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Video Game / Pillars of Eternity

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No sleep for the watcher...

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. Paradox Interactive signed a distribution agreement with Obsidian Entertainment to market and sell the game to the general gaming public.

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, leading to the founding of a whole new field of science know as "Animancy". The world may be 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 and conflict.


No other place is this conflict felt stronger than in the former colony of Dyrwood, whose people are ravaged by a strange and horrifying affliction, where the vast majority of newborn children enter the world without a soul, leaving them physically alive but in a completely catatonic and vegetative state, unable to do anything but stare blankly into nothingness. This strange phenomenon, known as "Waidwen's Legacy", or by the less poetic (though no less foreboding) name "the Hollowborn Plague", has attracted the attention of animancers from all over the world hoping to prove the usefulness of their trade by finding the cause for the affliction as well as a cure. But many of the bereaved family members, meanwhile, blame Animancy for the plague, believing that it is a punishment from the gods on the mortal civilisations for arrogantly trying to meddle in the realm of souls.


But currently, all of that is not of much concern to the Player Character, a foreigner who has arrived with a group of other immigrants to the Dyrwood, lured by promises of cheap land to settle and cultivate. But no sooner than their caravan has crossed the border, before everything begins to go horribly wrong; the travelling company is hit by by a magical storm that kills everyone but them, as they manage to just barely seek refuge in a nearby ancient ruin. Here they witness a cult performing a ritual, where the cult members activate a mysterious machine by sacrificing their souls to it. Upon being activated, the machine unleashes a field of energy, that awakens something in the player character upon their exposure to it, imbuing them with the power of a Watcher; a person who can peer into people souls and read their memories. Unfortunately, that is not the only thing that is awakened in the newly-minted Watcher by the event, as they also find themselves haunted day and night by disturbing and traumatic visions, seemingly from another place and another time, robbing them of their ability to sleep calmly and quickly becoming a serious threat to their sanity, leaving them with no choice by to follow the clues offered by these visions in a hope to find some way to reverse the curse before it is too late. As the Watcher searches for answers, it become increasingly evident that the Hollowborn Plague might play a bigger role in whatever they have gotten themselves messed up in...

It has a website here. In the wake of the game's success, Obsidian has announced that they are working on a number of things to expand the new franchise: a traditional Expansion Pack (The White March), a sequel, a Collectible Card Game (Lords of the Eastern Reach), and a Tabletop Game.

On May 28, 2015, a Kickstarter for the Collectible Card Game, Pillars of Eternity: Lords of the Eastern Reach, was started. The game was released in February 2016.

The first part of The White March expansion was released on August 25, 2015, and Part 2 released on February 16, 2016. In January 2017, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire started funding on Fig. Taking place in the Deadfire Archipelago, the game once again stars the Watcher, who must now track down the god Eothas after he inhabits a stone statue and destroys Caed Nua, nearly killing you in the process. The sequel was released on May 8, 2018.

Ports for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were announced in June 2017, and released on August 29th. A port for the Nintendo Switch was released August 8th, 2019.

In 2020, Avowed, a first person action RPG set in the world of Pillars of Eternity was announced.

Pillars of Eternity provides examples of the following tropes:

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  • Absurdly Low Level Cap: The initial level cap was 12, with spell levels for all the caster classes being "soft capped" at 6th level spells out of 10 spell levels and Chanters being limited to 3rd level phrases and invocations out of 8 levels. The expansion raised the caps twice: Part 1 raised the level cap to 14 and the soft cap to 7th level spells for casters and 4th level phrases-invocations, Part 2 raised the level cap to 16 and the soft caps to 8th level spells and 5th level phrases-invocations.
    • When the game launched, it was very easy to hit the level cap. To put it into perspective: depending on how far you decided to delve into Od Nua and how aggressively you completed the sidequests, you'd have hit the cap before reaching Twin Elms. The 1.05 patch rebalanced the xp rewards from quests.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: After you kill Thaos, you peer into his soul and witness his memories of sacrificing his people so he could become immortal and protect his new gods. The flashback makes it clear that Thaos committed all of his horrific crimes because he honestly believed that it was the only way. It doesn't redeem him, but it does make his actions more understandable.
  • 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. As it turns out there's a loophole with reincarnations. It is possible to ensure you are always born Awakened to your past lives as well as always ending up in bodies resembling your old self, effectively giving you Born-Again Immortality. This is lost knowledge in the truest sense, and not only does it require extreme measures, but once someone did do it they had a very, very long time to work on ensuring it remained lost... It's also possible to endrun the drawbacks of binding a soul to a body, at least in theory. The Adra dragon did it. Of course, she needed to consume other souls to do so.
  • Alliance Meter: Nearly every sidequest has Multiple Endings, and different endings will positively or negatively affect your Reputation stat for that region, which changes how NPCs address you and may open further quests. A good example is the early quest "Lord of a Barren Land", in which you are requested to Storm the Castle of Lord Raedric and assassinate him so that his cousin Kolsc can take over. Doing it as requested will give you positive Reputation in Gilded Vale, while changing sides will give you negative Reputation.
  • Alternative Calendar: There are two calendars in Eora, the Aedyr calendar and the Anni Iroccio. The Aedyr calendar is the one with the least known about it, other than the fact that it was nine months long but hopelessly inaccurate. Whereas the Anni Iroccio is the more accurate of the two and the one used in the game. A year is 334 days long and divided into 16 months, 4 months for each season, with a 3-day festival between each season, a day in the middle of the winter dedicated to New Year, and a day in the middle of summer dedicated to Mid Year. Each day is 27 hours long, each month is 20 days long, and each week is 5 days long.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Played for Drama when speaking to a spirit in Caed Nua. Mistaking you for her son, she tells you what happened to your father: "before you were born, the Glanfarthans attacked settlers like us... they came into our village and killed many people. Your father was one of them." She actually means her son's father was one of the Glanfarthan raiders.
  • ...And That Would Be Wrong: Talking to Lady Webb elicits this comment.
    Lady Webb: Many [Ciphers] can hold an object and know where it's been, or peer into the thoughts of people around them. They can also sometimes affect those thoughts, but that would be unethical, of course.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending hints that The Watcher, despite no longer having visions, has a long journey looming ahead, with or without the Orlan Baby.
  • Animated Armor: The aptly named "Animats". Basically the soul of a warrior that has been fused to a set of armor. The Crucible Knights are also attempting to create "Forge Knights" based on the Animats. "Attempting" being the key word. After the Forge Knights' rampage is quelled, you help the Crucible Knights' leader to decide whether or not to abandon the research. If research continues, the Crucible Knights eventually succeed in creating obedient Forge Knights in the epilogue. Unfortunately, their leader goes mad thanks to his new power and takes over Defiance Bay.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: There's one quest that can only be non-violently finished if the player dons a mask as part of a disguise. Godlikes can't wear any sort of headgear due to various chitinous skull growths and/or having their heads constantly on fire. Except that during the relevant scripted interaction, a godlike Watcher with the mask in their inventory can select an option to put the mask on. Others will be annoyed by how very poorly it fits, and it won't actually be equipped, but it will suffice to finish the interaction without bloodshed.
  • Anti-Grinding: You get no experience from simply fighting Kith (Humanoid races). Instead the bulk of experience is earned through completing quest objectives, along with small bonuses for picking locks, disarming traps and reaching new areas. Killing non-Kith (monsters) gives experience for filling out the Bestiary, but this amount is capped.
  • Arc Number:
    • Twelve. Twelve warriors who stood on Evon Dewr Bridge and fought off Waidwen until the Godhammer could be readied — "One Dozen Stood Against the Power of the Saint," as the song goes. Twelve priests of Magran who built the Godhammer and focused their power into it. A dozen of the greatest minds of ancient Engwith who built the colossus in the ancient paths and unlocked the secrets of undeath. Eight party members in the main game, three in the DLC, and the Watcher makes twelve.
    • Interestingly, there are only eleven gods in the Eoran pantheon. There are also eleven selectable classes and, possibly more coincidentally, eleven subraces not counting the godlike, with the godlike being able to manifest among any other race and there being a kind of godlike for each of the gods. There are other non-selectable races, however — at least one, in the form of the Storm Folk from across the eastern ocean.
  • Arc Words: "No sleep for the Watcher", which first appeared in the teaser trailer.
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Downplayed. While there's no game rule preventing any character class from equipping any armor they want, heavier armors impose a penalty on cooldowns (making them up to 50% longer with full plate). This disproportionately affects magic users. On the other hand, in the lore mages have often taken to wearing bulletproof plate as a countermeasure against firearms, which are an Armor-Piercing Attack against magical defenses.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Stilettos, maces, rapiers, estocs, and firearms ignore a fixed amount of the target's damage reduction.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: A nearly literal example. Lady Webb had to focus all her remaining prowess as a cipher to break through Thaos' mental defenses, and, for once, leave him stumped and shocked by asking, "What's in Twin Elms?" Played with in that it's not the question itself that was the shock, but the fact that Lady Webb managed to invade his mind just enough to ask it in the first place.
  • Ass Shove: You can threaten a guard at a drug den with this if your Resolve is high enough.
    The Watcher: [Resolve 14] Get out of my way or I'll break your sword in half and feed it to you at both ends.
  • Asshole Victim: An early sidequest has you investigate a murder and learn that the victim was a domestic abuser who was murdered by his wife's lover to protect her. More accurately, the lover and wife claim the victim was a domestic abuser when confronted with his murder. Whether they're telling the truth is an open question.
  • Awful Truth: One of the game's major recurring themes is whether it is better to know the truth about terrible things that have happened so you can strive to do better or if it is better to live believing a peaceful lie.
    • An early quest has an expectant mother hire you to go to a midwife to obtain a potion that will prevent her child from being hollowborn so they won't be banished from Gilded Vale. When you find the midwife, she gives you a placebo potion. The midwife can't cure hollowborn, but she argues that the placebo is worth it because it will make the mother feel better. You are faced with the choice of giving the mother the placebo or telling her that luck is the only way to prevent her baby from being hollowborn.
    • Another quest has you looking for a missing child, only to find that he was murdered by pirates. You have the option of telling his parents the truth (they'll be devastated but the circumstances of his gallant death soften the blow a little) or lie and claim that the child just got on a boat to seek a new life elsewhere. Either way you may confront his killers and finish what the boy started.
    • Thaos has dedicated all of his lives to preventing Kith from learning that the gods aren't real, as he believes that revealing truth of the gods would plunge the world into endless war. The game's Multiple Endings let you decide whether or not you think he's right.
