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Pillars of Eternity is an isometric, party-based computer RPG set in a new fantasy world developed by Obsidian Entertainment.
Pillars of Eternity is an isometric, party-based computer RPG set in a new fantasy world developed by Obsidian Entertainment.
73,986 backers pledged $3,986,929 to help bring this project to life.

Game Basics - Your Party, Your Characters, and Races, Update #3

Posted by Obsidian Entertainment (Creator)

We've hit our first stretch goal and surpassed $1.5 million! Thank you to everyone who has made this all possible. And now, some info...

Project Eternity is still early in development and we are still working on many of the cultures, factions, and ethnic groups of the world and debating many of the system concepts. However, there are certain fundamental things we want to let you know about the game and the setting for Project Eternity.

Your Party
The maximum party size is the player's main character (PC) and up to five companions for a total of six characters. This does not preclude the addition of temporary characters in special circumstances. Companions are never forced on the player. Players can explore the entire world and its story on their own if they so choose. We feel companions are excellent sounding boards for the player's (and other companions') actions, but the story is ultimately about the player's personal conflict among the larger social and political complexities of the world.

A key element of the classic party-based tactical combat that we are developing is the use of party formations. As in the good ol' games, you can arrange your party in a large number of set formations. You can also construct your own formations if you want to get fancy. When moving companions, you have the ability to rotate formations for more precise positioning.

Character Creation
At a minimum, players will be able to specify their main character's name, sex, class, race (including subrace), culture, traits, ability scores, portrait, and the fundamental starting options of his or her class (gear, skills, and talents). We have not worked out customization details of character avatars, but we believe those are important and will be updating on these specifics in the future.

In Project Eternity, companions exist for both narrative and mechanical purposes. Companions are designed to have a driving interest in the player's central conflict. Their personalities and motivations open plot branches and generate conflicts for players to resolve over the course of the story. They are highly reactive to the player's actions and to the world around them. Additionally, companions exist to give players strategic management options in party composition that expand the party's capabilities in exploration, combat, and quest resolution. It is no coincidence that there are at least as many companions as there are classes. As stated above, companions are not required to play through Project Eternity's story, but we feel that they can add greatly to the experience.

The Set-Up
The player witnesses an extraordinary and horrific supernatural event that thrusts them into a unique and difficult circumstance. Burdened with the consequences of this event, the player has to investigate what has happened in order to free themselves from the restless forces that follow and haunt them wherever they go.

The Nature of You
Your character is not required to be of any particular race, cultural background, sex, class, moral outlook, personality, organization, etc. The premise is that you are a victim of circumstance. How you choose to deal with your situation is up to you. You can bear it with stoicism and restraint or fly off in a rage at anyone who gets in your way. The world will react to your choices, but the game is designed to give you the freedom to play your character the way you want to.

We are still developing the races of Project Eternity, but we are creating a range that encompasses the recognizable (e.g. humans, elves, dwarves), the out-of-the-ordinary (e.g. the so-called "godlike"), and the truly odd (?!). Races and subraces differ from each other culturally, but the races also have different physiological factors that can contribute to friction and confusion between them.

Within even the recognizable races (including humans), we are creating a variety of ethnic subtypes and nationalities. This world's races did not all spring forth from the same place, and millennia of independent development have resulted in distinctive and unconnected groups. For example, the dwarf ranger below, is originally from a southern boreal region that is quite different from the temperate homes of her distant kin to the north.

Additionally, Project Eternity's world contains some isolated races and ethnicities, but transoceanic exploration and cultural cohabitation have heavily mixed many racial and ethnic groups over time. This mixing is not always... peaceful. At times it has degenerated into genocide and long-standing prejudices are ingrained in many cultures.

(Mini Update: We are working on our forums, and getting Josh a better mic! :D -Adam)

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    1. BRUN0 cz on

      U could download and save gog version on dvd bro... And than install anytime u want without net connection..

    2. BRUN0 cz on

      I like Risen gameplay coz it has a nice killing and thieving system
      Do u make something similar?

    3. Missing avatar

      TipsyOne on

      I'd rather not have to choose between Steam and GOG. I'd much prefer a system like the Humble Indie Bundle where I get the convenience of a Steam key, along with a DRM-free download either directly or via torrent. I realize that hosting something indefinitely is costly, that's why I prefer the torrent option. Plus I don't have to worry about when Steam's (or GOG's) servers go offline

    4. Missing avatar

      Matthew Creelman on

      I don't see anything about a morality system in this. I'd really, really love it if the game either did away with a morality system entirely and just looked at how the player interacted with factions. Massacre an elf village? The elves will hate you, the humans will be a little uneasy, the orcs will give you high fives. Save a drowning child? Everyone thinks that that's sweet. Kick dogs? Everyone hates you.

