Well, we finished our Wrath of the Righteous campaign successfully. You can read the many, many session summaries and weep in fear at our hellacious character builds at the link. “Yeah, I’m level 16 with 10 mythic tiers, no big deal.”
Overall we enjoyed this AP, but it was deeply flawed in a number of ways. It was ambitious, but its reach exceeded its grasp.
I enjoyed my PC, Antonius. I tied him into a Dave Gross novel even, as being a ward of Count Varian Jeggare gained after the Iron Mountain massacre in Tien Xia. Having been brought up some in Cheliax he was a nice foil to the rest of the party’s expectations. I was pro-tiefling (because of Uncle Jeggare’s man Radovan) and, true to a LG alignment, saw LE devils and CG whatnots with equivalent amounts of distaste. So some of the goody-goodys looked on his proud red and black Chelish garb with suspicion. As a monk/paladin of Irori he was different and I tried to balance the “lack of attachment” Irori thing with, you know, Pathfinder, gotta have some loot to play. I also gave a try playing him as a gay character, but all the major NPCs were chicks in this AP! So I was largely thwarted there. I tried to start something up with some guy’s brother we found who had been turned to a statue and we turned him back but then it was “back to the Abyss to kill demons” and the task at hand, realistically, was always more pressing than love, so really no romantic attachments were made by any of the PCs in this AP. I did pull off the “you are already dead” Fist of the North Star move once in a while, which made me happy.
The other PCs were all fun. Our aasimar sorceress was our war leader since the mini-ruleset about wars was all about Charisma, so we called her “Khaleesi” much to Tim’s chagrin. Patrick was Shawanda the paladin (modeled on the iconic paladin), who paladinned up the paladin. Matt was Trystan the archer, who built his own religion. Bruce (Skyping in) was Tabregon the oracle, who largely healed and boasted about how much he could carry. Chris’ cleric Tsuguri was of some good Tien moon and insanity god, so that was nice and different.
The story was decent. A bit railroady. We went to interesting places and saw interesting demons and killed them, which definitely lives up to what it says on the tin. It did get a bit repetitive – one fire, bug, and ichor soaked place after another loses its punch with repetition.
The initial NPCs were supposed to be interesting throughout the entire campaign. They weren’t. We picked out other NPCs we liked more, like Uziel our repentant tiefling. Our GM was a good sport about pivoting to them instead of the goons we were “supposed to” care about. This happened in Jade Regent too. “Here’s people you should care about, instead of the more interesting people you meet” is crap design and they need to quit it. I mean, a GM should just call the audible but they can feel constrained from doing that when the adventure keeps trotting someone out because it “might be important” that it’s them… They should explicitly say “you can sub in other NPCs into whatever weird relationship or plot minigame we’ve built into this.”
There were too many high level NPCs for us to pal around with really. Our poor GM – he’s trying to run a crapload of super high power bad guys, and besides our party we end up having a variety of angels and a Runelord and such along with us. So none of them really get their due. We converted a Runelord to good! And then it was just kinda like “we have a pet Runelord now.” “Hey Alderpash you gonna get the lead out and fireball someone or just sit on your ass another round?!?” There were so many rules options it was too much to keep up with just for ourselves and for the primary bad guy, let along a bunch of other high-level-plus-epic-tier guys. It devalued them.
But we kept interested in the story, in fact later on in the AP the GM was kinda dispirited at how much we were rolling over the fights and wanted to know if we wanted to continue the AP or not. We said yes – by this time the idea of more grindy fights was not attractive, but gunning through the encounters to get to the story points was interesting.
The AP was flat underpowered. By a large margin. Some of this is the mythic rules (coming next) but frankly I’m not sure we needed the mythic tiers to rock this AP. The GM upped enemies and added stuff and had bunches of singleton enemies band together. We still one-rounded a lot of stuff.
This was partly good and partly bad. On the one hand, when we one-rounded a mythic two-headed linnorm, I felt like “boo – that should have been more epic.” But when confronted with another fight with bugs with 1000 hp apiece, I couldn’t get those combats over with fast enough.
