Baldur's Gate 3 head writer reveals we almost got to revisit the first game's 'academic dungeon' prologue area, Candlekeep

Gale in a hat
(Image credit: Larian)

Remember Candlekeep? The monastic library-fortress was the first area of the original Baldur's Gate, a place for introductory sidequests like curing a sick cow, finding a book in a haystack, and murdering rats in a storehouse. Classic stuff, most of which I managed to miss the first time I played it because I was naive enough to think I should get on with my quest instead of thoroughly rinsing the tutorial zone for every possible bit of XP. Oops.

While you do get to return to Candlekeep in chapter six of Baldur's Gate, we almost got to revisit it again in Baldur's Gate 3. "I had a bunch of ideas for it," lead writer Adam Smith told Rock Paper Shotgun. "I think that it's a good setting, partly because it's going back to where it all began. So that was always compelling. But also because you get an academic dungeon, and there's something interesting about that kind of library dungeon. It's vast, you know, within the lore. And the idea of having this place where you need to go to do research or something, or you need to go down into it. And then you also say, well, this is where the Bhaalspawn was raised—you know, it's very, very attractive."

Larian's CEO Swen Vincke was also present for the interview, and he reminded Smith of the "crazy shit" he wanted to put in Candlekeep for Baldur's Gate 3.

"So there's a place in the Forgotten Realms," Smith explained, "or the D&D universe, I should say, called the Far Realms. And some of the lore says that's where the mind flayers began—it's the cosmic horror place, you know. So I had this whole idea that you'd have this seer, who's sitting at the bottom of Candlekeep, who is basically staring into the Far Realms, you know, and has gone completely insane, and you have to go down there and find out what he's seen. I still think it would have been very cool."

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. Adding an extra chapter on the way to the city of Baldur's Gate would have messed with the pacing of the game, which is frankly big enough to be getting on with already. Smith suggests that adding more to Baldur's Gate 3 would have made it feel exhausting. "And you know, there's a point where it becomes like, well, is this content for the sake of content? I hate the word 'content', but you know—is it actually adding to the story and the journey I'm on, where I am in my adventure? You can have too many climaxes. They're exhausting as well. I'm not talking about sex again."

Larian also scrapped the idea that if you died in Baldur's Gate 3 you'd be sent to the Forgotten Realms' own limbo, the fugue plane. The studio certainly had a lot of ideas that were ultimately put to one side, but we won't get to see them explored in expansions or sequels—Larian has moved on from Baldur's Gate and is instead developing two ambitious new RPGs, and has opened a studio in Poland to support that work. 

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.