Culture and background

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Culture and background are two essential parts of a characters biography in Pillars of Eternity and Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. The player character, all companions, and many characters in the world have their own culture and background, which defines who they are and where they come from. During character creation, there are a number of options available to customize the Watcher's origin and backstory, each of which has a unique effect on the interactions you have with characters encountered throughout the game, serving as a starting point for your story. [1]

In Pillars of Eternity, during your first quest you will be accompanied by Calisca. She will ask you about your past, about what you did before you fell in with the group. Your answers are taken and inscribed into your character's biography for the rest of the game.[2] You can also choose to not to tell more about your background.[3][4][5].

Culture[edit | edit source]

Culture is where the character is from. A character's culture greatly influences their social profile, general behaviour, and their way of living. As a trait, it is introduced by living in (or being born to) a particular region or ethnic group, and adapting to their societal norms and standards.

Culture affects almost every part of a character's being, including the clothing they wear, the food they eat, holidays and traditions they uphold, the language they use, how they speak to others, and much more.

As a game mechanic, a character's culture gives them an attribute bonus. The player character's culture is chosen during character creation, and determines what backgrounds are available to them. During gameplay, a character's culture can result in many unique social interactions and dialogue options. For example, bringing favour from another NPC with the same culture, or knowing of a particular custom or cultural idiosyncrasy.

In Pillars of Eternity, together with your class, the culture directly affects the equipment you receive at the start of the game (however Deadfire has no such effect.)

Only about half of the classes are available during character creation, with the remaining being reserved for NPCs and companions.

Culture Attribute bonus Companions Description
Aedyr-icon.png
Aedyr
+1 Resolve Attribute Resolve.png
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Pillars of Eternity
The Aedyr Empire is currently the largest and most powerful force in this part of the world. It is centered around the Equator and has a tropical climate. Though the empire has colonies in numerous areas of the world, Greater Aedyr is at its heart and houses the majority of its human and elven nations.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
The Aedyr Empire is one of the most prominent Old Empires of the west. It is centered around the Equator and has a tropical climate. The nation of Aedyr is at its heart and houses the majority of its human and elven populace. Aedyr was once a powerful colonial force, but the loss of Readceras and the Dyrwood reduced its stature. Aedyrans are common in the Eastern Reach, but rare in the Deadfire Archipelago.

DeadfireArchipelago-icon.png
Deadfire Archipelago
+1 Dexterity Attribute Dexterity.png
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Pillars of Eternity
Consisting of the nation of Naasitaq, dozens of aumaua settlements, and hundreds of lawless, pirate-infested islands that stretch along the southern sea, Deadfire is home to boreal dwarves, aumaua, and a mixed variety of other races. Deadfire Archipelago is the "last stop" for anyone headed east - a multitude of monstrous sea creatures infest the ocean beyond, making travel virtually impossible.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
The Deadfire Archipelago marks the eastern edge of the "Known World." Dominantly populated by island aumaua who make up the tribes of the Huana, the chain of hundreds of islands spans thousands of miles. The Deadfire contains myriad climates and biomes that are home to a bewildering array of creatures. The last century has brought ambitious colonial traders, explorers, and pirates to the Deadfire, but travel east of the archipelago is blocked by the destructive storms of Ondra's Mortar.

Legends among the Huana speak of an ancient cataclysm that devastated their people thousands of years ago. Details of this event have been lost to time, but Huana storytellers claim that it destroyed everything they had built, sinking even the greatest of their cities beneath the waves.

IxamitlPlains-icon.png
Ixamitl Plains
+1 Resolve Attribute Resolve.png
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Pillars of Eternity
Located to the northeast of Eir Glanfath, the Ixamitl Plains are a large expanse of fertile savannas that are extensively farmed by human and orlan residents. The Ixamitl culture is one of the oldest in the world, though one of the least imperialistic, having spread out little over the past several thousand years.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Located north of Readceras in the Eastern Reach, the Ixamitl Plains are a large expanse of fertile savannas that are extensively farmed by its savanna folk and orlan residents. The Ixamitl culture is one of the oldest in the world, though one of the least imperialistic, having spread out little over the past several thousand years. Ixamitl society places a strong emphasis on learning and scholarship and honors their philosophers and literati.

