Guide:Races Guide by Phantomsplit

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This guide is to introduce players new to D&D 5e, the Forgotten Realms, or Baldur's Gate 3 to the races available for you to use for your custom character "Tav," Dark Urge, or hirelings and to understand the races of origin characters and companions. It will go over how the dialogue tag system may cause a character's race to play a role in conversation options and how the world reacts to your character. And it will cover the mechanical features of the races, and what classes or builds may go well with each race.

Flexible Ability Scores[edit | edit source]

In BG3's Early Access different races have fixed ability score increases. For example, Githyanki have a +2 bonus to Strength and a +1 bonus to Intelligence. This leads many to recommend Githyanki for character builds that use at least one if not both of these abilities, so they may be recommended for something like an Eldritch Knight Fighter or a Wizard. However at launch this is going to change and all races will have a floating +2 that they can put into any ability score, and a +1 they can put into a different ability score. So you may see old build guides out there saying that a Wood Elf is a bad choice for say a Paladin, while Dragonborn would be a bad choice for Monk based off the ability score increases for these races vs. the ability scores that the respective classes focus in. However those recommendations will be out of date when launch comes around and you will be able to put the ability scores wherever you want.

There are three races that lose out by this change however. Humans used to get a +1 to all ability scores. Half-elves used to get a +2 to Charisma and then a +1 they could put in any two other ability scores of their choosing. And a Shield Dwarf (a.k.a. Mountain Dwarf) would get a +2 to Strength as well as a +2 to Constitution.

Racial Spellcasting[edit | edit source]

This section applies to High elves, Drow a.k.a. Dark Elves, High Half-Elves, Drow Half-Elves, Tieflings, and possibly Githyanki. Rather than repeating the same information for each of these I will cover this aspect of racial spellcasting for all the above at once, and when I discuss those individual races I will refer back to this section when discussing their spellcasting.

The races that this section applies to all have racial features that allow them to cast spells which may require either an attack roll or saving throw. An attack roll means that you will have to roll a 20 sided die (often referred to as a d20) and apply applicable bonuses and penalties to the result to see if the attack hits the target. A target rolling a save means that the target will roll a d20 and apply relevant modifiers to try and avoid the effect of something like a spell, and how difficult this will be for your target to avoid for your target will depend on your character's relevant modifiers. For more information see the Die Rolls page.

So your character's relevant spellcasting modifier will have an effect on how useful these racial spells that require attack rolls and saving throws are. If say you are a Drow but have a low Charisma then enemies will be able to more easily avoid your racial Faerie Fire spell, or if you make a High Elf with a low Intelligence and select Fire Bolt as your racial cantrip, then you will miss more of your attacks. Spells which are affected by this mechanic and their relevant spellcasting ability modifier are:

Important Racial Spellcasting Modifiers
Race Spellcasting Modifier Affected Spells
Drow Charisma Faerie Fire
Drow Half-Elves Charisma Faerie Fire
High Elf Intelligence Acid Splash, Bone Chill (Chill Touch), Fire Bolt, Poison Spray, Ray of Frost, Shocking Grasp, Mage Hand*
Half High-Elf Intelligence Acid Splash, Bone Chill (Chill Touch), Fire Bolt, Poison Spray, Ray of Frost, Shocking Grasp, Mage Hand*
Githyanki Intelligence Mage Hand*
Asmodeous Tiefling Charisma Produce Flame**, Hellish Rebuke
Mephistopholes Tiefling Charisma Burning Hands, Flame Blade, Mage Hand*
Zariel Tiefling Charisma Searing Smite, Branding Smite
*Mage Hand should use your spellcasting ability modifiers for things such as trying to shove creatures, but I have not tested this to verify
**As of Patch 2, Produce Flame is bugged and uses Wisdeom for the spell attack roll instead of Charisma on an Asmodeous Tiefling.

Dragonborn[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

The Dragonborn are beyond a doubt the most unique appearing races with a very strange history going back to the origin of the Forgotten Realms world. To understand the lore of Dragonborn in this setting, you need to first understand the lore of the world of Toril itself. A 10 minute video by Spell&Shield also summarizes these events.

The game Baldur's Gate 3 takes place in the region known as the Sword Coast on the continent of Faerûn on a world known as Toril. But Toril used to be known as Abeir-Toril, until drastic events caused this world to be split in two. The problem at the time was that chaotic and powerful creatures known as Primordials existed on Abeir-Toril at first. They went to war with the group of gods that had come to try and foster civilized life on the world, resulting in a conflict known as the Dawn War. As the war was drawing to an end and it seemed the Primordials were going to lose the war they began to grow desperate. In frustration Io the greatest of the Primordials decided that if he could not have Abeir-Toril then he would instead destroy it, which he attempted to do by dropping a moon on the world. As this event was in the process of destroying the world, Io's counterpart named Ao and the greatest of the gods quickly intervened. He split the world Abeir-Toril into two different worlds named Abeir and Toril which are similar but distinctly unique. This event is known as Tearfall, and occurred about 33,000 years before BG3 takes place.

While the above history occurred an unknown thousands of years before BG3, it is noteworthy because Dragonborn are originally from Abeir while the game is set in Toril. In the aftermath of Tearfall many dragons were brought to Abeir with the Primordials. But Abeir did not have access to the Weave making it impossible for Abeir's inhabitants to cast magic, and as a result they were unable to resist the dragons who came to conquer the planet Abeir. Dragonborn were created at some point after this, believed to be hatched from dragon eggs as a unique race (source 5e PHB). Regardless, they were slaves to the dragons for thousands of years, with the biggest exception being a group of Dragonborn in Tymanther who won their freedom against the dragons about 200 years before the events of BG3.

However things radically changed due to an event known as the Spellplague about 100 years before BG3. The evil goddess Shar sought control over magic in the year 1385 DR, and as a result she successfully plotted to have the goddess of magic Mystra killed. Mystra did die (though not permanently) and with this the Weave that constrains and controls magic fell apart in an event known as the Spellplague. This had many effects, but for this conversation it also caused parts of Toril to go to Abeir and parts of Abeir to go to Toril. This included the freed dragonborn region of Tymanther being brought to Toril, and that is how Dragonborn were introduced to the setting. The worst effects of the Spellplague lasted for 10 years after which things began to calm down. Approximately 100 years later Mystra was restored and Ao once again started to separate the worlds of Toril and Abeir in a period known as the Second Sundering. But Tymanther was never brought back to Abeir, so it and its Dragonborn inhabitants remain on Toril. Notably the Spellplague took place after the events of the first two games. Dragonborn did not exist on Faerun during the time of the first two Baldur's Gate games.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

We do not have Dragonborn in Early Access so this is entirely speculation based off the above lore. BG3 takes place in 1492 DR, about 100 years after the Dragonborn first arrived on Faerun. Tymanther landed on the opposite side of the continent from Baldur's Gate. So there may be people living in rural areas who have never seen or heard of Dragonborn. They are often viewed with uncertainty by those who have heard of them simply due to the strange circumstances of their arrival. Dragonborn tend to group together in clan like fashions due to the strife they experienced on Abeir, and the isolation they face on Toril. And above all, they hate evil dragons. They may hold suspicions or uncertainty towards good aligned metallic dragons. But evil chromatic (red, black, green, blue, white) dragons are despised by Dragonborn.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

Dragonborn are not in Early Access. The below is based on their mechanics in the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Player's Handbook:

Draconic Ancestry: Choose a dragon type. You gain a breath weapon which does damage of the type and shape shown in the below table, and also gain resistance to that damage type. The breath weapon initially does 2d6 damage damage on a failed saving throw, or half as much if the targets make a successful save. The DC is 8 + Constitution modifier + Proficiency bonus. The damage increases to 3d6 at 6th level and 4d6 at 11th level. Normally in 5e this recharges on a short or long rest.