  • Back from the Dead: If you kill Lord Raedric, he eventually comes back to life and will destroy Gilded Vale if you don't kill him again.
  • 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. Although, as an Anti-Frustration Feature, the player can toggle an option that allows the Stash to be accessed from anywhere.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: Thaos
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Kolsc ending for Gilded Vale, provided you defeat Raedric again once he rises as an undead. You save Gilded Vale from the undead Raedric, but you are too late to prevent Kolsc's death, leaving Gilded Vale without a leader. While the town begins to prosper, it also becomes a Wretched Hive of lawlessness and crime, but pretty much everyone in-story considers this to be leagues better than Raedric's psychotic tyranny.
  • Blade on a Stick: One-handed spears and two-handed pikes are available as weapons.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Godlikes are Touched by Vorlons in the womb, granting them with all sorts of useful and powerful abilities. They're also stuck with weird-ass heads (usually including horns or other growths) and skin that are impossible to hide. The most unlucky are the Death Godlikes, who are (obviously) extremely disturbing to look at, and the Nature Godlikes, who are *covered in moss*; both are stated to commonly be killed at birth. Even Fire and Moon Godlikes are often disturbing to look at, since they emit light (and in the case of Fire Godlikes, are literally on fire) giving them an unearthly quality. Godlikes are also sterile, a trait that got Pellagina (an avian Godlike) disowned by her father since she could not continue their noble bloodline. Their unusual heads also prevent them from wearing any headgear.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Much ink has been spilled over the issue of the French translation of the game. There are multiples cases of sentences which are oddly translated and overly literal, prompting players to wonder if the translator gave up at some point and just Google translated parts of the script, not to mention that some texts aren't translated or are in another langage altogether (Italian, for example).
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The conflict between Raedric and Kolsc. Raederic is The Caligula who has thousands of people executed on a whim (including his wife) and is responsible for horrific experiments regarding the soulless and the undead, but he genuinely wants to save his country from the curse, he clearly regrets having to murder his wife, its heavily implied that he did use to be a good ruler and his current Sanity Slippage is due to his desperation to stop the curse, and, for better or worse, his authority is keeping his country from descending into anarchy. Kolsc, meanwhile, rightfully believes that Raedric has become too unhinged to rule and treats his subjects well, but he openly admits to being a Sleazy Politician and Smug Snake who only wants to overthrow Raedric so he can take the throne for himself, lies and manipulates everyone around him, and he clearly has no idea what to do about the curse or how to keep the people calm.
  • 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. Some gods would even praise you no matter what you actually long as you can show you did it for the "right" reasons as far as they're concerned.
  • Body Surf: A rare non-fatal version - when investigating the sanitarium in Defiance Bay, you discover that Thaos can jump into the bodies of those with "weak souls", such as golems and the insane. Did we mention you find this out in an insane asylum, with Flesh Constructs as guards?
    • He does it again at the Duc's animancy hearing to assassinate the Duc while "wearing" the head animancer in the city, resulting in mass riots all across Defiance Bay and the animancer sanitarium being burned to the ground.
  • Bonus Boss:
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Endless Paths, a labyrinth hidden below the stronghold of Caed Nua. Its bosses are among the toughest in the game (for a level appropriate party at least) and features tons of rare loot.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Ogre Druids. The first time you meet them, you are pretty much guaranteed to die again and again and again. They have a ton of hit points, high defenses, and worst of all cast extremely dangerous spells, such as Plague of Insects, which will probably hit your entire party and inflict over 90 damages over time (which is basically a death sentence if your party level is 5 or less and if you don't manage to kill the ogre in time). Worst of all, they have a tendency to appear in larger groups composed of regular ogres (who hit like a truck) and them, and they can cast healing spells.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • You can invoke this by walking into the theater stage in Defiance Bay, which prompts hilarious responses from the actors as you interrupt their performance.
    Actor: -and so -er... and so our audience wishes for a closer look, it seems!
    Actor 1: [clicking him] We're acting here, friend!
    Actor 2: Well, one of us is...
    Actor: [clicking him again] Back to the stands with you!
    Pallegina: Do you think that if you click on me enough, I'll lay an egg? Sorry to disappoint you.
  • Brick Joke:
    • After helping a young boy get a well-made dagger in Copperlane, the town crier in Ondra's Gift can shout about an "unfortunate mishap" where a young boy lost several fingers playing with a blade. If you have a Survival skill of 4 or greater, you can teach him how to wield the dagger safely to avert this.
    • Promotion art for the DLC has Eder finally petting Itumaak, with no threat of a bite from the latter.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Many characters believe that Waidwen's Legacy is a divine punishment inflicted on Dyrwood for daring to kill the god Eothas. They're right about it being a result of killing Eothas, but they're wrong about it being a divine punishment. Waidwen's Legacy was their divine reward for killing the only god keeping it from happening.
  • 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.
  • Capture and Replicate: In one side quest a woman asks you to deliver a divorce notice to her fiancée, who has been acting strange and downright abusive towards her lately. If you investigate their home, you find out that he has been locked up in the attic for days, while a criminal mage assumed his appearance and used his home as a hub for his drug trade. Ironically, the fiancée was also selling drugs - which is how he got involved in the mess to begin with.
  • Cast from Hit Points: A couple spells and abilities will grant the characters some boosts in exchange for their endurance.
  • Cast from Lifespan: The makers of the Godhammer used their very souls to forge the weapon. Only one survived the explosion of the weapon: Durance. However, his soul now appears blurred, distorted from the sacrifice he made by forging the Godhammer, and also possibly caused by the explosion itself. The damage is so important that his own goddess doesn't recognize him—which, ironically, is the only thing keeping him alive.
  • Central Theme: The nature of secrets, why we keep them, and what the long-term ramifications are of a lie that has gone on for so long that it effectively replaces the truth. Many characters that are tied to the main quest keep their own secrets for one reason or another. Aloth being a former member of the Leaden Key, Grieving Mother using her cipher powers to convince mothers that their Hollowborn children were born healthy, and the fact that the gods aren't real and there is no true higher power in the universe, are only a few of the more egregious secrets in this game. Tying into this is a secondary theme of whether it is better to live with a comfortable lie or face the uncomfortable truth.
  • 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 and powerful summons to turn the tide.
    • Cipher: Casters with Psychic Powers fueled by their souls. They are capable of mental manipulation and powerful attacks, but have to physically strike their foes as well to build up power. Also have some skill at stealth and mechanics.
    • Druid: Archetypical druids, with the usual focus on communing with nature, nature-based magic, shapeshifting, and so on, beating even wizards for raw area-of-effect power.
    • Fighter: Warriors that focus on weapons combat, but are also capable of stealth and are frequently highly educated.
    • Monk: Archetypal Warrior Monks — mobile fighters who dedicate their lives to honing their mind and body by adhering to a strict set of principles. They often fight better unarmed than armed, though it's not necessary.
    • Paladin: Magic Knights who belong to dedicated and distinct orders, rather than devoting themselves to the gods. Designed as support casters who are 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 armor, 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 mechanists. Good at defeating locks and traps, they truly shine at stealth attacks and delivering simply brutal amounts of close-quarters damage.
    • 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 armor since gunpowder weapons can pierce their carefully prepared magical defenses. They also get a bonus to mechanics, though smaller than what Rogues get.
  • Character Customization: The players are able to select the name, sex, class, race (including sub-races), culture, traits, ability scores, portrait, and class-specific skills and talents for their characters at the beginning of the game. In the game, however, there are no equipment restrictions period, meaning you can equip whatever you want. Unless you're Godlike, in which case you cannot wear any type of headgear, for fairly obvious reasons.
  • Child by Rape: The moment when Maerwald's previous incarnation, the Soldier, asked his mother about who his father is. The Soldier's father wasn't a colonist who died in a raid, he was actually one of the raiders who raped his mother. The Soldier's mother then dodged the question, all at the same time holding back her fear and anger. Not only that, but the Raider was Maerwald in a previous incarnation — who ordered her henchman to rape Soldier's mother. No wonder Maerwald is insane.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Priests' and Paladins' magic is not powered by the gods, it's powered by the faith and conviction of the individual, which allows them to generate and channel soul power.
  • Climax Boss: Thaos. Notable since RPGs made by Obsidian usually allow the Final Boss to be talked down.
  • Clingy Macguffin: The Grey Sleeper is a soulbound Estoc that, once picked up by a character, cannot be unequipped until you visit a few locations hinted at as verses appear in the sword's description. After visiting all three locations, the sword can be unequipped (though it can only ever be equipped again by the character who originally drew it from the stone). Like all soulbound items, it's well worth the effort.
  • Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: It is occasionally possible to bypass combat completely if non-combat abilities are leveled up, but for the most part you can expect a fight.
  • Companion-Specific Sidequest: Each permanent predefined companion has a personal sidequest. Eder, Kana Rua, Sagani, Hiravias, and Pallegina present their sidequests (almost) immediately after being recruited but completing them requires visiting areas that only become accessible after certain plot events (except Kana Rua's quest, which instead takes you down the Brutal Bonus Level). Durance and the Grieving Mother (both written by Chris Avellone), meanwhile, both have a set of dialogues gated mainly by their Character Level and plot stages. Aloth has a relatively small sidequest pertaining to his Split Personality, but it's also gated behind certain main plot events.
  • Counter-Attack: The Barbarian class has one that returns any melee damage to the character with a small damage that bypasses defenses. The Monk has a variation that overlaps with Cast from Hit Points, in that they must first get wounded before they can unleash their devastating special abilities.
  • Covers Always Lie: A somewhat retroactive case. The cover for the game depicts Aloth, Edair, Cadegund and Forton, and was made in the early development phases. In the end, the only one of the characters that made it relatively unaltered into the game was Aloth, Edair underwent a few redesigns and eventually become Edér, and Forton was reworked into Zahua for the White March expansion. Cadegund is the only one ended up getting cut out entirely, although it's possible that she was reworked into Durance.
  • Crapsack World: Eora as a whole, but the Dyrwood especially. The wilderness is incredibly dangerous, and racial and religious prejudice is rampant, to the point that non-believers were violently persecuted during the Leaden Key's inquisition, and followers of Eothas are routinely slaughtered in retaliation for the Saint's War and Waidwen's Legacy. Speaking of Waidwen's Legacy, did we mention that a large percentage of recent children are born without souls, leaving them thoughtless, vegetative husks for their entire lives? To top it all off, the gods that have informed much of the behavior and structure of the last 2000 years of civilization were artificial constructs the whole time, and were merely designed to create a semblance of order in the chaotic world.
    Durance: The world is broken, the Wheel stilled. There is a sickness in the world's heart, perhaps the price of crossing a god.
