Pathfinder Adventure Path #163: Ruins of Gauntlight (Abomination Vaults 1 of 3)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #163: Ruins of Gauntlight (Abomination Vaults 1 of 3)

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Enter the megadungeon! When the mysterious Gauntlight, an eerie landlocked lighthouse, glows with baleful light, the people of Otari know something terrible is beginning. The town's newest heroes must venture into the ruins around the lighthouse—and delve the dungeon levels far beneath it—to discover the evil the Gauntlight heralds. Hideous monsters, deadly traps, and mysterious ghosts all await the heroes who dare to enter the sprawling megadungeon called the Abomination Vaults!

"Ruins of Gauntlight" is a Pathfinder adventure for four 1st-level characters. This adventure begins the Abomination Vaults Adventure Path, a three-part, monthly campaign in which the heroes explore a sprawling megadungeon to stop an ancient evil from renewing her monstrous vengeance. This adventure also includes an extensive gazetteer of the town of Otari, the heroes' home base, as well as new monsters, new rules, and new artifacts—including the dread Gauntlight itself!

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world's oldest fantasy RPG.

ISBN-13: 978-1-64078-301-0

The Abomination Vaults Adventure Path is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (983 kb PDF).

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

Hero Lab Online
Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
Archives of Nethys

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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4.20/5 (based on 12 ratings)

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Excellent Classic Adventure

5/5

Interesting dungeon and characters. Flawless town gazetteer. Gives GMs all the tools to run the best incarnation of local heroes' do dungeon that suits there individual tastes.


One of my favorite Paizo modules ever

5/5

Ruins of Gauntlight is a fantastic adventure, and a textbook example of how to write a great dungeon crawl. I love that it starts in media res, right outside the gates of Gauntlight, with minimal background exposition. You’ve been hired to do a job, and you're already on your way to do it. In this regard it reminds me nicely of many old skool D&D adventures, specifically Castle Caldwell and Beyond, which was the very first D&D module I ran back in the day. This method also leaves a lot more space for the actual adventure.

I’m impressed at so many things, I don’t know where to start! James has managed to cram a lot of great content into these pages. The whole place feels very organic and natural, and the maps are well-designed and ”logical”. This is a place where *everything* is there for a reason, and a great deal of thought has been put to hazards, encounters and treasure distribution. I also love how the history of the place is present everywhere, and there are many minor and major mysteries for the PCs to discover. I won’t go into any detail, you want to discover them yourself. In many ways it also reminds me of the Ruins of Undermountain boxed set, which in my opinion is the best AD&D era superdungeon.

I strongly feel Abomination Vaults should have been a flagship product and the first Adventure Path for 2E. As a whole it is the best AP Paizo has put out in years, and Ruins of Gauntlight is definitely one of my favorite Paizo modules ever. It showcases all the best 2E mechanics in a fantastic fashion, and (IMO) this AP is way more approachable and easier to run than Age of Ashes. It takes place in a contained environment, yet close enough to smaller and bigger settlements, so that the PCs have access to lodging, gear and information. It has a well-written plot that probably fits most groups as is, without any modifications. It is just hands down better in every aspect than any of the previous 2E APs.

Even if you don’t like dungeon crawls, you should check out this adventure. The ground floor alone is worth the full price, and the rest of the levels are also chock-full of the same goodness! This adventure absolutely ROCKS, so gear up and haul your asses to explore the mysterious depths of Gauntlight!


Amazing dungeon adventure with a classic feel!

5/5

My group and me have been playing this adventure and having a blast!

Not only is there a really in depth town with many colorful NPCs and many hooks, but the feeling of going on an advneture delving into long forgotten dungeons is just plain fun! Exploring a dungeon is just so satisfying as it sheds layer by layer like an onion.

Concerning the difficulty, my group has not run into that, maybe because of different dice rolling (praise the dice gods), different tactical approaches and also the players have made it a point to risk their lives in attempts to save each other! Classic, heroic fun!

All in all, my favorite adventure up until now!


