Pillars of Eternity Wiki
Pillars of Eternity Wiki

Skills can be used outside of combat for a variety of purposes and they grant auxiliary combat bonuses. The five skills are Stealth, Athletics, Lore, Mechanics and Survival. Every class gains initial proficiency bonus in two skills, but not limited to them. Non-combat skills are gained separately from combat skills (Abilities, Talents) and they do not use the same resources.


Skills come to play in a variety of different contexts and partially determine how the player character or their followers can interact with the world around them.

Notably, only the Watcher's skills are taken into account in dialogue (i.e. a dialogue option that requires 8 Lore won't be available to a Watcher with 7 Lore, even if they have Durance with 12 Lore in the party). Other party members can use their skills in regular gameplay (the game will automatically select the character with the highest applicable score whenever eg. Mechanics are used) and scripted interactions where it's possible to select a character to carry it out (i.e. retrieving the dragon egg during Nest Egg, where you can pick a character with a high Athletics score).


Skill Purpose Gameplay effect Use in interactions and conversations
(based on the in-game description)
Stealth allows characters of any class to attempt to avoid being seen or heard Can stay close to NPCs in scouting mode for a longer period without being seen
Athletics Once per encounter, characters with Athletics can use the Second Wind ability to recover lost Endurance. A higher Athletics score increases the effect of Second Wind
  • Heals a base of 20 + (4×Athletics) Endurance. At 1 Athletics, it will heal base 24. At 12 Athletics, it will heal base 68.
Used in interactions that require physical exertion, such as climbing, jumping, running, or swimming.
Lore A character's accumulated miscellaneous knowledge and trivia, often of occult or esoteric topics

Lore allows characters to use scrolls. Which level is available is determined by dividing the Lore score by 2 (with a minimum of 1). As such:

  • Rank 1 can use level 1 scrolls
  • Rank 4 can use level 2 scrolls
  • Rank 6 can use level 3 scrolls
  • Rank 8 can use level 4 scrolls
  • Rank 10 can use level 5 scrolls (the highest scroll level in Pillars of Eternity without expansions)
  • Rank 12 can use level 6 scrolls (the highest scroll level in Pillars of Eternity: The White March - Part II)
For picking up on relevant historical or cultural contexts, contributing general knowledge, or using own mastery of lore in conversation.
Mechanics Makes it easier to open locks, find and disable traps, and place traps of your own.

Also needed to find hidden loot and switches, as neither Perception nor Stealth do this.

This skill allows you to disarm traps and pick locks. If the difficulty level is equivalent or lower than the Mechanics rating, it's free. If it's one level higher, it costs a variable amount of lock picks (the higher the level, the more lock picks it needs). Anything above and picking or disarming is not possible.

Each level of mechanics also grants +3 accuracy for own traps per level.

For any mechanical purposes, such as interacting with machines, disarming and arming traps or mechanisms, etc.
Survival Allows characters to choose from a variety of long-term bonuses each time they camp. The first six ranks grant the following bonuses:
  • Rank 1 - Damage Reduction
  • Rank 2 - Received Healing Multiplier
  • Rank 3 - Bonus Movement
  • Rank 4 - Accuracy Bonus vs. Creature Type
  • Rank 5 - Increased consumable duration
  • Rank 6 - Bonus Damage vs Flanked Enemies

Note: After 6th rank, the previously earned bonuses become more powerful in the same order they were received (for a max of 3 levels of bonuses).

Used in wilderness challenges, and for contributing specialized knowledge of nature or alchemy.


At first level, a character only has their initial class and background bonuses to skills. Each class confers bonuses in two or three skills and each background in one or two skills.

Upon achieving a new level, a character gains six skill points. Advancing a skill to the next rank costs one point, plus one point per time the skill has already been advanced. Note that class, background, and other bonuses are "free" and do not increase the cost of advancing skills.