  • Create Your Own Hero: The Big Bad, Thaos, does this twice to the Watcher: once, when his ritual at Cilant Lis Awakens the Watcher to their past lives, and many centuries before that, when Thaos made a previous incarnation of the Watcher betray Iovara, which effectively tied all three of their souls together, bound to clash with each other again, sooner or later.
  • 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.
  • Culture Chop Suey:
    • The Free Palatinate of Dyrwood is basically the United States of America, in a medieval world before Enlightenment ideas. It is culturally Anglo-Saxon, with a government much like the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. They even worship a gun-toting goddess of fire and war, Magran, as their Statue of Liberty.
    • Eir Glanfath is a mixture of the Celts and the Iroqious Confederacy.
    • The Aedyr Empire, who the Dyrwood fought and won their war of independence against, is the British Empire (particularly during its decline). But is also Ancient Grome, with elves as the noble class and the largest and most powerful military in the world.
    • Rauatai has a strong Polynesian flair, but it also has elements of Venice and the Italian states. They also have a very Ottoman obsession with oversized pieces of artillery.
    • The Ixamitl Plains has dark-skinned people who wear Ethiopian-style clothing and engage in Shaolin religious rituals with Native American and Mesoamerican influences.
  • Curse Cut Short: Hiravias has one if you say that, while his rite of passage was awful, it makes for an impressive story.
    Hiravias: "Well go f-" [He shakes his head] "Oh, you actually meant that?"
  • Cyanide Pill: At one point, you can expose a bunch of criminals performing certain very illegal theater performances in front of noble patrons. The main patron, when confronted about it (whether by you or by the police) takes poison and drops dead.
  • Darker and Edgier: The game sometimes explores even darker depths of human depravity and cosmic cruelty compared to Obsidian's previous games. The developers said that they have more freedom in what story they can tell without publisher involvement. It's certainly darker and edgier than the Infinity Engine games it's based on, except maybe Planescape: Torment.
  • Dark Reprise: In White March, visiting The Gréf's Rest inn has you coming across a bit of Diegetic Soundtrack Usage, as a local bard entertains the guests by singing "The Sea and Her Love", a romantic little song about tragic love. White March, Part II as you approach the Abbey of the Fallen Moon, which is build around Abydon's ancient corpse, a much more powerful, mournful, and dark instrumental rendition of the song, "Abydon's Shell", starts playing.
  • Deal with the Devil: Right before the ending, Skaen, one of the crueler gods, can contact you and makes you a deal on behalf of Woedica: carry out Thaos's plan to give the souls of the hollowborn to Woedica and the Queen that Was will make you her Favored with all of the perks that entails.
  • Deus Est Machina: All of the gods are really ancient constructs designed to maintain peace and order. It's gone wrong for some of them, but they all honestly believe they're fulfilling their directives in the best possible fashion.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: Through enchanting, you can make any weapon or armor (Except helms) have up to 14 "quality-level" buffs (Some enhancements are up to 4 QL).
  • Developers' Foresight: As a choice-heavy RPG in the vein of Baldur's Gate, this was only to be expected, and the amount of reactivity the game has to your race, class, background, skills, stats, and even spell selection is admirable.
    • You will get a special ending slide if you finish the game with baby Vela in your stash.
    • If you opt to kill every member of the caravan in the opening of the game, the fetch-quest for the springberries and the Glanfathan tribe's attack on the caravan is skipped and you instead get treated to a special cutscene.
    • The final text sequence in White March II takes into account the player keeping Iverra's Diving Helmet (a reward from the off-screen companion adventure "To the Waterline") in their inventory.
    • All this makes some of the few oversights all the more baffling: you can respond to Edér mentioning Eothas in your initial conversation with confusion, asking who Eothas is — this option is present even if you are a Priest of Eothas, though the game does at least acknowledge the fact that the gods go by different names in different countries (Maybe you're just pretending not to know). What's more odd is that Durance, who hates Eothasians and was an avid participant in the Purges fifteen years ago never even broaches the subject with you. It's also slightly odd that Sagani has no particular reaction to meeting up with another boreal dwarf — sure, you're not from Naasitaq, but the Watcher can come right out and say that there can't be that many of her (their) people in the Dyrwood, and your introduction to Kana, which comes shortly before, does contain unique reactions if you're aumaua, from Rauatai, or both.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Depending on which god's favor you ask for in order to enter Sun in Shadow, you can potentially spite them by reneging your agreement with them. The gods don't take this sitting down though, trading the souls gathered for the lives of the living.
    • Slighting Hylea has her make a bargain with Berath: death for new life. To "claim what was her's by right", she causes all manner of avian creatures to attack the people of Dyrwood, the dead souls immediately put back into the Cycle for reincarnation.
    • Slighting Berath has him to send his Pallid Knight to personally collect his due, slaying travelers and causing the elderly to randomly drop dead.
    • Slighting Galawain has him, Magran, and Abydon raze the countryside. Galawain sends out legions of beasts, Magran causes a wave of dry weather bad enough to cause forest fires, and Abydon causes soul constructs across Dyrwood to go rogue and cause massacres.
    • Slighting Rymrgand has him send severe cold fronts upon Dyrwood, destroying the year's harvests and causing a deep enough winter that those who did survive the famine end up dying from hypothermia, while Ondra causes the coasts to be even more dangerous than usual.
    • Slighting Skaen has him direct his followers to construct the Effigy, the monstrous incarnation of the god himself, through an even more profane and bloody ritual than usual. It rampages through the metropolis of New Heomar, killing everyone in its path before suddenly falling.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • The quest "Cinders of Faith" which can be accessed near the beginning of Act II will reward you with a very good unique flail, assuming your party is up to a bit of dragonslaying. If your party has someone skilled in Mechanics, they can also discover a secret stash in the dragon's treasure hoard which contains Tidefall, one of the best unique greatswords in the game.
    • The Disappointer pistol can be found by a player character with points in Mechanics skill (i.e. a Rogue) as a hidden item in the starting area (instead of the later and much harder dungeon it normally appears in). It's normally a Joke Item (cf. below), but even with its reduced stats, it still inflicts more damage than other ranged weapons you can get at this point, and the specific properties of its class (pistols have a short range and are slow to reload) don't matter much in the initial dungeon (enemies are weak and isolated). While it requires some luck (or Save Scumming) due to the reduced accuracy, the Disappointer can be very helpful for a Rogue at start of the game, thank to stealth and backstab.
  • Dissimile: When meeting The Dozens, Eder has this to say.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: A big reveal in the final act is that the gods have been created by mortals. Almost every character except the Big Bad decides immediately that this means the gods "aren't real". They are demonstrably real entities who have even spoken directly to the party at this point. They are immensely powerful beings who can do impossible things, are immortal, reward their faithful, and have divine power over the aspects of reality they represent. Thaos argues that claiming such beings are "not real gods" because of their origin is to make a distinction without a difference.
  • Divided We Fall: The dwarves of Durgan's Battery were said to have been wiped out by civil war. Subverted when it turns out that the Eyeless killed them all. While tensions among the dwarven leaders over how to use the White Forge lead to the dwarves dividing into factions, all of these factions did not hesitate to join forces when the Eyeless invaded and there is no indication that the division contributed to the dwarves' probably inevitable defeat.
  • Double Entendre: In Defiance Bay, there is an establishment called The Salty Mast. It has two rooms you can sleep in, Broad Beam, and Shiny Pearl. Three guesses as to what kind of an establishment it is.
  • Draw Aggro: All melee combatants can force close quarters combat via the game's engagement rules. When being targeted in melee, 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. It's possible to gain bonuses to defenses against disengagement attacks, and unlike the opportunity attack system from Dungeons & Dragons, there's a set limit to how many targets a given enemy can engage at once — starting at one, but increasing with certain fighter abilities, as well as larger creatures. On the flip side of this, it's also possible to increase the number of enemies required to flank a given target.
  • Driven to Madness: All Watchers are in danger of this, particularly when they begin to recall their past lives. Maerwald has this really bad as he's not only prone to assuming the various personas of his previous lives, but he's wracked with crippling guilt for the many horrible things at least one of them committed.
    • You can meet this end if you kill Lady Webb, losing your only lead to find Thaos.
  • Driven to Suicide: A surprising amount of your party members can meet this fate in their endings, depending on how you treat them and if you complete their personal quest. Aloth sacrifices himself to an Engwithan machine, Kana Rua descends alone into the Endless Paths, Durance burns himself alive, and Sagani wanders out into a blizzard. Devil of Caroc has a more positive spin where she wanders into the ocean to finally feel at peace.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Deconstructed by the Endless Paths of Caed Nua. On level 2, there's a scripted interaction lets you use a rope to skip directly to level 5. The problem, however, is that doing so brings you face to face with a boss-level drake and you cannot take the same way back up, so if you somehow manage to survive the encounter, you now have to fight your way back upstairs through all the monsters you hoped to skip. Then again, who would be stupid enough to think that jumping into a blood-soaked sacrificial pit was a good idea?
  • Dying Town: Stalwart Village from the White March expansion has been on the decline, not helped by the Hollowborn epidemic and the recent spate of Ogre attacks. It also doesn't help that they continue to throw money into expeditions to Durgan's Battery which are one of the reasons the Ogres are attacking in the first place since they see the expeditions as invasions of their turf since they believe restarting the White Forge and being able to manufacture Durgan Steel is the only hope Stalwart Village has.
    • Gilded Vale, the first town, is this, helping to establish the general crappiness of the setting. Waiden's Legacy means there's virtually no population growth, so the local lord has to resort to offering land to settlers (which is what kickstarts the game). But something is wrong with the fields and the crops seem sickly at best, and the local lord, Raedric, is batshit insane.
    • Dyrford Village is this, even ignoring the vicious secret murder cult to Skaen hiding under the tannery you still have a town that has an effective birth rate of zero thanks to the Hollowborn epidemic and as such hemorraging people because they're fleeing to Defiance Bay, hoping that the plague is absent there.
  • Early Game Hell: While the game is more forgiving than the original Baldur's Gate, Act I can be more than a little tough for new players. Your characters are rather frail, you don't have a decent equipment yet, you can cast only so many spells before you need to rest, just traveling between areas can be a problem since some of your characters may not have a single point in Athletics and, as a result, will suffer from a major debuff because they are exhausted just from traveling from one area to the other (leading you to use camping supplies, which are sparse and relatively costly at this point of the game), and, most of all, you will encounter ghost-type enemies, which deal rather high endurance damages, can stun you with each attack and can teleport directly on your most frail characters (and there are a mandatory encounter in Od Nua, a dungeon you must complete in order to gain access to the rest of the map and begin Act II).
