Pillars of Eternity Game Mechanics, Skills, Abilities, Talents and Reputation

Pillars of Eternity--
Pillars of Eternity is a complicated game no doubt, and involves many variables and mechanics that one needs to acquaint themselves with. For a starter, this can be rather difficult.

Pillars of Eternity Game Mechanics, Skills, Abilities, Talents, Reputation

Below is a set of different aspects of the game you should generally be aware of.

First, we’ll look at basic Difficulty Modes and settings, and then move on to the core gameplay aspects, which involve Skills, Abilities and Talents.

Difficulty Modes

Like many classic RPGs, Pillars of Eternity is rather unforgiving towards mistakes, and requires a lot of patience from the user’s end in getting to know the combat system of the game.

Players relatively new to this demanding sub-genre of RPG will have the option to tweak their game to make the learning curve a little less steep. There are several difficulties to choose from in Pillars of Eternity.

The Easy difficulty requires very little management and is generously forgiving towards mistakes.

The Normal difficulty requires a combination of good strategy and decent efficiency, but will forgive a few mistakes.

The Hard difficulty is suited to classic RPG veterans who are looking for a challenge. Survival requires excessive micromanagement and optimization of stats through items, spells, and abilities.

Path of the Damned
The ultimate difficulty in Pillars of Eternity. Enemies on this difficulty will have bonus to stats, and encounters will have many more enemies. Once this difficulty is chosen, it cannot be reverted.

Challenge Modes

In addition to the basic difficulty settings, there are also specific modes through which you can challenge yourself in Pillars of Eternity.

Expert Mode
Completely disables all helper features in the game.

Trial of Iron
The Trial of Iron is basically the hardcore mode for Pillars of Eternity. If it is enabled and your entire party is killed, the game will have to be started right from the beginning.


Coming to the in-game mechanics, there are various things to look at.

We have talked about classes, races and starting abilities in our Pillars of Eternity Character Creation, but later on in the game you’ll be facing different aspects like Skills and Talents as well.

Abilities and Talents are used predominantly in combat, but skills have a much larger application. Skills will play a large role in determining how your player can interact with the environment, including conversations and access to certain areas.

Skills work in a statistical way – when a certain challenge (such as lockpicking) comes up, the level of the challenge will be weighed with the highest relevant skill level in your party (it does not matter who it is, as long as he/she is in the party).

If the skill level matches or exceed the required challenge, you will succeed in completing it.

For this reason, it is generally a very good idea to have a party with a wide variety of skills, each character having specialized so to tackle every kind of skill-required challenge in the game.

Skill Advancement
At first, characters will only inherit the skills that come with their classes. These come generally in the form of bonuses to two certain set of skills. These bonuses are always considered when measuring the character’s total skill value, but are not counted when the advanced their skill.

The Stealth skill allows the players and their party to approach any NPC (hostile or non-hostile) without being spotted. This can be quite useful in order to evade certain battles or get through sticky situations.

Athletics has a lot to do with scripted events such as jumping, sprinting, and climbing during conversations or other occurrences. It also has a valuable role in determining the Fatigue caused during battle which can have a penalty on your skills.

Lore represents a character’s accumulated miscellaneous knowledge and trivia, often of occult or esoteric topics. Lore is particularly important in conversations and scripted interactions.

More importantly, it is used to activate scrolls.

The Mechanics skill allows the manipulation of any sort of mechanical device. This is a skill with a lot of applications, so make sure one of your party members has lots of it.

The survival skill determines how capable a character is in natural environment. It allows easier tracking of enemies and the ability to create potions out of natural ingredients.


Abilities are the special capabilities for a class type. Each class has its own set of unique abilities that can be used offensively or defensively in the battlefield. Unlike Talent, abilities are class-specific and geared towards a class role.

A good party is one with a large variety of abilities that can tackle just about every situation in combat. There are three types of abilities in Pillars of Eternity, passive, active and modal.

Passive Abilities
Passive Abilities are the kind that don’t require activation at all. Once they are acquired, they permanently stay in effect without the need to be triggered.

Active Abilities
Active abilities are the ones that will need to be used in combat for defensive or offensive purposes. There are two types of active abilities: per-rest and per-encounter.

Per Encounter are ones that can be used a specific number of times in an encounter (battle), and then are disabled until the counter ends. Per-rest abilities are ones that can be used various times, and then are disabled until a character is rested.

Modal abilities are ‘trigger’ abilities that can be turned on your off, much like a light bulb. They have a certain positive or negative effect that is in constant application when they are turned on.

You can have multiple Modal abilities on at once. However, there are certain modal abilities that conflict with other types, and cannot be used simultaneously.

Acquiring New Abilities
Every character starts off with a specific amount of abilities (amount varies according to class).

At every odd level (1, 3, 5 etc.), a character will gain and extra ability to choose out of the many available for their class. It is useful to specialize even in abilities (healer, tank, carry) to get the most balanced party.


Talents are more separate from Abilities and skills as many of them are class neutral, and will either give your character additional capabilities or modify the ones that you already have.

This makes them a bridge between Abilities and Skills, acting as ‘ultra-passives’ that will stack to give your character the extra edge in encounters.

While most Talents are passives, there are actually some that will allow the player to choose when and where to trigger the talent.

Generally, a Talent is first gained at level 3, and then a talent is gained after every three levels. However, there are some classes that gain talents earlier or have a different progression, such as the Rogue class which gains its first Talent at level 2.

Resting Mechanism

Certain Abilities in Pillars of Eternity can only be reused after depletion by resting.

Resting is a mechanism in the game that allows your party to recover Health and heal Afflictions. Also, the longer a character goes without resting, the more Fatigue he/she acquires, which can have skill penalties while exploring the world.

Resting Areas
Thankfully, there are more than just a handful of places available to rest. You should get yourself acquainted with all of them, and memorize their locations in a given area.

Players can opt to rest their parties at Inns. These buildings though are only available in cities and villages, which may be far away from far-out regions. Note that resting at Inns costs a small amount of money.

A player can rest at the stronghold once it has been repaired.

When you’re out exploring and far away from the cities/villages, you’ll have limited resting options. In such cases, you should set up camp.

Camps are built by using various items that can be purchased in cities and villages or can be found in the wilderness. The number of camps you can carry varies with difficulty. Camps will likely be your most used means of resting in the game.


Reputation is tracked by Dispositions, and comes in various forms. Generally, the different types of reputations affect how NPCs react to you. Also, reputations can play a great role in determining the outcome of various key events in the game.

There are two kinds of Reputations in the game: Faction Reputation and Personality Reputation.

Faction Reputation
There are various factions in the game, and you’ll meet NPCs that belong to them. How you interact with those NPCs will determine your reputation for that specific faction.

Personality Reputation
This reputation is closely tied to a player’s overall behavior, and dictates how the world will interact with them.

It is importantly to note that Personalities are not one dimensional in Pillars of Eternity; players can be Benevolent but also be extremely Deceptive. You should measure the general morals of an action before performing it in order to mold your personality to how you desire.

Haider is a freelance contributor, who loves video games, playing guitar, and aviation. He is a competitive FPS player and also enjoys exotic RPG games like Diablo and Xenogears (his favorite game of all time) ...