So they got away and made it back to town and everyone was glad.
Oh, you'd like more detail? At the start of the session, the gang was trapped in a dead end temple area in the dwarven ruins by some nasty brown mold that would freeze them if they tried to return down the corridor from whence they arrived. Thedric decided that the answer was to use the giant bugbear (for in truth this is what the poor creature was) they had dispatched at the end of the last session. Hoping to use it's thick pelt (and organs) to protect them from the cold, he and Tom gutted the now cold beast and crawled inside. Then they proceeded to hunch their way down the hallway and past the mold taking only minor frost damage. An unsavory river crossing puzzle followed as they used procedure to retrieve the rest of the party. Henril decided that there was no way he would crawl into a bugbear and made a run for it, luckily only taking minor damage from the cold.
Back in the dungeon proper the party decided that they still desired to loot the ancient ruin, indeed they were more curious than before and now desired to find who or what had chained the hideous beast to the temple dais. Then they heard a shout from down the hallway and they ran towards the noise. They reached the room where they had almost been wiped out by goblins and found two goblins fighting over what appeared to be a child in a sack. Once they had dispatched the goblins, they opened the sack and found it contained a beaten and unconscious halfling*. They decided to take the halfling and return to the surface and rest, but upon their return they discovered that their cart and driver were gone. They searched and found signs of a returning goblin party which began chasing their driver as well as the tracks of the two goblins who had returned with the halfling. They followed the wagon tracks towards the forest but did not find it** and with darkness coming and a wounded halfling to carry, they decided to make a hidden camp and rest in the woods.
The next day they decided to return to the ruins. The halfling had woken and after recalling what little she could about being waylaid on the south road by goblins, decided to join the band with the loan of a sling and a goblin short sword. I am certain that over time her memory will recover.
They re-entered the old dwarven halls and made their way to an old iron door which was locked. Remembering the key they had found (along with the note about the secret store room), they tried it in the lock and indeed, with some careful turning of the rusted mechanism , it worked. The door opened onto a long hallway full of dust that sloped downwards. Down they went, careful and quiet until they came to a small guard room and a prison cell with it's inhabitant long dead and now only dry bones. A careful search turned up an old cracked parchment with a strange diagram on it. On the way back up the sloped hall Henril found that they had somehow activated a trap. After pulling the iron darts out of his leg he found that the trap appeared to extend along the entire hallway at frequent intervals. After pulling the second iron dart from his leg, he decided that someone else should go first and so the party decided to use a staff to carefully prod the floor ahead of them and they eventually made it back to the top of the hallway. After a careful examination of their map, the gang saw that they had only one hallway left to explore and this one led to a old wooden door that looked to be swollen and rotted with damp. After chopping their way through the wood, the party discovered what appeared to be a large kitchen full of dripping mold and rusty fixtures. Old roots and cracks in the fireplace appeared to have let water from the surface seep in. They made a cursory inspection but decided against messing with the greenish slime dripping from the walls and turned to leave. As they came back out the ruined wooden door they were ambushed by a pair of furry creatures with bows. A brief fight ensued with the two creatures, but the party prevailed and dispatched them with minor damages sustained. The party decided that they had explored the ruins and would find no more treasure here, and they decided to leave in order to get a decent distance from the ruins before dark. Eventually they came to the road through the forest and met a troop of the baron's solders who after a brief show of force allowed them to travel with them back to Milham.
It was a little shorter session this time and once they made it back to town, they realized that the player who had written down most of the loot from the previous sessions had taken his notebook with him and was not here. They wanted to spread some of their loot around so I allowed them to divvy up 1500 sp which I knew they had found and had them write up an IOU so we could sort it out later. Christina (the Druid) used the XP purchasing rules (one sp per xp) to buy 200 xp which were enough to push her up to level 2. All in all it was a pretty good 'adventure' and I'm glad things worked out as they did. Slight SPOILERS for my players, I used a great module as the basis (modified naturally) for this first dwarven ruin: An Abandoned Fortress by Crooked Staff Productions. It is a good solid module which isn't too linear and which can fit well into most campaigns I think. Between my map of the area and the supplementary 'modules' available for free and in print I really like how the adventure is shaping up. Using the sandbox philosophy means that once I have determined where things are and accounted for some 'drift' and random encounters, things are pretty much fixed in space. There will be areas where there is more or less combat or empty places or places with no treasure, but it also makes things seem more realistic as player decisions as well as random chance have impact on what happens.
As for game mechanics - well I am still wondering if the Hunter is working out, that additional attack seems a bit strong at first level and since their attack bonus for missile weapons is the same as the fighter it appears they will always be a little more dangerous. I think this could be cured by either not allowing missile weapons to be used close range (having a concept of point-blank or engaged) or by removing the special missile attack bonus (but not the damage?). Both these ideas have merit and are problematic in their own ways. It was mentioned that the Hunter might even be superfluous, really a fighter who put a lot into survival could accomplish essentially the same thing.
BUT I'm still having fun, and it seems the players are as well - so all in all this is a great success.
*a little person who was not overly rotund or folksy, and who wore shoes.
**The party did eventually find what was left of the cart, however the horse and the driver were gone.