Baldur's Gate 3 speedrunner Mae recorded her first world record playthrough before most of us were out of the character creator. Now she's appeared at AGDQ, retained the any% title with some back-and-forth jousting, and secured world records in three more BG3 speedrun categories:
All Acts on the extra hard, permadeath Honour mode difficulty
The Sex% category, in which the goal is to go from start to sex scene as quickly as possible.
For someone so adept at it, Mae has relatively little speedrunning experience. Her first forays into the scene were experiments with Undertale's murder everybody "Genocide" run.
"We were a few months into the pandemic at that point," Mae told me over email. "I was bored and looking for something to do, and I thought that Undertale would be a good place to start."
The CRPG genre goes a lot farther back with Mae: Dragon Age, Disco Elysium, and Owlcat's recent run of Pathfinder and 40K games are some of her favorites. "CRPGs have been a massive part of my life for as long as I can remember," she said—and she does play them the regular, non-time trial way, too. In Baldur's Gate 3, Mae chalked up a leisurely, completionist 80 hours for her first playthrough, a far cry from her current three-and-a-half minute any% world record, and she's actively playing in two different co-op campaigns alongside her speedruns.
The Shadowbox factor
CRPGs are my favorite type of videogame, but I've never found it entertaining to watch other people play them. Too slow, zoomed out, complicated; the fun in CRPGs is usually a very personal experience. That doesn't hold for Baldur's Gate 3, though.
"Baldur's Gate 3 runs are fun to watch because they just don't have any downtime," said Mae. "There's constantly something new happening, constantly some new trick, some new absolutely ridiculous way of handling something."
The preponderance of mind-blowing tricks has been one of the main draws of BG3 speedruns. The biggest is probably "Shadowboxing," where your ability to pick up a dead body and chuck it in your inventory (including the corpses of companions and player characters) plays absolute havoc with the Divinity 4.0 engine.
In the glitch's first incarnation, killing the companion Shadowheart, placing her body in a container, and dragging it around outside your inventory would let you skip the entirety of the game's second act. Similar corpse-inventory shenanigans let you tunnel into a developer test room with crucial story items, while Mae's particularly proud of her refinements to a version of the glitch to skip portions of BG3's first act.
Mae's current favorite trick, however, is the "Bear Goomba Stomp" (we called it "Shadowbear"). It uses the same principle as the infamous Owlbear from the top rope: dropping something heavy on an enemy will do surprisingly effective damage, scaling with both height of the drop and weight of the object, and you don't get much heavier than polymorphing yourself into some manner of bear in BG3.
The Goomba Stomp makes up for the Act 2 boss arena's lack of height by abusing the divide between real time exploration and turn-based combat, letting an invisible bear repeatedly jump on the boss (which doesn't break stealth) while it's waiting for its next turn, aggroed on the rest of the party.
There are times where I'd rather just be 'Mae the Internet Stranger' and not 'Mae the Sex Speedrunner.'
"That one was theorized by community members as early as August," Mae revealed. "It was only in December that we were able to finally put the pieces together to make it work in a way that was faster than previous routes." One abandoned (but awesome) alternative that some players experimented with would have involved "getting a ton of crates and stacking them to create a 'top rope' of sorts for us to drop the People's Elbow onto Ketheric," but it was just too time-intensive.
As for her newfound internet fame, Mae finds the experience surreal, with people recognizing her handle or profile image in non-speedrunning contexts online.
"People I've never met before greet me like a Skyrim guard going 'Wait, I know you,'" she said. "Don't get me wrong, it's super cool when people recognize me, but there are times where I'd rather just be 'Mae the Internet Stranger' and not 'Mae the Sex Speedrunner.'"
Overall, though, Mae credits speedrunning and its community as a huge positive influence in her life:
"Being thrust in the spotlight in front of millions of people makes me realize that telling the girl working the counter at Subway what I want on my sandwich isn't as big of a deal as my anxiety makes it out to be.
"Speedrunning has literally changed my entire life for the better, and not a day goes by where I'm not thankful I get to do what I do."