  • Elemental Crafting: All tiers of armor are designed to be useful in different situations.
  • Elective Monarchy: The Duc of the Dyrwood is elected by the regional nobility, and often comes from commoner blood.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Depending on how you resolved certain quests and sidequests in the White March and White March part II expansions, you will be able to call upon aid in the area where the final main quest of the expansions takes place such as summoning Ogres, the Iron Flail's trebuchets loaded with burning pitch, and Durgan's Battery's heavy cannons.
  • 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.
  • Everyone is a Super: While not everyone develops their potential, everyone has a soul and the ability to channel its power, and even a common fighter can channel his soul power into feats of superhuman strength and agility.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: If you kill the ruthless gangster Danna Doemenel, her fiance will try to kill you if you come across him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In Twin Elms, the chief of the Three-Tusk Stelgaer - the most warlike of the tribes - wants you to abduct and sacrifice an orlan infant in order to grant her soul to the probable successor of his tribe. His son disagrees with this strongly enough that he asks you to poison his father solely to stop that plot completely.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The sidequest "Blood Legacy" in Dyrford. On one side is Lord Hadron, who sends you out to find his missing daughter who is actually his niece who he impregnated just to get an heir, as the Sterility Plague had cost him the others. On the other side is the cult of Skaen, worshippers of a vengeful god who had made the teenager Brainwashed and Crazy so that she'd brutally murder her entire family line, thus bring shame on the entire lineage. Thankfully, one can Take a Third Option by having a Cipher in the party to remove her brainwashed state.
  • Exact Words: When you track down the dockyard thug Bragan, he will bribe you with a topaz to keep quiet about his murder of the brave boy Derrin. You may accept the bribe and then massacre him and all his goons anyway with no change to your reputation. After all, he only paid you to keep quiet about his crime - he didn't say anything about also sparing his life.
  • Excellent Judge of Character: In the backstory Iovara The Heretic was known to pick her allies very carefully, which allowed her to evade the at-the-time all-powerful Inquisition for as long as she did. The only time she was wrong about a person was with the previous incarnation of the Player Character, who ultimately betrayed her to the Inquisition, although how wrong she was is left up to the player to decide.
  • Expansion Pack: The White March, which Obsidian compared to Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast in terms of scope. While it is available to buy as a single product, it was released in two parts so that they can could develop it faster.
  • Expy: Lord Gathbin from a free update released at the same time as The White March Part 2 is one to Lord Roenall from Baldur's Gate II's Fighter Stronghold sidequests. Both are arrogant Smug Snakes and evil nobles who claim that the main character's Player Headquarters is theirs by right, hurl insults and threats at the player, and when their legal means of attempting to take the player's fortress failsnote , they try to take it by force with a massive army, culminating in an intense battle between your forces and his.
  • 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 opaque from the outside though, so they're able to see just fine. Also, obviously, the Eyeless.
  • False Prophet: Thaos ix Arkannon is a complex case. He is legitimately the High Priest of one of the settings' gods, Woedica, however, the gods themselves are exposed at the end of the game as artificial constructs, created by ancient soul-smiths as means of ideological and moral control over the peoples of the world. What's more, said soul-smiths were led by one of Thaos' previous incarnations, whose memories and identity he has inherited. However, because the gods' artificiality is all but forgotten in modern times, the only time someone actually refers to Thaos as a false prophet is in a flashback of when his past incarnation's former disciple Iovara call him out on it.
  • Fantastic Nuke: The Godhammer, the weapon instrumental in ending the Saint's War by killing the god Eothas' avatar, and Eothas with him.
  • Fantastic Racism: Against the godlike because they're not very well-understood, and against Orlans because of their animalistic appearance.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart:
    • Broken Stone War, War of Black Trees and really the whole relationship between Aedyr (and later, Dyrwood) and Glanfathans resembles both Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain and European colonization of North America.
    • War of Defiance, where now Free Palatinate of Dyrwood gained independence from Aedyr Empire, is The American Revolution.
    • Saint's War is a more ambiguous example, but has some notable familiarities with The American Civil War: agrarian, traditionalist Readceras and industrial, more liberal Dyrwood resemble the sides pretty well, though the reasons for war were different.
  • Fantasy Contraception: Bitter squash seeds are an herb that allows the prevention of pregnancy. Control of the supply is one of House Doemenel's sources of wealth and power, and they don't believe in fair competition.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: A few examples:
    • Boreal Dwarves have obvious similarities to the Inuit.
    • The Vailian Republics closely resemble Renaissance Italy. Naming convictions are explicitly Italian, French, Occitan, and Catalan in origin.
    • The Aedyr Empire is pretty Germanic, particularly Anglo-Saxon seeing as how many of its words carry a decidedly Old English flavour.
    • Dyrwood itself seems quite Anglo-Saxon or Nordic as well. Specifically, it's reminiscent of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that arose on Britannia. Their conflict with the Glanfathans seems to parallel the conflict between the invading Angle and Saxon tribes and the brythonic Celts of Britannia superior. The fact that the Glanfathans themselves have a very Celtic flavour further supports this.
      • Viewed through another light, it's easy to see Aedyr as Britain, the Glanfathans as Native Americans, and Dyrwood as the United States.
    • The Living Lands, despite not having been seen in-game yet, is described by the developers as being something akin to Iceland.
    • The Ixamitl Plains have Nahuatl aesthetics and naming convictions.
    • The Rauatai Gulf is very Maori in origin.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted. The technology level of the most advanced civilisations of Eora is about on par with the early stages of the Renaissance, so that means actual guns, though they are still pretty primitive and rather cumbersome to use. Three standard varieties of firearms are found in the game — pistols, blunderbusses and arquebuses. They do a lot of damage and can ignore magical protections, but have a very slow firing rate. Gunpowder weapons are also strongly associated with the church of Magran, goddess of fire and war, and your party member Durance, a Magranite priest, believes that Magran gave mankind gunpowder to put Muggles and mages on equal footing.
  • 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.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: The Modular Epilogue implies that after Thaos is defeated and Waidwen's Legacy cured, the Watcher's companions drift apart to continue on with their own lives.
  • Final Boss Preview: Your first vision describes the final chamber of the final dungeon: Sun in Shadow.
  • Final Death Mode: In the Expert mode, when characters die (have their Health reduced to 0) in combat, they are gone for good.
  • Fingore: In Defiance Bay, news about a child losing his fingers appears after you bought him a very sharp knife. You can also choose to beat the child up. You can avert this by using the Survival skill to warn him about how dangerous it is.
  • Firearms Are Revolutionary: The game takes place in a world that has just developed gunpowder technology. The setting's War Goddess takes firearms into her aspects, because they even the playing field between magic users and non-magic users and allow even more people to participate in war.
  • First-Episode Twist: The main bad guy refers to Woedica during the early chant in the ruins of Cilant Lis, but you'd figure that out only if your took the time to read the lore in the game.
  • First Town: The miserable Dying Town of Gilded Vale, the first, lasting impression of which is the huge dead tree full of strung-up corpses in the middle of town. Within moments of your arrival, you're likely to be grilled on whether you've ever fathered or given birth to a soulless child, give a woman news of her sister's death, and run afoul of one or two brewing fights.
  • Fish People: Downplayed with the Aumaua, a race of large humanoids with sharp teeth and fish-like features. However, they are are only semiaquatic, having an affinity for water-related enterprises but being unable to actually live in it.
  • Flat Character: Zig-Zagged - custom-built companions from the Hall of Adventurers don't have any dialogue or sidequests the way the pre-generated companions will, but they are as fully customizable as the Player Character, allowing the player to create their entire party from scratch.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Very early in the game, a third toll of a bell bad news. It is only later as you get involved with the story that you learn that the local ruler's wife gave birth to a Hollowborn, and he killed her, having gone mad with grief.
  • Foreshadowing: Your very first vision is that of Iovara being tortured.
    • The bard's song in Gref's Rest hints at Ondra killing Abydon with a moon and having her followers construct a temple around his bones.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The player can recruit eight companions, and two of each has one of the four temperaments. Kana and Hiravias are Sanguine (friendly and people-oriented), Durance and Pallegina are Choleric (extroverted and task-oriented), Aloth and the Grieving Mother are Melancholic (introverted and task-oriented), and Eder and Sagani are Phlematic (reserved and easy-going). Aloth's Literal Split Personality Iselmyr is more Choleric.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: As you'd expect from an Obsidian game, there were quite a few at release: just changing floors in Raedric's Castle can cause the game to crash, equipping something by double-clicking it can lead you to lose bonuses permanently, you can boost your characters unwillingly just by saving in the same area you recruited them. A list of the major issues can be found here. Overall though, the game is far more stable than some of Obsidian's other efforts.
  • 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 Story Branching bits, as well as the myriad of dialogue options that the game throws at you.
    • Reputation plays a large factor as well, with some dialogue options only working if you have a reputation for Honesty.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • During character creation, the player can choose their PlayerCharacter's background, including race, country of origin, and social background. This can result in some... improbable combinations, such as an Island Aumaua noble from the White That Wends, which is populated almost entirely by Pale Elves and Boreal Dwarves and has no real civilization to speak of.
      • Godlike can come from any race, country, or background. Logically, this would mean they would have any physical or cultural benefits of their race. Obviously racial benefits on top of their natural abilities would make Godlike totally overpowered, so the game treats them as a separate race.
    • The "Buried Secrets" is supposed to be completed about at the moment you arrive to Gilded Vale, since some dialogues don't make sense if you do it after advancing enough in the game. One dialog with a dead spirit provides the option to ask you party something like "are you seeing this, too?" (the Watcher and their companions get eventually used to those visions). Also, at the end of the quest, you can threaten the quest giver to denounce him to Lord Raedric, even if you completed Buried Secrets after killing Raedric.
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: Played with. You can loot various gold, silver, and copper coins minted by the different states found in the setting, even finding rare adra coins. For the sake of simplicity, they're all converted to Dyrwoodan Coppers, with each coin having an appropriate conversion value.
  • Genius Loci: The steward of your keep effectively is the keep. While you communicate with her at the throne, she can sense and feel everything within the walls of Caed Nua. She can also sense the castle's owner (that is, you) anywhere in the world.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Eora isn't the most pleasant world. Both the main quest and side quests very rarely have completely evil or completely good actions available, and all of them have multiple solutions.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Inverted near the end of Act 3 during a Soul flashback - the player can admit that they were sent by Thaos to spy on Iovara. While she's nonplussed by this, she actually invites the player into camp, eliciting this reaction.
    Guard: My Lady, s/he admits being a spy!
