Baldur’s Gate 3 Act 3 spoilers ahead!
I had the greatest internal character epiphany I’ve ever had in an RPG yesterday, about the main character I’ve been playing across different games since 2014 - and all it took was consorting with the devil.
I wanted to hop into BG3 with a fleshed out character—one where I’d have a good feel for their motivations and how they’d act in any given situation—so I lifted a Sith Sorcerer I’ve been playing in SWTOR since 2014 and ported her over as a Tiefling necromancer.
She was brought up in a rule of the strong, might makes right environment (the Sith Empire, in SWTOR) based around slavery and oppression that she’s entirely uninterested in participating in, and will do anything to avoid ever being enslaved, controlled, or having to serve another tyrant or oppressor again.
In an environment ruled by force and violence, that meant seeking sufficient power to make sure nobody can endanger her freedom—power which she found in ancient grimoires, teaching her how to raise the dead and bind powerful eldritch spirits to her will.
She… also swears she’s one of the good guys. She believes in using her power to Do The Right Thing, and will help anyone in need she comes across, if possible.
If only it was that easy, right? I’ve never had a particularly strong feeling about the D&D Alignment she’d fit into; on the Lawful/Chaotic axis:
She will never break an oath or her own principles and code of honor. She’s ride or die for those she chooses to be loyal to and will follow them to the ends of the Realms; she will never disrespect those she considers deserving of respect, and will follow any rules and conventions applicable…
…unless they prevent her from doing what she considers The Right Thing. She will never accept anyone having the right or power to control her, and there is no limit to how far she’ll go to prevent that from happening (which… has earned me a Bad End a couple of times). Her primary motivation is to acquire sufficient personal power and influence to stop anyone who might try to control her—to fight gods, if necessary.
And on the Good/Evil axis:
She swears she’s Good. She really wants to be Good. She doesn’t start fights. She will protect and help those in need and will gladly share and give, since she believes she doesn’t have any more of a “right” to anything than anyone else; that whatever is earned can and should be given in the interest of doing the Right Thing…
…but only in aid of those who haven’t crossed her. She doesn’t believe in redemption, second chances, or reasonable force—if someone picks a fight with her or tries to stop her from doing the Right Thing, she reacts by attempting to remove the threat they pose as efficiently as possible—usually meaning the immediate application of violence, which continues until the “aggressor” no longer poses a hindrance to her objectives.
In terms of actual actions, this means that although Nayyli tries to do the Right Thing and does not start fights, she hasn’t quite learned how to back down from fights; if met with “take one more step and I’ll kill you”, her default response is “good luck with that”, even if she wasn’t actually intending to take that step in the first place. That ends up causing a lot of fights. Spoilers ahead!
Lae’zel talked shit. Lae’zel did not get rescued from the cage.
Nettie tried to make Nayyli swear to drink poison if she felt the tadpole activate. She refused. Nettie tried convincing her with violence. Brave against a party of four.
Nayyli disagreed with Kagha’s methods. All the druids and half the Tieflings ended up dead.
Auntie Ethel died so quick she didn’t even get to beg for her life.
…But Nayyli swears that she’s Good. She really tries to be.
The night with Mizora
Come Act 3, the devil Mizora’s been hanging out around camp.
Nayyli doesn’t have a problem with devils. They haven’t wronged her personally or coerced anyone into a contract, and they never break their given word.
One evening, Mizora approaches suggests having a fun night together.
Nayyli is suspicious, at first, but the devil asserts there are no strings attached - the only thing either of them would be be getting out of it is enjoyment.
Now Nayyli is curious. So far, she’s been rejecting everyone’s advances - she’s always been too busy with her search for power to bother with sexuality, and she had no patience for Shadowheart’s secretive amnesia lady vibe, Gale’s bad ex baggage, or Wyll’s goody–two–shoes folk hero bullshit and attempts to lie about the sending stone. Halsin’s a creep who thinks they’re dating after she politely asked him if the wine is good at that Tiefling party one time. She enjoys Astarion’s company, but he’s reserved and she very much considers it not her business to pry, so it never got any further than polite acquaintanceship.
