Baldur’s Gate 3 developer Larian has acknowledged a few difficulties in adapting its main source material – the fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons ruleset – to its current project. Certain things in a pen-and-paper RPG just can’t work in a videogame, after all – the most obvious of which is the near-infinite scope that a good DM can give inventive players when devising a solution to a challenge.
Compared with that, you might’ve thought that sorting out a leveling system would be relatively straightforward, but it turns out that Larian’s obligation to work specifically from D&D caused more than a few headaches in this department. We asked Larian founder Swen Vincke how fully his studio is adapting D&D’s character progression, and he said:
“That’s actually been one of the things that we’ve been struggling with, because it’s a very slow leveling process in the books,” he says. As D&D players will know, gaining ten or 12 levels on the tabletop is a journey that could last weeks, but for a videogame, it’s “not a lot.”
Nevertheless, Larian is making a D&D game. Therefore: “We wanted to stick to it. So we’re figuring out ways of letting you still feel that you’re progressing in a meaningful manner, but in a videogame manner.”
Still holds up: Baldur’s Gate 2 is one of the best RPGs on PC
The joys of cross-media gaming adaptations run the other way too, apparently. Dungeons and Dragons’ strategic director Mike Mearls has been inspired by working with Larian, such that Baldur’s Gate III seems likely to shape the future of D&D.
If you’d like to read more, here’s an in-depth interview with Larian in which we discuss the start of the project and the pressure of adapting one of the most precious licences in CRPGs.