  • 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. And then there's the Triple Crown Solo achievement, in which you must complete the game on Path of the Damned with Trial of Iron and Expert activated without the help of any companions. Understandably, the picture for the achievement is project director J.E. Sawyer with a smug smile on his face. With Part 2 of the White March comes the "Frozen Crown Solo" achievement, which is to do the same including the expansion (the picture is J.E. Sawyer with a smug smile, in a padded winter hat). Since that wasn't hard enough for some, yet another achievement named "The Ultimate" has been added, which requires you to complete the main game and both parts of the expansion on Path of the Damned with Trial of Iron and Expert, while defeating all dragons and both archmages, and collecting all bounties, all without the help of any companions. The picture for this achievement is J.E. Sawyer with a look of terror on his face.
  • Have You Seen My God?: In the wake of multiple wars of religion, the ancient Engwithans set out to find the true gods to settle all disputes—and discovered that such a thing simply did not exist, or perhaps that they were impossible to find at the time. So, rather than accept that, they used animancy to create immensely powerful sentient constructs for the kith to worship and obey, presenting them as the "true gods". They then formed the Inquisition to convert pretty much the entire world and, upon achieving a remarkably universal success, quickly died out to prevent their new converts from ever learning the truth.
  • Healer Signs On Early: You can recruit Durance, a priest of the goddess of fire, at Magran's Fork, just south of the first village, Gilded Vale. You can hardly miss him, thanks to his distinctive voice, tattered robes, and the giant statue of Magran he's standing in front of. As per usual with clerics, however, you may find that if you use his buff spells optimally, you'll need his healing less and less.
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Healing powers are hard to come by, and the first level spells tend to be rather weak, making potions more useful initially. Healing spells become much more potent once you unlock higher level ones, but only restore Endurance. There are no spells, and only two skills, which can help your characters to recover Health.
  • The Hecate Sisters: The Watcher's mentor figures form a quiet version of this with Caldara de Berranzi and Lady Webb both being somewhat motherly crones, though Caldara probably has the more motherly personality of the two, and the forever-young Iovara as the maiden. Iovara is actually the oldest by far of the three, by several thousand years, while Caldara is awfully carefree and blithe for someone who was just hanged a few days before you meet her. The three never meet each other, and Lady Webb is the only one of the three you meet while she's alive, yet she too, like the others, provides her greatest advice to the Watcher only in death.
  • Hero of Another Story: Fulvano, the famous explorer hailing from the Vailian Republics, from whom the Watcher can find objects and letter he has left behind. Unfortunately for Fulvano, his story ends with quite a bit of an Anti-Climax, namely by him getting skewered to death by a tribe of Xaurips at Anslög's Compass as he was writing a letter.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: In the Skaen ending, you take Thaos's place as the Favored of Woedica.
  • 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 guerrilla warfare.
  • Hypocrite: The talent "Untroubled Faith" allows you to profess the ideals of a Paladin or Priest of an Order or God without being penalized for not adhering to them.
    • It may also serve as an aversion of Lawful Stupid paladins, depending on how often and severely the player deviates from their faith.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Winfrith, the blacksmith of Dyrford Village, keeps complaining (at great length) about other people (women in general, the alchemist in particular, the resident pig farmer...) not being able to shut up. None of the other people in the village are anywhere near as prone to drowning the PC in a torrent of superfluous verbiage.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Knife variant. One sidequest allows you to obtain a high-end dagger for a boy who dreams of joining the local knightly order. You can get him the knife, in which case you may encounter a town crier telling of how a young boy lost several fingers playing with a blade. It's also possible to make it a Defied Trope: sufficient Survival lets you warn him that it's a weapon, not a toy, and also teach him how to care for it properly.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Animancers are able to use the Theorems of Pandgram to become intelligent undead, but this comes with an insatiable hunger for human flesh that will inevitably cause the animancer to lose their sanity and become just another brain-eating zombie.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: St. Ydwen's Redeemer is a soulbound greatsword dropped by a random mook outside Durgan's Battery. Soulbound weapons evolve as you fulfill various conditions, but even in its base form the Redeemer has a 25% chance of instantly destroying Vessel-type enemies on contact. Bonus Boss Concelhaut is a Vessel. So are the massive Eyeless who appear at the end of the White March storyline, and the giant Guardians of Woedica that Thaos animates in the final battle.
  • Info Dump: Durance's verbose dialogues are very long and will teach you everything you need to know about the Dyrwood and the Saint's War. However, the character will tell you to stop annoying him after a while, preventing you from getting more information about something. You need to play more in order for him to be open to conversation again. This can get annoying very quickly, as it is necessary to listen to him in order to proceed through his personal quest.
  • Item Crafting: Stretching from brewing potions to enchanting weaponry.
  • It Has Been an Honor: At the end of the White March Part II, one character must stay behind to strike a crystal with Abydon's Hammer, sacrificing their own life to ensure the Eyeless are no longer a threat to the world. It is entirely possible to choose yourself for this. Either way, you'll get short snippets either from the chosen character, or from the rest of the party should you choose yourself.
  • Joke Item: The Disappointer. Unenchanted, the gun comes with the "terrible" trait (it is weaker and less inaccurate than normal unenchanted pistols) and its lore caption jokes about how the gun is genuinely terrible for people hoping that the gun is secretly a Lethal Joke Item. To drive the point home, you can find the gun after slogging through pain and hardship at Endless Path of Od Nua. But for those with a keen eye, you can snatch one as early as the area you start the game in.
  • Karma Meter: Averted. The Watcher has ten possible dispositions (Benevolent, Cruel, Honest, Deceptive, Stoic, Passionate , Clever, Rational, Diplomatic, and Aggressive). The game tracks each one separately and gives you ranks depending on what kinds of dialogue you choose. (Meaning you can hold ranks in two contradictory dispositions at the same time.) The game doesn't hold any disposition as better than the others, and each have benefits and drawbacks, affecting how NPCs react to you in different ways. The characters who come closer to this trope are paladins and priests who gain or lose abilities depending on how consistently they act with their ethos, and even then, there are several different kinds of preferred behaviors to choose from. There's plenty of room for nuance in any case.
  • Keep the Reward: This is an option for at least two quests. One quest can resolve with the player bringing a medallion back to the questgiver and telling him to keep the offered reward money and instead gain greater reputation in Twin Elms than if the reward was taken; another quest in the White March expansion can resolve with the player saying that they don't need a reward and being given a unique set of heavy plate armour.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Played with. 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. However, the game also makes it clear when you're stealing from others, and getting caught doing so will carry consequences.
  • Late Character Syndrome: Averted in the base game. The player can run into all recruitable companions in the first half of the game. The three White March characters, particularly the Devil of Caroc, could run into a bit of this, however, depending on how and when you purchased the game and whether or not you opted to head to Stalwart as soon as you could.
  • Left-Justified Fantasy Map: Actually played with, a bit. The setting map available as a wallpaper on the game's official site appears to be a textbook example. There's a kicker, though: Eir Glanfath is basically the "New World" of Eora. This is world's North America equivalent - the older cultures are across the sea to the west and south.
    • There is also the fact that Eir Glanfath is in the southern hemisphere, and the Inuit-like Boreal Dwarves live in the Grim Down South.
  • Light Is Not Good: In-universe, this is pretty much everyone in the Dyrwood's opinion on Eothas, god of light and renewal. The scars from the recent war against Readceras, which was led by a mortal claiming to be a vessel of Eothas, are still fresh, worship of the god is banned, and the current problems with the Hollowborn are attributed to him, though Dyrwoodians have started blaming animancy instead.
    • Out of universe, this trope is massively subverted. Eothas himself was trying to stop Woedica's scheme to consume souls, but he made a few critical errors when he gave his power to Waidwen. It's more like Light Does Not Have Good Foresight.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Monk and Barbarian class has abilities that make them this. The Monk's unarmed attacks also is like dual-wielding with even faster attack speed, and since you likely keep a monk equipped with light armor or normal clothing, they can average 2-3 hits per second, not to mention they can use an ability that boosts that attack speed even higher. If you also have Torment's Reach, you can use it as fast as you can punch as long as you have at least one wound.
  • Limited-Use Magical Device: Anyone with a high Lore skill can cast spells from consumable scrolls, which is usually a good option if you need an additional caster or want to spam a particular spell without expending the caster's spell slots (since scrolls can be crafted in ridiculous quantities by the endgame). There are also Rites—a special non-craftable, non-purchaseable kind of scrolls that boost the entire party's skills for a long period of time.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Just like the games that inspired it, mage classes like the Wizard, Druid, and Priest start off fairly weak. While they have access to powerful spells right from the get-go, they have so precious few casts per rest that they spend most battles either hiding in the back or throwing normal attacks while the more physically-oriented classes do most of the work. While they do gain better spells and more casts per rest over time, they get a massive boost in power at level 9. Before the 3.0 patch, Wizards, Priests, and Druids had their first, second, and third level spells change from "per rest" to "per encounter", allowing them to cast spells with impunity. This was changed in the 3.0 patch back to being per rest, but they gained Spell Mastery: one spell each from spell levels 1-4 that they have "mastered" and can cast per encounter outside of their usual per rest casts. Also, even at their most powerful, mages have to be wary of firearms, which can pierce through magical defenses.
  • Long Game: The Big Bad is a master of this, as his soul reincarnates fully Awakened, allowing him to put plans into motion that take hundreds of years to reach fruition.
  • 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.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: In another nod to Infinity Engine nostalgia, any enemy killed by a crit will have their sprite explode into meaty chunks.
  • Magikarp Power: While most soulbound weapons are a bit too good to start with to really qualify for this trope even if they get upgraded when conditions that usually boil down to 'hurt/kill enough enemies' are fulfilled, one of them is a terrible dagger that gets even worse with use... until the final upgrade, when it turns into the most powerful dagger in the game.
  • Magitek: Animancy relies on technological methods to manipulate souls and soul energy.
  • 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 Eora are currently going through the fantasy equivalent of the Renaissance, and firearms have been invented quite literally because the people sought something that would let them punch through wizard defenses.
    • It is also what Thaos is trying to achieve. By sabotaging experiments and blaming the Duc's death to animancers, he's trying to make society discredit animancy so that soul technology can't progress and find the truth behind the gods.
  • Meaningful Name: Pillars of Eternity refer to the Adra stones, which somehow possess the essence of the gods.
  • Missing Child: A mother in Ondra's Gift begged you to find her missing son. The son turns out to be dead, killed by outlaws and his body is dumped in front of brothel's pier. Even worse, he died because his deadbeat dad was supposed to take him fishing, but made him wait outside while he grabbed a "quick pint" that lasted for hours, and he was killed because his dad wasn't watching him. Depending on your choices, the mother can fall into despair while raising her other hollowborn child and the father wastes his life away drinking in sadness.
