The Emperor is a mind flayer who appears in Baldur's Gate 3. It[note 1] plays a key role in the main story, but its identity is intentionally obscured until later parts of the game, allowing the player to ultimately decide for themselves if they want to know more about it, and whether or not it is trustworthy.
Spoiler warning: The following content contains unhidden spoilers for Act 3.
Overview[edit | edit source]
Identity[edit | edit source]
The Emperor plays a key role in the main story of Baldur's Gate 3, and as part of this role its identity and personal background are kept obfuscated for much of the game. It very carefully divulges information that it deems necessary, sometimes arguing that the player is not ready for the answer yet, or that it will reveal specific information in the future.
During Acts One and Two, the Emperor only "meets" with the player as the Dream Guardian. At the beginning of Act Three, the player finally meets the Emperor face to face, an event which reveals that it is a mind flayer.
Through all three Acts, the Emperor generally serves as a guide, and unlikely ally to the party, having the means to protect their minds from the influence of the Absolute, through the use of the prisoner within the Astral Prism.
"Don't let my form deceive you. I am the one that's been protecting you. I am the one that came to you in your dreams. Help me.— The Emperor, during Act 3
Personal quest[edit | edit source]
After reaching the Elfsong Tavern in Act Three, the Emperor will initiate the quest Visit the Emperor's Old Hideout, in which the player can better get to know the Emperor. It discloses some of its past, during its time in the city and from before it became illithid.
Recruitment[edit | edit source]
The Emperor can appear in multiple combat encounters as a controllable ally, a neutral ally, or an enemy. It cannot, however, become a full member of the player's party or camp.
Romance[edit | edit source]
The Emperor can have a romance with the player during Act Three. See Romance.
History[edit | edit source]
Details about the Emperor's personal history are intentionally obfuscated during most of the game, but the player has the opportunity to learn more about it through conversations, interactions with other characters, reading books, and completing specific side quests.
Events of Baldur's Gate 3[edit | edit source]
Act Two finale[edit | edit source]
On the way to Baldur's Gate, the party will be ambushed by a group of Gish'ra warriors while resting at Wyrm's Lookout. Entering the portal to the Astral Prism, the party will hear their Dream Guardian calling out for help. However, when the party reaches them, it is only to discover the true identity of their visitor, as the illithid known as the Emperor.
After defending the Emperor, it will explain how it used the power of the Prism and Orpheus to protect the party from the Absolute, and recite to the party its history as an adventurer and finding freedom from the Absolute. The Emperor will offer the party the Astral Touched Tadpole, which causes the user to transform into a partial-illithid. It insists the path of the mind flayer is preferable, regardless of the player's view on them.
Though this may seen contradictory to its previous promise as the Dream Guardian; to ensure the party do not become mind flayers, this promise refers to the player becoming a mind flayer unwillingly because of the Elder Brain. The Emperor is in favour of the player becoming a mind flayer of their own volition and without the influence of the Elder Brain.
Act Three[edit | edit source]
Elfsong Tavern[edit | edit source]
As the party nears the Elfsong, the Emperor will remark that the tavern is the location of its old hideout. The hideout proper is in the basement, past the Knights of the Shield's hideout. In it, the player will find various sentimental knick knacks from the Emperor's previous life, before becoming an illithid.
Around the room is its old dog Rascal's collar, its favourite recipe (fiddlehead soup), its first adventuring sword, and part of a cutlery set from its mother; the butter knife having been lost during its last shipwreck on the Isle of Balduran, inside the wreck of the Wandering Eye ship.
There are also some more illithid-adequate items such as chains for its preferred prey - allegedly criminals and lawbreakers - and jars for brains.
The Wyrmway[edit | edit source]
Once the party completes the Wyrmway trials, they will find the corpse of Ansur the Dragon. Interacting with his body will awaken Ansur's spirit, inhabiting the player. As Ansur's introduction concludes, he will detect the Emperor within the Astral Prism.
Ansur will reveal that the Emperor in fact was formerly Balduran, the founder of Baldur's Gate. Furthermore, he explains that while the Emperor initially did not want to become a mind flayer, it eventually fully embraced its new form, and its comfort with this caused a rift between the Emperor and Ansur.