Draconic Ancestry Table
Draconic Ancestor Damage Type
Black Acid
Blue Lightning
Brass Fire
Bronze Lightning
Copper Acid
Gold Fire
Green Poison
Red Fire
Silver Cold
White Cold

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

In D&D 5e tabletop the Dragonborn are normally seen as one of the weakest races overall. They don't have Darkvision which is significant for parts of BG3. The breath weapon damage is very, very low and requires your full action to use. Originally all races had locked in ability score bonuses, and Dragonborn had +2 Strength and +1 Cha. This was their biggest selling point, making them good choices for Paladin characters due to these bonuses at least lining up with ability scores prioritized by Paladins. But with BG3 using the optional flexible Ability score rules, any race is able to select +2 Str and +1 Cha which also removes this advantage. If there is any build that gets particular synergy out of Dragonborn abilities, it would be one like a Circle of the Moon Druid or Barbarian which often have a high Constitution to make their breath weapon just a smidge better. I would argue that there are still much better choices out there from a mechanical standpoint. But in terms of appearance, lore, and culture Dragonborn are very interesting and you can certainly play as one regardless of what class you use. There will almost always be another option which is a bit better is all.

Drow[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

Drow is pronounced like "cow"

Drow have some of the most nuanced and fleshed out lore in the Forgotten Realms, largely due to the famous novels following the adventures of the legendary Drow ranger Drizzt Do'Urden. I am only going to give a very, very brief summary and for more details please see this 10 minute video by Spell&Shield (which is still all things considered a brief summary of Drow lore).

In short summary, the elven gods were once all united and referred to as the Seldarine over 30,000 years before the events of Baldur's Gate 3. They were led by Corellon. His consort Araushnee craved Corellon's power and plotted against him, trying several times to get Corellon assassinated. Usually her plan consisted of causing an evil god and its forces to go to war with the Seldarine gods, and plotting for Corellon to "accidentally" die as a result of the battle. One notable case of this was when she convinced Gruumsh the god of Orcs to attack the Seldarine, and this is how Orcs were introduced to Toril. For the last of these plots Araushnee cursed Corellon's scabbard so that it would draw the arrows fired by their daughter Eilistraee and frame her for Corellon's death. This plan did somewhat work but it only wounded Corellon. Evenutally Araushnee and her son Vhaeraun who helped her with these plots would be caught and put on trial. Araushnee and her son were exiled from the Seldarine pantheon, and Araushnee would later turn herself into spider like demonic creature and take the name of Lolth. Meanwhile Eilistraee (the daughter of now Lolth who was framed for the attempted murder of her father Corellon) willingly exiled herself from the pantheon so that she may be there as a light to guide the dark elves who she feared were in danger from Lolth.

After her exile, Lolth went on to rule the demon inhabited domain of the Abyss in a realm now known as the Demonweb Pits. From there she has plotted against Corellon and her former elven god kin by trying to steal the worship of the dark elves and have them go to war with Corellon's remaining elven worshippers. This primarily took the form of working behind the scenes to cause wars known as the Crown Wars between the dark elves of Ilythiir and other elven groups. Then Lolth would just happen to be there willing to aid the dark elves when they were in these dire times of war. After enough occurrences of this she became popular among the dark elves. As the dark elves then grew more powerful over time and became more violent under the influence of Lolth and other evil gods, the original elven Seldarine pantheon sought to stop these wars by cursing all dark elves; even those who were not involved in Lolth's wars. The Dark Elves were cursed to become Drow making it difficult for them to tolerate the sun's light on the surface and magically drawing them to the great underground network known as the Underdark. This did stop the conflicts so long as the surface elves stayed away from the underdark, but also drove many neutral or good Drow into the arms of Lolth who was there to care for them. As the Drow moved underground they conquered many locations including the Dwarven Kingdom of Bhaerynden, displacing the dwarves that remained and sending them into exile. The greatest drow city now is Menzoberranzan.

Drow occasionally return to the surface as raiding bands to fulfill some desire of Lolth or another, and these Drow leave disaster in their wake. This has been the state of things for over 10,000 years. Over this time Lolth's influence grew further to the point where most underdark dwelling Drow are fanatically Lolth-Sworn. There do remain some Drow that try to mend relations and coexist with surface races, to separate themselves from Lolth's influence, and to redeem their evil kin. These are referred to in BG3 as Seldarine Drow, which is the name of the original elven pantheon of Gods led by Corellon. They will very likely worship Eilistraee for coming down from godhood to live among them and sharing her similar goals of redeeming the fallen Drow taken by her mother Lolth.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

For a surface dweller, seeing a Drow is perhaps one of the most terrifying things imaginable. There are many stories of their surface raiding parties devastating small villages, taking slaves and treating them despicably, and torturing their victims. If your character is a Lolth-sworn Drow then they may encourage this type of reaction as they try to frighten those they meet, or give folks further stories to tell of the horrible things Drow are capable of. In underdark society Drow are at the top with female Drow calling all the shots. They have a house system led by matriarchs which I am not going to get into or we'll be here for hours, and so far I have not seen much mention of this in BG3. However underdark dwelling races like Deep Gnomes will be especially frightful of Drow, as they often make slaves of the Deep Gnomes. Duergar and Drow respect but hate one another, being the two most powerful civilized races in the underdark. At times they are at war, and at times they are allies by circumstances.

A Seldarine Drow will likely be met with similar reactions to most people, but in most cases BG3 allows the Seldarine to try and calm the person they are talking to and persuade them that they do not behave like their evil brethren.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

All Drow are granted:

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

Normally in tabletop Drow have Sunlight Sensitivity which is a major, major downside to picking this race. However the tadpole in our brain seems to render our characters immune to these effects.

Superior Darkvision is great for any character, and Perception is often seen as one of the most valuable skills in BG3 so having proficiency is great and the elf is already off to a good start. Fey ancestry is a bit situational but by no means a bad thing to have. The Darkness Spell can also be great to have on any character. For example say you have some enemy bad guys on a platform firing ranged attacks at your party, and you would have to spend 2 turns just to move and get into range with them. You can cast darkness on the platform they are on therefore blinding them and making them come down. Or you can use it out of combat to help sneak about. This spell can get great mileage out of even non-spellcasters.

The remaining abilities are a bit more situational. Dancing lights requires concentration, which can be a serious downside for casters because this means they cannot concentrate on other more powerful spells. But on a non-caster class this isn't really an issue so may be more worth using. The Faerie Fire spell actually scales really well into mid game for a racial feature you get at level 1, but only if you have the high Charisma to use it effectively as discussed in the Racial Spellcasting section. The weapon proficiencies don't help many builds except casters may want to dual wield hand crossbows early on to give them an actual use of their bonus action at low levels when they don't have many bonus action spells. The builds which could make good use of those proficiencies will already get them from their class. If D&D 5e cantrips like Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade are added to BG3 then these proficiencies could become very helpful for Sorcerers and Wizards, but that is unlikely to be present in BG3 without mods.

Pretty much any class or build will get tremendous benefit from being a Drow. Charisma casting classes like Bard, Warlock, Paladin, and Sorcerer may get a bit more benefit than others thanks to the Faerie Fire spell but nothing too substantial. Warlocks with the Devil's Sight Eldritch Invocation may get further use of the Drow's Darkness Spell.

Dwarves[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

Dwarves in the Forgotten Realms compare to the typical Dwarves in other conventional fantasy settings. They tend to develop underground kingdoms where they amass treasure and might, and develop clan like societies that respect their elders and gods such as the good aligned god of crafting Moradin. Dwarven commerce largely revolves around mining and blacksmithing. They have great appreciation for finely crafted weapons, armor, and other objects such as chalices, jewelry, and architecture. They feel a natural draw towards the stone and have an intuitive understanding of it to an extent. The Dwarven disciplined structure causes them to come at odds with the elves who are seen as flippant and emotionally driven. However Dwarves tend to get along with Humans, Halflings (primarily Strongheart Halflings), and especially Gnomes.

The most important events in Dwarven lore revolve around the kingdom Bhaerynden. This was the greatest of the dwarven kingdoms on Faerûn, located a fair bit South East of the Sword Coast where Baldur's Gate 3 is. Approximately 12,000 years before the events of BG3 one clan of dwarves had splintered off from the ruling dwarves at the time and set off west, founding a new kingdom of Shanatar just south of the Sword Coast (and actually pretty close to where Baldur's Gate II takes place). These dwarves would become known as the Shield Dwarves. Many dwarves still remained back in the kingdom of Bhaerynden after the Shield Dwarves splintered off. But a few hundred years later the dark elves were cursed to become Drow and they moved underground, conquering many lands in the process. Among these included the Dwarven kingdom of Bhaerynden. The refugee dwarves from this great empire fled far and wide and became nomadic, with some even going to live on the surface. These Bhaerynden refugees and their descendants became known as the Gold Dwarves or the Hill Dwarves.

