Pillars of Eternity is goddamn fantastic. It's also sometimes intimidatingly deep, with all of its interlocking old-school-RPG-esque stats and systems. Here are some guides to help you on your way.

Let's take it from the top. First, the most difficult part of every RPG: the character creation screen. Pillars runs on a new, non-D&D stat system, so it's hard to know exactly what sort of character build you'll end up with, even if you blew through Baldur's Gate while you were still in diapers. Fortunately, nerdcommando.gamestudios' Character Creation and Development Guide can get you on the right track. It's not finished yet, but the included classes are explored in great detail, level by level, with multiple builds for each. If you're playing Paladin, Barbarian, Chanter, or Cipher, consider this a one-stop shop.

Choice bits include:

"The party composition [in Pillars] is rather simple. You need two tanks on the frontline (who need to be focused on longevity first and foremost), up to two second-line damage dealers (armed with pikes) and the rest are third-line pure damage dealers and crowd controllers. The difference between second and third line damage dealers is their durability—seconds can usually take some damage, though not a lot (barbarians, for example), whereas the thirds are very squishy and, should the things go wrong, will melt in a second. You can skip second-liners altogether, but that will make your party rather prone to the ambushes. That can be worked around, but relies on save-loading and metagaming."

But maybe that's not enough to make you feel like you and your character are truly one in the same. Maybe you need your own picture—your freckles, your hair, your lifeless glass eye and rad hook hand—in the game. Then here's Waruko's guide on how to install custom character portraits. (Note: also works with pictures from other games, anime, or the person you secretly wish you were and actively try to imitate in all video games.)

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Pillars' combat is pretty easy to wrap your head around if you've played PC RPGs' before, but it has layers. Stats, abilities, formations, tactics, multiple damage types that interact with defenses differently, friendly fire. Understanding all of that and more is key if you want to tackle the game's tougher difficulties. Fortunately, Caelinus' basic combat guide distills combat's most important intricacies into a quickly digestible format. You won't walk away knowing everything, but you'll at least have a better idea of what's going on under the hood.

And now, one that's probably of interest to just about everyone: Mindesten's guide to getting all companions as soon as possible. Party members are often the best thing about RPGs, after all. The more, the merrier. Also, I really wish I knew this bit when I was first getting started: "Four of them (wizard, fighter, priest and chanter) you can recruit still having level 2 in the first 20 minutes after leaving Cilan Lis without need to fight any further even once."

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Finally, and most importantly, a guide for those of you want who to get yelled at by a drill sergeant: Drill-Master Venser's Adventuring Bootcamp, Maggot! It includes such choice lines as:

"Attention Maggot! You are soft, weak from years of Bioware rpgs. This is your only chance of making it past Act 1, Maggot! You aren't in Kansas anymore Dorothy, so listen up if you don't want to die. Maybe you might be worthy of the title "watcher" someday, but that day isn't today. You are Maggot. Do not forget that, Maggot!"

And:

"Attributes! We can't cover character creation without an understanding of the 6 most important numbers in the game, Maggot. There are 6 attributes in Pillars, which is also how many seconds you lasted in bed with your sister last night, Maggot! Since you skipped the intro, do 50 push-ups while I repeat myself Maggot! THERE ARE NO DUMP STATS IN PILLARS OF ETERNITY! IF YOU BRING A STAT TO MINIMUM YOU WILL SUFFER HORRIBLE CONSEQUENCES!"

That second bit is actually really important... maggot.

Anyway. Pillars of Eternity is deep, but it's also tons of fun. With these guides, you should be able to dispel a lot of uncertainty and get to the part where you're making informed, strategic decisions about how to play the game. Now then, I'm off to consider rolling a new character so I can maybe do a run where I make informed, strategic decisions about how to play the game. Or maybe I'll just trample all my problems with a BEAR ARMY.

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