7 Features Baldur’s Gate 3 Should Steal From Descent Into Avernus

Baldur’s Gate 3 approaches, with a worldwide
gameplay reveal planned for PAX East on February 27th. It’s close, but yet so far… what number do
we have to roll to get the game to appear right this moment? One thing we do know about the game is that
it follows the Descent Into Avernus D&D campaign book that released last September. When I interviewed Larian studio head Swen
Vincke last June he told me “we worked very closely with Wizards of the Coast on that
and so our story continues right after that.” Can we take guesses about what Baldur’s
Gate 3 might borrow from that campaign book? At once point Vincke told me “they came
up with something in [the Avernus] campaign that we thought was so cool we dropped what
we were doing on one bit and changed it to theirs, because it was too cool.” And if you’ve read or played the campaign,
you’ll know there’s lots of cool stuff. So I’m going to pick out some Descent Into
Avernus ideas we’d love to see in Baldur’s Gate 3. I should point out: we’re going to avoid
story details so not to spoil the campaign – focusing more on mechanics and rules that
could be translated to wonderful digital RPG fun. If you are familiar with the book why not
share your own? And if you do enjoy this video, maybe give
it a like at the end. Unlike Avernus’ devil pacts, we don’t
ask for anything more in return. Descent into Avernus begins in Baldur’s
Gate and as such the book offers astounding picture of what the city is like in the year
1492 – that’s about one hundred years after the first two Baldur’s Gate games. But the meat the adventure takes you to Avernus,
the first layer of the Nine Hells – and given its narrative connection with the citizens
of Baldur’s Gate, might we visit it in the new game too? I mean, it sounds ripe for adventure: everything
here is just generally really, really bad. The first two subheadings are ‘Everyone’s
Unhappy’ and ‘Everything’s Awful’, which is a hilarious scene setting. This is basically an invitation for a DM – or
game designer – to mess with parties: rolling a natural 1 on a D20 could break your weapon,
for example, or all food and drink could taste like ash, forcing you to seek out hell restaurants
which will charge you an arm and a leg. And maybe feed you an arm and a leg. I love the idea of entering a videogame location
where the rules are a bit different to the rest of the game, set out specifically to
screw with you. The book suggests DMs undercut successes with
inconveniences or nuisances, making victories bittersweet. The book gives examples like your belt snapping,
or some big honking demon mosquito biting you. Maybe in Baldur’s Gate III, completing a
quest in Avernus, should we go there, will net you the big bag of gold that was promised,
but a demon bird will also sh*t on your head or something. Listen I’m just spitballing here. When a demon in Avernus is killed or wounded,
they’ll spill Demon Ichor everywhere and their blood is so toxic that it causes flesh
to warp in any number of grizzly, comical, and upsetting ways. The second I read this I instantly thought
of Divinity Original Sin’s elemental liquids – the pools of slowing oil, or cursed blood
decaying anyone who touches it. But what would make Ichor a potent element
is the mad range of mutations it has: one roll can see your ears ripping themselves
free of your head and, quote, “scurrying away,” leaving you deaf, or one that causes
your arms and legs to switch places, or, you could grow another head and be resistant to
being charmed or frightened. There’s even a chance of one of your legs
growing longer than the other. Other effects bring some benefits, like springy
legs that increase your movement speed, your eyes turning black and you being able to see
up to 120 feet in the dark, or you could grow a tail that you can use as a whip. You could almost imagine a system not unlike
Fallout 76’s mutations, that saw some people put up with radiation sickness in exchange
for superpowers. Larian could have real fun with a similar
idea. Descent into Avernus also brings players into
contact with diabolical deals – when a devil offers some great reward in exchange for a
binding pact that dooms your soul or commits you to a task that sets you on a path to even
darker dealings. In Avernus this is fleshed out system: the
more powerful the demon the more potent the reward, from handfuls of coins from lesser
devils to employing an Archdevil as your bodyguard or being granted a wish. Of course, breach your contract and all kinds
of bad stuff can happen – you might grow horns, lose your wealth or forfeit your soul to be
reborn as a lemure, which would be terrible. It’s easy to see how this could come into
play in a game – Divinity Original Sin 2 was full of evil bastards asking you to compromise
your morals in exchange for advantages. You could even swear yourself to the diabolical
God King in exchange for a big power boost, but one that would damn your playthrough unless
you could forge an ancient weapon capable of severing the deal. What entices us about the potential of Devil
Deals is that way they scale with the hellish hierarchy – making sillier pacts with feeble
devils could feel very different to throwing your lot in with the big bads. And what if different party members could
make deals that run counter to your companion’s own deals – Divinity’s co-op could get spicy
when quest lines began to butt heads, which leads us neatly onto our next feature… One of the coolest wrinkles in Descent into
Avernus’ character creation is the inclusion of a dark secret shared by the party – you
might be co-conspirators trying to hide your plot from city officials, or perhaps you all
played a part in a murder or a failed coup. Whatever your crime, it sparks big drama for
the group: you might find yourselves wanted fugitives, your bounty on every wall, or perhaps
you are burdened with a witness who needs putting down before things get spicy for you. It’s used in campaigns to bond a group of
strangers from the outset or offer story twists along the way, but you can see how Larian