    5. CrazedHatter - OO's Lunatic in a Hat on

      On the topic of Avatar customization, I can only make one suggestion that I really really wish more games used (They're better about it now than they used to be admittedly) but please... two things: 1st, layering. I shouldn't have to choose between wearing a cloak and wearing leather armor... a robe and armor? yes, that you choose between, but cloaks and things of that sort can go over other things. (Okay, technically a robe could too but that's a harder thing to picture) and 2nd, a visual change in the player character depending on what they're wearing. This is especially important if they find a unique set of armor or something.

      Just sayin'...

    6. Missing avatar

      descalabro on

      Considering the imagery you've already presented to us I think you should state if this is or isn't going to be set in a classical medieval-style world.

    7. Missing avatar

      Brynjar Sigurðsson on

      @ Nathan Destler It's 2D, not 3D, minimal voice acting, probably no stupidly detailed cinematics and no need for advertising the game. All those things cost a stupid amount of money. I think they'll be good with $3 million but I'm really hoping they get to $5 million, that would be so cool.

    8. Missing avatar

      Nathan Destler on

      This sounds amazing, but I'm worried the scope of the project may be greater than the budget allows. It sounds like you have some great ideas, and I really hope you get all the money you need to implement them, but we all know games cost of a lot of money. The number I find in a cursory search is $10 million on average for a single-platform AAA game. Now, it doesn't sound like you're gonna do anything too fancy in the physics and graphics departments, which may reduce that number significantly, but even so I'd estimate you're only on track for $3-4 million right now. Will that be enough to for the wonderfully ambitious project you guys have put forth? I certainly hope so, but it doesn't seem like enough to me.

    9. Missing avatar

      Ami on

      This is sounding fantastic. I'm curious, when you say that you can have five companions, do you mean total, or simply in the party at one time?

      I know I would prefer if you could recruit many more companions than the total allowed in your party, so you could switch them in and out, and customize your party as you go.. Sneaking into an aristocrat's castle? Better put the thieves in the party.. Exploring decrepit libraries filled with ancient knowledge? Better put the intellectuals and old wise men in the party..

      Incredibly excited guys, keep the updates coming.

    10. Missing avatar

      mckracken on

      werewolf rats giving your level 12 a hard time?! NO SKYRIM level scaling!!

      (no skryim features at all - this game is the most overrated game of all time)

    11. Matthew Hinz on

      I like that concept art. Kind of has a Native American vibe to it. Which I very much like.

    12. Charles Clerc on

      In agreement with Kurgar. Level scaling can be good though. I don't mind wizards getting more powerful if they've logically had time to grow in strength and this is made clear enough. Or if thieves get better gear because they ambushed the royal guard and you failed to stop them or whatever. But not systematic scaling.

      Then again this is game design 101 nowadays isn't it? Still better to voice it one time too many than not enough :)

    13. Malau on

      Close up view like Planescape Torment or zoomed out view like Baldur's Gate

    14. Malau on

      Two questions come to mind:

      Will it be big (closed up) like Planescape Torment or more like Baldur's / Icewind?
      Will the final product be DLC intensive?

    15. Missing avatar

      kurgar on

      Please, please, please, don't adapt the AI level to party size and relative strength, nothing is worse and more unrealistic than having to fight off wolves that magically get stronger as the game progresses, being as much of a threat to you when you are naked and fighting with a wood stick at the beginning than when fully equipped with epic magic armor and weapons later on. This destroys the whole point of gaining experience, leveling up and acquiring equipment/spells to have the best party possible. Someone mentioned it but please don't do it, this is awful.
      What makes the game more interesting and challenging is when sometimes you just aren't good enough to fight off the enemy, and you have to get more experienced before going back and being able to beat it. Baldur's Gate was great at this.

      I hope we will get more info on the AI soon. Besides, all you have already mentioned sounds great, if you manage to pull this off this game could be up there with the best RPGs of all time.