OldVailia-icon.png
Old Vailia
+1 Intellect Attribute Intellect.png

-

Click to expand

Pillars of Eternity
Once the crown jewel of the southern seas, Old Vailia is now the crumbled remnants of an empire of warring merchant nations. Counting many humans and dwarves among their ranks, the Old Vailian countries are still forces to be reckoned with and are proud of their rich cultural heritage.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Once the crown jewel of the southern seas, Old Vailia is now the crumbled remnants of an empire of warring merchant nations. Counting many humans and dwarves among their ranks, the Old Vailian countries are still forces to be reckoned with and are proud of their rich cultural heritage. The southernmost of the Old Empires, Old Vailia suffered a similar fate to their northern neighbors, the Aedyrans, in losing their most prosperous colonial territories, the Vailian Republics. Many Old Vailians in the Deadfire Archipelago are associated with the Príncipi sen Patrena, a vast coalition of pirates.

Rauatai-icon.png
Rauatai
+1 Constitution Attribute Constitution.png
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Pillars of Eternity
Dominated by the aumaua nation of Rauatai, the gulf itself is host to a number of nations, most of them aumaua, orlan, and dwarven. Though these countries are relatively young, they are some of the most advanced colonial settlements in the east. The gulf is a land of riches and resources for those who can take them, though the entire coast is often pummeled by violent storms.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
The powerful naval kingdom of Rauatai is dominated by coastal aumaua and ruled by a ranga nui. Currently the most prosperous of the Old Empires, Rauatai has expanded aggressively into the Deadfire Archipelago to secure natural resources that are scarce in their native, storm-torn land. Though folk, dwarves, and orlans can be found in Rauatai, most are merchants or remnants of the old kingdoms Rauatai conquered when they seized power centuries ago.

Legends say that the Rauataians came to their lands from the Deadfire Archipelago in the wake of a terrible cataclysm, but the details of that event have been lost to time and the imagination of storytellers.

TheLivingLands-icon.png
The Living Lands
+1 Might Attribute Might.png

-

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The Living Lands is the mountainous region of a large northern island renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life. Its weather is unpredictable and its ecosystems vary dramatically from valley to valley. The Living Lands are home to an assortment of races in a variety of colonial and independent settlements.

TheWhitethatWends-icon.png
The White that Wends
+1 Perception Attribute Perception.png
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A large, cracked southern expanse of polar ice, the White that Wends is home to pale elves and small colonies of daring explorers, outcasts, and adventurers. While virtually no plant life grows in the White, it is home to many hardy species of dangerous animals that forage from the sea or prey upon each other to survive.

NPC or companion-only cultures
The Dyrwood +1 Resolve Attribute Resolve.png
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A colonial nation founded by settlers from the Aedyr Empire. Following a series of conflicts with Aedyr, the territory became independent in 2672 AI, and is now ruled by a duc, who is elected by seven erls that oversee its erldoms.

Eir Glanfath +1 Constitution Attribute Constitution.png
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A territory comprised of the forest southeast of the Bael River, populated indigenously by a group of loosely affiliated tribes collectively known as Glanfathans, and governed by a council of its six most powerful tribes. Eir Glanfath is home to a large number of ruined Engwithan sites, which Glanfathans hold sacred. The ruins have been at the center of a number of large-scale conflicts with Dyrwoodan colonists, whose settlements often encroach on Glanfathan territory and who frequently seek to plunder the ruins for their relics.

Naasitaq +1 Perception Attribute Perception.png
Príncipi sen Patrena
(Deadfire only)
+1 Resolve Attribute Resolve.png
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Responding to the collapse of Grand Vailia (2720 - 2760 AI ), noble families packed up their households and sailed abroad seeking opportunities away from the shadow of their homeland. Over time their old world traditions evolved into a new identity as the Príncipi sen Patrena - the Princes without a Homeland, a loosely-connected and regulated organization of pirates.

Alternate
The Príncipi sen Patrena, or simply Príncipi, are a large band of loosely-affiliated pirates operating in the Deadfire Archipelago. Though they have their foundations in the fall of Old Vailia, the Príncipi have developed their own unique cultural mélange over the past few decades as their ranks have grown with outlaws from across the known world.