Flipping back to the splintered off Shield Dwarves now and about 2,000 years after the fall of Bhaerynden, Clan Duergar of the Shield Dwarves would begin causing trouble. Clan Duergar sought to practice the teachings of the evil aligned god of magical crafting Laduguer who was xenophobic and encouraged his followers to exploit slavery to obtain their goals. But the rest of the Shield Dwarves would not practice or even tolerate Clan Duergar's ideals. Clan Duergar then splintered off from the Shield Dwarves to set up their own society where they could freely practice these evil ideals, but their isolation made them a target for Illithids (Mind Flayers) who would capture and conduct experiments on them, and turn them into their own slaves. These changes would ultimately change the physiology of the Clan Duergar dwarves, mutating them into the Duergar we know today. The Duergar remained slaves to the Illithids for about 5,000 years before they won their freedom by allying themselves with dark powers. They went on to found their own society in the Underdark in the great city Gracklstugh where the Duergar toil towards mastering their craft at an unhealthy level and remain very xenophobic. Especially towards their once Shield Dwarf brethren and anything relating to Illithids. More information on Duergar can be found in this 8 minute video by Spell&Shield.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

A Dwarf will likely have extra dialogue options when it comes to recognizing and identifying weapons and armor of unique make, unique architecture masonry, or exploring underground areas as a result of their bond to the rock and stone. They may express some animosity or rivalry with elves due to their extreme difference in lifestyle, though I doubt it will be much more than some quick quips rather than outright violence. Perhaps much like Gimli and Legolas from Lord of the Rings. Duergar will likely have an outright loathing for anything related to Illithids. And Deep Gnomes will likely react with fear to the sight of a Duergar because the Duergar are known for making Deep Gnomes into slaves. Duergar and Drow are the two ruling civilized races in the underdark. They are often civil around one another, but are also rivals and have clashed many times before as well as becoming allies by circumstance on occassion.

Depending on how deep Larian goes with the lore you may see additional reactions based on the above lore. Gold Dwarves (Hill Dwarves) may hold a grudge against the Drow for their conquering of Bhaerynden. Duergar often blame the Shield Dwarves for their abandonment to the hands of the Mind Flayers, so there could be animosity between Duergar and Shield Dwarves. And Hill Dwarves and Mountain Dwarves also often view Gnomes as their cousins, so they may get along particularly well.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

All Dwarves have:

The Dwarven Subraces additionally obtain:

Dwarven Subrace Features
Duergar Gold Dwarves (Hill Dwarves) Shield Dwarves (Mountain Dwarves)**
Superior Darkvision out to 80 ft* Darkvision out to 40 ft Darkvision out to 40 ft
Duergar Magic granting the ability to cast Enlarge/Reduce on self once per Long Rest starting at 3rd Level, and Invisibility on self once per combat Dwarven Toughness granting one additional hit point per character level Proficiency in Light and Medium Armor
Duergar resilience granting advantage on saving throws against illusions as well as being Charmed or Paralyzed. - -
* The original rules regarding Duergar in tabletop also grants Duergar Sunlight Sensitivity which is a major drawback for this race. However Larian has not implemented this feature in BG3, whether that is due to the Illithid tadpole in our brains or following updated tabletop rules.
** The Shield Dwarves normally get a +2 bonus to their Strength Ability Score in tabletop. However with the Flexible Ability Scores changes Larian is making to BG3, the Shield Dwarves do not get this benefit.

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

Poison damage is very common, so dwarves getting resistance and being able to cut the damage in half and resist related effects is very nice. And Darkvision can be immensely beneficial to any character as well, especially in Act 2. The Dwarves' movement speed reductions slightly hampers their melee combat ability, as you may not be able to close range with bad guys quite as quickly. But it doesn't have as great of an impact on characters able to make attacks from a distance. Additionally melee classes that can mitigate this movement speed penalty such as Monk and Barbarian may be able to offset it somewhat. Their additional weapon proficiencies are not going to be too beneficial on their own as most builds which want these proficiencies will get them from their class. But Monk is once again the standout winner from this feature. But Monks in BG3 are be able to use their Martial Arts features like unarmed strikes with any weapon that they are proficient with but lacks the heavy or two-handed property. This means a dwarven monk is able to wield a warhammer with its d10 damage die when wielded as a versatile weapon, which is a bit better and at least another option compared to the next best option monks normally get with the quarterstaves or spears which can do d8 damage.

The Gold Dwarves' additional HP per level goes ok with classes that get up close in melee, but isn't typically held in that high of regard except maybe on wildshaping druids which also gets the extra health benefits. Combine this with the tough feat on a barbarian to make a super tank. The Shield Dwarves' additional armor proficiencies go great on characters like squishy casters such as wizards, sorcerers, lore bards, and warlocks as it allows you to leave your Dexterity at 14 and wear medium armor for an overall armor class of 16 before accounting for magical bonuses. This combined with dwarven weapon proficiencies makes it feasible (but far from ideal unless you have access to spells likely not to be in BG3 without mods) to make a melee sorcerer or wizard character. And lastly the Duergar's Enlarge ability goes great with a melee class that gets multiple attacks such as a monk. Normally in tabletop the bonus damage from enlarge does not apply to unarmed strikes but in BG3 you are able to apply this additional damage.

The Duergar's invisibility spell can be cast an unlimited number of times out of combat. It is the strongest racial feature in the entire game. If you build around abusing this spell then it is better than Halfling Luck, Gnome advantage on saving throws, or everything Githyanki gets. Proxy Gate Tactician on YouTube beat the game without killing anyone, largely due to this overpowered feature.

Elves[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

Elves initially came to Toril about 30,000 years ago (relatively shortly after Tearfall as described in the Dragonborn Lore section) from the plane of the Feywild. This plane is known for harboring often mischievous magical creatures with attachment to nature such as satyrs, brownies, and sylphs. This helps explain the elves emotional and relaxed temperament. They include several subraces we will see in BG3 such as moon and sun elves (which are considered High Elves) and Wood Elves and dark elves which would later become Drow as described in the Drow Lore section. They also included other subraces which we will likely not see in BG3 such as wild elves and sea elves as the more common options, and a few additional more rare elven subraces. With the exception of Drow, modern day elves still maintain their relaxed lifestyle with a focus on enjoying life and the world, maintaining nature's balance, and are known for their prowess and dance as well as the bow and sword. Elves were the first races to exist on Toril and had the time to build up their society, but as a race they were not inclined to building great cities with few exceptions. Events such as conflicts with the Drow, the rise of Humans, and catastrophes over the centuries have resulted in elven influence in the world diminishing in the world.

Most of the notable Elven history is covered in the Drow Lore section. One detail I'll add here but may not ever get mentioned in BG3 is the First Sundering. After Araushnee (now Lolth) and her son Vhaeraun were exiled from the Elven pantheon but before the Crown Wars fully began, Lolth's and Vhaeraun's influence on the dark elves began spreading causing some minor conflicts. Around year -17,500 DR (about 19,000 years before BG3) many of the elves had enough of this and decided to pull a mass of land from the plane of Arborea full of enchanting magic and beautiful landscapes, and make it a remote island on this world of Toril. Then these peaceful elves could go live there away from all the war and strife of the dark elves. The good news is that the elves were successful and made their homeland island of Evermeet. The bad news is that with this came devastation across the continent of Faerun as the world reacted to this catastrophic change in geography and powerful magic. Many elven societies were flooded by the shifting seas and most would consider the event an overall disaster, save for the surviving elves who went off to live on Evermeet in peace. While many don't know this in modern days, the remote isle of Evermeet has since been pulled into the Feywild as a result of the Spellplague.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

Elves are known for their emotional and whimsical yet patient attitudes as they seek to enjoy their long lives spanning several centuries. They have a natural tendency towards magic and the balance of nature. High elves further emphasize this emphasis on magic, while wood elves further emphasize their interactions with nature. Enough time has passed and animosity has settled down between elves and humans where their past disputes are behind the short lived human memories, and the two races often interact well enough with each other now. The extremely different temperaments between elves and dwarves means they don't necessarily get along, but they also don't really come to blows very often. The greatest enemy of elves are often their cousins the drow.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

All elves have:

The Elven Subraces additionally obtain:

Elven Subrace Features
High Elves Wood Elves
Learn one Cantrip from the Wizard Spell list* using Intelligence as the spellcasting ability modifier when applicable Movement Speed is increased by 5 ft to a total of 35 ft
- Mask of the Wild grants proficiency in Stealth
* For High Elf's Cantrip feature, see the Racial Spellcasting section

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

Elves' Darkvision is great for any character, and Perception is often seen as one of the most valuable skills in BG3 so having proficiency is great and the elf is already off to a good start. Fey ancestry is a bit situational but by no means a bad thing to have. And like with Drow and Dwarves above, the racial weapon proficiencies are not that great unless you are going for a melee wizard or sorcerer build which will be difficult to pull of in BG3. The longbow proficiency can also be nice on a rogue as they are a build that can make good use of a Longbow but are not proficient with it normally. And the longsword proficiency could be nice for a monk character since you can usea a longsword as a monk weapon. This means an elven monk is able to wield a longsword with its d10 damage die when wielded as a versatile weapon, which is a bit better and at least another option compared to the next best option monks normally get with the quarterstaves or spears which can do d8 damage.

