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?
Some parallel worlds have different time-flows, like the fabled dwelling-places of the elves: those who visit them under the hill for a night return to find that years have passed in this world. Perhaps it is the gate leading between the worlds which causes the alteration. If a gate were 'misaligned', the shift from '| |' to '| \' or '| /' as it were would lead to that difference, much as a light-beam split and bent by a prism ends up taking a longer path. There might even be a mathematical function linking degree of misalignment to alteration of time-rate.
The PCs come across a town with a strange curse: Every morning, those who have grown up here wake up with the memories of someone else. They do not find this strange and have no idea it is happening. They calmly wake up and start these new lives as though they have always been that way.
The cause: A wizard who lived there was spurned by a maiden he was infatuated with. His attempt to manipulate her memories into believing they were already together and that she loved him went horribly awry.
A man is arrested for mass murder and found to be insane. Piles of corpses were found on his property, neatly stacked torsos with the skin peeled off and the limbs removed. The man readily admits the work is his, though he claims he was only chopping down trees, removing their branches, debarking them, and then stacking them to season.
The man may have swung the axe but it was a Druid who caused the delusion. This Druid is still on the loose and likely to repeat the crime. In time he may get more creative in his "punishments."
After the PCs defeat (or force the rapid retreat of) a villanous necromancer/demon summoner, they discover a book. This book outlines how to summon a demon whose power increases according to the size of the summoning circle used to summon it. And after the PCs examine a map of the country, they find that the layout of the cities and roads match up with the required summoning circle. In fact, the final road that would complete the circle is currently in construction.
With anyone who can find out about the circle and the ritual to summon the demon able to somehow make the final road/line, and destruction of the cities and roads currently in existence out of the question (unless this is an evil campaign- that removes the moral quandary), how are the PCs going to solve this problem?
As population increases, animal souls are promoted to human before they are spiritually advanced enough in terms of impulse control, etc.: this shouldn't have happened, but karmic progression is automatic, after all--it's a force of nature. But the 'animalization' of humankind bodes ill for civilization.
No doubt the same goes for elves, dwarves, and so on.
The multiple-worlds theory of cosmology allows room for every religion's Heaven and Hell and other planes to coexist, with the similar planes of all the sapient beings of all the worlds in all the galaxies...How often do the wires get crossed, as it were, leaving your paladin in a Hell for hedonistic lizards, for example.
The court wizards of Angolterre have been working for several generations to protect the dynasty. They see to it that the new monarch's names acronymically refer to a rune of protection. Once completed, the rune will make the dynasty almost invulnerable in battle, wise in counsel, etc. Unfortunately the next name, the only one that starts with the right letter, happens to have belonged to the worst monarch in living memory. Not much chance of getting the current ruler to name his child that, or for the people to put up with it if he did! What's a court wizard to do? The magic requires that the plot be kept secret of course...
"The Cetemi have a most curious custom that in their celebrations must all men don the garb of women and women... the garb of men, to the aim that none shall... know another." -An Account of Barbarian Lands, Lord Shakthur