Why Baldur’s Gate 3 Is Bottled Lightning: A Full Review and Analysis

You may have remarked on my absence from blogging, to which I’ll say “correct,” and refuse to elabourate further. This isn’t about me, but about a feat of bottled lightning that has justifiably sent a shockwave through gaming hobbyists (I refuse to use the terrible and unspeakable slur, “gamer”), myself included, after having finished a full playthrough of Baldur’s Gate 3 and having ugly-cried no less than four fucking times.

“Reviewing” any fiction format involves a degree of subjectivity, so I’ll briefly make my tastes plain to help you gauge the usefulness of this spoiler-light review (knowledge given in marketing or learned very early on). Rarely, a story will squeeze through my ADHD with a tight enough vice grip simply by virtue of exploring a fascinating premise. Severed is a recent example from sci-fi TV–bifurcating one’s brain such that their memories formed at work cannot be accessed outside of work, essentially creating a stuck-in-purgatory version of you to do your job while the “outside you” effectively goes to sleep and passes a work day in the blink of an eye–what a clusterfuck of ethical and logistical problems, of which the show delights in exploring. I say “rarely” because, unfortunately, not many authors adequately explore their weird world-building premises to shake off my brain fog, and the story bounces off me. Most of the time, when a story has truly seized me by both shoulders, it’s because it successfully conveyed a character-drama that I found personally compelling in some way: Veronica Mars when I was a teen, drawing from the titular character’s seeds of distrust in avoidant authority figures; The Cleric Quintet, with its priest of knowledge pursuing answers amidst the political pressure to enforce normality; Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, its dueling duo personifying the titanic struggle between knowledge from experience and the ambition to push the envelope just a little further for progress’ sake. The genre matters little to me when I’m drawn to the characters.

So that’s my taste in fiction thus far: Either conceptually interesting and explored in ways that pleasantly surprise me, or a personally gratifying character struggle that tugs at my heart strings. Games have the added difficulty of attempting to do either feat, while also presenting some kind of mechanical… well, game, which successfully reaches my lizard brain and tricks it into releasing the happy chemicals. Baldur’s Gate 3, then, might be the first work of fiction to hit all three of those boxes, and I’m asking 10-ish minutes of your time to tell you why you should buy and play this game:


The Necessary Conditions of Production

BG3 is developed by Larian Studios, who are more accurately known for developing a type of game called “immersive simulations,” despite garnering a reputation for role-playing games. Immersive sims focus on designing systems–virtual sandboxes replete with toys, which it then invites the players to use at their discretion. System Shock is often credited as the origin of this genre. The idea is to code systemic interactions, and then to develop your world and story within those systems, rather than write bespoke lines of code for given scenarios.

A crude illustration: In traditional game dev, if you want to depict throwing a milkshake at a fascist in your game, you write code for throwing an object called “milkshake” at an NPC called “Landy Schmo.” That code then retrieves the attendant whining and self-victimizing theatrics that you might expect from your anticipated scenario, delivering your player the experience of milkshaking Schmo. In an immersive sim, you code for the player character throwing things, you code properties for every object in the game, you assign the milkshake object certain properties, and then you code reactions to certain properties in Schmo. Perhaps Schmo will throw a fit when presented with an object with the tags “moist” and “humiliating.” Both design approaches produce the intended scenario, but the latter gives the player more ways to achieve it.

What difference does this make? Well, in the immersive sim, more than the milkshake is likely to have those properties. If the player thinks, for example, to throw a bag of shit at Schmo instead, they can do so, provided there is an object called “bag of shit” with the right tags in the game. In traditional game dev, the developer has to anticipate the likeliest choices a player might want to make when crafting their scenarios, and code, develop, animate, etc. those outcomes each time. In the immersive sim, you are instead designing a system of interaction (the throwing) and a system of reaction (the tags associated with the object thrown), and the objects themselves. The latter allows the player to imagine considerably more ways of achieving the intended goal, and have the game accommodate those ideas in kind, delivering a more convincing impression of player agency on the game world.