Way too deadly

1/5

Note, I'm one of Andrews players and so its not surprising that I basically agree with his points.

I died 3 times in one session. That largely says it all.

The first death my paladin is one shot killed by an NPC. My character is certainly a decent to good front liner. Paladin, shield raised, human, con of 14, Expert in Fortitude saves. Could be slightly better than that but not really much better. And many characters (including some front liners) are significantly worse.

Even when using a hero point I figure the odds of the vampiric touch killing me at about 25%. That is instant death for a full hit point front liner. That is really way too hard. 1 in 4 chance of death.

Then we had the TPK with the scorpion. Saved by Deus Ex Machina which is really, really unsatisfying. I lost the vote at the meta level to have us saved (I'd have preferred we all died).

Then the second TPK. A fight with a tough monster immediately after a resource draining hit point inflicting encounter would be bad if the monster was fair. But, of course, it was over tuned. If Paizo just followed their own guidelines we'd likely have handled it. But no, they have to ignore their guidelines and just make the monsters tougher.

I'm liking the story of the dungeon crawl, I really like the group as a whole. The adventure seems like it will be a lot of fun. An interesting story, chances for character interactions

But yeah, dying 3 times in a session is really too much. And it was NOT due to bad play or incredibly bad luck (having a 25% chance come up is mildly unlucky but only mildly). Even as an experienced player who loves making characters I was somewhat disheartened. If I didn't like the group as much as I do I'd be seriously considering quitting.

If this was anywhere close to my introduction to Pathfinder (say, for example, having gone through the beginner box which is one of the main targets for this module) I'd definitely decide that Pathfinder just sucks and go to a better system.

Paizo, there really are only a few lessons that you HAVE to learn:
1) Follow your own guidelines for monster creation and for encounter preparations. The guidelines aren't bad but you continually just ignore them.
2) Stop putting in instakill abilities against low level characters. Obviously bad luck can happen and I'm not saying make everything a cake walk. But there is a HUGE difference between a bad guy rolling a 17 and then a 20 and the character being critted twice and dying asopposed to a character with expert fortitude and good Con and hit points needing to roll a 13+ to survive.
3) Be way, way more sparing on CR+2 and CR+3 monsters. Even when the encounter is "fair" it can be un-fun to be knocked unconscious on a roll of 9 followed by a 12. And, if you DO this, please make sure that the CR includes any advantages the environment grants (again, as the encounter building guides suggest).


Paizo continues not to understand its own mechanics

2/5

OK, I have prepared Book 1 and Book 2 and so far have run the first level of Book 1. My group recently completed the Keep level, have done the graveyard event and are about to head back to start the first underground level. Or they would if we hadn't had effectively two TPK's.

This review focuses purely on the Keep. We have had two sessions.

The Keep level itself is interesting. The map is beautiful and well laid out with plenty of room to explore and various different routes to different places. The enemies are varied and interesting and there are some decent opportunities for role play interaction to break up the dungeon crawling.

In the first session the group happily explored much of the Keep. They negotiated with the mitflit King and enjoyed learning about his plan for the flying cavalry. At the end they found the shrine and just eeked out a victory. It is a very difficult encounter.

Returning the following day they headed over to the outbuildings where things started to go wrong. Putting something with vampiric touch in at level 1 is as bad as the Wight in thornkeep. It is a virtually guaranteed death as the spell has the death trait so there is no messing about with death saves when a regular fail drops everything except a dwarf barbarian on an average damage roll. 22 damage to the groups Champion ended him.

Heading back to town they recruited a replacement PC. Heading back they met up with Tangletop which they enjoyed. They gave him the shiny and decided to finish off exploring the Keep. They entered the scorpion room from the north and here we got TPK number 1. This thing is a terror with high AC, reach, opportunity attack, a dangerous poison and a lot of health. I had Wrin save them and they woke up in bed back in town.

Nervous they headed back, ignored the scorpion and entered the lighthouse. I had the haunt activate even though its only supposed to do so at night and it nearly murdered all of them. It is particularly mean that the entry door crumbles away giving the haunt clear line of sight down the very long hallway so it can continue to affect people if they try to run away, which my group did. Fortunately I have been having the mist limit vision pretty significantly.

