Pillars of Eternity Character Creation Guide

Trying to figure out how to make the best Watcher for your Pillars of Eternity run? Here's the skinny on character creation options, from class to culture and everything in between.

Obsidian has stopped at nothing to make Pillars of Eternity the absolute epitome of the isometric RPG, creating their own world, combat system, and roleplaying ruleset to match the CRPG genre, rather than relying on imperfect translations from Dungeons & Dragons.

While this has propelled Pillars of Eternity to immediate success and made it wildly popular, it does present some issues even for veterans of the genre. Without being able to rely on their knowledge of pen and paper RPGs, even experts of games like Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale are finding themselves a little confused.

Well, fret no more adventurer -- we're here to explain all of the nuts and bolts of the character creation system and help you make the best character to fit your desired playstyle, whether that's sneaking, charming, or smashing your way to victory.

Races

There are six playable races -- referred to in-universe as 'Kith' -- and Obsidian has done a pretty bang-up job of keeping them balanced. They all have varying stat bonuses and racial abilities, but there's nothing stopping you from making a savage Elven Barbarian or a hulking Aumaua Rogue. Your race will impact some dialogue options and character interactions, but not as much as your culture and background do.

Human: +1 Resolve, +1 Might  

The most common of the races in Pillars of Eternity, humans are well-suited for any role. Their bonuses to Resolve and Might make them strong picks for damage dealers or tanks, and their bonus ability is a good choice for any character. Paladins, Monks, and Barbarians are best suited to make use of a human's stats and abilities.

Sub-races

Human sub-races all have the same unique ability, so the choice is mostly cosmetic.

  • Meadow Folk -- Fighting Spirit (One per encounter, 5 seconds after being reduced below 50% Endurance, Humans temporarily gain bonuses to Accuracy and Damage)
  • Ocean Folk -- Fighting Spirit
  • Savannah Folk -- Fighting Spirit

Aumaua: +2 Might

Aumaua are enormous water-loving humanoids, and the strongest of the races in Eora. The significant Might bonus makes Aumaua great picks for any kind of damage dealer, though the sub-racial abilities tend to be more helpful for front-line warriors and martial combatants. Aumaua make great Barbarians, Fighters, Paladins, and Chanters.

Sub-races:

Aumaua sub-racial abilities aren't as universal as some other racial bonuses, but they're powerful in their own way. Towering Physique can be a crucial bonus for tanks and melee combatants and Armed to the Teeth is very useful for adapting to combat situations (or cheesing the game with as many loaded Arquebuses as you can carry, if that's your thing).

  • Coastal Aumaua -- Towering Physique
    • Coastal Aumaua gain bonuses to defend against Prone and Stun effects. 
  • Island Aumaua -- Armed to the Teeth
    • All Island Aumaua gain an additional Weapon Set.

 

Dwarf: +2 Might, -1 Dexterity, +1 Constitution

Short but sturdy, Dwarves are natural explorers and a great choice for any hardy adventurer. Their racial bonuses are a great fit for any warrior or martial combatant, but they also make excellent Priests and Chanters, since neither class relies heavily on Dexterity. 

Sub-races:

Both Dwarf subraces have abilities that are specific, but useful, to certain classes -- Hale and Hardy makes Mountain Dwarves a good pick for tanks and melee fighters, and Hunter's Instincts can help casters, ranged classes, and DPS be more effective in some difficult fights.

  • Mountain Dwarf -- Hale and Hardy
    • Mountain Dwarves have a bonus to defend against Poison and Disease attacks.
  • Boreal Dwarf -- Hunter's Instincts
    • Boreal Dwarves gain +15 accuracy against any creature of the Wilder or Primordial types.

Elf: +1 Dex, +1 Perception

Not quite as populous as Humans, Elves are the second most common race you're going to encounter in the Dyrwood. Their stat bonuses and racial abilities make them well-suited for just about any class, but they are especially adept at ranged combat.

Sub-races:

Accuracy bonuses are very rare in Pillars of Eternity, so if you're building an archer or gunner and want the best mechanical option, a Wood Elf is hard to beat. Some of the toughest enemies in the game deal frost and fire damage, making Pale Elves a very strong choice for tanks.

  • Wood Elf -- Distant Advantage
    • Against any enemy that is more than 4m away, Wood Elves gain bonuses to Accuracy, Deflection, and Reflexes.
  • Pale Elf -- Elemental Endurance
    • All Pale Elves have increased Burn and Freeze damage reductions.

