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Project 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.
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.

The Front Line: Fighters and Barbarians


Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director

In this, our final class update, we will be discussing fighters and barbarians. Along with the wily, pain-powered monks (covered in Update 52), these three classes form the front line. The front line defines the heart of any battle, where two sides tangle face-to-face. The responsibility of the front line is more than simply dealing damage. It means holding the line no matter what tries to break through. If the party rogue needs a breather, the characters in the front line need to be able to cover her retreat. If a swarm of xaurips descends on the group after the wizard hurls his fireball, the front line needs to be able to neutralize them en masse or absorb their attacks before they overwhelm the entire party. Designed to take punishment and tackle hordes, the front line are the first in and, more often than not, the last standing in any battle. Next update will focus on some brand new creatures that we haven't shown yet, so be on the lookout.

Each class holds the line in its own way. As covered in Update 52, the monk absorbs damage to fuel special attacks through the use of accumulated Wounds. These attacks can stun, push, or weaken individuals or small groups around them. While monks have to be monitored to ensure their Wounds do not overwhelm them, they can absorb a large amount of punishment and hamper enemy movement on the battlefield. In contrast, the fighter holds the line the traditional way: by standing her ground, blocking opponents, and being infuriatingly difficult to knock out. Barbarians are designed to jump into the fray swinging wildly. Lacking the accuracy and strong Deflection of the fighter, the barbarian makes up for his lack of discipline through sheer speed, savagery, and abilities tailored for fighting groups of enemies. We've already covered the monk's Wounds and how they play into their use, but the other two front line classes differ in how they stem the enemy tide and how players monitor and use them over the course of combat. To show you how they differ, let's look at the details.

If one of Pillars of Eternity's eleven classes is the rock (we'll skip the obvious "pillar" joke), it's the fighter. All across Eora, fighters are known for their discipline, skill, and durability. In the Eastern Reach, they are often employed as caravan guards, soldiers, and personal bodyguards. Accustomed as they are to long marches, strange places, and life on the road, all fighters gain a minor skill bonus to Athletics, Lore, and Survival.

In combat, fighters are steadfast and stalwart. Even novice fighters enjoy the highest base Deflection defense of any class and the ability to passively recover a small amount of Stamina every second. As the levels rise, fighters gain access to weapon specialization, modestly increasing their overall damage for all weapons in a specific category. These categories are broader than they were in the Infinity Engine games. E.g. the Knight category covers battle axes, swords, morning stars, crossbows, and war bows. The Peasant category includes hatchets, spears, quarterstaves, hunting bows, and blunderbusses. The selections are designed to cover a variety of damage types, to include one- and two-handed options, and to always feature at least one ranged weapon. At even higher levels, fighters gain abilities to recover Stamina immediately after being wounded, to protect nearby allies from incoming attacks, to knock down groups of enemies, and even to yank enemy passersby into the fray. Overall, fighters are designed to be low-maintenance, reliable, and long-lived even in marathon battles. Here are more detailed descriptions of some of the fighters' abilities:

  • Defender (Modal) - Allows the fighter to trigger Melee Engagement on up to three enemies and increases the fighter's Deflection. While active, the fighter's attack rate is reduced.
  • Vigorous Defense (Active) - Dramatically increases all defenses for the fighter for a short period of time. 1/encounter.
  • Unbending (Active) - For a moderate time, the fighter will recover 50% of lost Stamina from an attack over the 5 seconds following it. This has no effect on the amount of Health lost and does not prevent the fighter from being knocked unconscious from a temporary dip in Stamina from a strong attack. 3/rest.
  • Confident Aim - 20% of a fighter's Grazes are converted to Hits. Additionally, the minimum damage for any melee weapon they use is increased by 25% of the range between the minimum and maximum.
  • Critical Defense - 20% of all incoming Crits against a fighter are converted to Hits.
  • Crippling Guard - When a fighter Hits or Crits with a Disengagement Attack, the target is automatically Hobbled for a brief duration.
  • Unbroken (Active) - This ability can only be activated when the fighter is at 0 Stamina. When used, the fighter will stand back up with 50% of her Stamina. For a short while, her defenses and Damage Threshold are both increased. 1/rest.

