Monday, 14 Jun 2021

I Role-Played A Celtic Demon King In Baldur’s Gate 3 And Still Got My Ass Kicked By Swen Vincke

Have you ever heard of Lugh? He’s a revered hero from Irish mythology who has a lot in common with Link from The Legend of Zelda. His dad was called Cian (that’s my name!) and his granddad was the great demon king known as Balor, who he killed for being a git. Anyway, I’m playing as Lugh in Baldur’s Gate 3 and I’ve decided it’s high time to state my claim as rightful heir to the demonic throne.

The first obstacle — which is also one of the most relentlessly treacherous — is the character customization screen. What does a demon king look like? Horns, for sure, so we’re going with Tiefling. What kind of Tiefling, though? I can worship The Fiend or The Great Old One. I don’t think a supposed king would worship a “fiend.” That’s small potatoes. Great Old One it is. So I’m a Mephistopheles Tiefling with azure blue skin and piercing red eyes. My horns are those of a gazelle mixed with a rhinoceros. I am the picture of intimidation and divine handsomeness, and the road to Baldur’s Gate will run red with the blood of all who oppose me.

So Baldur’s Gate 3 doesn’t give a shit about demon kings. I’m in some sort of Matrix pod, and there’s a guy with a tentacle beard calling himself a “Mind Flayer” threatening me with a razor-toothed tadpole. I try to object, but alas, this is a video game and there is no option to do so. This squid guy has shot himself right up to the very top of my shitlist. When I break free and ascend to the throne, why I —

Bang! The ship is wellied out of it by a dragon. The brain squid seems to have some kind of psychic power and is able to use the ship as a gargantuan tentacle mech, but he’s no match for the Githyanki and their draconic mounts. I break free and all of a sudden my all-powerful demon ancestry becomes available to me, magic surging through my veins until I realize that yes, actually, I am level 1. Damn.

I won’t bore you with the details of my escape. Let’s just say that I receive help, and that I end up stranded on a ravaged beach where I meet a woman named Shadowheart. I don’t believe for a second that she has given me her real name, but she seems very strong so I keep my demonic mouth zipped. Together we beat up some quadrupedal brains and bump into Astarion, a fellow undead being. Vampire, you say? Well, we’re basically family!

Lugh in Irish mythology is a bit of a goody two shoes. Always on about being a good king, protecting his people, and all that other rubbish. I’m the reincarnation of Lugh in a fictional Dungeons & Dragons game, and so I’ve decided to be a warlock who deceives people not because I need to, but because it’s funny. And so myself, Astarion, and Shadowheart embark on a journey to have magical tadpoles surgically removed from behind our optical nerves, while I promise myself that I will be a cantankerous charlatan at every conceivable opportunity.

We meet Gale, a wizard, and end up at Druid’s Grove. There are other Tieflings here, but they do not recognize me… How dare they feign ignorance toward their rightful king! I am arrested into a state of debilitating disbelief until I see that actually, the dickhead Druids are trying to kick the demons out into goblin territory. Yes, I think to myself. They are afraid that showing loyalty to me will only accelerate their expulsion… I shall help these people. I shall help my people.

Fast forward a bit and I’m surrounded by the same goblins putting the other Tieflings at risk. I have Shadowheart with me, as well as Gale and a new recruit called Wyll, the Blade of Frontiers. The thing about Baldur’s Gate 3 is that even if you have decided your character is of royal demon ancestry, all it takes is for one puny goblin to roll a 20 for you to be utterly annihilated. I am defeated three times on the trot, but I am a demon king (and video game character), and therefore I am capable of resurrecting myself from the dead in order to try again. For this particular fight, I’m told I can avoid conflict if I smear Warg dung across my forehead. No, I am the king! (Cue Tywin Lannister: “Any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king”).

Anyway, after three deaths it’s easier to swallow my pride and inhale the potent aroma of sun-baked Warg shit while I rub warpaint across my chee- ah here, I’ve only gone and gotten it in my eye, haven’t I. My grandad Balor is rolling in his grave, busting his belly laughing at his dung-drenched grandson who’d rather get feces under his fingernails than goblin blood (doesn’t sound as bad when you put it that way now, does it? And you thought I hadn’t considered that the alternative would be disgusting, too).

When I get to Goblin City (no, that is not its actual name, Larian is better than that), I get beaten up two, three, possibly ten times. It is so difficult being a demon king in a game where combat is not easy. Yes, I can be confronted by a Cambion and hold my own because they are going to be subservient to me one day. I don’t mind them acting all high and mighty now, but they’ll be the ones to pay when I’m sat on a throne emblazoned with their fiendish skulls. And yes, I can usually persuade my way out of anything. My Charisma stat is through the roof. I could deceive a fish out of water.

By the time I leave Goblin City, I’ve started to lean a bit too heavily into my demonic charm. It helps having the confidence derived from knowing deep in my heart that I am pure royalty, but most of it is just an innate sense of being able to smile at people and nod my head. I’ve tricked Minthara into believing I’m on her side, when in reality this is my chance to warn the other Tieflings about the attack she’s planning. We wait, she shows up, and an immensely bloody battle transpires over the course of about 45 real world minutes. I finish it off by kicking her off of a cliff. And people doubted by demonic kingliness.

Anyway, the Druid Halsin comes back, we venture into the Underdark — where I thought I’d be more at home, but surprisingly I’m a bit too… let’s say precious to truly appreciate the grimdark filth of it all — and make our way to a skeletal skiff to cross a jet black river. I finally feel it in my bones… We’re on our way to Moonrise Tower, where I’ll get this pain-in-the-arse tadpole ripped out of my head so I can finally focus on becoming the undisputed king of Hell an-

Wait, what? What’s Swen Vincke doing here? That’s the end of Early Access? Surely you know you’re talking to the almighty Lugh, rightful heir to the thro-

*Title screen*

Read next: I Bought The Genshin Impact Battle Pass So You Don’t Have To (You Really Shouldn’t Buy It)

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Cian Maher is an Associate Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. His favourite game of all time is and always will be The Witcher 3, but he also loves The Last Guardian, NieR: Automata, Dishonored, and pretty much every Pokemon game ever released. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.

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