As mentioned in the Racial Spellcasting section, you may need to be a little careful about what cantrip you pick if you are going High Elf. If your character is not going to have a high Intelligence then do not pick one of the spells listed in the Racial Spellcasting table. Of the remaining options some standout choices include Friends (which is very useful for giving advantage on Charisma checks, just be wary of the hostile side effects), Light (which you can cast on the weapon of an ally who does not have darkvision and make them shed their own light), Minor Illusion (which you can use to draw creatures to a certain area whether to sneak by them or ambush them) and Mage Hand (if you do not intend to use the Mage Hand to shove your enemies, or are not playing a race like Githyanki or a class like Arcane Trickster Rogue which automatically gets this spell). The wood elves' movement speed bonus is very helpful for melee characters who may need to close the gap with enemies, while their proficiency in stealth is great for characters who will be doing your sneaking around.

Half-Elves[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

Half-elves don't particularly have too much lore behind them. They are born from Human and Elf parents, often in a Human or Elf dominated society, where they go on to adopt the culture of that society. They have existed in small numbers for tens of thousands of years. They typically are not viewed with any particular scorn or hatred by any.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

Given how most races are on decent terms with humans, the world interactions you get as a half-elf will respond more to your elven herritage. If you are playing as a Drow Half-Elf then you may get dialogue tags that represent the your Drow lineage, and you may get dialogue tags that represent your human lineage. But you will not have the total reactivity of either. There are dialogue options in the game which are only available to Drow, but not Half-Drow. Similar rules apply to Wood Half-Elf and High Half-Elf.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

Half-Elves in BG3 are one of the races that are hampered by Larian's Flexible Ability Scores changes. It is speculated based off some launch build footage from content creators that Half-elves will get:

Normally in Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, Half-Elves get "Skill Versatility" allowing them to be proficient in two skills of their choice. This option does not appear to be present in BG3 and they must choose one of the below variant Half-Elf options which grants the additional following features:

Caption text
Drow Half-Elf High Half-Elf Wood Half-Elf
The ability to cast the following spells using Charisma as the spellcasting ability modifier when applicable: Learn one Cantrip from the Wizard Spell list** using Intelligence as the spellcasting ability modifier when applicable Movement Speed is increased by 5 ft to a total of 35 ft
- - Mask of the Wild grants proficiency in Stealth
* For Drow Half-Elf's Faerie Fire see the Racial Spellcasting section.
** For High Half-Elf's Cantrip feature, see the Racial Spellcasting section.

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

In tabletop the Half-Elf is the second most common race for players to pick behind variant human. This is largely due to their ability score bonuses where they get a +2 to Charisma (as well as flexible ability scores they can put elsewhere) in combination with Charisma focused classes like Bard, Warlock, Sorcerer, Paladin, and possibly even some charming Rogues. They are also desired in tabletop for their Darkvision and Skill Versatility options. Of the above three features (ability score bonuses, darkvision, and skill versatility), only Darkvision will be available to Half-elves in BG3. This significantly shakes them up. The Fey Ancestry is a nice feature, but rather niche and by no means a reason why most people pick this class in tabletop.

Now half-elves keep their darkvision and niche fey ancestry feature, but the extra armor, shield, and weapon proficiencies they obtain are intended to make up for the loss to traditional half-elf ability score bonuses as discussed in the Flexible Ability Scores section. Like with human these features make half-elf a slightly more tempting target for something like a squishy Warlock or Bard since they can throw a shield on and slightly boost their AC. And this is especially the case for Sorcerer and Wizard Characters who by default do not even get light armor proficiency. I still think a one level dip into a class that grants medium armor and shield proficiency like Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, or Druid would be better for such characters, but playing a half-elf is a way to get some defensive boosts without multiclassing.

The subrace features synergize just like the same features do for the base Elf race:

  • Drow Half-Elf's Dancing Lights is not very helpful on caster character because it competes for Concentration but can be of a bit of benefit to non caster builds. Darkness has great in combat and out of combat utility whether you are a caster or not, but is especially good on a Warlock with the Devil's Sight Eldritch Invocation. Faerie Fire is a great spell into the midgame even, but only on characters with decent Charisma as described in the Racial Spellcasting section.
  • High Half-Elf's Cantrip goes great with Intelligence based casters such as the Wizard, Eldritch Knight Fighter, or Arcane Trickster Rogue. But if the character will not have a high Intelligence then Friends, Light, Minor Illusion, and to an extent Mage Hand can also be good options as described in the Elf Mechanics section of this guide.
  • Wood Half-Elf movement speed bonus is nice on all characters, but especially nice on melee characters who can use this to get into range of their target. Their stealth proficiency is nice on sneaky characters as it opens you up to put proficiencies from background and your starting class elsewhere.

Overall Half-Elves are still a very flexible choice which anyone will get at least some benefit out of. There is a very good chance that a more specialized race exists for a specific build. But anyone will at least get some decent use from their half-elf features.

Half-Orcs[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

Orcs first came to the planet of Toril as a result of one of Lolth's plots to kill Corellon as described in the Drow Lore section. One of the gods who Lolth tricked into fighting the Seldarine was Gruumsh, patron god of orcs who brought a horde of orc with him. Upon Gruumsh's defeat many orcs would be left behind in Faerun and more orcs crossed into Faerun via other methods. For tens of thousands of years orcs were isolated savages which posed no major threat to civilized races. However around -3,600 DR (about 5,000 years before BG3) orcs began to band together and raid civilized lands in massive hordes. And in fact this is how most orcs to this day still behave. They are typically violent, selfish, short tempered creatures.

Humans and orcs have been known to exist peacefully together in some scenarios, as stated in the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition Players Handbook which states, "Whether united under the leadership of a mighty warlock or having fought to a standstill after years of conflict, orc and human communities, sometimes form alliances. When these alliances are sealed by marriages, half-orcs are born. Some half-orcs rise to become proud leaders of orc communities. Some venture into the world to prove their worth. Many of these become adventurers, achieving greatness for their mighty deeds." One popular example of this cooperation is Kingdom of Many Arrows located near the northern end of the Sword Coast. Many-Arrows was established just over 100 years before the events in BG3 and is a peaceful settlement of orcs that has generated bonds and relationships with their neighbors. In-fact their neighbors have even come to the military defense of Many-Arrows. From these kinds of relationships between humans and orcs, half-orcs can be born.

Half-orcs are rare and do not have a society or culture of their own. They tend to adopt the culture of whatever settlement they are in. If they venture out from their home they are very likely to be met with hesitation from all they meet due to the reputation orcs have. Even other orc tribes will be unfriendly toward their half-orc kin due to the human blood being seen as a weakness.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

Half-orcs are well known for their strength and endurance. Some of Gruumsh's impression on orcs often carries over to the half-orc offspring calling them to battle. Many half-orcs take on mercenary work to fulfill their own needs and desires. And they are known for settling disputes with a brawl rather than an argument. They often wish to revel in their victories and are known to have celebrations including viking like behaviors such as wrestling, feasts, and of course drinking. Almost all surface races will be uncomfortable around a half-orc they are not familiar with due to the reputation of the swarming hordes of orcs. Some half-orcs may be tolerant of this, others may be offended or angered by such presumptions. They are often accustomed to being viewed as outsiders. Elves, Dwarves and Orcs have the most bad blood between them, so they may be the single race to react most strongly to the sight of a half-orc.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

Half-orcs are not in Early Access, so the following information is based off the rules for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition in which half-orcs are granted:

  • Darkvision out to a range of 40 ft
  • Proficiency in Intimidation
  • Relentless Endurance which means when a half-orc would normally be downed they instead are left with 1 hit point instead (recharges on a long rest).
  • Savage Attacks making it so that when a half-orc scores a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, they can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

Darkvision is always great to have. Relentless Endurance goes great with any melee character that you will have getting up into the thick of things and is especially desired on tanky characters like Barbarians, Moon Druids, Fighters, and Paladins. Meanwhile Savage Attacks goes great with anyone making melee weapon attacks which goes great with tons of characters. We'll have to see if Larian applies the Savage Attacks damage to a Monk's unarmed strikes or a wildshaped Druid's natural attacks, which is normally not allowed per D&D 5e but I suspect Larian may change this. It isn't a massive damage increase but can become more notable on Champion Fighter characters with their increased chance to critically hit, or any melee character where parties can guarantee crits such as if you have casters who can consistently land Hold Person. The proficiency in intimidation is a nice tassel on the end, but could become more significant for classes with a high Charisma like a Valour Bard or Swords Bard or Paladin or Pact of the Blade Warlock.

