Pillars of Eternity Wiki

In response to patch v1.3.7.0.1377 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.

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Pillars of Eternity Wiki
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PE1 Developer Commentary

A prompt appears in the top right of the screen whenever developer commentary is playing.

Developer commentary is a feature in Pillars of Eternity intended to give players an insight into the development process of the game, as well as behind-the-scenes tidbits that wouldn't otherwise be conveyed during regular gameplay.

Commentary is disabled by default, but can be enabled in the settings. When enabled, commentary automatically appears in the form of recorded audio tracks, which are triggered automatically by navigating to specific areas in the world (typically upon entry), along with a message that appears in the top right of the screen.

Of the 206 levels in Pillars of Eternity, 83 have commentary tracks, 6 of which do not actually appear in-game for unknown reasons. Levels do not contain more than one track. Commentary is given by the following developers at Obsidian Entertainment:

  • Jeff Husges, Senior Designer (6x)
  • Denise McMurry, Level Designer (11x)
  • Matthew Perez, Junior Designer (22x)
  • Ryan Torres, Design Intern (8x)
  • Jorge Salgado, Designer (22x)
  • Olivia Veras, Junior Designer (14x)

List of levels with commentary[ | ]

Levels that have commentary include the following. Those marked with an asterisk (*) have a commentary track in the game files, but it cannot be triggered in-game.

The Dyrwood[ | ]

Location Commentary
Anslög's Compass

Anslög's Compass was fun to design, even just in terms of it being so different from all the other areas we were working on at the time. The name was an effort at the kinda goofy names that landmarks tend to pick up, and it ended up causing everyone on the team a ton of trouble to remember.

Environment art did a great job with the render, and then the effects guys came in and really just made the place come to life. Once the waves were in I tentatively asked for floating seaweed, thinking that it would never happen, and they got that working too! It was one of the first proof-of-concept areas for more involved effects work, and once people saw the results it kicked off a bunch of cool ideas in other areas.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Black Meadow
Black Meadow originally started out as more meadow and less black, but with more dragon skeletons. It was also much easier to get lost in, since everything looked the same. This was also one of the earliest wilderness areas in the game to get made, so things were still being figured out at the time. Thankfully there was plenty of time for revisions and some actual black was added to Black Meadow. I also added some Burned Lady mushrooms to the burned looking area because really, who wouldn't.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer
Cilant Lîs (exterior)

The idea of this scene came out of necessity, initially this was all supposed to happen somewhere inside the ruin, however, it clashed with our non-linear philosophies. In order to have the information communicated to the player about Thaos and the soul machine, it needed to be staged just right and go off without a hitch. But placing it in the ruin itself admits some of the non-linearity would need to be sacrificed in order to create a hard gate for the player, so we as designers could make sure we knew the exact moment this event would be triggered.

At Obsidian we often have quests and scenarios that branch in a myriad of ways, each of these branches are conditioned by what we call "gates". These gates keep the game responding to the player by closing off paths and opening new ones based off actions they perform. A piece of dialogue for instance might be gated by a certain amount of disposition. This helps reinforce the suspension of disbelief for the player, because to them the world is responding according to their actions in a real way.

A hard gate however implies a more rigid gate, one that is meant to funnel the player to a singular point by making sure the gate is only opened by a singular action. In this instance a hard gate was needed so we could know the exact position of the player as well as make sure they were not in combat or doing some other action simultaneously. This is often achieved by level transitions, since we know the player cannot travel while in combat we don't need to worry about that. In one scene [this] results in the visuals of the whole level being curtailed for this one pivotal moment.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Cilant Lîs (interior)

The ruin of Cilant Lîs was a daunting dungeon to design, but also very gratifying as this was our chance to set the bar for our dungeons throughout the game. This was also one of the later dungeons designed during development. Oftentimes the beginning of the game is the last content you end up producing. This is to ensure all the systems needed to make the experience fully fleshed out are implemented and functional so they can be taught to the player properly during these first moments of gameplay. Thus, by the time this dungeon was designed, we had learned many valuable lessons about the ways we could push the layout and flow of a dungeon, as well as utilize all systems in the game that at this point had been fully fleshed out.

We also felt in many RPGs the starter dungeon often felt like a bland guided experience intended on cramming tutorials down the players throat. We certainly didn't want Cilant Lîs to repeat such a formula, and we didn't want the player to be completely unfamiliar with the games core mechanics either. That being said, we opted to have a very open-ended experience for the player. Each route the player takes in the dungeon will introduce them to yet another mechanic or feature in this game, whether it be detecting traps, scouting, or the use of scripted interactions, but neither is dependent on the other - the player has a choice here to choose their playstyle and be rewarded for it. The reward will then reinforce the value of this mechanic, while simultaneously teaching the player the role it plays in Pillars of Eternity.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer)
Clîaban Rilag (exterior)
The exterior of Clîaban Rilag was the absolute first level ever generated by our art team for Pillars of Eternity. Since we were still in our prototype phase we hadn't established a name for this dungeon yet, so some of the team affectionately began calling it "The Valley of Hector", after our lead environment artist who built it, Hector Espinoza. You may have seen it in the early art tests we released early on in the project. As a testament to Hector, this area remains nearly the same as it did since it's initial conception. The iconic statue of Berath's different incarnations hanging over the entrance of the dungeon have been an image we consistently revisit.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Clîaban Rilag (level 1)

This level was actually a fairly late addition to the overall dungeon of Clîaban Rilag. What was once a two-level dungeon with a cave at the bottom floor, has now changed to a two-level dungeon with a large upper floor, and a smaller lower floor. What was particularly challenging was returning to this dungeon and coming up with a way of repurposing one of the floors, and creating a wholly new level from scratch. All the while keeping a uniform design throughout.

The motivation behind this choice was to make our dungeons feel more sprawling and cavernous. After making dungeon after dungeon, we began to learn how valuable the use of negative space was. Rather than sticking to a particular dimension and cramming as many rooms and corridors as possible into the design, we could make the dimensions much larger and use negative space to break up the rooms. The result is a dungeon that feels large, but takes up as much art resources as a level half its size.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Clîaban Rilag (level 2)

This level used to be actually the top floor of the dungeon, but we opted to go with a large first floor that was largely overgrown. We had the challenge of moving this area to the lower floor. Since we needed a giant soul machine added to the dungeon and didn't want to change much of the art already in this scene, we decided to go with a down-and-up flow of the level; that is to say the player must go down, and then back up to access another part of the dungeon. That way we could extend the top floor further - adding the soul machine - then, have the player go down into the bottom level in order to access that part of the map.