Why doesn’t every RPG developer do this? There are at least two reasons. Stylistically, a sandbox may not be the type of story they’re trying to tell. Mass Effect was well received in its first two instalments, but Shepard, your character, is always some kind of military badass with extrajudicial authority who is always trying to expose and undermine the ancient and genocidal Reapers. The Shepard you play is an interplay between the developers’ story and your interaction with it in how you achieve that goal, but no matter what, that is your goal. This isn’t inherently worse, it’s simply different. But it does mean that if you don’t care about being an unaccountable lawless space cop (ah, but I repeat myself), Mass Effect’s story probably won’t grip you.

The second reason is that immersive sims are, logistically speaking, an absolute fucking nightmare to develop. In film and television they have a role called “continuity editors” whose job is to examine footage to ensure that any changes made from one shot in the same scene are still present when shooting the same scene from different angles or in different takes. Now, imagine you’re a continuity editor, only your job isn’t to ensure consistency across a single scene in a bespoke script, but rather to account for the time a player called a returning character an asshole 70 hours ago on page 1,379 of your 47,000 page Choose Your Own Adventure novel with a fucking stadium of different characters. Madness. Pure madness. But if you can pull it off? You get Baldur’s Gate 3.

By the time Larian had their hands on the D&D license, they had already released two enormous immersive-sims-that-everyone-calls-an-RPG, Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Original Sin 2, and a well-practiced development cycle tuned to player responsiveness. They release their first Act of their games on Early Access, and proactively seek out mass player feedback: ironing out continuity errors, adding more tools to the sandbox that players requested but Larian didn’t think of, and bughunting in the code to make this delightful web of cascading choice and consequence function. Both games received a large free update a year after their launch, further integrating feedback from the broader public. It’s obvious that Larian’s goal is only to make money insofar as it keeps the company solvent and the employees fed: They are deeply passionate storytellers first and foremost, and seem to derive great joy from letting players build their own sand castle using their own choice of tools in their sandbox. This process is agonizingly slow by AAA gaming standards, but the results speak for themselves, with both D:OS and D:OS 2 frequently cited as superb RPGs (which are in fact immersive sims). And, to be clear, Larian makes fat fucking stacks off its games anyway, they just do the increasingly rare thing of pouring that into making more amazing stuff rather than siphoning stolen spoils to pay for a gold-plated steak.

BG3 was a labour of love 6 years in the making under a worldwide studio of 400+ people slowly built up from the success of their first two major games–a perfect storm of the right experience, the right talent, the right software, a proprietary engine which had underwent 10 years of refining, a lack of external stakeholders hollowing the game’s direction out to make room for fucking parasitic microtransactions, stability in its strategic direction, and a bit of luck to get their hands on the license. I should say BG3 “is” a labour of love. Larian have yet to confirm anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn we get another large free update a year or so from now further smoothing out the impressively small number of edges still left in their 100+ hour immersive sim masterpiece, as they did with their previous releases. (Yes, that’s right, I adore this game, but we’ll still talk about the handful of blemishes. They’re very small zits, though.)

In other words, game development as a collaborative craft is currently practiced under capitalism, and capitalism dissuades studios from making choices like those of Larian: telling a good story by making a good, feature-complete, mostly well-polished game with stunning visual fidelity, without trying to attach a fucking leech to the player’s wallet after the fact, and taking your sweet time trying to get it right.  In other words, not every RPG will be a BG3-esque immersive sim, sometimes because that’s not the story the devs want to tell, sometimes because they didn’t get the perfect storm needed to do so, sometimes because people want a project they can reasonably turn around in 2 years and not 6, and sometimes because Skip needs a second yacht and he’s going to grind 500 incredibly passionate, artistic, driven human beings into paste over the course of 8 months to pay for it. A masterpiece like BG3 comes about because Larian had the Philosopher’s Stone of “right place + right time” and “a seemingly bottomless well of passion and talent from which to draw with no suits in sight to poison it.”