    16. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      What Peter Ebbesen said:
      „Not a "Temple of Elemental Evil", "Arcanum", or "Knights of the Old Republic II" , or "Alpha Protocol" product, games shining with promise but chronically buggy and frequently a pain to play, but one in which you've killed off most of the bugs before launch because [i]nobody[/i] is holding you to a release date[…]”


    17. Missing avatar

      Jamie Wroe on

      If this game is half as good as it sounds, it'll be the best game is ~10 years. Maybe even as good as the original Infinity Engine games. I have yet to hear something I don't like about this game.

    18. Missing avatar

      Fernando on

      Personally, I wonder if the game will translate into other languages​​, English is not my native language, I'm Spanish, and I wonder if it translated into my language,

    19. Missing avatar

      Comber on

      i like that dwarf

    20. IchigoRXC - Zerth of the Obsidian Order on

      @Phillip J. Woodward

      Guild Wars 2 also has a wonderful combination of World views, Gods, beliefs and technological progression. I completely agree that the races are fantastic and a unique spin on the typical races. Also, it is Sylvari.

      I have faith that they will deliver when it comes to how to make the races stand out and be unique compared to traditional fantasy. Sub races are a fantastic touch too. :D excited!

    21. Pangalactic Entertainment on

      I would love to see new spins on old ideas. Guild Wars 2 is a great example of a game that takes the, "Standard Races" and turns them into something different. You still have your similar archetypes of, Human, Small Race, Elf Race, Beast Race, and Giant Race. But, they aren't your standard races (except Humans. Instead you have the Norns which are like Asgardians from the Marvel version of Norse mythology, only they are two times the size of humans instead of the same size (giant race). The cat race Charr to take place of the beast race like Orcs. The Asura, which remind me of a gnome type race, but have a unique look and culture. And lastly the Satari (did I spell that right?) very similar to an elvish race like wood elves or something, only they are completely made of foliage.

      I think to that end it would be amazing to see new spins and unique races that fill the archetypes, but aren't the same races we've seen a million times over.

      Good luck!

    22. Missing avatar

      Jakob on

      We need infos about the languages please!!!


      Agreed wholeheartedly with the last post.

      Do away with the "standard fantasy races" give us something different, it doesn't even need to be overly original. Beast men, rock men, stuff like that works :)

    24. Missing avatar

      Christian Schaller on

      My recommendation would be to avoid the 'standard' races as far as you can. Elves, Dwarfs, Hobbits etc., just feel like a cliche these days after having been used and re-used so many times. There are so many other beings in old myth and modern stories that you should be able to build a cool range of races without them.

    25. Missing avatar

      Greenfr0G on

      Your game is definitely (DRM-free) material ;)

    26. Lars Westergren

      Steam is one of the delivery options, and if I understand it correctly having a game there means you can download it on all platforms it is available on.

    27. Missing avatar

      Brandon Bruesch on

      If possible make the female armor/skins have the potential for skirts or pants... (not at the same time of course :p ) but give us options ^_^

      Keep up the good work! I want to see this hit 2mil+

    28. Miles Osborne on

      Any update on the DRM - this will be a no go for me if DRM remains or is not clear

    29. Missing avatar

      Thomas on

      Will the Mac version be added to the rewards list? For my part, I would prefer if I could indicate that in return for my pledge I would receive a Mac, and not a PC, version of the game. After all, my PC is a 7 year old dinosaur, but I just recently invested in a brand new Mac.

    30. David Tucker on

      Woohoo $1.6 mil! GO BABY GO!

    31. IcyDeadPeople on

      Congrats on reaching $1.6 million!

      I suppose there are some happy Mac users somewhere. If you are considering some more potential stretch goals, personally I'd be thrilled if there is a way you might provide some official mod tools.

    32. Gusanito on

      Yeah, subraces! i'm so happy now.

    33. Missing avatar

      Hap Perry on

      Cute dwarf. That's some nice art. And having Subraces sounds really really cool.

    34. Missing avatar

      Harry on

      Making me want to do a playthrough of Neverwinter Nights 2... to tide me over until Thursday when Torchlight 2 is released. Can't wait for Project Eternity to get some gameplay shown! Good luck guys and thanks for keeping faith with us core RPG gamers!

    35. fredgiblet on


      A New Game+ mode might be cool

    36. Missing avatar

      Empirimancer on

      One thing I'd love would be making the game so we can keep playing with our characters after the main storyline is over.

    37. fredgiblet on


      I don't think we have a lot to worry about as far as that goes, check the $1000 tier

    38. Michael Morfeld on

      Yeah, it was like "Obsidian announces a new game..." and my wallet was out.

