Pillars of Eternity 2 Builds Guide: Inquisitor (Great Sword & Arquebus)

Last updated on January 20th, 2020

In this Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Build Guide we’re going to be taking a look at the Inquisitor Class, which is a mixture of Paladin and Cipher. I’ll be providing information on Attributes, Weapons, Armor, and most importantly, what Abilities to take and how to use them. Please keep in mind that this is my Inquisitor Build, and there are plenty of ways you can build this class, and this is not the only one. If you’re new to Pillars of Eternity 2, or you just love creating characters as much as I do, then this Guide is for you. Please note that this Build Guide was updated for the 5.0 version of the game, as well as 1.01 on console (as of January 20th, 2020), and works with both Real Time with Pause and Turn-Based.

Inquisitor Build Guide

The Inquisitor is an intriguing class because it blends the martial and healing abilities of the Paladin with the martial and casting abilities of the Cipher. If you’re playing this class then you are most likely going to focus a portion of your time dealing damage with Weapons, with a varying amount of spell casting, depending on which Cipher Subclass you chose. This Guide is for a melee Inquisitor, that also uses a Firearm to begin fights, and uses abilities with short cast times in order to spend most of its time fighting hand-to-hand.


This Inquisitor Build only needs to be concerned with Dexterity, Perception, and Constitution.

With this Build we take advantage of the Cipher’s natural bonus to Weapon Damage, and potential to deal incredible damage with Soul Annihilation. These combine well with the Paladin’s powerful attack, Flames of Devotion, and its ability to heal and buff its Armor. Together you get an incredible blend of offense and defense that is rivaled by few Classes. One fantastic aspect of this Build is that later in the game you will gain access to Virtuous Triumph, which allows you to gain resources back 25% of the time when you kill enemies!

The Bleak Walkers version of this ability (Black Flames) adds Corrode Damage and Sickens the target.

Inquisitor Subclasses (Bleak Walkers & Soul Blade)

I chose the Bleak Walkers for my Paladin Subclass in order to increase the damage Flames of Devotion does, as well as add another type of Damage. The beautiful thing about adding Burn and Corrode Damage, is that it does so after all other calculations have come into play, so these sort of bonuses are the most powerful in the game. Wait until you see your damage numbers!

The Soul Blade Subclass from Cipher was an easy choice here because most of our damage is going to come from weapon attacks, and Soul Annihilation is hands down one of the best single target damaging abilities in the game. It does require melee however, which is a big part of the reason we will be engaging foes regularly. Because Flames of Devotion hits so hard, we charge this up extremely fast and use it often. We’ll also mainly be casting Shred spells, and Soul Blade gives a discount on their Focus cost. Concentration when you down an enemy with a melee weapon, is just an added bonus.


You can see the exact bonuses for Soul Blade here.

Inquisitor Weapons and Armor

I actually use 2 or 3 weapons for this Build, and first up is the Arquebus for it’s extremely high damage and range. I usually begin combat with this weapon, and strike with Flames of Devotion. This usually charges up Soul Annihilation a good ways, and I will either fire a second shot to fill it completely if I have time before enemies reach me. If not I will then switch to Morning Star (or Great Sword) and Soul Annihilate the living daylights out of whatever just came near me. This will generally one-shot most enemies, but if not I strike with Flames of Devotion again to finish them off. I alternate between these two attacks for best results.


We use these Two-Handed Weapons so we get bonus damage on both from Two-Handed Style.

A couple of notes here. First, I don’t generally switch back to the Arquebus after that first shot or two, because you will not only have to Recover, but you will then have to Reload, which takes time. However, you can stay firing at range in some scenarios where you cannot reach your target with melee, or where it makes more sense just to keep shooting, like after you’ve obtained Stoic Steel.

And second, I use the Morning Star earlier on in the game because Great Swords have low Penetration and Estocs deal the same type of damage as the Arquebus (Pierce). By taking Morning Star I get more Pen, and also Crush Damage in case an enemy is immune to Pierce Damage, like Skeletons. You can however switch to Great Sword later in the game when your Penetration is much better, which is why I said 3 weapons, not 2. Be sure to take both Hammering Thoughts and Scion of Flame for increased Penetration.

Armor-wise you’ll want the lightest you can get away with. We need fast Recovery Time in order to Reload and attack faster. We don’t get the bonus from dual-wield, because we’re using Two-Handed Weapons, so Medium and Heavy really slow us down. Paladins can also buff their Armor with Exalted EnduranceInspired Defenses, Greater Lay on Hands and Stoic Steel, allowing them to get away with little Armor where other Classes could not.

