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Update #71: The Heavy Hitters: Rogues and Rangers

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Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director




Welcome! First things first: if you have backed Pillars of Eternity but not yet completed your order on our website, please do so as soon as possible. Even if you have an all-digital order, we need information from you to make sure you get everything you are supposed to. If your backer tier includes an NPC, item, portrait, or other custom piece of content, an early response will make it easier for us to work with you on your designs and preferences. As always, we appreciate that our backers have made Pillars of Eternity possible and we want to ensure that you get your money's worth.


Broken Age




As most of you know, our friends at Double Fine have their new adventure game, Broken Age, coming out today. Double Fine and their Kickstarter adventure game paved the way for all of the games that came after - including Pillars of Eternity.

If you are fans of the adventure game genre (or just fans of good games from indie studios), show them some love.

You can find more about it on their website.





Engwithan ruins sitting atop some cliffs.


Things are going well at Obsidian on the Pillars of Eternity team. The artists are putting the finishing touches on the second of our two big cities, Twin Elms, and the environments look fantastic. Our designers are busy implementing narrative and quest content, in some cases returning to earlier areas to fill in cracks and flesh elements out more. The character artists are almost done taking all of our highest-priority creatures to alpha level and are starting to look at the second string of creatures and variants. Animation is right behind them, creating rigs and alpha animations as new creatures come online, and we're finally returning to our main character animations for a second pass. Programming continues to chug away at user interfaces, AI, and zany spells and many other items on our long list of features. In short, we're well past "the hump" and the game is looking and feeling better every day.


Heavy Hitters


In most RPG parties, there's a character type that focuses on dealing death to VIPs in the enemy roster. They are the heavy hitters, the characters who cut enemies down one-by-one with precise, overpowering attacks. We've previously talked about one of our heavy hitters, the cipher. Ciphers alternate between powerful mental attacks and the physical strikes used to power them. They are the only "caster" class that focuses heavily on individual enemies, in large part because their abilities all require an external concentration of soul energy to serve as a power source.


In contrast to the cipher, the rogue and the ranger are more traditional, but just as deadly. Rogues rely on the vulnerability of their enemies to inflict devastating attacks in close quarters. Rangers coordinate their strikes with the help of animal companions, creatures with whom rangers form lifelong bonds. Outside of direct combat, rogues and rangers share a skill emphasis in Stealth and are commonly the sneakiest party members. But while rogues also have a specialization in Mechanics (most often to lay traps and deal with ones placed by their enemies), rangers focus on Survival, which improves the duration of many consumable items. Though the three "heavy hitter" classes have different styles of play with different strengths, they all excel at taking enemies down in the shortest amount of time possible.


In Pillars of Eternity, the designation of a character as a "rogue" signifies their vicious, brutal style of fighting, not a propensity for theft or deception. More than any other class, rogues exemplify the adage that the best defense is a good offense. If fighters are the disciplined, reliable, well-trained units that hold the line, rogues are the shock troops that attempt to break through that line to take out vulnerable units before they can effectively retaliate. When pinned down, rogues can suffer from their weak defenses, but ideally they carry their momentum from one target to the next in short order.


All rogues start with three abilities that allow them to immediately dive into heavy-hitting: Finishing Blow, Reckless Assault, and Dirty Fighting.


  • Finishing Blow (Active) - Full Attack. This ability gains power the more damaged the target is. When the rogue uses a Finishing Blow, he or she makes a full attack at the enemy with his or her current weapons. The attack is made with an Accuracy bonus and does +50% damage if it hits. For every 1% under 50% Max Stamina the target has, the attack does an additional +3% damage. 3/rest.
  • Reckless Assault (Modal) - In this mode, a rogue's Deflection is lowered but he or she gains a bonus to Accuracy and damage with all weapons.
  • Dirty Fighting - 10% of the rogue's Hits with any melee or ranged weapon are turned into Crits. This occurs after the initial attack roll is resolved. The resulting shift is displayed in the combat log.


As rogues advance, they gain access to abilities that allow them to maximize the damage and afflictions they can dish out to their targets. They can also learn a variety of tricks to help them get out of trouble when the going gets tough.