Class bonuses[]

The following table lists bonuses received from classes:

yes = 1 rank, yesyes = 2 ranks
Class Stealth Athletics Lore Mechanics Survival
Barbarian yesyes yes
Chanter yesyes yes
Cipher yes yes yes
Druid yes yesyes
Fighter yes yes yes
Monk yes yes yes
Paladin yesyes yes
Priest yes yesyes
Ranger yes yesyes
Rogue yes yesyes
Wizard yesyes yes

Background bonuses[]

Background skills.png

This section lists all bonuses from backgrounds:

yes = 1 rank, yesyes = 2 ranks
Background Stealth Athletics Lore Mechanics Survival
Aristocrat yesyes
Artist yesyes
Clergyman yesyes
Colonist yesyes
Dissident yes yes
Drifter yes yes
Explorer yes yes
Hunter yes yes
Laborer yes yes
Mercenary yes yes
Merchant yes yes
Mystic yesyes
Philosopher yesyes
Raider yes yes
Scholar yesyes
Scientist yes yes
Slave yes yes
Farmer (NPC only) yes yes
Gentry (NPC only) yesyes
Midwife (NPC only) yes yes
Soldier (NPC only) yes yes
Trapper (NPC only) yes yes


Rites are a special, non-craftable type of scrolls that temporarily boost specific skills.

Certain wearable and consumable items can additionally provide temporarily bonuses to skills. See the associated skill pages for more information.

Skill development planning[]

As the maximum character level in Pillars of Eternity is 12 (14 in [WM1] and 16 in [WM2]), the highest achievable skill ranks are strictly limited. At each level-up, the character gains 6 new skill points, which means each character is only allowed to distribute the following total amount of skill points:

Game Total skill points gained via levelling up
Pillars of Eternity 66 (=11×6)
Pillars of Eternity: The White March - Part I 78 (=13×6)
Pillars of Eternity: The White March - Part II 90 (=15×6)

Class and Backround innate skill bonuses[]

Skill points allocation pool creates a practical limit on maximum skill ranks a character can achieve in game. However, since each class and background gives one to two initial points to certain skills, character can have a combined innate bonus to a skill of up to 4 points. These free innate bonuses (especially when combined from both class and background) can greatly increase the absolute "basic" skill (i.e., not counting buffs) maximum achievable for a character.

For example, a Ranger with the Colonist background would have an innate bonus +4 to Survival skill, which would allow him to achieve level 16 in Survival by investing total of 78 skill points into the skill when levelling up. By wearing a proper item increasing the Survival skill, he can even achieve rank 18, which will unlock an amazing "+30% Damage to Flanked targets" resting bonus.

Skill level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Total skill points allocated: 1 3 6 10 15 21 28 36 45 55 66* 78 (91)
with innate bonus +1: yes 1 3 6 10 15 21 28 36 45 55 66* 78 (91)
with innate bonus +2: yes yes 1 3 6 10 15 21 28 36 45 55 66* 78 (91)
with innate bonus +3: yes yes yes 1 3 6 10 15 21 28 36 45 55 66* 78 (91)
with innate bonus +4: yes yes yes yes 1 3 6 10 15 21 28 36 45 55 66* 78 (91)

* Maximum achievable skill rank in [PoE1] (without skill buffs)
Maximum achievable skill rank in [WM1] and [WM2] (without skill buffs)

Talent skill bonuses for main character[]

Besides these innate bonuses granted by class and background, skills of the player character can be additionally increased by certain talents learned as quest rewards:

Skill Talent Bonus
Stealth Blooded Hunter +1
Dungeon Delver +1
Skaen's Boon (Deific Boon) +1
Athletics Galawain's Boon (Deific Boon) +1
Lore Hylea's Boon (Deific Boon) +1
Mechanics Dungeon Delver +1
Survival Rymrgand's Boon (Deific Boon) +1

Since Deific boon talents can only be gained during the Council of Stars quest in the very finale of the game, the only talents that really influence the gameplay are the Dungeon Delver and Blooded Hunter. And since both Mechanics and Stealth skills, which are increased by these talents (for +2 Stealth and +1 Mechanics total), have to be raised as high as possible in the game, this effectively makes Rogue the best class for the protagonist character (at least skill-wise).

Notable skill thresholds[]

There are several important skill thresholds which should be taken into account when planning the skill development of each character. These include (but might not be limited to):