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Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Update 40 - Multiclassing Part II

September 20, 2017 10:00 AM

Greetings, citizens of Eora! We're very excited to bring you an update that goes over the multiclassing system in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. You may remember way back in Update #7 when we discussed how the system would work, but changes were made and we wanted to make sure we discussed them. So, join Josh and some of the Deadfire team while we talk about all things multiclassing.

The video touched on some of the changes, but Josh himself has some words on what has gone into the multiclassing and subclassing system. Take it away, Josh!

Hail, elves.

It's time for a big ol' update on multiclassing and subclassing. Both features are new for Deadfire and we wanted to let you know how they've developed over the past eight months.

Our original design for multiclassing was based on D&D 3.X's approach, where players pick classes level-by-level. You could build a character as a wizard for 4 levels, then add 2 levels of fighter, then switch back to wizard for 3 levels, and so on. Because 3.X multiclassing has some mechanical problems with how spellcasters progress (barring certain prestige classes like the Mystic Theurge), I designed a system that separated each class' power source advancement from its level advancement. It was designed to create a more reliable advancement curve for each class' abilities. It more-or-less succeeded at that, but we noted some problems early on, including after the announcement:

  • People had a difficult time understanding the relationship between individual levels and power source progression.
  • Selecting powers worked pretty well if you knew exactly what you were doing, but you could easily wind up with casts per encounter from levels of spells you had no spells for (e.g. 2 third level casts but no third level spells).
  • There were some shortcomings with building characters level by level in different orders.
  • Displaying power source progression in the UI was either confusing or took up an inordinate amount of space

After talking things over with the other system designers, we discussed what the most important aspects of multiclassing were.

  • Allowing people to realize hybrid class character concepts. "I want to be a fighter and a wizard."
  • Keeping the overall power of the character competitive with single-class characters. The character should be viable. It's okay if it winds up over- or a little under-powered compared to a single-class character as long as it's not fundamentally weak.
  • Allowing players to emphasize one aspect of the hybrid more than others. "I'm a fighter and a wizard, but more of a wizard."

The original design allowed the first and the last aspects, but the middle aspect suffered because of the high degree of flexibility. It was still easy to make non-viable characters. A non-viable character can be part of a viable party, but still feels bad to play. The high degree of flexibility also strained the first aspect, the basic character concept. A character with 18 levels in fighter and 2 levels in rogue is less of a character concept and more of a strategic build choice.

I went back to the drawing board to revisit an idea I had around the same time as the original design, which was based on AD&D 2nd Edition-style multiclassing, where the player chooses to opt into multiclassing at character creation instead of selecting classes level-by-level. In such systems, the core concept is established from the beginning. A player who says, "I want to be a fighter and a wizard," can be that (a battlemage) from the beginning instead of picking one class and then alternating to the other later on. Progression is also easier to understand from the beginning as access to abilities and the increase of their power is consistent from multiclass to multiclass. A fighter/rogue (swashbuckler) gains access to 2nd level abilities for both classes at 4th level, as does a priest/monk (contemplative), barbarian/chanter (howler), and druid/ranger (beastmaster).

In a strict sense, the new system allows for less overall flexibility, but multiclass characters now get two abilities each time they hit a new power level, one from each class. This means that a multiclass character starts with more abilities and will always have more abilities than a single-class character of the same level. However, multiclass characters get access to each power level later than a single-class character and their abilities progress in power at a slower rate. A wizard has access to Fireball at 5th level, but a battlemage (fighter/wizard) does not gain access until 7th level.

A multiclass character also uses the average of their classes' base health and defenses. If one class begins with 48 health and the other begins with 30, the multiclass will start with 39 health. If one class gains 14 health per level and the other gains 10 per level, the multiclass will gain 12 per level.

In actual playtesting, multiclass characters have terrific flexibility even though they lag power-wise compared to their single-class counterparts. In my personal experience, they are a lot of fun to play and there is a huge amount of variety to how a multiclass character can be built even before subclasses are taken into account.

Subclasses add an additional dimension to character conception and development. As in our original design, players are allowed to choose a subclass for each of their classes. The only classes that are required to have a subclass are paladin and priest. Subclasses all have trade-offs, though some subclasses change the core playstyle of the class more than others. A sharpshooter plays similarly to the pure ranger, but emphasizes the ranged aspect more and suffers more in melee. A stalker needs to stay close to their animal companion to avoid penalties and take advantage of the subclass' melee-oriented benefits. A ghost lodge ranger plays much differently from the pure ranger because their animal companion is only present as a spirit summoned in combat. There are very few restrictions on multiclassing combinations. Only a few paladin orders and priest deities are restricted from combining for mechanical reasons (i.e., contradictory Dispositions that affect their abilities). Otherwise, the player is free to combine classes as they see fit.

Now, for the lists you've all been waiting for... first, the multiclass titles! These titles are displayed on your character sheet along with the individual classes and subclasses your character uses.

Class Names

Here are all of our subclasses with a brief description of what the subclass is all about.


  • Corpse Eater - Targets unconscious enemies to devour their flesh and gain power. Powers cost more to use.
  • Berserker - Has a more powerful Frenzy, but attacks can damage friends as well as foes while Frenzied.
  • Mage Slayer - Gains spell resistance and can disrupt enemy spells, but cannot use potions or scrolls and beneficial spells have shorter durations.


  • Beckoner - Summoning invocations are cheaper and summon more creatures, but the creatures are weaker.
  • Skald - Offensive invocations are cheaper and melee crits grant phrases, but all other invocations are more expensive.
  • Troubadour - Phrase linger is 50% longer, Brisk Recitation as a modal that increases the rate of phrase elapses, but shortens linger. All invocations are more expensive.