  • Sneak Attack - Sneak Attack applies bonus damage to the rogue's ranged and melee weapon attacks when the target has any of the following statuses: Blinded, Flanked, Hobbled, Paralyzed, Petrified, Prone, Stuck, Stunned, or Weakened. It also applies to any target the rogue strikes with a weapon within the first 2 seconds of combat starting.
  • Escape (Active) - Escape allows the rogue to break Engagement and safely move away from their current location. The ability must be targeted on open ground to which the rogue has a clear path. When activated, the rogue immediately breaks Engagement and swiftly moves to that location. 1/encounter.
  • Crippling Strike (Active) - Full Attack. Inflicts extra damage and the Hobbled condition. 2/encounter.
  • Coordinated Positioning (Active) - You are able to instantly switch positions with one target within 1m. If this is an ally, the switch is automatic. If it is an enemy, the maneuver is an attack against its Reflexes (only succeeds on a Hit or Crit). The switch is immediate and cancels Engagement (if any) on the rogue. 2/encounter.
  • Adept Evasion - 50% of all Grazes against a rogue's Reflexes are converted to Misses.
  • Blinding Strike (Active) - Full Attack. Inflicts extra damage and the Blinded condition. 2/rest.
  • Deathblows - Against any target that is afflicted by two or more of the conditions that can allow Sneak Attack, rogues do additional Sneak Attack damage.



Resident heavy-hitting rogue, Edér.


Rangers are expert sharpshooters with any ranged weapon. Though they traditionally rely on bows and crossbows, some use firearms or even magical implements. Regardless of their choice of armament, even novice rangers can strike swiftly and leave severe wounds that quickly wear down an enemy's stamina and movement. They are assisted in their efforts by their animal companions, incredibly tough and loyal creatures who share their lives (literally) with their masters. All rangers start with the following three abilities:


  • Animal Companion - The ranger begins the game with (and can name) an animal companion that fights at his or her direction. This companion shares Health and Stamina with the ranger, i.e. if either one is damaged, the same pool is reduced. Both the ranger and the animal companion die if their Health is reduced to zero. Animal companions have high inherent Damage Thresholds that allow them to run interference for their masters.
  • Wounding Shot (Active) - Only usable when ranged weapons are equipped. The ranger's shot inflicts a continuous damage effect and Hobbles the target. 3/rest.
  • Swift Aim (Modal) - This mode increases the ranger's rate of fire and reload with ranged weapons at the cost of an Accuracy penalty.


At higher levels, rangers gain abilities that increase the effectiveness of their attacks and the coordinated use of their companions. By tactically applying the synergistic benefits of the ranger and his or her companion, players can lock down and quickly overwhelm powerful enemies.


  • Defensive Bond - When both the ranger and his or her animal companion are subjected to an area effect attack, they gain +15 to the targeted defenses.
  • Marked Prey (Active) - The ranger can designate a single target as his or her marked prey. He or she and his or her animal companion have a damage bonus against that target until combat ends. Once designated, the target cannot be switched. 1/encounter.
  • Predator's Sense - The ranger's animal companion gains a damage bonus on any creature suffering from a continuous damage effect, including those caused by Wounding Shots.
  • Stalkers' Link - When a ranger's animal companion Engages a target, the target is automatically Flanked if the ranger has a ranged weapon equipped and is opposite the target.
  • Takedown (Active) - The ranger's animal companion will knock the target Prone with a Fortitude attack. 2/encounter.
  • Defensive Shooting - When using ranged weapons against any target that is Engaging the ranger, the ranger's Accuracy is increased by 20 and his or her Interrupt rating is improved by one category.
  • Master's Call (Active) - When the ranger issues Master's Call, his or her animal companion will immediately move back to him or her at increased speed, gaining a +20 bonus to Concentration and defenses against Disengagement Attacks. Any enemy it comes within 1m of is automatically attacked (Fortitude) and knocked Prone if the attack succeeds. 2/rest.


In addition to the abilities listed here, ciphers, rogues, and rangers can gain access to additional class-specific abilities as well as Talents. Some Talents can be taken by any character, but many are class-oriented and can be used to distinguish or emphasize one character from another. One cipher's Talents may emphasize his or her physical attacks while another's makes his or her Focus use more efficient. One rogue may maximize his or her advantage against a specific type of affliction; another may improve the frequency with which his or her offensive abilities can be used. And while rangers can always benefit from improving their marksmanship and special attacks, investing in the durability and abilities of their animal companions can safeguard the ranger against disaster.