One of the goals of this particular scene that stayed from the original design was to tell the story of how animats in Engwithan culture were made. Each room, a difference process in how the subject was chosen, cleansed, and scarified for the greater good of their civilization. We didn't want to beat the player over the head with this either. If they were more interested in the dungeon crawl and loot, then so be it, the narrative shouldn't get in the way. But for players who really like to take in the scenery, we try and reward them for taking the time to absorb their surroundings by explaining some of the things about Engwithans they hadn't known before.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Encampment

With Pillars of Eternity we strive with every level to both evoke the essence the beloved Infinity Engine games, as well as introduce something new and engaging for players to experience in the world of Eora. The caravan encampment was no exception to this goal.

As the introduction area and the first impression of Eora has to offer, it really needed to speak to the player from the get-go. Keeping in mind this principle, we needed to begin the game with an image that instilled simultaneously the feeling of adventure players may be familiar with from a Dungeons & Dragons setting, while introducing them to our own unique world. The idea of a caravan held around a flickering campfire both seemed familiar and befitting as the humble beginnings to a grand adventure. By setting the scene before a large ancient ruin with peculiar stone-like objects growing from the ground, we felt this would introduce them to some of the key landmarks of the Dyrwood.

Another principle on our design was non-linearity, Pillars of Eternity is a game about choice and consequence. We didn't want our introduction to feel like an entirely guided experience, so we opted to keep the flow of the level pretty open to exploration. Once the player has finished speaking with Odema, they are free to wander around the immediate area and examine their surroundings, even find clues that foreshadow their inevitable ambush, a situation that very quickly teaches the player the concept of consequence in our world.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Esternwood
This road was kept purposefully peaceful, we wanted a buffer between Gilded Vale and the stuff going on in Raedric's Hold. At one point Kolsc was meant to approach you in town, after you'd done a couple of side-quests, so there were a couple of snarky guards out here patrolling along the road and they would give the player more information about the Hold. We didn't really want to gate Raedric's Hold off however, so we ended up moving Kolsc out here and gave him all the exposition that the guards used to have.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Magran's Fork
Even though only one quest leads back to this area, I still wanted to make sure that something change[s] for the player that got further into the game and then decided to check out Magran's Fork again. For a short while a few of the classes; priests, chanters, and ciphers, were a little further behind than the others in terms of functionality. So they ended up underrepresented in a few areas. The encounter with Gramrfel was basically an effort to place all of those neglected classes somewhere and try them out.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Pearlwood Bluff
Pearlwood Bluff originally had a small task involving a shade feeding off a delemgan but it was ultimately cut because we didn't have time to get everything for it finished. The bluff was then repurposed for one of the bounty hunting quests instead.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer
Raedric's Hold

This is probably my favourite level design in the game. I had a blast blocking out the castle even to its minute details. Because who doesn't love a keep y'know, you gotta have a keep in an RPG, a cool keep. Bobby and I - Bobby's the lead area designer - thought so too. So we [?] wanted to have a keep, we wanted to have a really awesome keep, so we brainstormed some ideas about the design, about the things that we really wanted to see, and then I jumped into it with glee, you know, very happy to have a stab at it.

My goal was to have a multi-level structure that would let you pop in and out of its interior scenes, allowing you many pathways around your objectives, whether you wanted to go in sword in hand, or sneaking about. In fact we had to remove a few transitions here and there in order to not get people completely lost. Still though, it boasts four ways to get into the keep, and a three-storey high setup of the interior scenes that go with it.

Sean Dunny, a greater environment artist in the team, rendered the castle faithfully and beautifully. After my first design and gameplay pass Olivia Veras - one of our designers in the team - took over the area to give it a fine final pass and polish, including the writing, while I switched over to design Twin Elms, our second big city in the game.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Raedric's Keep
This is the main level of Raedric's Hold. This area also saw a couple of changes to transitions. We had one near the center of the scene, it was a staircase going up to one of the towers you can see in the exterior, which we removed for the sake of spatial orientation, mostly. This level of the keep is where the hardest fighting is meant to take place, if you decided to go in swinging swords first and asking questions later.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Raedric's Hold Sanctuary
The top level of the keep. It's meant to give you a side-way into Raedric if you help a discontempt priest who lives up here, and if you manage to sneak your way in while disguised as one of his order.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Raedric's Hold Dungeons
Dungeons—more dungeons here. The keep had to have some dungeons, so it seemed like a fitting area to give you another side-way to reach Raedric. If you managed to help a proud animancer who feels wronged despite her accomplishments, and she's been basically cast down here to live among the filth, and if you manage to deal with her undead hordes on the way too, of course.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Searing Falls
Originally this scene was contracted out, and not fully reviewed by our designer in the team, but still worked pretty well. However, you have a giant pool in the center of the scene, reminiciant of the giant rainbow pool in Yellowstone. And that took a lot of potential gameplay space out of the scene so near the end of development we broke down the massive pool into smaller ones, adding pathing through the center of the map.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Searing Falls Cave

Searing Falls was an early design that didn't get implemented until late in the game because it was a side area. At the time we had to focus on delivering the areas tied to the main story first, and then we had some time to revisit the additional content like this dungeon.

It was intended to be a multi-level dungeon originally, a lava cave, y'know - yeah another staple of RPGs, and I wanted to have even more visual variety in our dungeon and cave environments so this seemed like a logical choice. I eventually, almost out of time, we found a chance to get it in the game. So I designed a small location that would try to feature some of its original glory; lots of fire and lava falls. And in the end we were glad to make room for it, and to also have a high-level side quest starting from Defiance Bay that took you into this place.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Stormwall Gorge (upper)

Occasionally on a project you will inherit another person's work when they move onto other areas in the game, or in this instance another project at our studio. This level was initially designed by Constant Gaw, a veteran designer here at Obsidian, and it shows in the levels unique design and look. However, his skills were needed elsewhere, and his area was handed down to me. A daunting task to fill the shoes of another designer, but it is gratifying to learn and improve based of an existing design.