  • Multi-Platform: Initially for Windows, stretch goals added macOS and Linux versions. Also digitally distributed via three separate services, Steam, Origin, and
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Character creation gives you a lot of options to shape your character's past, including your race, ethnicity, place of origin, and occupation. The beginning of the game delves even deeper when Calisca asks you even more questions about your history.
    • Taken even further during some flashbacks: you get to choose part of the background of your character's past life.
  • Multiple Endings: Your choices throughout the game will shape the fate of the Dyrwood, from your companions to entire cities. More directly, the final choice you can make in-game regards the fate of the captured souls of the Hollowborn, which is the most significant part of the ending, but in all cases, the end of Waidwen's Legacy gives Dyrwood a much needed respite.
  • Multiple Life Bars: Each character has the Endurance bar and the Health bar. Endurance is depleted and recovered rapidly in combat and results in a Non-Lethal K.O. when depleted. Health is lost more slowly but having it hit 0 leads to either a permanent injury or, well, there's the Final Death Mode harder difficulties. Health can only be regained when camping, and with a few very rare and weak spells that serve as an emergency patch-up in a pinch at best. Otherwise, healing spells only restore endurance.
  • Multiple Persuasion Modes: The game lacks dedicated persuasion skills, so some dialogue branches instead require certain attribute values to unlock—most commonly Resolve (which, being a mix of classic Wisdom and Charisma, mainly opens the Charm options), but also Intellect (Convince options), Perception (noticing lies), and sometimes even Might (Intimidate options). Additionally, towards the end of Act II, it becomes possible to draw upon your established reputation in some dialogues: NPCs are, for instance, much more inclined to believe you if you have the Honest or Benevolent reputations (which are also leveled, so you may not be honest or benevolent enough to pass a reputation check).
  • Murder Into Malevolence: Lord Raedric is not the nicest person around, going Knight Templar about his misguided attempt to cure the Hollowborn plague in his domain. Still, if you help him secure his power base, he will ease his draconic measures after the plague is actually cured (by unrelated efforts), and prove himself a capable, if harsh ruler who will rebuild the Gilded Vale back to glory. However, if you kill him to stop his brutal ways, he will come back as a Black Knight and, if you don't kill him again, lay waste to his own old domain until nothing remains alive in it.
  • My Greatest Failure: In Gilded Vale, Wirtan asks you to recover the remains of the Eothan priests - he was the one who unwittingly sealed their fate by hiding them in their vault, not knowing that the commander would order the entrance sealed off. The player and Eder both call him out for not speaking up in the following days, which he tearfully admits to being true.
  • Mythology Gag: One pet is a Miniature Giant Space Piglet. Unlike Boo however, the piglet actually does look like it's made of the cosmos.
  • Necromancer: Necromancers aren't universally viewed as evil (except by some fringe groups) but aren't commonplace, either.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Durance muses that maybe Eothas waged the war to prevent Woedica's plot. If that is true, the Hollowborn epidemic was indeed caused by killing Eothas, not as divine punishment, but because of the destruction of the only thing that was trying to prevent it.
    • In "The White March", restoring the White Forge awakens the Eyeless to kill everyone who knows of the Forge. Unfortunately, that constitutes the entire population of the Dyrwood and Readceras.
  • No Pronunciation Guide:
    • If you know enough Italian to know that a double-"c" or "ch" is pronounced with a hard K sound unless it's followed by an E or and I (in which case it's pronounced like the "ch" in chair) and can remember that a Mayan X (as in Ixamitl) is pronounced "sh" as in share, you shouldn't have much trouble with most of the foreign languages. The common tongue of Aedyran, on the other hand?
    • Aedyran is seemingly based on a combination of Old English, Gaelic, and Norse, but this trope is actually averted with an in-game book called Aedyran Dialects. You're gonna need it. An excerpt:
      Ea creates an "ey-ah" sound that sounds like the colloquial salutation "heya!"
      Eo sounds like "ey-oh" - this sound is still used in the modern word "Eora."
      Ey is pronounced as "ey-ee" such as in "wraith."
      Ue and ü both create long "oo" sounds, as in "loop."
      Y sounds like a "ee" sounds as in "bee."
      Gj sounds like the consonant "y" as in "you."
      Sc sounds like sh, so you'd pronounce scop like "shop."
      Cg sounds like the "dge" end of a word like "hedge."
    • Not listed: the Ae in Raedric, Wael, and Skaen is pronounced as an "a" sound, as in "cat", or "hat". An A by itself, meanwhile, is pronounced more like "ah" or "aw", like in "law" or "father" (the latter still being the default pronunciation of A in most of the Romantic languages).
    • F is usually pronounced with a V sound, like in "of". One of Eora's two moons, Belafa, is pronounced beh-LAW-va. It means "beloved", fittingly enough. This also means that fampyrs are that much closer to being vampyrs, and like many of the oddly spelled words in the game, is deliberately a step in the direction of the word's real world roots.
    • The accent over the second E in Edér means it's pronounced eh-DAIR, not ED-er. (His last name, never brought up in-game, would be pronounced tey-LEDGE (Teylecg).)
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: When the Endurance bar hits zero, the character is incapacitated but can be brought back by another party member's intervention. A character's max health will be at least 4 times their max endurance, which averts Critical Existence Failure. You have to take at least four times as much damage as would knock you down (bar healing) to actually die.
  • Non Standard Game Over: There are at least two of them:
    • If you kill Lady Webb, you run out of leads and can't stop the Watcher visions from driving you mad.
    • If you try to enter the final dungeon without gaining a god's favor, you plummet to the bottom of the Court of the Penitents and die.
  • Noob Cave: Cilant Lîs, a picked-over Engwithan ruin which houses a few low-level monsters and simple puzzles, with various routes to reaching the end, serving as a testing ground for various playstyles.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Most people do not take the Leaden Key seriously, since the organization cultivates the image of a crazy but harmless cult dedicated to the fallen goddess Woedica. The Leaden Key may be crazy, but it's anything but harmless.
  • Only in It for the Money: Goldpact paladins have this as their core philosophy, seeing payment as a binding contract. However, they are known for being professional and non-judgmental.
  • Opening the Sandbox: Twice. Initially you're restricted to the town of Gilded Vale and the surrounding wilderness. Completing the first act of the main quest enables access to Defiance Bay and Dyrford village. Finishing the second act opens the way to Twin Elms.
  • 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: Ogres stand about fifteen feet tall and their cousins, the eoten, are said to be even bigger. They are also pretty intelligent but extremely aggressive and are violent to every species including their own. The few level headed ogres tend to live in solitude. You can meet one in a cave near Dyrwood and hire him to look after your keep.
  • 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.
  • The Paladin: An intriguing take on the trope as well. Paladins in Pillars of Eternity don't dedicate themselves to gods or churches, they instead are organised into distinct orders, each dedicated to particular causes which emphasizes certain virtues and personality traits in recruits.
    • The Shieldbearers of St. Elcga are probably the closest to the traditional Lawful Good D&D paladin, emphasizing kindness, honesty, and diplomacy over cruelty and aggression.
    • Goldpact Knights are stoic, professional mercenary types.
    • Kind Wayfarers are all about protecting travelers and caravans out in the wilds.
    • Bleak Walkers are dreaded warriors feared for their willingness to end a war decisively though ruthless tactics.
    • Darcozzi Paladini are Old Vailian loyalists, selflessly dedicated to their country.
  • Party of Representatives: The party members are said to "cover a good range of culture and religion and factions in the game". Your companions happen to be: an elven wizard nobleman with a split personality, a war veteran who follows a dead god, the majorly politically incorrect priest responsible for killing said god, an Orlan druid with a very dirty sense of humor, a young naive Aumauan chanter, a cipher midwife who's set up a Perception Filter on herself, a Vailian avian Godlike paladin tired of political intrigue, and a boreal dwarf ranger searching for the reincarnation of her village's previous elder. The expansion adds three more: a convicted criminal inhabiting a bronze golem, a shroom-popping monk who's a Combat Sadomasochist, and an Aumauan barbarian ex-raider-turned-giftbearer searching for a hidden temple.
  • Pelts of the Barbarian:
    • Sagani, a boreal dwarf ranger from the icy, far southern island of Naasitaq, who comes to you dressed in midriff-baring furs and hides.
    • Oddly averted by Maneha, the actual Barbarian character introduced in White March Part II. Her default unique armor is fancy bling gathered during her days as a pirate and raider.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Following the animancy hearing in Act II, Brackenbury Sanitarium is burnt to the ground by anti-animancy rioters. Completing Aloth's personal quest, finding a buyer for the Engwithan Sceptre, and confronting Moedred during "A Voice from the Past" require you to visit the Sanitarium. In a subversion, the riots also give the Leaden Key sufficient cover to murder every cipher in Hadret House — with the sole exception of Kurren, who, in a stroke of luck, was out on an errand when the massacre occurred. This means the Watcher can still receive or turn in the quest "The Final Act" if you return to Dunryd Row after visiting Twin Elms.
    • Various locations in Part I of The White March are altered or rendered inaccessible in Part II (most notably Durgan's Battery and the temple in Stalwart village), which necessitates thorough exploration and quest resolution before proceeding with the story.
  • Philosophical Choice Endings:
    • "What should become of the millions of souls who have been locked out of reincarnation?" The game is set in the world where Reincarnation of souls is a stone-cold fact and revolves around the Hollowborn plague—a mystical malady that causes children in Dyrwood to be born without souls. As the Watcher investigates the plague, it becomes apparent that the Leaden Key cult is stealing those souls from the reincarnation cycle, and they set out to stop them. In the ending, the Watcher must decide what becomes of the thousands, if not millions of souls stolen by the Leaden Key from the cycle of reincarnation during the Hollowborn Plague. You can return them to their original bodies, return the souls to the reincarnation cycle, use their essence to strengthen the living souls of Dyrwood, destroy them completely, grant them to Woedica in exchange for taking Thaos' place as her favored, or cast them into realms unknown even to yourself.
    • In the White March, the ultimate question is whether or not the Eyeless should rejoin Abydon, restoring his memories and making him once more the god of preservation. With the Eyeless at their mercy, the Watcher can choose to permit this, utterly deny them at Ondra's behest or, with strong enough philosophical arguments (which may be impossible if the Watcher has been too hypocritical to be convincing), compromise and allow the Eyeless to rejoin and restore Abydon while also tempering his memories with additional context he'd otherwise be lacking.