Necessary and Sufficient: Crying at a Video Game

So I’ve talked a bit about Larian’s unique sociopolitical conditions that allow it to thrive amidst a blight of inhumane greed and algorithmic slurry among business execs in gaming. They had what was necessary to pull it off. But is that sufficient by itself? No. Their other titles, D:OS and D:OS 2 are delightfully fun, thoughtfully executed, thoroughly recommended experiences by myself, but I still didn’t walk away from them emptying out a kleenex box because my heart had been torn from my chest by Karlach’s beautiful, thick, sweaty, tree-trunk amazonian arms and smashed into a million pieces…. sorry, was I saying something?

Shadowheart, one of the other women among your companions, remarks that Karlach’s arms look big enough to “carry her to safety,” to which I shouted both “LET’S GO LESBIANS” and also “GET IN LINE, BITCH”


On a more serious note, I mentioned already that a work of fiction can grip me with a compelling character arc. BG3 features six “Origin characters,” recruitable characters who are also playable, with fully fleshed out backstories and active involvement throughout the game’s quests. You can still make a customizable character for your own player avatar, canonically known as “Tav” in BG3, and this is the choice over 93% of players make. The game gives a solid effort to still look for interactive cues from your custom character, but the deepest and most compelling character moments come from your Origin character companions, all six of whom have very different personal struggles. Somehow, surely by means of some malevolent pact with a devil or hag, Larian managed to write all six of them in a way I found personally compelling. An ensemble cast, without anyone I could say I was apathetic towards. I still have my favourites, but all were, at minimum, excellently-executed stories, even when some didn’t play to my particular tastes.



BG3 is fully voiced and cinematically animated. The implications for this in the character arcs introduce a lot of risk–janky, uncanny valley animations could take you out of the moment, or a poor reading of the script by the actor could undermine the intended affect. This is where the game gets its first fault from me. Act 3 clearly received the least amount of polish, with a lot of the optional side content falling into uncanny valley. Thankfully, those risks in BG3 pay off when it counts: All four moments of this game that brought me to literal, ugly-sobbing tears were moments in the Origin character’s arcs, delivered masterfully by talented actors in a beautifully crafted narrative, rendered in detailed motion-captured animation, and scored flawlessly. It’s clear Larion prioritized these character moments for polish in Act 3 when using their limited time, if at the expense of the less important side content.



To help gauge what an achievement this is, I cried zero times during the entire Dragon Age trilogy, one time during the Mass Effect trilogy, zero times in either Pillars of Eternity, and got a little teary-eyed once in one of the Neverwinter Nights games. That’s it. Even the “interactive narrative” style of games rarely pull a reaction this strong from me once, nevermind four times. The writing is that tight, and the acting hits it straight out of the fucking park. It’s so good I’ll be specifically checking out future works that include Samantha Béart (Karlach), Jennifer English (Shadowheart), Neil Newbon (Astarion), or Pitstop Studios (the studio that did the mocap with the actors themselves) just to see if they get to do their magic again.

Again, having all these ingredients just right is a feat in itself, but I also haven’t lost sight of the fact that another reason I got critically hit right in the feelings was precisely because of Larian’s design philosophy: Every choice I wanted to make during these arcs was accommodated by the game. The story that unfolded felt personal and plausible to me because they were, in part, believably a result of decisions I wanted to take, and not merely the decisions that were presented to me (side-eyeing Mass Effect 3‘s infamous “three colours” ending).


Finally, for this section: Good god, the smut. 

