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Exclusive Class Preview - Part 1

William Murphy Posted:
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Pillars of Eternity launches next week on March 26th. As fans of the Infinity Engine RPGs of yesteryear ourselves, we’re all very eager to give this new take on the golden age a playthrough. Today, we’re happy to present to you an exclusive look at the classes you’ll be able to choose from and party with when Pillars comes sliding into digital shelves.

The ruleset being used by Obsidian is not your traditional D&D. Instead, Obsidian built their own rulebook for Pillars of Eternity. As they put it themselves:

“Players will recognize many familiar elements -- six attribute scores, many classic races and classes, discrete character levels, a roll-to-hit combat system, strength-based personal character inventories -- but the systems use seconds (and fractions of seconds) instead of rounds, a virtual "100-sided die" for more transparent combat mechanics, and the use of easily-understood formulas that would be difficult to calculate in a tabletop environment.”

To that end, expect to see quite a few familiar classes, but with their own unique Pillars-y twists. Without further ado, here comes the first batch of 11 possible classes!


Barbarians are savage warriors, fighting with pure feral aggression rather than subtle maneuvering or disciplined tactics. Their primary focus in combat is dealing with large numbers of foes, preferably by rapidly cutting them down in a frenzy of attacks.

Video courtesy of The RPG Shack

Special Abilities Sample:

Carnage – When barbarians hit with melee attacks, they automatically make reduced-damage attacks at all additional enemies immediately around the target.

 Heart of Fury – In a blur of movement, the barbarian performs a melee attack with each equipped weapon at every enemy within 2m. Each attack does +25% Damage and Carnage applies. Cannot be used while ranged weapons are equipped.


Chanters are historians and storytellers, their memories saturated with generations of oral tradition. The distinguishing power of chanters is their ability to continually chant magical phrases that have a wide variety of effects. Chanters can combine phrases in a variety of ways to suit their needs, adding and removing individual elements as they see fit. They are also capable of casting powerful spells, called invocations, after they have spoken enough phrases in battle.

Special Abilities Sample:

Ancient Memory – Chanters are beloved, in a way, by the soul fragments to whom they speak. In addition to gaining the benefits of individual phrases, as long as the chanter is chanting, he or she and all allies within range benefit from constant Endurance recovery. Because chants do not occur out of combat and are temporarily suspended by roars, the benefits of Ancient Memory are likewise suspended for that time. 

Chants - When using phrases, chanters always do so in the context of chants, which are sequences of phrases. Chanting is interrupted if the chanter is knocked unconscious or Charmed, Dominated, Paralyzed, Petrified, or Stunned. When the chanter loses these conditions, he or she will automatically resume chanting. A Charmed or Dominated chanter resumes chanting immediately, but the effects now apply to their new team.

Invocations - Invocations are powerful phrases chanters can use to summon a variety of effects. They can only be used after three phrases have been spoken. After an invocation has been used, the chanter’s current chant will not reactivate for several seconds (and the phrase count is reset, no matter what it was previously).


Ciphers are the psychic fighters whose talent descends from Glanfathan “soul hunters.” They use mental powers to affect the minds and souls of their enemies. Other classes are capable of manipulating their own souls to gain some effect, but not ciphers. Ciphers specialize in touching the souls of others to produce their own effects. To do this, they rely upon Focus, a resource they drain from enemies in combat through the use of their weapons.

Special Abilities Sample:

Soul Whip – The cipher’s weapons (including ranged) generate a field of parasitic energy (manifesting as purple flames) that lash out at the target. The Soul Whip increases the amount of damage done and generates Focus for the cipher. However, it automatically shuts off when the cipher’s Focus reaches its maximum value.

Whisper of Treason – The cipher bends the mind of an enemy to his or her will, Charming them for the duration.  

Mind Blades – The cipher uses the soul of nearby enemies to generate attacks against the subjects themselves. Each target is attacked once by a Slashing “mind blade” which then moves on to the next nearest target. A target cannot be hit twice by the same instance of Mind Blades.


Druids are the guardians of nature and the stewards of the wilderness, which they protect with a combination of magic spells and melee combat. Their animistic powers allow them to create a variety of powerful supernatural phenomena. All druids also choose a spiritshift form that allows them to take on aspects of a powerful beast.

Special Abilities Sample:

Spiritshift – Allows the druid to shift his or her form into a hybrid of their natural form and that of an animal spirit, gaining its attack modes and minor special abilities. Druids start with specific spirit forms that are chosen during character creation. This ability lasts until the druid cancels it or the end of battle.

Wildstrike – The druid selects a damage type (Slash, Pierce, Crush, Burn, Corrode, Freeze, Shock) that is added to any attack they use that causes any damage to the target.


Fighters are trained in the arts of martial defense. They are extraordinarily difficult to hit and extremely durable in combat, capable of holding off a towering ogre or a swarm of xaurips with equal aplomb. Fighters are also reliable in melee, gaining weapon specialization and other abilities that make them valuable centers of any front line.

Special Abilities Sample:

Knock Down – A forceful, melee-only shove that knocks an enemy Prone but does little damage. 

Defender – The Defender ability decreases the fighter’s attack rate, but increases his or her number of Engagement targets to 3 (default is 1). When disabled, the fighter has a bonus to his or her Deflection.

Constant Recovery – Fighters continually regenerate Endurance at a modest rate, even during combat.

Vigorous Defense – Dramatically increases all defenses for the fighter for a short period of time.

Armored Grace – Reduces the Recovery Penalty for all armor.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.