of Molk's mother, sister, and daughter. His wife (don't bring her up to him!) was killed by marauding Qullan years ago, and appears as her own tattoo on his broad but sunken chest.
His feet shockingly are turned around 180 degrees at the ankle, facing towards his back! A curse from a pernicious shaman. Molk walks feet backwards (he's used to it) and walks backwards, forwards. This can be very disconcerting and outright creepy to the PCs as he guides them through the rainforest.
Slung from his back is an archer's quarrel of treated wood carved to resemble a stalking leopard, in his hand a re-curved composite bow of horn and sinew, with a pair of vivid, red eyes, each one painted on the opposite side of the hand-grip. In a leather sheath at his belt, hangs a falchion, its pommel adorned with a curved bird's head and beak.
An army and navy who work in the same way as others except their rank titles are upside-down. So people start as full generals and those with the rank of private command armies.
The third son of a candle-maker, and secretly a spy, Tsiao Fong Wei betrayed his family, clan, and town to the merciless Qongg Dynasty, causing the deaths of his own family members. He survived to an old age hiding out in the country side and keeping a low profile. One day however, the “Paper Knife” finally found Tsiao Fong Wei , and exacted his revenge on behalf of the folk, dead and tortured.
After a furious struggle, the “Paper Knife” plunged twin burning candles into the eyes of the traitorous old man and laughed, as Tsiao Fong Wei howled in dismay and pain. Some say Tsiao Fong Wei died that day. Others say that the old man somehow escaped despite his sudden anguish and utter blindness.
The truth is lost to time.
But to this day the children of the Red-Ridge County towns and villages are told by their parents to always beware twin lights in the darkness and to never venture into the woods at night, and to keep an ear open for the Groaning Ghost, for somewhere out there Tsiao Fong Wei the Traitor, now a vengeful spirit, stumbles about the darkness moaning and wailing, candles still sticking forth from out of his otherwise empty eye sockets. And though the candles plunged into his eyes all those years ago were a’flame going in, now the wax protuberances are somehow lit from within and burn without, and two flickering lights in the darkness, always portend his coming.
Found written on a torn single page…
“Lay thee patiently and still upon the ground, contemplating the Leper Star in the firmament, 'neath a crescent moon, ‘midst the graves of a boneyard 'til the G’na-Shennu come crawling up from the foetid earth. Fear them not. Let them rage about thee, casting ghoul-dust from their chalky talons and scalps,'til they calm, and so begin to whisper their secrets. Then shall they solemnly withdraw into the earth once more, in peace."
Cold Comfort is a long-sword of star-steel, its blade giving off a wan, blueish light. Its grip is wrapped tightly in snow-serpent hide, and its pommel bears a single opalescent gemstone.
This blade is enchanted in such a way, that whoever wields it, begins to fall completely and irrevocably "in love" with the weapon. This love does not manifest itself as the expected reverence and bond formed between any warrior and his weapon, but as a deeper, truer love, one has for a soul-mate of the same species! The longer the wielder carries Cold Comfort the stronger and more disturbing this love becomes, and only the most powerful of magicks can potentially break the sword's insidious spell. The blade's owner will even speak to and coo to the weapon, convinced that the sword understands and returns this epic love.
If the blade's wielder somehow loses the weapon or has it taken away, they will become inconsolable, and will predictably go to "ends of the earth and back" to retrieve it at any cost. Such is the weapon's curse that even separation from it does not damper the feelings the owner has for the sword. Legends tell of several distraught and mind-addled knights who even years after losing the blade, still wander the country-side searching for their lost love. And woe be to the "new lover" if and when they find him or her.
Wytchwolde-Under-Ash, once a great Thorpe, was razed to the ground by the ruthless, and truth told more than slightly deranged, Porcelain Princess and her henchmen, the Purifiers. When the flames had at last subsided, and a kaleidoscope of swirling, dull-gray ash choked the sky, nine hundred acres of old growth iron spruce, black larch and weeping birch, was burned to utter cinders, along with the entire coven of witches comprising the Sisterhood of the Silver Teat.
Now, centuries later, the forests are somewhat re-grown, and the town of Foolswater stands where Wytchwolde-Under-Ash once did. It is said that even to this day, one can still find ashes in the otherwise potable well-water of this village. Once a year during the Winter Solstice, the “Ash-Wind” comes to Foolswater, a suffocating black cloud that passes quickly but leaves dead birds and animals in its wake, darkening the trees, and staining the sky with black snow. The inhabitants of the village know better than to be caught outside during the day-long Ash-Wind. Everyone is locked snugly inside, singing old hymns that curse and re-curse the burned witches who once called this place home.
A wild species, vinus homophagus, more akin to sea-grape rather than the terrestrial variety, is not a monster despite its fanciful name. The grapes, a deep purple color when in bloom, and oozing dewdrops of perspiration, like the most prized and delectable of drinking wine grapes, do however deserve their moniker. Wine made from this fruit, is deadly to most humanoids, as is the raw berry, if plucked and eaten from the vine. It is the unnatural chemical concoction found within the fruit’s tart skin, which gives the man-eating grape its name. The chemical stew found inside each berry, functions as a necrotic agent, the same as found in some species of venomous snakes. The grapes literally eat the victim from the inside out, via cell death, dissolving organs and flesh in quick succession.
The tribes of Pra-Oohk Crater, from the jungles of Ghlush are known to sell the fermented “wine” of this grape to merchants of distant lands. Sadly, the taste of the concoction is divine when first quaffed, and even worse, the man-eating grape wine will never detect as poisonous via mundane means, its horrid natures somehow masking all attempts. Luckily the man-eating grapes are extremely rare, and endemic to humid jungles.
A vicious murder happens in a town that the party happens to pop in at. Under heavy suspicion as they are strangers, the party is forced to discover the perpetrator or have their reputations blackened, especially as more and more murders occur in the town, and mysteriously stop and restart when the party leaves to go kill off that evil necromancer who kidnapped the princess.
The only problem is that a demon, possessing one of the party, is the perpetrator. And the demon makes no signs that its living in the PC's head.
In fact, for all the party knows (except for the possessed person's), their companion is an evil murderer.
Do they try and execute their friend as he's a vicious murderer, and no evidence points to demonic posession? Or do they flee town with him, trusting him, and have their reputations destroyed?
The desert is a curse from the Water God upon the wicked people who live in the South.
Said people offended the Water God in some way, and so the Water God placed water-trappers, bizarre, water-sucking beings, in the soil, and within years, the wilderness became a desert.
Thus, the desert folk shamans have special powers that allow them to find water-trappers so that they can be dug up and their water harvested.