BG3 is very queer and can be, mostly optionally, a very horny bodice-ripper. In Larian’s previous titles they’ve respectfully depicted human gender and sexual diversity through their fantasy-setting lenses, which they’ve done convincingly again in BG3. I’d wager the possible Origin romance arcs in BG3 (which are connected to their character arcs but far from “required” to get the full depth, if you’ll excuse the pun) were written, or at least consulted on, by an erotic novelist. It’s steamy. When it’s also gay, it’s delightfully gay. It’s giving Shape of Water meets Pride and Prejudice. The male gaze is nowhere to be found, with none of the porny tropes that plague sexual fiction for cishet men. Differently from other RPGs that have attempted the same, your Origin companions aren’t static elements: They can initiate and have their own “speeds” and preferences concerning intimacy (which they communicate! with words! like mature adults!). Some are slow burns with gratifying conclusions, others will jump quickly into sex, with the romance arc instead concerning their emotional intimacy. It’s one of many facets that sell the believability of your companions.

So when it comes to the character arcs, BG3 is a triple threat: high-stakes, hot, and relatable.


Spread That Premise All Over My Skin

Last but not least, the other reason I sing BG3’s praises is because of my last preference in fiction: You’ve taken an interesting premise, and you actually explore its implications.

BG3 begins in media res with a hot entrance (check out the intro, it’s EXTREMELY COOL). You’re one of many unlucky shmucks who gets abducted by a flying mind flayer vessel called a Nautiloid, and during your captivity, you’re subject to an “unwelcome ocular insertion” in the form of a mind flayer tadpole. You learn from another knowledgeable survivor that these are the flayers’ means of reproduction–after a period of gestation, it will turn you into a mind flayer. The vessel is also being hunted by alien-looking weirdos on fire-breathing dragons, who are intent on bringing down the vessel, which might give you a chance to escape. But the last place the vessel fled to was… Hell. Not exactly a soft landing.

For the uninitiated, the mind flayers are heavily inspired by Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, as they are unknowable mindreading tentacle creatures with psychic powers, who feed on brains. And now, you have a baby psychic alien in your brain.

The implications of this are rapidly introduced, as you find yourself unwittingly mixing memories with other infected survivors. Very early on in the game, you also realize you can weaponize the parasite, to forcibly transmit information one-way as long as your target isn’t also psychic (i.e. infected with another tadpole). But does doing this feed the parasite? What are the implications of “privacy” if your camp is full of mindreading survivors? Does this threaten our individuality, our ability to build an ego? Does weaponizing the parasite accelerate the gestation? How long do we have to get this out of our heads? Is it moral to psychically bend another sentient being, even if that being is a threat to you or someone else? If we don’t have time to remove it, do we accept our fate or go out on our own terms? Is the parasite all-or-nothing, or is there a way to keep its gifts without the ticking time bomb? What risks do I pose everyone else if I’m potentially feeding the parasite by using it?

These were a small sample of the questions that raced through my head when presented with this scenario, and I was positively delighted to find that BG3 gave multiple answers to each and every one of them. If all the characters were cardboard cut-outs, the deeply explored premise alone would put it farther ahead of most speculative fiction. But now you get compelling character dramas which intertwine with a neat premise, which are explored through your companions’ differing priorities, all of whom have very comprehensible stances even if you think there’s a clear answer. For myself, I could rule out a few options quickly, but genuinely agonized the entire time about what positive choice I was going to take among the ones that remained. I was deeply rewarded by the eventual outcome.

While you can play as one of the bespoke Origin characters, whose backgrounds and extra goals come pre-defined (similarly to the way you would play Shepard), the only material fact binding a custom character to the story is the involuntary abduction and infection. This is an excellent hook: “You want to survive” has relatable stakes, doesn’t require knowledge of the setting to understand, adds textured context to everything else you do in the game, and gives lots of pull for the player to contribute to the fiction. In other words it is much, much easier for your custom avatar to meaningfully embody choices and priorities you, as a player, want to make.