Pillars of Eternity's heavy hitters all differ in how they bring the pain to enemies, but we hope you enjoy the concepts and mechanics we've presented here. As always, these are our current designs and implementations, but will be adjusting them in the months to come. We will be doing three more class pair updates in the future: The Leaders of the Band (chanters and priests), The Front Line (fighters and barbarians), and The Mob Rulers (wizards and druids). Let us know what you think of today's update and please vote on which of the three class pairs you'd like to see covered next. As always, thanks for reading and for your continued support.

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wth happened to the previously very good portrait of the dwarven female? Or is it just my memory failing regarding the original quality of that picture...


Otherwise, nice update, thanks :) Mechanics remind me a bit of DnD 4e, not in a bad way however.

Edited by samm

Citizen of a country with a racist, hypocritical majority

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Yay, classes! I bet I'll play the first sub-part the story with every class before I finally decide what to choose...for the first playthrough. Well, more fun for me.


Also congratulations on further cooperation with inXile (PE tech licensed to Torment), cooperation of these two studios make me incredibly warm and fuzzy with the hope that the PC/video games industry isn't lost after all.  :cat:

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wth happened to the previously very good portrait of the dwarven female? Or is it just my memory failing regarding the original quality of that picture...


Otherwise, nice update, thanks :) Mechanics remind me a bit of DnD 4e, not in a bad way however.

look closely at the face...not pretty :p

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Here's hoping for a Mob Ruler update. I mean, wizards are dumb and always carrying around pouches of live spiders and bat guano and stuff, but I want to know more about druids.

wth happened to the previously very good portrait of the dwarven female? Or is it just my memory failing regarding the original quality of that picture...

Um. They put the face of Josh Sawyer on it.

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Awesome beans! It's great to hear how the classes are going to work. I'd personally like to hear about 'the mob' next -- Wizards and Druids. 


One thing I really liked about BG is that you largely felt very close to every class by having a large party. I'm glad the same is probably going to be true with PE.  

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Stalkers' Link - When a ranger's animal companion Engages a target, the target is automatically Flanked if the ranger has a ranged weapon equipped and is opposite the target.


I haven't been following the mechanics so...


Does this mean the flanked enemy suffers reduced battlefield movement rate or that something is going on with their defense? i.e. Blocking not possible, flat-footed, etc. when further attacks are calculated?


Great update, glad to see it taking shape.

Edited by Luridis

Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. - Julius Caesar


:facepalm: #define TRUE (!FALSE)

I ran across an article where the above statement was found in a release tarball. LOL! Who does something like this? Predictably, this oddity was found when the article's author tried to build said tarball and the compiler promptly went into cardiac arrest. If you're not a developer, imagine telling someone the literal meaning of up is "not down". Such nonsense makes computers, and developers... angry.

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Let's have a look at The Front Line next as I'd like to see how the fighter and barbarian compare and contrast with the rogue and ranger in terms of their abilities and tactical niches.


Edit: It's very gratifying to see the animal companion receive a solid measure of attention.  :thumbsup:

Edited by Tsuga C



Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear



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Wonder what animal companions we will be able to choose for the ranger and if we can find new ones on our adventure.


Also wonder if they will play any story related role or have personality or anything.


Great update, would love to hear about the Wizard/Druid next, or the front line fighters.

Edited by Stiler
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Cool! I'd like to see the Mob Rulers update next!


I'm super excited for this game to come out! :D



Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.- Tyrion Lannister


The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die. -Eddard Stark

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So excited to have more information on the classes!


Two things I'm worried about: the way Coordinated Positioning is animated is going to be essential to making it smooth and believable as opposed to very "gamey" and I have never been fond of animal companions in party based games. Everything the companion was listed as being for is what the party should be doing, which makes the animal superfluous and kind of useless in a party environment.


Just my two cents.


How could I forget? I'm placing my vote for the Leaders of the Band. I am most excited about the chanter.

Edited by Wirdjos
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That's nice to have more info on playable classes :) Rogue and rangers have always been this second line deadly team members with bows !


Any info on animal companions ? Are we going to have alignement-dependent companions as for BG wizard spell ?


Good job anyway !

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Wow, this is who I immediately thought of when I saw the portrait of Eder.



The Christ Compels You !!!! 

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  before venturing forth...you must gather your party before venturing forth...you must gather your party before venturing forth...you must gather your party before venturing forth ... you must gather your party 

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