The Cool test plot is back now! What was originally submitted for mere test-purposes, was (slightly) improved with a little twist. Enjoy the original masterwork:

Get message. Meet a powerful but reclusive wizard. Pass tests. Shall get a legendary item. Long dangerous road. Very dangerous place. Secret things, monsters, traps. Somehow found the item. Back to the wizard. A BIG problem emerges...

Now, the update:
As the messenger is quite talkative, information about the wizard and his apprentice can be obtained:
- the wizard is busy and absent-minded, though he treats people well and pays better
- leaves some of the work on his apprentice
- has quirks common to older wizards, including the need for privacy
- ...and more

On the way there they meet the apprentice. An experiment went awry, exploded and destroyed the laboratory and partly the tower, or so he says. So the wizard has now little time arranging the repairs, but the heroes have already a few tests determined, to see if they are worth.

See: the wizards lands have neglected for many years, atracted a few monsters and should be finally cleaned up. A few orcs here, troll in a cave, dead seen walking somewhere...
Given a simple map with a to-do list, let them report in a week or two at the wizard's house, also on the map.

Insert a few micro-adventures, that would be challenge only for low-level types. Job done, in the half-ruined tower the wizard gives the details: The legendary Storm Orb (insert mythical powers) is long rumoured to lie in the Temple of Four Winds (or anywhere). But recently he found in some book just the bit of information needed (insert mythical riddle), which can be solved on the right spot.

Proceed with the plot...

Should the heroes ever return, whether they have the Orb or not, comes the real Twist:

The wizard is not to be found. People just don't know who they they ask about, never seen any wizard in these quarters. Oh, and that was a ruin for over 200 years!

The truth:

A group of beginning adventurers died before they could do something of note. The remaining couple, a low-level wizard and a thief, sought other ways to fortune. For all their money they got some cheap land. Cheap things have but a reason to be cheap. But all these 'reasons' were nicely removed by the heroes themselves! Heroes sent on a heroical quest, the lands fetched triple the price or more. With little expenses :-)

Finding this all out should be hard, for the 'apprentice' and the 'messenger'/'old wizard' were careful. Now they are stuck with an artifact they did not want (possibly cursed), without the heavy reward promised. They may feel like fools. Anger may be the next emotion...

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