D&D 5e rule changes

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This page and related pages summarise rule changes from the implementation of Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (D&D 5e) rules to Baldur's Gate 3 (BG3).

The rule changes described on this page and related pages are written with the assumption the reader understands the relevant D&D 5e rule. These pages will not explain what the D&D 5e rule is, only what the changed or altered BG3 rule is. These pages also include many BG3 features and abilities that are unchanged from D&D 5e to help a D&D 5e player quickly see which options have changed and which have not, and make decisions without having to do additional research. If the BG3 rule aligns with a OneD&D rule or other playtest material from D&D 5e, that is considered a rule change from D&D 5e.

Fundamental changes[edit | edit source]

Characters[edit | edit source]

  • The level cap is 12.
  • Characters must use 27 point buy. There is no rolling for ability scores.
  • All races have a +2/+1 flexible ability score bonus - similar to the alternate rules from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything - though the standard 5e racial ability score bonus and the +1/+1/+1 option do not exist. Half-elves and humans have been granted additional features (chiefly Civil Militia) to make up for this change.
  • Multiclassing ignores ability score requirements.
    • This makes it possible to reach the level cap with one level from each of the 12 available classes, which grants an achievement.
  • Hit points gained on level are always fixed values; there is no option to roll a hit die.
  • You are able to respec your characters when you meet an NPC made available early in Act 1 of the game. You may respec your starting class, subclass (when applicable), ability scores, spells (when applicable), and skill proficiencies gained from class. It is not possible to change a character's race or background.
    • If you change an origin companion or companion's starting class (or subclass when applicable), the game will still treat them as members of said class for their Origins-exclusive dialogue. They will gain dialogues from and reactions to their new class as appropriate.
  • Tool, vehicle, and language proficiencies are not implemented, only proficiencies for weapons, armour, skills and musical instruments.
    • As such, Backgrounds only provide proficiency in two Skills.
    • A single proficiency, granted by the Bard class, applies to all musical instruments. This is not part of any background, though a new feat also provides it.
  • Inspiration is granted automatically when a character in the active party does or sees certain things associated with their background. If, for example, a character has the Charlatan background, they may gain inspiration if they deceive their way into a fortified enemy position. The party cannot have more than four inspiration uses stored up at a time, which can be applied to reroll a failed skill check or saving throw.
  • Characters can carry a maximum 10 kg (20 lbs) of weight per point of Strength. If the character is carrying an amount of weight equal to 7 kg (14 lbs) x Strength, they are encumbered. This becomes heavily encumbered at 9 kg (18 lbs) × Strength.

Death[edit | edit source]

  • Party members cannot instantly die from damage: a party member reduced to 0 hit points is knocked unconscious, regardless of whether the remaining damage exceeds their hit point maximum. There are other ways to instantly die (falling into a chasm, displeasing a certain demigod).
    • Only party members ever make death saving throws. Other characters, including important NPCs, are killed outright when their health is reduced to 0 by lethal damage, and cannot be resurrected.
    • Dead party members can be resurrected using the Revivify spell or by a certain NPC for a fee. There is no time limit on either.

Resting[edit | edit source]

  • The party is limited to two short rests per long rest. Short rests restore each ally's hit points by an amount equal to half their maximum HP (rounded down). There is no hit die rolling.
  • Long rests require camp supplies, which are food and drink items that must be looted or purchased. Taking a long rest without sufficient camp supplies results in only partial recovery of spell slots and hit points.

Dice rolls[edit | edit source]

  • There is a weighted dice setting in the game called Karmic Dice which is enabled by default.
    • While enabled fights tend to be faster and deadlier than when fully random rolls are used.
  • Rolling a natural 1 on an ability check always results in failure, even if modifiers would put you over the DC. Rolling a natural 20 on a skill check always results in success, even if modifiers would not put you over the DC. There are no additional fumble or critical success features besides an automatic failure or pass of the ability check.
  • When Saving Throws are used in dialogue, rolling a natural 1 or natural 20 always results in failure or success regardless of the difficulty class of the saving throw or the characters modifiers. Regular saving throws work as expected when a 1 or 20 is rolled.
    • For Death Saving Throws, a roll of a 1 gives only one fail rather than 2. A roll of 20 results in a success, rather than restoring 1 HP.