Overall the Half-Orc is one of the best races for melee combat characters with a heavy emphasis on the combat part. Outside of melee characters they will offer a little bit of something if mechanically implemented as expected.

Halflings[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

Halfling Lore is extremely sparse. There is no information on when or where the first halflings appeared. They tend to have a sense of wanderlust and exploration moreso than even the elves, as well as a tendency towards finding mischief whether wittingly or not. They are known for their clan like social structure with an emphasis on family bonds. Some bands may settled down and make a small isolated village for a while before getting bored of it and packing up to leave with little worry or concern. Others will roam about and never settle down at all. The only major halfling settlement of Luiren was flooded as a result of the world shaking Spellplague as described in the Dragonborn Lore section and this further emphasizes the modern day halfling tendency to roam.

Besides the flooding of Luiren, the only other major Halfling lore event (which I doubt will be brought up in BG3) is the Hin Ghostwar. "Hin" is another name for Halfling, and the Ghostwar is so named because the Strongheart Tribe and Lightfoot Tribe teamed up and went to war with their Ghostwise Tribe brethren. Around year -100 DR (about 1,600 years before BG3) the druidic Ghostwise halflings were led by a cleric who came to worship the evil god of primal savagery and stalking, Malar. The cleric led her tribe to ruthlessly attack and torment wild creatures as well as other halflings from the Lightfoot and Strongheart Tribes. The Lightfoot and Strongheart tribes teamed together in the Hin Ghostwar to push the Ghostwise halflings back and killed their evil cleric. The surviving Ghostwise tribe members exiled themselves in shame for their actions under the clerics influence. While the Strongheart halflings were happy to continue living in and around Luiren, the Lightfoot halflings were horrified by the bloody events that had taken place at the hands of both the Ghostwise and the Strongheart tribes. They instead decided to set off and explore the continent of Faerun rather than stay with the awful memories of what had occurred.

While I do say that Larian may not really include the above lore info, they did go out of their way to refer to Strongheart Halflings as such, rather than simply saying Stout halflings as they are known in the D&D 5e Player Handbook Rules. So perhaps they will keep it in mind.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

Many civilized races give a bit of pause when a halfling is in their midst, as their tendency to get into often innocent mischief is well known. On the other hand, halflings imagine that they are getting along with pretty much everyone. Since halflings lack their own large settlements and tend to roam about, they often come to settle for short times in the settlements developed by other races doing odds and end jobs. This is especially common in human and gnome settlements, while strongheart halflings tend to also relate well with dwarves. One common theme among all other races is that they tend to view a halfling's typical lack of interest in combat and warfare as the inability to fight. But when backed into a corner a halfling will fight ferociously, claws out, no tactic is too cheap, I didn't hear no bell, and with an indomitable instinct to survive. I personally doubt there will be many if any interactions specific to Lightfoot Halflings meeting Strongheart Halflings in BG3 regarding the Hin Ghostwars, but I could be mistaken. Besides Ghostwise Halflings (which are not character options in BG3 and we have seen no sign of any NPC Ghostwise in the games) halflings mostly all get along now given their friendly attitudes.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

All Halflings have:

The Halfling Subraces additionally obtain:

Halfling Subrace Features
Lightfoot Halfling Strongheart Halfling (Stout Halfling)
Naturally Stealthy granting advantage on Stealth checks Strongheart Resilience giving them resistance to poison damage and advantage on saving throws against poison.

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

As with dwarf and gnome, the halfling's movement speed penalty mostly hurts them when it comes to melee combat builds because this may make it more difficult to close the distance with their target, though this is not as important for ranged builds and can be somewhat offset by melee builds that get a movement speed bonus like Barbarian and Monk. Not having darkvision is a pretty significant detriment to this class which is something you'll have to keep in mind while playing in dark areas. Brave giving them advantage on saving throws against being frightened can be very helpful at high levels when creatures start having powerful effects that apply fear, but until then it is very situational. Their best ability is by far Halfling Luck, as it gives you a chance to succeed on checks you would have otherwise failed. Halfling luck is further moderately buffed in BG3. Larian has implemented a controversial rule change where a natural 1 on an ability check results in an automatic failure, even if your modifiers, proficiency bonus, guidance, etc. would put you over the DC of the check. This can cause you to fail a check which by the D&D 5e books you should have succeeded just because you rolled a 1. A halfling's ability to reroll natural ones reduces the likelihood of this Larian houserule hurting your character. This makes halfling a more tempting race for skill monkey character like rogue, bard, ranger, or knowledge domain cleric.

A strongheart halfling's resilience will help them resist the very common poison damage and associated effects in combat. If you aren't doing a stealthy playthrough then they are a very good race to pick. But if you are doing a stealthy playthrough then Lightfoot Halfling is one of the best races in the game. Especially once somebody on your team has access to Pass Without Trace and Greater Invisibility spells. A Lightfoot Halfling under the effect of these spells is practically undetectable.

Humans[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

Like with Elves and Dwarves, the Human history also tends to meet typical fantasy expectation. For thousands of years the dwarves ruled the depths while the elves roamed far and wide and were the greatest power on the surface. But as a result of human ingenuity, dedication, perseverence, and a fast rate of reproduction they established large settlements at critical locations for trade allowing them to prosper commercially over time. The human kingdoms would fight among one another which certainly did not help their rise to dominance. But these skirmishes were nothing compared to the devastation the elves suffered in the First Sundering (as discussed in the Elven Lore section) and the Crown Wars and persistent conflicts with the Drow, and the devastation that the Dwarves experienced when the Drow moved underground as described in the Dwarven Lore section. As a result the Humans have grown to dominate much of Faerûn, including the Sword Coast region where Baldur's Gate is located.

However there are two human empires whose downfall look like they will play at least a minor part in BG3. First is Netheril. This kingdom was mankind's greatest at the time of its destruction in -339 DR (about 1,800 years before BG3) and consisted of common folk who lived on the planet's surface while the elite ruling class lived in flying cities. The mage Karsus of Netheril rightly feared the threat posed by worm like monsters called Phaerimm and sought a way to destroy this threat to the Netherese Empire. Unfortunately his plan to do so was to cast a 12th level spell to steal the power of the god of magic at the time, Mystryl. He did succeed at drawing Mystryl's power which ultimately killed her, but worse still Karsus himself was unable to contain the magic he had absorbed. He released Mystryl's power, the Weave which controls magic broke down, and the Netherese cities magically held aloft began to falter as they fell from the sky. The goddess of magic was quickly reborn, this time as Mystra and she was able to save some but not all of the falling cities. As a result of this Mystra made it so that no mortals could cast spells above 9th level, and the Netherese empire crumbled away with the death of so many high ranking citizens all due to this event now known as Karsus's Folly. For the sake of BG3 it is important to note that Netherese magic was powerful, and may not have been implemented with adequate safeguards.

The second notable human Kingdom to look into is Thay. In short starting around 100 years ago this nation far to the East of Baldur's Gate came under the control of a necromancer wizard named Szass Tam after a civil war, and the nation is now known for committing evil acts on the regular such as consulting with devils and evil gods. They implement slavery, but they also often use undead to conduct menial day to day routines or to make up the bulk of the nation's army. More recently Szass Tam and his Red Wizards of Thay have attempted to take over foreign kingdoms across Faerun using discrete tactics with years of planning, usually wrecking absolute chaos when their plans come to fruition. There are some notable references to Thay in BG3 but it is difficult to tell how related they will be to the main plot if at all. The Red Wizards of Thay and Szass Tam are covered more in the D&D Honor Among Thieves movie.