  • Ascendant - Powers and Soul Whip are more effective when used at Max Focus, but Focus drains quickly if left at Max for long.
  • Beguiler - Illusion powers are more powerful, but Soul Whip suffers when used against targets that are not vulnerable to Sneak Attack.
  • Soul Blade - Offensive cipher that can dump Focus into a Soul Annihilation melee attack for extra Raw damage. Shred powers have reduced Focus cost. Lower Max Focus.


  • Fury - Shift into storm blights and gain bonuses with elemental spells. Cannot cast Restoration spells.
  • Lifegiver - Rejuvenation spells are cast with increased Power Level but cannot cast Summon spells.
  • Shifter - Druid can shift to any animal form, once each, per combat and heals damage each time they shift back. Cannot cast spells while shifted.


  • Black Jacket - Bonus weapon proficiency, reduced Recovery when switching weapon, but lacks Constant Recovery.
  • Devoted - May only be proficient in a single weapon. Higher Penetration and crit damage with that weapon. Suffers Accuracy penalty when using other weapons.
  • Unbroken - Bonuses to Engagement and Disengagement Attacks, but lower Stride.


  • Helwalker - Begin all combats with Wounds, gain Might for every Wound. Wounds require more damage to acquire.
  • Nalpazca - Drug effects last longer and Wound cap is increased while under the effects of drugs. Penalties while not under the effect of drugs.
  • Shattered Pillar - Gain Wounds by inflicting damage with melee weapons (fists or otherwise). Lower Max Wound cap, does not gain Wounds from receiving damage.


  • Bleak Walkers - Flames of Devotion (Remember Rakhan Field) generates black flames and does Corrode damage. Healing given and received is reduced. - Cannot multiclass with priests of Eothas, Berath, or Skaen.
  • Darcozzi Paladini - Lay on Hands (Flames of Darcozzi Palace) creates a flame shield around the paladin. Lower Zeal power. - Cannot multiclass with priests of Berath, Magran, or Skaen.
  • Goldpact Knights - Sworn Enemy (Gilded Enmity) creates protective gold armor on the paladin. Cannot learn Zealous Auras. - Cannot multiclass with priests of Magran or Wael.
  • Kind Wayfarers - Flames of Devotion (Sword and the Shepherd) heals nearby allies. Does less damage against enemies vulnerable to Sneak Attack. - Cannot multiclass with priests of Berath, Magran, Wael, or Skaen.
  • Shieldbearers of St. Elcga - Lay on Hands (St. Elcga's Grace) prevents the target from being knocked out for a short duration. Cannot use Lay on Hands on self. - Cannot multiclass with priests of Skaen, Magran, or Wael.


  • Berath - Can learn Decay spells from the druid list, cannot learn Condemnation spells. - Cannot multiclass with Bleak Walker, Kind Wayfarer, or Darcozzi paladins.
  • Eothas - Can learn Elemental spells from the druid list, cannot learn Protection spells. - Cannot multiclass with Bleak Walker paladins.
  • Magran - Can learn Fire spells from the wizard list, cannot learn Restoration spells. - Cannot multiclass with Shieldbearer, Kind Wayfarer, Goldpact, or Darcozzi paladins.
  • Skaen - Can learn rogue offensive abilities as priest spells, cannot learn Inspiration spells. - Cannot multiclass with Shieldbearer, Bleak Walker, Kind Wayfarer, or Darcozzi paladins.
  • Wael - Can learn Illusion spells from the wizard list, cannot learn Punishment spells. - Cannot multiclass with Shieldbeaer, Kind Wayfarer, or Goldpact paladins.


  • Ghost Heart - Animal companion must be summoned as a spirit. They are not affected by Bonded Grief and the companion is more powerful, but the summon is limited duration.
  • Sharpshooter - Bonuses to Penetration and Accuracy at range, but slower actions and lower Deflection.
  • Stalker - Stalker and companion gain bonuses to Deflection and Armor Rating when close to each other, suffer Bonded Grief when too far apart.


  • Assassin - From stealth or invisibility, weapon attacks have bonus damage, Penetration, and Accuracy. All incoming damage is increased.
  • Streetfighter - Sneak Attack and crit damage increases when Flanked or Bloodied (<50% Health). Recovery is slower when neither Flanked nor Bloodied.
  • Trickster - Gains access to Illusion spells from the wizard list. Sneak Attack deals less damage.


  • Conjurer - Conjuration spells are more powerful, cannot cast Evocation or Illusion spells.
  • Enchanter - Enchantment spells are more powerful, cannot cast Illusion or Transmutation spells.
  • Evoker - Evocation spells are more powerful, cannot cast Transmutation or Conjuration spells.Illusionist - Illusion spells are more powerful, cannot cast Conjuration or Enchanting spells.
  • Transmuter - Transmutation spells are more powerful, cannot cast Enchantment or Evocation spells.

The subclasses are still undergoing testing, so there may be changes to the specifics of implementation along the way. We hope that this glimpse into Deadfire's multiclassing and subclass systems gives you endless ideas for different characters you could build until the game is released. Thanks for reading.

--Josh Sawyer, Game Director, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire


The time to pledge for Deadfire high-tier items is coming to an end. If you want to get an item in the game, you have until next Friday, September 29th, to pledge for that tier. After that, they will no longer be available. The tiers this affects are as follows:

  • Name a Pet
  • Create an Item
  • Portrait In-Game
  • Create a Super-Pet
  • Create a Spell
  • Create an Inn
  • Build a Pirate Party
  • Top Backer

All other tiers will remain open until October 31st, so mark that date if you want to up your pledge or let your friends know to get in on Deadfire early!

We hope you've enjoyed this update and we'll be back in a few weeks with another From the Feed of the Director. See you then!

If you want to discuss this update, head on over to our forums! If you missed it, be sure to check out the last update.