abomination vaults review, amazing content with a huge dungeon

Abomination Vaults Review

What is Abomination Vaults and why should you run it?

Abomination Vaults is an amazing module

Abomination Vaults is a module published by Paizo the maker of Pathfinder. Paizo releases adventure paths for Pathfinder that consist of multiple adventures following a coherent storyline. These combine bite-size adventures into huge campaigns. In the case of Abomination Vaults, it is a level 1-10 adventure consisting of 3 adventures

These 3 adventures are all highly enjoyable and revolve around a mega-dungeon. Veteran dungeons and dragons players will feel right at home with the dungeon-crawling nature. Pathfinder is built around the players having all resources except spells in every encounter but 5e is built off the adventuring day. The adventuring day is very hard to manage outside of dungeons but is perfect for an adventure like Abomination Vaults.

What is a Module

A module is a prebuilt campaign already designed for the Dungeon Master. This saves the dungeon Master grueling hours of work. At the same time, you have all the freedom in the world to change things that you want and make the adventure your own. Think of it like a template. You can work as much as you want to add new content while having the freedom to take a minimalistic approach if you have a busy week. As a college student with a busy semester switching to a module has been lifesaving.

Abomination Vaults is a Megadungeon adventure

Abomination Vaults revolves around the mega-dungeon of Gauntlight a lighthouse that houses secrets I will go over in the plot summary. The Adventure comes with a plethora of maps covering the 10 floors of this lighthouse each with its own ecosystem. There is plenty of opportunity for roleplaying with the factions in the dungeon. Another great thing is that the dungeon is not perfectly linear. Players can take multiple directions through the dungeon and can even skip floors entirely!


Mega dungeons are great at capturing the exploration pillar of gameplay due to the nature of secret doors and hidden items. You as the dungeon Master will have the full ability to know where everything is based on the great maps but players will have to use their imagination and ask questions to get a good feel for the rooms. This style of play is one of my favorites to both play and dm for. 



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Abomination Vaults takes place in Otari

Not too far off from the lighthouse of Gauntlight is the small lumber town of Otari. Otari is a very developed city. Players should have a motive to care about Otari while they adventure. Otari has a rich history that is covered during the campaign. There’s plenty of places and NPCs to talk to in Otari. 


The module starts you off right at the dungeon but its just as valid to start in Otari before heading off. The town can be a great place to take a break from the constant tension of the Abomination Vaults. If you want the town to have even more content, there are additional adventures that provide content in Otari in the beginner’s box and the troubles in Otari adventure. There are even tunnels that lead to Gauntlight in Otari if you explore near a certain fishery.

Another reason in favor of running the town is that NPCs in the town become key later on. It may be wise to introduce them early so the players are invested when the events occur. One NPC is being hunted by a devil which forces the players to have an interesting choice in adventure two.


Abomination Vaults has an engaging plot

When the fog is creeping,
And the moon is low;
When the town is sleeping,
Gauntlight starts to glow!
That’s when she arises
For her midnight lunch.
Naughty kids are prizes
For her teeth to crunch.
But if you obey me,
And obey the rules;
You’re safe from Belcorra;
She just eats the fools!


This is a nursery rhyme sung by the parents of children in Otari warning them of the swamp of Fogfen. The plot revolves around the ghost sorcerer Belcorra Haruvex who built Gauntlight as a base to take over Absalom a big city who took away the status of the Haruvex family due to their cultish sacrifices. This was 500 years ago and the founders of Otari stopped her plans. She is revived now and many denizens of the dungeon all those years ago are still alive and working. When the founders defeated Belcorra the first time they never discovered the lower levels of the dungeon.

The ecosystems of these dungeons tie into this plot and make it very rewarding for the players to engage with the story. I find that the initial plot hook is a little weak. It revolves around the players having a common contact, Wrin Sivinnxi a store owner in Otari who due to her good vision can see the Gauntlight shining and has a bad feeling about it. I believe players should have a better reason to risk their lives. I recommend the players have some reason to care about Otari and emphasize the danger of the city. I would use Wrin to communicate this danger as she can foresee the future through her read the stars ability. 

One thing that Abomination Vaults doesn’t emphasize that I plan on doing is using Nhimbaloth, the god that Belcorra worships. Nhimbaloth is a predator on the river of souls and any soul she eats will never go to the afterlife. She has a common association with swamps which fits the environment around Gauntlight called the Fogfen. I plan on using cultists of Nhimbaloth as another faction in the campaign.

There are many directions you can take during the adventure to add your own stuff and ideas. The plot is really good but you can definitely add stuff to make the campaign your own. 

Abomination Vaults Monsters are Horrifying

As someone new to Pathfinder I was pleasantly surprised by how fun it could be to run one Zombie. It was completely my fault because I didn’t know zombies had the permanent slow condition giving them 2 actions instead of 3 but a tutorial fight became one of the most intense battles our group had ever gone through. I could have customized this zombie, even more, using the suggestions of archives of nythys. For example, I could have had the zombie’s arm fall off and become its own monster. 