This 9 minute video by WolfheartFPS covers Szass Tam's rise to power. This 8 minute video by Spell&Shield contains Act 1 spoilers on where Thay is mentioned in BG3 Early Access and also provides more lore on Thay's upheaval.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

Humans are widely considered the most vanilla race. They are the most populous and common race in the Sword Coast where BG3 takes place. They do not have any major disputes with other races. While different human kingdoms will have skirmishes, it is almost never a kill-on-sight type of reaction to a rival human unless they are something like a Red Wizard of Thay (which our characters in BG3 are not). Humans are known for their perseverance and knack for learning and applying new skills, but otherwise they are rather plain.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

Normally in D&D 5e there is an optional rule which allows a player to use a set of features for humans referred to as "variant human." This is seen as the most powerful race mechanically due to the variant human's feature which grants them a feat at level 1. However variant human will not be in BG3 (without mods) and therefore I'll go no further here.

Humans in BG3 are one of the races that are hampered by Larian's Flexible Ability Scores changes. They now obtain:

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

The lack of darkvision is a downside for humans. Like with half-elf the starting weapon and armor proficiencies make human a somewhat tempting target for something like a squishy Warlock or Bard since they can throw a shield on and slightly boost their AC. And this is especially the case for Sorcerer and Wizard Characters who by default do not even get light armor proficiency. I still think a one level dip into a class that grants medium armor and shield proficiency like Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, or Druid would be better for such characters, but playing a half-elf is a way to get some defensive boosts without multiclassing.

But other than the above, they do not appear to be very appealing for much of any builds. Just the fact that Half-Elf offers darkvision as well as the weapon and armor proficiencies makes them a slightly better option than human in most cases.

Githyanki[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

The Githyanki have in my opinion the most interesting lore of all races in BG3 and furthermore in all Dungeons and Dragons settings altogether, and BG3 Early Access touches on it in many ways. I think it is exceedingly likely that Githyanki lore will play a major role in Baldur's Gate 3. This lore is one of the main reasons I will be bringing Lae'zel as a companion on my first run, besides my appreciation for blunt and confident people. This 10 minute video by WolfheartFPS covers the Githyanki race.

The planet that Githyanki originate from and even the original name of their race is lost to time. They were slaves to the vast Illithids (Mind Flayers) empire that spanned across planets for such a long time that this information is forgotten. During these countless millennia they were experimented on and selectively bred to further meet the needs of the Mind Flayers as a slave race. But over this time these creatures built up a resistance to the Mind Flayer psionic effects and were able to overcome their masters. Led by the great warrior Gith, these creatures came to topple the Mind Flayer from the inside. They came to name their entire race after Gith (the warrior), so they took on her name Gith (race) for their entire race.

After the Gith race earned their freedom and had established themselves as a force to be reckoned with two main Gith factions emerged. Those led by Gith the Warrior wanted to continue to hunt down the Mind Flayers to the ends of all realms and exterminate them at all costs. They would hunt down Mind Flayers on foreign planets and kill them, and if some of the planets' meaningless locals were harmed in the effort then it was all part of the greater mission of exterminating mind flayers. A rival faction led by Zerthimon instead sought to find a quiet place for the Gith race to settle and prosper peacefully, and would undermine some of the more locally destructive methods the Gith (the warrior) led fighters were implementing to hunt down Mind Flayers. These ideological differences became irreconcilable and a civil war among the Gith race broke out. In the end Zerthimon would die and his faction would retreat into the chaotic plane of Limbo, while the Gith (the warrior) led faction continued to live in the Astral Plane popping up to hunt down Mind Flayers wherever rumors of them emerged. The generations of isolation and magical effects of Limbo vs. the Astral Plane led to physiological differences between these two Gith factions. Those on the side of Gith the Warrior became known as the Githyanki, while the more peaceful faction became known as the Githzerai. The Githyanki and Githzerai remain at war to this day thousands and thousands of years later.

There have been no mentions of Githzerai in BG3, so the remaining story will focus on Githyanki. Not long after the end of the Gith (race) civil war, Gith (the warrior) was recommended to go search for new allies to bolster up their reduced numbers by her advisor Vlaakith I. Gith (the warrior) went to the Nine Hells and spoke with Tiamat, goddess of evil dragons. Nobody knows what occurred. Gith (the warrior) never returned, and this is one of the things I hope BG3 reveals. All we know is that a group of young red dragons were sent to the Githyanki, and Githyanki have used red dragons as mounts ever since. When the dragon reaches maturity they return to Tiamat and keep their spoils of war as a new young dragon is sent to the Githyanki to take its place. The dragons also announced that Vlaakith I and her descendants would rule the Githyanki race which has been the case ever since, with all of Vlaakith's descendants also taking the name Vlaakith. We are now at Vlaakith CLVII (with CLVII meaning she is the 157th of Vlaakith's name), also known as the Lich Queen because she achieved lichdom and has now ruled for over a thousand years. While most Githyanki remain loyal to their queen beyond all else, some Githyanki whisper that Vlaakith has become delusional with power. She has begun seeking to obtain godhood and slaying any Githyanki who rise in power long enough to challenge her. This 7 minute video by Spell&Shield goes into greater detail on Vlaakith CLVII.

Lae'zel bandies about with many Githyanki specific words which are defined as follows. Time does not pass in the Astral Plane which Githyanki call home, so they must be hatched from the eggs they are born in and trained to maturity on another planet. These hatcheries and training grounds are known as crèches. Githyanki usually go on raiding parties in groups of ten which is led by a Githyanki called a sarth. Every ten sarths are supervised by a kith'rak. And every ten kith'raks are supervised by a supreme commander.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

The Githyanki are feared across not only the planet Toril, but across multiple other planets. They have a reputation for being raiding pirates who plunder and take supplies and goods wherever they arrive to sustain their army's goal of slaying mind flayers in an area. They may kill the peaceful locals of a village just to put a roof over their head to form a base of operations in a hunt for Mind Flayers. So if a civilized race sees a Githyanki, that is about as bad as seeing a Drow or a Mind Flayer themselves. The fact that Githyanki are from other planes and never established major settlements on the planet Toril means that they don't have too much history with other races in BG3. But Mind Flayers do tend to hide underground so Underdark races like Drow, Deep Gnomes, and Duergar would be the most likely to have past experience with Githyanki.

The slaying of a Mind Flayer is a right of passage for a Githyanki. Doing so is the main way to gain renown and rise through the ranks to one day become a knight like a kith'rak, be able to wield a legendary Githyanki Silver Sword, and/or earn a red dragon mount to then kill more Mind Flayers with. Being infected with a Mind Flayer tadpole is the worst imaginable thing to a Githyanki, as becoming one of the creatures they are sworn to kill would be as dishonorable of a death possible.

Mecanical Traits[edit | edit source]

All Githyanki are granted:

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

The Githyanki Astral Knowledge feature is one of the most powerful racial feature in all BG3, besides Duergar invisibility, Halfling luck, and gnome advantage on saving throws. Picking an ability like Wisdom or Intelligence can mean proficiency in up to 5 skills. It is incredibly powerful, especially on a face character who does all the talking.

The Flexible Ability Scores changes really opens up a lot of builds with Githyanki. Them starting with medium armor proficiency makes them tempting for squishy casters like Wizard, Sorcerer, Lore Bard, and Warlock because you can just leave Dexterity at 14 and get an armor class of 16 from basic medium armor. And a free cast of Misty Step is also great on any and all characters, though maybe it is a little less useful on a Barbarian who wouldn't be able to cast it while in a rage. And Monks are able to use any weapons they are proficient with that lacks the two-handed and heavy weapon properties, meaning longsword proficiency allows a Monk character to wield a Longsword as a versatile weapon dealing 1d10 damage, which is a bit better and at least another option compared to the next best option monks normally get with the quarterstaves or spears which can do d8 damage.

Jump (the spell) is extremely useful in Baldur's Gate 3 based off Larian's design of combat areas and their changes to the regular jump movement ability. It is especially useful with a high Strength character. A high Strength character with the Jump spell cast on them can jump extremely long distances, to the point it is a feasible option for bypassing some obstacles or encounters. Or at the very least it greatly increases the ability of a melee character to get into range with enemies as they will be able to jump so far with this spell. Even if the Githyanki character is not the one to use this spell, it can still be immensely beneficial if cast on an ally with high Strength or limited mobility.

