Baldur's Gate 3 made me break my lifelong RPG code to recruit a character – and I'm not sure I can ever forgive myself

Baldur's Gate 3
(Image credit: Larian)

In Baldur's Gate 3, I feel like the worst, most evil person in all of Faerûn. Oh gods. What am I doing? My heart screams for me to stop, but I have to keep going down this path if I want to finally sate my curiosity. My brain might know that, but when I enter a room full of frightened, defenseless tieflings, I physically recoil. Every fiber of my being is trying to fight against this. 

In so many previous runs, I was their heroic protector. Hell, I even worked hard to earn a trophy in their honor. Yet here I am, about to end their lives and take away their futures just so I can see a new side to Larian's adventure. At this very moment, I have to ignore my instincts and turn my back on my own RPG code so I can actually commit.

Without daring to look too closely, I direct Astarian to deliver lethal hits on one of the poor tieflings who's slightly obscured from my view. When they crumple to the ground, Karlach's personal quest log updates on my screen and the realization suddenly sets in: Oh no. No, no, no. I've only gone and murdered Dammon. Sweet Dammon. Remorse consumes me. I can feel a lump in my throat, but I can't dwell on it for too long. If I do, I know I'll reload a save, or even straight up close the game altogether. I've played through Baldur's Gate 3 many, many times at this point, but I've never felt as wicked and just outright wrong as I do right now. Even playing as the Dark Urge – albeit on the path of resistance – didn't make me feel as horribly guilty as this. So why am I doing it? Why am I putting myself through this? Well, I'm dying to get to know one character properly who I've always killed off in the goblin camp: Minthara.

Companion campaign

Baldur's Gate 3

(Image credit: Larian)

Now, I somehow missed the memo that patch 5 actually gives you a bit of a work-around for Minthara – whereby you can knock her out and get her as a companion later on. But if I was going to get the prickly Nightwarden to join me and experience a relationship with her, I figured I should just commit to making the choices I always avoid in order to also see a new side to the RPG. I'd heard a lot of chatter about her first romance scene at camp in the bloody aftermath of the Grove, and I've been curious for the longest time to find out how much her presence actually changes things in Act 2. But even though I'd finally convinced myself to start a new playthrough in her name, I had to work myself up to it. 

In fact, I spent a good deal of time doing absolutely everything else you can do in Act 1 to put off the inevitable for as long as possible. I don't think this actually made things any better, truth be told, because the build up just made what I was going to do press down on me even more. The only plus side to all of this was that I could really try to get lost in the role-play aspect of a character who would go down this path. Choosing to play as Lolth-sworn Drow turned out to be the perfect pick, since so many dialogue options unique to them give off an air of cold superiority. It also presented me with the chance to try out certain things I'd never done before to see what happens. Early on, for example, when I first visited the Emerald Grove, I helped the captured goblin Sazza escape. While it made me feel pretty bad knowing that she was planning to tell Minthara where all the tieflings are, Sazza's presence made it an absolute breeze to enter the goblin camp later on. 

Eventually, though, I came face to face with Minthara and finally set things in motion. Actually wiping out the Grove at the Nightwarden's side was as horrible as I thought it would be. From attacking defenseless tieflings begging for mercy, to coming across the bodies of NPCs I'd saved countless times before, fighting the druids also left a bitter taste in my mouth. When I returned to Minthara in the dreaded room where Dammon had fallen by my hand, I finally reached the night at camp I had been waiting for, but the cost of it was almost too much to bear. 

Worse still, the night began with Karlach and Wyll instantly leaving my party in disgust. Gale then plunged the final guilt-ridden knife into my heart by giving me a lecture that would break anyone's spirit. And as if I didn't need anything more, I also felt horrible when I saw goblins in my camp rifling through the corpses of tieflings… even Scratch was evidently disturbed by their presence. Still, after going through all of that, I got to spend some alone time with Minthara. As a character who seems quite unfeeling and villainous, I didn't want to be too quick to judge Minthara. After all, all of the companions have their flaws and motivations in Baldur's Gate 3, and Larian's writing does such a great job of helping you connect with all of them individually if you invest time with them. 

Baldur's Gate 3

(Image credit: Larian)

"You detect fear within her, and as someone who appears to be under the influence of The Absolute, I'm already dying to know what will happen when she joins me properly"

Getting to see if there's more to Minthara than meets the eye is the whole reason I've gone down this path. After sharing a rather intimate moment with her, there's one line that already makes me think I've got some surprises in store for me. You detect fear within her, and as someone who appears to be under the influence of The Absolute, I'm already dying to know what will happen when she joins me properly. Now all that's left is for me to reach Moonrise Towers and see how she factors into the events in the Shadow-cursed Lands in Act 2, but how excited I am to experience something new in a game I've spent almost 600 hours with almost makes this morally devoid route worth it. 

I'm sure there are some people out there that get a kick out of being evil in games. Hell, I find some of the most fascinating stories are often those that are morally gray, but as someone who historically always takes the 'good' route in RPGs, I'm definitely treading new territory here. Still, the promise of experiencing another side to an RPG I love so much is enough to motivate me to keep going… even if I still feel so awful about the Grove.

If you like Baldur's Gate 3, you should play one of BioWare's best-ever choice-driven sci-fi RPGs

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.