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Larian originally wanted Baldur's Gate 3 to have multiple narrators, also Astarion was a tiefling

 An image of Astarion watching the player sleep, while wearing a grinch-like smile that hides his top lip.
An image of Astarion watching the player sleep, while wearing a grinch-like smile that hides his top lip.

This past Thursday at GDC 2024 saw Larian Studios boss Swen Vincke give a talk on "The Secrets of Baldur's Gate 3." The biggest news out of that was Vincke letting everyone know that Larian was done with Baldur's Gate 3, and will be moving on to new things in the future.

"We're going to move away from D&D and we're going to start making a new thing," he said.

But he also shared some what-ifs and insights into the early design of Baldur's Gate 3. Including the particularly strange alternate reality where Baldur's Gate 3 had multiple narrators—that is to say, more than one Dungeon Master narrating your adventures and misadventures through the Forgotten Realms. It's an approach they realized wouldn't quite work after mocking up a cinematic where the dungeon master narrated around audio from voice actors.

"It was clear that if we were going to do it this way, it was gonna become incredibly expensive, because every single scene would have to be edited to mix the Dungeon Master and the actors," said Vincke, "And what's more, we actually wanted to have multiple dungeon master narrated by multiple people. So we had Matt Mercer on the on our minds already back then. But we said, you know, probably not going to work."

"So we were looking for something easier to do," he followed up. "We found it in full body performance capture. So the idea was that we were going to capture the actors. And doing everything, including their faces. And we were going to in this way, make better and engaging dialogues because we will have all of that nonverbal communication, the performance capture worked out, we actually did look for a long time at doing face capturing also, that didn't work out."

That led Larian to focus on procedural motion capture for movement and handcrafted motions for faces—the final product being what you see in Baldur's Gate.

Vincke also spoke about how the Russian invasion of Ukraine damaged Baldur's Gate 3's timeline, requiring the studio to move developers out of St. Petersburg, as did moving the release date around to avoid Starfield—something that ultimately failed.

The other shock for those who're deep inside Baldur's Gate 3, of course, is that Astarion was originally a Tiefling—something that came up incidentally as Vincke showed off a slide including some mid-production concepts.

"Yes, he was a tiefling originally," said Vincke as audience members gasped and laughed.

Anyway, here's a shot of Tiefling Astarion smuggled out of GDC by PC Gamer's Lauren Morton. I like to think the grainy lo-res quality really adds to the part where you're not sure if you believe me that he was once a Tiefling, like Tiefling Astarion is some kind of bizarre cryptid and whatnot.

A picture of a projected image of Astarion from Baldur's Gate 3, except he is a tiefling.
A picture of a projected image of Astarion from Baldur's Gate 3, except he is a tiefling.

For more on Baldur's Gate 3 surrounding this year's GDC, check out PC Gamer's stories on why Larian hit the brakes on doing DLC for Baldur's Gate 3 and what the details on those Baldur's Gate 3 mod tools are.