With an enormous open world, a massive cast of characters, beautiful hand-painted backgrounds, and a story you can play your way, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a rich video game experience. Beyond hearing the familiar voices of the Critical Role cast within the game, you’ll also find it an intriguing universe to see yourself adventuring in for your tabletop RPG.
As Liam O’Brien put it: “The Deadfire is a melting pot of different cultures and factions, all colliding into one another in really interesting ways. It feels very much like a fantasy story unfolding in the British West Indies during the 1700’s. It’s not your stereotypical setting and Obsidian has created an extremely rich world for us to play in.”
If you look at this game the way you’d look at a pen & paper RPG supplement, you’ll find immersive and rich lore, as well as unique takes on old fantasy tropes that provide plot and setting elements, perfect for driving stories, creating hooks for characters (complete with schemes and plots that can drive entire campaigns), and a fresh worldview that that will thrill your players.
All of the universe and lore are thoroughly developed and explored both with the video game experience itself, as well as the Guidebooks Obsidian Entertainment offers those who pre-order Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Deluxe or Obsidian Editions. Here are a few things we think would be fantastic to bring to your own tabletop RPG.
A God Manifesting As a Giant, Destructive Construct
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire starts with a heck of a story catalyst: “The god Eothas, once thought to be destroyed, returns to life in the form of a titanic statue – nearly killing you as he destroys everything in his path.”
If you’re a GM looking for a way to kick off a game with a really big bad or a reason to pull a party of strangers together on a noble (or less-than-noble) quest with impetus, there’s nothing quite like a divine personification almost killing a band of adventurers to get things going. If you’ve recently wrapped up a campaign or have a group of players with established characters looking to start an adventure, this is a fantastic hook.
In the video game, you take on the role of Watcher of Caed Nua, to discover Eothas’ purpose and decide to help or hinder his efforts, but for your tabletop RPG, the opportunities you offer your players is completely up to you. Perhaps the divine god has a bargain to strike with your adventurers, perhaps it’s manifestation on this plane is to stop another dangerous and divine creature from destroying the world as we know it, or maybe it must be stopped at all costs, lest the world be doomed.
A Clashing of Cultures
With the vibrant and living world that you inhabit in the video game, there’s a lot of opportunities to crib from Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and lift different elements of fully-fleshed out cultures to bring them to your own tabletop. Bringing in elements of fully fleshed out cultures and societies for your players to explore is a great way to enrich their adventures.
Take the Huana of Deadfire, for example. This tribal island society is structured such that individuals are born to fulfill a specific role. The Mataru, sit at the top, in the warrior and priest classes, protecting and guiding the tribe, as well as performing the rituals that determine a newborn’s caste.
Sitting below them are those of Kuaru who are the respectable artisans and merchants, often taking up the trade of their parents, though the Mataru class may call upon them to fulfill a different — but caste appropriate — role based on the needs of the tribe.
At the bottom reside the Roparu caste, unskilled labourers whose role beyond toil and menial tasks of daily life also includes an important survival role: During lean times, when harvests fail or food is simply wanting, the Roparu are those designated to go hungry, even to the point of death by starvation for the sake of the tribe. From the outside, they might be mistaken for chattel slaves even, but within Huana culture, the Roparu are rewarded through reincarnation after this life into a higher caste as a reward for their toil in this life. To them, their denigration is a moral imperative for the sake of their society.
Now take your players’ characters and place them in this society. How does that Paladin sworn to protect the downtrodden deal with wanting to save people who themselves don’t want to be saved? How does the social climber Rogue view this society? Putting them in unfamiliar lands and societies isn’t just about adventure, but also that deep character exploration that often accompanies culture shock. Nothing crystalizes motivations and values quite like being forced to confront them.
Beyond the Huana there are more factions to explore: The Príncipi, Royal Deadfire Company, and Vailian Trading Company each have their own flavor and flair that is fleshed out in the game and in the guidebooks. Exploring them can make for really interesting roleplaying and character driving scenes for your players, on top of the novelty of a new setting.
A Fantastic Soundscape & A Pen & Paper RPG Starter Guide
One of the soundtracks Matt pulls from for episodes of Critical Role is the Pillars of Eternity Soundtrack. If you pick up the Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Deluxe or Obsidian Editions you’ll get access to the soundtrack for the game, which brings this new exciting setting to life.
Additionally, if you want to further explore Pillars of Eternity as a tabletop roleplaying experience, Obsidian is also offering those who pre-order the game’s Obsidian Edition a starter guide to a pen and paper RPG specific to the world of Pillars of Eternity. If you’re an enthusiast of the universe or tabletop RPGs, having this guide to get you started is a bonus to jump into the world and translate the video game experience directly to an RPG experience – no rules porting required!
You can pre-order Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire now from Critical Role (via versusevil.com), GOG, or Steam.
Image Credits: Obsidian Entertainment
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