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In response to patch v1. to Pillars of Eternity (June 6, 2024), the random loot tables shown on the wiki have been updated. These changes may take time to propegate.

As a result, random loot data is no longer accurate to old versions of the game, including all console ports. We'll be working to provide a mechanism to switch between pre-patch and post-patch loot for console players.


Pillars of Eternity Wiki

Ciphers are one of the playable classes in Pillars of Eternity and Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

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[ | ]

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

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[ | ]

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]

Statistics[ | ]

Game Resources Endurance Health Accuracy Defenses Skill bonuses
DEF Deflection FOR Fortitude REF Reflex WIL Will
Pillars of Eternity Focus 36 + 12 per level 4x Endurance 25 20 20 20 20
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - 38 + 8 per level 20 20 20 15 30

Abilities[ | ]

List of abilities[ | ]

Powers[ | ]

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Ciphers can directly target allies and enemies with powerful soul-focused effects. These powers cost Focus, which ciphers build through the use of their Soul Whip.

Powers are the cipher equivalent of other classes spells and abilities. 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]

Powers are not limited to a maximum amount of uses, and can be cast as long as the cipher has the required Focus.

Focus[ | ]

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Cipher powers require and consume Focus on use. Ciphers begin combat with some Focus and build additional Focus by dealing damage with their weapons

Focus is a resource that ciphers need to cast their powers. Ciphers begin combat with a modest amount of Focus, and can build additional focus by dealing damage with their weapons. Cipher abilities expend an amount of Focus relative to their level, with more advanced techniques demanding large expenditures of Focus. Additionally, repeated uses of even minor powers will quickly drain a cipher's Focus, requiring them to dive back 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]

  • At the beginning of combat, the Cipher starts with 25% of their maximum Focus pool.
  • A Cipher's maximum Focus is increased by 10 points per character level (including level 1), starting at a base of 20.
  • In Pillars of Eternity:
    • Soul Whip generates 0.25 Focus per point of weapon damage dealt to enemies (i.e. 25% of damage dealt).
  • In Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire:
    • Soul Whip generates 0.5 Focus per point of weapon damage dealt to enemies (i.e. 50% of damage dealt).
    • The Ascendant subclass adjusts focus gain by +50%, generating 0.75 focus per point of damage dealt, and grants +5 Max Focus - plus an additional +5 every 2 character levels.
    • The Beguiler subclass generates 0.25 Focus per point of damage dealt (halved from the default), and only deals the full amount (via a +100% adjustment) if a target is vulnerable to Sneak Attack - i.e. Flanked or suffering from an Affliction. When scoring a Hit with a Deception spell, the Cipher gains +5 Focus.
    • The Soul Blade subclass has a reduced Max Focus of -5, and an additional -5 every 2 Cipher Power Levels (not character levels).
    • The Psion subclass does not gain focus via Soul Whip, and instead generates +1 Focus every 1.0 sec (disabled for 6.0 sec when damaged).
Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 ...
Starting focus 7 10 12 15 17 20 22 25 27 30 32 35 37 40 42 45 47 50 52 55 ...
Maximum focus 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200 210 220 ...

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. While active, it enables the Cipher to generate Focus, and grants increased damage with both melee and ranged weapons.

Talents[ | ]

  • 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.

Progression[ | ]

In Pillars of Eternity[ | ]

  • At character creation, ciphers automatically learn the passive ability Soul Whip.
  • Ciphers select two powers at every odd level (1, 3, 5, etc.), and one power at every even level (2, 4, 6, etc.).
  • At every odd level (1, 3, 5, etc.), the next tier of abilities are unlocked.
  • As with other classes, ciphers learn one talent at every even level (2, 4, 6, etc.).
  • Max and starting focus scales with the cipher's level (see below).

In Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire[ | ]

  • At character creation, ciphers select one 1st level ability (active only), and automatically learns the passive ability Soul Whip. This does not change for multiclass characters.
  • As with other classes, ciphers pick 2 abilities at every level where a new power level is unlocked excluding the first (3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 19), and one ability at all other levels (1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20). Ability points may be spent on active or passive abilities, and on any currently-unlocked power levels.
    • Multiclass characters pick 1 ability from either the cipher ability tree or the other class tree at all levels where a new power level isn't unlocked, and 1 ability for both classes at all levels where a new power level is unlocked (1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19).
  • Ciphers use Focus (an accrued resource) to cast abilities. The maximum and starting Focus scales with the cipher's level (see above)
  • As with other classes, new ability power levels are learned every second level from level 1 (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13), then every third level from level 13 (16, 19). Multiclass characters may only learn up to (and including) power level 7 abilities, and unlock a new power level every third level from level 1 (1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19).
Ability points at each level
Level Power level learned Points available
Single Multi Single Multi
1 1 (I) 1 (I) 1 1+1
2 1 1
3 2 (II) 2 1
4 2 (II) 1 1+1
5 3 (III) 2 1
6 1 1
7 4 (IV) 3 (III) 2 1+1
8 1 1
9 5 (V) 2 1
10 4 (IV) 1 1+1
11 6 (VI) 2 1
12 1 1
13 7 (VII) 5 (V) 2 1+1
14 1 1
15 1 1
16 8 (VIII) 6 (VI) 2 1+1
17 1 1
18 1 1
19 9 (IX) 7 (VII) 2 1+1
20 1 1

Subclasses[ | ]

Ciphers in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire are able to choose between four subclasses (or no subclass): Ascendant, Beguiler, Soul Blade, Psion. A fifth subclass Wild Mind is exclusive to the companion Serafen.

