[Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8]
"You awake to find yourself in a jail cell." Or something to that effect. Something that all adventurers need to hear at some point in their career. Like a rite of passage, the jailbreak is. A moment for the players to orient and introduce themselves, and then the rite would begin.
But first, let's be fascinated by the giant sea slug.
Never mind the elf ranger (Dia), half-elf cleric (Salieri), or elan psychic warrior (Sally) in the other cells; we need to prod the seryulin and talk to it and roll Knowledge checks to see if it's safe to pet.
It is not safe to pet.
After five or ten minutes of examination, attempts to befriend the seryulin, and individually trying to break out of the prison, it occurs to the characters that there are, in fact, other people they could work with to escape.
Obligatory hellos and a moment for the players to describe their characters to the other players. Realization by DM that he should have made the players write at least a paragraph of backstory for their characters to help establish motives and personalities from the get-go.
It takes a while, but the characters--now a party--escape from their cells with the assistance of the golden-furred cat. Initial attempts to force open the doors, pick the lock, and shoot the key off the hook on the wall were unsuccessful--the latter primarily because the false key exploded when jarred loose from the key rack, confusing the players, and necessitating a tag attached to the real key essentially saying, "Use this key! It's the real key! It won't explode and punish any would-be escapees!"
Of course, before they can leave the room, the party must settle the question of the seryulin.
Do they open the door and let it loose? Do they leave it to wither away in its cell? For now, with tears in their eyes, they drive off into the sunset to find another reason to release the sea slug.
Or something like that.
Look, it's the storage room!
The party also notices that the rats are chowing down on gnomish fluffy bunny food. You are what you eat, after all. The rats have also gotten into a stockpile of pillows, which is really just an in-joke put there for my own entertainment after playing too much Morrowind and rescuing a townsperson's precious pillows from some overgrown rats, receiving her reward for the important task, and then looting her pillows behind her back and selling them for a pittance.
...But I digress.
Another slip of paper is found under the overturned table at the top of the ladder, "...hazards set into motion with gears and cogs...", and a few options are discussed for reaching the platform in the middle. Another fluffy rat bouncing around on the rafters poses a potential problem for a grappling hook plan; Sally manifests My Light, and psionically transforms her eyes into blazing headlights that break up the darkness and get the attention of the rat. Combat ensues; wounds are exchanged; rat is killed and falls to the floor below, where the other rats begin to snack on it.
The bat swarm remains in the shadows.
As it turns out, the ladder can be pried loose from its fittings against the wall, and pulled up to form a bridge from the rafters to the platform in the middle. Great success. Party crawls over to the platform, discovers the up/down buttons, and uses the elevator to go up to the next floor. Meanwhile, the cat from the prison has been following the party and nestled itself into Dia's backpack.
The large double doors (presumably to the outside) are shut tight, but a letter, still damp with snow, is wedged under the door. It reads:
WE'RE GETTING UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE NUMBER OF CORPSES YOU'VE BEEN SENDING OUR WAY. WE HAD A DEA, AND I DON'T HAVE TO REMIND YOU WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU FAIL TO DELIVER THE RESULTS YOU ASSURED US WERE WORTH OUR INVESTMENT IN YOU. YOUR FUNDING HAS OFFICIALLY BEEN TERMINATED.
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, YOU'LL WORK WITH WHATEVER WE'VE ALREADY GENEROUSLY GIVEN YOU. NO MORE SERVICES; NO MORE SUPPLIES. GIMRACK WILL BE ARRIVING WITHIN A MATTER OF DAYS, PROVIDED THERE ARE NO MORE SETBACKS HERE; IF YOUR FACILITY ISN'T READY BY THE TIME HE REACHES YOUR DOOR, YOU'LL BE JOINING YOUR "GUESTS" AND WILL BE DISPOSED OF IN WHATEVER GRUESOME AND CREATIVE WAY WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT MANGLED HALFLING BOY LAST WEEK.
YOU KNOW THE ONE.
[To be continued in Part 7.]