A lot of what makes this dungeon unique apart from its layout, is the use of narrative that is interwoven into the design of the area. The dungeon as a whole serves one purpose: to craft a powerful, unique weapon fused by the player's choices. It is literally one giant puzzle. However, this is an aspect that lies underneath the direct goal of the level, which is to find ancient bronze weapons for The Dozens. Marrying the two cohesively was a challenge, but we managed to accomplish this by the characterization of a vithrack, Nridek, whom you encounter here. He is trying to understand the power of this place, and hopefully take it back to his people as a powerful boon, that is if the player has anything to say about it.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Stormwall Gorge (lower)

In many RPGs, re-traversal can often be a chore, but unfortunately is often a necessity as areas must be economised and sometimes you will need to travel back through a wilderness or two to reach further areas within the game. In order to keep the player's interest piqued in exploring, even through areas they previously existed[sic], we try to throw extra content at them they might not have noticed the first time round.

Once such area is the second level of this dungeon. Chances are the player made their way through this area before the flooding had stopped in Stormwall Gorge. If they were to travel back into this dungeon they will discover [the] previously flooded floor is now available. Here the player can find some valuable loot, and if they happen to be on a bounty, discover a powerful troll awaiting in the murky depths.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Valewood

The Valewood is the first wilderness the player is introduced to in the game. Like any Infinity Engine wilderness, these areas are rife with dangers, treasures tucked away in nooks and crannies, as well as your fair share of characters with tasks or quests of their own.

A lot of what we wanted to do with this wilderness was lead the player towards the Gilded Vale using the characters they meet along the way. By giving the player the option to get involved with either the bandit camp or Nonton down near the south end of the map, it gives the player the impetus to explore the Gilded Vale once they arrive, now that they have acquired a few tasks to investigate. We also wanted to again reinforce the non-linearity of the game by putting those encounters off the beaten path more-or-less. That way if the player wanted to beeline straight for the Gilded Vale and happen to miss these NPCs, they could get leads about them in town and come back to the wilderness later.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Woodend Plains
The thing about Woodend Plains is that it needed to be plains, but it couldn't just be some big open space, because then you could just get lost. It would also look bad, so we put in a lot of small obstacles and terrain changes to break up the space. The rock walls and fencing areas were put in to give some directionality to where the player could and couldn't go, and cliffs and plateaus were added to show elevation changes since rolling hills don't really show up very well in isometric perspective.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer

Gilded Vale[ | ]

Location Commentary
Gilded Vale

It's usually best to leave the beginning of the game for last, so this area was designed in the advanced stages of development. The idea here was to convey a run-down, bleak, farmers' town that suffers from the iron rule of a local warlord - Raedric is the name - whose hall lies nearby and it's also its own adventure area. Here in Gilded Vale it was important to give a glimpse of how bad things really were in this world right away, so I made sure to design the layout in such a way that the tree with the hanging bodies became one of the first things to appear in view when you first arrived to town.

Another important buildings to introduce you included an inn - 'cause you need an inn somewhere at the start of an RPG, that's just expected - places to shop and tinker, like the blacksmith and the mill, and also places that would illuminate background history like the ruins of the Eothasian temple which features in the general narrative that we constructed in the areas quests and characters.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Gilded Vale, Black Hammer Smithery
Tuatanu the smith is supposed to be in pretty good with Lord Raedric, which hopefully explains why his shop is gigantic. I think at the time whenever we got leave to design a new area, we tended to want to use as much of the allotted space as possible. At one point the bellows in here were hilariously oversized even for an aumaua. I'm a little sorry we got that fixed.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Gilded Vale, Temple of Eothas (upper)
The temple of Eothas was intended to be an archetypal gothic dungeon, with big archways and trick sconces and such. We looked at a lot of cathedrals, tabletop tile sets, that kind of thing. On paper each of these rooms had a listed purpose and name, though I quickly decided that the privvy's had been buried under rubble. The bell puzzle in here went through a couple of iterations. We made sure to stick [the] key in Rectrix's office, and have Wirtan provide some hints, and that seemed to balance things out. But as a word of advice; don't do bell puzzles.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Gilded Vale, Temple of Eothas (lower)

One of the earlier designs for the temple of Eothas was a sunken temple, and originally there was a lot more water on this level. You'd have to raise and lower the water level to get through. The whole map ended up very mazy, a lil Escher-esque with all the stairs. Once narrative hit on the through-line for the quest in here however, we focused on the temple part of the design, and only the healing baths survived.

The Eothasians would have been performing a kind of baptism ritual here, descending into the lower reaches and coming out again to these brightly-lit altars. One of the underlying ideas to this place was that this promise of redemption that Eothas offers have a lot of appeal for some Dyrwood citizens, since forgiveness for past crimes runs counter to the cultural emphasis on feuds and vigilantism.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Gilded Vale, The Black Hound

There's a couple of jokes in here about the inns previous owner having disappeared you might note, and that grew out of our never hearing back from the inn backer - it's all meant in good fun of course.

I had a little poster in my office of the old promo art for Baldur's Gate III, and while we were thinking of names for this place, I started using "The Black Hound" as a placeholder, thinking that it wouldn't stick. It ended up getting thumbs up, and Josh Sawyer asked art to implement the poster image as a stained glass window on the lower floor. The dog upstairs actually came later. Once we started assigning locations to the various pets, the placement for the black dog seemed fairly obvious.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Gilded Vale, Trumbel's Mill

The original quest in here had the player facing off against a couple of wood beetles, sort of the unholy termites of the setting, I suppose. So they had bitten a couple of fingers off the millers hand, and she was holed up in a corner waiting for the player character to save the day. It was more of a nod to the "rats in the basement" or "beetles in the cellar" trope than its own coherent quest or task, so it ended up getting nixed in favour of the feud between Trumble and Sweynur. Trumbles daughter used to be the miller, we recycled that character object.

