Vinterland is divided into four acts, but there will be no breaks between them. Participants are expected to keep the themes of the acts in mind during the game, but may choose to play in other directions if it leads to enjoyable roleplaying for several parts.
Friday evening and night – "We're safe for the night"
As darkness falls and the temperature drops, lanterns will be lit and kettles put on the stoves. Some of the characters will huddle in their houses or tents, others will enjoy reunions with old friends and kin. Supper will be prepared, stories will be told, and perhaps your old favorite deck of cards will be put to use again. At the Inn the staff is busier than ever, at the Shelter the diggers share news and rumors, and from the hut next to the woods you may hear the faint sound of someone singing in the night.
Saturday morning to evening – "Let's do this"
It is time to get things done. Sell your merchandise, offer your services, find someone to work for you, make friends, make enemies, spread the news, do repairs, go fishing, chop more fire wood, shovel snow, try to figure out how to get something to eat, invite someone for a meal or a fika, make new acquaintances, and tell your stories.
Saturday evening and night – "Something is wrong"
As night falls, unanswered questions and suspicious looks seem to forebode darker times. Someone has a hidden agenda, someone might just be as reliable as always, but this night might reveal who is still a friend when morning comes.
Sunday morning – "Get your shit together"
This is the day that will make the 12th of February, in the winter of 2045, remembered for years to come.
On Midsummer's Eve 2013 the war comes to Sweden. Nobody knows why, or what has secretly preceded the outbreak of the war. It is a great chock. Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö and Umeå are hit by nuclear weapons, and hundreds of thousands die. As Sweden wakes up from the hangover, on the day after Midsummer, it is without power and running water. The air is filled with the thunder of military air crafts. The larp Midsommar 2013 depicted some of these events.
Nobody knows for sure what happened on the night of Midsummer, hence known as the Crunch, and since parliament and a majority of the offices have been wiped out, there is no way to find out. Forces from both Russia and Nato Countries arrive, unprepared and hastily deployed. The war becomes a three way battle, where the remains of the Swedish forces are destroyed.
Common people leave the cities, which have no water, power or food distribution. Vital infrastructure is destroyed in bomb raids.
The war turns out to be brief. The Russian and the Nato controlled forces are demoralized, lacks communication and supply lines, and after only two months the fighting has stalled out. Both the Russians and the Americans are convinced that they no longer have any home countries to fight for. Swedish authorities and social services desperately tries to support the hundreds of thousands of domestic refugees now pouring over the country side, and many large accumulation camps are established. The peak of the war is over, but the trouble has just begun. Sweden has been thrown a hundred years back in time.
The Rose and the Years of Famine
Three years pass. Refugees are still moving in large masses, law and order has broken down, food is in dire shortage, and the emergency services lack all resources. The state in the refugee camps is critical, but still offers a better chance than life outside the camps.
This is when the infection known as the Rose hits. It is discovered in the camps, and at first believed to be another outbreak of cholera or influenza. It soon turns out to be something completely new, and far worse. When the new disease is confirmed, it is already to late. Hundreds of thousands die, and the camps collapse when panicked and gaunt refugees desperately tries to escape the disease. This is how the Rose is spread.
In less than a year a majority of the Swedish population dies, either from the Rose or secondary effects such as famine, exposure or violence. All production stops and complete lawlessness reigns. Armed gangs terrorize the refugees, and the roads become death traps where people are killed for the smallest scraps of food. The marauder gangs become the largest forces of power in a devastated Sweden, and the few survivors are completely in their hands. The larp Hinterland depicted some of these events.
The Settlement Days
Four years after the outbreak of the war, and with the horrible years of the Rose behind them, people are finally settling down where it is possible. In small villages, at farms and in cottages, far away from the roads where the gangs lurk, refugees realize that they no longer can survive on the run. The settlements are born. With primitive techniques, manual labour, and a few surviving horses, old plows are put in use and abandoned fields sowed again.
Sweden is desolate and the distances vast. People isolate themselves and fear strangers. The horrors they have survived are replaced by the hard work of long term survival. Everything is in shortage, but people manage to beat the famine.
This is when the diggers establish themselves. They are daring, motorized crews that scavenge storages, work shops and abandoned buildings of the things the settlers need; fuel, food, medicines and other things that is no longer in production. The diggers soon establish their reputation of being fearless and hardened beyond hard. They have however some kind of code of honor, that separates them from de looter gangs that have roamed the roads, killing and terrorizing their victims. The looter gangs and the diggers often get into fire fights.