A QA (Quality Assurance) favorite at Obsidian, barbarians are the wild, unconventional counterparts to fighters. Barbarians need not be from the "hinterlands" of Eora, though the vast majority are. In the Eastern Reach, barbarians most often come from Eir Glanfath, though some can be found in rural Dyrwoodan communities or drifting in from abroad through port cities like Defiance Bay and New Heomar. Barbarians are often used as shock troops for dealing with mobs or simply to intimidate the easily-cowed with their ferocity. As the Dyrwood has settled down over time, the regular employment of foreign barbarians has slowed significantly, but they still make up the majority of Glanfathan front-line forces. Barbarians all have a strong skill focus in Athletics and lesser focus in Survival.

While fighters rely on disciplined adherence to proven combat techniques to weather difficult battles, barbarians charge furiously into melee and wreak enormous damage to everyone around them. Barbarians are relatively inaccurate, but every melee attack they make gives them an opportunity to strike out at bystanders. Barbarians have the highest Health and Stamina of all classes, which they need given their low Deflection -- a defense that suffers additional penalties when the barbarian frenzies. A barbarian's Frenzy is one of his most valuable tools, allowing him to dramatically increase his damage output and Stamina for a short period of time. However, in addition to suffering penalties to Deflection, the barbarian's Stamina and Health meters are obscured for the duration. It's not uncommon for barbarians to suddenly drop unconscious -- or dead -- when their frenzies come to an end. Many of the barbarians' higher-level powers shine when they are surrounded by a throng of enemies, outnumbered and often badly-wounded. Even so, they are designed to burn brightly and expire brilliantly in the unfortunate event that a battle drags on. Due to the nature of their abilities, barbarians are a higher-maintenance class than fighters.

  • Carnage - When barbarians hit with melee attacks, they automatically make reduced-damage attacks at all additional enemies within a short distance of the target.
  • Wild Sprint (Active) - The barbarian gains a large movement bonus that lasts a few seconds. While active, it allows the barbarian to ignore the stop effect from Engagement as well as the hit reaction from an Engagement Hit. Additionally, his Deflection is reduced during the sprint. 3/rest.
  • Blooded - When a barbarian falls below 50% Stamina, he gains a bonus to damage for as long as his Stamina is below 50%.
  • Thick-Skinned - Allows the barbarian to take only 1 Health damage per 8 Stamina damage received, instead of the normal 1 per 4 ratio.
  • Brute Force - When finesse fails, barbarians rely on brute force. On any attack that normally targets Deflection, the barbarian will automatically target the enemy's Fortitude if it is the lower defense.
  • One Stands Alone - When barbarians are Engaged by two or more enemies, they gains a bonus to melee damage. They cannot be Flanked unless they are Engaged by more than three enemies.
  • Vengeful Defeat - When barbarians are reduced to 0 Stamina and have melee weapons equipped, they immediately make instant Carnage attacks at every enemy around them. 1/encounter.
  • Heart of Fury (Active) - In a blur of movement, the barbarian performs a melee attack with each equipped weapon at every enemy within 2m. Each attack does increased damage and Carnage applies. 1/rest.

Our take on the traditional front line classes attempts to capture the spirit of their Infinity Engine predecessors while introducing some interesting and fun differences for players to experiment with. We hope that you've enjoyed this and all of our other class updates. More importantly, we hope that you enjoy making all the parties you can imagine when the game comes out. As always, let us know what you think in our forums. Thanks for reading.

Eternity at E3

Hey, everyone. This is Brandon Adler. I just wanted to give you a quick update about our E3 presentation.

Everything went really well and the game was well received by the gaming press. We gave short ten to fifteen minute demos in which we showed off the first few areas and explained the basic concepts of the game. After the demo we had a quick question and answer session and gave any interviews that we could fit in before the next batch of journalists. All in all, it was a grueling, yet rewarding, experience.

There have been some questions about why we chose to do a closed door demo for the press and have not released footage from the demo. While the demo looked great, there are still parts of the game that need more polish before we release videos to the public. In addition, a lot of the demo footage was filled with spoilers and we would like to show off portions that are less critical to the story. Look for a video that shows some non-spoiler, polished gameplay sometime in the next couple of months.