Inquisitor Abilities

In this section we’re going to cover the “must have” Inquisitor Abilities for this Build. You are free to pick and choose which you want outside of these because everyone’s style of play is different and there is no perfect way. However, these ones will be needed for this Build to work effectively.


Flames of Devotion – This ability hits like a truck and is THE reason Paladins are one of the most popular classes in the game. As mentioned above, the added damage is calculated after all others, making it the best type of buff in the game.

Lay on Hands – This ability will keep you alive when surrounded by several enemies and you will use it often. The short cast time, combined with the HoT, can make all the difference in the world and win you some fights you might not otherwise.

Retribution – This passive allows you to deal increased damage on your next attack when you take damage. It stacks up to 5x giving you a potential of +25% more damage, which is not a small amount.

Zealous Aura – This ability allows you to gain access to your Auras which affect you and all party members around you. They work like Fighter Stances and can be swapped on the fly. The Accuracy you gain from Focus Aura is extremely valuable early game.

Inspired Defenses – This ability grants you 1 Armor for 3.0 seconds each time your are struck. This really shines when you are surround by enemies, and can really reduce your damage taken. Note that at the time of this guide it is somewhat bugged and doesn’t always apply. Hopefully this will be fixed in a later patch.

Two-Handed Style – This ability increases your damage with the Arquebus, Morning Star and Great Sword so works extremely well for us. Take it and love it!

Eternal Devotion – This upgrade of Flames of Devotion increases the damage of future attacks by +10% Burn Damage for 15.0 seconds. This helps the overall damage output of our Build.

Greater Lay on Hands – This upgrade of Lay on Hands not only costs the same (1 Zeal), but also gives +2 increased Armor, +5 Constitution and + 10 Health every 3 seconds for 8.0 seconds. Another way we buff our Armor and stay alive with HoTs at the same time. Note that the Armor boost will not add with Body Attunement, but will be overwritten by it.

Exalted Endurance – This is a great Aura that heals everyone around you and gives them +1 Armor. Note that other Armor bonuses will overwrite this, such as Robust, however the healing you gain from it, makes still surpass any other Aura.

Scion of Flame – This passive will add +1 Penetration with your Flames of Devotion attacks, but not your follow up attacks even if they are buffed with the extra 10% damage dealt as Burn. Still, +1 Penetration is +1 Penetration.

Virtuous Triumph – Gives you back 1 Zeal when downing an enemy. Flames of Devotion costs 1 zeal. Flames > Soul Annihilation > Repeat > Win!

Stoic Steel – This passive gives you a stacking bonus to Armor when you don’t move. Once you have this, you’ll want to fire at range and let the enemies come to you so you build up Armor.


Iron Will – This passive will offset the loss in Will from low Resolve, so it’s worth picking up.

Draining Whip – We take this upgrade of Soul Whip to get more Focus faster for stronger Soul Annihilations and buffs. +100% gain will outperform the extra damage of Biting Whip because of Soul Annihilation.

Hammering Thoughts – +1 Penetration with weapons, um…yes please! This helps to compensate for the low Penetration of the Great Sword later in the game.

Borrowed Instinct – You can increase your Defenses, but more importantly your Accuracy by 20 for 30 seconds with this ability, which means you are much much more likely to Crit.

Keen Mind – This passive allows you to begin combat with more Focus, which will allow you to buff with Body Attunement immediately after firing your Arquebus, or even before if you wish.

Echoing Horror – This passive allows you to Frighten a nearby enemy when you down one. This further prevents damage to you, and you’ll be downing enemies often.

Inquisitor Attributes

In this section we’ll cover Attributes for the Inquisitor, and explain a bit about each and why we need it or why it’s important. This Inquisitor Build needs Dexterity, Perception, and Constitution. Might, Intellect and Resolve are not really needed, and Resolve should be dumped for extra Attribute Points, since Paladins have high defenses, and Ciphers can provide extra Will Defense. If you’re playing Turn-Based, swap out Dexterity for increased Might, since turn order is not so important.

Dexterity reduces your Recovery Time and your Reload Time, and we need to attack often and buff quickly and get back to killing things. This is particularly important for this Build, because we are not dual-wielding, and therefore don’t reduce our Recovery Time just from our Weapons. Arquebuses also have extremely long Reload Times and we want to shave as much time off this as we can.


We want the fastest Recovery Time and Attack Time we can get, so we pump Dex quite a bit.