The Mythic Rules
The mythic rules are a innovative ruleset from Paizo. They’re not just retreading 3.5 content, they are continuously exploring the design space and coming up with more options.
The mythic rules, as written, are 50% on target. They’re billed as “not just more plusses – they’re truly myth and legend level powers.” And that’s true – sometimes. The story they tell about the mythic rules is compelling, its execution slightly less so, and its use in this AP much less so.
My most bad ass power was Imprinting Hand. Also very thematic as an Irori worshipper. I could touch someone and gain knowledge about them. The GM loved this too, as he could dump the 1 page of AP backstory on me in the 30 seconds before we ripped whatever it was asunder for good. That’s a mythic power.
For every one of those, there’s a “double your plusses” power. Mythic Power Attack, et al. Those weren’t fun, they were just power inflation. Various others made us immune to something – we liked those, though they frustrated the GM. He’d do something whizbang to us and we’d say “Oh, I’m unaffected…” We started referring to these at the table as our “cheating bonus.” “The room fills with poison gas! Make a DC 30 Fort save!” “I’m not affected. You know, cheating bonus.” The GM would just sigh and move on.
Then the other powers – which were fun but also the real source of mass power – were the ones giving us extra actions. Lots of extra actions. That’s how we’d really kill stuff. I could double move then full attack then get an extra attack.
The mythic rules as written are OK. But Wrath of the Righteous did not make the best use of them.
First of all – mythic enemies are supposed to be legendary enemies. We ended up fighting mythic bugs. Not bug-men named the King of Biting Ants or whatever – just big locusts they gave mythic tiers to. Super stupid.
Second – they did not use mythic flaws at all. I was hoping we’d have a lot of fights that required smarts. You know, a giant minotaur we just can’t hurt until we figure out he’s only vulnerable to mistletoe sprigs, that kind of stuff. That’s covered in the mythic rules. Nope! Not a single damn opponent had those. The answer was always, always, “just pour on more hit points worth of damage.” That’s extremely unfortunate and I don’t understand the thinking there. I know the Paizo designers are smarter than that. Is it “well some players are dumb and if they can’t just hack their way through everything they’ll get TPKed and/or frustrated and that’s bad for sales?” I don’t know, but it made mythic combat – which should allegedly be more interesting that just pure high-level combat – even more predictable and “mash the buttons till it dies.” Well, this AP buyer would like to request some that require two brain cells to rub together and not just DPS.
I don’t want to say this AP was bad – but it kinda broke us of Pathfinder, to be honest. One of the reasons we went with Dungeon World for our next campaign was that we were looking for other options – 5e, Savage Worlds, DW – because after this festival of rules and math, when we looked at new APs and considered launching into one, we (and more importantly, the GM) were like – “Fuck this, I don’t want to do this again.”
It’s not just the mythic rules’ fault, we’ve been playing Pathfinder a long time and with every year there’s another 50 lbs. of rules options. It gets tiring. I remember our last D&D 3.5e campaign before we left 3.5e behind for good, we were so jaded we were all playing super weird races and classes trying to recapture that elusive high – “chasing the dragon” in a very real sense. We had to take a break.
I’m still running a Pathfinder campaign – that I’ve deliberately kept down to 8th level over like 5 years because I have been doing this long enough I can see when the light at the end of the tunnel is a train.
We’re still using Paizo APs because they generally rock especially when divorced from the weight of the rules. Will we go back to Pathfinder? Maybe at some point, hard to say right now.
So I’m not saying don’t play Wrath of the Righteous – but I am saying know what you’re getting into. If you love the rules and tactics, you’ll love it. If you don’t, but want to put a lot of work into revamping it, you’ll probably love it too – it has a good chassis that if a GM were to significantly alter it (reduce number but add weight/complexity of… everything) it’d make a rollicking good story. But running it as-is, even with minor mods, it’s a mixed bag.