Powered by spite, Baldur's Gate 3 speedrunner cleaves 12 minutes off the world record with dozens of glitches—like trapping a villain in a child's body and knocking them out

Shadowheart's face is splattered with blood as she drives her spear home.
(Image credit: Larian Studios)

If there's one thing I've learned from my time on the internet, it's that you never, ever challenge a speedrunner. They live for challenges. Baldur's Gate 3 is so open-ended it nudges into immersive sim territory—which means that its speedrun tactics have been suitably hare-brained, and runner Mae has been at the centre of them time and time again. Heads up, I'll be getting into some spoiler territory here.

First, there's the speedrun that kicked off this whole controversy. It's technically legit, since the game rolls its credits, but it skips the whole of Act 3 by simply… not playing it. See, Gale's got a Netherese Orb in his chest. At the start of Act 2 a messenger from the world's worst ex, Mystra, arrives and instructs Gale to blow himself up all over the game's main villains. This ends the game prematurely—mainly due to the Elder Brain and its three taskmasters getting atomised, but also because your whole party's caught in the explosion too. 

Then there's "Shadowboxing", which Mae used to make that run even faster. Kill Shadowheart, cram her body into a container, and light it on fire—and then you're, uh. You're at the end of Act 2. 

From what I can research, this works because you can move the box out of bounds to where Gale's big explosion cutscene would usually trigger. Then the fire destroys the box, dumps Shadowheart's limp body onto that trigger, and begins the final encounter. Horrifying.

This brings the run to under five minutes, but that still wasn't good enough for some people. As spotted by our friends over at Gamesradar, Mae's gone on the warpath.

"Pretending like you beat the game in Act 2 is so dumb," reads one comment. Another calls it a "mess, not a real speedrun." A third detractor deemed it "boring cheese", asking for the category to be banned. Mae took this personally. "I realise now, I was a fake speedrunner," they write, and you can practically hear their knuckles crack. "So I decided to beat the 'all acts' record by 12 minutes."

What follows is a masterwork. Since there's no Gale involved, Mae needs to go through far more content than before. The run starts off mostly standard—grab Shadowheart for that anti-ceremorphosis relic she's got in her pocket. Weaponise the Enhance Leap spell to bunny-hop to Act 2. Shadowheart then immediately beats Mae's custom gnome to death with her bare hands.

For context, that's for an infinite duration glitch that keeps Enhance Leap and Feather Fall on Mae's two-person army for the whole act, triggered by picking up the corpse and stuffing it in their inventory while in turn-based mode.

It just gets wilder from there. To bypass one of Act 2's main bosses, Balthazaar, Mae uses fog cloud, pickpockets a potion, and then they're at the end of Act 2. How? I haven't the faintest idea. Mae executes their glitches and exploits with such rapidity that I genuinely cannot tell what's happening half the time.

At one point, Orin, everyone's least favourite shapeshifter, disguises herself as a kid. Mae triggers a cutscene with Shadowheart's artefact, and, as they explain in the comments: 

"The game can't trigger the Orin cutscene while the artefact one is playing, and so the Orin cutscene is skipped entirely—but she's never transformed back into her original boss form, and stays disguised as a child. You normally can't kill children in BG3, but you can damage them non-lethally, and by knocking out Orin's child disguise it counts as us killing her."

I'll leave the rest of the run up to the detectives with more arcane knowledge than I, but it's safe to say safe to say—Mae grabbed Baldur's Gate 3 and broke it over one knee. Though, knowing the nature of speedrunning, it's only a matter of time before the game gets broken further. "I am also VERY close to finishing the bear sex speedrun," Mae says in the pinned comment, which at this point feels like a threat.

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.