Previously: Külk (Patrick) and his party (two fighters, a reformed bandit, a cleric and two halflings) flee the region around the town of Rovaniemi, having annoyed large numbers of people. After seeking guidance from a retired hero they head north and stop at the last village for a long time, Sirkka. There they thwart the schemes of a group of slavers, slaughtering them all.
The next morning: Külk has found a new ally in the form of Joonas (David W, rejoining the group after a seasonal absence!) - a fighter who was captured by the slavers. He agrees to join them on their journey north, and they connect up with a couple of academics from the northern city of Zelman. Safety in numbers. They leave the town with what supplies they can get (not many) and hope that they will reach one of the nomad families that live on the snowy, frozen plains.
On their first day they encounter a small band of Pugs, riding a great Shaggy Pig (more detailed description to follow; think giant boar with long thick hair, two sets of hind legs and a bad attitude), but are able to repel them without too many problems. They make camp and overnight see what Daavid the academic tells them is a Muurahainen - giant social creatures, part mammal, part reptile and organised around ant/wasp nest structures. They see a Decoy, and leave it well alone after Daavid tells them about how a Muurahainen swarm behaves.
The next day they luckily find the Hentunen nomads. Offered sanctuary overnight, they then agree to go looking for Dwarven hotstones - permanently hot bricks of magical manufacture, and a good source of heat in the north (either for cooking or as a last resort if firewood can't be found). The Hentunen have heard that some Pugs have worked their way into an old Dwarven outpost half a day's journey to the east. If anyone can clean out the Pugs and/or get the hotstones that the nomad need, it's our heroes!
After stealthily taking out two sentries, and leading two Shaggy Pigs away with a root vegetable, Külk unfortunately fails his stealth roll as he tries to sneak down into the outpost, thereby drawing the band of two dozen or so Pugs to the party. A stand off ensues after a few Pugs are slain: the Pugs claim to have only a few hotstones, and want the party to leave. The party have nowhere else to go. A cunning and in some ways terrifying plan is hatched: lead the Shaggy Pigs in, smother their hindquarters in oil and set them alight, hopefully driving them down into the outpost and slaughtering the Pugs in the ensuing chaos.
This works (damn you dice!) and through the blood, carnage and smell of roasted hog fat, the party find treasure in the form of the Pugs' warchest, and then find what the Pugs did not: secret doors that lead deeper into the outpost. They leave some Dwarven Ghouls along, and after a little more searching find three things: a small case with a hundred black crystal/metal rods, two dozen hotstones, and the head of a Shiner - a metal race of intelligent un-men that the Dwarves made ages ago. The head, who introduces itself as PeMem, asks to go along with them, and gives some advice as they leave (avoiding a super scary undead and the Ghouls again). They reach the surface and their sleds - and that's where the session ended.
Another PC: Great to have David W playing with us again!
The Snow: It's started snowing again in the north. Every day so far it has snowed, which isn't too bad - it's when the blizzards kick in that the party will have problems. More on generating snow in another post.
Pugs: Goblin-like, they're kind of "evil halflings". Mutual hatred between the two races. They've been growing more adventurous for years, coming down from the mountains and venturing further abroad (Fantasy Trope #3472).
The Shiners: What are they? Made by the Dwarves... But why did they survive and the Dwarves didn't? What do they do? What do they want? And can they be trusted?
Flaming Hogs: Best. Insane. Plan. Ever.
XP watch: Külk is now a Level 5 Artifex (Specialist), and Joonas easily vaulted to Level 2.
A Hundred Black Rods: Thumb-length and made of some unidentified black metal/crystal ore. Set in a box in a chest, arranged in a neat ten-by-ten grid. Found because I made a mark on my map and then was like "Does that say treasure? Erm... A hundred black rods in a box." Now I have to figure out what they do...
Outpost Generation: Done at the table and made so easy thanks to the Vornheim d6 floor level generation method. I knew there were four levels, so rolled four d6s. Made sure that doors connected every adjacent room on each level, and made a quick decision on whether each door was unlocked/locked/secret. Decided Pugs were in the top two levels, and a secret door was impeding progress on the third. Placed hotstones and the Shiner head on the fourth. Placed Dwarven Ghouls and a Revenant on the third and fourth, and another piece of treasure. Done in about three minutes while Patrick and David W were buying a drink. Yay for Vornheim!