The game only builds on these writing habits further. I’m slagging Mass Effect a lot in this analysis but it’s because it’s the closest point of comparison in scope and presentation, but moral choices in ME basically boiled down to “good guy” or “psychopath.” It’s not an interesting dilemma to ask me if I want to join your puppy kicking club because kicking puppies is a heinous thing to do! The answer to that question is painfully obvious. No. Stop it!

BG3 has its share of such obvious “dilemmas,” particularly if you select The Dark Urge as your player avatar Origin, but they serve a useful contrast with the hundreds of genuinely wicked dilemmas the game forces your way. Without giving away specifics, Act 3 is spectacularly built on narrative dilemmas, because the antagonists proactively seek leverage over you, turning the order in which you proceed in the last third of the game into a series of genuinely difficult decisions to make. These are all morally difficult. They’re situations of survival, crisis, loyalty, faith, risk, and trust. Aside from the few token “do you want to be a comic book villain?” decisions, the vast majority of what the game presented me with all had its own valid merits and faults, whether you were evaluating pragmatically, morally, or both. An RPG which can properly put my back against the wall once is already rare, and BG3 did it once every two hours, particularly in Act 3, after I had fallen in love with the ensemble band of misfits and was asked to take risks with them.


The Bad

In a “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” format, BG3 has no ugly. Gaming enthusiasts have a good reason to be wary of incomplete games launching with promises of hotfixes that never come, but Larian is one of the few studios I trust to actually do it. They have a history of doing so with both of their Divinity releases, and are literally patching BG3 as I write this to zap some of the bigger possible continuity breaks and bugs. That said, an honest review of my full run does require me to talk about the game’s handful of blemishes as I experienced them.

The upshot of releasing Act 1 on Early Access and using mass player feedback to polish it is that it sets a very high standard for the rest of the game. I found Act 2 to still be very well done, so their internal QA process seemed to do enough in my estimation to keep up the pace. By Act 3, however, it’s clear the game started to outgrow its breeches. There were technical issues (dropped frames, texture popping, memory leaks, rushed animations–all acknowledged by Larian and being worked on) which collided with less-thoroughly-tested scenario/quest design. Larian thought of an absurd number of permutations for just about anything the player can do in Act 1 and 2, but Act 3 has fewer contingencies, and you can get some weird continuity errors if you make a choice they didn’t anticipate. It’s worth noting that this is 70 hours into the game, effectively delivering two AAA game’s worth of story at a quality that vastly exceeds the industry standard.

That said, even with these problems, BG3 at its worst is still better than the critically acclaimed RPGs to which it is compared. A big of part of this is owed to the fantastic writing. Nearly every dilemma in Act 3 is deeply personal, with no obviously moral answer, and each with their own pragmatic advantages and disadvantages, and most of my preferred answers were reflected in the game’s design. If you are worried a rough-around-the-edges Act 3 might spoil your enjoyment of the game, you can probably still start your campaign now and the 40-100 hours it’ll take you to get there might last you long enough for Larian to have started patching it. (You can probably blitz the main story fairly quickly, but I’d very strongly advise against it–this game will deeply reward you for stopping and smelling the roses). But even if you get bit by the Baldur Bug like I was, Act 3 is still premium RPG immersive sim experience, and you might forgive the occasional overlooked polish.

I told a friend that I was going to be excited for BG3 because it was Larian, not because it was D&D. The game makes excellent use of D&D’s fictional material in the world of Faerun, but D&D as a gaming system itself remains clunky, even with a computer automating it. Being familiar with the 5th edition ruleset on which BG3 was based, I did not have these problems, but a cursory glance at streamers and lets players makes it clear that those unfamiliar with the ttRPG mechanics can find the “whys” of an outcome obtuse and difficult to understand in many cases. That said, the game makes an effort to streamline some of this, as default build choices presented by the game are usually reasonable, and the “explain it to me in English like I’m 5” outcome of most actions can be found on the interface. If nothing else, the game offers an Explorer mode difficulty, which lets players focus on the story by smoothing out the overly mechanical elements of D&D.