Mizora… Mizora is something else.
She’s everything Nayyli craves and craves to be—an immensely powerful fiend, never concerned with having to obey anyone else, taking no shit from anyone—and here she is, with enough respect for Nayyli to seek her out and offer to spend the night together; most importantly, not even attempting to offer a contract that would’ve been rejected outright and treated as a message that she views Nayyli as nothing more but another mortal to be used—but instead, approaching her as an equal, as someone worthy of her time and interest.
When one wields power over life and death itself works with stakes measured in dozens, if not hundreds of souls, it’s hard to relate to or empathize with people who haven’t tasted that. Mizora very much has, and for the first time, Nayyli is interested.
Mizora shows up at night and takes them to a place beyond worlds, where she draws upon the energies of the Hells and channels them into Nayyli—and demonstrates what it means to make love with a fiend.
Yet in a wink, you are reformed - a devil in spirit, if not body. For one depraved night, you feast on the sins of the body, the mind, and the soul.
“You’re forever marked,” she says, “you’ll never be the same.”
Mizora channeled the Hells’ essence into you - you’ll never be rid of their scent.
Nayyli thinks “Why would I want to? This was my decision. I want this.”
They come back and Wyll spots them.
He looks shocked beyond words. Betrayed and broken by the sight of Nayyli together with his patron. He points out that the by drawing on the essence of the Hells they fed on and enjoyed the very torment of the damned souls there, deriving pleasure from their suffering—because of course, if you draw from the Hells, what else could you possibly drawing from?
In his eyes, she betrayed everything she claimed she stood for, him first and foremost, and her soul will forever be tainted.
Nayyli isn’t having it.
She thinks to herself “I’ve done far worse for my soul than bang a devil. Your pact is between Mizora and you. Your being in my party places no obligation on me to hate your patron, and gives you no right to control who I spend my nights with. In all honestly, I relate to her much more than I relate to your boring everything–is–entirely–black–and–white, Lawful Good-“
Because she was about to admit she relates more to a literal Devil than the good guys.
…But she is Good, right?
The dead druids.
How she stood quietly and watched a Tiefling kill a defenceless prisoner just to take out her anger on something.
A Githyanki creche completely wiped out.
Never stepping in to offer guidance to Shadowheart in the Gauntlet.
All the countless corpses and spirits bound and thrown away on a whim.
The Crown pledged to a literal devil rather than Gale or Mystra.
Sure, maybe some of those people had to die, maybe their deaths saved more lives - but she never really tried to find another solution.
She was only “good” because in her great quest, anyone who tried to stop her automatically became a “bad guy”.
…And she finally realizes - after nine years of me playing this character and 116 hours into BG3 - that, despite her frequent assertions to the contrary, she is not Good.
I chose to play Nayyli for BG3 since I felt like - after all these years - I knew who she is; I liked her personality and the struggle to fight evil and oppressors with all the dark powers she can learn, without leaving any room for mercy, all while staying on the light side.
Baldur’s Gate 3 did what I never expected a video game to be able to do - it gave her a full character arc outside of the game’s story, told instead through my own actions; it allowed me to - through the process of my character trying to save her own life, freedom, of doing whatever it takes to protect those she cares about and stand up for what she believes is right - watch the limits of how far she’ll go and the moral and ethical principles she holds herself to slowly erode… to the point of, in her quest to fight against oppression and subjugation, willingly promising to hand over an artifact with the power to dominate and subjugate anyone to a literal devil- and not even realizing how far she’s fallen when told she’s also a devil, in spirit; only having an epiphany when she stops herself short of admitting she doesn’t care for good.
What might have been a throwaway sinful forbidden one night stand in another playthrough ended up - completely unexpectedly - being a climactic turning point in her story; one that wasn’t written explicitly into the game, but instead prompted and encouraged organically by it.
It was great.