You would think that [the] negotiation between two parties would be a fairly simple quest to script out, but the second that you have two starting points for a quest, you essentialy double the amount of time you're going to have to spend on getting it to work properly. Especially since you can go back and forth between them until you decide which side to take – or just murder them both of course.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer

Defiance Bay[ | ]

Location Commentary
Aedelwan Bridge
The bridge district was pretty straightforward and simple; just create a cool and impressive-looking entrance to Defiance Bay. It also served as a nice transition between all that wilderness and a bustling city.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer
Brackenbury, The Charred Barrel
The original layout for The Charred Barrel had a central courtyard with a garden. Unfortunately the exterior of the building didn't match and we didn't have time to make changes, so we had to remove the courtyard and make the building smaller. Being located in the rich part of town, the inn is much more upscale than any of the others in the game.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer
Brackenbury, Sanitarium
Caring for mentally-ill citizens is pretty primitive in this era of Pillars of Eternity, hence the dungeon-like conditions the patients are living in. Nobody really expects the patients to be cured. This is just a place to hide them away and forget about them.
~ Jeff Husges, Senior Designer
Copperlane
The exterior of Copperlane was drastically revised quite some time after its initial creation. At first it was just a bunch of buildings and endless cobblestone streets, it was pretty hard to tell where you were since everything looked samey and boring. Fortunately we knew everything looked better with water, so time was made in the schedule and canals were added.
~ Jeff Husges, Senior Designer
Copperlane, The Goose and Fox
Since this inn belongs to a world traveller we made sure to decorate it with items from all over the different regions of the game. This included the stuffed Stelgaer in the corner that we lovingly named "Duke Bitey von Levi". Sadly, the dukes name did not make it into the final game, but he lives on in our hearts.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer
Copperlane, The Hall of Revealed Mysteries
Originally the Hall of Revealed Mysteries was going to be off-limits to the player unless they had the special token that gave them access. This added an extra level of complication to the halls since there were other quests that required the player to get inside, so we ultimately decided to drop the whole token thing and only keep a certain area of the hall locked away.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer
Heritage Hill
There's a lot of walking and talking in Defiance Bay, so it's nice to break up things with a district where things just want to eat you.
~ Jeff Husges, Senior Designer
Heritage Hill, Teir Nowneth (level 2)
The layout for this level was inspired by [the] Severed Hand level in Icewind Dale I. It made it easy to go to the environment artist and say "make the scene look just like that."
~ Jeff Husges, Senior Designer
Heritage Hill, Teir Nowneth (level 3)
At one point there was a sequence where the party leaped off the tower as the machine exploded Die Hard style. There were a lot of sad faces when it was cut, but something similar will probably make it back in for the expansion. Besides, once the background for this area was done and it became evident how tall the tower was, it didn't seem plausible that the party could possibly survive the landing.
~ Jeff Husges, Senior Designer
Madhmr Bridge
Madhmr Bridge is essentially the main road into Defiance Bay, or at least it was. The quest you find near the bridge was meant to reflect the locals attempting to find a solution to the bridge suddenly being gone instead of taking the extra time to go around to the other entrance.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer
Ondra's Gift
Every major city always has a seedy part of town, and so welcome to Ondra's Gift. For whatever reason, players always demand that there be a brothel, so we have one of those - The Salty Mast. Bobby Null is a bad, bad man...
~ Jeff Husges, Senior Designer
Ondra's Gift, The Salty Mast
The Salty Mast went through quite a few revisions during development. Originally it was named "The School" and had a fighting pit. This was removed in favour of a second floor and more space for the brothel workers. We also made sure that there were many flavors and varieties of brothel workers to choose from. I also made sure you get bonuses depending on whose services you choose to partake of, and I added some other extras regarding the brother workers that the player should enjoy. Overall I probably spent way too much extra time working on The Salty Mast.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer
Ondra's Gift, The Wailing Banshee
The Wailing Banshee was originally just going to be an old wizard tower from an Engwithan area of the game. The guys from GameBanshee asked to have their inn be inhabited by an actual banshee that had to be cleared out before their inn could be used. So we changed the wizard tower to a lighthouse and put it in Ondra's Gift since they wanted it to be a run-down building. Added some ethereal enemies, some spooky sounds and music, one banshee at the top and—bam, you get the Wailing Banshee.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer

Dyrford Village[ | ]

Location Commentary
Dyrford Crossing
Dyrford Crossing is the crossroads for much of the content in the Dyrford region. It has the ogre cave, the dragon's nest, the path leading to the Cliaban Rilag, and lastly the secret entrance to the [?] Skaen. This is all by design that we interweave our quests in this nature, it creates and ebb and flow between the quests. You never want the player to lose momentum when they're exploring a map. For instance in this scene, if the player wants to travel off the path away from Cliaban they'll come upon a large statue. [If] they don't make the checks, they can venture further into the ogre cave. In there they can speak [to] or kill the ogre, and explore further and find a key to the hidden entrance underneath the statue in the crossing. If they return to town because perhaps the Skaen temple was too difficult, they could speak with Rumbald and finish his quest. Or if they ventured north past the statue in the crossing, fight the Iron Brand and retrieve a dragon egg that Hendyna in town seeks. This all illustrates the momentum I'm referring to. There is never a point when the player explores the map, and isn't rewarded with something new and engaging that doesn't loop back into the flow of all the other quests in the region.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Dyrford Crossing, Grisly Cave

Korgrak's lair was another level during the vertical slice phase of development. This scene was made to evoke the familiar but always fun scenario you might find in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign: there's an ogre bothering a local town, go find his dark, foreboding cave and kill him. However, with Pillars, we always like to subvert the player's expectations where we can. In this instance you have the trappings of your typical ogre lair, fit with piles of bones and the smell of death, but once you actually encounter Korgrak, you quickly learn he's not some dumb creature. He's rather perceptive of your intentions, and has his own motivations for stealing Rumbald's pigs.

Like many of the creatures in our game, we try to put a different spin on the typical fantasy characterization. Ogres in Eora are intelligent creatures, that through their own paranoia of others - especially their own kind - live lives as solitude, and are prone to agitation and outbursts of anger. Korgrak is no different, and we aim to make this conversation with him reflect this. If the player understood this right away, and choose to treat the ogre as a rational creature, they'll be rewarded with avoiding a rather difficult encounter.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Dyrford Village

This may be a very familiar scene for some of our backers, as the overall region of Dyrford is what we used in our backer beta. What you may not know is that Dyrford Village was among the first maps ever made in development. The Dyrford region in Pillars of Eternity was made during a phase of development we call "vertical slice". If each feature of a game were made into a layer of a cake, then taking a vertical slice of said cake would result in a small section of the entire game that includes all the various "layers" of gameplay. In this period we get all the core mechanics of the game in a raw form, so that we can get an immediate sense of the experience we're aiming for the player. Dyrford, a seemingly remote village in Dyrwood, felt like a perfect fit.

