Why Baldur’s Gate 3 is the perfect excuse to try D&D
If Baldur’s Gate 3 has you curious to give D&D a go, we’ll help you decide if the game is right for you.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is having its big moment. An instant and beloved success that has exceeded its developers’ wildest expectations of popularity. Larian’s Baldur’s Gate 3 is a carefully crafted experience, and many fans may be wondering what inspired the game’s story and systems.
The world, rolls, checks, spells, and more that appear in Baldur’s Gate 3 are all directly lifted – and in many cases slightly adjusted – from Dungeons & Dragons. Specifically, D&D Fifth Edition, the most recent version of the beloved RPG.
D&D has exploded in popularity and worldwide reach with the advent of Stranger Things and actual play shows like Critical Role and Dimension 20. And now Baldur’s Gate 3 has the opportunity to introduce the game to an even wider audience.
Maybe you’ve completed BG3 and are itching for something similar or are partway through and have decided you absolutely want more of all this dice-rolling and roleplaying. Or perhaps you haven’t even started and would like to give D&D a shot before playing BG3 at all. Whatever the case, we’ll help you make the leap from Baldur’s Gate 3 to the tabletop.
RPGs like Baldur’s Gate 3 are just D&D anyway
Video games and D&D are a lot more similar than most people might assume, and not just those games that directly draw on it like BG3. Prospective D&D players might hear ‘roleplaying’ and balk, assuming the game requires expert knowledge of improv or professional acting. But the secret is, if you’ve ever played any RPG before, you’ve got all tools you need to dive into D&D.
How many people have played Dragon Age: Origins and fondly remember ‘their’ Warden? An initial blank slate with a tailored background, that slowly came to life as the player made choices that shaped their personality? That’s pretty much D&D player characters in a nutshell.
Even for characters with set personalities and histories – like Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher 3 – their games still give you dialogue choices and other methods of altering how their story proceeds. Roleplaying isn’t all ‘verily’ and silly voices – though that can absolutely be part of the fun – it’s just making choices and progressing a story.
Fighting monsters, slinging spells, swaying NPCs, and gaining experience? Key elements of D&D that are all still pillars of modern video game RPG design. (Not so coincidentally, both Dragon Age and The Witcher have their own D&D-like RPG systems available.) D&D might seem daunting to get into at first, but truthfully, you’ve seen a lot of its tricks before.
D&D is all about the party
While your D&D character might start out as just numbers on a sheet, you’ll be surprised at how attached you grow to them when inhabiting them for hours at a time. And when you think of how characters like Karlach, Astarion, and Shadowheart may charm you over the course of BG3, It’s even better when similar characters are being played by real people.
The interplay between characters is one of the most crucial parts of D&D. That push and pull of ideas and personalities, teamwork, and drama. It’s also part of what makes the party dynamics in BG3 so thrilling. But while Baldur’s Gate 3 might feature extremely well-written companions, they are ultimately supporting players in your story.
When sitting down to play Dungeons & Dragons, there is no one ‘main character’. Everyone’s stories are their own, and that makes the party feel that much more real and alive.
What is a Dungeon Master?
A Dungeon Master is a dedicated player who manages and keeps the game running smoothly. The need for one is both a blessing and a curse of D&D. While Baldur’s Gate 3 does all the nitty-gritty work of sorting out the stats and rolls behind the scenes, D&D requires a little more oversight.
Don’t go thinking it’s all graft with no payoff. Just like there are many reasons to want to be a player in D&D, being a DM comes with its own rewards. Players control a character, but DMs control a whole world.
For anyone fascinated by the places you’re adventuring through in Baldur’s Gate 3, being a DM means designing spaces of your own. It also means drawing your players in. You may write puzzles and plots, build challenging combat encounters, and fill the world with engaging characters. Your group’s story will truly be yours, and there’s no better feeling than when your players engage with it.
Dungeons & Dragons Campaign books offer a wealth of new stories
If your group doesn’t feel like homebrew games are for them – or your DM simply doesn’t have the time to regularly prep new material – don’t worry. Wizards of the Coast has you covered. D&D Fifth Edition (5e) has over a dozen official sourcebooks to choose from, allowing you to run your own games without having to write a single extra word. These books offer a wide variety of adventures in different genres and settings, from one-shot sessions to full campaigns.
Baldur’s Gate 3’s campaign is epic and expansive, but it is ultimately a single story. Wizards’ sourcebooks offer you the chance to explore the Sword Coast and beyond from a dozen different angles. There are books that will take you through Ravnica, a key Magic: The Gathering plane. You could even play Descent into Avernus and live through the events that canonically lead right up to Baldur’s Gate 3.
D&D is just the beginning
D&D has stood the test of time for a reason, and Baldur’s Gate fans are almost guaranteed to love it. But as flexible a system as 5e is, D&D can’t be expected to do everything. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to.
While it might be the most well-known, D&D is just one of many tabletop RPG (TTRPG) systems available today. Your group might want to run stories and games that don’t quite mesh with D&D, and in those cases, it can sometimes be better to look further afield
Whether you care about combat or characters, investigation or action, fighting monsters, or being monsters (or kissing monsters), there’s a TTRPG system out there for everyone. From bonafide classics of the medium like Call of Cthulhu and Shadowrun, to exciting modern systems such as Blades in the Dark, Tales from the Loop, and Monsterhearts. Hopefully, Baldur’s Gate 3 will be the first step on your journey to finding the perfect game for you.
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