could easily fold the idea into character backstories. After all, Original Sin 2 featured pre-made
Origins characters that gave you heroes with unique dialogue options and quest lines that
gradually revealed the secrets of their pasts. Even better, some of those paths put companions
on a collision course: elven assassin Sebille was out to stab up the lizards that The Red
Prince needed for his quest, for example. The idea of shared sin testing those party
bonds even further sounds like something Larian could have a huge amount of fun with, especially
if co-op players decided to start screwing each over. Here’s hoping dark secrets are one of the
secrets revealed soon. Not everything in Descent into Avernus is
about screaming and bleeding and other assorted pain nouns. Look: there’s this little heavenly elephant
thing called a Hollyphant. Ahhhh! They’re native to the angelic Upper Planes
where they work as messengers, but one appears in the Avernus campaign as a sidekick of sorts,
which instantly makes us think of all our daft animal pals in Original Sin 2: Lora the
useless squirrel, that cat with the physics- defying jump, that condor I never use because
I have a crush on the Blood Incarnate. Er, anyway: the best bit about a Hollyphant
is that it’s such a pure creature that if you do anything evil in front of them, they
will f**k you up harder than Dumbo’s mum messed up those naughty boys. Unlike Dumbo’s mum, a Hollyphant can blast
its trunk so loud that it deafens enemies and physically bludgeons them with sound. Any doubts that this would be a brutal addition
to any party vanish the second you look into that soulless eye. Terrifying. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of creatures,
one thing we definitely don’t want in Baldur’s Gate 3: this f**kin’ thing. Not even its best friend would hold its hair
back as it pukes all those demons up. Just horrible. Avernus is described as Mad Max in hell – a
nightmarish wasteland patrolled by roaming warbands riding in Infernal War Machines. Think hulking vehicles forged from infernal
iron and coated in spikes, blades, chains, and siege weapons. They look like the kind of incredible machines
people used to make for Robot Wars, before they all cottoned on that building a tedious
wedge on wheels was the key to success. Seriosuly, f**k you Roadblock. You boring, boring bastard. Do vehicles have a place in Baldur’s Gate
3? Seeing ship-to-ship combat in Pillars of Eternity
2: Deadfire shows that they can work in a classic RPG, and those were relatively sedate
boats. Infernal War Machines don’t rely on anything
as dull as wind and cannonballs: they’re fuelled by soul coins, which are pieces of
metal imprisoning the souls of the dead. And that demon ichor mentioned earlier? Squirting that in the engine gets a speed
boost. The idea of an infernal Batmobile paid for
in souls and greased with the blood of your enemies sounds like the kind of resource management
you could have huge fun with, and there’s that co-op potential too as different party
members man different weapons or drive the damn thing – like a chaotic FTL set in hell. It all proves that having a mid-life crisis
in the Forgotten Realms must be quite a hellish time. Instead of developing a cocaine habit and
buying a Ferrari, you’d end up going to literal hell and buying a scrap heap that
you fill up with dead people. Absolutely buck-wild. Any RPG worth its salt drowns you in weird
magical items, and Descent Into Avernus has heaps that could be lifted wholesale into
Baldurt’s Gate 3. How about the Helm of Devil Command, a mad
hat that reveals the location of any devil with 1000 feet and can be used to dominate
nearby monsters. What I love about this is that if a non-devil
tries to use it, there’s a chance it summons this evil bastard – a narzugon – who will
try and a retrieve it, so there’s a tasty dose of risk/reward. I also like the sound of Infernal Puzzle Boxes,
which are used to store contracts signed between devils and mortals and can only be opened
by figuring out a mundane trick or sequence – this reminds me of the Demon Doors in the
Fable games that would only open once you’d satisfied their strange requests – Larian
have an eye for a neat puzzle, so could have some real fun with something like this. Finally there’s the Shield of the Hidden
Lord, which is possessed and tries to influence its owner in order to work towards freeing
its inhabitant. It’s a bit spoilery to say anything more,
but I love the idea of equipment with personality, giving you help while trying to manipulate
you at the same time. It’s the kind of cursed toy Larian’s writers
could have a huge amount of fun with. Will any of these make the cut? I guess we only have a little while longer
to wait. An important point to add is that Vincke told
us that it’s not essential to play Descent Into Avernus to play Baldur’s Gate 3, but
that ““If you have played it, when you play Baldur’s Gate 3 – literally in the
opening area you’ll be like ’oh my god, that’s linked to this and that’s linked
to that’. You’ll understand what’s happening.” And if you haven’t? “You’ll still understand, but you won’t
get the history of it.” The Avernus adventure is so packed with cool
details that we hope some of them bubble through – and just as bible of what’s being going
on in Baldur’s Gate, it’s a beautifully written thing. If you are familiar with the book yourself,
I’d love to hear what other features you’d like to see in Baldur’s Gate 3 – we’ve
deliberately kept the focus on mechanical bits so not to spoil the campaign story, so
do bear that in mind before flooding comments with spoilers. We hope to be doing a lot more coverage on
Baldur’s Gate 3 soon – the countdown to the reveal is killing me! – so please do subscribe
to the channel if that is your bag. And if you’re interested in other classic
RPGs, check out my recent look at Pathfinder Wrath of the Righteous – that video is packed
with new information straight from the developers. Anyway, thanks for watching Rock Paper Shotgun
and see you again soon. Bye for now.


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