In Conclusion: Play It

And buy it, because companies should see that they don’t need to be bloodsucking leeches to be successful. This kind of perfect storm doesn’t happen often, and I don’t think even Larian could risk another venture of this scope right away. The puzzle box map design, the determination to make a convoluted web of cause and effect feel real, the genuinely phenomenal acting delivering tighter writing than most popular books and films–I cannot make it clearer that everything Bioware did to push the envelope for computer RPGs with Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 has been exceeded in all capacities by Larian in Baldur’s Gate 3, redefining the picture of a damn good RPG (even though it’s an immersive sim). My playthrough was basically MESSY GAYS: A FANTASY SPACE ODYSSEY and honestly, any dev who will let me do that deserves a medal.



  1. Siobhan says

    To come: I might have to write a hot take no one asked for defending Karlach as she’s written right now.

  2. Callinectes says

    I’ve got to wait until they manage to get some of the features working on my chosen system, as they literally cannot release it without full parity, though I’m very excited to. I hope they add in additional subclass options by then. I do love a good splat book pick. I hope playing it improves my own DMing ability. I started to realise how influenced I’ve been by some of the less-inspired writing in the likes of Mass Effect, while after writing a few campaigns myself I started to perceive the strings and the curtains in the final missions of Dragon Age Inquisition.

    The only game that has ever managed to make me cry was Undertale (which I will ever after recommend) and it is the only property that can keep making me cry just by flashing a single still or bar of music at me.

  3. says

    I’m so happy to see you writing here again, whatever your reasons for going away and whatever they are for coming back.

    That out of the way, I’m also VERY happy to see you writing about BG3. I **never** buy video games these days, even though I used to. It’s a combination of arthritis’s incompatibility with the ever-more-complicated physical mechanics of playing modern, fast-paced combat games and my sense that games aren’t written with stories that I love very often. The last story I really loved was Parasite Eve. And, yes, I haven’t been buying games other than Civ incarnations for the past 10 years, but even so Parasite Eve was a. LONG time ago.

    So… I was surprised to find myself seriously interested in BG3, but everything I’ve heard makes me more so, and finding out it’s queer as hell on top of that makes me think that this time I’m really going to do it and drop the cash.

    Not until they have a Mac version of course, but yeah. I think I’m going to do this thing.

  4. invivoMark says

    I thought D:OS and D:OS 2 were lightning in a bottle, and thought for sure that BG3 would be where that streak ended and we’d just get something mediocre and watered down.

    And then I spent 5 minutes deciding which model of dick or vulva I wanted my they/them main character to have.

    BG3 is awesome.

  5. ionopachys says

    I was afraid Skyrim would be the last game I’d ever buy. I just cannot think and react quickly enough anymore to play an action game without using some sort of god mode, which takes some of the fun out of it. But Baldur’s Gate was my introduction to RPG’s, and when I learned the new game would be turn based, I decided to save up and give a try. It’s so refreshing to have the game automatically pause after every action during a battle to give me a chance to analyze the situation and figure out what to do.

  6. Siobhan says

    @5 ionopachys

    It’s so refreshing to have the game automatically pause after every action during a battle to give me a chance to analyze the situation and figure out what to do.

    I think turn-based combat got a bad rap over the years because the designers who attempted it before Larian thought the fun came from a narrow view of what mechanics would be relevant. With the extremely dense environments, tremendous verticality, and interlocking systems (gravity + weight are all simulated, leading to viable moves with throwing/pushing), fights in Larian’s games, especially BG3, feel like puzzles. Because they are. And on top of that, many of the biggest ones have emotional stakes too. In a 100 hours of playing I don’t think I encountered a fight I was ever disinterested in.

