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Disambig.png This article is about skills in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. For skills in the context of Pillars of Eternity, see Pillars of Eternity skills. For an overview skills in general, see Skills.

Skills allow your character to perform specialized actions like stealth, detecting traps, picking locks, or reading scrolls. They can also be used to overcome obstacles in conversations and scripted interactions. Skills will advance as your characters gain level, but items and other bonuses can also increase skills.

The skill system in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is an extension to the same system in Pillars of Eternity. It adds many more skills, which are now split into "Active" and "Passive" groups. The introduction of a party-assisted skill check mechanic increases the usefulness of your party members' skills during dialogue and scripted interactions, where previously these checks were made by the Watcher exclusively. Additionally, Lore has been broken up and divided between History, Religion, Metaphysics, and Arcana (the latter defining the level of scrolls a character can use).

Skill distribution[]

Upon leveling up, the player will receive 2 skill points - one for each group. The player must place one point into an active skill, and one into a passive skill. Skill points cannot be "saved", and must be spent as part of leveling up. As with the first game, a character's class and background provide an initial bonus to skills. A character does not get any assignable skill points at level 1, with the only points being from these bonuses.

Accumulated, a character will receive 38 skill points from 19 level-ups, with the additional 10 bonus points from their class, and 3 bonus points from their background, bringing it to a total of 51 points (or 50, should they pick a background that only gives them 2 points).


Picking any class gives a +2 bonus to 5 different skills. A multiclass character limits this to +1, with overlapping bonuses being added together (the note in the character creator regarding "averaging" skill bonuses is misleading).


A character's background provides a second set of skill point bonuses. Depending on the background, the point arrangement can be one of:

  • +1 for three different skills
  • +2 to one skill
  • +1 to two skills, +2 to one skill. Marksman only.
yes = 1 rank, yesyes = 2 ranks, * = NPC-only background

Party-assist bonus[]

The party-assist mechanic effectively combines the skills of other party members with yours, allowing their knowledge of skills to influence checks made during dialogue and scripted interactions. This was introduced to rectify a problem of verisimilitude many players had with the previous game, where companion skill levels were completely ignored for speech checks - even in situations where the Watcher could simply ask for assistance.

A party-assist bonus is applied to most skill checks in the game, however (depending on the context) some skill checks are limited only to the player character. These are clearly marked as "Watcher Only".

Party-assist is accomplished by adding a bonus to the checked character's skill. The summed skill of all other party members (not including the target of the check) is checked against the following thresholds to determine the bonus "assist value" applied. Note that these thresholds are lower limit inclusive, and upper limit exclusive.

Party-assist bonus
Summed skill Skill bonus
1 +1
2 +2
4 +3
7 +4
11 +5
16 +6
22 +7
29 +8
37 +9
46 +10

For example : The Watcher performs a history action that allows a party assist. The Watcher has a history skill of 3, and their party members, Aloth, Xoti, and Edér, have history skills of 3, 4 and 0. The other party members have a combined skill of 7 (3+4+0) and give the watcher a bonus of +4, giving The Watcher a total skill of 7.

In practice, this means that specialising party members (i.e. dumping points into a skill on a character) is not necessary for a supporting bonus. Three supporting party members with 2 skill each provide the same bonus as a party member with 6 skill.



All active skills have some sort of impact on game mechanics (other than skill checks in conversations and scripted interactions). With Alchemy, Arcana and Explosives this means means increased potency for items associated with the skill. With other skills like Mechanics, Slight of Hand and Stealth, this means being able to make use of the lockpicking + trap disarming, pickpocketing and stealth mechanics respectively, with higher levels allowing you to pick more difficult locks, disarm more difficult traps, pickpocket without being noticed, and avoid detection in stealth.

Name Description
Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Alchemy deals with the natural and supernatural properties of plants, body parts, and gemstones. It affects the use of all drugs, poisons, and antidotes. (Generally increasing potency and duration of effect)

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Arcana covers knowledge of all things magical that do not deal with metaphysics. In combat, it can be used to increase the power level of scrolls.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Adventuring is tiring work. In addition to the hazards of mortal combat, adventurers have walls to climb, rivers to cross, and pits to leap over. Once per encounter, characters with Athletics can use the Second Wind ability to recover lost Health. A higher Athletics score increases the effect of Second Wind. In conversations and scripted interactions, Athletics is used for physical feats like climbing, swimming, and jumping.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Explosives improves the accuracy, damage and effectiveness of bombs, noisemakers, and similar devices.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Traps and locks can be a problem for even the toughest adventurers, draining their resources and injuring or killing those who are unfortunate enough to trigger an unseen floor plate. The Mechanics skill makes it easier to open locks and disable traps. Additionally, any character can use the Mechanics skill to place traps of their own. The higher the Mechanics skill, the more accurate the trap. In conversations and scripted interactions, Mechanics can be used to activate or disable a variety of machines.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Whether you want to lift a few coins from an unsuspecting mark or plant incriminating evidence (or worse) on an enemy, sleight of hand can get the job done without drawing suspicion.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Stealth allows characters of any class to attempt to avoid being seen or heard. It is used automatically whenever the character is in Stealth mode. The higher the character's skill, the closer they can get to enemies before being detected.


Passive skills generally don't have an impact on game mechanics and combat. They are only used in conversations and scripted interactions as skill checks, and otherwise do not provide bonuses.

Name Description
Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

All but the most honest adventurers find it useful to stretch the truth on occasion. Unscrupulous denial, feigned ignorance, gross exaggeration, and bald-faced lying are all covered by this skill.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Diplomacy can be used to negotiate rational and reasonable resolutions to difficult situations. It stresses patience, respect, and sensitivity, and may therefore be despised by the rough edges of Eoran societies.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

A broad skill, history covers the commonly-accepted narratives of Eora's civilizations and how they came to be. As this skill draws from many sources, a measure of folklore has been woven into many stories.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Conversations can be difficult to navigate. People may be evasive, lying, frightened, or preoccupied with other matters. Insight is used to empathize with someone and understand their underlying emotions and motivations.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Through physical imposition, raw intensity, and overt threats, Intimidate allows a character to leave onlookers shaken and cowed. Though not everyone responds well to intimidation, it can be used as an effective tool of persuasion.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

A young field of knowledge, Metaphysics deals with animancy, adra, the Wheel, the in-between, the Beyond, and all mysteries of the soul.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Religion covers both the theological concerns of Eora's various religions as well as popular beliefs, saint cults, and religious organizations in the world.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Streetwise covers the basic rules of survival one learns on the streets and back alleys of major cities. It includes urban readiness as well as appropriate etiquette for dealing with unsavory types.

Items in italics are quoted directly from the game.

Survival can be used in conversations and scripted interactions that involve wilderness challenges or specialized information about nature.


  • Internally, Alchemy is referred to as "Herbalism", and Explosives is referred to as "Alchemy".

Unused skills[]

The following skills have a description or image, but are not used in the game.

  • Acrobatics: Acrobatics is relied on whenever a character's grace and poise are put to the test, e.g. balancing on a beam or tumbling out of the way of a rolling boulder.
  • Lore: Lore represents a character's accumulated miscellaneous knowledge and trivia, often of occult or esoteric topics. Outside of conversations and scripted interactions, Lore is used to activate scrolls. Higher Lore values allow the character to use higher level scrolls.
  • Jumping
  • Climbing
  • Hunting