As fun as this seemingly harmless zombie ended up being, what really sold me on running this adventure was the art on some of the monsters in the deeper levels of the dungeon. They were beyond what I could have imagined and I can’t wait to learn them and run them. Monsters are a fundamental part of a dungeon crawl and it will be fun for me as a dungeon master to describe these in vibrant detail.

The monster placement makes sense with the plot as they are experimental creations for the purpose of taking over the city of Absalom or monsters that just want the place as territory. With a little bit of imagination, most monsters would make sense to put here if you have a specific one you want to use.

Resources for Abomination Vaults

Abomination Vaults Players guide

One thing Paizo does for their adventure paths is created player guides. These player guides are great for debriefing the knowledge they need to create a character relevant to the story. Additionally, it provides adventure-specific backgrounds for players to choose from. It gives them character choice recommendations regarding alignment, language, and class. I really enjoyed reading them as a dungeon master for some inspiration on the backgrounds and how to implement other backgrounds.


Abomination Vaults Gamemasters guide

One of the developers of the module created this guide and it has made preparation much easier. It outlines potential npcs like cultists and bounty hunters you can add. It aggregates all the sidequests and organizes them for ease of use, something I wish the module did. It adds two mini-adventures that complement the history of Otari or the dungeon itself. 

It organizes all the monster stat blocks by floor, this way you don’t have to constantly change tabs looking for monsters or have twenty tabs. You can easily find what you are looking for which stops combat from slowing down the pace of your sessions. I found all of these features to truly elevate the campaign to be the best it can be and I thank Ron Lundeen for creating it.

The Three Adventures

Ruins of Gauntlight

The ruins of Gauntlight take you through the ruins that connect to the lighthouse. I found this a little confusing at first but the players start in the decayed ruins and make their way to the lighthouse where they descend or ascend from there. The Ruins of Gauntlight adventure takes the adventurers from level 1 to 4 and has 4 chapters. 

Chapter one is a great start because it provides a lighter tone before descending below ground where situations get serious. There are Mitflits that are trying to claim the ruins of Gauntlet as their own territory. Their boss is planning an invasion by creating an army of bugs and wants to invade Otari. I think this is a genius microcosm that parallels the overall story. Belcorra creates an army of monsters to take over the big city Absalom parallels the mitflits exploiting their ability to command bugs to take over Otari. The Mitflits are very comedic due to the writing of the campaign. They think they are the big bad the adventurers are trying to stop when there is something much more terrifying afoot.

Chapter 2 starts with Belcorra activating the Gauntlight tower which causes undead to rise in the Otari Graveyard. This forces the adventurers to head back and deal with the problem. When they come back they proceed through the servant’s quarter’s and chapter 3 takes them through the library.

Chapter 4 goes through more of this discovery process before they reach the adventures greatest trial yet, a door they can’t get past without a special key. This trial leads into the second adventure.



Boss Skrawg

Hands of the Devil

Hands of the Devil is the second adventure in the Abomination Vaults Adventure Path. It focuses on one of Belcorra’s servant’s Urevian. He had a deal that he would be free if he got the soul of the founder Rajani. This is why I recommended planting the seed of Otari’s political troubles. One of the Npcs is a descendant of the Rajani family and the players can strike a deal with Urevian if they give him Rajani’s soul. While dealing with this intrigue the players also go through more levels of the dungeon that include gladiator arenas and laboratories. 

Eyes of Empty Death

Eyes of Empty Death is the climax of the adventure and includes enemies such as dragons, drow and Belcorra herself. During these final levels the players could make allies to help them on their quest to rid the world of Belcorra’s will once and for all. These final levels of the dungeon are even more massive. The final level is a temple to Nhimbaloth. By the end of it the players should reach 11th level.

Transitioning to 5e

Abomination Vaults is an amazing dungeon crawler and can be great for the 5e formula. There isn’t as much customizability for the monsters as there is in pathfinder but the choices made are fitting. These adventure paths are on the level of Wizards of the Coast modules and should get much more attention from dnd groups. Due to Dnd 5e falling apart at higher levels abomination vaults being level 1-11 is much easier for the dungeon master to run than another adventure path. 

Abomination Vaults review Conclusion

Abomination Vaults seems like a love letter to veteran dungeon masters. The style of play and pacing is great and intense. My players have enjoyed the module thus far and I’m surprised it isn’t getting as much attention. The individual adventures can be slotted into your own campaign as they only take a couple of levels. I recommend giving at least Ruins of Gauntlight a shot to let it entice you. There are many ways for you to make this campaign your own and I hope you enjoy it. Consider reading more of our blog posts for you to have success running it.

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