    Like, you can just try to make a cheesy build (it’s still D&D!), but you can also just pull stuff like this (very mild Act 1 spoilers): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmZFxAqZKuU

  7. Siobhan says

    @2 Callinectes

    The only game that has ever managed to make me cry was Undertale (which I will ever after recommend) and it is the only property that can keep making me cry just by flashing a single still or bar of music at me.


    @3 Crip Dyke

    So… I was surprised to find myself seriously interested in BG3, but everything I’ve heard makes me more so, and finding out it’s queer as hell on top of that makes me think that this time I’m really going to do it and drop the cash.

    I believe the Mac version isn’t far off AND IT’S VERY WORTH IT. Messy gays. IN FANTASY SPACE.

  8. says

    I was already to buy a different, well-reviewed game but I did not, as it was not available in single-player option. Can you play BD3 as a single player (like Skyrim)?

  9. lochaber says

    Glad to see a recent posting by you, I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts, even if I don’t comment much.

    Also good to hear about the game, I’ve been hearing a lot of good things, so if they release a linux version, I’ll probably get it (or, maybe try to figure out one of the workarounds to play a windows version on a linux machine, but that will take a lot of time/energy)

  10. says

    dlkf;lkelf;dlk;lke;flkw;lfek;wlkflkwe;lf,wlf. that’s for seeing you. i’m not enough of a vydeo gaymes hobbyiste to be getting right on this. perhaps sometime within a year, haha.

  11. Callinectes says

    @8 joelgrant

    It is primarily single player. The multiplayer is co-op story, and is the part that is not yet running on some systems still awaiting release.

  12. says

    I bought it while on an enforced convalescence, started to play it, and then…the semester started. I was impressed, but probably won’t have time to actually play it seriously for a while.

    Also, it’s not at all trivial to someone who has never played this kind of game before.

  13. Siobhan says

    @13 PZ Myers

    Also, it’s not at all trivial to someone who has never played this kind of game before.

    Oh, absolutely! As I said, Larian makes good use of the fiction of the Forgotten Realms (the D&D setting which most of the D&D cRPGs used) but that the game was always going to suffer from being… well, D&D. Having played other RPGs, including Larian’s original titles, I’ve come to dislike D&D’s crunchiness.

    That said, try Explorer mode if nothing else! It’ll soften some of the rough landing. I promise it’s worth it.

  14. Callinectes says

    @ 14 Siobhan

    That’s funny for me to hear, as an avid fan of Pathfinder first edition who watched with some horror has my group switched to D&D 5th (that Baldur’s Gate 3 is based on) I often feel like I am drowning in the relative gloopiness of this D&D’s crunch. Not once in 5th have we spent five minutes searching for the rules on how to choke in thick smoke. I lived for that. Though it’s really the extraordinary breadth of character creation and progression options that I miss the most.

  15. Siobhan says

    @15 Callinectes

    I often feel like I am drowning in the relative gloopiness of this D&D’s crunch. Not once in 5th have we spent five minutes searching for the rules on how to choke in thick smoke. I lived for that.

    Different strokes, I guess. I might have to write something another day about it, but D&D is very obviously a tactical combat sim with storytelling awkwardly stitched on, and as the “progenitor” of the ttRPG experience, ttRPG players have also inherited this awkward relationship. I’m at the table for a collaborative narrative. I don’t need the play-by-play of choking in smoke, I need to know what’s at stake if your character can’t make it. Your way of playing is fine, but we simply won’t enjoy the same game. D&D 5e is trying to please us both, and the results show: We both dislike it for opposite reasons.

    I’m more of a Powered by the Apocalypse gal, which uses collaborative narrative as its starting point–even for combat. There’s structure, but it resembles moreso the structure of a studied novelist than a simulation. That might strike some people as all gloop, but I think it’s glorious. I think BG3 is a masterful feat in storytelling that’s only ever held back by trying to coexist with a 5e ruleset, and there are quite a few newcomers to RPGs on social media who are really persisting with the game in spite of its mechanics rather than because of it.