  • Physical God: Eothas was this during the Saint's War. He was made painfully aware of the drawbacks that come with walking the earth in physical form.
  • Physical Religion: The powers that gods grant their priests are undeniably real. Occasionally the gods even deign to speak directly to mortals and there are places built specifically for such communion. However, it turns out the gods were not always real. Indeed, the ancient Engwithans built the gods out of ideals to fill that void and bring order to the chaos. Before them there were thousands of different beliefs, many of them heinous and barbaric.
  • Player Headquarters: The player ends up gaining rulership of the stronghold Caed Nua relatively early on in the game, which serves as 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 carry with them, and the stash. The former two categories have limited capacity but the last one is unbound. However, on Expert mode, items in the stash are only accessible while in cities or camping. It is always possible to send items to the stash, though.
  • 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.
  • Precision F-Strike: One of the ways the PC can react when they first meet Aloth.
    PC: Well you did just tell him to go fuck his sister.
  • Precursors: The Engwithan civilization existed roughly 2000 years before the events of the game. They had unparalleled understanding of how souls work and their ruins still litter the land, most prominently in Eir Glanfath. The Glanfathan culture is based around protecting these sites from outsiders. It's a task their forebears were given by the Engwithans ages ago, presumably to prevent anyone from learning the truth behind the origin of the gods. Interestingly it is implied that Engwithan science and technology actually was less developed than modern Eoran in many areas — it is just that animancy and soulmagic have very broad applicability.
  • Pride: Lord Gathbin's fatal flaw. First he tries to gain ownership of your castle, Caed Nua, by citing his ancestral right to the land. The local authority rules in his favor, but orders him to compensate you for reclaiming and restoring the castle. But he rejects the ruling because he's too proud to give money to a "peasant" like you. Then he tries to assemble an army to seize Caed Nua by force, but he's a jerk to his underlings, allowing you to potentially get Captain Emery to turn on him. Not to mention that his mistreatment of the Chancellor and the Marshal are what makes the Marshal decide to help you plan for the battle against him.
  • 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. There are even a myriad of options for when the game can auto-pause during combat in order to make it more "turn-based".
  • Reforged Blade: Near the end of the White March Part II, you retrieve a fragment of a god's shattered hammer and use it to forge a replica scaled to mortal use.
    • The Endless Paths have four pieces of a broken sword scattered throughout its level than can be crafted in a powerful estoc sword by the right smith.
  • Reincarnation: One of the central ideas of the game.
  • Relationship Values: Two forms.
    • The game eschews individual Influence stats à la Obsidian's earlier titles Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Neverwinter Nights 2, and Alpha Protocol. Instead, much like their BioWare predecessors, your companions will open up to you and share more stories as you travel with them.
    • The Disposition stat is a variant, essentially a measure of the Watcher's personality traits. This affects some interactions with NPCs. It's also a key stat for paladins, whose powers are either improved or penalized by certain Dispositions, depending on the order chosen at character creation: for example, a Shieldbearer of St. Elcga will benefit from Diplomatic and Honest, and take penalties for Aggressive and Cruel.
  • Renovating the Player Headquarters: One early story mission has the player assume control of an old keep, able to renovate and upgrade it extensively over time. It can add merchants, resting opportunities, and a treasury.
  • Sadistic Choice: At the end of White March part 2, in order to stop the Eyeless army, you or one of your party members must sacrifice themselves by repeatedly smashing a life-draining crystal. Whoever does this is Deader Than Dead, which obviously means Game Over of the Watcher is chosen. There are ways out, however:
    • With very high stats and very careful choices, it is possible to destroy the crystal without anyone dying.
    • Alternatively, you can just choose Devil of Caroc to stay behind. Being a golem animated by a soul, she doesn't really care about being crushed by rocks and sinking to the bottom of a frozen lake. She just shrugs it off and walks along the lake bed back to shore.
  • Samus Is a Girl: According to Aloth, the split personality in his head with the reckless and uncouth demeanor is a woman named Iselmyr. You might pick up on this early if you hear his choice of epithets.
  • 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. This setting appears in the finished game as the entrance to Cliaban Rilag ruins.
  • Science Is Bad: One of the main themes of this game is whether this is true or not, as the animancers of Dyrwood unlock the secrets of reincarnation and the soul. The Big Bad believes in this trope wholeheartedly, as science might lead to discovering the truth of the gods. Interestingly, the endings tend to agree with him on this subject, at least in the short term: as is common in Obsidian games, it's a question of whether conflict is worth sacrificing peace if it leads to progress, and whether that progress is worthwhile or even desirable given the loss of life and innocence it entails. There's a tug-of-war dynamic throughout the game, and in the Multiple Endings, a For Science! attitude on the player's part often leads to endings that are apparently worse than otherwise, as Magitek unsurprisingly leads to more war and social upheaval, rather than any immediate immediate prosperity... although this is in no small part due to the intervention of traditionalist elements, including the gods themselves.
  • Sea Monster: While they do not appear as enemies in game, sea monsters actively impede the overseas exploration of the setting, and most of them are pretty nasty.
    • You finally find one in The White March II, where the final boss you have to defeat is a Kraken.
  • Seen It All: In Twin Elms, when you encounter two delemgan ladies, you can comment on their otherworldly beauty. One of them will scoff that you couldn't find the sensitive spots even if a herbalist drew you a map, while the other plainly states that by now, they've really heard them all.
  • Sequel Hook: Or rather, second part hooks. Part 2 of The White March is meant to deal with the consequences of what you did in Part 1, so the first part leaves several plot threads unresolved — what did attack the dwarves of Durgan's Battery? Why did they attack? What will happen now the White Forge has been reawakened again? Who ordered the attack on Concelhaut?.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • Almost all of the companion quests end this way, although most result in some related character development that can be directed by the player.
    • Hell, very few things, both in the main quest and in the side quests, end completely well. At the most, you get a Bittersweet Ending with emphasis on bitter.
    • The prologue does a good job of showing how this will be commonplace. You're given two companions: the timid, out-of-his-element rogue Heodan and the jaded, selfish fighter Calisca. There is at least half a dozen ways either of them can die throughout the prologue, and the only way to keep both alive to the end of the prologue requires passing both an Intellect check and a Dexterity check that are abnormally steep for the beginning of the game. And your reward for keeping them both alive? Having them end up dying anyway to the bîaŵac that Thaos causes once you exit the tutorial dungeon.
  • Shared Life Meter: Back in the beta, Rangers and their animal companions shared the same health and endurance pool, meaning that when one of them fell in battle, they both did. This was changed for the final game, where they both have their own separate health/endurance pools.
  • Shoot the Dog: At the end of the "Undying Heritage" quest, achieving the best ending for Heritage Hills requires destroying the Machine, which will also destroy the souls it has already trapped. Simply turning it off (thus releasing them) will allow history to repeat itself.
  • Shout Outs have their own page.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Thaos will try to lower your team's morale before the final battle but, assuming you've completed their quests, will not give him the time of day.
  • The Six Stats: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Perception, Intellect, and Resolve.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: The game features Skills, Abilities, and Talents. Each character earns six Skill points each level, and every new skill level costs one point more than the last; however, different classes and backgrounds give free levels in certain skills at character creation. Apart from improving basic in-game actions, Skills are used alongside Attributes in dialogue and scripted interactions. Abilities are class-specific perks that can be taken at every odd Character Level, while Talents are (mostly) class-independent perks earned at every even one. Abilities and Talents can be passive boosts, active abilities, or modal effects. Talents are further subdivided in Class (class-specific bonuses), Offensive (improve attacks), Defensive (improve combat defenses), and Utility (everything else). Some Talents can only be acquired as rewards for completing certain side quests.
  • Snuff Film: You can uncover a medieval version of this: a troupe of actors performs plays where unsuspecting extras are murdered for the amusement of noble patrons.
  • The Soulless: This is what defines the Hollowborn. In recent years an increasing number of children in Dyrwood have been born without a soul which makes them catatonic. Attempts to remedy this have had disastrous results like trying to give them an animal soul, which seemed to work, until the children hit puberty and became feral and violent, turning into what are now called wichts.
  • Soul Power:
    • Watchers mostly just like to watch, but it is also possible to draw upon the soul energy around them in a variety of ways — frightening and distracting others, sure, but also exorcising spirits, or, as in Maerwald's case, manifesting memories into phenomena which are visible to others, and spirits which can actually attack those around them.
    • All magic in the game is based on channeling the power of the soul.
  • Spell Book:
    • Wizards carry grimoires, which contain the spells they can cast. However, rather than memorizing their spells like wizards in D&D, wizards in Pillars don't forget their spells after casting them. They have a limited number of casts per spell level per day based on the amount of soul energy they can bring to bear, with their grimoires being used as the focus of their spells, the inks and pages being crafted out of special materials, with the various magic formulae required to make the spell function outlined on the page. The wizard simply controls the in-and-out flow of magic so as to keep the grimoire from destroying itself.
    • It's possible to equip multiple grimoires to the wizard's quick slot, which allows them to swap out their spell selection on the fly. It's possible to commit certain spells largely to memory (either choosing them at each new Character Level or by spending time and coin to learn them by heart), which allows them to be inscribed into additional grimoires.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Vithrack are humanoid arachnids with Psychic Powers, capable of turning kith into mind-controlled thralls. Some of the ones you can encounter are potentially friendly, but they're all pretty creepy.
  • 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. In addition, a stretch goal added the lead writer for Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer to the team, and the gameworld's emphasis on souls seems to take cues from MotB's plot.
  • Squishy Wizard:
    • Downplayed. Wizards can wear heavy armor (though it slows down spellcasting) and a character's endurance/health (this game's version of hit points) depends on a combination of Constitution and class type. Barbarians and Fighters have only about 1.5 to 1.2 times the health of a Wizard with the same attribute scores.
    • As of 2.0, the right set of spells can allow a wizard to serve just fine as a melee damage character, with conjured weapons and buffs negating their lower Endurance, Health, Accuracy and Deflection. They still can't tank, however, since they can't engage multiple targets as well as a fighter or mark/brand enemies like a paladin.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: If you manage to get to Lord Raedric without alerting any guards (a process that involves traversing monster-infested sewers, stealing several priest robes, avoiding the notice of guards who can pierce your disguise, and making contact with Kolsc's inside man), then when you confront Raedric, he'll have less guards than he would have if you had just stormed the place, making the fight slightly easier. Slightly.
  • Sterility Plague: What Waidwen's Legacy has done to much of Dyrwood, less in the sense of people unable to give birth, more that so many children are hollowborn that the nation's population is in danger of collapsing.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: The White Marches: Part II DLC added a "Story Time" difficulty setting. This doesn't make any changes to the encounter composition used in its regular lower difficulties, but the RNG is deliberately made to be more in the player's favor.