Endings[edit | edit source]
List of interactions[edit | edit source]
Players have a limited number of opportunities to interact with the Emperor, and as such, opportunities for conversation are much more limited compared to that of companions.
Conversation scenes are available, but only occur during Act 3, after its "true" identity is revealed to the player, and all scenes require a long rest to trigger. The Emperor will occasionally also talk to the player as they walk through different locations in Baldur's Gate.
Conversation scenes[edit | edit source]
Known conversation opportunities with the Emperor currently include the following cases, but each scene appears to have multiple outcomes that affect the tone of all subsequent conversations.
Depending on the player's choices, the Emperor's behaviour has many possible states. The more the player treats the Emperor like a "person", the more it will act as such, compared to other illithids. The more the player treats The Emperor like a monstrosity with hostile intent, the more it will respond to the player with threatening language and visions of it acting like a hostile illithid.
Identity revealed[edit | edit source]
During Help Your Protector at the start of Act 3, a conversation is automatically triggered when the player ventures far enough into the Astral Plane. A combat encounter in some form is inevitable from this conversation, and then another set of conversation options are available after the combat resolves. The Emperor will have nothing further to say when this conversation ends, even if the player tries to interact with it further.
Regarding Duke Stelmane[edit | edit source]
When the player first explores the Rivington area, being in proximity to certain characters or objects will "inform" the player about the recent death of Duke Belynne Stelmane. This will trigger a line of ambient commentary from The Emperor. The next time a Long Rest is triggered, the player may trigger a scene discussing The Emperor's reactions in more depth. Certain dialogue choices made during earlier conversations seem to disqualify the player from this scene. If the player does not long rest before completing the quest Visit the Emperor's Old Hideout, this scene will be skipped entirely.
On conclusion of Visit the Emperor's Old Hideout[edit | edit source]
This scene may be available to trigger (by long resting) after the player completes the quest Visit the Emperor's Old Hideout.
Possible states for this scene appear to vary heavily depending on the player's choices in prior conversation scenes, with the general differentiating factor being the "attitude" the player appears to express towards illithids, and towards the Emperor, through their selected options in these prior scenes.
If the player tried to kill the Emperor in Act One, by choosing the dialogue option "You do a great impression of a human. But you're not fooling me." , the Emperor offers to share memories through a vision. This vision shows Stelmane paralysed in pain, being brainwashed, and turning into the Emperor's puppet. Her face emotionless, and the Emperor puppeteering her gestures to get a sense of company. Such was its true relationship with Duke Stelmane. [note 2]
The Emperor uses this memory to frighten the player. It gives them orders, and threatens to make them half-illithid even if they refuse.
Romance[edit | edit source]
If the player chooses to reject its advances, the Emperor's attitude in conversation will change in a way that appears to be reactively appropriate to the way it was treated. For example, if the option "Absolutely not, you freak!" is chosen at any opportunity, the Emperor's treatment of the player takes a much more hostile tone in all future interactions.
Achievements[edit | edit source]
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The Emperor's existence confirms the Dream Guardian as being an illithid influence, albeit in a different way.
- In Early Access, the Dream Guardian (known then as Dream Visitor) was implied to be a mental manifestation of the player's tadpole, as it eased them towards using their powers more, as well as showing them a future of domination and control.
- In the Full Release, the Emperor plays a similar role, in the sense that it also encourages the player to expand their potential through using the tadpole's power, but it is much more passive. In addition, its interests seem to be aligned against the Absolute.
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
- The Emperor, like other mind flayers, is addressed using the "it" pronoun. It is incidentally referred to as "he" in-game, and "they" in the game's files, possibly due to an oversight, or characters conflating its current and previous identities.
- The Emperor's vision of its control over Belynne Stelmane is corroborated by the 5e module, . In it, Stelmane is described as having a secret, mental battle against a mind flayer. This mind flayer is very likely the Emperor itself, and as a result, puts its entire "alliance" with Stelmane into question. It is very possible the Emperor and Stelmane did not have a proper alliance at all, and rather, the Emperor enthralled her for its needs. Whether this was always the case, or if they had a genuine alliance beforehand, isn't fully clear.
- This romance behaves somewhat differently from that with companions, as the Emperor generally cannot be interacted with outside of cutscenes, and romantic progression is limited to the final act of the game.
References[edit | edit source]