You type the command into the console. "Insufficient Guineapigs" the computer responds. Baffled, you retype the command. "Insufficient Guineapigs" the computer replies again. You decide you should start smaller, with a simpler command. "Insufficient Guineapigs"
What does cycling the spaceship's airlock have to do with a now-extinct Peruvian rodent?
Draw the party together as debtors to the local lord, king, head of the thieves guild, or mercenary clan, who is forcing them to work together to pay off their debts.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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...
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.
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?
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?
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...
"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!"
By late afternoon, the sky starts to cloud over. The sun shines behind the fluffy clouds, gilding the edges and showing a Jacob's-ladder of rays streaming through the gaps...very pretty. Gradually the clouds shift into a new configuration: you realize with awe-struck, preternatural clarity that the clouds form a map of a coast-line that you know against the blue sky as ocean: surely it's a Sign! Suddenly, the golden beams coalesce into one long ray that strikes across the blue. A star-like gleam flashes under the ray: perhaps it is an island? But the charts show no island there...who would want to hide an island? Who could do it?
The PCs are walking along the road, when suddenly a bunch of bandits attacks. The player's dismiss it has just a random encounter, when they find an ornate ring on the leader, obviously out of place with the seemingly poor bandits, who could only afford cheap leather and weapons. This ring has a symbol on it, which, if researched, sets the PCs on a quest. And from then on, the players don't look at random encounters the same way...
The secret for immortality has been discovered by an eccentric wizard/mad scientist. Its found you need to reapply once a month. As people stop dying, and the birth rate increases exponentially, people are forced into homelessness, because of the need for food reamins the same, and food is not being produced fast enough to feed the undying population. The PCs have to find the creator and kill him, and destroy production, to save the world from undying, unending torture from hungryness.
Half hour off the Harrow Road you find it, Fool's Grave. Amid an overgrown garden sits a single tombstone. Carved neatly into the weathered slab is the word "Fool," with a symbol underneath matching the signet ring you found.
Have the PCs rping Orcs or Goblins or some other race that normally exists only as things to cut up with swords.
One of the PCs comes across a magical ring that grants some power but has odd aura as if cursed. Yet this curse is different than the standard curse. When the PC puts on the ring he/she suddenly feels married. There is now an illusionary woman, who he/she cares deeply for but who is also always very critical of the PC. The wife is demanding of attention and constantly giving the PC directions. The PC wearing the ring is the only one that can see and hear the bride. The curse can never completely be lifted. Even if the PC takes off the ring and somebody else puts the ring on; the PC will still be visited by the ex-wife at least once a month. During this visit she will demand money and apologies.
Pcs learn of high power magics that allow them to banish weapons and suits of armor to some 'elsewhere' place until such time as they need it. reduces encumberances, gets fewer questions, and when the PCs get jumped by thieves in the ally, they can summon their suits of full plate armor with weapons drawn.
Lesser powers would allow them to summon their weapons from another physical place, drawing them to their hands like Luke skywalker summoning his lightsaber on Hoth.