The settlements survive, and even thrive, thanks to the diggers. When the diggers visits a settlement, the people living there does not have to worry about plunderers, and are able to trade penicillin, canned food, and other products they need to survive until harvest. During this time larger settlements establish themselves, like Östbacken, Sjövik, Hålet, the Gävle Market and Värnhem. For the first time in years people are able to sleep safely and on a filled stomach.
It is also during this time that two powers emerge. The New Communist Union (NKU), based in Växsjö, and the Protectorate, a gathering of surviving Swedish military forces, based near Skara. With the help of fire power, diplomacy, and fast expansion rudimentary states are formed. Several settlements, who have just managed to avoid death by famine, suddenly find themselves within the borders of either NKU or The Protectorate, and are heavily taxed to fund the expansion.
The settlements within the borders are subjected to the laws and politics of the "states", but outside the borders several forms of society are established. The collective Östbacken is semi-socialistic, Bytarstan is social conservative and protectionist, the village of Nejdingen is Christian, and the settlement of Värnhem market liberal.
Life is slowly returning to Sweden. The settlements are growing, since more and more people who have hidden at farms and in cottages move there. The standard of living is slowly rising, despite the conflicts between the powers, looter attacks and the shortage of modern technology.
Years pass and some settlements are growing larger, while others succumb or are being abandoned. The larps Solnedgång – Efter Slutet, Ingenmansland, Desperatia, Lost in Becquerel Forest, Epsilon 433 and Skymningsland depicted some of these events.
The Return of Peace
The long feared armed conflict between NKU and The Protectorate becomes a reality in the year of 2026, but it develops in a quite different direction than anticipated. The settlers are utterly tired of war and death, and as soon as the military forces of the two powers have exhausted each other, both NKU and The Protectorate collapse within a year. The settlements either declare their independence, or form alliances with other, free settlements. In the middle of a war that nobody can actually afford, the powers crumble into dust. NKU withers away and in 2027 only independent settlements and crestfallen former leaders remain. The Protectorate ends in a bloody uprising against the former officers in charge, who are lynched.
As the settlements grow stronger, larger and more independent, the need for the services of the diggers decline. Many of the diggers are also quite old, battered by combat, and weakened by the years on the road. The former respected and idolized digger crews wither away or become resident. The remaining crews, now on their second generation since they are born after the Crunch, support themselves by transporting mail and merchandise between the settlements. The great old days are remembered with melancholy. Life is no longer an adventure and Sweden is no longer a great storage just waiting to be emptied. The larp Landsväg depicted some of these events.
Sweden in the Year of 2045
The state of things is rather stabile in Sweden in the year of 2045. Most of the people living in the settlements are assured of some safety, that there is food to last the winter, and pure water to drink. Most of the middle parts of Sweden are peaceful. The large looter gangs are gone, the roads have been cleared of car wrecks, and outside the settlements the crops are growing and the cattle grazing. Looter attacks still occur, but mostly on isolated farms or desolate roads where the caravan leaders thought they could save some money by not hiring digger escort.
Life is however quite hard. Medical service is severely underdeveloped and there is a dire shortage of knowledge, medicines and equipment. Every winter people die from pneumonia and influenza, and infant mortality is rising. Common diseases such as cancer, heart problems and diabetes can hardly be treated at all. There is only one x-ray machine known to be working in the entire middle parts of Sweden, and the Bytarstan Clinic charges shameless fees for the use of it.
People are used to working hard and for long hours. Manual labour is common since the fuel that is being produced is far too expensive to be wasted. Sweden is by far at a level of the 19th century, even if several settlements are putting modern equipment to use again, such as fridges, freezers, electric lights, radio and mechanical work shops.
32 years after the outbreak of the war, a whole generation has grown up without proper schooling or vaccinations. They have no experience of the many modern and work-saving inventions their parents took for granted. The loss of knowledge is concerning the older generation, and is still a question to be addressed.
Most settlements have law and order, and the social contract is somewhat reestablished. Many exceptions occur, though. What might be allowed in one settlement, can be prohibited in another. What is considered quite natural at some places, might be taboo somewhere else. Especially the younger generation has been formed mainly by the culture of settlement they grew up in. Great differences are found in the attitudes, customs and conceptions of the world, between the people who experienced the time before the war, and the people born into the present.
