The cultures in the world of Pillars of Eternity are in a variety of different technological states. Though some remote civilizations are still in the equivalent of Earth’s Stone Age or Bronze Age, most large civilizations are in the equivalent of Earth’s high or late Middle Ages. The most aggressive and powerful civilizations are in the early stages of what would be our early modern period, technologically, even if they are not culturally undergoing “Renaissance”-style changes.
For most large civilizations, this means that all of the core arms and armor of medieval warfare have reached a high level of development: full suits of articulated plate armor, a variety of military swords, war hammers, polearms (e.g., spears), war bows, crossbows, and advanced siege weaponry. Architecturally, these cultures also employ technologies found in Earth’s Gothic buildings, allowing them to create towering vertical structures. Notably absent is the printing press, which means that knowledge is not as easily disseminated among the populace. Books are handmade in scriptoriums and similar locations and they aren’t cheap.
The most recent technologies seeing use in the world are ocean-going carrack-style ships and black powder firearms. Cultures with large navies and mercantile traffic are exploring the world, which has led to contact with previously-unknown lands and societies and settlement in new areas. Despite their intense drive, these explorers have been restricted from aggressive long-range exploration by monstrous sea creatures that pose a lethal, seemingly insurmountable threat to even the stoutest, most well-armed ships.
The world of Pillars of Eternity is one with limited medicine and medical understanding. Remedies for health problems often have only a palliative or placebo effect at best, owing their continued use more to folk beliefs and tradition than any basis in scientific methodology. Though soul-based magic has helped the great exploring cultures from suffering massive pandemics and has helped some individuals overcome illness over the long-term, there is no quick magical “cure” for disease or illness. Most people go through life and death in the ordinary way—unless they put themselves in harm’s way, that is.
The “Godhammer” bomb was a device used to kill the manifestation of Eothas (St. Waidwen) and brought an informal end to the Saint’s War. It was created in secret by engineers, priests of Magran, and “others” at Halgot (later “Godhammer”) Citadel in preparation for an expected march on the Dyrwood by St. Waidwen himself.
Animancy is the field of study that uses machines to examine essence (i.e., soul energy). Animancers are scientists that specialize in understanding how souls work. They tend to be mechanical inventors and tinkerers since so much of animancy is only possible through technology. Most of them also advocate using technology to manipulate souls with various goals. While it is not inherently evil, its purview of control over our soul and possible life/death is a sensitive subject for many. Some Animancers even capture souls when a person dies and use the captured soul to create a construct. Some regard this as attempting to disrupt the natural cycle of life and death and consider this practice as engaging in necromancy.