Readceras +1 Resolve Attribute Resolve.png
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Dyrwood's neighbor to the north. Readceras is a nation firmly rooted in its Eothasian faith - a fervor that took hold during the events of the Saint's War and remains even after the apparent death of Eothas.

The Vailian Republics +1 Intellect Attribute Intellect.png
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A mercantile power and former colony of a larger, more ancient nation, Old Vailia. The Republics lie to the south of Dyrwood and Eir Glanfath, and are ruled by a duc elected by the "consuagli asegia," a council of 14 ducs, including its five most prominent, the "ducs bels."

Yezuha
(Deadfire only)
+1 Constitution Attribute Constitution.png
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Almost nothing is known about Rekke's homeland, Yezuha. It is either too small or too remote for any information about it to have become well-known in the Deadfire Archipelago.

Background[edit | edit source]

A background is what the character did (or is currently doing) as a job or profession. A character's background relates strongly to the skills that would required and associated with the background. Generally someone who has a profession in a particular field would develop a natural skill or "knack" for it, so naturally a merchant would be a better negotiator, or an explorer may be more well versed with surviving the wilderness, to give some examples.

After selecting a culture, players may select a background for their character. Backgrounds give an initial skill bonus, and as with culture, they have a similar role-playing impact. Some backgrounds are only available to specific cultures, and some are exclusive to companions.

In Pillars of Eternity, you can further "specialize" your background in a dialog with Calisca after you have found the springberry. First she will ask you about your specific background and then if you didn't say that it isn't her business she will ask why you left. Calisca will also ask you why you travel with the caravan and what you want to do.

Background Availability Skill Description Specific background (poe1)
Pillars of Eternity Deadfire
Background apprentice.png
Arcane Apprentice
Fassina only -
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Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
While many wizards learn their magic from private teachers or even universities, it is far superior to earn an apprenticeship with an established wizard or archmage. Relationships between apprentices and their mistresses or masters are commonly tough and occasionally abusive. This is due both to the eccentricities of powerful wizards as well as their desire to discourage timid students from seeking them out.

Background aristocrat.png
Aristocrat
All except The Living Lands
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Pillars of Eternity
Your family belongs to the upper crust of society, and your upbringing provided you with many advantages over the lower born. You have had access to a first-rate education, and are no stranger to extravagant parties, dances, hunting for sport, and the political concerns of the landed nobility.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You've lived your life amongst the nobility. Your days have been marked by lavish meals and extravagant parties, your conversations peppered with talk of pedigree and bloodlines.

  • That's right. Royal blood runs through my veins.
  • Only to some. Our titles were purchased, not inherited.
  • My family has some clout among the elite, it's true.
Background artist.png
Artist
Old Vailia
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Pillars of Eternity
You were born with a natural grasp of aesthetics, and you have since cultivated it by endeavoring with your work to capture life in all its facets.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You've always felt driven to express yourself creatively. The structure and rigid control of other pursuits has never satisfied in the same way.

  • More of a performer, really.
  • I made my living as an artisan.
  • Yes, in the traditional sense. I try to capture life as I see it, create something new.
Background clergy.png
Clergy or Clergyman
Aedyr (in poe1)
OR
Aedyr or Deadfire Archipelago (in poe2)
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Pillars of Eternity
You answered a higher calling, giving up the freedom of secular life for the spiritual rewards of devotion to the divine - a life of vestments and the study of holy texts and the spreading of the truths they hold.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Piety and prayer are the cornerstones of your public life, and you encourage the same in others.

  • I was. I left all that behind.
  • I led a congregation at one time.
  • I was a missionary.
  • Not really. That's just a lie I tell people so I can manipulate them.
Background colonist.png
Colonist
Aedyr
Old Vailia
The Living Lands
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Pillars of Eternity
You left your homeland some time ago, surrendering the familiarity of home for the great unknowns of the unconquered frontier.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You were part of a group that founded a fledgling colony in a distant land.

  • There was a fortune to be made where I was.
  • It wasn't by choice. I was fleeing persecution.
  • I was there to pacify the land. And the people who were native to it.
Background dissident.png
Dissident
Aedyr
Ixamitl Plains
Old Vailia
Rauatai
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Pillars of Eternity
You've never taken well to people telling you what to do. What began as a rebellious streak has developed into full-blown indignation for authority figures and power structures, and you've taken every opportunity along the way to express your dissenting opinions.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You've made a name for yourself as a troublemaker. Disrespect for authority and a lack of care regarding the rules are recurring themes in your life.

  • For some I was. I fought for a rebellion.
  • You might say that. I was a spy for a time.
  • That's why they put me in jail.
Background drifter.png
Drifter
Any culture
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Pillars of Eternity
It's a rare thing for you to stay anywhere for any length of time. You've passed from town to town, moving on when it suits you, the open road the closest thing you've had to a home.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You never quite fit in no matter where you go. Each new town is just a place to rest briefly before moving on to the next. You are more comfortable on the road, traveling the world.

  • That sort of thing tends to happen with orphans.
  • Sure. I wander in the lives of fools, talk them out of their money and wander back out.
  • You have to be when people are looking for you.
Background explorer.png
Explorer
Deadfire Archipelago
The Living Lands
The White that Wends
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Pillars of Eternity
Your whole life you've lived for the thrill of discovery and exploration, finding irresistible the siren call of the far reaches and unknown places of the world. Many live their lives perfectly content within the confines of one small town, but to you such a fate would've been a death sentence.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You find the siren call of the horizon irresistible. You cannot help but wonder what lies beyond the next hill or wave, and you've built your life around finding out.

  • In the watery parts of the world. I was a mariner.
  • I lived out on a frontier for a time.
  • Interesting might not be the word. I sailed with cold-blooded conquerors.
Background farmer.png
Farmer
Edér and Xoti only
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Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Farmers can be found across the Old Empires, Eastern Reach, and even in the Deadfire Archipelago. They are responsible for the bulk of food their societies rely on for day-to-day sustenance.

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Background gentry.png
Gentry
Aloth only
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Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
A distinct social class in Aedyr, Old Vailia, and parts of the Dyrwood, gentry are minor nobles, often landowners, who sit below the aristocracy and above wealthy commoners.

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Background hunter.png
Hunter
All
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Pillars of Eternity
You've made your living in the wilds, dedicating your hours to perfecting the cadence of the hunt - the long intervals of stillness and waiting, the frantic exertions of the chase, the sudden punctuation of the kill.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You live for the thrill of the chase. Whether for glory or for sustenance, you have made your living taking the lives of wild creatures.

  • I spent a lot of time living on my own in the wilderness.
  • I used to hunt monsters for a living.
  • I was responsible for hunting and gathering for my village.
  • I was a fisherman, actually.
Background laborer.png
Laborer
All
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Pillars of Eternity
Like many commoners of able body and apt mind before you, you learned a complex skill and then struck out on your own to ply your trade.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Your life has been spent in the study of your craft. You trained and prepared, hoping to hone your skills and ply your trade.

  • Blacksmith.
  • Builder.
  • Cook.
Background marksman.png
Marksman
Maia only -
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Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Marksmen are soldiers who specialize in attacking from a distance with firearms. Less common than infantry soldiers, marksmen are often specialized elite units found in private armies or in the employ of powerful merchant companies.

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Background mercenary.png
Mercenary
All except The White that Wends
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Pillars of Eternity
Combat ability of any kind is a skill in high demand in a world where much of the wilderness is untamed and many borders are contested. Battle is your trade, and you have thus far been fortunate enough to survive its perils.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Blade and battle is your way of life. You solve your problems by pulling out your weapon and applying force.

  • I'm a war veteran.
  • I was a blade for hire.
  • I used to go on adventures and expeditions, whatever paid.
  • I was a constable.
Background merchant.png
Merchant
All
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Pillars of Eternity
Whether it was a silver tongue, a head for numbers, an ability to appraise others, or simply happenstance, until recently you made your living as a merchant, parting person from coin in trade for your wares.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You've traded goods from all over the world, pairing items with buyers of all kinds.