Between the settlements trading is very common, and this also leads to social exchange. It is not uncommon to move and settle somewhere else, for a longer or shorter period of time. Those who do not feel comfortable in their new settlements can always try their luck somewhere else, if they are accepted to enter. This makes the settlements less static than before, people are always coming and going, and it is not uncommon to see trading caravans or other travelers on their way somewhere.
Most trading is however done within one or two days of journey. The more exclusive or uncommon merchandise will have to be found at some of the yearly markets. Merchants from entire Sweden show up at them.
This is where Vinterland will take place. The Rifall settlement is located around what was once a 19th century farm, about halfway between Östbacken and Värnhem. Not many people live here permanently, but if you are going this way, you will likely stay at Rifall for a night. If you can pay for it, you can get a roof over your head, a meal prepared and even a beer served. The people at Rifall can also help out with malfunctioning vehicles and basic medical care. Diggers often stop by here, looking for work or customers, or just a place to rest and regroup. They are less welcome in Värnhem nowadays.
From Rifall the distance to Östbacken is pretty close to 30 km, and the distance to Värnhem is about 50 km.
The Inn at Rifall is publicly known as Rifalls Gästgivaregård. It is quite expensive, but the service is decent and the food even better, at least by post-apocalyptic standards. The Innkeeper family has a small water powered generator located somewhere in the woods, and the entire settlement use the power to pump up clean water from a deep well.
Next to the Inn the Shelter is located. It is known as Grävarhärbärget or just Härbärget. The Shelter can only be used by diggers. Nobody else is allowed to even enter the Shelter, without a proper invitation from a digger.
Some trading takes place at Rifall, often in smaller quantities. It is not unusual for people from Värnhem and Östbacken to meet halfway, and finish their business at Rifall, before having a drink together at the Inn.
The Rifall and Finnfall settlers also hire extra hands, for example at harvest. Poor people from Värnhem sometimes make extra money here.
The Finnfall settlement is located a few kilometers north of Rifall, and is inhabited by about 20 people. The farmers living there are known to be very friendly, and are often seen at Rifall doing business with travelers.
The Kölsjön settlement is located a couple of kilometers south of Rifall. The people living there are infamous for being suspicious of strangers, and they do not welcome uninvited visitors.
People have lived at Östbacken since late 2016, but the Östbacken residents declared the foundation of it in 2018. That was when the decision was made to put everybody's possessions together in a joined effort to buy food and seeds, and start farming. The settlement is located about 30 km north of Lindesberg in Närke, and used to be a settlement next to an abandoned mine. In 2040 the entire settlement was moved to a village of cottages about 10 km south of the mine.
Östbacken is one of the largest settlements in the middle parts of Sweden, and has about 600 residents. Only Bytarstan is larger. Östbacken have been very collectivistic for a long time, and the residents work for the good of everybody. Labour and assets are shared, and the Östbacken residents try to honor the old saying "To each according to their needs, from each according to ability", even if the official motto of Östbacken is "Labour and progress."
Politically Östbacken has experimented a lot, and made changes from time to time. Today it is syndicalist organisation, where a number of "offices" (like the Office of Farming, and the Office of Technical Engineering) make the decisions and work as independent as possible. A council meeting is held every month, where all residents may be present and speak their opinion. The practice is to discuss matters until an agreement is achieved, but the council can also make decisions based on a majority of votes.
The Östbacken resident is generally a rather uncomplicated individual, who work hard during the day and appreciate casual company in the free hours. People live close to each other, strong bonds of friendship are formed, and the strong feeling of "us" is always present. They are not reactionary, changes and new solutions are appreciated.
The majority of the Östbacken residents live in the "New Östbacken", a former camping and recreation site about 10 km south of the Stråssa mine. About 60 larger cottages are located here, surrounding a former conference facility, and a number of houses built by the residents. About one hundred Östbacken residents live at "The Outer Farms", small crofter's cottages and farms within a kilometer from the main village, where they breed cattle, grow food, and produce lumber.
Maybe half of the Östbacken population is engaged in some form of farming or cattle breeding. Potatoes, wheat and apples are produced, and larger herds of cattle and chickens are held. Other branches of business are tar and charcoal production (which is the largest export product), alcohol (mainly as fuel for power generators and vehicles), lumber and fire wood, and beer production (the "Östbackens Lilla Röda" beer is an appreciated export product). Qualified mechanics, technicians, carpenters and electricians also live here.