If you would like to learn more about the demo and what was shown, take a read through some of these great articles:

Kicking it Forward: Harbour

Our friends at Tasty Minstrel Games have a new Kickstarter that needs your support. Harbour is a light-hearted fantasy board game where you and your friends play as ambitious entrepreneurs in a bustling port city. Play as one of the many colorful characters as you buy property, sell goods, manipulate market prices - and at times break the rules.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Ryan Tombacco on

      Perhaps this info is available somewhere but for the life of me I can't find it X_X

      Is there an ETA for when digital versions will be available to the applicable backers? Thanks

    2. Missing avatar

      Domopunk on

      I am perfectly fine with the way they are handling the E3 demo. Understandably (given the state of the demo and the spoilers), it sounds like Obsidian doesn't want the footage readily available to the public. That is their prerogative as dev.

      Anyone who thinks that having a backer-only update will prevent footage from making the rounds on the internet is delusional. The posts demanding video of the demo reek of entitlement.

    3. Missing avatar

      Mad Squ on

      @Will Martin: To me it looks like the pin is plugged into loop at the underside of the brooch. This way imho the thing should be working fine.

      Nice update as usual! I am very much looking forward to playing this game.

      One question comes to my mind with this update:

      Unbending (Active) - For a moderate time, the fighter will recover 50% of lost Stamina from an attack over the 5 seconds following it.

      This suggests there are time critical actions. What happens, if I play with the good ol´pause mode like in Baldurs Gate where you can pause, give orders, resume, pause etc. Does the timer for the 5 secs pause as well, so that the 5 secs could be stretched to a much longer time or is this a fixed timer that will end the ability after 5 secs?

    4. Missing avatar

      William Clarkson on

      By the way, I ask to show us a video with all due respect. The wait has been painful and the little bits of info and short clips are torture. At least show the dedicated PE fans a shorter clip of the E3 demo minus any spoilers. We all have been waiting so patiently and are champing at the bit to see real gameplay.

    5. Missing avatar

      William Clarkson on

      Demo in the next couple months? I backed PE with $250. I'd like to see the demo now, thank you. The E3 demo would do just fine. Email it to me if you can't post it here now. Thanks!

    6. Bryy Miller on

      "opening a direct communication between developers and backers is a central feature of Kickstarter."
      No it's not. Kickstarter has an update section, yes, but at the end of the day, it's up to the project creator to decide how to utilize it.
      Obsidian owes you nothing.

    7. Missing avatar

      Will Martin on

      I like the painting of the fighter lady. Very nice.

      But ... her cloak pin is wrong. As painted, it would fall off.

      To use a penannular brooch like this, you shove the cloth through the hole in the brooch, then push the pin through the cloth. When you let go of the cloth, its weight pulls the pin against the supporting metal ring, keeping the clasp fastened. Taking it off requires you to lift the cloth up again to relieve the pressure, then slide the pin out.

      As painted, the shaft of the pin is passing beneath the rest of the brooch. There's nothing to prevent the cloak from just sliding off the pin and falling to the ground.

      I know, I know, it's a nitpicky detail. But it bothers me. Sorry.

    8. Missing avatar


      Oh, god, I just scrolled through the comments. For what it's worth, Obsidian, I'm fine with the closed door press access thing. Sure, the vast majority of us would understand if the game wasn't perfectly representative of the final product, but even if all of us were, it would leak and color the perceptions of everyone else who looks at it and isn't aware of the circumstances. And if we were all really mature enough to handle imperfection, this wouldn't have become such an issue in the first place.

    9. Missing avatar


      Awesome update, guys! It's not usually my play style, but Barbarians sound amazing. I guess such a suicidal tactic is a lot more viable when death is cheap.

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

      Good update that gave a definite sense of the warriors of PoE.

      Looking forward to a spoiler free demo-trailer soon!

    11. Kevin B. on

      Barbarian type classes never interest me in RPG's but I'm really tempted to try one out here. Especially your version of the Rage/Frenzy ability looks like a lot of fun. I'm also glad that the fighter remains a straight up tank and spank, low maintenance unit.

      @comments: The overly dramatic reactions here almost gave me friction burns on my eyeballs from rolling them so hard. Not to mention that every time I see someone use the line "slap in the face" I want to reach through the screen and go all Halfman on a Boy King on them for being so daft. This really is one of the biggest downsides of Kickstarter.

