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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.


Posted by Obsidian Entertainment (Creator)

By Tim Cain, Senior Code Wizard and Systems Designer

Hello! I have spent much of my time for the last few weeks devoted to making the game’s stronghold system, which was one of our Kickstarter project’s biggest stretch goals, into one of the best systems in the game. Josh has created an amazing and detailed stronghold design, with lots of upgrades and activities and random events that really make owning a stronghold fun and exciting. I want to spend this update explaining what we have made in the game, but first, let’s talk about the stronghold itself.

First, a caveat: I am going to describe the stronghold as it is currently designed. This design is mostly programmed already too, but as with all development, it might change as we finish the art and audio, fix any bugs, and tune the game play. So please view this as a snapshot of the stronghold development as it exists today.

You will be offered the stronghold early in the game, before you finish Act 1. But the stronghold itself is old and dilapidated, and you will want to upgrade it as soon as you can. These upgrades will, in turn, open up new activities and events that can happen, which will make the stronghold a dynamic and fun place to own.

So let’s go through the many reasons why you will want to have a stronghold.


There are five bonuses you will receive for getting and upgrading your stronghold.

  1. Resting bonuses. Some of the upgrades to your stronghold will grant temporary bonuses to your attributes or non-combat skills when you rest there. As examples, you can build Training Grounds to improve your Strength or a Library to improve your Lore skill. Some of these upgrades are expensive, but you’re worth it.
  2. Adventures for idle companions. You will eventually have more companions than will fit in your party, so you will have leave some of them behind. While they are idling away at the stronghold, they can take part in their own adventures, earning additional experience for themselves and extra money, items and reputation bonuses for you!
  3. Ingredients. Many of the stronghold upgrades will generate ingredients used by non-combat skills. For example, Botanical Gardens create Survival ingredients over time, and a Curio Shop produces ingredients for use by both Lore and Mechanics.
  4. Special offers. Sometimes visitors to your stronghold will have rare items for sale, or perhaps they will offer you items in return for something else. Pay attention to these visitors. Some of these items may be nearly impossible to find any other way!
  5. Wealth. Don’t forget that by owning a stronghold, you also own all of the surrounding lands and impose a tax on all of the inhabitants. It will feel nice for a change to have someone recognize your high standing and give you the money that you so richly deserve.

These bonuses all sound great, right? Well, they are great, but they are just the passive benefits from owning and upgrading a stronghold. There are a lot of activities you can do too, once you take possession of your stronghold.

Tim in his typical Stronghold creation attire.


First and foremost, when you get your stronghold, you are going to want to upgrade it. Upgrades are improvements to various parts of the castle, usually to add to the security or prestige of the place. Security affects how much taxes you collect as well as helps reduce the number of “bad” random events, while prestige increases the number of “good” random events as well as increasing tax collections, too. Upgrades can also serve as prerequisites for other upgrades. For example, you cannot build your Training Grounds (and get your Strength bonus after resting at the stronghold) until you have repaired the inner bailey of the stronghold.

Every upgrade costs money and takes time to build, but as long as you have the prerequisites completed, you can have as many upgrades building simultaneously as you can afford. And you don’t have to wait at the stronghold while they are built, either. You can continue adventuring, and you will be notified when they are built.

You can begin collecting taxes from your populace as soon as you gain the stronghold. The amount of taxes you collect increases with your prestige (because people know of you and like you), but the amount also increases with higher security, since some taxes are lost to banditry. You will want to keep both of those values high.

You can also employ hirelings to stay at your stronghold. These people will provide bonuses to your prestige and security, but they cost money to employ. Some will leave your castle if you stop paying them, but others will wait around to get paid again (but not provide any bonuses until they are).

If you have cleared the dungeon and built a prison under your stronghold, then when you are fighting some of the named NPC’s in the game, you will be given an option to take them prisoner instead of killing them. Prisoners are kept in a cell in your prison, where you can visit them and talk to them, and occasionally use them as leverage later in the game. But you will need to keep your security level high, or you might suffer from a prison break! Finally, several upgrades will produce ingredients used by non-combat skills. This feature, along with upgrades that can improve your skills, makes your stronghold a great place to craft and store items. You can stop by your castle occasionally and make food, potions, scrolls, armors and weapons, and any that you don’t need immediately can be stored in chests and other containers in a variety of places around the stronghold. You know, in case of an emergency. Which brings us to random stronghold events.

Random Events

As you play the game after getting the stronghold, whether or not you are physically there, you will be told if a random event happens at the stronghold. Sometimes, you will need to deal with the event immediately, but usually you are given some time to decide what to do.

