Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Another Owlcat dive into the tabletop-turned-IsoRPG, and I can’t say that I haven’t been stoked for this one since it was announced. Getting the chance to hop into the new wave of Beta testers was an instant, and emphatic YES. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous revisits much of what Kingmaker brought to the table, with an expansion on many of the ideas and systems, and a shift in some others. In Wrath of the Righteous, you witness, and then lead, the Fifth Mendevian Crusade, the latest in a series of incursions into a gaping wound in the world where a grand, magical culture once thrived, but has since been rent asunder and corrupted by the demonic hordes of the Abyss.
Like Kingmaker, Wrath is built off of one of the pre-written Adventure Paths that Paizo published for their first edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and was the first to utilize the Mythic Tier system, which is a power advancement adjacent to standard character leveling. It’s a lot of fun, and at the tabletop, can make for some interesting power dynamics. I’m using the system currently in a homebrew campaign set in the mostly-canon version of Paizo’s world.
The game does a decent job itself of providing exposition, often through bolded text in the dialogue just as before, but this article is gonna take a little context before we get to it. The Worldwound consists of what was once the kingdom of Sarkoris and surrounding lands, it is bordered by a militaristic Crusader State known as Mendev, ruled by Queen Galfrey, who was crowned five years before the worldwound opened, and has been leading both nation and crusades in the hundred and seventeen years since. The demons and corruption of the Worldwound are kept at bay by a set of angelic Wardstones, the Keystone of which is placed at the heart of the fortress-city of Kenabres. This is where we begin, carted into a festival, barely responsive with a terrible wound in your chest. You’re healed by the protector of the city, a silver dragon named Terendelev. Your equipment is seized, no weapons allowed at the festival, and the Inquisitor, Hulrunn, finds your arrival suspicious. Drink, Throw knives, make merry, and relax at the festival. Deskari, the Lord of the Locust Host crashes the party, you make a choice on how to start the next section, choosing a protective spell or a weapon, and then promptly fall into a rift the colossal bug demon opened in the city.
Before we get to this point though, we get to make our character. Twenty-five classes, each with a suite of archetypes, four to seven depending on the class, with restrictions ranging from race to alignment. Twelve playable races are here, with all the ones from Kingmaker, as well as adding Kitsune, a clever-or-charismatic shapeshifting fox people; Oread, a people whose heritage connects them to Elemental Earth, giving them a stony appearance; and Dhampirs, the half-living offspring of mortals and vampires. I ran three characters, but mostly focused on one. Avisiel, a Chaotic Good strength based dual-wielding human Slayer, with Shelyn as her patron; Azar, an Aasimar fallen Paladin story, so he started Lawful Good but he’s gonna go evil for his path; and Kali, a Neutral Kitsune and Nine-Tailed Heir, which is a race-locked archetype for the Sorcerer class.
One really interesting thing Owlcat brought for this game was unique archetypes. My favorite Slayer archetype in Wrath of the Righteous doesn’t exist in Pathfinder: Arcane Enforcer, a handy build that replaces some Slayer Talents with Arcanist Exploits. I have so many ideas with level dips for this and I love it. I haven’t fully explored all the classes, and this is still a beta, so there may be more unique inclusions, but I fully support the idea. Mini-maxers might not enjoy the archetype, but I sure do (plus, a beefed up Woljif is absolutely worth dropping three levels into slayer to keep from losing a sneak attack die, he’s a squishy boy.)
Much like Kingmaker, once you get out of the introduction (which is substantially longer than Kingmaker’s), you spend the next several hours of play traveling, finding companions, killing cultists, and selling loot. Unlike Kingmaker, you start only being able to travel to certain spots around Kenabres, lacking the freedom we were used to maneuvering in the last game. Kenabres is temporary though, and the first chapter ends with you deciding the fate of the wardstone, fighting a boss battle with some newfound power, and gaining your first Mythic Tier. There’s gonna be several to pick from, but you develop along them largely in choices made in the dialogue or the text-based scenes similar to the ones we saw Linzi used as the framing device for previously.
After this point, the game really opens up. You meet Queen Galfrey, and she names you Knight-Commander of the Fifth Crusade. The Quartermaster here in camp has pretty much anything you could reasonably want at this point of the game, and several you couldn’t possibly get legitimately yet, but he’s not going anywhere, so save up! More companions to be found now, and some more story-altering choices in the form of dialogue. I quite enjoyed convincing the queen to fight on the front lines with us.
Army management is a fair bit different than we saw with the Kingdom, but you can build and directly control the movement of legions of crusaders, scouting paths to objectives and clearing demonic forces from a zone. These fights take place on a kind of hybrid, less detailed isometric grid and moves at a faster pace. The final quality of life change I was stoked to see was something I generally don’t even use, because I mostly play sneaky characters: the ability to smash a container. You might break everything inside, but hey, you opened it! This has always been a favorite feature in games, especially when they include that risk. Nothing like getting frustrated at the lock on a barrel and then breaking the potion inside you needed.