This Baldur's Gate 3 mod turns the game into a chaotic roguelike, which is great if you just want to slay some monsters like you're in an old school D&D campaign

New games 2023 — a dagger-wielding adventurer faces off against a minotaur in Baldur's Gate 3
(Image credit: Larian Studios)

I've finished Baldur's Gate 3 two times, nearly three. There was my initial playthrough, my first Honour Mode victory, and an evil playthrough on the same difficulty where I got to Act 3 and sort of tapered off. Not for any particular reason, mind, other than the fact that if you spend over 280+ hours with an RPG you're going to get bored at some point.

Part of the "problem", one that's really no one's fault, was Baldur's Gate 3's story. For all of its excellent writing, all of its twists and turns, and all of its unexpected dialogue, well, same deal—you can only read the same book so many times. Which would mean that any playthrough I wanted to do for the purposes of mucking around with its faithful rendition of D&D 5e combat would involve a lot of jogging and cutscene skipping.

Enter Trials of Tav, an excellent little mod from Nexus Mods user Hippo0o, which just ate my entire lunch break. This turns Baldur's Gate 3 into a straight-up roguelike, where you'll need to fight a grab bag of enemies in a set of randomly selected battle arenas. Honestly, it's a complete blast.

You can play Trials of Tav on any difficulty, but to get the roguelike experience, Honour Mode is recommended. The name of the game is to get your "roguescore" as high as possible which, consequently, sets you up against harder and harder foes.

To help you along your way, each round gives you a set amount of currency, which you can use to grab buffs from the story (such as the pixie's blessing for Act 2's shadow curse), ability score improvements, and mindflayer tadpoles. Each time you beat a fight, you get a piñata of loot to slap on your crew.

(Image credit: Larian Studios / Hippo0o on Nexus Mods.)

It's a simple and straightforward muck-about with the base game that nonetheless creates some really fun encounters—pitting you against enemies you wouldn't normally face. Part of the doldrums of my abandoned evil playthrough was the fact that I knew exactly what fights were coming, and when—Trials of Tav, meanwhile, keeps surprising me.

One moment I'm knocking down goblins and oxes, the next Yurgir the Orthon's popped up to kill my Karlach dead. It feels like I'm sitting at one of those old school, wargame-heavy D&D tables where the objective is to do cool fights and nothing else, and look. I love narrative TTRPGs, I like a good Masks or a Blades in the Dark, but sometimes you just want to hit monsters with swords.

There are a couple of downsides, though. First off, this is obviously not the optimal way to play Baldur's Gate 3 your first time around, even if you're staunchly anti-story—the swamp of loot you'll be picking through assumes you're very competent with the game as a baseline.

Secondly, companions are weird. You'll still have to skip through a few cutscenes here and there—and while the mod's creator fairly recommends using Withers' hireling system, I actually couldn't get him to give me any until the correct story flags had somehow triggered.

Other than that, though, I had a grand old time—if you've spent your full stay with Baldur's Gate 3 like I have, but want to go back for a violent romp through the Sword Coast, I heartily recommend taking Trials of Tav for a spin, and I can't wait to see what modders cook up when Larian unleashes its modding tools to the public later this year.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.