Orlan: Resolve +1, Might -1, Perception +2

Small, quick-witted, and with huge furry ears, Orlans are definitely cut from a different cloth, but their stat bonuses and racial abilities make them pretty well suited for a wide variety of adventuring roles. Orlans, despite being a small, can also make great tanks and damage dealers.

Sub-races:

It might not seem like much, but a critical bonus like the one that Hearth Orlans recieve is significant, and makes Orlans surprisingly dangerous in combat. The defense bonus that Wild Orlans recieve after being subjected to a will attack is nothing to shake a stick at either.

  • Hearth Orlan -- Minor Threat
    • When attacking any target that is also being targeted by a teammate, Hearth Orlans convert some of their Hits into Crits.
  • Wild Orlan -- Defiant Resolve
    • After being subjected to a Will attack, Wild Orlan temporarily gain a bonus to all defenses.

Godlike: Dex +1, Int +1

Probably Obsidian's most unique new race, Godlike are offspring who have taken on aspects of the gods. They can come from any race (you can choose which of the other Kith to model your Godlike on) and their unique features prohibits the use of headgear. Their racial abilities are powerful though, and more than make up for this. Because the abilities are triggered by the Godlike losing endurance health, Godlike make very good Monks, Barbarians, and tanks in general.

Sub-races: 

Most Godlike racial abilities depend on the Godlike losing endurance, except for the Death Godlike ability, which is triggered by the enemies' endurance. This makes Death Godlike excellent damage dealers, though it also has good synergy with Paladin abilities that triggered off of kills. Fire Godlike, Moon Godlike, and Nature Godlike respectively get damage reduction and a fire aura, healing, and bonus stats when they reach a certain endurance threshold. This mechanic synergizes excellently with Monk and Barbarian playstyles, but is great for any kind of front-line combatant.

  • Death Godlike -- Death's Usher
    • When Death Godlike attack an enemy with 25% or less Endurance, their damage is increased.
  • Fire Godlike -- Battle Forged
    • When reduced below 50% Endurance, Fire Godlike glow like metal in a forge, gaining Damage Reduction and doing a small amount of fire damage to any creature who hits them in melee.
  • Moon Godlike -- Silver Tide
    • Every encounter, when reduced below 75%, 50%, and 25% Endurance, Moon Godlike generate waves of healing moonlight that restore Endurance to them and their allies.
  • Nature Godlike -- Wellspring of Life
    • Grants a bonus to Might, Constitution, and Dexterity when Endurance is below 50%.

Class

Your class is probably the most important part of your character creation process. Each of the 11 classes plays differently and has its own strengths and weaknesses, so make sure you pick the one that fits your playstyle.

Barbarian

Starting Stats: 

  • Endurance: 48 + 16/level (Very High)
  • Health: 6*Endurance (Very High)
  • Accuracy: 25 + 3/Level (Average)
  • Deflection: 15 (Low)
  • Skills: Athletics +2, Survival +1

Powerful and deadly on the battlefield, the Barbarian is Pillars of Eternity's best brawler and melee damage dealer. Their starting ability -- Carnage -- gives the barbarian a small AoE on melee attacks, allowing them to deal out damage to groups better than anyone else.

Even though their Endurance is the highest in the game, Barbarians aren't the best tanks (though they can fill that role just fine). Their abilities make them best suited for dealing high amounts of damage to as many enemies as possible, and their innately high endurance means that they don't need to put a lot of points into Constitution.

Might is the most important stat for Barbarians, giving them damage, and Dexterity will help them get more attacks in. Intellect will increase the duration of your self buffs and the area of your AoEs (including Carnage), so definitely don't dump it. Defensive stats like Resolve and Perception are useful if you don't have enough tanks, but for survivability the Barbarian gets the most out of just a couple points in Constitution.

Recommended Starting Ability:

  • Frenzy -- A huge DPS increase and an ability that synergizes well with later talents. 

Chanter

Starting Stats: 

  • Endurance: 36 + 12/level (Low)
  • Health: 4*Endurance (Low)
  • Accuracy: 25 + 3/Level (Average)
  • Deflection: 25 (Very High)
  • Skills: Lore +2, Mechanics +1

Chanters are Pillars of Eternity's take on the Bard, a versatile class with buffs, debuffs, summons, and a few damage spells, all based on their Chants. The Chanter has always-on, low power chants that provide bonuses to his allies or penalties to his foes -- these chants 'cycle', and after three cycles, the Chanter can speak a more powerful invocation, allowing them to summon help or blast their foes.

