I'm hoping Baldur's Gate 3 just glazes over the weird bummer 'canon' version of what happened in the first two games

Elf woman holding up glowing hand with staff-wielding wizard in background
(Image credit: Larian)

Canon's a tricky thing, man, and it's something RPG makers especially always have a hard time contending with. When a story could have starred like, thousands of permutations of the same hero and had maybe four or five distinct endings (not including side quest outcomes), what do you take to use as the "official story" for the basis of a sequel?

Baldur's Gate 3 takes place over 100 years in the future from the events of the first two games, and I'm just crossing my fingers that Larian, as much as possible, glazes over the "canon" version of Baldur's Gate 1 and 2's story, as well as what happens to their hero after.

RPG protagonists always wind up with some sort of title to address them, you know: the Courier, the Hero of Kvatch, some convenient shorthand. For Baldur's Gate, fans typically go with "Bhaalspawn," referencing the character's divine daddy, Bhaal, the Lord of Murder, and his effect on the story. In official Dungeons & Dragons lore, though, there's apparently a canon Bhaalspawn: Abdel Adrian, Neutral Good human Fighter. Oh my god, they picked the most boring guy imaginable.

To paraphrase my colleague, Fraser Brown: "The Bhaalspawn is supposed to be a horny elf!" I simply must agree: though I've dabbled with all kinds of character builds, in my heart the Bhaalspawn is a Chaotic Good elf Fighter/Mage dual wielding the Flail of Ages and Belm. I wish I was cool enough to name him something funny like "Turbo Assman," but I always have a god-awful "lore friendly" name like "Valerderthion Nightfire" or whatever. 

He pursued a relationship with his coworker, the goddess of entropy-worshipping dark elf, Viconia DeVir (skeevy AD&D-style racial romance restrictions removed with a mod), and they had a happy ending together to boot (also thanks to a mod).

Abdel Adrian doesn't even get the slightest bit of spice from being a Paladin or something, he's just some asshole! The Adrian paradigm seems to come from the Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 novelizations by Philip Athans and former BioWare scribe Drew Karpyshyn respectively, though Adrian does appear in the games as a pre-generated character starting with Baldur's Gate 1's expansion, Tales of the Sword Coast. I do have to admit that I love Adrian's '90s paperback-style card art in his Magic the Gathering tie-in, but otherwise? This man is hashtag Not My Bhaalspawn.

I haven't even gotten to the worst part: he dies in the most gruesome and horrible way imaginable, and also the events of the games didn't even matter! In the 5E module Murder In Baldur's Gate, it's revealed that Adrian wasn't actually able to fully defeat the Lord of Murder, and a piece of Bhaal always lived on in his progeny. The only other surviving Bhaalspawn eventually comes and bugs now-Archduke of Baldur's Gate Abdel Adrian at a city festival. They tussle, and Adrian either dies or morphs into The Slayer, a superpowered Bhaal-fueled beast mode from the games, only this time he can't get back out.

The players of the tabletop module then fight the Slayer, and on beating him it's revealed that, oops! With Bhaal's last children dead, he's reborn, suckers! One of the best RPGs ever made, a videogame touchstone to this day, effectively doesn't matter: everything you did was for naught, and the character you grew attached to is replaced with some lummox who then dies a gruesome death. I don't want to lambast Murder In Baldur's Gate too harshly⁠⁠—it seems like a really cool module otherwise⁠—but man, it sucks how it reinterpreted the events of the series.

Murder In Baldur's Gate takes place just ten years before the events of Baldur's Gate 3, and I'm already getting some real Bhaal-y vibes from supernatural murder-obsessed origin character The Dark Urge, as well as all the Bhaal logos cropping up in the latest trailers. Similarly, the presence of OG party members Minsc and Jaheira is a pretty direct connection to original series events. I'm hoping Larian finds a way to juggle these elements without setting an explicit version of those events, but if they do? Eh, we'll find some way to survive.

I'll always applaud BioWare for its save transfers and the still-awesome Dragon Age Keep world state tool, both of which allowed you to fine-tune your own stories in their multi-game sagas, but the great thing about fiction is that it's all fake. You can kinda just pretend stuff did or didn't happen.

Bethesda had the right idea with its "Warp in the West" explanation for Daggerfall's myriad possible endings: due to wizard shenanigans, all of Daggerfall's potential endings happened, and also none of them happened. You figure it out!

Until a Pinkerton intimidates me into accepting the party line on Abdel Adrian, the Bhaalspawn will always be some manner of horny elf Fighter/Mage in both my save files and my mind palace. I encourage you all to similarly cherish whatever non-Abdel Adrian Bhaalspawns you may believe in.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.