The most common event at your stronghold is having a visitor arrive. There are all kinds of visitors, but they all share one thing. They can adjust your prestige and/or security just by being at your stronghold. Some visitors are wonderful and give good bonuses, and you will want them to stay as long as possible. Some of these visitors can even be employed as hirelings and will stay on as long as you pay them. Others are not so great, and you will want to offer them one of your companions to act as an escort to their next location, or perhaps simply pay them to leave. Some visitors will offer rare items for sale, and some might even offer a very rare item in exchange for one of the prisoners in your dungeon. As you can see, visitors require some decision making on your part.

As mentioned above, your idle companions can take part in adventures as those events arise. You will be informed of what adventures are available, how long they will last, and what the rewards will be (in general terms). If you send a companion on an adventure, he or she is unavailable until they complete it and return with the rewards. You can recall any companions early, but then they earn nothing. Why would you ever want to recall them then? Because your stronghold can get attacked!

Attacks are the most potentially dangerous of all stronghold events. Occasionally troublemakers (of various sorts) will decide to attack your castle. You will be warned ahead of time of any such attack, so you can return to the stronghold and take part in it directly, if you want. Otherwise, the attack is simulated and you are told the results. A well-defended stronghold can repel any but the most concerted attacks, but there is always a chance of damage which can destroy upgrades, kill hirelings, and cost money. The threat of attacks is the most important reason to keep your security level as high as you can afford.

I hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek into the world of Project Eternity and the role your stronghold will play in the game. No matter how you play the game, your stronghold is certain to provide many benefits and also be a lot fun too!

Head over to our forums and let us know what you think.

Dmitry Eliseev, nurotec, and 3 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Romiras - Super Mutant of Obsidian Order on

      Hey guys, I didn't track progress on this project for quite some time, Did Obsidian send the backer survey, or have the backers website up and running? It's being pretty long time since they were funded...

    2. Benjamin Lee on

      FINALLY! A game that lets me take prisoners for once!

      This is a great update. Sounds absolutely entertaining. Keep up the great work, guys!

    3. Anna Henriksson on

      I am so excited about this! :D

      I'd like some events or quests related to the villagers/peasants/populace/whatever-you-call-them. Part of the fun of having a stronghold is ruling over the land, a la Baldur's Gate 2 or Dragon Age: Awakening.

    4. thenthomwaslike on

      very cool! i would love to see some swindlers, snakeoil salesmen, and religious zealots come to my door to kick off some cool sidequests too. golden opportunity there!

    5. Samet Timuçin on

      Superb update and nice tip: Clear the dungeon and build a prison first, then do the rest. Got it.

    6. Missing avatar

      paydirt76 on

      @everybody: Don't lose your mind about this update. #firstworldproblems This ain't the developers first rodeo. This is an awesome update, plain and simple.

    7. Alekcsandr on

      I ask forgiveness for my English.
      It is possible to unite Player House and Mega Dungeon will turn out a remarkable place.

    8. wererogue on

      Strongholds sound awesome! So here's the game design question:
      Is having a stronghold or not *really* a valuable choice? Why *wouldn't* I want a stronghold? What value will choosing not to have a stronghold bring to my playthrough?

      Will the rest of the game be harder? Will there be characters that don't trust landowners? I can see that having a stronghold would give me responsibilities that a non-owner wouldn't have to worry about.

    9. Missing avatar

      Stefan V

      Can you upgrade the countryside too? With windmills and suchs things?

    10. James on

      Nothing but happiness for this! All extremely well thought out. My only hint of caution is that I'd be wary of dealing with too much Stronghold micro-management while I'm in some atmospheric dungeon! Are there likely to be some precautions against this?

    11. Jonathan Rodgers on

      i love the update. the prison sounds amazing and i am sad that i wasn't aware of pc gaming in neverwinter's and BG era.

      For minor events i could see a simple prompt. for major events or attacks. It would be rather odd to get a message that your stronghold is under attack then getting there at the start of the battle. I Think having the option to take control of party members (hirelings) during attacks would be interesting.

      As for prison breaks. Will there be a side quest to have a party member try and re-catch said escapee. Would we be able to take on that quest as well as any other side quest.ourselves.

      Can I put a vote in for public executions. Some times you have to quell the masses through fear, and sometimes you just want to play an evil heartless bastard.

    12. gandalf.nho

      Looking very good. Sounds like a combination of the better aspects of the strongholds of both BG 2 and NWN 2

    13. Azureblaze on

      This sounds GREAT. LOL @ the original D&D SSI Stronghold box art background!! Memories!

    14. Missing avatar

      Jonathan Grant on

      That sounds seriously amazing guys.