Chanters are a very versatile class -- because their chants are not heavily dependent on any stats, they can easily be built as tanks, off-tanks, or ranged damage dealers. They work very well in the back line or just behind the tanks where their chants can affect the largest number of people.

Intellect affects the size of your chants and invocations, so it is probably the most important stat for chanters. The rest of your stats depend on what role you're going to play -- Constitution and Resolve for tanks, Might and Dexterity for damage dealers.

Recommended Starting Chants/Invocations:

  • Come, Come Soft Winds of Death -- Drains endurance from enemies. Small, but can add up over time. 
  • Dull the Edge, Blunt the Point -- Reduces enemy damage.
  • But Reny Daret's Ghost, He Would Not Rest -- Summons a Phantom until the end of combat, a very strong ally against most foes.

Cipher

Starting Stats: 

  • Endurance: 30 + 10/level (Very Low)
  • Health: 4*Endurance (Low)
  • Accuracy: 25 + 3/Level (Average)
  • Deflection: 20 (High)
  • Skills: Mechanics +1, Stealth +1, Lore +1

The Cipher is an entirely new class built for Pillars of Eternity, a hybrid warrior/spellcaster that can attack their enemies' minds and souls, and provide buffs to their allies. The Cipher is probably Pillars of Eternity's most complicated class, but it is also one of the most powerful. They cast spells from a pool of Focus, which can be refilled by attacking with their weapons using Soul Whip. This requires the Cipher to balance regular attacks and spells, making them well suited for a skirmishing or ranged combat role.

Ciphers have some tanky abilities, but the class is clearly built for a battlemage type of adventurer, someone focused on dealing damage and controlling the battlefield. Dual wielding fast weapons or attacking from afar are both great ways to build focus and deal damage -- the Blunderbuss is especially powerful on a Cipher because each bullet in the cone builds focus.

Intellect affects the size and duration of all of the Cipher's spells, making it crucially important. Might is needed to boost damage and Dexterity will help the Cipher get more attacks in, increasing Focus generation.

Recommended Powers:

  • Mind Wave -- A strong attack with good damage and a lot of control.
  • Soul Shock -- A high damage AoE.

 

Druid

Starting Stats:  

  • Endurance: 36 + 12/level (Low)
  • Health: 4*Endurance (Low)
  • Accuracy: 20 + 3/Level (Very Low)
  • Deflection: 20 (High)
  • Skills: Lore +1, Survival +2

A throwback to old-school D&D, the Druid is still just as fresh and interesting as all the other classes in Pillars of Eternity. Most of their abilities are pretty familiar -- shapeshifting, spellcasting, nature abilities. What is cool about the Druid is how well all of this works together. Druids can cast spells while Spiritshifted, gets talents to help their abilities work together, and have some very neat synergies within the class and with others in the party.

A Druid can be built just about any way you can imagine -- a dedicated spellcaster, a shapeshifting tank, or as a damage dealer. In many ways, their spells are better than a Wizard's, making the Druid a great choice for someone looking to control the battlefield or call down hurt on foes from afar.

Unless you're neglecting spellcasting entirely -- and you really shouldn't -- Intellect is still the most important stat for a Druid. Might will probably be your second priority, and after that it depends on what type of Druid you're intending to create.

Fighter

Starting Stats:  

  • Endurance: 42 + 14/level (High)
  • Health: 5*Endurance (High)
  • Accuracy: 30 + 3/Level (Very High)
  • Deflection: 25 (Very High)
  • Skills: Athletics +1, Lore +1, Survival +1

Another pen-and-paper classic, the Fighter is Pillars of Eternity's best frontline combatant and tank. Their base ability, Constant Recovery, grants them Endurance regeneration that, when combined with their high health and deflection, will keep them in the fray longer than anyone else. They can also engage the highest number of enemies at once, have abilities that are excellent for disabling foes and controlling the battlefield, and they're just plain tough. Fighters can also be very formidable damage dealers, having access to damage and accuracy talents that increase their skill at arms.

