Baldur’s Gate 3 for beginners

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A teal background overlaid with a black grid and a black 20-sided die with white numbering has landed on the 20. There is a golden button labelled in black lettering “Continue” beneath it.
If only all rolls landed like this, but sometimes failing is more entertaining. DarkAthena via Pixabay, manipulated by lee lim

Never played RPG or D&D? Here are some basics, now roll for initiative

Baldur’s Gate 3 is already shaping to be one of the – if not the – biggest games of this year. And there’s a reason for that: it’s a great game. It’s like Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) in a video game. But, not all gamers play D&D. If that’s you, here’s a basic guide to D&D for Baldur’s Gate.  

In Baldur’s Gate 3, you can’t just do stuff. You have to roll to do stuff. A d20 to be exact. It’s a 20-sided die with two main caveats. A natural 20, or a 20 on the die, is considered a critical success outside of combat, and a critical hit during combat. A critical hit means you double the damage that you do to your enemy. On the other end is the natural one, or a one on the die. A natural one is a critical failure. No matter how much you add to the dice roll based on your stats, you’ll always fail. They call it a critical miss in combat, but there’s no penalties other than just missing.  

I mentioned adding to your dice roll, and that’s based on your ability modifiers. When you’re in character creation, you add to six main stats: strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom, intelligence, and charisma. Those numbers will then go into your abilities. You can be proficient in an ability based on your class and background, and proficiency gives you another number to add to your rolls.  

Strength is basic. It’s just how strong you are. Dexterity is similar, it’s how fast you are, how nimble you are. I always describe constitution as how well you can hold your liquor. Intelligence is book smarts and wisdom, comparably, is street smarts. Charisma is whether or not you can make your own doctor’s appointments. Certain classes benefit from having higher scores in specific areas. 

Classes with strength as their highest score should be barbarians and fighters. They hit hard and they need the strength to do it. 

Classes with dexterity as their highest score should be monks, rogues, and rangers. Their attacks are dexterity-based. Personal tip, if you want to hit the hardest and do the most damage, go for the monk class.  

Constitution shouldn’t usually be your highest because there’s no one class that is based on it, but the higher the constitution, the higher your health, so don’t let it be too low. 

Wisdom should be the highest for druids, clerics, and paladins because it’s their spellcasting ability. Monks and rangers should have their second highest score in wisdom because it affects their spell save difficulty class (DC) and their other abilities.  

Wizards should have intelligence as their highest because it’s their spellcasting ability. It’s not a bad choice if you want your character to be smart, but the only class that really needs it are wizards. 

Bards, sorcerers, and warlocks are all charisma-based spellcasters, and it should be their highest score. 

When it comes to building your party, you’ll meet companions along the way that will travel with you on your adventures. Parties max out at four, so you can only keep three companions with you at a time, which means you need to have a rough idea of their strengths and weaknesses to determine which party set-up is best for you.  

If you’re me, you like a double-cleric situation. I play as a cleric and I always keep a second cleric in the party; one tank, and one squishy but with high damage. That’s just my playstyle. If you’re someone like my dad (and we’ve had arguments over this), you don’t have a cleric at all and you survive on healing potions. He plays a barbarian and runs a double barbarian set-up with the intent of ‘hit hard and hit fast’ as a way to mow through enemies.  

Starting with Lae’zel, she’s a githyanki fighter. She’s a tank. You want her at your front lines, taking the heavy hits, and doling them back out. If you like lots of combat in your gameplay, or you like to play on harder difficulties, Lae’zel’s your girl. She can also do some magic because she’s a githyanki, but a lot of her spells are more mobility-based instead of damage. At higher levels, she’ll be able to hit twice in one turn, making her damage output even higher.  

Shadowheart’s my girl. She’s a forever companion for me, always in my party. She’s a half-elf cleric, with the trickery domain as her default. Say it with me everyone: “Clerics are not just for healing.” With spells like guiding bolt and inflict wounds, Shadowheart can do up to 30 damage in one hit at level one. Clerics are hard hitters, they can do a lot of damage. The biggest stop to them is that they only have so many spell slots. But, they have cantrips, and those can be used over and over again, and they only get stronger as you level up. Clerics have a high armor class (AC), and combined with a high constitution, clerics can act as tanks if you play your cards right.  

It’s the fan favorite, Astarion. He’s an elven rogue. Astarion is a squishy character. That means he doesn’t have a high AC or a lot of hit points. But, rogues are known for one thing: sneak attack damage. At higher levels, sneak attack damage does a lot. If you choose the assassin subclass for Astarion, he’ll do critical hits on his sneak attack damage, which can easily knock out a lot of hit points. Keep him out of the front lines, let him flank with another party member for advantage, get his sneak attack, and then disengage away so he doesn’t get hurt.  

Speaking of squishy, Gale, our wizard friend. Wizards are known to be high-risk, high-reward characters. Their spells allow them to do a lot of damage, but there’s only so many spell slots, and they might miss. Wizards also have a lower armor class and can only use light armor. At level one, Gale has an AC of 10 and 8 hit points. A hard hit can take him down ASAP, but he can do the same pretty easily to your enemies. But, he’s a pretty fun guy and I like his commentary. 

Last of our origin companions I’ve found is Wyll, the human warlock. Warlocks have what is considered the best cantrip in the game: eldritch blast. It does a lot of damage and it can be upgraded through eldritch invocations. As a balance, he has a lot less spell slots than other magic users. The spell slots are only available for the higher level of spells he has available. So, when you do cast damage spells, they’ll hit as hard as they can. But, his spell slots become available again after a short rest, in comparison to every other spellcaster who has to wait for a long rest.  

Good luck on your travels, fellow adventurers, I’ll see you on the other side.  

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