Combat[edit | edit source]

  • Initiative is rolled with a d4 instead of a d20, and is not treated as a Dexterity Ability Check. Game effects that grant a bonus to initiative still apply, but most grant a flat +3 to the roll instead of advantage or a bonus based on an Ability Score.
    • This makes it more likely that multiple characters on the same side will roll identical or adjacent initiative values, allowing them to exploit the shared initiative feature described below.
    • If two or more player-controlled characters are next to each other in the initiative order, their initiative is shared. These characters can act at the same time.
  • Combat areas tend to have a large amount of verticality, but are rather small in horizontal size. This has led to the following mechanical changes:
  • Cover from D&D has not been implemented, but a line of sight to the target is still required for ranged weapon attacks and most projectile spells.
  • When a creature is at least 10 ft above their target and makes a ranged attack, they receive a +2 bonus to the attack roll due to high ground. When a creature is at least 10 ft below their target and makes a ranged attack, they receive a -2 penalty to the attack roll due to low ground.
  • Rules for sound and hearing are not implemented and NPCs may only detect what they see. If you hide while not in a creature's sight cone, you automatically succeed. If you try to hide while in a creature's sight cone, or are already hidden and enter a creature's sight cone, you must roll stealth against the creature's passive perception. This may be a straight roll, advantage, or disadvantage, based on the creature's senses and the level of lighting. Some creatures with different senses such as blindsight may follow different rules.

Spellcasting[edit | edit source]

  • Prepared spellcasters may change their prepared spells at any time out of combat.
    • Some spells with an ongoing effect will end if the caster unprepares them, while others will not. It's not clear whether this inconsistency is intentional.
  • Verbal, Somatic, and Material components are ignored. Being silenced prevents casting of most spells; however, some spells that do not have verbal components in 5e do ignore this, such as Ice Knife.
  • Spellcasting focuses are not required for any class.
    • Bards will play an equipped Musical Instrument, or whistle if they have none equipped, while casting Bard spells. This is cosmetic, however.
  • The game does not stop a character from casting a leveled spell with both an action and a bonus action in the same turn.
  • All caster classes are capable of Ritual casting, and Ritual Caster feat instead allows the selection of two Ritual Spells. Ritual casting does not take any more time than normal casting, but cannot be done in combat.
  • Anyone can cast any spell scroll from any class list (even if it is not their own or they do not have the Spellcasting feature), and there is no Arcana check for casting higher level spells than a character has spells known.
  • Spell scrolls do not have a fixed DC or attack roll bonus. They use the caster's spellcasting modifier (see Spellcasting Modifier for how this is determined for multiclass characters and characters without normal spellcasting).
  • Cantrips receive their second upgrade at level 10 in the game, rather than level 11.
  • Due to the level cap being 12, characters generally do not have access to spells of 7th level or higher (as 7th level spell slots become available at class level 13).
    • The exceptions are a few spells that can only be used by NPCs that are technically classified as 9th level, and Power Word Kill being available as a one-time-use ability if a very specific set of plot choices are made.

Action economy[edit | edit source]

