A beary important question
I've been playing Pillars of Eternity as a ranger, and her companion animal is a bear. It follows her everywhere and can be sent into combat. After a few hours of play, I asked myself the same question we probably all have at some point: "Can I play Pillars of Eternity as all bears?"
Short answer: of course not. However, a long time ago a very wise in-flight magazine told me that success is a journey, not a destination. Here's how I tried to complete a quest in Pillars of Eternity as a bunch of bears, and almost actually did it.
Step one: bring my diverse party of adventurers to the tavern and replace them all with other rangers who have bears. This is one of the great things about Pillars of Eternity: you don't have to settle for hiring whatever low-level losers are hanging around with nothing on their calendars. You can create your own custom low-level losers!
I whip up some generic rangers, choose 'bear' from the animal companion menu, and hire them. I run out of money halfway through so I strip everyone, including myself, of all available gear and sell it, using the cash to buy more rangers/bears.
Loaded for bear
Soon I have six rangers, and six bears. My original bear, named Mr. Bear, plus Yogi Beara, Bearbra Eden, Ralph Bear, Bear-y Potter, and Beara Croft. Now, to get rid of these pesky rangers (who are all named 'Bear Provider' followed by a number).
This is the real question: if a ranger in my party dies, can I still keep their bear? I'm pretty doubtful, but I go outside to find out for sure.
The right to bear arms
I send Bear Provider 5 up to a large, well-armed man and attack him while the rest of my party, and their humans, wait a safe distance away so they won't become targets themselves. Bear Provider 5 is quickly overcome and falls to the ground. Her killer starts smoking a pipe, clearly untroubled.
Bearly a party
The bad news—aside from the fate of the poor woman I just sent to her death—is that Bear Provider 5's bear has also keeled over dead because, oh, I don't know. The spiritual connection between them has been severed, or whatever fantasy nonsense it is that allows people to be friends with bears.
So, I cannot, truly, be bears and only bears. I can still sort of fake it, though, by having my ranger party move around from map to map, but try to let my bears handle everything else on their own.
Guy walks into a bear
The first thing I handle as bears is the tavern. The villagers, drinkers, and innkeepers all make the same fatal mistake: not finding it at all suspicious or alarming to be approached and encircled by a ring of bears. I attack, bear-style. It's a massacre.
Unfortunately, for some strange reason, the tavern patrons blame the sudden bear attacks on the six unarmed bear-bearing rangers lurking by the door, and attack them as well. I need a bit more space. Time to take my bears on the road.
The Bear Wicht Project
I take the party to a section of the world map I haven't visited yet, leave the rangers stationed at the edge, and proceed into the woods as Just Bears.
Turns out, Just Bears is a great thing to be. Spiders? Don't make me laugh. Skeletons? Just a pile of bones. Wichts? I don't even know what those are, or how to pronounce them, but it doesn't matter because they're now passing through the digestive system of six bears.
All's bear in love and war
This might surprise you, but combat-wise, being all bears is almost the same as having six different party members, with one tiny exception: instead of strategically selecting different attacks, buffs, and spells, and closely monitoring the health and endurance of your characters, you just click an enemy once and then watch as they die from bears.
As I explore the far end of the map, a mysterious figure walks out of the gloom. I rush over to eat him, but my bears suddenly turn and flee, right off the screen. Da hell?
Truth or bear
The stranger addresses me: not me meaning my bears, but my actual character. I guess this guy can scream loud enough to be heard clear on the other side of the forest, and I guess his eyesight can penetrate PoE's annoying 'fog of war' which limits my own vision to roughly nine feet in front of me, even in broad daylight.
Anyway, the man yells to me about a nearby fort run by a cruel tyrant, and suggests I do something about it. Perfect! A real quest for me to solve with bears. We head out and find the entrance to the fort.
A bear of guards
There are two soldiers guarding the fort's drawbridge. Being as nonchalant as six bears can be, I head toward them. Then past them. They don't even blink.
They don't even do anything. The sight of bears walking briskly toward them in formation? Eh, whatever. None of our business! We're bridge guards, not bear bouncers. One briefly looks down as if a bear maybe stepped on his foot, but that's it. They are GREAT GUARDS.
Up the bearcase
I continue, inside the actual fort now. Another two guards are protecting a staircase. We walk right by them. By the way, have I mentioned this: I AM SIX BEARS. I am six bears and we're just wandering all over this ruthless tyrant's stupid fort and nobody is stopping me. Nobody is even interested.
Handle with bear
At the top of the stairs, five more enemies. They're ignoring me, too. No one is doing anything! All I'm thinking now: is this going to work? Am I going to be able to saunter up to the tyrant and just go bears all over him? Have I found a loophole in Pillars of Eternity? A loophole shaped like six bears?
The beary end
Wellllll no. First of all, there's a door at the top of the stairs that I can't open because, being Several Bears, I don't have opposable thumbs. Secondly, probably more importantly, the moment I get to the door, the guards all suddenly seem to ask "Hey, should this bunch of bears be here?" and the answer is, "No, definitely not." Then they kill quickly all my bears to death.
Oh well! We had a good run, me and my bears. It's just as well: I'm about outta bear puns.