Östbacken has fairly qualified medical personnel and the production of electric power is quite large, by using solar power panels, wind generators and fuel powered electric generators.
Import products are fish and salt from the settlement of Sjövik, wool, hides, fruit and vegetables from Värnhem, and tools, nails and the like from Bytarstan.
Law and order are usually sufficient in Östbacken, and the crime and violence rates are generally low. Outsiders sometimes think that the Östbacken residents work slowly, and waste a lot of time on arguing about things. Lately a concern for the misuse of alcohol, and the social and health problems that follows, have been growing. This is a problem especially in winter time.
Östbacken have only a few laws (the principle of favoring the collective is a large part of it) and there is no specialized police force (instead the practice of mandatory "protection duty" is in use, on a rotating schedule). Neither capital nor corporal punishment is in use, and the most severe punishment is exile. Imprisonment is not in use either, since it is regarded a waste of resources, and in those cases forced labour is preferred.
The Örebro Settlement is located about 40 km south of Östbacken, at the shore of Lake Hjälmaren. Only about 50 people live here. The old city of Örebro, located a few kilometers inland, has been abandoned for the good farming lands and fishing waters of the northern shore of the lake. Once a year, in deep winter, the Hindersmäss Market takes place in Örebro. It attracts merchants from all over the land.
Värnhem is based around a former nursery garden and garden centre outside of Fagersta, about 80 km north east of Östbacken. The greenhouses, orchards and fields located here have made Värnhem known for it's production of fruits and vegetables.
Värmhem was founded one year after Östbacken, in 2019, but a group of people, who used to work at the facility, stayed and survived the entire war here. Today about 400 people live here, most of the inside The Wall, a barricade of shipping containers, fences and rubble, that sorrounds the nursery garden and the buildings next to it.
The average Värnhem citizen is a skilled and enterprising individual, who takes pride in the success of the settlement. The pride over the achievements made here are a common subject among the people living here, which outsiders may find boastful. Skill, decency and being true to one's word are traits that are also highly valued here.
The Värnhem citizen is generally more solitary than for example the Östbacken resident, since Värmhem is a more secluded society that one might find difficult to become part of. Newcomers are evaluated before being allowed to settle down here, and they need to verify their working skills first.
Well on the inside, Värnhem is a very liberal society, and the common practice is to never interfere with anybody's private life, as long as no one gets hurt.
Värnhem is a liberal market economy, and as a rudimentary state it is governed by a generally elected board. Elections are held every two years. The "town" owns for example the green houses and the barricade, and it is responsible for the keeping of law and order, and the protection of the settlement.
Except for this, the settlement is based on private property. Living quarters, for example, are purchased by instalments to the Peoples Bank of Värnhem. Public services are limited to a minimum.
Two practices that are in high esteem are individual freedom and that everybody is the smith of their own fortune. Sometimes people say "There are no poor people in Värnhem" but that is only partly correct. Most who could not support themselves in Värnhem have moved, to try their luck somewhere else, for example in Östbacken, but poverty does exist.
Värnhem has a security force of about 20 people, employed full time, which can be further reinforced by part time guards. The full time guards practice a lot, and are therefore known to be very competent, and they have no problem dealing with external threats against the settlement.
The main production of Värnhem is farming, at the fields surrounding the settlement, and in the green houses. Great effort has been put into keepng the green houses warm during winter time as well, for example by importing charcoal from Östbacken. To give the produce enough light, the flourescent tubes shine and the etanol powered generators hum all winter. This enables produce all year around, although less plentiful in winter. Tomatoes, cucumbers, chili, black pepper and other spices are grown.
Outside the Wall there are plenty of beehives that produce wax and honey. There are also a lot of different crafts in practice here, and a lot of useful things are being produced in smaller quantities. The Market Place is located right outside the Wall. This is where trade takes place, and a couple of shelters, stables, a fueling station and a mechanical workshop can also be found here.
The Market Place of Värnhem can not match the Bytarstan Market, but it is frequently visited by farmers and traders from the entire middle parts of Sweden. The produce sold in winter attracts a lot of people.
