Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous – A Comparative Review
So you may have seen that Owl Cat Games, the minds behind Pathfinder: Kingmaker,
recently released their next game in the Pathfinder series: Wrath of the Righteous. As I’m sure many of you will be aware, these games are actually based on official adventure paths from the company Paizo, the creators of the Pathfinder tabletop RPG system. Wrath of the Righteous also happens to be a Pathfinder campaign that I played in for 3 years (and one that I am considering running for Wayfarer’s League at some point in the future as it is very badass). With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at what the video game does differently from my experience playing this campaign around the table.
What is Pathfinder?
Pathfinder is a fantasy based TTRPG that was developed by the publishing company Paizo. It was originally based off of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e after the partnership between Paizo and Wizards of the Coast fell apart.
Pathfinder is officially set in the world of Golarian, a truly massive world with many
kingdoms and cities. This massive world map has allowed Paizo to create a wide variety of stories, all with different themes and styles using many tropes from classic fantasy adventures.
Pathfinder is also the system that the cast from Critical Role used before they made the shift from their home game to their live streamed game, at which point they switched to D&D 5e.
What is “Wrath of the Righteous”?
One of Pathfinder’s biggest and most epic adventure paths, Wrath of the Righteous, takes place in the North of Golarian, centred mostly around a part of the world known as “The Worldwound.” The Worldwound is a place of corruption, evil, and chaos ever since the half-succubus Areelu Vorlesh opened up a hole between the material plane and the Abyss. Since then, the kingdom of Mendev has waged 4 crusades to try and push back the demons and reseal the Worldwound, with all attempts failing. The campaign starts with the characters in the city of Kenabres, right on the border of the demon infested lands.
For 20 levels, and 10 mythic levels, the player characters battle their way across the
Worldwound facing all manner of demons, cultists, and other unholy beings. At different points in the campaign, the party will even come face to face with the 3 most powerful demon lords in all of Pathfinder.
This story is as epic as epic gets!
How Owl Cat Turned a TTRPG Campaign into a Video Game (WARNING: Spoilers ahead!)
To the credit of the creative team behind Owl Cat Games, they seem to be exceptionally
good at making a video game that both feels like Pathfinder, and works as a video game. Their obvious respect for the team at Paizo shines through with these games - keeping to the story of the original adventure paths but changing what they needed to in order to make it work for a single player video game. This is no small feat, but they managed by making the story more personal to the player’s character. The villains who, in the original TTRPG, were notorious traitors to the crusades from history, now start as your allies and betray you along the way. The main villain of the campaign is introduced right at the beginning of the story with an incredible show of power, rather than remaining as an unseen figure until the climax like they are in the TTRPG. Other villains are introduced
much earlier as well. All these things help the player to connect and understand who the villains are and why they do what they do without the need of a lore dump.
This is not to say that the TTRPG did things in a bad way by any means! Around the table, the use of lore dumps can be quite effective when handled right, and Wrath of the Righteous includes figures who have been an active part of this war for many centuries. So it makes sense that you wouldn’t meet these people all as quickly as you do in the video game, but rather hear about them instead. As the video game puts your character at the centre of the story it works that everyone takes an interest in you so soon.(spoilers end)
Essentially the video game goes for a very different feel in regards to the player character’s role within the story. In the TTRPG the player characters all start as a bunch of nobodies who, by chance, become grand heroes and leaders within the fifth crusade. In the video game it is shown very early on that you are special, and the thing that makes you special is what is going to win the fifth crusade. In my humble opinion I don’t think either of these approaches are better than the other, but I think they are both the best options for the mediums they are presented in.
The other big achievement, which cannot go unacknowledged, is how well Owl Cat Games translated the Pathfinder game system into a video game as it really does feel like Pathfinder. Whilst some things have been simplified for the sake of accessibility within the video game, the fundamentals of the system are still very much intact. Your character progresses from levels 1-20 taking a selection of feats, spells, abilities, and stat increases as they progress. It is still done in a way that you can plan out cool and powerful character builds to make your character play the way you want them to play.
In addition to building your character and running them from levels 1-20, Wrath of the
Righteous also has what the game calls a mythic system which progresses as your character’s deeds and powers become more and more legendary. In the TTRPG the mythic system gave each player the same level of power, giving them bonus feats and abilities, ability score increases, the ability to reroll dice and add bonuses to their rolls, and eventually making them into demi-gods. In the video game, as the focus is taken away from the party and put onto the individual, the mythic system also got a revamp. Whilst you still get mythic feats and abilities, the main feature now is which mythic path you choose as your character becomes more than a mere mortal. You can play through the game as an angel, a demon, a devil, a lich, and many more options (including a gold dragon). Once again, this change is made to put the focus on how special your character is as the primary
protagonist of the story.
Personal Thoughts: How Does it Feel to Return to this Story?
After playing through the TTRPG for 3 years we met a lot of different NPCS, visited a lot of places, and performed a lot of heroic deeds. Now I am jumping back in and rediscovering these NPCS, places, and deeds in a different format. I find myself so excited whenever I meet someone new, or travel to a new place in-game, as I remember all the fun times I have already had. My character is currently wielding an artifact sword, which the paladin of our TTRPG campaign used for the full 3 years of play. Quite recently I met an NPC that my character had had a relationship with in the TTRPG and, quite excitingly, she is available as a romanceable character in the video game as well.
Meeting these villains again is also fantastic, as I remember how much trouble they caused us when we played around the table. I find myself getting more and more excited as I visit the sites of battles I’ve had before, and remembering how deadly those enemies were. As a lot of the main villains are introduced much earlier in the game than they were in the TTRPG, I find myself seeing them in a new light and enjoying the different takes on these characters.
I am still in the early stages of the game, having recently reached level 9 out of 20, but I am excited to keep playing to see what Owl Cat has done differently and what has stayed the same. I definitely recommend this game if you like an epic RPG story, and enjoy building cool and powerful characters. I hope to see many of you join the Fifth Crusade and help to put a stop to the evils of the Worldwound.