    12. Laurent Maire on

      Another vote of confidence, here guys. @George Razvan Paica and others, please take a moment to consider that it's not a case of Obsidian not trusting us or giving us preferential treatment (heck, they've been giving us extensive and informative fortnightly updates since the very beginning: those things take a lot of time to write and record!); nor do they want to keep important information from us. I believe it is the contrary! They want us, the backers and first believers in their vision, to have the best experience out of the box possible! As much as we'd like juicy details, all those things will come in time; and I don't think I speak only for myself when I say, I want to experience the narrative and story at the highest quality possible and as fresh, wide-eyed and unspoiled as a newborn!

      The thing to remember is that as well as a successful Kickstarter creator, Obsidian is a business - and an experienced one at that. What they want (what we should all hope for, if we want to see further projects from them in this vein) is for the game to find financial success and to reach an audience far beyond the backers of the project. This is a totally worthy goal and I think they have earned our trust and respect that they will do everything in their power to make that a reality - and for PE to be a continued and evolving IP.

      For PE 2 and beyond!

    13. Missing avatar

      Unnamed on

      I wouldn't have thought this necessary, but I feel obligated to show my support since many apparently doesn't. I completely understand why Obsidian would choose a closed demo. Journalists are obligated to not spoil anything but it's also a matter of marketing. We, the backers, already know about the game, but the masses don't. Hence the journalists. And we all want Obsidian to be successful so they can continue making great games, right? Can't wait for this game.

    14. Missing avatar

      Karl Malm on

      Thanks for the update, glad to hear things went well at E3. And don't mind the people whining about not seeing the stuff shown there, your reasons are solid, and if they really want to get a hold of the info shown at the expo, they can, without others risking spoiling themselves. Nice to see details on the last few classes, too!

    15. George Razvan Paica on

      As many other backers, I am not sure why press is more important than backers. Game footage should be shared with us as well. if you do not trust your backers, why are you on Kickstarter Obsidian? If you do not trust your game, why don't you let us help you make it better? Feedback from the press is unimportant behind the close door as 90% of the journalists are worth shit anyway. DI see it more harmful than not.

    16. Jeremie Lariviere

      Thanks for the update! The depth is pretty cool to see.

    17. Asa on

      Backers will over analyze any video they show us, and they didn't want backers to freak out over unfinished parts. Journalists provide a more balanced perspective and give the game valuable press.

    18. Space Monkey on

      @ Bryy Miller: I've got nothing against them showing a demo at the E3, but there is absolutely no reason why backers had to be left out of that - we could have had a backers only update to have a look of it. We backed the game after all, why do we have got to go and obtain information about it second hand from the press. In case you haven't noticed, opening a direct communication between developers and backers is a central feature of Kickstarter.

    19. Missing avatar

      Lord baconus on

      "There have been some questions about why we chose to do a closed door demo for the press and have not released footage from the demo. While the demo looked great, there are still parts of the game that need more polish before we release videos to the public."

      Why are we considered "the public"? Why aren't we considered as backers? If you are concerned about leaks, I know Kickstarter has backer only updates.

    20. Bryy Miller on

      @Space Monkey: "I agree with Chet on that: why didn't you build a spoiler free demo to make a video for your supporters rather than go for the press behind closed doors? I'm not backing KS projects so that developers can then behave as the publishers used to..."
      I'm sorry, but "behave as the publishers used to" is called business, E3 is a trade show. This is why it exists. For publicity. I know you don't think PoE needs to make ANY money, but it is still being made to be sold.

    21. Ber on

      Good call on holding back on spoilers, thanks.

    22. Andrew Tuckett on

      Cool update, tempted by barbarian. I would prefer to not be shown spoilers so good call Obsidian.

    23. Missing avatar

      eipinirei on

      Although i would really like to see and play the game right now, i fully understand and support the decision of showing gameplay only to journalists at the E3.

      Showing a working demo to a few dozen journalists is simply good publicity for the game. Especially with the release of the game scheduled for winter, it would be a waste to not show something really nice to the press.

      A playable demo for the backers on the other hand is much more work for the team. Just think about the effort needed to make the demo work on all supported platforms, for different system configurations, and to actually distribute it to the bakers.
      When the beta starts, supporting and managing the community in reporting and fixing bugs will be a huge task. Without proper preparation, giving out a piece of software for everybody to install and play will help nobody.
      This is completely different to showing a small fifteen minute presentation of a small part of the game.
      (Also, because of possible spoilers i am glad to not have seen the gameplay presentation. I am looking forward to a non-spolier beta testing phase for the bakers.)

