The PCs are making their way from village to village across a rural hinterland, when they spot a weird sign along a farmstead's fence, with an arrow pointing to the actual farmstead.
"CRAZY DANCING HOES!!"
If they investigate, a rather sedate local farmer, explains to them that for a mere two coppers, they can witness the show for themselves.
The show involves six ordinary, animated hoes "dancing" on a makeshift stage, as the farmer accompanies them by slapping his thighs to keep the beat, and playing on his flute.
If asked how the trick is accomplished the farmer demurs, not wanting to share his "secret".
"If you can get Old Man Purkiss to tell you how he gets his cows to spout poetry, I'll tell you how I make my hoes dance."
In reality, this minor encounter can lead to the PCs discovering that some localized, magical effect is active in the area. All kinds weird phenomena seem to occur in these parts.
Perhaps the PCs have finally found the ley-line of mana energy that they have been searching for! The party's wizard gets excited.
He's a non-descript man, with his pushcart. On it he sells nothing more exotic than jars of sun-dried tomatoes in oil and pickled vegetables. But he's always out there, in the courtyard of the great Guild of Wizards, in most weathers, and he'll have a kind word for you, and a jar.
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.
"The world has an immovable dark red sun in the centre of the sky that produces very little light. The heat is totally unbearable and the aroma of delicious cooking meat is in the air. To look around it appears as though you are surrounded by giant black mountains with no vegetation anywhere. The ground is soft and an oily liquid flows into your footprints. Travelling reveals nothing else."
Any character without some resistance to fire or heat is slowly being cooked. The ground if you haven't guessed it is the cooked meat.
I've wanted this world to be part of a dimensional hopping "chase". I thought maybe to populate this world with giant carnivorous beetles or perhaps this could be a "Nirvana" for deceased or living (but dimension travelling) fire dragons.
Perhaps I've just been grilling a little too much meat or perhaps there are some great ideas out there on how to spruce up the place. Any suggestions?
While traversing the tractless deserts of Shezmu, the pc's come across a travelling caravan led by Vual, the Demon-Camel, the Lord of Lust, the Thrice-Humped...Vual is cursed to only be able to assume one form outside the Abyss, that of a rather large, golden-skinned three-humped camel,with a frog-like, black, barbed tongue......
Vual is the demonic manifestation of Lust...his followers, a cult of truly disturbed individuals, engage in bizarre orgies, travelling the desert towns, "entertaining" the desert folk with their perverse antics...
Vual's Rapture is what the cultists call their monthly festival, where they perform perverse rites to honor Vual...ofcourse folk come from great distances to witness the festivals, despite themselves, and the Cult of Vual welcomes all...
Surprisingly for such a hideous creature, Vual has the power to beguile and charm with his magical voice. His voice will always sound to pcs as the voice of the person they most desire...his followers also gain this ability slowly over time...
When the pc's meet with Vual, he tries to seduce them into joining his cult. If for whatever reason the pc's resist..well then... Vual would probably kill them for sport, as a lesson for those who "resist Vual's love"....
The air had grown chill the minute they descended into the strange valley, which was unmarked on any of their maps. It was so strange here, devoid of animal life and completely silent. The horses were nervous the entire journey through the vale. As they set about to collect firewood for the campfire they could hear their own voices as dim echoes through the eerie silence.
The food didn't taste anything that evening and their sleep was cold and troubled by nightmares. While they are clearing camp the next morning, one of them stumbles over a piece of stone jutting out of the ground nearby the horses. On closer inspection there seems to be runes engraved into the polished surface. The symbols true meaning is no more known among mere mortals and if they decide to dig deeper, they will discover that it is an ancient altar buried within the soil.
Any historically oriented party member will recognize the largest symbol to be the insignia of the powerful warlock who ruled this realm several centuries ago. At their departure from the area, something will seem amiss with one of the party members and all will remember the stories of the warlock's thousand curses.
"Many strange things may be seen in the Great Swamps, not all real. But I tell you, there was a ship and it was real! Well it was old and all sails torn and had many holes in the hull... but anyway it was hundreds of miles from the Sea! How it came to be there, I can only wonder..."
(If it is not a hallucination, may be inhabited by wererats.)
Game Cliche 2.
Upon learning about "the five ancient jewels" or "the nine legendary icons" or whatever, you can be quite confident that Saving the World will require you to go out and find every last one of them.