How to make Abomination Vault your own?

Abomination Vaults

First time posting here, so bear with me.

TLDR: How do I make Abomination Vault my own story, in a way, that's interesting to more casual players?

The long Story: So I've been the forever GM for a group of casual players, who I've affectionately dubbed 'the Manslaughter Vagrants' for their not-so-murderhobo-y gaming style. Combat, Exploration, and Silly Antics are what they show up for. They have a very casual approach to the hobby - they pick up the rules as we play, nobody really gets into character, most everyone has a beer or three during the session, and everyone gets a few laughs in.

Obviously, the character bit is where issues occasionally come up, because this comes with the added issues of a lack of a backstory to dip into when it comes to fleshing out modules. And while nobody refuses to make a backstory, I do run for adults with busy lives, so it's something that they just don't get around to. But complaints aside, I'm not about to replace my players - they're friends and family, and honestly I prefer them to strangers.

Anyhow, I recently was talked into checking out PF2e, and managed to jump on the Humble Bundle that was running last month just before it wrapped up, which included the Abomination Vault AP. A megadungeon crawl is right up my players alley, so that's great.

Yet in the past, I've had issues with APs. They have always felt flat to me. I did run Crypt of the Everflame as my entry point into PF1e, and it worked out decently for the group. Yet every other AP I've tried to run has puttered out and then I suggest running a completely different system. For completion's sake, I tried to run Rise of the Runelord, Shattered Star, and Wrath of the Righteous (all APs that sounded fun to me at the time). Only RotRL made it into Book 2 (WotR barely made it 3 sessions).

Now, I'm sure part of the grinding point in the past was that PF1e was a poor fit for my group, and I'm hoping that 2e is a better choice. But I'm also hoping that I can make Abomination Vault something awesome and fun for the whole group (myself included - I really shouldn't be going 'oooh shiny new system' when I get bored of a module). Especially since we've been on hiatus since the pandemic started - I want to get things going strong.

Any advice you guys can share with me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Liberty's Edge

Our GM for AV developped a system of downtime, similar to the PFS one I believe, that we could use for things such as building a temple, a dojo, a library, that had interesting though not OP mechanical effects, like granting access to uncommon things or lowering some prices or giving some one-time bonus. It helped involve us with the townlife of Otari.

I believe you can also pilfer ideas for Otari plots/sidequests from these very boards and from the other adventures happening near Otari.

Pathfinder Development Manager

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I gave each of my characters a connection to someone in town. Some of them are pretty casual roleplayers, too, and that ended up creating some of the fun.

For example, the fighter had done odd jobs for the captain of the town guard, just because he was a fighter. But the player was a chaotic good anarchist sort, and the captain of the guard is a real stick-in-the-mud, so he got to gripe in character "I totally hate my boss, he's a real jerk, so I'm off to bash stuff in the dungeon." But when they needed the town guard for something, that connection was there.

I'd also encourage you to have "the next time you come back..." moments in town between forays to the dungeon. Morlibint is going to look some stuff up in books, but it'll take him some time, so remind the characters to come back to him.

Wrin Sivinxi makes the best "the next time you come back..." character because she can read the stars and answer their questions every night, but only once and at night.

Basically, throw in some connections and keep a casual "next thing to do" between the town and the dungeon. When they go to the dungeon, they should have some reason to get back to town. And when they go into town, it should give them some reason to get back to the dungeon. I hope that kind of thing can keep up interest in the game!

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I have a rumours table that I roll every morning. There's an 80% chance nothing is happening, but there are 20 little seeds for some adventures around town, or things happening, or whatever. You can find these kinds of tables around. Look into the OSR for some resources on great random tables for towns and cities that you can use to spice up Otari. The Nocturnal Table is a good one that I've used.

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