Your Fighter is going to want to be at the front, whether or not they're a dedicated tank. The constant endurance recovery allows even DPS-specced Fighters to stay in the fray and keep enemies from sneaking around to your weaker casters.

If you're building a tanky fighter, Resolve, Constitution, and a little Perception are the most important stats, but don't neglect intellect -- it determines the length of your self buffs. If you want to deal damage, focus on Might, Dexterity and Intellect -- don't ignore defensive stats, but the Fighter's high innate deflection make them less crucial.

Recommended Abilities:

  • Knock Down -- Good for tanking and controlling, but not shabby on DPS either.
  • Disciplined Barrage -- All around a good ability, more accuracy never hurts.

Monk

Starting Stats:   

  • Endurance: 42 + 14/level (High)
  • Health: 6*Endurance (Very High)
  • Accuracy: 30 + 3/Level (Very High)
  • Deflection: 25 (Very High)
  • Skills: Stealth +1, Athletics +1, Survival +1

Another fantasy staple, the Pillars of Eternity Monk continues the tradition of bare-fisted combat, but with a cool new mechanic. The Monk's starting abilities help make this class unique: Transcendent Suffering gives the monk bonus damage while unarmed and Wounds power the Monk's special attacks. Wounds are generated by taking damage, which is why you might want to consider a race with an ability based on taking damage, like Human or Godlike. In addition to being very tough, Monks are capable of dishing out serious damage and laying down a lot of battlefield control.

Sicne you want to be taking damage, the front line is the only place for a Monk. They can be built as tanks, but since you want to be taking and not deflecting damage, its better to leave them mostly unarmored and have them fight alongside your dedicated tanks.

Might and Dexterity are crucial to Monks, but Intellect is important too -- abilities like Torment's Reach and all self-buffs can be improved by Intellect. The Monk has plenty of base HP, but more constitution is a good idea -- it allows you take more damage and generate more wounds.

Recommended Abilities:

  • Swift Strikes -- If you're generating enough wounds you can deal a lot of damage with Swift Strikes.
  • Torment's Reach -- Very powerful if your Monk has decent intellect, allowing you to dish out AoE damage like a Barbarian.

Paladin

Starting Stats:   

  • Endurance: 42 + 14/level (High)
  • Health: 5*Endurance (High)
  • Accuracy: 25 + 3/Level (Average)
  • Deflection: 25 (Very High)
  • Skills: Athletics +2, Lore +1

Defenders of the innocent and champions of faith, Paladins make excellent tanks and support front-liners due to their auras and party-based abilities. The Paladin's starting ability Faith and Conviction gives them innate bonuses to all defenses, helping them stand at the front of the fray without fear. Though they don't have the regeneration of a Fighter, they will take fewer hits and have abilities to help them mitigate damage.

Paladins can deal decent damage, but they best way to build them is for front line tanking or off-tank support. The auras they give and the buffs they can deal out can help your melee attackers survive, and they are capable of dealing impressive burst damage, even if they're not top DPS. Because of the way Flames of Devotion works -- dealing damage based on your overall weapon damage -- it's best to give your Paladin a big two-handed weapon and go to town.

Resolve, Perception, and Intellect are important for a front-line Paladin, though you can trade some of those attributes for more Might if you want to focus more on damage than tanking.

Recommended Abilities:

  • Flames of Devotion -- A high-damage per-encounter attack that can have a lot of utility based on the Order you choose.
  • Lay on Hands -- Not the most impressive heal, but good for keeping a single ally alive.

Priest

Starting Stats:   

  • Endurance: 36 + 12/level (Low)
  • Health: 3*Endurance (Very Low)
  • Accuracy: 20 + 3/Level (Very Low)
  • Deflection: 15 (Low)
  • Skills: Athletics +1, Lore +2

The dedicated support class of Pillars of Eternity, Priests come with a pretty big set of tools to deal with threats - not just by healing, but by buffing, debuffing, disabling, and nuking. Their starting ability Holy Radiance is an AoE heal that also burns and frightens vessels (undead). Their starting stats are pretty abysmal, making them less than ideal in a combat role, but with the right items and talents they can make passable tanks or reach fighters.

The best role for a Priest is as a supporter -- putting them close to the front line or in the middle of your formation is best so that their Holy Radiance and close AoE spells can have the most effect. They aren't much good at dealing damage from range, so it's not a bad idea to put them in heavy armor and have them soak up some damage.

