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Disambig.png This article is about combat in Pillars of Eternity and its expansions. For combat in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, see Combat (Deadfire).

The article covers all combat related mechanics. Pillars of Eternity uses a tactical real-time with pause system and a slow combat toggle that can be used with or in lieu of the pause feature. The player selects and commands one or more of his or her party members to issue orders, ranging from continuous activities, like making standard attacks, to the activation of limited-use tactical abilities, such as spells. Positioning your party and coordinating attacks and abilities is one of the keys to success.

Maneuver[edit | edit source]

Engagement[edit | edit source]

Main article: Melee Engagement

All characters who are not moving and have melee weapons equipped project a small Melee Engagement radius around them. If an opponent enters that radius, they are instantly Engaged and stop moving, attempting to move any significant distance away from the attacker will provoke a Disengagement Attack.

  • Disengagement Attack is a "free" action with no recovery time, has an inherent Accuracy bonus, does significantly more damage than a standard attack, and will call a hit reaction animation while momentarily stopping the retreating character's movement.
  • Engagement radius is only a little more than a character width (barring special circumstances).
  • Engagement limit, most characters can only engage one enemy at a time. If they don't have a target, it's the first enemy who enters the radius.

Action[edit | edit source]

Main article: Action

Actions take place in a real-time environment, which include repeated actions such as standard attacks, reloading/firing and one-off/special use actions, such as spell casting and item use. Selecting an action to perform will result in the character performing that action as soon as they are in range. Each action takes time to perform, as the relevant animation plays out and can be "interrupted". It is followed by a recovery time until the next action can be performed (movement simply pauses recovery time).

Certain Spells and abilities can speed up attacks/actions. Heavier armor hampers recovery time between actions, thus decreasing attack/action speed. Weapons have different attack speeds (and reload speeds, for crossbows and firearms), overall bringing to bear a Two-handed weapon takes more time than a fast one-handed one or using a magical implement. Additionally a character wielding two weapons is making more frequent attacks than one wielding one weapon (whether single-handed, two-handed, or with a shield).

Attack Resolution[edit | edit source]

Main article: Attack Resolution

When characters do something offensively (melee, ranged, spell etc.), you are always trying to hit and that always depends on your Accuracy vs. the target's defense(s), how effective your strike is determined by an attack roll. Successful attack may Interrupt the target Action and will result in an impact animation.

  • Attack roll represents a character's attempts to strike an opponent. Each attack can result in Critical Hit, Hit, Graze or Miss, which will affect the attack damage or duration. The likelihood of each outcome is based on the difference between the attacker's accuracy vs target's defense values and can be further modified by various class abilities.
  • Accuracy It represents the measures of a character's chance to hit with any attack melee/ranged weapons, spells etc. It can be further modified by various class abilities and items.
  • Defense A character's Defense represents how hard it is for opponents to land damaging blow on the character. There are four Defenses: Deflection, Fortitude, Reflex and Will. The higher a character's Defense, the more likely the opponent is to miss or only graze you. Defenses are determined by character attributes and class and are further modified by level, equipment, spells, abilities and talents.

Damage[edit | edit source]

When a character lands a damaging blow, he or she deals damage according damage type vs Damage Threshold and affect the target's current Health and Endurance. Health loss occurs at the same time as Endurance loss and at the same rate. In previous builds health was reduced by a fraction of the endurance value (typically at a 1:4 ratio) and has since been changed.

Pillars of Eternity
  • Damage Type: All damage dealt has a certain Damage type, affecting the efficiency of the target damage threshold.
  • Minimum Damage, no matter how high the DR a minimum amount(20 %) of damage will get through armor.[1]
  • Full Attack: Full attacks always use both weapons, if two weapons are equipped.[2]
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

The sequel changes the way damage is calculated and how protection works. The changes are as follows:

  • Armor Rating: Replaces damage reduction and determines the damage done in conjunction with penetration.
  • Penetration: Penetration mechanics affect the amount of damage done.

Damage Resolution[edit | edit source]

All relevant percentile (e.g. +XX%) damage bonuses that a character receives in Pillars of Eternity, whether from items, abilities or passive talents or any other source, are applied to the base damage of the attack being used. Here is a practical example using a character attacking an enemy with 10 DR with a two handed weapon:

  • Damage Bonus: +30% (20 Might) + 45% (Superb Weapon) + 20% (Savage Attack) = +95%
  • Base Damage of Two Handed Weapon: 14 to 20 damage
  • Modified Damage before DR: 14 to 20, *1.95 = 27.3 to 39 damage
  • Modified Damage after DR: 27.3 to 39 damage, -10 = 17.3 to 29

Flat Damage Modifiers[edit | edit source]

Abilities or items that add a flat number (e.g. +2 damage to unarmed attacks from the Sandals of the Forgotten Friar) will be added to modified damage before DR. However, in the case of +X flat damage to unarmed in Pillars of Eternity, the only percentile damage bonus that will apply to this portion of extra damage is the one received from Might e.g. if a Character has 20 Might (+30% Damage) and has a combined +10 damage to unarmed attacks this will become 13 damage (10*1.3 = 13). All ordinary damage modifiers will still apply to the base damage of the fists however – extra +unarmed damage as affected by Might will be added on to this.