Ascendant[ | ]

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Ascendant ciphers train to use their powers when they are at full Focus. This can make their powers devastating when they are finally unleashed, but leaves them underpowered in other circumstances. Whether earned or not, ascendants have a reputation for being cocky and overconfident.

Bonus Penalty
  • Max Focus is increased.
  • Reaching Max Focuses grants the "Ascended" effect temporarily, increasing Power Level and reducing Power Focus costs to 0.
  • Soul Whip does not turn off while Ascended and provides more bonus damage during Ascended.

Beguiler[ | ]

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Beguilers emphasize the mind-bending powers of ciphers, relying on deception and illusion to defeat their enemies. Some beguilers are known for their odd sense of humor, love of riddles, and fondness for Wael, god of dreams and secrets.

Bonus Penalty
  • All Deception cipher spells have increased range.
  • Deception cipher spells restore Focus when successfully cast on enemies that are vulnerable to Sneak Attack.
  • Beguiler (passive): Self on scoring Hit (with Cipher Deception spells): +5 Focus, Self: +20% Range with Cipher Deception Spells
  • Soul Whip (Beguiler): Self: +10% Damage with weapons, 0.25 Focus generated per point of weapon damage dealt to enemies (restored to +20% Damage and 0.5 Focus if attacking Sneak Attack vulnerable target).

Soul Blade[ | ]

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Soul blades focus all of their energy on offensive powers and the use of their soul whip. Among ciphers, they are known for their aggression and short tempers, though not all soul blades have such a hostile disposition.

Bonus Penalty
  • Gains "Soul Annihilation" ability: A soul enhanced melee strike that consumes the cipher's remaining power pool and converts it into Raw damage on the target.
  • Shred cipher spells cost less Focus.
  • Downing an enemy with a Melee Weapon temporarily grants Concentration and raises Max Focus.
  • Max Focus is reduced. (Combat starting amount as well)

Psion[ | ]

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Psions are quite rare, often beginning as prodigal young minds that slowly unlock secrets deemed incomprehensible to even the wisest scholars. Their powers require intense meditation, but can allow them to manipulate the conscious mind or move objects with incredible force.

Bonus Penalty
  • Loses Soul Whip ability.
  • Receiving damage disables Soul Mind briefly.

Wild Mind[ | ]

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

A cipher who developed their powers without formal training. Never learning to properly focus their energy, the wild mind is capable of violent surges of fantastic power that manifest in unpredictable ways.

Note: Serafen only - as Cipher
Bonus Penalty

Suggestions[ | ]

If you like what Wizard offers yet you want to use weapons, then Cipher meets what you want. Unless you choose the Psion subclass, your Focus draws from your weapon damage. Keep in mind that your weapon Accuracy acts differently than your spell accuracy, which involves your base value. However as an offensive class, Cipher absolutely needs high Perception. The class is really no fun if you cannot land any weapon damage. While Cipher offers decent support buffs for your party's teammates, its true power derives from both the chaos and damage it dishes out at dinnertime in battle. Besides its high capacity for damage, this class performs really well at confusing the living daylights out of your opponents and aiding you against their own side. If your front line does well already, then Cipher enhances it further.

If you decide to multiclass, then Ranger (Ghost Heart) is useful with for its accuracy and pet support choices. The accuracy can help your spells land on opponents, and rangers abilities work quickly on their own, allowing greater opportunity to use your Cipher spells in either regard. Pistols or hunting bows make great choices for weapons in this case. With a single wielded pistol and One-Handed Style, you can achieve fantastic Accuracy with weapon attacks. With a hunting bow and Two-Handed Style, you benefit from a second damage type and slightly better choices in armor for your character if you prefer.

Trivia[ | ]

  • The cipher class was developed and programmed by Tim Cain (who also developed the Monk class). He drew inspiration from the Esper class in WildStar (which Tim helped design), and the two classes share many similarities.[4]
  • "Psionics" is a name given to a Cipher's power pool resource, although ciphers don't actually have a power pool resource (they only have Focus - an accrued resource). The term is shown in the character creation summary window, and is otherwise not used in-game (may need verification). Psionics may have been cut content, and likely would have been similar to a monk's Mortification resource.

Related items[ | ]

Icon Name Item type Enchantments
Amulet mindmarker icon Brîshalgwin Mindmarker Amulet

Crossbow twin sting icon Twin Sting Crossbow

Hunting bow stormcaller icon Stormcaller Hunting bow

Px4 arbalest one-eyed molinas icon One-Eyed Molina's Gold-Fingered Spike-Flinger Arbalest
Icon Name Item type Enchantments
Amulet unconquerable iconpng Talisman of the Unconquerable Amulet

Notable characters[ | ]

Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire