SPOILER WARNING FOR PEOPLE SENSITIVE TO SPOILERS. SPOILERS. I HAVE WARNED YOU. RIGHT, ONTO SPOILER TERRITORY.
I met this really nice bard in Baldur’s Gate 3 called Alfira the other day. She was perched on a rock, swinging a sweet medley to a couple of squirrels. Being the bard Edders Sheeran, I wandered over and listened to her perform. She kept getting stuck on some verses, so I helped her fill in the blanks. Then things went Disney, as the camera pulled away and circled her as she performed a beautiful ballad, one dedicated to her late teacher. She seemed content, belting out the ballad. The squirrels, it turns out, thought her voice was awful.
Anyway, she took me by surprise much later on as I slew the last of some goblin leaders. She snuck into danger just to say she wanted to join our adventures; see the world! I, Edders Sheeran, was thankful to have such a ray of sunshine enter the camp. “Of course, we’d love to have you,” I replied. What could possibly go wrong?
Going back to camp, it was really nice seeing Alfira again! A fellow bard, she immediately whipped out her lute again, and performed a really nice tune for us. Normally the camp’s quiet and brooding, but she brought a nice energy to the place. Everyone else seemed to welcome her presence, too. Even Lae’zel, who hates everybody.
Now, at this point I’d forgotten the Dark Urge was a thing. Aside from punting a squirrel into a tree and watching its limp corpse convulse and still, I hadn’t seen much in the way of action from my mysterious lust for violence. Occasionally I’d rifle through the pockets of a corpse and I might get a burst of excitement, a fleeting memory of a thousand bodies strewn across the floor, a quick lick of the lips. But, over countless dialogue options and story beats, I’d begun to question whether it would ever truly take hold.
So, with Alfira safely in camp, I go round and have some chats with my pals. Lae’zel is suitably angry but I can tell there’s a soft interior in there, somewhere. Wyll seems fairly chill. Gale clutches his chest and begs me to feed him a magical item to cure his blight. Nah mate, no chance. Shadowheart and I come to an agreement, where she’ll get me in the middle of the night for, presumably, a quick shag. I’m a bit taken aback about this, as I thought we weren’t like that just yet, but hey, I practically race back to the bedroll because I, Edders Sheeran, am a horny man with more than a Dark Urge (sorry).
When I wake everything’s a bit fuzzy, and it’s clear I had a midnight encounter. My face is covered in sweat, so I’m thinking the rough and tumble last night was spicy. I look over and Shadowheart’s all tucked up in bed, and then I realise… my hands are covered in blood. And there’s Alfira… she doesn’t look… good? Her guts are splayed open like I’ve punctured a bag of tomatoes with my fists. A quick investigation reveals I’ve stabbed her with my hands repeatedly, like some absolute animal. Somehow I hadn’t woken anyone else up, and I’d used her own blood to etch ritualistic symbols around her corpse. Rather than confess my sins, I dump her body outside camp, and quietly go back to bed. The game informs me that I’ve laid down in my bedroll with her blood still coating my hands, and with Vanish Oxi Action presumably not present in the world of DnD, I believe my stained bedroll will screw me over later.
So, it turns out the Dark Urge is terrifying, and I can see why Larian were like, “Yeah, I probably wouldn’t recommend taking Dark Urge as an origin story as a first timer.” Just when you forget it’s bubbling in the back of your mind, it bursts forth. And crucially, it invades your most basic routines and actions. You could be greeting a little squirrel and blam, that’s the squirrel punted into the tree without a second thought. Short rests seem fine, but go for a long rest and what’s meant to be, nominally, a restful time with your pals could turn into a bloodbath the moment you pop your head on the pillow.
I did get a point of inspiration, though, so that’s good.
Disclosure: Former RPS deputy editor Adam Smith (RPS in peace) now works at Larian and is the lead writer for Baldur’s Gate 3. Former contributor Emily Gera also works on it.
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