  • A character can have one ranged weapon set equipped and one melee weapon set equipped, and are able to freely switch between them as a free action an unlimited number of times per turn. This includes starting their turn with the melee weapon equipped, switching to a crossbow for free, shooting at targets, and switching back to the melee set to allow them to make opportunity attacks. A character able to make multiple attacks with one action can switch weapons between attacks. Equipping a weapon from the inventory costs an action.
  • Shove is not a part of the attack action. It is a bonus action available to all characters. Shove only pushes the target back an amount that depends on the shover's strength and the target's weight. It normally does not knock them prone unless they are shoved off a high ledge. (Some creatures are shown falling to the ground when shoved, but they get up again immediately without spending any movement, and this doesn't apply the Prone condition at any point.)
  • Falling damage is calculated linearly based on fall height and deals consistent damage based on a percentage of a creature's max HP. It is also guaranteed to cause a creature to go prone if a fall deals more than 25% of a creature's max HP and will never cause a creature to go prone below that.
  • Using the help action on a downed ally brings them back to 1 hit point. This action can also be used to remove various other harmful conditions such as Ensnared, Enwebbed, Sleeping, etc. It cannot be used to provide an ally advantage on an attack roll or ability check.
  • Jumping is a bonus action which consumes 10 ft of movement speed. With a Strength score of 10 or below, a creature can jump 15 ft, and this increases by 5 ft for every two points in strength above 10. At 20 Str a creature may spend 10 ft of movement speed and a bonus action to jump, and can travel 35 ft effectively increasing the creature's movement speed by up to 25 feet. Characters do not roll an Athletics check to avoid being hit by an obstacle they are jumping over, or an Acrobatics check to avoid falling Prone when landing in difficult terrain.
  • The Dodge action is not implemented, with the exception of the Monk's Patient Defence ability or Fighter Battle Master's Evasive Footwork manoeuvre functioning similarly.
  • Readying an action is not implemented.
  • Grappling is not implemented.
  • Consuming a potion is only a bonus action. This greatly increases the utility of drinking potions while in combat.
  • If a creature throws a potion as an action, it will break and affect all targets in a small radius. This applies to many - but not all - types of Potions.
  • There are options to throw creatures which are at least one size smaller than you, though this is not always accurately implemented. There is a minimum Strength required, based on the target's weight, and you need to win a contested check using your Athletics.
  • Bonus action attack options such as offhand weapon attacks do not require a character to first take the attack action.
    • Except the one gained from the Polearm Master feat, which is not available unless you have already made at least one attack.
  • Donning and doffing armour does not take time, and can be done as an action even in combat.
  • You regain your reaction at the end of your turn, not at the start of it.
  • Effects granting restricted extra actions generally lack those restrictions. For example the extra action granted by the Haste Haste spell is not restricted to making a single attack, and can be used to cast spells. (This is toned down in Honour Mode.)

Equipment[edit | edit source]

  • Weapons are given unique weapon action attacks depending on the weapon type. These can only be used if the wielder is proficient with the weapon, and generally can only be used once each per short rest.
  • When a character is standing on a surface such as fire, acid, or poison, most weapons can be dipped in the surface as a bonus action. This causes them to deal additional damage of an appropriate type with each attack for a few turns.
  • There is no magic item attunement system. All magic items can be equipped immediately and it is possible to equip one in each equipment slot.
  • A creature can have a melee weapon set and a ranged weapon set equipped that they can toggle between freely. If you have a shield equipped in the equipped melee set but have the ranged weapon set being actively wielded, you still benefit from the AC boost the shield provides.
  • Attacks of Opportunity cannot be used -- at all -- without a melee weapon currently in hand. It is not possible to use your ranged weapon as an improvised weapon (if using a two-handed ranged weapon) or use a melee weapon together with a hand crossbow, so it cannot occur. BG3 seems to tie Attacks of Opportunity directly to the Threatened condition, which only occurs in the reach of a melee-equipped hostile.
  • Some equipment like gloves, boots, or helms may require armour proficiency to wear effectively. They don't grant a bonus to armour class (unless they have a magical effect that specifically says so), but may have magical effects, and the character will only be able to don them effectively with the correct proficiency.
  • Heavy armour does not have a Strength requirement, and therefore no movement speed penalty.
  • You are unable to select starting equipment; you are given starting equipment based on your starting class. Backgrounds do not provide starting equipment.
  • Ranged weapons cannot make attacks beyond certain distances ex. bows and crossbows can make attacks at Disadvantage (beyond their normal range of 60ft) out to about 90ft, but then will not be able to attack at all unless the character moves closer. The cursor will automatically attempt to path the character into firing range and the tooltip will inform if the shot is impossible if they do not have enough movement to get within long range.
  • Making attacks with a ranged weapon will have Disadvantage imposed on them ("Target is too close") even if a hostile is further away than 5ft as in 5E, or without the Threatened condition. The range appears to be close to 10ft (could be the 8.5ft cited for Reach weapons). This has nothing to do with the Threatened condition itself (it can occur without being in melee reach of anything) and also applies to ranged Spell Attacks.
  • Crossbows do not have the loading property restriction, leading to basic crossbows being superior to bows.
    • This also allows a character to dual wield hand crossbows. It does not allow a character to wield a hand crossbow with a shield because the crossbow goes in the ranged set while the shield goes in the melee set. But as discussed above, the character gains the AC bonus of a shield equipped on your melee set even while the ranged set is actively drawn.
  • Appropriate weapons have the "heavy" property added to them, but this property does not apply disadvantage to attack rolls made by small characters.
  • Reach weapons have an effective range of 2.5 m / 8.3 ft, rather than 10 ft.
  • Slings, darts, blowguns, lances, nets, and whips are not in the game.
  • The weights of various pieces of equipment have changed. For example, chain mail weighs 36lbs instead of 55lbs.
  • Thieves' tools are split into two items: Thieves' Tools are required for lockpicking, and Trap Disarm Toolkits for disarming traps. These are consumed on an unsuccessful use. Because there are no tool proficiencies, the Sleight of Hand skill is used for these checks.
  • Soul Coins can be used to power infernal engines (specifically, the one inside Karlach) but the other uses defined for them in the Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus adventure — asking questions of the imprisoned soul, or siphoning its essence for temporary hit points — have not been implemented.

