Yesterday was the inaugural session of my 5th edition Land of Azurth campaign. Kully Keenstep (Jim, bard), Kairon (Eric, tiefling sorcerer), Waylon (Tug, frox thief), Dagmar (Andrea, dwarf cleric), and Berekose (Bob, fighter) all happen to arrive on the same keelboat, Berta Mae. After stopping an extortion attempt by river rats (the mostly human kind), the five draw the attention of Mayor Yrrol Gladhand.
Gladhand gets them put at the top of the list of audiences with the Clockwork Princess, Viola, and also gets them rooms at the Dove Inn. He wants them to get in the Princess's good graces, and then report to him and the City Council on things that might be of financial interest. Not knowing what else to do, the group agrees.
The next morning, they take the ferry over to Mechanicstown, the collection of laboratories around Castle Machina. The gnome guards usher them into the audience chamber, where a pre-occupied Princess soon enters. She agrees to help them with their various requests, but asks them to perform a simple task for her first: take a small velvet bag to a man in the third level beneath the castle. She shows them on a map where to go but warns them against going any place else, lest they run afoul of the tribes of Looms. None of them known what Looms are, but they are assumed to be quite dangerous based on the context.
After perform the ritual they are given, the Lift rumbles downward to "L3." They make their way down the hallway, but right before the doorway, Waylon and Erekose notice a glistening: a gelatinous cube blocks the way! The group goes around to another entrance. This one is blocked by old furniture, but it's easily movable. All the while, they hear the sounds of chanting and ritual, but they never see what they assume to be the Looms.
Through the grimy window of the laboratory, they can see a pale, flickering light. They enter and find a path amid the old laboratory and alchemical equipment. They can hear strange, distorted voices. They come upon the source of the light: an odd large, magnifying glass-like lens, and a man-shaped thing of metal looking into it. The metal shape turns toward them.
A voice emerges from a grating in its chest, and it asks if the group brought "them." They hand the bag over, and it dumps the contents on the table--tiny, metal pieces. It turns back to the lens and says: "we can renew our game."
Dagmar sees inside the round, glass opening in the thing's body to see a motionless old man with tubes stuck in him.
The group returns to the surface, where the Princess agrees to look into the things they asked about, and gives them a few leads.