- Title: Baldur's Gate 3
- Release Date: August 3, 2023
- Developer: Larian Studios
- Publisher: Larian Studios
This guide is more interested in the why’s behind those little pluses and minuses on the approval bar. Giving you the tools to understand them and their idiosyncrasies hopefully allowing you to better predict their opinions and reactions down the line. Also it’s just fun.
You’ve followed the guides, seen the decision tables, and now you can finally get Lae’zel and Shadowheart off your back. But what does it all mean? Why does good guy Gale sometimes get annoyed when you go out of your way to help a penniless peasant? Does Lae’zel like to bully people just for fun or is there something else going on there? Will Wyll ever stop referring to himself in the third person?
Understanding characters allows you to predict their reactions before they have them and, if you’re something of a lore junkie like myself, is a fun way to engage with the broader game narrative.
Now I’m no Larian writer so this is all lit analysis and speculation, but the writing team at BG3 has left some very good clues throughout our dear companions dialogue that give us a strong idea of who they are, and why, and if they wouldn’t rather much be something else.
*Mild spoilers, nothing Larian hasn’t revealed themselves in promotional material
Lets start off with a character known for her simplistic approach. Lae’zel typically wants one of two things when the helpless masses come knocking: ignore them, or slay them. A quintessential Lawful Evil character nothing Lae’zel does is needless, she is a model soldier of the Gith and simply listening to her talk about her people will give you a pretty strong idea of what Lae’zel values are.
Characters from militaristic societies can always be counted on to prefer structure, certainty and straightforward pursuits. The twist here is that the Gith are a competitive militaristic society. Absolute loyalty to your betters is expected, but if you can prove you are better than your superior? Well then you are the one who deserves to lead. A society that is at once socially mobile and incredibly structured, and is in an ongoing war with a despised enemy? That’s gonna lead to some pretty aggressive social behaviors. These include a general might makes right approach, humiliation for those who challenge you, and constant vigilance for any who might threaten your current status. Life is a battle on many fronts and Lae’zel prides herself in winning against each and every one.
This is why also Lae’zel not only feels indifference but full on disdain for people who are in need of help. To her mind there only two important categories of people: Those who she should follow, and those who are competent enough to follow her, anyone else is too weak to be of consequence. Asking for help, not having the strength to command it, is the ultimate humiliation. One Lae’zel will not be lowering herself to anytime soon.
You can see all this when we meet her. Once she determines we are not a threat she starts issuing commands. In the absence of new orders she sticks to old ones: kill mindflayers, reunite with your people, purge yourself of the tadpole. Things you character does that distracts from that goal infuriates her. It’s not just a matter of priorities, it’s also matter of shaking Lae’zel’s sense of certainty.
Getting knocked out of her people’s insular hierarchy, cursed with the worst possible parasite, and surrounded by those she perceives as lesser beings; it is not a great time in Lae’zel’s life right now. The people around her don’t value the same things she does, and even doubt the wisdom of the Gith State line. She needs a return to structure, and is anxious to reunite with people she feels are competent.
If you want Lae’zel to respect you, you either need to show that you respect her or you need to prove yourself worthy to lead. The first will give her a sense of being in charge, and therefore in control of her life. The second will allow her to relinquish control somewhat, as a capable leader has taken the mantle. Regardless, she will only truly respect those who prove themselves by Gith social standards so if you want to ever see that green glare crack a smile you’ll need to start bullying peasantry and asserting your dominance up and down the Sword Coast.
With a name like that, you’d think Shadowheart would be the cruelest one of the bunch, but we all see real quick that that is not the case. A True Neutral, Shadowheart is utterly devoted to a god that doesn’t always line up with how she sees the world. She would vehemently deny this, and mean it too, but without spoiling too much, lets just say she doesn’t have a whole lot to go off of one way or the other.
The only thing Shadowheart is certain of is her devotion, and gratitude to Shar. But while the priesthood may have won her loyalty by saving her from the streets you might note Shadowheart is rather flexible in how she views things outside of the main tenants of her faith.
Shadowheart is indifferent to cruelty, is grateful when kindness is shown to her, and likes it when you pet the dog.
To understand Shadowheart there are a few things to keep in mind. She values privacy and appreciates open mindedness when it comes to her faith. She is pragmatic and primarily concerned with her problems, ie a tadpole in her eye and a delivery to make. Her distaste for violence is not one of morality: Fighting is dangerous, and you should avoid it lest you get too injured to carry on. Clever solutions will win this trickster cleric’s respect, and brashness will lose it.
Finally, she views the world from a pessimistic standpoint, where cruelty between comrades is a tool to prepare one for general cruelty in the world. She never expects kindness, which is why she’s always a little touched when she receives it.
Shadowheart is someone who’s closed her heart off from the bigger problems in the world. As such she pointedly doesn’t have opinions on the big decisions you make, how you treat her on your journey is what matters.
No fantasy team is complete without its wizard. Adventuring parties may come and a go, but a bookish mage somewhat out of their depth remains a constant. Gale may be less fussy and more familiar with camping than some of his contemporaries but he remains a scholar at heart. If not for certain pesky time bomb in his eye he’d much rather be home in Waterdeep; nose in a book working on how to defuse the other ticking time bomb he gave himself.
Gale is one of two unequivocally good companions in your crew. He values kindness, generosity within reason, and avoiding bloodshed. Where Shadowheart prefers to avoid conflict for its practical reasons, Gale has a more philosophical stance wherein violence is rather unbecoming and should be avoided.
