Anybody whose played Dungeons and Dragons, or any of the video games based off it, is probably already familiar with how they handle alignment. The famous (and sometimes maligned) 3-by-3 grid tracks order and chaos on the X-axis, and good and evil on the Y-axis, as a tool to determine any creature or character’s general morality. If you’ve ever seen a person or character referred to as “Choatic Neutral”, “True Good”, or “Chaotic Evil” then you’ve seen the impact this classic alignment system in action. But, you might be wondering if the 3-by-3 alignment grid is in Baldur’s Gate 3?
Well, the answer is simple: Baldur’s Gate 3 does not use the classic Dungeons and Dragons 3-by-3 alignment chart whatsoever. That’s right. Characters and creatures no longer have intrinsic alignments that dictate their motivations and behaviors.
This is not unprecedented, as Dungeons and Dragons itself has been slowly shifting away from that alignment system for years, in favor of more nuanced, character-specific descriptors. What was once a deeply mechanical part of the game, factoring into what class you were allowed to take, what race you were allowed to be, and even what spells affected you and others, has been stripped down to just a single line on the character sheets nowadays, and so it isn’t surprising that Larian Studios, in a move to allow for more nuanced decision making and complex (and less obvious) characterization, did away with the system entirely.
There are still vestiges of the old Alignment Chart around, but in name only. For instance, the “Protection from Good and Evil” spell still exists in the game, but rather than protect characters from creatures which are “Good” or “Evil” (since those boring binaries no longer exist), they rather protect characters against specific kinds of creature types (aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead) which are commonly associated with a more abstract version of good or evil.
What is left in the place of alignment is a much muddier, more narrative system, one where you are free to act how you please, but the consequences for those actions will be organic. You don’t need to ask yourself “would a Lawful Neutral character do this?” Instead, you get to ask, “What do I want to do?” And the answer, is, of course… Steal the idol.
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Graves is an avid writer, web designer, and gamer, with more ideas than he could hope to achieve in a lifetime. But, armed with a mug of coffee and an overactive imagination, he’ll try. When he isn’t working on a creative project, he is painting miniatures, reading cheesy sci-fi novels, or making music.