Do you remember how you felt the first time you played Dungeons & Dragons? The first time you felt that creative spark of being part of a collective storytelling experience? You and your friends were each equal parts author and reader of a living, breathing story that existed only at that table and only in those moments. It is magic. There is no other word that truly does this feeling justice.
Watching people play D&D on shows like Rating 20 It’s really fun, but you’re still part of the audience, not a participant. Some role-playing video games can also elicit these magical moments, but it often feels different – more constrained, because they usually offer more limited choices. Once you get past the illusion of a game’s structure, you can’t ignore it. This is what I expected when I started Baldur’s Gate 3– and that’s what I got for the first few hours. But then I saw a glimmer of that deeper magic I craved. So I pursued him.
Hitting the books (sources)
But I needed help. The more I played, the more I felt like the magic was there but just out of reach. It’s been years since I’ve played anything with D&D rules. I started playing D&D with 3rd edition, then later with 4th edition, but it’s been almost a decade since I last read a rulebook. Baldur’s Gate 3 is largely based on 5th edition D&D, which was a mystery to me, so I ordered the D&D 5th edition Player’s Handbook.
With the Manual in tow, I caught up on the new 5th Edition rules for all classes, combat, spells, skills, and proficiency bonuses. The confusing aspects of combat and skill checks started to make more sense, and within hours of having it in my lap, this book was filled with Post-It notes and dog-eared pages.
However, in the process of answering my rules-based questions, the Player’s Handbook also brought the world back to life for me, refreshing my memory about the Forgotten Realms (the setting Baldur’s Gate 3 takes place in) and its tradition. As I read, I began to see the game in a different light and felt a glimmer of that D&D magic. THE Adventurer’s Guide to the Sword Coast ($23) And Xanathar’s Guide to Everything ($24) are also amazing resources.
Pencils and snacks not included
The experience of playing Baldur’s Gate 3 with the D&D sourcebooks, it really feels more like a tabletop experience. Flipping through the pages wondering whether you should try to be a Shield Dwarf or a Duergar Dwarf, or choose a Ranger or Wizard class, is exciting. Knowing that your companions and the game world will respond to these decisions in unique ways is a lot like the excitement of coming up with an interesting character to debut at the D&D table.