…in more ways than one. Spoilers ahead for Baldur’s Gate 3, although I assume everyone has blown well past me at this point.
Not willing to really give up on Baldur’s Gate 3 despite having rage-uninstalled it, I fired it up courtesy of GeForce Now with a plan.
My Original Playthrough
Previously I had sided with the tieflings in the Emerald Grove, killed the usurping druid, and waded through much blood as the refugees decimated the druid population — despite the tieflings claiming that such a thing was impossible. Well, the tieflings had the Grove to themselves now, but some still wanted to try to make Baldur’s Gate despite the threat of the goblin army on the road. Not my circus, not my monkeys. But I still need a cure for this tadpole so I needed to find the real druid leader, Halsin, who is a guest of the goblins so off to Goblintown I went.
There, I smeared warg crap on my face because I didn’t have any other options this time and that go me in to see Priestess Gut. She wanted to brand me, so I let her, which then resulted in a fight. My party had been made to wait outside, so we were split, and chaos ensued in the form of a TPK.
I reloaded and opted to skip talking to Gut, and instead found the drow in charge of the operation. She wanted me to infiltrate the Grove and open the gates when her forces arrived. I thought that maybe I could get the tieflings to prepare defenses and take the goblin army by surprise, but the game doesn’t allow that: the battle is between attackers and defenders: a lot of attackers, and a few defenders. It was another TPK.
That is what set me off until I had an idea.
My New Playthrough
What if I could have it all? I could not instigate insurrection in the Grove, rescue the head druid, and have a full army waiting for the drow and her goblin army?
I loaded a save game from way back when I was still on the beach after the mind flayer ship had crashed, and re-did everything up to the point where I agreed to find Halsin. Off to Goblintown I went, armed with info on where to find him. Once freed, though, Halsin refused to leave, or to allow me to leave. Even attempts to camp pissed him off, so I was stuck. Making matters worse, he wanted me to do what I couldn’t before: kill all three bosses in Goblintown.
I somehow got smart. Now that we were on the rampage, everyone in the camp was “temporarily hostile” and I was KoS. So I stealthed around. Since Halsin’s cage was right off Gut’s court, I set up shop in the balcony and greased the stairs. Then I started lobbing explosives and took out several goblins. Gut climbed a ladder and met a barrage of magic and arrows and went down like an ugly sack of bricks. Next, I stealthed through a few stragglers and met the drow. It was just her and her goblin sidekick and a few late-breaking adds, but I completely ripped through them as well. The last battle against Ragzlin took a little longer only because he and his minions had to make their way out of his sanctum via the far door, a fact which worked in my favor as I was able to pick off his crew from a distance. Halsin was happy, I didn’t have to defend the Grove, and both the druids and tieflings could mend their fences. I was even able to free Volo, for better or for worse.
That Satisfying Feeling
To say that I was overjoyed is an understatement. I took a moment to realize what I had done — yes, it was a video game, and yes, everyone else had probably already gotten through this situation days ago and thought nothing of it, but for me this was An Accomplishment. To sweeten the deal, I found Karlach, Withers, Voloa, and Scratch, and when I was finally able to camp, Wyll showed up out of the blue. I also scored a few really good weapons, although in my post-event investigations, not all of the loot I could have from Goblintown.
I haven’t really enjoyed an in-game situation like this for a long time, which is entirely my fault. I don’t usually play games for the purpose of challenging myself; I usually play because I have an interest in “doing something” like earning money, advancing a plot, or building something. These are satisfying goals, but this was something else. This was a personal achievement because I had tried twice and failed twice, but on the third time and after learning from my mistakes, I won. When I shut down for the night, my shoulders hurt because I had gotten so tense and wasn’t even aware of it at the time. I had to lay down and listen to music for an hour or else I wouldn’t be able to get to sleep. This is one reason why I don’t pursue game play which pushes me to these limits.
I can’t imagine that this was the “worst of the worst” in Baldur’s Gate 3, which is an understanding that gives me pause. I accomplished something, and part of my brain is saying to take the win and go do something else for a while. The rest of my brain is saying that this is the perfect time to keep going: I have a different mindset now that I have experienced the outcome of a different approach. In fact, I have a video which illustrates several different approaches which I can leverage going forward.
Maybe this will help make things “easier”, or if not easier, then different enough that I’m not constantly frustrated several times before I “get it” and figure out a way forward.