Intellect is the most important attribute for Priests, since it affects range, area, and duration of their healing, buffs, and debuffs. Might is important too, since it increases the intensity of their healing. Dexterity for faster action and Constitution for front-line Priests are worth considering as well.

Ranger

Starting Stats:   

  • Endurance: 36 + 12/level (Low)
  • Health: 5*Endurance (High)
  • Accuracy: 30 + 3/Level (Very High)
  • Deflection: 20 (High)
  • Skills: Stealth +1, Survival +2

The only dedicated pet class, the Ranger launched with some issues, but the recent patch pushed out by Obsidian has made them more than viable. Their starting ability is an Animal Companion that doesn't deal much damage but has high DR and is very good at flanking or pinning down opponents for the Ranger to deal with from afar. The Ranger gets a lot of disabling and high damage abilities that make it very good at taking out single targets, especially with the help of its companions.

Obviously Rangers make excellent ranged DPS adventurers -- whether its with a bow or a crossbow or a gun, they have all the necessary tools to dish out damage from the back line. But melee DPS is still generally higher, and with pretty good base stats, Rangers can perform well in a melee DPS role, fighting with a reach weapon or up close with their companion's help.

Might and Dexterity are important to Rangers, as is Intellect, which will boost the duration of their DoTs, debuffs, and buffs. If you're making a melee Ranger, Resolve and Constitution are useful as well.

Recommended Abilities:

  • All of the animal companions and starting abilities are viable, but Stags, Bears, and Boars are good starter companions and Wounding Shot has more synergy at the start.

Rogue

Starting Stats:   

  • Endurance: 36 + 12/level (Low)
  • Health: 4*Endurance (Low)
  • Accuracy: 30 + 3/Level (Very High)
  • Deflection: 15 (Low)
  • Skills: Stealth +1, Mechanics +2

Rogues are the kings of single target DPS. Their starting ability, Sneak Attack, gives them bonus damage against any foe that is Blinded, Flanked, Hobbled, Paralyzed, Petrified, Prone, Stuck, Stunned, or Weakened. Rogues can inflict some of these conditions themselves, but obviously they work extra well with a party that can help out by adding some of their own.

Rogues work extremely well as both ranged damage dealers and as melee ones. Attacks made within the first two seconds of combat also gain bonus damage from Sneak Attacking, making Rogues into high-damage strikers with guns or crossbows. Though they have low health and defenses, Rogues get plenty of tools to escape Engagement or survive close combat, so there's no need to worry about getting up close.

Rogues rely most heavily on Might and Dexterity, but Intellect is important for maintaining buffs and increasing the duration of DoTs and debuffs. Perception can be useful for surviving attacks and triggering interrupts.

Recommended Abilities:

  • If you're planning on making a ranged Rogue, pick up Crippling Strike to keep foes away, otherwise Blinding Strike will help you survive in melee. Both are very useful options.

Wizard

Starting Stats:   

  • Endurance: 30 + 10/level (Very Low)
  • Health: 3*Endurance (Very Low)
  • Accuracy: 20 + 3/Level (Very Low)
  • Deflection: 10 (Very Low)
  • Skills: Lore +2, Mechanics +1

Nukers, debuffers, and controllers, Wizards have possibly the most diverse spell list and the best tools for managing the battlefield. Their starting ability Arcane Blast gives them a decent nuke with a daze effect that can be used every encounter, but their real strength comes from their spells - many of which are completely game changing.

The Wizard has probably the fewest options in viable builds -- their starting stats are very low and their Endurance is the lowest in the game, so you want them as far as possible from the front of the battle. You can adjust your attributes depending on whether or not you want your Wizard to be more support or more damage focused, but you certainly want them in the back.

Intellect is the most important attribute for Wizards, giving them larger AoEs with bigger 'safe zones' for your team, and Might will help those AoEs pack a bigger punch. Dexterity is the third attribute you want to invest in if you have spare points, as it will allow you to cast more often.

Recommended Spells:

  • Chill Fog -- An excellent AoE with good damage and a slowing effect. Useful throughout the entire game.
  • Fan of Flames -- Tricky to aim, but very high damage and excellent against tough enemies like Phantoms.

Contributor

Writer, freelancer, historian. www.robertwguthrie.com

Published Apr. 5th 2015
  • John Harper
    Contributor
    Wow, very in depth. Thanks for taking the time to assemble this guide

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