If the melee cantrip spells Green flame blade and Booming Blade were to be added to BG3, Githyanki would become one of the top choices for melee full casters like sorcerers or wizards. Even without these melee cantrips Githyanki brings a lot to the table for any character, but especially for squishy casters who can take advantage of the medium armor proficiency or melee characters who can get added benefit from the mobility that Jump and Misty Step provide. The Githyanki race is widely considered to be one of the most powerful races in BG3.

Gnomes[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

This 15 Minute Video by Spell&Shield covers the Gnome race in greater detail than I do here and is a wonderful resource.

Gnomes have various stories on how they came to exist on Faerun, but the common theme is that their souls were drawn from gems by their patron god Garl Glittergold around 20,000 or more years prior to BG3. It is said that the Rock Gnomes are born from the souls of diamonds, Forest Gnomes are born from the souls of emeralds, while the Deep Gnomes are born from the souls of rubies. It's worth noting that Dwarves have the Underdark based subrace Duergar which are a result of Mind Flayer experimentation, and Elves have their Underdark based cousins the Drow which are the result of Dark Elves being cursed by the Seldarine Gods, but the Deep Gnomes are Underdark dwelling variants of Gnomes yet they were never cursed or transformed into this form. It is how they have always been.

The Rock Gnomes and Forest Gnomes have a largely shared history. While they often don't coexist and settle in the same communities, historical events influenced both similarly. Both are very adept craftspeople and inventors, with rock gnomes being especially skilled with masonry and metalwork, while forest gnomes were more capable woodworkers. Both Rock and Forest Gnomes are excellent at gem crafting. These qualities and skills were sought after by some, and as a result the gnomes were brought into slavery by the humans of Netheril (see the Human Lore section) starting around 5,000 years before BG3. Those that escaped would often go to live with nearby High Elf settlements, where the elves would over the years try to teach the Gnomes some magic. Gnomes proved to be shockingly adept at Illusion Magic much to the surprise of the Gnomes and Elves both. The bulk of surface gnomes spent 1,300 years in slavery to the human Netheril empire before a combination of Gnomes acting as saboteurs and diplomatic intercession by neighboring elves finally led to the empire freeing their slaves. From there the gnomes went on to move into or near dwarven, elven, and human settlements across Faerun.

Rock Gnomes are the most common variant of Gnomes, and they tend to make homes from burrows built into the ground, while the more rare Forest Gnomes tend to build their homes up in the trees. The only large Gnomish settlement was populated by Rock Gnomes and found on Lantan, located quite a ways to the southwest of the Sword Coast, which is the region where Baldur's Gate 3 takes place. Many thought the island was destroyed in the Spellplague, but it turns out most of it was instead sent to the planet Abeir as described in the Dragonborn Lore section. Lantan was returned to Toril During the Second Sundering, and the gnomes of Lantan are said to be both more secretive and have far more advanced technology than before.

The Deep Gnomes (called Svirfneblin in their own tongue) have a separate history. They have largely lived in the Underdark trying to stay unnoticed by their neighbors, both uncivilized and civilized. They tend to not build large settlements underground because this just makes them a large target for slaving raids by their Duergar and Drow neighbors. Blingdenstone is the greatest settlement they ever made, yet it was quickly squashed by the Drow who summoned demons in the city when the gnomes had made a nuisance of themselves. Deep Gnomes are able to survive and thrive in the perilous Underdark so long as they do not draw attention to themselves. Like their surface cousins, Deep Gnomes are also very well known for their abilities with Illusion magic, and in fact to a greater degree since the Deep Gnomes use this magic regularly to ensure survival.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

While both Rock Gnomes and Forest gnomes have a knack for tinkering as well as for wildlife and animals, the Rock Gnomes further embody the inventing aspects while the Forest Gnomes further embody the bond with nature. Both may have specific reactions to mechanical constructs or interacting with wildlife, but Rock Gnomes are more likely to have the former while Forest Gnomes are more likely to have the latter. Other surface races see Gnomes as a mix between Elves and Dwarves in mentality. Gnomes have the ability to be industrious and craft magnificent things (their gem crafting capability earns them particular respect from the Dwarves). But they also know how to kick back and enjoy life. They have the greatest power of all; a work-life balance. The Gnomes are also known for their lighthearted pranks and mischief. While a halfling is often too innocent to understand the mischief they are getting themselves into, Gnomes intentionally cause mischief for a good laugh.

Deep Gnomes exhibit many of the above personality features, but only if you get to know them first. The millennia of hiding to survive from the Drow and Duergar have led them to be paranoid and distrustful of all, and this social reluctance can lead many to think that Deep Gnomes are cold and callous creatures. When a Deep Gnome has the slightest suspicion that danger is on the horizon their survival instinct kicks in and they clam up. But when they are able to relax with those they trust then they behave much like their surface brethren. That said, it will be difficult for a Deep Gnome to ever trust a Duergar or Drow. If there is any other race that Deep Gnomes may have good relations with, it is Mountain Dwarves who are known to trade and cooperate with Deep Gnomes or shelter the Deep Gnomes when their homes are destroyed by the Underdark's inhabitants.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

All Gnomes are granted:

The Gnome Subraces additionally obtain:

Gnome Subrace Features
Deep Gnomes Forest Gnomes Rock Gnomes
Superior Darkvision out to 80 ft Darkvision out to 40 ft Darkvision out to 40 ft
Stone Camouflage granting them advantage on Stealth skill checks The ability to cast Speak with Animals at will Artificer's Lore granting Expertise with History skill checks

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

As with Halfling and Dwarf, the Gnome's movement speed penalty mostly hurts them when it comes to melee combat builds because this may make it more difficult to close the distance with their target, though this is not as important for ranged builds and can be somewhat offset by melee builds that get a movement speed bonus like Barbarian and Monk. The Gnome Cunning ability is seen right up there with Halfling's Lucky as one of the best racial abilities in the game. Lucky has the added benefit of applying to all attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks, while Gnome Cunning only applies to saving throws that specifically use Intelligence, Charisma, and Wisdom. However, if you are making one of those types of saving throws then Gnome Cunning applies every time, whereas halfling's Lucky only applies on the off-chance your roll ends up as a natural 1. Lucky is not as powerful but more universally applied, while Gnome Cunning is far more useful in the specific scenarios it applies. Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma saving throws are typically used to resist mind altering affects that can make you skip turns. In turn-based combat games, action economy is paramount. If you have a 6th level Paladin aura applied to a Gnome (or if the Gnome themself is a Paladin) then it will be very difficult for them to fail such a a debilitating saving throw. Baldur's Gate 3 also often uses Wisdom Saving throws in certain dialogue scenes, so having advantage on these saves is immensely beneficial.

Each of the Gnome subraces bring a lot to the table as well. This is a Larian game, so a Forest Gnome being able to Speak with Animals at will is a wonderful ability to have and will certainly open new paths up to players to explore if you don't already have somebody with such an ability. However potions that allow you to speak with animals are plentiful throughout the game and substantially reduces the impact of this ability. The Rock Gnome's expertise in History is a bit more niche and specifically useful for high Intelligence characters like Wizards where it will get the most mileage in ensuring you succeed on History checks.

And I have seen many suggest that Deep Gnome is the best race overall for stealthy characters as having advantage on stealth checks permanently is not something you will likely not be able to get elsewhere barring magic items. Combine this with Pass Without Trace from a caster in your party with access to the spell and possibly Expertise in stealth from playing either a rogue or a bard to become practically undetectable. This becomes especially deadly even with Greater Invisibility cast on a deep gnome.

Tieflings[edit | edit source]

Lore[edit | edit source]

Tieflings are descended from a human and fiend such as a devil or demon (in Forgotten Realms lore Devils and Demons are very different creatures at war with each other, and these terms are not synonymous). A devilish ancestor is far more common than others, and this could be anything from a powerful lord of the Nine Hells to something more tame such as a Cambion. Either way their fiendish ancestry appears in them in some shape or another. This often is in the form of horns, a tail, eyes without pupils, and/or altered skin color. Whether an offspring is a Tiefling or not has some element of chance, a bit like a recessive gene (but not entirely). Two tieflings may give birth to a normal human. Two humans may give birth to a Tiefling due to dormant fiendish ancestry from past generations. The exact rates and mechanisms of tiefling birth has changed with different Dungeons and Dragons editions. Despite their fiendish heritage Tieflings are not naturally inclined towards evil, though many are too biased by a tiefling's appearance to consider this possibility.