  • Sturgeon's Law: The quality of the vignettes for the backer-written NPCs varies. There's some legitimately interesting gems to be found, but a significant percentage are pretty cookie-cutter: unstoppable badasses, perfectly cunning rogues, et cetera.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: If you have both parts of the "White March" expansion pack installed and beat the game with only the first part complete, the last epilogue slide reveals that, shortly after thwarting Thaos, you were killed when the Eyeless razed the Dyrwood.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Wizards and animancers both take a scientific and rational approach to studying Soul Power.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: NPCs tend to boast about how they're going to kill you before you fight them...even when you grossly outnumber them.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: In the endgame of the White March Part II, you use a fragment of the smith god Abydon's hammer to forge a kith-scaled replica. The hammer is the key to dealing with the threat of the Eyeless and is the perfect tool for defeating them as well. Even better, finishing the main quest of the expansion brings out the hammer's full power, making it one of the most powerful weapons in the game.
  • Take Your Time: "The Battle of Yenwood Field". Lord Gathbin won't besiege Caed Nua until you tell the Marshal that you are ready for battle.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Both of Aloth's endings are like this. Steering him towards authority causes him to take Thaos' place as grandmaster of the Leaden Key. Steering him towards independence causes him to destroy Thaos' garments and use his knowledge of the Leaden Key in order to permanently destroy the group by himself.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Members of the Godlike player race were blessed before birth by one or more deities, the fringe benefits including: inhuman physical appearances that may or may not result in the Godlike being killed not long after birth; sterility/infertility, which can as good as kill off noble bloodlines; strange powers, even in a world where magic exists; and varying reactions from each civilization as to whether or not they're a blessing or a curse.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The PC goes through this for the first hour or two of the game, not including their custom Back Story. As the game progresses, only the sheer amount of side quests and things to do outside the main plot keeps it from becoming a permanent thing. No sleep for the Watcher, indeed.
  • The Undead: All undead, called vessels in this universe, were living beings who somehow had their soul unnaturally linked to their body, either through the older, purely-magical process of necromancy or later and "earlier", in a few Engwithan cases through more scientific "animancy". After death their bodies and minds decay, with the different stages of decay being a variant of undead:
    • Fampyrs are the most-recently alive. They are really no different from a normal person aside from a strong craving for still-living or fresh-killed kith flesh, which is the only substance that can keep their minds lucid and their bodies from decayingnote . Even regularly fed, they are only delaying the inevitable next state of undeath.
    • 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 falling out, and bestial behavior.
    • Revenants are visibly rotting, the skin having sloughed away and even the muscle beginning to lose form. Of the minds, 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 to which the soul will still be bound.
    • Wichts, which are the result of trying to attach animal souls to children born otherwise soulless, also essentially count as "vessels" (corporeal undead) for the purposes of things like Priest abilities. They begin... mostly fine... but are hideously warped when they reach puberty, turning into slavering, fang-mouthed monstrosities. Unlike the other examples, these can only be created by animancers.
    • Engwithan animats also fall under the wider banner and are affected by Priest abilities, as they are suits of armor with a soul attached to them and used by the Engwithans as guardians. They're unfortunately quite aggressive to all non-Engwithans, which is now everyone.
    • Liches are an extremely rare variant of undead, mostly because the people who know how to become one tend to be very secretive about it. What is known is that it involves doing something with your soul and a phylactery, and that the result is a being that has the physical but not the mental degeneration of the standard undead chain (hence why they tend to be skeletons in appearance).
    • In the same vein as the animats, the Battery Sentries defending the White Forge are constructs animated by the souls of the dwarves who once inhabited Durgan's Battery.
    • When someone with a Knight Templar mindset dies like Lord Raedric, they sometimes return as a powerful Deathguard. Like most of the other undead, it's only a matter of time before they lose their minds. Curiously, it does not seem like any necromancy or animancy is necessarily involved — it's simply a matter of their souls being so strongly bound to the world by their zeal that they cannot return to the Wheel of souls to be reincarnated normally. This is left somewhat ambiguous, as Raedric was a devoted follower of Berath, god of death and cycles — but had also employed any number of animancers, necromancers, Watchers, and others who manipulate souls in his bid to end the Hollowborn crisis, some of whom, like Osyra, showed themselves capable of deliberately animating undead vessels. Having also been a paladin in life, with all the powers that entails, may have also played a part in his resurrection. Ultimately, like many stories in the game, we're left without a single certain in-universe explanation.
  • Unobtainium: Durgan Steel. It can only be made in the White Forge, a divinely empowered forge, which has been dormant for centuries. One unique weapon is renowned just because it was the last known weapon forged at the White Forge and is called "The Last Blade of the White Forge". Part I of the White March expansion ends with you restarting the Forge, allowing you to make refined Durgan Steel ingots which can be used to upgrade your weapons and armor. Part II is about dealing with the consequences of awakening the forge.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Sun in Shadow. Complete with mandatory welcoming scene.
  • 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 several states struggling for dominance in the old heartland as well as a powerful federation of independent city-states in the old colonies, 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.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Considering that you can earn a reputation for being cruel, the game offers a lot of occasions for the Watcher to act like an amoral Jerkass, if not like a complete monster:
    • Instead of going through the boy's request in Defiance Bay to get him a dagger in exchange for a secret, you can simply assault him to get him to reveal it. If Grieving Mother is in your party, she will call you out.
    • If your Cruel reputation is high enough, the pool of blood in Skaen's temple will make you an interesting offer: the life of one companion, doomed to an eternity inside the pool, in exchange for a permanent status buff. The surviving ones won't even know you're responsible (though Durance will immediately suspect). Try to sacrifice anyone but Grieving Mother and watch your companions react in horror. Try to sacrifice Grieving Mother... and watch your companions fail entirely to notice because of Grieving Mother's glamour and have silly reactions (including Durance scratching his buttock and burping, and Edér talking about eating some roasted chicken) while Grieving Mother chokes on her own blood and her soul joins the pool to suffer for eternity.
  • Villain Decay: The wichts actually get this very quickly — very early in the game they are played up as very dangerous and monstrous, and you're probably going to be worried about encountering them in the wild. And then you do, AND!... while they do have increased move speed and decent attack stats (including a very high attack rate), since they're still essentially unarmored pre-teen kids, their defensive stats are garbage and, biggest of all, they have virtually no Endurance to speak of. They're incredibly easy take out in packs with a single wizard spell or Priest ability. Of course, that leads to a whole other kind of creepiness.
  • Villain Has a Point: Osrya, Raedric's animancer, is a sly lady who fell from grace, who tortures people and creates undead. However, she is genuinely trying to find a cure to Waidwen's Legacy. Her analysis of the situation and of the nature of the curse is also completely spot-on, as she is the closest to the truth than anyone else you may have met before.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The druid class has the ability to shapeshift into various animal forms at will, such as giant humanoid cats. Galawain, as well.
  • War God: Magran, who pulls double duty as goddess of fire and whose priests are known to employ firearms and explosives.
  • Weird Currency: The non-Gold Silver Copper monetary systems, including things like the White Forge Gears and scrimshaw fish bones used in Stalwart, and the carved discs of adra used by the Glanfalthans.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • The Bleak Walkers Paladin are more or less this. They tend to take aggressive and ruthless solutions to end conflicts as fast as possible.
    • The Cult of Skaen has some shades. They want to punish a nobleman for raping and impregnating his niece by using even more horrible method to achieve it: infusing said niece with souls of tortured slaves to make her kill her family and destroy her family name. This way they also strike fear among the nobility, reminding that their corruption does not go unnoticed.
    • Raedric also qualifies as well. He killed and hanged all failed animancers, Snake Oil Salesman, Eothasians and other people whom he believes worsen the Hollowborn curse. However, he is genuinely trying his hardest to find a cure for Gilded Vale and his family. He also says that his extreme policy will be relaxed when the plague is over and, assuming he survives and Kolsc is dealt with, he makes good on his word in the ending.
  • Woman Scorned: Sagani's been away from her village for 5 years on her mission, leaving behind her husband and five children.
    Watcher: Aren't you worried your husband will...
    Sagani: Are you kidding? I'm the best shot in Massuk.
  • World of Snark: While the frequency varies, with Hirvias and Edér being the true standouts, every non-generic party member (save for Grieving Mother and possibly the Watcher) finds themselves at least occasionally indulging in witty quips. A fair number of the non-party characters fire off their share of jests as well.
  • Wretched Hive:
    • Ondra's Gift, the harbor district of Defiance Bay. It's been a high crime district where the Crucible Knights are afraid to patrol ever since it was flooded during the War of Defiance. One quest involves a woman who's building an inn to try and temper this. As she says, when even pirate captains refuse to visit your brothel, you know you have a crime problem.
    • If you kill Lord Raedric twice, then Gilded Vale becomes one of these since it has no lord to enforce the laws. However, the people still prefer this to Raedric's tyranny.
  • You ALL Share My Story: Before the Final Battle, the Big Bad claims that the only reason the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits follows the Watcher is that none of them has a purpose in life and tries to Break Them by Talking to weaken their resolve.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: The Watcher gains ownership of Caed Nua by killing its current lord. The 3.0 patch adds a quest chain where your claim is contested by another lord with a more legal, although old, claim. The authorities rule in his favour but request that he pay compensation to you since you were the one who cleared out the keep and restored it, which leads to him storming out in anger. Since he rejected the judgement, your claim stands. It still ends up somewhere in this trope, as the lord then tries various means to get Caed Nua anyway... culminating in a battle and you being forced to slay him on the field.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: The somewhat counterintuitively-named fighter ability Into the Fray pulls enemies into melee range of the fighter. The descriptive text seems to suggest it's the fighter moving toward the enemy, but that's actually covered by another ability, Charge.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: Thaos' ultimate plan is to use Engwithan technology to capture thousands of souls and then to offer them to Woedica to empower her enough to become the most powerful god, subjugating the world through her.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Heritage Hill, a subdistrict of Defiance Bay, is quarantined by the Knights of the Crucible after undead started roaming the streets killing and eating almost everyone. Naturally, you can clear it out as part of the main quest. It turns out the cause of the undead infestation is an old Engwithan tower in the middle of the neighborhood containing a soul-channeling machine that was activated by the Big Bad.
    • Developer commentary on Heritage Hill explains that since Defiance Bay was mostly talking and investigating rather than pure dungeon crawling and fighting, one district was set up to be infested with The Undead to create variations in the gameplay.

Alternative Title(s): Project Eternity