    39. Missing avatar

      Armitage on

      Everything sounds great so far. But how about the had made item icons a la Baldurs Gate? I hate these new-fashioned 3-D models or text lists of items like in Skyrim (which is a great game apart of that)

    40. Anthony Gosselin on

      shut up and take my money Obsidian !

      You had me at "six characters"

      well, actually, you had me much sooner than that ^_^

    41. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      @Jonathan - awesome comment - "Plant people? Thundercats? Biker mice from mars?" - lol!

    42. Matthew Katcoff on

      Everything sounds great so far, especially having 5 companions. That said, since this isn't TB, I hope the companions have either really good AI or the game has really good auto-pausing so our companions are actually useful in combat.

    43. Missing avatar

      Flump - the flying turtle on

      My personal preference would be for longer game with more elaborate areas (as money permits). A lot of newer games have these hubs with stepping points to mini area; a format which I find rather dull (nwn 2 zehir is a prime example as well as dragon age 2 and to a much lesser extent even icendale 2). Wizardry 8 had a rather nice open world (though section were a bit smallish) and bg2 was for the most part quite decent though sections were a bit cramp. Anyways I think races and classes are nice but I rather have 4 limited classes of 3 races and a masterful story with elaborate areas than 20 races with 90 sub classes and a 10 minute da2 map.

    44. Jhonrock on

      THAT IS a worthy stretch goal. Obsidian games suffer badly from bugs. Jesus, i still remember the bad times i had playing Neverwinter Nights 2 and Fallout New Vegas. Many times i had to use console commands to get out of broken quests, because i got stuck with scripts that not started. Sometimes, i had to skipp big parts of the quest story because of those broken scripts.
      Ps.: Even having these problems, i really, really, really LOVED these games. Two of the best games i ever played in my life. Oh man, so much love and hatred... kkkkkkkk....

    45. Matt Jones on

      I'd just like to congratulate both Obsidian on a successful Kickstarter (so far, at least) and all the fans for rallying behind in the way that they have.

      With regards to the fantasy races controversy, I'd just like to say that using LotR-esque fantasy races is not limiting in and of itself. It merely provides certain codified tropes upon which a competent storyteller can hang their own interpretation -- which may be a hell of a subversion of the traditional concept. While the concept of 'dwarf' calls to mind 'squat, bearded people who live in mountains and are often craftsmen', there's a hell of a lot of room for maneuver with regards to political systems, religious life, *why* they are as they are and similar.

      In short: it's convenient shorthand. It provides new players with a way in to Obsidian's world while still allowing the writers a great deal of freedom. Just look at Katherine Kerr's Deverry cycle, for example, to see that something quite new and interesting can be created while still sticking to a certain basic formula. An all-new world with nothing fitting in to a player's established frame of reference can be quite difficult to take in, so I can completely understand why they'd choose this direction.

      Have faith, people!

    46. Archon on

      oops, misread : the class is still here. My bad.

    47. Archon on

      Assuming this project will reach all his initial stretch goals, that would be 5 races with many subraces.
      Having the 3 traditional / recognisable Fantasy races along with 2 new ones sounds like a good compromise.
      7 companions with 1 per class is more subject to worry IMO. If they really have strong personalities and interactions, how will we deal with companions we absolutely dislike if their class suit perfectly the party strategy ?
      I mean, let's say I have a Paladin in my party. He's the tank, always on the front line, so I really need his Paladin's talents BUT I can stand his lawful-good personality ( that's just an example, I know PE won't use D&D alignment ). As there is no other Paladin available, I can't just fire/kill/get him lost in the forest...
      Anyway, the name ( Shalani ?) and the class ( Ranger ) of the female dwarf were removed from the update, so I assume they're not final. Too bad, I like this name.

    48. Peter Ebbesen on

      Extended/Expanded/Enlarged QA schedule/testing/team. THIS would be a worthy stretch goal.

      Use this chance, this *one* chance, to get things right with QA and deliver us a polished product.

      Not a "Temple of Elemental Evil", "Arcanum", or "Knights of the Old Republic II" , or "Alpha Protocol" product, games shining with promise but chronically buggy and frequently a pain to play, but one in which you've killed off most of the bugs before launch because [i]nobody[/i] is holding you to a release date, forcing you to release early, or any of the other reasons/excuses for delivering tragically shoddy products in the past, that could have been so much more with extra work by the QA department.

    49. Jhonrock on

      I'm really fine with the classic medieval fantasy races. What do you want? Plant people? Thundercats? Biker mice from mars?