  • I used to transport things people wanted kept secret. Goods, people.
  • I piloted cargo ships.
  • I ran a shop.
Background missionary.png
Midwife
Grieving Mother only - -
Background missionary.png
Missionary
Rekke only -
Click to expand

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Missionaries are responsible for spreading the message of their faith to new lands and their people. As the people of the Old Empires, Eastern Reach, and Deadfire Archipelago largely worship the same gods, missionaries are seldom encountered.

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Background mystic.png
Mystic
The White that Wends
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Pillars of Eternity
There are those who find inspiration in books and houses of worship, and there are those for whom it is more personal - perhaps not even a choice at all. The spark of divine inspiration revealed a path to you, and since then you've traveled it in search of fulfillment.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You've never been able to explain how the universe guides your path. Behind every task you undertake is a feeling of cosmic direction.

  • I spend my days studying theology.
  • I get visions from time to time that guide my way.
  • Spirituality was my life. I was an ascetic.
Background philosopher.png
Philosopher
Ixamitl Plains
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Pillars of Eternity
Abstract thinking, the clash of ideals, notions of good and evil, right and wrong, and the pursuit of ultimate truth - these are the things that have always made your blood flow and your mind race, so much so that you've arranged your life such that you can while away your hours contemplating elusive answers and challenging accepted beliefs.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You are most at home inside your own head, analyzing the nature of the world and its inhabitants.

  • I used to spend a lot of time reasoning about good and evil, right and wrong.
  • It's part of my nature. I was a teacher before I came here.
  • I don't believe in anything, and I've spent a lot of time challenging other people's beliefs.
Background raider.png
Raider
Deadfire Archipelago
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Pillars of Eternity
You've always taken what you wanted - didn't matter what it was or who it belonged to. By most laws this is theft, but you've never had much use for any laws besides your own.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You've spent your life on the wrong side of the law. What you want, you take, and what was theirs has a tendency to become yours.

  • I've been known to liberate certain underappreciated valuables from their owners' homes.
  • You wouldn't have wanted to run into me at sea. We boarded and plundered ships.
  • I was a highwayman in my old life.
Background scholar.png
Scholar
Ixamitl Plains
Rauatai
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Pillars of Eternity
You have always been dazzled by letters and numbers, facts and figures, problems and stratagems. In academics you found a way to surround yourself with what interested you, and since then you've largely spent your time trying to better yourself through the acquisition of knowledge.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
For you, knowledge is a relentless pursuit. You hoard each kernel of information as though it were precious metal, and time you don't spend learning is time wasted.

  • I was a historian.
  • I took an interest in all matters arcane.
  • I studied war and combat.
Background scientist.png
Scientist
The Living Lands
Click to expand

Pillars of Eternity
The laws of the natural world are pieces of a puzzle to you, and you dedicated yourself to putting it together - unraveling its mysteries, revealing small truths to bring larger ones into focus.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
The rules that govern the world are a set of alchemical formulae to you, waiting to be discovered and manipulated.

  • I learned to harness it to solve crimes.
  • There's a lot of demand for substances that alter the mind. A little science goes a long way in meeting that demand.
  • I spent a long time pursuing the knowledge promised by alchemy.
Background slave.png
Slave
Aedyr
Deadfire Archipelago
Old Vailia
Rauatai
Click to expand

Pillars of Eternity
Few people truly understand what it feels like to be forced into the service of another, stripped of freedom and dignity alike, but until recently, this had been your lot in life - hard labor, chains, and the ceaseless gaze of a master.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You have never known freedom. Shackles and chains have bound your existence, and someone has told you what to do your entire life.

  • Slave on a galley at sea.
  • Slave on a large farming estate.
  • Indentured servant.
Background soldier.png
Soldier
Pallegina only
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Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Professional soldiers work throughout the Old Empires, Eastern Reach, and even in the Deadfire. The difference between a mercenary and a soldier is the nature of their employment. Soldiers are always full-time professionals associated with standing armies, often as a part of an elite military order.

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Background hunter.png
Trapper
Devil of Caroc only
Click to expand

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
You were a trapper, making your life through snares and legholds, catching small animals for their meat, pelts, and even bones.

-

References[edit source]