As our visual target we wanted to create a village familiar to fantasy setting, but grounded in historic medieval feel. In terms of the area design, since Dyrford is such a tight-knit village where everyone knows each other, it only felt logical that all their quests relate to one another in some way. The whole town is in an uproar over Lord Harond's presence, so everyone's got something to say about Lady Aelys' disappearance. Rumbald's pigs got eaten by an ogre, and Trygil - the local tanner - seems to know something about it, but you can catch him on his lie by bribing the local barkeep, or getting some information from Hendyna, another quest giver. This relation helps create a flow from quest to quest. This alleviates backtracking through areas that often feel tedious and a waste of time, it also helps reinforce the narrative of a small town.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Dyrford Village, Dracogen Inn
I actually watched through all of The Guild before working on this inn. I wanted to make sure it had enough of the right elements to represent its backer. When I got to the episode with the Highlander painting, I knew it had to be in the inn somewhere. The table locations with the banners next to them are also a nod to the episode where the Knights of Good are sent to the back of the line outside of a game store. In this inn they get the table in the back as represented by their banner on the wall.
~ Denise McMurry, Level Designer
Dyrford Village, Dyrford Mill
The Dyrford mill was a late addition to the Dyrford Village. For a while the mill was just a landmark in the exterior - a piece of scenery, but not a place you could enter. However, once we began QA on the project, one of the first things we noticed [was] that literally everyone tried to enter this building. We learned quickly that the sort of things attracted player's attentions, one of which was a great big water mill that dynamically moves in the scene. As soon as we realised this, we decided to include the interior to this building, another place for the player to explore and find things hidden around the village. This is where we learned that adding dynamic objects to the scene was a surefire way to grab the player's attention.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Dyrford Village, Dyrford Ruins
The temple of Skaen is an underground dungeon that mixes castles, basements, and cells on the west side, with the ruins of an old temple on the east side. It was the first dungeon we designed for the game, and its original block-out was larger but eventually [we] trimmed it more down to something more manageable. Part of the challenge here was building a seamless transition between the two distinct areas, which also are slanted at different angles so as to make them appear more natural. Sean Dunny, one of our environment artists, came up with the idea of having a negative space transition, so like the bridge by the chasm... that blends those two areas, and he did an amazing job with this render. So much so that one of the locations that we've shown since the very beginning of backer updates is this very dungeon.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Dyrford Village, Temple of Berath
The Temple of Berath went through a number of changes in development, in part because our artist became more comfortable with our pipeline and could push art in various ways. We also quickly learned about some of our limitations. Windows for instance became a contentious point in most maps. Since the game incorporates a day-night cycle, we either needed to reflect the time of day outside the window somehow, or obscure them. We learned this lesson later on that dynamic objects in scenes can enhance [the map], but the more reliance we had on them, the less the painterly feel we had for our scenes. So [in] the instance of the windows, we felt obscuring them where we could could help. So drapes were added later on in the scene, which overall gives the room more of a moody vibe.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Dyrford Village, Trygil's Curriery

This particular scene required a unique approach to its lighting as opposed to most interiors in the game. Since Trygil set up his curriery in a collapsed tower of an Aedyran castle that at once in the area, that meant light would spill in from the rooftop. This meant that it would be one of the few maps in the entire game that would have its own day-night cycle. Because of this, the colour grading of the scene needed to function in both day and night.

In terms of area design for this level, early on in the design we played a lot with the placement of Trygil's key to his secret quarters. At first it was on his person, but the player would only ever get it by outright killing Trygil, which some players might be opposed to. Another placement was putting in some sort of chest nearby, but it felt too obvious and formulaic. Close to this idea, but more interesting, was that he lost the key, and [that] his assistant and him were arguing over where it could be. If the player was to scout around, you could find it floating in a vat of dye. We felt we needed more ways to reinforce the value of scouting areas for hidden objects, this particular seemed to work to this effect.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer

Twin Elms & Eir Glanfath[ | ]

Location Commentary
Burial Isle

When designing and blocking out this area, I wanted to convey a sense of a bygone grandeur, an advanced civilization crumbled into pieces, and a feeling of foreboding as you approach the top of the island. So Woedica's temple [?], Breith Eaman, opens its mystical maws to the world outside.

One of our talented environment artists Sean Dunny, did a terrific job in bringing this 3D layout to life into a beautiful scene. At one point we considered having statues of the gods flank the way up, but eventually the idea settled on an even better outcome in my view. The area became a domain of Woedica, and we used the massive statues of her heralds to foreshadow the end-game mini-bosses that assist Thaos in the final confrontation.

Another thing we changed from the original design was the way in which you arrive to the island. We had this horn, seen in Oldsong, that would call the bargeman to take you across, but that was a little too similar to the ancient Greek myth of crossing the river Styx with Charon, so in addition to other concerns we got rid of the requirement to obtain the anamfatha's permission to access Burial Isle.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Burial Isle, Breith Eaman

The Court of the Penitents, Breith Eaman, a prison for souls, and a temple dedicated to Woedica. This final layout was first put in place by Matt Perez, one of the designer that joined Obsidian to work on Pillars of Eternity. The render itself was handled, I think expertly, by April Geron.

This location became really important to the main story, and since development progressed. Originally it was just supposed to be its own temple detached from Burial Isle, to which you travel after arriving to Twin Elms. I see it often happens in game development on the realities of the tight schedule prompted us to move it to Burial Isle, making it part of Woedica's temple and placing it right next to an underground shortcut that lets you discover the buried city of Sun in Shadow.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Elms' Reach

Elms' Reach was first called Twin Elms in honor of the giant trees that give this glanfathan city its name. The area was laid out by Bobby Null, the lead designer of the team, and Hector Espinosa, our lead environment artist, did an amazing job with the 3D render and bringing it to life.

