The voice actors behind Baldur's Gate 3's origin characters—Astarion, Gale, Karlach, Shadowheart, Wyll, and Lae'zel—gathered for a two-episode D&D game that was livestreamed this past weekend. An hour into the first 160-minute episode, I can confidently recommend it to fans of our favorite new RPG. I don't know if I'll make get to the end of the whole session anytime soon, but it's a charming bit of fan service. Replays are available on YouTube, Twitch, and as podcasts.
After calling on Baldur's Gate 3's narrator, Amelia Tyler, to set up the scenario with an uncannily-good script read, DM Mark Hulmes smoothly introduces the actors to the game, keeping things snappy by prompting them with ideas for actions without overdirecting, and succinctly explaining rules to avoid the head-in-the-handbook pose common to new D&D players.
The scenario sees Tav—the default player character name in Baldur's Gate 3—taken out of commission by a mysterious paralyzing spell, and watching our now-sentient companions decide among themselves what to do imparts the Toy Story-like sense that we're spying on a secret world of NPCs-come-to-life that only exists when we aren't looking.
The actors play along enthusiastically, particularly Shadowheart's Jennifer English, who describes her character as "god's favorite princess" and whose very first action is to cast Guidance, and Astarion's Neil Newbon, who attempts to surreptitiously loot Tav's pack, but upon failing a roll to find it, improvises becoming distracted by the fine stitching on Gale's boots.
It's hard to ask for more from a promotional D&D session. A less-skilled DM might've struggled to keep inexperienced players on track, and there was no guarantee Baldur's Gate 3's actors would have tabletop gaming chemistry and an eagerness to improvise scenes as the characters they spent so long recording (Newbon says he unconsciously adopted Astarion's "giggle" due to the role).
Then again, maybe it shouldn't be any surprise that a group of voice actors make for entertaining D&D players, given the precedent set by the ultra-popular Critical Role D&D group, which is made up entirely of voice actors as well. (Critical Role DM Matt Mercer voices a character in Baldur's Gate 3, too.)
The stream also ought to be a boon for the host channel, High Rollers, which streams its regular campaign on Sundays at 5 pm UK time, also DM'd by Mark Hulmes. (Hulmes also once guest starred on Critical Role, as it happens. The voice actor/D&D livestreamer world is a small one.)
The obvious popularity of these characters has me wondering if Baldur's Gate 3 spin-offs are inevitable. Larian has said it doesn't have plans for a big expansion right now, but that's hardly the only way we can see the tadpole pals again, and it sure looks like this cast is down to keep the good times rolling. Thinking further out, if Baldur's Gate 4 happens—and can it really not, with this kind of success?—I'd wager that we'll see some of this crew in character again.