Baldur's Gate 3 allows you to pick from three Tiefling subraces. The first and most common are the Asmodeous Tieflings, meaning that they were descended from some devil with ties to Asmodeous. Asmodeous is the lord of all devils and resides in Nessus the lowest of the Nine Hells. During the Spellplague Asmodeous captured and devoured the weakened god Azuth and the two shared a body as Asmodeous achieved divinity. Azuth was later released and restored back to godhood, but part of this deal also ensured that Asmodeous was able to devour another deceased god and maintain his own divinity status. When Asmodeous initially achieved divinity it caused strange effects to ripple through the planes, turning all Tieflings into Asmodeous Tieflings. This is a major part of why Asmodeous Tieflings are now the most common type on Toril.

The next subrace of Tieflings are Mephistopholes Tieflings, which have some tie to Mephistopheles who is the second greatest devil of all and the right hand of Asmodeous. As is typical for devils, Mephistopheles seeks to overthrow Asmodeous and take the throne of Lord of Devils for himself, but is too afraid of Asmodeous's rage to attempt anything without absolute certainty of success. Asmodeous is well aware of Mephistopholes's intentions. I have not seen much connecting Mephistopheles to the plot of BG3 so far.

The last subrace of tieflings in BG3 are Zariel Tieflings, and there are a lot of references to Zariel in BG3. Zariel was once an angel and served Lathander god of light, where she was tasked to monitor the ever raging Blood War between Devils and Demons. Zariel wanted the angels and celestials to get involved and squash the demon and devil armies, but the celestials refused her requests. Nearly 150 years before the events of BG3 Zariel went rogue and came to the city of Elturel in the Sword Coast region of Faerun, where she hand trained a militia to enter the upper most realm of the Nine Hells named Avernus to take the fight to the Demons and Devils. However her forces were defeated and Zariel was knocked unconscious and captured. Zariel was brought to Asmodeous, who praised her for her battle prowess and presented her with the offer to become the Archdevil of Avernus so she could command the devil forces and take the fight to the demons. Zariel accepted this offer and was transformed from an angel to a Devil. Only a few of her militia survived and returned to Elturel. They became known as Hellriders and went on to train future generations of Elturel's defenders.

There are more recent events with regards to Zariel and tieflings which will spoil events revealed in the Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus tabletop campaign module.

Spoiler warning: The following content may contains spoilers for the Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus tabletop campaign module. Read at your own risk.

It turns out that the surviving Hellriders were not as brave as they claimed. They were overwhelmed by the terrors of Avernus and instead fled shutting the Avernus portal behind them, trapping Zariel and the brave Hellriders with her in hell. The survivors never revealed this secret to anyone, claiming they fought bravely until the fight was clearly lost. But Zariel did not forget, and kept an eye open for a chance to get revenge. About 50 years before the events of BG3 that opportunity came. The city of Elturel came under the control of vampires, and a man named Thavius Kreeg made a deal with Zariel to save the city and meanwhile look like the hero. A brilliant magical sun was placed over the city Elturel and destroyed the vampires within. This saving light remained over the city and came to be known as the Companion, and Thavius claimed he prayed to the gods who sent the Companion to save them in the city's time of need. In fact he had made a deal to control the city and then use that authority to sell the city to Zariel in 50 years. When that time came the companion turned black and pulled the city Elturel off of the face of Faerun, where it appeared in Avernus as it slowly lowered to the river Styx which would make all of Elturel's citizens easily convertible into devils in Zariel's army. The events of Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus revolve around figuring out what happened to Elturel and saving the city. The canon ending is that Elturel is saved but Zariel remains the archdevil of Avernus. When Elturel returned to Toril the city's inhabitants took a xenophobic stance towards tieflings, senselessly fearing their ties to devils. As a result most tieflings from the city have left the city in search of a new home. Ulder Ravenguard the Grand Duke of the city Baldur's Gate was present in Elturel when these events unfolded and he played a role in saving the city. The city of Baldur's Gate will also be impacted by Tiefling refugees who are leaving nearby Elturel.

World Interactions[edit | edit source]

Tieflings don't have distinct relations with other races, as they are the offspring of humans and will usually be found in Human settlements and share their history. Their often devilish descent does sometimes give them a knack for being charming or even deceptive, and they often make excellent diplomats. But the reaction they are most met with by the more uneducated is fear and uncertainty given their fiendish physical features. Tieflings at the precise time and location of BG3 are likely to be met with an unjust xenophobic reaction by many as a result of events discussed in the Descent into Avernus spoiler section above. Zariel Tielfings in particular may have the most world interactions of all Tieflings based off available info.

Mechanical Traits[edit | edit source]

All Tieflings are granted:

The Tiefling Subraces additionally obtain:

Tiefling Subrace Features
Asmodeous Tiefling Mephistopheles Tiefling Zariel Tiefling
The ability to cast the following spells using Charisma as the spellcasting ability modifier when applicable: The ability to cast the following spells using Charisma as the spellcasting ability modifier when applicable:
  • Mage Hand** (available at level 1)
  • Burning Hands** (one free cast per long rest, available at level 3)
  • Flame Blade** (one free cast per long rest, available at level 5)
The ability to cast the following spells using Charisma as the spellcasting ability modifier when applicable:
** For Asmodeous Tiefling's Hellish Rebuke and Produce Flame see the Racial Spellcasting section. And note that Produce Flame is bugged as of Launch Patch 1 and uses Wisdom for the attack roll instead of Charisma.
*** For Mephistopheles Tiefling's Mage Hand, Burning Hands, and Flame Blade see the Racial Spellcasting section.
**** For Zariel Tiefling's Searing Smite and Branding Smite see the Racial Spellcasting section.

Build Synergy[edit | edit source]

Darkvision is always great to have, and fire damage is very common (only behind poison in frequency, depending on the monsters the DM has you up against) so this is one of the best damage resistance options to have. Tieflings have two pretty good features that can benefit any character. I struggle to recommend them above some other standout races like Drow or Elf or Gnome based on these features alone, but this is still a good starting point. If the subrace spells can offer something further for your build then they could be an optimal choice.

  • In my opinion Mephistopheles Tiefling is the most difficult one to say has clear synergy with specific builds. Mage hand is a nice utility spell and good to have as a cantrip. Burning Hands conversely does pretty good damage at low levels, but scales very poorly by the time you are character level 4. Flame Blade is a great spell for some builds, but the fact you can only cast it once per long rest and it requires concentration can make it tough to recommend building a character around this spell when you get it from a racial feature. Because if you do not have another source of this spell, you build your whole character around using this spell, but then lose concentration then your build has just shut down until you long rest again. If you are able to cast Flame Blade using spell slots then it could be worthwhile. Unfortunately only Druids get access to this spell and they use Wisdom for their spellcasting ability modifier while this racial form of Flame Blade uses Charisma, meaning you will have a tough time getting the spell to work well in both casting scenarios. The only situation I see this spell being useful enough to consider building a character around is on a Pact of the Blade Warlock who can use it using Charisma, and if they lose concentration on Flame Blade then they can revert back to using their typical weapon attacks.
  • Zariel Tiefling is a great option for Charisma based spell sword characters, whether that be a Pact of the Blade Warlock, Paladin, Swords Bard, Valour Bard, or even a Fighter or Rogue who had some ability score points to spare and put them in Charisma. The two smite spells let you do a bit more damage in combat and are not something to scoff at. Thaumaturgy is also a great spell for party face characters to have, which this high Charisma character can likely fill the shoes of.
  • Asmodeous Tiefling is nice for anyone, but definitely favors Charisma casters like Bards and Warlocks. Other races can certainly make use of the Darkness spells both in and out of combat, whether that be to blind the enemies you are fighting or to sneak through difficult locations. But a Warlock with the Devil's Sight Eldritch Invocation will get the most use from it. Produce Flame could be a nice damage cantrip for a bard, if only it was not bugged and currently scaling off of Wisdom as of Launch Patch 1. And Hellish Rebuke does scale off Charisma, but its damage is not so substantial that you should be worried about this spell being a waste in the event your character does not have a high Charisma. This race is actually what my first character was. Save the best for last.