There is a person who has a well-known reputation, probably involving something illegal. But this person is either very clever and crafty, or really like his or her privacy, for no one knows who this person actually is. As an added twist, perhaps this person is of an age that would noramlly be wildly inappropriate (say, a child is a much-feared bandit) or maybe not the expected gender or even race.
Other improvisational weapons/tools:
Icicles are useful as daggers,
Bag Of Holding filled with copper pieces used by chucking the contents at foes, (by strolen)
sleeves make useful garrotes. Ya can't cut anyone's neck, but you sure can choke 'em!
Flaming Logs make great clubs, (any Barbarians out there?)
and Bee hives are very effective when thrown at a mob of enemies. :-)
The Chinese, when attacking a castle or fort, flew kites over the city wall and used the length of string it took to get it there as a measurement to know how far they had to dig a tunnel to get under the wall.
A culture has a tradition of wearing animal pelts as a sign of status or job. Carpenters might wear beaver skins, Masons have a moleskin hood to their cloak, Gaurdsmen might have badger pelts. Done to show the culture's respect for nature and how much of nature is equal to each other.
Termites, in certain places, make homes that can be eight meters high and only a half meter wide. They are built facing North to South to take advantages of the suns travel, maximum heat in the morning and evening and little in the afternoon. Imagine grassy plains with vertical structions facing a certain direction all over the place. Ambush? Maze? New creature? Larger structures?
Silk Armor? The Mongols wore silk undergarments under layers of leather armor. Why? Because silk is very strong. If an arrow hit them and made it through their armor, it would usually not have enough energy to puncture the silk. It could still enter their body but, because the silk would not break, the arrow's barbs could not do their work and the arrow could easily be removed leaving a relatively clean wound considering normal arrow wounds.
Perhaps divinations, if strong enough, can actually change the future, instead of predicting it.
A possible answer to what happens to spells when a mage dies. If the spell is strong enough, say and enchantment or other permenant effect, part of the mages spirit may become lodged in the magic. It may be a way for items to gain some kind of intelligence, but a mage who has knowledge of this fact would be very hesitant about enchanting anyone or thing. He might have other plans for his afterlife than counting the change in your bag of holding.
Preists, I think, would have this sort of thing covered.
A magician develops a new way to make scrolls and can sell more powerful spells for cheap. Problem is, whether the magician is aware of it or not, the spell's power comes from spirits trapped by the magic that makes the scroll. Once used to power the scroll, the spirit is driven mad by the forces that have ripped through it's being, and often develops a homicidal thirst to destroy the one who tormented it. The spell the spirit was used for may have left some residual power in the spirit to give it more abilities than it ever used to have.
A new substance is found in an out of the way area and kept very quiet. It is found to make a perfect counterfeit diamond. Only the most expert of expert appraisers would even have a hope of noticing that it is fake. Only one problem: if it gets wet it starts to slime and if it is saturated, it turns into a glob of gel.
If a creature is transformed into another creature (say, a human into a dog), then that creature will become more and more accustomed to the new form until a point is reached where reversing the spell is impossible. A second transformation is possible, but the creature will have to go through the whole process again.
A certain type of demon cannot not be hit by ranged weapons or attacks. Attacks have to be made up close and personal for the damage to mean something. Ranged attacks are to impersonal.
Possibally a way to make the ranged attacks more meaningful would be to coat the arrow head or what not with the shooters blood. Of course, they'd better be a good shot, otherwise they're wasting arrows and already bleeding to boot.
Spells: wizards might have half or no effect, preist might work due to divine intention.
Weapons or equipment that is heavily relied on can be "named". Then the equipment begins to gain abilities beyond those of normal equipment. They might siphon off some of the experiances of their owners (1 to 5%) and level up on thier own. Could be an unintenitional way of creating artifacts. Ships could become sturdier or seem to just barely outrun the worse of a storm that would have surely sunk another vessle, swords could fumble less or resist dulling more, a farmers plow could turn stones aside easier. Anything that is depended on as much as an inividual can depend on as much as another individual could be "named".
It is not considered a crime if a ship's crew mutinies against a captain that is obviously unfit for the post (dangerously incompetent, insane, or overly cruel). Assuming, of course, that they can prove it.
Another real world thing. White tea. Can only be picked two days a year, the two days before the flowers blossom. Could be a similiar plant that...is the deadliest poison known, cure known diseases or psychosis, or a potent herb that just tastes awesome.
Actually a real-world fungus, just heard about it. A fungus that tastes well and all, no ill effects. UNLESS you consume some beverage, even 3 (three) days after eating it. Then you become really sick, pains, vomiting, all the fancy stuff. Was really used to cure alcoholism. May be a joke or to make sure the heroes spend their time focused on the mission.
The peasants of the wood use crudely carved symbols to ward off wolves. They think the symbols are emblems of purity and goodness and that keeps the wolves away. The symbols work, but not for the reasons the peasants believe...
The symbols are actually arcance evil symbols which the wolves know and fear, but to which the peasants are oblivious. So how gullible are the peasants going to be when a strange horned man displaying the symbols on his shield turns up and asks for their allegiance?
Rivers and other natural boundaries are used as political boundaries as well.
Atheists and agnostics get a jolt when one or more deities make an appearance, and take a direct interest in things. It is hard to deny the existence of gods when one has met them face to face.
Bards and minstrels, if business is slow, will moonlight as freelance diplomats, couriers, or spies.
"BB9, bring up the current scout results."
"I'm sorry, Coach. I can't do that."
"BB9! Bring up the scout results."
"These kinds of us, Coach, use serial numbers on our products."
"BB9, are you malfunctioning?"
"You need to indicate college basketball mentors you are significantly devoted to the adventure!"
The two men in black suits turned to each other. Their faces were white.
"Someone get the president on the line! Tell him that our ICBM handler thinks that its managing a high school basketball team!"