In a joint effort with Östbacken the old telephone line, refitted with new copper wire in some distances, have been reestablished between the two settlements. There are now two lines in each direction. One of them is often in use for digital communication, by the use of old modems being pressed into renewed service. The telephone connection is rather unstable, sometimes wires or other parts break. Bad weather sometimes makes the solar panels at the relay stations less effective. When the system is functional, it is quite a development compared to before. Now orders can be made, the current stock in change can be checked, news can be shared, and it is possible to speak to people. Through the modem connection, it is also possible to send simple text files, and a low quality image or two.
The People outside the settlements
There are a lot of different people living in Scandinavia in the year of 2045. The Sami population have reclaimed large swathes in the north, and herds their reindeer through the vast inlands. More Sami are probably nomadic today, than before the Crunch. They refer to themselves as citizens of Sápmi, and consider the breakdown of the Scandinavian nations a step on the way back to self-determination.
The inlands of the south are populated by farmers and other people living of the land and the forests. The general practice is that you have to grow something, to be considered a resident at that place. This has both a juridical and a symbolic meaning. You have to be a resident to be able to claim membership at the local village council. If you can assert your authority as a resident, you may lay claim to the local resources, weather they are hunting grounds, buildings, farmable land, or fishing waters.
If you do not grow anything, you are considered a drifter. Owning a farm is off course treated as a higher station than planting some tomatoes in the back yard, but even growing some parsley next to your tent might just be enough to formally make you a resident.
The nomadic diggers take pride in not being residents anywhere at all, even if many of them have to accept seasonal employment to make it through the year. Long gone are the days when the diggers could support their way of life, only by their traditional scavenging and trading. Today all uninhabited territories have been looted of their valuables and resources. Diggers are often hired as transporters, and sometimes as security, on dangerous routes. If you would like to play a digger at Vinterland, the precept is the same as on the larp Landsväg: You have to a member of a team, and the team must bring some means of transportation to Vinterland. The digger's way of life is described in detail at beratta.org/landsvag)
The diggers are not the only travelers you may encounter on the roads. Merchants have become more and more frequently seen in the past few years, due to the raising demand for foreign products. The relative stability and peace makes people more eager to barter for what they can not produce on their own. Travelling longer distances takes skill and effort, so strangers are generally seen with respect, and sometimes even as celebrities. Some foreigners are pretty close to rock stars, not because they are alien, but since they have the skills and means to travel impressively long distances.
These are some examples of good manners in post-apocalyptic Scandinavia, especially in winter time:
- Close the door behind you, as soon as you can. When you enter a heated room, you are appreciating somebody's labour to keep it that way. Wasting the warmth by leaving the door open, is considered really bad manners.
- Walk beside the ski tracks. Destroying somebody's ski tracks by using them as a path, is considered bad manners.
- Greet strangers. People are assets, in a time where long term survival is based on skills, not gear. You don't have to befriend everyone, but when the time comes it is a relief to know of somebody who can perform simple surgery or repair a pair of boots. Ignoring people you don't know is considered bad manners.
- Respect the locals. If you are new to an area, it is generally a good idea to appreciate the advice of the people living there. They know which streams that have drinkable water, and which ones to avoid. If you get in trouble, they are most often the ones closest by, to lend you a helping hand.
Money and Valuables
Trading goods for goods is still the most frequent way to make business in post-apocalyptic Scandinavia. Labour is also a quite common way to pay for things. Some of the larger settlements have created their own currencies. These notes only have a real value in their settlements and the surrounding area. Bringing them on longer journeys makes them more or less worthless.
The currency of Östbacken is known as Kuponger, but farther away people call them Östbackenkuponger. The value of Kuponger is considered to be rather stabile. The notes are produced in the values of 1 Ök, 5 Ök, 10 Ök, 50 Ök and 100 Ök.
The currency of Värnhem is known as Ören, but outside the Wall people call them Värnhemsören. The value of Värnhemsören is notorious for being unstable. The notes are produced in the values of 1 Vö, 5 Vö, 10 Vö, 50 Vö and 100 Vö, but the 1 Vö-note is considered close to worthless outside the settlement of Värnhem.
We realize that some participants might need a currency in game, with an actual value. To make things easy, Swedish Crowns are referred to as Bytarkronor. They are named after the infamous settlement of Bytarstan. These ofcourse are not used diegetically ingame, but can be used to pay for stuff or as a simple comparison for relative values.
How much is your work worth?
These guidelines are not the law. They are not even completely realistic. Hopefully they will help you on the way to enjoyable bartering and bickering during the game, perhaps a meal or even a payment. If it ensures enjoyable roleplaying for several participants, you may ditch these guidelines completely.