Perception is important because we want to connect with our attacks or we don’t gain Focus, and we especially don’t want to miss when using Soul Annihilation, or we’ll lose out on tons of damage. Note that if you Graze with Soul Annihilation you lose half the damage it will deal. Perception also helps with the few spells we cast, so it’s an overall good stat for a any Cipher Build.


If you Miss or Graze with Soul Annihilation then you lose out on all or half the damage. Be sure you have high Accuracy to take advantage of this ability.

Constitution helps to give us a big Health pool which prevents enemies from taking us down quickly while they chip away at us. Because we have such high Armor we can withstand tons of enemies at once while healing with Lay on Hands and striking for huge numbers with Soul Annihilation.

Final Tips

You do not gain Focus when out of combat. This means that if you are Stealthed and fire your Arquebus you may kill your target, and you will have reduced Reload Time from being in Stealth, but you will not gain Focus for this shot. For this reason it is probably best you don’t fire from Stealth until you’ve gained the Virtuous Triumph passive which will give you a chance to replenish the Zeal anyway. However, in this scenario you would still have to be sure you had enough time to reload and fire again without being Interrupted, or you won’t have as much Focus built up when you are in melee range, ready to Annihilate.


While shooting from Stealth considerably cuts down on your reload time, it doesn’t give you any Focus. Consider popping out of Stealth first, so you don’t waste Zeal that doesn’t give Focus.

Empower replenishes Zeal and will give you half your max Focus when used. It’s a good idea to use this when you need a little extra damage with Soul Annihilation if you aren’t concerned about wasting a bit of potential Zeal. Sometimes taking down that one dangerous target quickly can make all the difference in a fight, so use it if you need it.

Please note that not all Armor buffs stack and many will replace each other. For example, Exalted Endurance (+1) will be replaced by Robust (+2), which is given by Greater Lay on Hands. Inspired Defenses does stack with these effects, but appears to be buggy in its application. Exalted Endurance still provides tons of healing though, and Robust still gives Constitution and healing over time, even if overridden.


Be sure to keep an eye on exactly how much Armor you have so you aren’t losing out by stacking abilities that don’t stack.

Lastly, this Build generally focuses on dealing damage with weapons, however, you can take some offensive Cipher spells if you wish to be more of a hybrid. You won’t get to use Soul Annihilation as much, but there are a few good ones that Dominate enemies, for example. If you think you’d like to do that, it might be better if you took the Ascendant Subclass, so you have more Focus to play around with. This will give you much more flexibility, but you’ll miss out on Soul Annihilation.

Stay tuned for more Pillars of Eternity 2 Build Guides through out May, as we make some more specific Guides covering some of the most fun and interesting combinations we could find. If there is a specific combination you would like to see, please post in the comments and we will do our best to accommodate!


Senior Editor at Fextralife. I enjoy gaming, playing and watching sports, cooking yummy food, watching a good movie and hanging out with Fex.

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5 comments on “Pillars of Eternity 2 Builds Guide: Inquisitor (Great Sword & Arquebus)”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I started using this build with my first character and she is my highest DPS character.
    The build works well with any weapons really, but I prefer weapons with Reach, since I don’t like being on the front line.
    I don’t think any ranged weapons work well since Soul Annihilation seems to be a melee ability.
    Also if you have a Reach weapon you can maximize the number of melee hitters in close quarter fights.
    You can steal a named Quarterstaff from the Dark Cupboard so I went with that first.
    Also, Whispers of Endless Dreams works well for building focus. You can make that right away, but I didn’t know about it so I got it much later.
    I haven’t tried shields, if you want to go one-handed, it would make sense to use one, or maybe a dagger for parry.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the Turn-Based mode makes the strategy of opening with a ranged attack and switching to melee worse since switching weapons costs a full action.

  3. Anonymous says:

    with the new turn based mode wold dex still be high priority ? it seems somehow underwhelming

  4. Nunkuruji says:


    I solo’d the first with a Cipher with Saber & Shield with a Blunderbuss for ranged opener. Charm/Dominate OP.

  5. Ser-Valwyn says:

    Great build! i wonder whoever how much effective this would be with dual Pistols (dual wielding) in the place of the Arquebus, and dual Sabres (dual wielding) in the place of the mace, still using the same approach, unload the pistols to charge Soul Annihilation and go with the sabres. RP reasons, Pirate build!

    edit : Soul Annihilation is a Primary Attack skill… Rip hopes and dreams..

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