    24. Matt Baker on

      I'd rather see some stuff because I'm excited. They probably just don't want to show us unfinished stuff because naturally people will freak out and say they lied and stole their money. I'm fine with patience. Hey, we get to read the articles from people that did see the game, though.

    25. Space Monkey on

      I agree with Chet on that: why didn't you build a spoiler free demo to make a video for your supporters rather than go for the press behind closed doors? I'm not backing KS projects so that developers can then behave as the publishers used to...

    26. Chet on

      We have already shown our support through money given, don't you think it is almost a slap in the face that you show game play footage to future supporters BEFORE the folks that have already paid you?

      These types of "sales first" actions most likely will put a damper on any future projects you hope to gain support from us for.

    27. Chris J Capel on

      I'm definitely on the side of "to hell with polish, we're the guys who can take unpolished rough footage". We're your backers, not the general public, you don't have to censor things for us - we're on your side.

      That all said - can't wait, just hurry up with the gameplay footage! Need to see more!

    28. Missing avatar

      Quantomas on

      Given the critics' reaction to your E3 demo, it appears you scored top marks in all categories except the animations of PoE.

      I have no problem to understand that animations are relatively expensive and that a small team of animators, given the fairly big number of creatures, characters and possible animations from various movement types over attacks to combat stances, can only do so much polish. After all the animations are not critical for gameplay, and it's simply something the player gets used to.

      But ...

      Given that many previews singled out the animations as a con, it might well be that the quality of the animations will make a difference for the reviewers. It might mean the difference between scoring a 8.5 or 9.0, which on another level might translate into a sales boost. If it may mean a 20% increase in sales, it would be well worth a consideration of an additional investment in the order of 500k.

      I doubt it would be difficult for you to raise the funds, you could basically get a loan (easily repaid from your first months Steam/GOG paycheck), have the money fronted by your publisher (a 20% sales boost would be an excellent ROI), or do a quick Kickstarter.

      What might be difficult could be getting the talent on board because there is not much time nor the opportunity for a regular recruitment drive or outsource the work. Maybe the ideal solution would be to "borrow" an animation team from a studio with whom you are on friendly terms.

      If you could get a sizeable team to work on upgrading and polishing the animations, it would achieve more than just removing a con from future reviews.

      Actually, you are right on track to prove that a game with isometric perspective can be visually just as stunning as 3D wizardry, because you can mask and cache whatever information an advanced graphics engine requires, up to doing advanced lighting and pixel shading, with the pipeline you developed. The only missing link to drive this message home are top-notch animations.

    29. Richard Luijten on

      P.s. the screenshots look marvelous, you REALLY nailed the look.
      Hopefully the animations have improved a bit as well.
      Either way I can't be let down in that department at this point - it all looks even better than I had imagined. I'm just hoping the writing will be up to par with what I expect from the only studio that still writes good stories and characters.

    30. Richard Luijten on

      "[...]the question-and-answer conversation that unfolded gave the player an in-game method for fleshing out their character’s backstory. [...] In our particular demo, when asked about the past, the player passed over responses such as “I was a sheriff” or “I was a criminal,” in favor of a gruff “None of your business.”"

      Please tell me these were just placeholder answers? Because how can you flesh out a character with this kind of cliché one line answers?

    31. Obsidian Entertainment Creator

      @John Spentzas: Yeah, that was Angry Joe during his demo.

    32. Jack Hepburn Raine on

      I still think backers (not the public) should have been the first to see footage from the game. it would be up to us if we want to spoil it for ourselves.

    33. Sensuki on

      Yes it is. He did an interview but hasn't posted it yet as it received the least amount of votes. Should be up soon though.

    34. Missing avatar

      John Spentzas on

      Is that Angry Joe on the picture?

    35. Johannes 'Waldgeist' Rebhan on

      Mh... thinking again... no I was wrong. But i know that profile... *scratcheshead*

    36. Johannes 'Waldgeist' Rebhan on

      That woman totally has the profile of Sandhal Bergman back in the day when she was playing Valeria in Conan :D