On the distant frontier of the kingdom is an estate of a powerful warrior Lord. As vassal of the King he has accomplished many quests and for years has been one the King’s most trusted advisors and generals. As result of his success and relative importance to the current regime, the lord has been granted estates all over the realm and is required to spend much of his year at court. After the last great campaign the Lord return to the estates keep with a new mistress who took up residence at the keep. Unlike the other noble Ladies or even mistresses she does not ride in the hunt, attend public dinners or services at the temple (or give offerings at the shrine-whatever the local ethos may require). In fact she does not keep any Holy men or women in the keep at all. The guards at the keep are fearful of her enough or loyal enough not to speak of what goes on there. The peasant community that works the fields around the keep is rife with rumors of a pair of black skinned women with white hair that leave the castle at night and ride north into the wind forest.
The breakdown So during the last military campaign, which was a preemptive strike against an emerging Orc-Drow alliance, the Lord became smitten with a Drow sorceress. He decided to or was convinced to bring his new conquest back to the human lands and house her at the most distant of his estates. Although his mistress is a not a total secrete, her true identity is kept secrete and he cannot acknowledge publicly his affair. The secrecy surrounding his relationship with the Drow woman is partially because of the disapproval it would earn him because she is a dark elf and also because he is already married to a noble woman of a powerful family. His legal wife, however, resides at court all year round while he divides his time between campaigns and his other estates.
1: Three Red-herrings and a Red cap : Two peasant infants have shown up mysteriously dead in the past two weeks. The town’s people are blaming the witch in the keep. But it turns out it is actually a mad goblin shaman called a Red Cap, cause he dyes his cap red with the blood of children. He has his lair a short distance from the village. The PCs take it upon themselves or are hired to investigate these deaths.
I have run this Red Cap adventure three times with three different groups. It works well as first day quest. I find that it can be a very short adventure, aka they track the goblin to his lair, kill it and its pet (either a wolf or spider) or it can be stretched out by the addition of several red herrings which provide more role-playing opportunities. Aside from the Drow mistress, I have stuck in a small tribe of thieving but not child murdering goblins that know of the red cap, and a neighboring town of a different ethnic background (think Celt town vs Saxon town) that has suspicious religious practices. And there is also some kinda of West Side story romance (we have a theme) going on that puts a member of the other town in the wrong place at the wrong time with out an alibi he can publicly admit to.
2: Everybody really wants to be Iago : The Lord’s family gets wind of his relations with this Drow woman and sends the PCs to break it up.
In this set up the Lord and the mistress get to make an appearance, and their personality has to really come into play here. The lord’s personality has to be stubborn. Either he is completely in love with the Drow woman or he is not the type of guy that is going to give up anything of his no matter the odds. The same is true with Drow woman she could be in love with the Lord or just using him for some ever self-serving or malevolent purposes. The PCs also have to contend with her and her priestess side kick. The trick of this is that the Lord and Mistress are very powerful characters, and the PC will not be able to approach this problem directly. They instead have to wreck the relationship through subterfuge. There will also have to be several other NPCs here as well, the castle steward (powerful warrior who lost his nerve so he feigns an injury), the man-at-arms (not even a full beard on his chin, hand picked by the lord to replace the fat old swords man, the Lords bastard), the Huntsman (handsome, religious and in the prime of his youth), the Lady in Waiting (youngest daughter of a minor noble, she has been waiting for the 20 years, the mother of the man-at-arms, former mistress of the Lord, a subplot could be why she is here). At any rate, the NPCs have to have weakness, a jealous nature, greed, a violent temper or arrogance and the PCs have to find the weakness and exploit them.