At its bottom right corner, you'll notice perhaps a cool archway made by roots from one of the elms. This led to an area that we had to cut, a mystical forest called the Weald of Fates where you'd be sent to speak with the ancestor stones, a collection of souls of glanfathan leaders, whose wisdom is revered by the tribes. The catch was of course that you could only do so by ingesting hallucinogenic mushrooms that would lead your "vision quest" towards its stones. The realities of game development sometimes result in awesome things like this having to get cut so that you can focus polish into something else, some other areas of the game. The lesson for aspiring designers is: structure areas, stories, and quests in a modular way so that you can, if need be, take things out without affecting other aspects of the game.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Elms' Reach, Blood Sands

"Blood Sands", this name was in the cards since my first layout of Ondra's Gift. While fleshing out its locations, I wanted to have a pirates den of sorts, where even more seedy deals would go down. But we never had time to add that, so the name got resurrected while I planned a breakdown of locations for Twin Elms.

Our lead area designer Bobby Null wanted to have a set of mostly-dwarven ruins somewhere in Twin Elms, dark fellows you know, obsessed with ritualistic sacrifices, and the name "Blood Sands" came to grace this half-dungeon half-quest area almost by the thought.

As we thought of the locations of Twin Elms and Defiance Bay we wanted to maximise our dungeon crawling space. Here you can merrily dispatch the entire sect of dwarves without angering - too much at least, anyway - the tribes of Twin Elms. One of the gods' quests asks you to do precisely that, in this area.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Elms' Reach, Teir Evron
Teir Evron, the Tower of the Stars had to be awesome, but we also had really limited space to work with. We intended to have statues for each of the gods, but then linking it to some narrative new ideas, we decided to put a kind of map on the floor illuminated by the tower itself, sort of like a star map. Then John Lewis - he's an awesome effects artist - came to the rescue of us crazy designers, and made a set of really cool special effects so that we could materialise our wild ideas into something tangible.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Hearthsong

Welcome to Twin Elms. Hearthsong is the commons district of this city, where glanfathans live and mingle and where foreigners are allowed to stay in the city, all other places are forbidden. Being the hangout spot, I designed the place with a couple of things in mind. It had to have an inn, a market place, plenty of dwellings, an an important ritualistic building. Also to emphasise the union of glanfathan and ancient engwithan architecture, the design blends the two architectural styles in a way that seems almost organic.

Sean Dunny - the environment artist that turned the complex 3D blockout into really an amazing 3D render - commented after his first pass on the area that he totally wanted to live in a place like this, and it was awesome to hear that response because that's exactly what I was aiming for when first blocking out the area.

It was also important to give a sense of what glanfathan society was like, and to contrast it immediately with the people of Defiance Bay. This was accomplished with a few key details, for example one, the glanfathans are warlike, pretty much everyone is armed and geared for battle. Two, glanfathans live in relative harmony with other creatures of the wilderness, boasting many rangers and druids, and defend their town with the aid of tame stelgaer prides. Lastly, glanfathans have their own kind of voice and a way of looking at the world which was conveyed in the figures of a speech from the moment that you set foot in the city
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Hearthsong, Hearthsong Market
This area's goals are pretty simple. It's just meant to show you the mingling between glanfathans and foreigners, but also giving you a chance to purchase goods at a convenient location.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Hearthsong, The Celestial Sapling
This was a backer inn, whose original design called for it being placed near the trunk of a large tree. But since we had these giant elms in the city, and since we wanted you to go up to its branches at some point, it seemed like a good idea to take the inn and basically give it a loftier location up in the canopy of those giant elms. This is a cosmopolitan area, but it's also wild and magical. The Celestial Sapling features adventurers from all parts of the world of Eora.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Hearthsong, The Passage of the Six
The main goal of this interior scene was to house the council of the anamfatha - the glanfathan leaders, one belongs to each tribe. It's a ceremonial building where people from the six tribes pay homage to their own kin, and also where matters of the glanfathan state get decided by the council. We would have liked to have more anamfatha but in Twin Elms we ended up with two out of six. We thought it was best to have a couple of them show really strongly than many of them barely fleshed out.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Northweald
The Northweald was one of the last wilderness areas I designed for the game. I created the blockout trying to emphasise two things: elevation increase, because the area leads to the high peaks where Hylea's temple rests, and also a visual history. This last element was conveyed by the forest itself. Half of it looks like it was burnt a long time ago, while the other half of it looks pristine, separating both sides there's a mountain creek. The idea here was to show a boundary of the fires that were consumed during the War of the Black Trees.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Oldsong

Oldsong, the temple district. This with an opportunity to showcase almost-intact Engwithan buildings filled with magic and mystery, and it became one of my favourite designs in Twin Elms. The idea here was to show how glanfathans coexist with their sacred ruins, while still managing to remain sort of like there mere caretakers. Nobody truly lives here, but the place is constantly tended to.

The area boasts two main temples, Galawain's Maw and Noonfrost. Given the area budget for the city, Bobby and I thought that it was best to maximise dungeon-like spaces in Twin Elms proper, so I designed the district and its temples with that idea in mind. The quests and events link to the temples, and you deal with them as full-blown dungeon crawl spaces if that's your choice.

The beasts' head was appropriated from one of our lead character artists' creations, Dimitri Berman is our lead character artist, and he repurposed it to turn it into a temples facade, which was really awesome.

In the docs of this district we had at one point a gameplay setup that required you to blow a horn to call a bargeman that would take you to Burial Isle. Alongside the Weald of Fates, we simplified that part of the main story in the city.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Oldsong, Galawain's Maw

Headquarter of the Fangs, and sacred natural shrine to Galawain, the Maw blends Engwithan architecture and organic shapes, while also being a pretty compact area. It was a design challenge that nevertheless I believe turned out quite well. In general the more you mix different of space and gameplay, the more difficult it will be to keep everything feeling of a piece [?]. "Keep it simple" is definitely a good advice that applies well to game design.

This beautiful render was the work of Holly Prado, and it really brought the mystical and natural side of this area into focus.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Oldsong, Noonfrost

Another ambitious design. In Noonfrost I wanted to take advantages of its god [?], the cold, winter, and entropy, to showcase a dungeon that would look quite different from other Engwithan ruins. After building its 3D layout, I passed this to Holly Prado, another of our environment artists who did a great job rendering the area with cool details. Then April Giron and John Lewis, one of our FX artists, did a pass on it to really make the area shine.

The greatest design challenge here was having three distinct gameplay approaches, you have combat, stealth, and dialogue, paired with a population in this dungeon that may be hostile or peaceful to you depending on your choices. But it also is at the same time supporting two quests, whose steps can be completed in many different ways. This kind of complexity, while it makes for very cool gameplay, it also entails risks that you have to measure with care.