Lashes[edit | edit source]

A lash that is applied to a weapon attack in Pillars of Eternity gives a multiplicative bonus to damage based on modified damage before DR. Lash damage is then calculated vs 1/4 of the enemy's damage reduction, regardless of the strength of the lash. For example, the Paladin's ability Flames of Devotion gives the Paladin an attack that does 50% Fire Lash damage. If we use the same example of a 2H weapon as described above in "Damage Resolution", except that it's a Paladin using Flames of Devotion, the Paladin rolls 30 Modified Damage before DR, the Weapon has a 25% Fire Lash, the Paladin has the Intense Flames Talent and the opponent has 10 DR we would end up with the following Damage:

  • Modified Damage before DR: 30
  • Modified Damage after DR: 30 - 10 = 20 Damage
  • Flames of Devotion (50% Lash): 30*0.5 vs 0.25 DR = 15 - 2.5 = 12.5 Damage
  • Weapon Lash (25% Lash): 30*0.25 vs 0.25 DR = 7.5 - 2.5 = 5 Damage
  • Intense Flames Talent (25% Lash): 30*0.25 vs 0.25 DR = 7.5 - 2.5 = 5 Damage
  • Total Damage: 20 + 12.5 + 5 + 5 = 42.5 Damage

Lashes are completely unaffected by any damage penetration mechanics. For example, if the attack described above was carried out with the Vulnerable Attack Modal on (-5 DR), it would do 47.5 damage.

Lashes of an Elemental Nature (Fire, Ice, Lighting, Corrode) benefit from Elemental Talents under the Utility Talents section (Scion of Flame, Secrets of Rime, Heart of the Storm, Spirit of Decay respectively). The % of the lash will be increased by 1.2, such that a 25% lash becomes a 30% lash (25*1.2 = 30) and a 50% Lash becomes a 60% Lash (50*1.2 = 60). In the example used above, having the Talent Scion of Flame would have added an extra 6 damage.

As is evident from above, lashes work best with High Modified Damage before DR against opponents with low damage reduction. High modified damage before DR is achievable with high base damage attacks and a lot of %XX damage modifiers.

Interrupts/Concentration[edit | edit source]

If a character is hit while performing an action such as casting a spell, attacking an enemy, or reloading a weapon, a Concentration roll will occur and, if that roll fails, the action will be Interrupted. When an action is Interrupted, it is completely canceled and the character can take no other action for a specific period of time. This period is determined by the "Interrupt" stat of the item that caused the interruption (e.g., a weapon, a spell, etc.). If the interrupted action is one that can be performed only a limited number of times (e.g., a spell), the action is not permanently lost, but it must be manually restarted after the Interrupt period has elapsed. Conversely, unlimited actions (e.g., standard melee attacks) will automatically resume after the period has elapsed. Interrupting breaks engagement.[3]


Concentration prevents you from playing hit reactions when you take damage. If you cannot maintain Concentration, you will play a hit reaction and your current action (e.g., attack/reload/spell) will be Interrupted (as above).[4] Concentration is influenced by Resolve.


If your Interrupt is high you will stop an enemy's actions if you hit him more often. Each weapon/attack has a time value that determines how long the interrupt will last, and attacks that have high rates of fire (like wands and spell missiles) or area of effect abilities have low base Interrupt values. However, there are exceptions: Firearms have relatively low base Interrupt (and high damage) and Thrust of Tattered Veils has a high base Interrupt (but does very little damage).[5][6][7] Interrupt is influenced by Talents and Equipment.

The attacker must at least score a Graze. Each weapon or attack has a base Interrupt time in one of the following categories Scale:

  • [None]
  • Weakest: 0.05 seconds
  • Weaker: ???
  • Weak: 0.35
  • Average: 0.5 sec
  • Strong: 0.75 sec
  • Stronger: 1 sec
  • Strongest: ???

These values can further be modified by magical weapons, items or the talent Interrupting Blows. Magical weapons can have a special property (called Superior Interruption) that bumps their set/listed Base Interrupt rating up by one category. E.g., a Stiletto would be set to Weak but be bumped to Average. Magical items (of any sort, but usually armor) and spells/abilities can have a special property, called Interrupting, that increases the base value by a percentage.

The attack roll can further modify this value. The final result increases by 50% if the attack was a Crit and is cut to 50% if the attack was a Graze. Additionally, a Disengagement Attack automatically increases the final result by 50%. A Disengagement Attack that Crits would increase the result by 50%, then that result by 50%.

To call a hit reaction the following must be true: "1-100" + "Attacker's Interrupt" (+0 on Hit / -25 on Graze / +25 on Crit) > "Enemy Concentration"

Vitality[edit | edit source]

Main article: Vitality

Endurance will be the tactical resource, expended and recovered quickly. If a character loses all Endurance during a fight, they are knocked out for the duration. Health is the long term strategic resource. Heal effects or spells are rare or non-existent, generally recoverable only by resting, so health has to be carefully managed over many fights.

Status Effects[edit | edit source]

Main article: Status Effects

Abnormal states that may affects a character's attributes or actions during combat. There is fairly big list of defined "afflictions" and the penalties they apply. The status effect and the damage of an attack will be checked separately. Some attacks simply have two separate components that succeed or fail independently of each other, but others will be “2-stage”. If the main attack at least scores a graze, the second attack will occur separately (and often against a separate defense).[8][9]

References[edit source]