They fled and just managed to stop the bleeding in time. I let them level up, restore themselves and then had the light show start. They rushed back to the graveyard, easily dealt with the undead and then were finished by the Skalthrax which is well above the recommended stats for a level 4 monster. I had the guard rally themselves and save the group.

A bunch of this leaves a fairly sour taste in the mouth. This is supposed to be the introductory level, the stage at which PCs are at their most fragile. We have had two effective TPK's and one outright murder and I am running for very experienced 2E players. This has certainly felt like a trend with similarly problematic encounters in starting levels for all previous APs.

If I was rating this for the lore, the setting, the maps, the layout and the presentation it would be a clear 4 stars. However, the encounter mechanics for level 1 PCs are blatantly too severe in a very obvious way. If I were running this for newbies I dont think we would have a session 3.


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Rysky wrote:
That probably won't be touched for awhile since we already had Mummy's Mask.

That's understandable. I just like the idea of adventurers are sent looking for the one responsible for kidnapping priests and clerics of Sarenrae only to discover a long forgotten insane mummy lord priest of Rovagug has been gathering victims to sacrifice so he can unleash a herald of Rovagug (aka a Thunder Behemoth) upon all of Osirion.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have wondered and wondered if they would ever do a short AP like they did with Starfinder. I personally love the idea of every year having one 6-part AP and two 3-part AP's. It keeps things fresh. And not every story needs to be that long. I love 20 level APs. But sometimes it's cool to have one that wraps up sooner. I'm excited for it!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Short APs? Sounds like a cool idea from time to time!

Though was looking for a break from the Absolom locale...


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
DeciusNero wrote:

Short APs? Sounds like a cool idea from time to time!

Though was looking for a break from the Absolom locale...

Far as I can tell, this one has nothing to do with Absalom!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It's the third AP in a row on the Isle of Kortos.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Fumarole wrote:
It's the third AP in a row on the Isle of Kortos.

This is true. However, the three APs don't overlap at all. And as far as I can tell, a dungeon crawl can basically be set anywhere? You aren't traveling or meeting new peoples... you're just going deeper in a hole in the ground near a small starting town.

I dunno. I don't get the complaints. I feel like they set it at Otari just so folks could launch from the Beginner's Box into a full-fledged crawl if they so wanted. Otherwise, it honestly sounds like it's got basically no Kortos influence, and definitely no Absalom influence.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I mean yeah, thing with mega dungeons is that even if it takes place in Arcadia... You wouldn't see lot of Arcadia flavor in dungeon per say :p


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Just out of curiosity, how big is Kortos?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Ed Reppert wrote:
Just out of curiosity, how big is Kortos?

Think it's a bit less than 200 miles east to west.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Not all that big, then. :)


I absolutely LOVE the shorter APs. If the plan is to release 2 of these per year (is that the case?), I'm all for it. Not only does it mix things up and provide more variation, I imagine it will make the APs more accessible for some. By more accessible I mean it takes less of a commitment to run. Anyway, bravo!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Sporkedup wrote:
Fumarole wrote:
It's the third AP in a row on the Isle of Kortos.

This is true. However, the three APs don't overlap at all. And as far as I can tell, a dungeon crawl can basically be set anywhere? You aren't traveling or meeting new peoples... you're just going deeper in a hole in the ground near a small starting town.

I dunno. I don't get the complaints. I feel like they set it at Otari just so folks could launch from the Beginner's Box into a full-fledged crawl if they so wanted. Otherwise, it honestly sounds like it's got basically no Kortos influence, and definitely no Absalom influence.

This is the part that confused me. The beginners box is like "hey do the stuff and then include Troubles in otari, them move on to Abomination Vaults! If that was the design idea, shouldn't this start at the level that trouble in Otari ends?


I love this cover!!!

Silver Crusade

Ooooooo


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Kyra must have the precious!

Dark Archive

Kyra continues the trend of her always holding up the holy symbol in her action pictures xD

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Liking the tentacle filigree for these ones!

Silver Crusade

Oh neat, I missed that.


I love the Tiefling Seoni on the cover..wonder who she actually is!


Tiefling Elf priestess of Desna says what?


Could they perhaps be Wrin Sivinxi?
(From a mention in the statblock of Otari on p.135 of the Gamemastery Guide.)


Xenocrat wrote:
Tiefling Elf priestess of Desna says what?

Ooh yes I didn't notice the starknife the first time!


The Painted Oryx wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Tiefling Elf priestess of Desna says what?
Ooh yes I didn't notice the starknife the first time!

And holding a scroll of constellations.

Grand Archive

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It's a James Jacobs character, an Elf tiefling. I don't remember if he said the class. :thinking:

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I'm wondering if there will be a matching flip mat pack like we got for Emerald Spire. Or if maybe it would make use of established maps like the Haunted Dungeons Multi-pack. When I opened that set, it looked like it could easily be a few adventures worth of exploration, recovery, and return for more delving.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Looking forward to a full flip mat pack, and hoping that this gets into the Darklands and lets us use the newest Mini's being released in January :D

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Does anyone have any details about the "extensive gazetteer of the town of Otari" that will be a part of "Ruins of Gauntlight"? Of course, I would not expect it to be anywhere near the size as the Sandpoint Campaign Setting but curious as to how much information that might be packed into it. I've got the Beginner Box (although I can't open it until 12/25 for some reason) and "Troubles" and the Flip-Map are on their way.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Phalimar wrote:
Does anyone have any details about the "extensive gazetteer of the town of Otari" that will be a part of "Ruins of Gauntlight"? Of course, I would not expect it to be anywhere near the size as the Sandpoint Campaign Setting but curious as to how much information that might be packed into it. I've got the Beginner Box (although I can't open it until 12/25 for some reason) and "Troubles" and the Flip-Map are on their way.

Mark Moreland is scheduled to blog about it in late January. I see 8 pages of text, 1 full page art, and 1 map page.

Verdant Wheel

Is there will be a players guide to this AP? I will GM a week after release and want to give something to my players.

Silver Crusade

There should be yeah.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I like these short APs. I would be in favor of alternating - a three part, then a six part, then a three part, then a six part, and so on. Except that would result in a three year cycle, and would mean GenCon is not always a place to debut a six part. I don't know if Paizo would be willing to go that route. <shrug>


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:

I’ve been asking for a megadungeon AP for ages. Thank you so much for making it happen, Paizo-powers-that-be.

Awesome! :)

I would personally love to see a full AP,but given the community’s appetite for megadungeons, I think a short and sharp 3-parter makes sense. I’ll hope it’s phenomenally successful and that we might see a “delving deeper” sequel in the adventures line, sometime down the track.

Really, really glad to read about this.

Me too! However, I feel like stopping halfway through as a bit of a let down (with only 3 parts). Knowing Paizo though, they won't disappoint.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The description sounds cool. But really all they needed to say was it was by James Jacobs.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

4 people marked this as a favorite.
kayman wrote:
Is there will be a players guide to this AP? I will GM a week after release and want to give something to my players.

Yes. Generally, we want to get you the Player's Guides about 30 days before launch, but with the holidays I think this one will about 2 weeks before. I'm excited to promote a mega-dungeon with a plot!

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Dextro Highland wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

I’ve been asking for a megadungeon AP for ages. Thank you so much for making it happen, Paizo-powers-that-be.

Awesome! :)

I would personally love to see a full AP,but given the community’s appetite for megadungeons, I think a short and sharp 3-parter makes sense. I’ll hope it’s phenomenally successful and that we might see a “delving deeper” sequel in the adventures line, sometime down the track.

Really, really glad to read about this.

Me too! However, I feel like stopping halfway through as a bit of a let down (with only 3 parts). Knowing Paizo though, they won't disappoint.

The characters from this AP can go straight into the next 3 volume AP, I believe.

Verdant Wheel

Aaron Shanks wrote:
kayman wrote:
Is there will be a players guide to this AP? I will GM a week after release and want to give something to my players.
Yes. Generally, we want to get you the Player's Guides about 30 days before launch, but with the holidays I think this one will about 2 weeks before. I'm excited to promote a mega-dungeon with a plot!

Thanks for the reply ...


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Xenocrat wrote:
Tiefling Elf priestess of Desna says what?

“Keep me away from bogs, marshes and sewers - it takes a lot of prestidigitation to keep these long flowing robes clean!

Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Seventh Seal wrote:

Could they perhaps be Wrin Sivinxi?

(From a mention in the statblock of Otari on p.135 of the Gamemastery Guide.)

That is absolutely Wrin Sivinxi!

Grand Lodge

I cannot wait to add this to the game I am starting with my kids!

Verdant Wheel

Hi , sorry to ask this again , but do you have a specific date for the release of the Players Guide? The expectation is killing me... I just finish reading The Shroud of Four Silences and i think this AP has the potencial to be one of the best. Sorry for my bad english.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
kayman wrote:
Hi , sorry to ask this again , but do you have a specific date for the release of the Players Guide? The expectation is killing me... I just finish reading The Shroud of Four Silences and i think this AP has the potencial to be one of the best. Sorry for my bad english.

Paizo are coming off vacation just about now, so I'd expect a major flurry of stuff this week. I'm pretty sure the player's guide will be released very soon.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Sporkedup wrote:
kayman wrote:
Hi , sorry to ask this again , but do you have a specific date for the release of the Players Guide? The expectation is killing me... I just finish reading The Shroud of Four Silences and i think this AP has the potencial to be one of the best. Sorry for my bad english.
Paizo are coming off vacation just about now, so I'd expect a major flurry of stuff this week. I'm pretty sure the player's guide will be released very soon.

As I said above, I think it will be ready about two weeks before volume one launches at the end of January, so I am targeting mid-January. I do not have a specific release date because I need everyone to come back into the office. Thanks for your enthusiasm!

Verdant Wheel

Thank you , and sorry to ask this again... as said before i am super exited , i already made a prelude(for level 0 pcs) and will begin January 12 ... I am using a lot of Lovecraftian themes and i hope i will be able to make a bridge between absalon and Otari.

OBS> I hope i am on the right path using lovecraft as the main theme for my prelude.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.
kayman wrote:

Thank you , and sorry to ask this again... as said before i am super exited , i already made a prelude(for level 0 pcs) and will begin January 12 ... I am using a lot of Lovecraftian themes and i hope i will be able to make a bridge between absalon and Otari.

OBS> I hope i am on the right path using lovecraft as the main theme for my prelude.

There is a spooky Otari nursery rhyme that goes with the start of this AP and I can't wait to share it! I'm targeting January 12 for the Player's Guide, but I need to make sure the team can have it ready by then. ~AA!


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

It will be certainly interesting to see what makes this a mega dungeon.

If it is six levels that all fit on a battle map, I say "meh." If it's three levels of a Maure Castle style dungeon, then I say "bring it on!"

Verdant Wheel

Two more days for the players guide?

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.
kayman wrote:
Two more days for the players guide?

It won't be finalized until the 12th. We may need a few days to prep the blog, but it should be this week.


When did APs move to 3 adventures? I knew they had done it in Starfinder had not heard for Pathfinder.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Joey Virtue wrote:
When did APs move to 3 adventures? I knew they had done it in Starfinder had not heard for Pathfinder.

This is an experiment, with this AP covering levels 1-10 and the next AP covering levels 11-20.

They will resume their normal 6 part 1-20 nature with the AP after that.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

Feros wrote:
Joey Virtue wrote:
When did APs move to 3 adventures? I knew they had done it in Starfinder had not heard for Pathfinder.

This is an experiment, with this AP covering levels 1-10 and the next AP covering levels 11-20.

They will resume their normal 6 part 1-20 nature with the AP after that.

Correct.

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