And there's another bit of trivia about this area, Noonfrost is also a homage to the ice castle from Icewind Dale II.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer
Temple of Hylea
The Nest, Hylea's temple. This area was first aslotted to appear in Oldsong, the temple district of Twin Elms, but then Bobby and I during one of our many conversations about how to spread our world maps locations, sort of decided that it was a cool idea to have it appear elsewhere. From the start this place was meant to be an open-air shrine, it's after all the shrine of the goddess of the sky and the birds. So at first this was supposed to happen atop a tower, but after our decision I blocked this out as a temple nested on a mountain peak. April Giron immediately loved the blockout and said "Oh, you know what I really like that", and I replied "Cool, want to take a stab at it?" The result was a fantastic scene, really. Whenever people feel really passionate about something it's best to let them run with it and see where it goes.
~ Jorge Salgado, Designer

Caed Nua[ | ]

Location Commentary
Caed Nua
Caed Nua, or the player stronghold, was one of the more technically challenging levels in the game. Not only is this level the player's home base for most of the game, but the design had to conform to specific constraints based off the system we use to dynamically alter the map as the player upgrades their stronghold. We had to take special care of how parts of the scene spatially related to one another. Due to the nature of our tiling system, the map was more or less built on a grid, but still needed to feel organic. This was to ensure the level never felt bland in its layout while still being cognizant that if the player upgraded a specific building, or other landmark on the map, it wouldn't overlap with another.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Caed Nua, Brighthollow (lower)

Brighthollow, much like the stronghold exterior, incorporates our system for dynamically changing the background of a scene the player is in. What was perhaps more challenging was that the vision for the player home was a two-storey house with a fountain in the middle that could be seen from both floors. What this meant for the implementation of the scene was that we needed the floor to reflect whatever level the construction the bottom floor was currently at. If the player did not rebuild the courtyard pool, but has restored the second floor of Brighthollow, what they would see from the top floor should be a ruined courtyard. With some smoke and mirrors we were able to accomplish this.

It is small things like this we feel help the backgrounds for the scene feel less like static 2D renders, but alive and responding to players' actions. This is also one place in the entire game that does anything like this, so we were definitely proud to get it working.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Caed Nua, Brighthollow (upper)
The upper floor of Brighthollow, which becomes available once the Brighthollow restoration upgrade is built, was an opportunity for us to have a location in the game where we could place a bunch of companions together. Here the player is free to chit-chat with them and see them outside of their normal combat environment. We felt placing them all here, walking around in some cases, shacked-up with other companions, would help reinforce a sense of home to brighthollow.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Caed Nua, Dungeons
Like many of the stronghold maps, the design of this area had to accommodate multiple sets of content. In this scene the players' introduction to the area is a spider-infested dungeon where a great deal of combat and stealth can occur. Later on, once the player unlocks the stronghold, the area serves as a dungeon where they can imprison various characters through their travels in which in and of itself offers its own reactivity for this particular scene.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Caed Nua, Great Hall

This is the great hall of the stronghold. There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes here. Much like the exterior of the stronghold, all the content of this area had to serve multiple purposes, and be conditionalized by various stages this area can be experienced in.

When the player enters this scene, it is supposed to look like it is in complete shambles and haunted. There is combat in this level and the scene with the Steward of Caed Nua. Once the player unlocks the stronghold and upgrades this area however, it becomes a warm, grand, and inviting area where visitors will appear. On top of all of this, the level also had to serve the purpose of a battle arena, and instances where the player stronghold has been infiltrated by the monsters of the Endless Paths.

All this was accomplished by making the great hall a rather long hall with a great lane in the middle that serves combat tactically. Coincidentally it makes the great all that much more great once it has been fully upgraded.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Caed Nua, Library
The stronghold library existed for a while in the design of the stronghold. Initially it granted the player Intellect and Lore bonus[es] upon resting at the stronghold. However once we began getting more and more lore books added to the game, we thought it would be a great idea if this could be a place where they could be stored once the player had found them in the world.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer

Endless Paths of Od Nua[ | ]

Location Commentary
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 1
This area is the player's introduction to the Endless Paths of Od Nua. While the endless paths are a completely optional dungeon, this area also contains content that is crucial to the critical path of the game. Because of this, the area needed to be segregated in parts by the sections that pertain to the endless paths, and what what was critical path. But we didn't want to superimpose this design decision over the architecture and flow of the scene. This was accomplished by introducing tougher encounters if the player were to stray away from the beaten path leading to the old Watcher's chamber. This would telegraph to the player that further dangers lie ahead, ultimately leading them on to the Endless Paths of Od Nua.
~ Matthew Perez, Junior Designer
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 2
Level two was the psuedo-vertical slice of Od Nua, and was the first level where an excessive amount of effort and polish was pushed into it, for both art and area design, and contained a lot of major elements we wanted as recurring experiences through the endless paths. Among those major elements were: a mix of both challenging and rewarding combat for all difficulties, an interesting interaction with the environment or an engaging visual set piece, ties to the narrative of the endless paths as a whole, and a set of creatures that match and support the structure of the area.
~ Ryan Torres, Design Intern
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 3
A lot of Od Nua had to reuse the assets we had from earlier areas in development. Level 3 of the endless paths took heavy influences from the catacombs underneath Copperlane. You'll see that level 4 takes a good amount of influence from that too. Since we lifted a good amount of assets from the catacombs, we ran into a strange design issue. If you kite an ogre into a doorway, they would clip through the top of the frame. We sat down and thought to ourselves "how would these ogres fit through these door frames?" The obvious answer was - they don't, so we broke down all those doorways.
~ Ryan Torres, Design Intern
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 4
There were originally more points like the blood pit in level 2, points where you could quickly descend through the levels of Od Nua. This level was going to have a rickety bridge that would collapse underneath you. While it was collapsing, a scripted interaction would play and if you were quick enough you could leap to the other side of the bridge safely. Unfortunately, these kinds of things bring a slew of design issues with them. In a fifteen level dungeon, you want every level to feel necessary. The easiest design practice is to have one level lead directly to another, and make the player explore through that level. When you start allowing the player to skip levels, it makes it much more difficult to justify why they should explore the levels that they had previously skipped. In addition, destroying the bridge would mean that we'd have to make a large change to the environment, which are difficult to pull off in these kinds of scenes. That's why you see most of it only done at the stronghold.
~ Ryan Torres, Design Intern
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 5
For this level we tried something a little different than how we created the rest of the Endless Paths. This map was made in tandem with another map, the old Woedican ruins underneath First Fires. The two maps were created in a common template [?], and eventually were split. As production continued, the maps became more and more distinct from each other. While this practice did prove very helpful, and it allowed us to make a larger map than we had first budgeted, it was a practice that was best used with caution. If overused, some areas could feel way too similar when they weren't meant to be, and we ended up only using these for house interiors and this one dungeon occasion.
~ Ryan Torres, Design Intern
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 6
This was one of the few levels I was able to guide from start to finish. The original inspiration for the layout was conceived after a long weekend of playing Icewind Dale. A lot of the dungeons have a variety of paths to go down and search 'round. Originally we tried to set up a design with a hub room and a variety of paths. However, the sizes for our maps didn't permit a lot of negative space, and designers had to try and pack as much usable space as they could contain in areas. This eventually led to the change after change until the area focused around a large and open center area, with the pathways shortened.
~ Ryan Torres, Design Intern
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 7