Gale doesn’t have a problem taking a second on your journey to help the hungry and defend the defenseless, but if that second becomes a minute, that minute becomes an hour, so on and so forth? Well that might be a bit of a problem because time is not something he can take for granted. If you want to understand Gale just keep in the back of your mind that the time limit of a tadpole and a full-on magic nuke may just be words in a quest log to us, but are very much real to him. Where Wyll may ignore the oncoming problems for the present ones, Gale pointedly keeps his eyes fixed on the horizon even while he lends a hand.
This broadening of scope is what sets him apart from the other moral compass of the group, often the principle of the matter trumps the related details or emotions. A certain warlock may feel that caged or not, and murderous goblin deserves whats coming to it, but to Gale? Quite simply the goblin is caged. What reason do you have to hurt it?
Gale is a man in his head, and sometimes that gets the better of him. Despite paying for his hubris with a condition that has us weepily looking through our most prized loot, some part of Gale still hasn’t learned his lesson. The only companion who thinks we ought to keep our options open with Raphael, he is still rather confident in his ability to think his way out of most situations and it’ll probably come back to bite all of us in the ass.
The Blade of the Frontiers himself, voted most likely to be heroically slaughtered as well as most winning smile. Wyll is a character of passions, throwing himself into whatever task is before him. He loves and hates with equal force, and never backs down from a challenge. His positive attitude and unerring confidence is an inspiration to many; including himself. Peer behind the legend and the mask and you’ll find someone who’s perhaps a little less confident than he’d like to admit, and little more anxious than he would ever guess.
Wyll is kind but he doesn’t do good things just because they’re good, he does them because he wants to be good and he’s not entirely certain that he is. He seeks praise and recognition for his deeds to affirm that he is in fact a good person, relying heavily on the judgement of others to ease his anxieties.
This is not without reason, Wyll often has selfish motivations. Yes, he wants to kill the goblins to help the refugees, but he will be getting a sweet helping of revenge on the way. He won’t do something that’ll counter the narrative of heroism that he has set for himself, but he tends to do things that toe the line and quickly move on after. Where Gale guides himself in fundamental principles, Wyll is more concerned with decisions of the moment. A Chaotic Good with a nice bit of spice, balancing his self interest and his sense of duty is something Wyll can struggle with at times. A flaw he’d rather not talk about.
If you want to understand Wyll and some of his more baffling disapprovals you need look no farther than his title. “The Blade of the Frontiers” is some rather large shoes he’s made for himself and as much as the recognition of that title warms him it also pressures him to keep performing well. He lives the story in the hopes that one day he’ll actually become it, and this means that he often judges scenarios as if they’re in a storybook. An act before you think sort of fellow, his surface level understanding of a situation can be the main guide in his approval.
For everyone wondering why he disapproves when you don’t help the hag on the road? well its not a hag when you meet it, its an old lady looking for help. And The Blade always helps little old ladies. Our warlock is in an extended PR campaign, and with his sense of self on the line he’ll defend the helpless and punish the wicked wherever he can find them.
Wyll isn’t manipulative or conniving, he cares deeply about the people and world around him; But sometimes you’ll find he likes to have his cake and eat it too.
The bad boi, the hot boi, the all around agent of chaos. Astarion has little vested interest in anything other than his own freedom and amusement. A rather classic example of foppish nobility before his undeath, his ideal future is one where he can laze around, flitting between pleasures at his whim. If your goal is to run across Faerun helping the needy and lending an ear to their woes, you will be hearing a sarcastic comment from the back. With little to no exception Astarion is a selfish guy. While helping others isn’t against his ethics, it is exceedingly inconvenient for him.
Astarion is a bad guy, but he’s not a Bad Guy; at least not yet. He simply desires, well, everything really, that he has been denied. Sadly most of this is out of reach for the moment, but still much more in reach than it was before the start of the adventure. Curing his vampirism is far less interesting to Astarion than mastering it. Removing the tadpole, much less engaging than taming it. Once given power, it barely cross Astarion’s mind to give it up, instead he will only try to find a way to smooth over some of it’s consequences. He’s out to see what he can gain in this world, and the joy of getting what he wants now tends trump what might happen after.
A newly freed slave, servitude and obsequious behavior have an interesting place in Astarion’s mind. He is leery of any form of promised service, any perceived yoke that could tie him or his associates down. But he also knows that value of performing subservience. He’s got self respect and vanity for days, but he doesn’t care much how others think of him if it can get him ahead in the long run. Utilizing an adversaries perception of their superiority, even momentarily humbling yourself, in the service of getting an advantage is clever. Where other companions may reel from second-hand embarrassment, Astarion will quietly applaud your cunning. What’s important is that you’ll be the ones laughing in the end.
Him and Lae’zel are both noted for their fondness of cruelty, but where Lae’zel is cruel to feel like she’s in charge and establish order, Astarion is cruel simply because it is interesting to him. Astarion tends to appraise people and rarely sees them as more than passing comments in his life. He’s the main character of his mind, everyone else is either forgettable or amusing. Simple joys, gratitude, he finds it all rather trite and is much more interested in intense, often rarer emotions. Life is all a big play to him and he wants to get the most out of his tickets. The more you mock and betray others, the more twists there are in the story and the more fun he has. If you want to keep this sadistic rogue engaged remember this: Astarion is here for The Drama.
If you’re good he won’t hate you for it, he’ll simply be bored.
Well there you have it! A literature nerd’s take on all five of your darling little murder hobos. With this newfound understanding in hand go forth with the latest patch and see if you can’t save scum your way into all their hearts, approval-chart free.
Disagree with a take or just have some further insight? I would love to hear it! At least until Acts 2 and 3 come out, prove me wrong, and I abashedly take this guide down for much needed updating.
That's everything we are sharing today for this Baldur's Gate 3 guide. This guide was originally created and written by RB Staff. In case we fail to update this guide, you can find the latest update by following this link.