At least one of the players caught the plague. I went to the lbbs looking for a simple mechanic for plague. Finally found the diseases in Blackmoor, but the rules weren't very helpful for me.
Okay, it gives rules for how to catch it, but what then? You just die? How soon? And for "permanently incapacitated," what does that mean? In a coma? Weakened so they can't adventure?"There is a 10% chance that if the victim doesn't succumb, he will be permanently incapacitated. Any person that contracts this disease will infect 90% of the people he comes in contact with. There is a 5% chance that the victim that contracts it will do so only as a carrier, nothaving it himself. Once survived, the player will have immunity."
One of the original suggestions of why a tumbling dungeon might exist at all was to turn an alchemical potion. The more I flesh out the dungeon the more I've gone in that direction. I have a storage area for alchemical powders, a library of material components. I've planned a library made of hinged brass plaques and a room of diagrams and shifting sand.
I decided the Grand Alchemist was "Arabic", but is long gone now. I'm thinking there might be some crones taking advantage of the facilities, some pearly grubs, and a sentient black, oily liquid as per richard's suggestion.
The players may not even remember they were interested in this point on the map, but there may be something that I can use to steer them toward it, one of the passengers is a Chinese alchemist and he may recognize the significance of this site. He may also know it as a possible place to find a cure for the plague victims.
I feel kind of crappy about nudging them toward this, but other than that it is an 8 days voyage to the city they are heading to and I have nothing prepared for that city, no map no npcs, nothing.
The advantage of having a blog and a smart phone, is I can show players pics at the drop of the hat for magic items like the fingerbone necklace, or whatever. Okay back to work.