This level went through one of the larger visual changes in all the maps of Od Nua. Originally, this was going to be a forge that took Od Nua's most loyal, and turn them into adra animats, à la Clîaban Rilag. When we returned to Od Nua, after a long hiatus, we found that a lot of the engwithan levels felt a little too similar, and lacked distinguishing landmarks. We took back to the drawing board for these levels and reconstructed some of their layouts.

Since the bestiary was more fleshed out at this time, and more of the creatures had been added to the in-game assets, we tried making some of the levels focus on a specific unexplored enemy types and combinations. The following levels then became the focus of terrible and horrific experiments in search for a way to understand souls - blights were our first target - and since there were a large range of both type (being flame, earth, wind, and rain) and size (being lesser, normal, or greater), they could populate an entire map and still have plenty of counter-combinations to feel fresh.
~ Ryan Torres, Design Intern
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 8
This level of experiments focused on fampyrs, widely underused in the game at the time - just like blights - we wanted to try and showcase this undead creature. Unlike the blights on the previous level, fampyrs weren't terribly enjoyable to fight in large quantities. The ability to dominate an enemy is a powerful one, and there aren't many classes that allow you to break characters out of domination. So instead of handfuls of fampyrs, we decided to make a small community of them, backed by their skeletal savant servants. Fampyrs also gave us another interesting narrative feature to toy with: being able to speak with an engwithan.
~ Ryan Torres, Design Intern
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 9
The original design of this area is drastically different than what eventually made it into the game. We planned on having the area be quite open, with a large variety of paths to take. There were three engwithan machines scattered about, and each one of them was feeding souls to a shade in the center. Initially, the shade would me a monsterous encounter for the party to face. As the player would destroy each machine, the shade would get weaker and weaker, until it was a sizable challenge. We couldn't deliver on this sort of plan in the end, due to the area having too little direction, scripting being a general nightmare, and the lack of destructible environment. However, the idea did eventually fuel the redesign for level 7, where the final blight encounter would progressively get easier via use of old engwithan technology.
~ Ryan Torres, Design Intern
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 10
Level 10 was intended to be a very small transition area between the Engwithan ruins above, and the caverns in the next few levels. The idea is that this section of the Endless Paths collapsed in on itself and the spiders subsequently burrowed up looking for food. It's a pretty simple little area, but it actually ended up a good place to test things like enemy shout ranges and perception distance. For a little while you could aggro the first group of spiders and have everything in the level come running for you.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 11
We called this one the "fungus floor" for obvious reasons. It was basically intended to break up the architecture of the dungeon a little. I'm sure the artists got tired of us continuously asking for more mushrooms and plants. It was more-or-less immediately suggested by everyone who read the initial design doc that we place a giant dank spore here, feeding on the still-living bodies of unfortunate adventurers - so that ended up the obvious choice for a final encounter.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 12
Another cavern level before things swing back around to engwithan architecture. This level originally had more vertical movement, but we quickly found that however cool it might sound, that sort of thing doesn't tend to read well with this camera angle. When this area was being blocked out there really wasn't much decided about the vithrack besides what was in the brief blurb in the bestiary. So when the decision was made to include a couple of quests in the Od Nua levels, it seemed like the vithrack might be an interesting choice for potential quest givers. There were a lot of emails sent around with nonsense names before I settled on things like Sstravek'narith.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 13
This place used to be a labyrinth, lots of windy corridors and rooms. I think we halved the rooms in the end, and I'm sure the art department was happier for it. The puzzle concerning the passphrase for the talking door originally incorporated some of the smaller engwithan machines and powering up the floor again with soul energy. There was a lot of back and forth for a time as to whether the player character could understand engwithan, or whether engwithan writing, or rather parchment, would have survived at all, and we were constantly changing up where and how the player would pick up clues. Like the layout, it ended up unnecessarily complicated, and the limited props on hand ultimately meant that we had to pare all that down into the current design.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 14

This is the final resting place of Od Nua, and as such it was internally referred to as the "tomb level", though in the fiction of the game it would've been a staging area for the construction going on below.

Originally Od Nua's corpse was literally a skeleton sort of draped over a central crystal, like the engwithan mob had spitted him on one of the pointy ends. We wanted to jazz that up a little once we had time to revisit these renders, and it was changed to the ominous silhouette encased in adra. The idea was that in a final defiant gesture, Od Nua took his own life through a spell that simultaneously thwarted any efforts to parade his corpse around in triumph or anything like that.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
Endless Paths of Od Nua Level 15

It wasn't easy to find a way to place two giant legs in this scene without obscuring everything else. There wasn't a statue prop when the area was being blocked out, so for a long time it was represented by one of the human NPC models we use for scale, and the statue had these giant bright red shoes.

Apart from that, the bigger concern was obviously to create a suitable arena for the battle with the dragon, and ensure that there wasn't anywhere it couldn't follow you on the map. We didn't have the adra dragon model at the time either, so the part was played by a scaled-up drake. At one point the fight was going to happen in knee-deep water, but in the end it just didn't look as cool as it sounded, and we decided that it was more trouble than it was really worth.
~ Olivia Veras, Junior Designer
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