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A Hearth Orlan cipher.
36 (+12 per level)
Skill bonuses

Ciphers are one of the playable classes in Pillars of Eternity.

Ciphers are uncommon and often misunderstood individuals with extraordinary mental abilities. Like wizards and priests, they have many talents that draw directly from their souls, but ciphers have the unique ability to peer through the spiritual energy of the world to manipulate other souls. While wizards use complex formulae in large tomes and priests tap into the passion of their faith, ciphers are able to operate directly through the power of their minds... and yours.[1]

Description[edit | edit source]

A recent discovery in the Eastern Reach, ciphers were once called "brîshalgwin" ("mind hunters") by the Glanfathans. Ciphers have the ability to directly contact and manipulate another person's soul and psyche, using an ally's or enemy's essence as the focus for their magic. Though most ciphers are still found in the Eastern Reach, practitioners of the techniques have spread throughout the known world. They are gaining acceptance over time, but are generally distrusted, especially by the uneducated.

Background[edit | edit source]

Ciphers latent mental talents are a relatively recent discovery, that occurred naturally among the Glanfathan population.[2] Over a century ago, during the Broken Stone War, soldiers in the Dyrwood reported wild tales of having their minds invaded, of seeing comrades lose control of themselves, of orlan and elven Glanfathan warriors wielding knives engulfed in purple flames that "cut away" the souls of their victims. The war was a new experience for everyone involved, so many Dyrwoodans dismissed many of the more outlandish tales over time. But over the decades that followed, more settlers reported similar violent encounters with Glanfathan guerilla fighters. In the War of Black Trees, Dyrwoodan animancers confirmed many of these experiences across a wide number of soldiers and settlers. However, with Dyrwoodan settlers in a state of war with the population of Eir Glanfath, the researchers couldn't find many Glanfathans who were willing to talk about it.

In the years that followed the Dyrwoodan revolution for independence, relations between Eir Glanfath and the Dyrwood thawed, the tribal princes of Eir Glanfath allowed Dyrwoodan animancers to speak with some of their brîshalgwin, the elite warriors that had terrorized Aedyrans and Dyrwoodans in past wars. From the brîshalgwin, the animancers learned that Glanfathans had developed mental abilities that allowed them to perceive and contact what animancers categorized as "housed" souls, i.e., souls held within a physical vessel.

Excited by these revelations, animancers in Defiance Bay began working with the brîshalgwin, whom the animancers had previously described as ciphers due to their mysterious nature. Given Dyrwoodans' general discomfort with the Glanfathan language, the cipher name stuck and continues to be used in everyday conversation.[3] Since they were able to figure out a lot of new techniques that help them expand their abilities and learn to master them.[2]

Ciphers were feared for a long time because people didn't understand how they accomplished what they could do. Even today, some people still regard ciphers with a lot of suspicion, and their place in the world is still being defined.[2]

Attributes[edit | edit source]

Highly Recommended:


Abilities[edit | edit source]


Focus is a resource that ciphers need to cast their powers. Ciphers begin combat with a modest amount of Focus and their more advanced techniques demand large expenditures of Focus. Additionally, repeated uses of even minor powers will quickly drain a cipher's Focus, requiring them to dive into physical combat and deal melee or ranged damage to generate more.[3] Josh Sawyer stated in an interview with PCGamer "So what you want to do is send your cipher into combat with traditional weapons to build your focus. When it’s maxed out, their inherent damage bonuses get turned off because their focus is full and they can’t drain any more."[2]

Soul Whip

Soul Whip is the Cipher's passive ability that activates in combat as long as the Cipher's Focus level is below maximum. Causes the Cipher's weapon(s) to generate a field of parasitic energy that lashes out at the target, increasing Damage inflicted and generating Focus for the cipher. It can be used with ranged weapons.

Main article: Power

Powers require Focus and a nearby target other than themselves, one with a "housed" soul. In practical terms, this means that ciphers must always target a nearby ally or an enemy with their powers. It is impossible for them to target themselves, a distant target, or open ground.[3] They have lot of single target damage powers, powers that inflict afflictions and powers which effect jumps from target to target.[2]

Progression[edit | edit source]

Level Ability gained Starting Focus Max Focus Able to learn power of level
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
1 Soul Whip 7 30 X
Two powers
2 One power 10 40 X
3 Two powers 12 50 X X
4 One power 15 60 X X
5 Two powers 17 70 X X X
6 One power 20 80 X X X
7 Two powers 22 90 X X X X
8 One power 25 100 X X X X
9 Two powers 27 110 X X X X X
10 One power 30 120 X X X X X
11 Two powers 32 130 X X X X X X
12 One power 35 140 X X X X X X
13 Two powers 37 150 X X X X X X X
14 One power 40 160 X X X X X X X
15 Two powers 42 170 X X X X X X X X
16 One power 45 180 X X X X X X X X

Talents[edit | edit source]

  • Biting Whip – As long as the cipher's Focus is below maximum, their Soul Whip deals 20% more damage in melee and ranged combat.
  • Psychic Backlash – Whenever the cipher is attacked, targeting their Will defense, the attacker may get stunned themselves, with the cipher's Accuracy -10 counting against their own Will.
    • Brutal Backlash – Whenever the cipher's Psychic Backlash talent strikes, this brutal upgrade adds 20 Raw Damage to the stunned effect.
  • Draining Whip – As long as the cipher's focus hasn't reached its maximum, their Soul Whip will generate 33% more Focus while in combat.
  • Greater Focus – The cipher's maximum and starting Focus are increased by 10.

Related items[edit | edit source]

Icon Name Item type Enchantments
Amulet mindmarker icon.png Brîshalgwin Mindmarker Amulet
Amulet mindmarker icon.png Brîshalgwin Mindmarker Amulet
Arbalest one-eyed molinas gold-fingered spike-flinger icon.png One-Eyed Molina's Gold-Fingered Spike-Flinger [DP]
Hunting bow stormcaller icon.png Stormcaller [WM1]
Hunting bow
Crossbow twin sting icon.png Twin Sting [WM2]

Notable characters[edit | edit source]

Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

1 Minute Guide[edit | edit source]

References[edit source]