"Me barbarian, me smash skulls!"
That's what you'd expect from typical barbarians, what with draining intellect to the limit in order to boost their damage dealing abilities. With Pillars of Eternity's revamped character creation approach, intellect can actually help the barbarian's abilities, making them more crowd based. So instead, we may get something like, "Being a barbarian, I am quite fond of inflicting dents in craniums."
Not as scary, true, but if you thought a giant lumbering brute with a large axe was fierce - imagine him with a college degree. Yikes!
Creepy looking, but one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet!
The bard...ahem...the chanter, actually works exactly like a bard from the older western RPGs. Except he works more like a bard should, but isn't as much of a bard as...well, the bard. Confused? Me too. Let's clear up some of this with a nice comparison.
A bard was always this big support character who would sing a song or two in battle to raise the morale of his companions or to demoralize foes. The chanter works the same way, except instead of songs it's some mystical phrases that are chanted all throughout combat (instead of just an activated ability). Makes sense right? It's not impossible to believe that a bard could've sung his songs while fighting at the same time.
Also, the chanter's ability is more musically made. You have a book of phrases, which you can put together into a complete chant to decide what bonuses you want. Once you've completed enough full chants, you get access to one of his/her spell-like abilities. Think of it as a chorus coming after a verse for massive impact. It can be a bigger buff/debuff or...summons! Yes, the chanter can summon monsters to fight for him.
All in all, it's a pretty darn fun class to play. Much more so than a plain ordinary bard.
The cipher companion - Grieving Mother. Nope, there's no real name available...spooky...
The cipher is Pillars of Eternity's spellsword, or mage knight, or whatever fighter/caster class name you can think of. Doesn't sound too impressive on its own, but there is a reason why the cipher is a favorite of many and considered an uber-class. Ciphers excel in both roles! With their magic enhanced weapon attacks they can rival barbarians with damage capability, while fueling what feels like an infinite amount of spell casting capability.
To top it off, their spells are some of the most formidable in the game. Invading the minds of their opponents, ciphers can weaken them, deal raw damage or even completely take control. "Do my bidding you worthless troll!" What's more, they can even do well in both close quarter combat or ranged. They are the jack-of-all-trades who can excel in any role you give them.
*Rawr!* You can be a bear, a boar, a...cat, a...stag?...or a wolf!
The druid is exactly what you'd expect, shape-shifting and all. If this is your thing, you'll be glad to know that the druid is a pretty capable class in Pillars of Eternity. He's got a place in the party, no doubt. He can hold his own in battle, he can cast nature based area of effect spells with decent damage and if he's in a bind he can transform into animal form, getting a nice attribute boost. What more do you want?
Eder, your companion fighter and one of the coolest guys I know.
Again, exactly what you'd expect. Except, instead of being the intelligent skill-based combatant (as opposed to the barbarian's brute force) the fighter is a serious tank! He can draw a good number of foes in, can take a lot of hits, regenerates endurance in battle... He's a bit lacking in damage, but hey - that's not why he's here.