I woke in the dark to take care of biological necessities and had an idea cross my mind, so I put it quickly into Evernote (the free version). I don’t know if it was from a dream or just the weird ideas that go through my brain from time to time. It would make for an interesting start to the adventure. It could be really interesting with a new party of fresh adventurers, AKA 1st level.
The party rides into town people give them dumb looks. Especially when they ask questions that they should know the answer.
Woman runs up and screams, “Where’s Horace?” [I have no clue where that name came from. I don’t know anyone by that name.]
Later the party finally finds Horace, and he is: dead, undead, alive, evil infested, etc.
Of course, the entire question of “Where’s Horace?” could be dragged on for multiple adventures to an entire campaign.
Horace could be a lantern bearer, or other young lad helping out the party, or could even be a member of the party that some magic affected the party causing them to forget him entirely. They approach the village from the direction of their original approach to the village.
One thought is to start each player with 500 experience points. They have no idea why, perhaps not even questioning it.
Let the ideas that the players themselves blurt out inform the tale of what happened to Horace. Not the whole cloth, but take the interesting bits and snippets.
Of course, this would only work with those who haven’t heard this idea, to get the fullest effect.
The GM will need a default story line to explain things, if the player’s musings are not of much help. But that’s one open ended idea that really got me to thinking about how to handle a random question like that.