Conditions[edit | edit source]

  • Blinded: In addition to the other effects, ranged attacks are limited to 10 ft range.
  • Enemies can still directly target you with attacks and spells if you are Obscured, defeating effects like Darkness and Fog Cloud, provided they get close enough (as described above with the Blinded condition). Note that they do not have penalties imposed like in 5e (they would essentially be Blinded when attacking a target they cannot see: attacks made with Disadvantage and unable to pick distinct targets for spells such as "A creature you see within range."). The AI can and will abuse this against you to get Advantage on characters Blinded by these effects or to target AoEs inside the areas anyway.
  • The Deafened condition is not implemented.
  • Encumbered: A character becomes encumbered when they carry an amount equal to 14 lbs (7 kg) times their Strength rather than 15 lbs (or 5 lbs, when using more realistic variant: encumbrance). Being encumbered also halves your jump distance in addition to the normal effects.
    • Heavily encumbered: A character becomes heavily encumbered at 18 lbs (9 kg) times their Strength rather than 10 times. It also prevents them from being able to climb or jump at all in addition to the normal effects.
  • Exhaustion is not implemented.
  • Frightened: Creatures which are frightened are unable to move at all (rather than being unable to move toward the source of their fear), unless the effect instead makes them "fearful", which gives them the frightened effect as well as making them flee.
  • Grappled is not implemented.
  • Paralysed: Attacks from within 10 ft automatically hit and are always critical hits, rather than hits from within 5 ft being automatic critical hits.
  • Prone: Being prone gives disadvantage on Strength and Dexterity saving throws, attacks against a prone creature have advantage out to a range of 10 ft rather than 5 ft, and ranged attacks against a prone creature do not have disadvantage. A creature cannot do anything while prone. Starting the turn while prone will cause a creature to automatically use half its movement to stand up; if a creature becomes prone during its own turn, its turn automatically ends. Prone will also make a creature stop concentrating on a spell or similar ability that requires concentration.
  • Turned: Turned creatures will not dodge, as it is not implemented as an action. If a Turned creature cannot move, it will just stay where it is and do nothing.
  • Wet: This is a new condition that prevents the character from burning (e.g. from Searing Smite) and grants resistance to fire damage, but also makes the creature vulnerable to lightning and cold damage.
  • Threatened imposes Disadvantage to ranged attacks even if the creature making these ranged attack rolls is more than 5 ft away from the hostile creature; a creature inflicts Threatened on hostiles that are in its melee range, so reach pushes this out, unlike in 5e where this penalty's range is fixed at 5 ft regardless of reach.

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

  • The Great Weapon Fighting Style rerolls any and all of an attack's damage dice on a 1 or 2, even if they are not a part of the weapon's physical damage.
  • "Lifeberries," a.k.a. Goodberries that have been buffed due to being cast by a Life Domain Cleric, will only get the additional healing benefit from Disciple of Life if the same Cleric who cast the spell is also the one to consume the berry. If somebody else consumes the berry, they will just get the normal 1d4 that a goodberry gets in BG3.
  • The Haunted One background grants proficiency in Medicine and Intimidation, neither of which is among the four skill options for the 5e version of this background as defined in Curse of Strahd.

Other changes[edit | edit source]

See related pages for details on changes from the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition rules specific to the classes, races, spells and feats available in Baldur's Gate 3.

See also[edit | edit source]