Video Game: Pillars of Eternity
aka: Project Eternity
Pillars of Eternity
is a computer roleplaying game
by Obsidian Entertainment
, released on March 26, 2015. Intended as a Spiritual Successor
to Baldur's Gate
, Planescape: Torment
and Icewind Dale
, the game was funded in October 2012 through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter
, where it was pitched as Project Eternity
. Meeting its initial funding goal of $1.1 million in 27 hours, it went on to break the site's funding record at the time (set by Broken Age
), pulling in just shy of $4 million. Including PayPal donations, the gross total budget of the game was roughly $4.3 million dollars.
The world of Eora is one of souls. Souls are not mere metaphysical abstractions; they are quantifiable, measurable objects, and their discovery has had vast implications for society. The world is about to enter a golden age as a result, but the rapid advances in technology and society occurring mark the era as a time of turmoil. Focusing on a number of colonies that have recently liberated themselves from their sovereign states, the game casts the player into the shoes of a character who witnesses a traumatic magical event, forcing them to undertake an epic journey.
It has a website here
. The Kickstarter page, including the pitch video, is here
Pillars of Eternity provides examples of the following tropes:
- All Deaths Final: Resurrection of a dead individual is flat-out impossible. Reincarnation, on the other hand, occurs naturally to everyone. It is possible to bind a soul to a body so that when the person dies they don't actually die, but this has... drawbacks, and ultimately only staves off death of the mind for a while.
- Animated Armor: The aptly named "Animats". Basically the soul of a warrior that has been fused to a set of armor.
- Arc Words: "No sleep for the watcher", which first appeared in the teaser trailer.
- Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Averted. The primitive firearms of the setting are impractical and still quite weak, but they are effective at piercing wizards' spell shields, so wizards have turned to metal armor for defense.
- Bag of Holding: The "stash" section of the Player Inventory is bottomless, but the trade-off is that you can only retrieve items from it (as opposed to putting them there) at the camp.
- Blade on a Stick: One-handed spears and two-handed pikes are available as weapons.
- Bat out of Hell: The "Skuldr" creature. It is a cross between a rat and a bat, and it doesn't have wings. That might not sound that terrible, but how about the facts that it is man-sized, bipedal, and quite muscular? Further more; it can also sense souls, making it hard to sneak by it.
- And while not fought, one of the spiderwebs in the starting area holds bats the size of chickens.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The gods of the world all have their own agendas, which are often hard for mortals to comprehend. If someone is lucky, his or her goal might temporary overlap with that of a god, in which case the god will be benevolent towards that person. Of course, someone can also be unlucky, and have a god outright working in opposition of him or her.
- Bond Creatures: Rangers and their animal companions have a shared pool of Health and Stamina.
- Call to Adventure: At the beginning of the game, the Player Character will witness a traumatic supernatural event that motivates them to embark on their adventure.
- Character Class System: The player classes are heavily influenced by Dungeons & Dragons:
- Barbarian: Fight-loving brutes capable of going into Unstoppable Rage for short periods.
- Chanter: The equivalent of D&D bards, they are repositories of folk wisdom and tellers of tales, with songs capable of buffing and debuffing.
- Cipher: Casters with Psychic Powers fueled by their souls, capable of mental manipulation.
- Druid: Archetypical druids, with the usual focus on communing with nature, nature-based magic, shapeshifting, and so on.
- Fighter: Badass Normals that focus on weapons combat, but are also capable of stealth and are frequently highly educated.
- Monk: Archetypical monks — mobile warriors who fight unarmed and unarmoured and who dedicate their lives to honing their mind and body by adhering to a strict set of principles.
- Paladin: Warrior Monks who devote themselves to a particular cause, which may or may not be a deity. Designed partly as a support caster that is also capable of periodically blasting foes in their immediate vicinity with an uprising of soul energy.
- Priest: Support casters heavily influenced by D&D clerics, meaning they wear heavy armour, fight in close combat and have access to a large number of support spells.
- Ranger: Nature Heroes that rely on ranged weapons and animal companions to wear down their foes.
- Rogue: Stealth experts and "skillmonkeys" — characters with a lot of skill points.
- Wizard: Scientists of a sort, they are dedicated through long years of training to blowing people's heads off with soul energy. Unlike traditional wizards, they often wear heavy armor since gunpowder weapons can pierce their carefully prepared magical defenses.
- Character Customization: The players are able to select the name, sex, class, race (including subraces), culture, traits, ability scores, portrait, and class-specific gear, skills, and talents for their characters at the beginning of the game.
- Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: It is possible to bypass combat completely if non-combat abilities are leveled up.
- Critical Hit Class: The Rogues specialize in dealing critical hits and even have a passive ability called Dirty Fighting, which automatically turns every tenth hit they land into a crit.
- DRM: Averted. Among the early stretch goals was a DRM-free version distributed through GOG.com, and the hardcopy won't have DRM unless the owner chooses to register it with Steam.
- Elemental Crafting: All tiers of armor are designed to be useful in different situations.
- Elves Versus Dwarves: Averted, at least in specific instances. We already know that in this setting boreal dwarves and caravan elves coexist peacefully in the island nation of Naasitaq, while several other nations, such as the Free Palatinate of Dyrwood, have large numbers of both elves and dwarves in their populations.
- Expansion Pack: The devs already have plans for a large expansion, comparable to Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast in size, to start working on after the main release.
- Eyeless Face: Death Godlikes have these strange growths on their heads that cover their eyes, if not most of their faces, giving this impression. The growths are only visible to non-Godlike people though, so they're able to see just fine.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Already a few examples:
- Boreal Dwarves have obvious similarities to the Inuit.
- The Vailian Republics closely resemble Renaissance Italy.
- The Aedyr Empire seems to have overtones of an Ancient Grome flavor.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Played with. The more advanced nations in the setting have developed wheel-lock muskets, but they're largely Awesome but Impractical with the exception that they prove very good at fighting magic-users.
- Fantasy Pantheon: The pantheon is vast and varied. Relevant gods include Berath, god of cycles (including life and death); Eothas, god of light and redemption; Magran, goddess of war and fire; and Woedica, goddess of law, memory, rightful rulership, and vengeance.
- Final Death Mode: In the Expert mode, when characters die (have their Health reduced to 0) in combat, they are gone for good.
- Fish People: The Amaua, a race of humanoids with fish-like attributes.
- Flat Character: Zig-Zagged - custom-built companions from the Hall of Adventurers won't have any dialogue or sidequests the way the pre-generated companions will, but they will be as fully customizable as the Player Character, allowing the player to create their entire party from scratch.
- Game Mod: The game will allow modding by the community.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: Stats, classes, skill levels, backgrounds, sex, even equipped weapons, gives the players enough options to tackle the Choose Your Own Adventure bits, as well as the myriad of dialogue options that the game throws at you.
- Harder Than Hard: The Path of the Damned mode removes all Level Scaling limitations (in other words: you get maxed out enemies regardless of your level) and cranks up the combat mechanics.
- Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Healing powers are hard to come by and have little effect.
- Hobbits: Orlans are a blend of this and gnomes according to Project Director Adam Brennecke. They're short humanoids with two-toned skin and large, hairy ears. They've been victimized repeatedly by other cultures they've come in contact with and have either progressively retreated deeper into the wilds or resorted to guerilla warfare.
- Item Crafting: Stretching from brewing potions to enchanting weaponry.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: The game explicitly encourages this by letting the player put anything they pick up into the bottomless "stash" inventory if they don't currently need it.
- Late Character Syndrome: Averted. The player meets all recruitable companions in the first half of the game.
- Left-Justified Fantasy Map: The setting map available as a wallpaper on the game's official site is a textbook example.
- Loyal Animal Companion: The Ranger class is based around tactical interactions with the Ranger's animal companion (and ranged weapons), whom the players create and name along with the Ranger itself.
- Marathon Level: The Endless Paths, a mega-dungeon that started with three floors, with an additional floor added every 2,500 Kickstarter backers. It ended up having fifteen.
- Mauve Shirt: Heodan and Calisca get some characterization, and even some plot hooks, but both will still die after the Watcher witnesses the ritual by the ruins.
- Medieval Stasis: Intentionally averted. The more advanced areas of Pillars of Eternity are currently going through the fantasy equivalent of the Renaissance.
- Multi-Platform: Initially for Windows, stretch goals added Mac OS and Linux versions. Also distributed via two separate services, Steam and GOG.com.
- Multiple Life Bars: Each character has the Stamina bar and the Health bar. Stamina is depleted and recovered rapidly in combat and results in a Non-Lethal K.O. when depleted. Health is lost and regained more slowly but having it hit 0 leads to either a permanent injury or the Final Death (on harder difficulties).
- Necromancer: Necromancers aren't universally viewed as evil (except by some fringe groups) but aren't commonplace, either.
- Non-Lethal K.O.: When the Stamina bar hits zero, the character is incapacitated but can be brought back by another party member's intervention.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted. They have at least one major non-standard ethnicity, the boreal dwarves who seem to be what you get when you cross a dwarf with an Inuit. More tellingly, dwarves do not have a special affinity for beards.
- Also, the recruitable boreal dwarf companion, Sagani, is a ranger (definitely not a standard character class for a dwarf, which also serves to lampshade her people's surface-dwelling habits) who carries a bow, a weapon often associated with elves and far outside the stereotypical dwarven repertoire of axes, maces and hammers.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: While far from titanic in size, members of the Aumaua races towers quite a bit over most humans.