3 hours of unskilled labour, like chopping fire wood, normally pays a simple meal. If somebody is working for you, it is considered good manners to invite them in and serve them warm food. You will off course allow a short break or two. Offer something to drink, have a chat.
A whole day of unskilled work (about 9 hours) normally pays three simple meals. In cash this equals roughly about 50 Ök or perhaps 250 Vö as payment for a complete day's work. If somebody works for you a whole day, it is considered decent to offer them somewhere to spend the night, even if it is just a corner in the room with the stove.
1 hour of skilled labour, like carpentering, baking, sewing, or doing auto repairs, normally pays 10 – 20 Ök or 50 – 100 Vö. Very heavy skilled work, like masonry or cutting sheep, pays about the double.
Team work is commonly higher appraised in post-apocalyptic Scandinavia; a couple of skilled workers are considered to secure a more reliable result than one single individual.
1 hour of highly skilled labour, like master blacksmithing, electrical engineering, or professional translation, pays 20 – 50 Ök or 100 – 250 Vö. Extremely specialized skills, like surgery, pay the double.
How much is something worth?
These examples are only crude guidelines, and not entirely realistic, but they will work as an estimate of what stuff might be worth at Vinterland. At current rate of exchange, 1 Ök is considered to be worth 5 Vö.
|1 pair of boots, used but in decent shape||120 Ök||600 Vö|
|1 knitted sweater, used but in decent shape||80 Ök||400 Vö|
|1 kg butter||16 Ök||80 Vö|
|1 kg bread||8 Ök||40 Vö|
|1 l. milk||8 Ök||40 Vö|
|1 kg salt||120 Ök||600 Vö|
|1 l. low quality beer||15 Ök||75 Vö|
|75 cl low quality distilled liquor||75 Ök||375 Vö|
|1 simple meal at a restaurant||20 Ök||100 Vö|
|33 cl decent quality beer at a restaurant||15 Ök||75 Vö|
|4 cl high quality distilled liquor at a restaurant||40 Ök||200 Vö|
|1 high quality coffee at a restaurant||4 Ök||20 Vö|
|1 l. diesel||40-60 Ök||200-300 Vö|
|1 l. kerosene||50-70 Ök||250-350 Vö|
|1 horse||2000-4000 Ök||10 000-20 000 Vö|
|1 sheep||200 Ök||1000 Vö|
|1 chicken||24 Ök||120 Vö|
|1 medical examination by a skilled physician||10 Ök||50 Vö|
|To send a letter 200 km, in summer||50 Ök||250 Vö|
|To send a letter 200 km, in winter||100 Ök||500 Vö|
Travelling is a time consuming business. Three decades after the Crunch, the roads of Scandinavia are a mess. Most of them are damaged on several places, or completely washed away by the rain. Bridges have fallen to pieces and tunnels have been filled with water. In some respects, it is easier to travel in winter. On frozen lakes it is possible to go full speed straight ahead with a motorized vehicle, something that is rarely possible on the damaged roads. Some products, like charcoal, can only be transported longer distances in winter. On the bumpy summer roads, charcoal breaks down to useless dust pretty quick.
For longer distances, snow mobiles are still in use, for those who can afford the fuel. Snow mobiles are noisy and require skilled mechanics, but they are some of the fastest land vehicles available in post-apocalyptic Scandinavia.
Cars and motor cycles are often stalled for the winter, simply because they are too unreliable when the snow depth exceeds 20 cm. In emergency situations it is possible to come quite far by attaching snow chains and burning a lot of fuel, but this is not an option for everyday use. The risk of getting stuck in some uphill terrain far from home is too big.
Long run skis with skins are by far the most common and most versatile means for travelling shorter distances in winter. They are cheap and require very little training in advance. Home made snow shoes might be even cheaper, but prohibits the user from taking advantage of downhill terrain. Snow shoes are also notorious for punishing the unskilled user with horrible muscle pains.
Sled dogs are rather uncommon this far south, but even border collies and German shepherds can be used for pulling, on shorter distances. People skijoring (a dog or two pulling somebody on long run skis) are more often seen on the winter roads than regular sled teams.
Real polar dogs are some the most reliable long distance runners known to man. They require very skilled mushers, and a lot of food, but as long as the temperature is low, they are able to pull heavy loads for weeks, without ever complaining.