    15. Missing avatar

      Greenfr0G on

      Hello Tim & Obsidian Ensemble,

      I liked the update, I suppose people who like this kind of thing will be pleased, but I am now little bit concerned - does those notifications pops-up every time, regardless where you are in a game world? Say, you´re in a dungeon, you know that you won´t be leaving for at least an hour (or can´t because of story related events - you can´t leave the dungeon until you do this or that) or so, yet you´ll receive notification that your fort has been attacked. My pick with this is that this creates unnecessary tension (necessity to manage a fort in general), which draws me away from actual gameplay (from role-playing into management), which I don´t like very well.

      I never understood an urge having a house in RPG´s, since I always carry everything I need with myself and I am selling the rest. Having to look over fort detracts me from actual experience, but at least they´re not pesky and usually don´t require your attention, if you choose to ignore them.

      So that brings me to my questions: How often will be those unexpected attacks? Can you actually sell your fort and move in your life? Or even better, can you just have it and not having to take care of it constantly?

    16. Estelindis (Siobhán Mooney) on

      This sounds incredible. The prison is a great idea. Cannot wait!

    17. Wintersong-Tempest of the Obsidian Order on

      Epic. Beta tomorrow, right? Right? (easier to ask for beta date than release one) Let's Play Project Eternity Alpha instead?

    18. Fimbul on

      Wow that's way more complex than I expected it would be. Can't wait!

    19. Missing avatar

      Karl LeDoux on

      This is my favorite update so far. I'm very pleased we were able to get the project enough funding to meet this milestone. It sounds like the PE team is doing a very nice job implementing this element into the game. I can't wait until next year to play this!

    20. Missing avatar

      alesak23 on

      I read just the first paragraph to avoid spoilers, but sounds great!

    21. zero_point_funding on

      Awesome update, love the options! Also, nice choice of background image. ;)

    22. Silver on

      Excellent update, so much to look forward to! :)

    23. Missing avatar

      Derpdragon of the Obsidian Order on

      Best update ever!

      I never expected so many features to come with the keep.

    24. Christian on

      Can we use verbs such as "to reconstruct" and "to expand" instead of "to upgrade" please? Other than that, this update sounds fantastic :)

    25. Céline .S. Sauvé on

      I'm with the people who want the Prisoner mechanic expanded. (I'd like to be able to capture non "named" NPCs and have them be *ahem* "servants" at the stronghold. Hirelings you don't have to pay.)

    26. Missing avatar

      Mateus Alves Barão on

      This has amazing potential for evil :)

    27. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      this sounds like loads of fun, can't wait to play it!

    28. Missing avatar

      Cutter on

      Oh yeah, and what if you're a right evil bastard? Can you squeeze your peasants and make their lives miserable?

    29. Missing avatar

      Cutter on

      Rather than have to come back for every little thing or passing pedlars why not have a majordomo at the castle to handle it. That is to say, you would actively take over the majordomo to deal with any small domestic affairs, make purchases, etc. Then when you and your party return you'd handle the major stuff and grab the new purchases at that point.

      Beyond that I'd also like to have a steam room, sauna, and hot tub/grotto in my castle because my crew and I like to unwind after some hard adventuring and then possibly throw a par-tay Hef style. :)

    30. Alessandro Kellis - Obsidian Order on

      Nice stuff, Tim! Keep up the good work!

    31. Olauron on

      Great update! I wonder if there are some class- or race-specific upgrades. It is also interesting to have a chance of companions' adventures success depending on their levels and mission difficulty. Not leading to death in case of failure, I think, as they should be smart enough to flee (at least check their INT or WIS! :D ).

    32. Wojciech on

      Fantastic. I look forward to Eternity far more than to Wasteland 2 or new Torment.

    33. Missing avatar

      T Stirz on

      This sounds abso-freakin-lutely amazing!

    34. Massimo Cesario on

      Really amazing. Can I suggest something?

      First, different appearance for good and evil characters, and different fornitures and rooms too, like a torture chambers (interrogation a la Inquisitor are very funny) for dark side. Alright, we want torture even for goodfellas, I admit.

      Second, I will be amazed if we could use other party members to play various roles, such as the thief as a spy (he could gain informations about crimes, smuggling, etc. to improve tax income), the fighter could be chief of security or captain of the watch, etc.

      Third, specific "chambers" (or perhaps buildings a la NWN 2) for every class, such as the the mage tower (in the stronghold as a tower for himself or in surrounding lands as a stand alone building or both, one for our PC if he's a mage and the other for party member? Pleeeeeease) to do spell and magic research, identyfing magic items, etc. That's to mimic Baldur's Gate II class specific "strongholds" (thieves guild for thieves, theatre for bards, etc.).

      Third "B". It'd be great to have our party members live their lives running a thieves guild, a monk monastery (for monks) or an entire church (for priests/clerics) or a mercenary force (like Flaming Fist, for warriors), etc. The PC can obviously hire their services in particular situations such as an attack. So they don't have to stay at our Stronghold or adventuring all the time.

