Before Starting Baldur’s Gate 3: A Beginner’s Guide to Dungeons & Dragons

If you’re excited to jump into the world of Baldur’s Gate 3 but don’t have any prior knowledge of the series, don’t worry! This new CRPG (Computer Role-Playing Game) tells a standalone story that can be enjoyed without any familiarity with the first two games. However, having some understanding of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) will greatly enhance your experience.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is the most comprehensive video game adaptation of the popular tabletop game, drawing heavily from D&D’s 5th edition ruleset to create its own RPG systems. While the game provides tooltips to explain everything, diving into a world with countless systems can be overwhelming for newcomers. Therefore, it’s beneficial to familiarize yourself with some basic information about Dungeons & Dragons before embarking on your journey.

Character Creation and Customization

A dragon with a flaming spell in their hand.
Image courtesy of Larian Entertainment

Every Dungeons & Dragons campaign begins with creating a character sheet. Similarly, in Baldur’s Gate 3, you will go through a character creation process where you can customize your hero, from their race to their starting items. The choices you make regarding your character’s race and class are especially important. These decisions will determine the skills available to you and your initial attribute distribution. For instance, if you prefer to play as a persuasive character who can charm their way out of any situation, a bard class might be the best fit. On the other hand, if you enjoy stealthy approaches and assassination tactics, consider playing as a rogue.

Don’t worry too much about making the perfect choice, though. Baldur’s Gate 3 allows you to change your class and respec your character later in the game. Feel free to experiment with different playstyles early on and find what suits you best.

The Importance of Skill Checks

One of the key elements in Dungeons & Dragons is the concept of skill checks. Nearly everything in the game is determined by rolling a dice. When your character wants to perform an action, the dungeon master sets a number that must be beaten to succeed. For example, if you need to lie your way out of a situation, you would roll a 20-sided die and hope for a favorable outcome. Baldur’s Gate 3 faithfully replicates this aspect of the game, allowing you to see the dice roll on-screen. However, it’s important to note that the final result isn’t solely dependent on the dice roll. Different modifiers can affect the outcome, such as your character’s stats or temporary traits gained from external factors. Additionally, other characters in your party can provide supportive bonuses by adding their own dice rolls to yours. Luckily, Baldur’s Gate 3 does an excellent job at showing you the exact bonuses you receive during skill checks.

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Inspiration Points: The Key to Rerolls

An inspiration menu in Baldur's Gate 3 shows different bonuses.
Image courtesy of Larian Studios

Inspiration points play a crucial role in D&D, and Baldur’s Gate 3 incorporates this system as well. In the tabletop game, players can earn inspiration points given by the dungeon master for various reasons. Similarly, in the video game, you can earn inspiration points by embodying your character’s background. For instance, a Noble character may earn an inspiration point for behaving in a manner that elevates their social status.

These inspiration points are incredibly valuable because they allow you to reroll any skill check. So, if you fail an important roll, you can spend an inspiration point for a second chance. However, keep in mind that you can only hold up to four inspiration points at a time. Therefore, it’s wise to use them when necessary rather than hoarding them. Moreover, if you role-play according to your character’s background, you will continue to earn more inspiration points.

Beyond Basic Attacks: Versatile Combat Options

A Drow prepares to throw an item in Baldur's Gate 3.
Image courtesy of Larian Studios

If you’ve played other video game RPGs, you may have a basic understanding of combat mechanics centered around attacks, spells, and items. However, D&D offers a much broader range of options when it comes to combat. One of the remarkable aspects of Baldur’s Gate 3 is its faithful representation of these myriad possibilities. When you access your action list during battles, you’ll discover a multitude of commands at your disposal. Some commands are straightforward, while others require a more nuanced understanding. For instance, you can opt to throw any item from your inventory at an enemy to create an improvised ranged weapon. Alternatively, you can enhance your weapon by dipping it in nearby elemental sources.

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Take the time to explore the full range of combat commands available to your character. Don’t limit yourself to basic attacks. Experiment with different options to see how each one can influence the outcome of battles. While it may be possible to get by solely using basic attacks, where’s the fun in that?

The Peril of Opportunity Attacks

In most RPGs, you may assume that enemies can only damage you during their turn. However, D&D introduces a concept called “attack of opportunity” that you need to be aware of. If you’re standing beside an enemy and attempt to retreat, they have the opportunity to strike you while you’re vulnerable. Sometimes, it’s more advantageous to stand your ground and fight rather than risking a hit while fleeing.

Fortunately, Baldur’s Gate 3 provides a way to avoid opportunity attacks. The game includes a “Disengage” command in the action menu that allows you to safely move away from enemies without provoking an attack. Keep in mind that using this command will consume your action, preventing you from taking any further actions during that turn. However, when cornered with low health, it’s a valuable option to ensure your survival.

Rest to Restore: Short and Long Rests

Characters rest at a camp in Baldur's Gate 3.
Image courtesy of Larian Studios

In D&D, healing is not as simple as consuming health items. To regain your strength fully, you need to bring your party to a halt and rest. Baldur’s Gate 3 adopts this same system, which may seem a bit confusing if you’re unfamiliar with it. When you open the main menu, you’ll notice the option to take two “short rests” for your party. These quick rests will instantly restore a portion of your party’s HP, providing a quick refresh.

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Additionally, you’ll find an option to take a “long rest.” This choice takes you to a campsite, which serves as a hub where you can modify your party, adjust your class, and progress through certain story events. During a long rest, you’ll need to consume food from your inventory to replenish your party’s strength. A successful long rest will restore both of your short rests, fully heal your party, and refresh your spells. Therefore, it’s advisable to use the two short rests first to heal, reserving the long rest for when you’ve exhausted the short ones.

Managing Spells: Preparation and Strategy

The most intricate aspect of D&D lies in how spells are handled. While your character will gain access to a wide array of spells, they can only have a limited number prepared at any given time. Essentially, you must equip spells by slotting them into your inventory. Spells that are not currently equipped cannot be utilized until you prepare them. Hence, it’s crucial to carefully select your loadout. Luckily, Baldur’s Gate 3 is relatively lenient when it comes to preparing spells. As long as you’re outside of battle and not engaged in any action, you can adjust your spell selection freely by opening your spellbook in the menu.

These tips provide a solid foundation for your journey in Baldur’s Gate 3, regardless of your familiarity with Dungeons & Dragons. Embrace the adventure and face the mind flayers with confidence, you daring adventurers!

Baldur’s Gate 3 is available now on PC, with a release on PS5 scheduled for September 6.

OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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