Previously: our heroes Kulk and Joonas (Patrick and David W) took their merry band of retainers and hangers-on to a Dwarven tower (a silo effectively) and battled through a minor Pug warband and avoided undead threats, before escaping with the head of a Shiner (mechanical? man made by Dwarves) and treasure.
They head off with the artifacts that they have found, and despite finding themselves adrift in a blizzard they make it back to the Hentunen nomads. They make a trade of hotstones for a large covered sled, and the following day head off on a new quest. They have heard of the Palace of the Perfect Moon, a minor Dwarven base that has fallen into disrepair; it lies to the north-west and may contain more artifacts, maybe even the materials necessary to repair PeMem, the Shiner head that is acting as their guide to all things Dwarven.
Finding the Ahtisaari nomads, who speak a bizarre language, they are eventually able to communicate their need. Given directions, they set off the next day with a new friend, the massive Magnusson Monsterslayer, the favourite son of the Ahtisaari (however, he does not easily pick up words, and communication problems ensue...). On their journey they avoid a Hate Bear, which by reputation they have not gone near.
Arriving at the Palace of the Perfect Moon, which legend says was magically built in a single night. Entering carefully they scout around and find rooms that are smashed up, odds and ends of silver but nothing much really. Until they find strange gold Z marks that emanate a faint heat. After Kulk sets off an explosive runes trap with the same marking, and has his hands branded for the effort (with a gold Z across them) they start to come around to the idea that Zinternik, the toymaker, must have been here once before. Indeed, when encountering skeletons or giant mechanical spiders they notice clues that point to him having been in the palace, possibly delving and researching years before.
The group are strong, and in each encounter they don't seem to be in danger. After all there are a lot of them. In reserve by their sleds are two academics who have travelled with them, a cleric and two halflings; their dungeon-crawling force comprises the two PCs (a fighter and a specialist), three regular cannon-fodder fighter-types, Magnusson and the head of PeMem (strapped to Joonas' back "like C-3PO on Chewbacca").
Kulk is temporarily blinded by a magicked corridor, but that only knocks him off front line duty for a couple of hours. The party are kicking in doors in the seemingly abandoned palace, fighting off the occasional skeletons and metal spiders, but being cautious all the same. They know that part of the palace contains a Muurahainen nest, and while they have not seen a Muurahainen swarm they have heard enough to be worried. With half of the main level mapped and a clear route through the magicked corridors, they now intend to head down into the lower levels...
Too much XP: Seven sessions in, and I'm trying to get the balance between possibilities for earning XP and the likelihood that PCs will find stuff that is XP-worthy. In the last two sessions they've picked up way too much stuff that has given them a boost. In this session they earned over 5000XP each; although, if the XP were split between more people, this wouldn't be as big an issue. Something to think on.
More danger needed: Maybe. I was chuffed that Kulk got blinded by the corridor. There was a table of possible effects (some of which were far more permanent than temporary blindness). The physical threats have appeared and been less than severe - perhaps there are just too many in the party for anything other than a seriously big creature or a massive horde to be much of a threat? I don't know. The deeper levels of the palace are more dangerous, and from what they've heard a nest of Muurahainen could be pretty lethal if not approached carefully.
XP Watch: Joonas jumps to level 3 (hello Fighter combat bonus) and Kulk continues his journey to level 6.
Magnusson: I have a table for generating nomadic families who live out on the snow and ice. These are large groups of around 100 people, and mostly subsist off what they hunt and fish. I have some subcharts for flavouring them, so for example, a particular quirk or detail of the clan, and a detail particular to their favourite son. I rolled up half a dozen before play, and last night rolled the Ahtisaari as the group that the PCs would meet. The bizarre language presented a nice bit of role-playing as the players tried to communicate. And the favourite son being a monster-slayer added an intriguing possibility - especially with the language factor. A 6'8" muscle-bound killer with a giant club and an eight word vocabulary. A joy to play.
Sharing Stats: I'm hoping that the PCs do meet some of the residents of the palace (Muurahainen, the contents of the menagerie) in the next session, as then I'll be able to share them here without fear of spoilers!