Up until 2007, The Paizo Publishing company made a name for themselves publishing Dungeons and Dragons magazines. When Wizards of the Coast chose not to renew their contract, Paizo developed their own RPG product line under D&D’s Open Game License. Thus the Pathfinder IP was born. The Pathfinder RPG went on to usurp D&D’s spot as the top-selling role-playing game. A distinction it had held since 1974. All this to say that in the right circles, Pathfinder is a big deal.
It comes as no surprise then, that when Owlcat Games launched a Kickstarter campaign for an isometric single-player RPG based on Pathfinder’s Kingmaker Adventure Path, fans quickly got on-board. With over two weeks remaining, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is on-track towards reaching its $500,000 funding goal. Which seems great, unless any of those backers were around when GoblinWorks tried something similar a few years back.
You see, this isn’t Paizo’s first attempt at turning their beloved tabletop IP into a computer game. A group of Paizo bigwigs and some video game developers calling themselves GoblinWorks got together to create Pathfinder Online back in 2012. Designed to be a next-generation, fantasy sandbox MMO, the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter raised over $1,091,100. Unfortunately, due to poor financial planning and a host of internal issues, Pathfinder Online never returned on that investment.
Pathfinder’s Lost Adventures
Technically, the game does still exist, early enrollment version 12 came out last month, but it has mostly fallen into obscurity. This isn’t aided by the fact that Goblinworks has ceased monitoring their campaign page. Even if backers did still care about the project, they’d have to hunt down information on their own.
Despite Pathfinder’s previous troubled attempts to make the jump from tabletop, Owlcat Games decided to take a chance with Paizo’s IP. Pathfinder: Kingmaker has a much tighter focus on the character building and rich world that drew fans to the initial tabletop version.
Inspired by classic isometric adventures like Baldur’s Gate and Arcanum, Owlcat has expanded on Paizo’s original Adventure Path to offer players more depth, both in lore and game mechanics. A diverse cast of NPC companions accompany gamers on the single-player adventure. Some of the NPC’s come directly from Pathfinder’s source material. This gives a loving nod to Pathfinder veterans as they undertake challenges which will test their abilities as both an adventurer and a ruler.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker certainly looks promising and Owlcat seems to have done their due diligence prior to launching the campaign. Hopefully Paizo can resist meddling and let their intellectual property flourish under the new team.