- Our Souls Are Different: The existence of souls is a proven fact in the world of Eternity. Souls are essentially what allows a person to use magic and they reincarnate in a new body when the old one dies. Their discovery has turned soul-research into a quickly emerging branch of science as the understanding of how exactly they work, and especially how to manipulate them, is still very limited, and the factions and religions of the world have widely differing views on how to treat the many open questions and have ethical lines of their own they won't cross.
- Player Headquarters: The player gains access to a stronghold relatively early on in the game as a place where idle companions can stay. Though it starts off looking rather dilapidated, it can be upgraded to provide various bonuses such as ingredients for Item Crafting, unique vendors and some new activities. Upon receiving it, the player character becomes a landowner and can collect taxes from the surrounding lands, which increases based on the player character's prestige.
- Player Inventory: The inventory is subdivided into three parts: what's currently equipped on the characters, what they can access at any time except in combat, and what the can access only in the camp, at home, etc. The former two categories have limited capacity but the last one ("stash") is unbound.
- Player Party: The player group consists of up to five (optional) companions at any time in addition to the main Player Character, for a total of six.
- Point-and-Click Map: The world map is opened whenever the party reaches a "qualifying transition" and allows instant travel to known locations.
- Real Time Weapon Change: Characters can switch between several different weapon sets in combat.
- Real Time with Pause: The game uses real-time combat with the option to pause the game at any time to allow time to think and dole out orders partly as a deliberate throw-back to the Infinity Engine era, and partly because it suits the game.
- Reincarnation: One of the Central Themes of the game.
- Save Game Limits: In the Trial of Iron, one of the optional difficulty modifiers, the player only has one save slot — and it is wiped permanently if the player character dies.
- Scenery Porn: The first screenshot mock-up released◊ depicts a beautiful view of a country road leading up to a bridge connecting to an entrance into a cliff side, with the entrance being flanked by a pair of enormous, macabre reliefs carved into the rock, with a waterfall cascading to form a pond off to the side of one of the statues.
- Sea Monster: Sea monsters actively impede the overseas exploration of the setting.
- Shared Life Meter: The Rangers and their animal companions share their hit points and if one is knocked out or killed, so is the other. Luckily, animal companions have high Damage Reduction to make up for their lack of armor.
- Shout-Out: An inn in Gilded Vale is named "The Black Hound," which was the possible title of Baldur's Gate 3.
- Skill Scores and Perks: There are two separate skill point pools to spend on combat and non-combat abilities. Each uses resources from a different pool.
- Spiders Are Scary:Vithrack are spiders that are humanoid magic uses, that use their silk to make robes for themselves.
- Spiritual Successor: Eternity channels several Role Playing Games from the Obsidian developers' past, including Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment. Much of the original Torment team worked on this.
- Squishy Wizard: Averted in that Wizards can wear heavy armor.
- Touched by Vorlons: Members of the Godlike player race were blessed before birth by one or more deities.
- The Undead: All undead were living beings who somehow had their soul unnaturally linked to their body. After death their bodies and minds decay, with the different stages of decay being a variant of undead:
- Fampyries are the most-recently alive. They are really no different from a normal person aside from a strong craving for human flesh, which is the only substance that can keep their minds lucid and their bodies from decaying. But even by this, they are only delaying the inevitable next state of undead.
- Darguls are still somewhat intelligent and recognizable as persons, but show signs of physical and mental deterioration. At this stage their higher thought processes and memories begin to fade. Guls are a further step down the path, with flesh hanging off the bones, hair disappeared, and bestial behavior.
- Revenants are visibly rotting, the skin having sloughed away and even the muscle beginning to lose form. Of the mind, only base instincts and the desire to feed remain.
- Skeletons are what remain once all the flesh has rotted away. Without the ability or desire to feed, they are largely murderous automatons acting on pure reflex. Given enough time, even the bones will be reduced to dust which the soul will still be bound to.
- Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities: Averted. Non-combat abilities let you level up just as fast as with the combat approach.
- Vestigial Empire: Before the events of the game there were at least two mighty empires in the world: Grand Empire of Vailia and The Aedyr Empire. While the former no longer exists since it has broken up into a federation of independent city-states, the latter still lingers as a shadow of its former self, having lost at least two of its colonies through civil wars with independence movements.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The druid class has the ability to shapeshift into various animal forms at will, such as giant humanoid cats.
- War God: Magran, who pulls double duty as goddess of fire and whose priests are known to employ firearms and explosives.
- You Will Not Evade Me: All melee combatants can force close quarters combat via the Engagement rules. When being targeted by a melee fighter at close range, any attempt to move away will provoke an attack of opportunity that deals bonus damage and usually stuns you long enough for the attacker to catch up. There are ways to avoid that, of course, but they are costly and it's best to just not go anywhere near melee enemies at all.