    35. Richard on

      While I think most of this update sounds pretty good (love the prison idea) I gotta say I'm disappointed not to see any mention of decisions you have to make about your lands. This is something that was in BG2 and those were fun little decisions that would really make you feel like you were a lord, instead of some guy with a pretty big house. Especially in a game that's all about reactivity, wouldn't it be great to see political choices you make work out on the way your lands look?

    36. Missing avatar

      Eurician on

      Amazing update.

      and alexandra is right: a letter from the castle would be a good thing, maybe like in Baldurs Gate 2. And with a time Delay which grows proportional to your Distance to the Stronghold.

      If you want to go on a long travel, you need to assure the stronghold security first.

      And it would also be nice to be able to upgrade your Heralds which faster Horses or sth., so they can reach you quicker.

    37. Missing avatar

      Jabberwok on

      I had the same concern as Bobby. If I have unwanted visitors, can't I just threaten to kill them if they don't leave? Or even not let them in in the first place....

    38. Alexandra on

      Same goes for the random events - I'd love to recieve letters from the Castellan whenever something happens and not just a pop up menue that tells you for some reason that something is up in your stronghold.

    39. Theobeau:OOoE\Mad man with a box/Exiled on

      Very exciting and detailed update.

      There appear to be elements of the NWN strongholds but more developed and with novel components (ie the prison).

      Makes one again look forward to PE.

      Keep up the great updates!

    40. Alexandra on

      This sounds awesome. I have one question however:

      "You can continue adventuring, and you will be notified when they are built."

      How will I be notified? Just a random message at the bottom of the screen, or will it be played up in gameplay? I'd largely prefer the latter. For example the character can recieve a pigeon letter from the stronghold's castellan

    41. Bobby on

      "Some of these visitors can even be employed as hirelings and will stay on as long as you pay them. Others are not so great, and you will want to offer them one of your companions to act as an escort to their next location, or perhaps simply pay them to leave."

      Can't I just throw them out on their asses, or have their heads chopped off if I find them offensive enough? Or just lock 'em up in the prison? Pay them to leave, jeez now don't that beat all. I'd sooner pay them an arrow in the neck and send them to the morgue.

    42. Missing avatar

      Giovanni Manca on

      I agree with Nicola, this update is awesome.
      Finally we'll see the enhanced version of the Stronghold appeared in Neverwinter Night II and in Storm of Zehir... And that sounds right to me =)

    43. Nicola Pezzotti on

      This is the most amazing update until now!!!

    44. Missing avatar

      Dipree on

      First, sry for my bad english :)
      Great Update, i love the stronghold.

      I have 2 ideas that would also great:
      First, you say that you have surrounding land.. so there must be farmers or other people living there. Can they have audience you with their problems and you must find a solution or settle a dispute between two farmers? That would give you more feeling as a lord of a stronghold. And then there would be consequences for the decisions reached.

      Second, your stronghold must surrounded by other strongholds. Would be great to have their some simple diplomatic mechanics. For example organize a benefit feast or something where all lords come together. Simple traderoutes or just marrying a other lords daughter so he didnt attack you.

      Hope you understand me and hope these ideas are not too strange :D

    45. Missing avatar

      Quantomas on

      Very good. :thumbup:

      It would make sense to extend the Soul Mechanic, the rivalry between races and other core themes into the stronghold reactivity. I.e. that the prison, companion adventure, visitor reactivity is all tied into your current reputation and alignment with these elements in the game. That is the reactivity of the stronghold elements is affected by your general progress in the game, and in return what you do in the stronghold affects your alignment/stance/gains/reputation in the game world. This way you get a nice reactivity between the stronghold and your general progress in the game, technically coming full circle in terms of reactivity.

      For example how prisoners are treated might result in reaction modifiers with NPCs, taking into account their race, stance towards the Soul Mechanic, what trade they ply (e.g. thief, bard, lore master, warrior etc.). Your companions embarking on stronghold adventures might also change their stance/attitude/behaviour in a number of ways, leading to different companion dynamics in your group and maybe even opening up new quests -- depending on YOUR progress and choices in the game earlier on.

    46. Stefan on

      Sounds great! The stronghold features and mechanics sound similar to how it works in Mount & Blade when you own a castle (prison, income, enhancements, take part in fights when you are there etc.). It is solved well there, so I assume it will work equally well here, and will hopefully have even more focus on the RPG aspect.

    47. Gavin Lambert - Tormented Dreamer on

      If there's going to be events happening at the stronghold while you're away from it that you need to respond to, I assume that means that there's going to be a "teleport back to stronghold" type spell? And a companion "return to dungeon/mission/whatever" one too?