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Baldur’s Gate 3 lore - story, setting, timeline

With such an extensive history, it might be intimidating to jump into BG3 so we're here to help prepare you for the hundreds of hours spent in the RPG.

Baldur's Gate 3 lore: A tiefling stands by trees with their purple eyes looking in the distance

What is the story of Baldur’s Gate 3? Few series have as deep and complicated lore as the Baldur’s Gate games. It’s no wonder, as the original two were developed by the Mass Effect and Dragon Age creators, BioWare. Based on Dungeons and Dragons, the original games were packed full of hundreds of hours of role-playing fun. This means that, if you’re heading into Baldur’s Gate 3 as your entry point to the series or returning after decades, it might be quite intimidating to jump into a game with lore developed over hundreds of hours of gameplay. In this refresher, we’ve got you covered no matter your experience level with the series.

The BG3 lore isn’t the only intimidating aspect of Baldur’s Gate 3. Building your character is of utmost importance and can take forever with so many options pulled from D&D 5th Edition rules, read our Baldur’s Gate 3 classes guide to check out the many different roles you can assume in the game and their subclasses. An equally important choice is to choose your DnD race, and we’ve of course got you covered there, too. Our Baldur’s Gate 3 races overview details all the different benefits of each, from the dark-elf Drow to the demon-like Tiefling.

Baldur's Gate 3 lore: a map of Faerun

Baldur’s Gate games

You’d think with ‘3’ in the title, there would only be three Baldur’s Gate games, but that’s not quite the case. With massive expansions for the first two games, spinoffs, and enhanced editions, there’s a lot more Gates of Baldur than you’d think.

Here are the Baldur’s Gate games so far:

  • Baldur’s Gate (1998)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast (1999 expansion)
  • Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn (2000)
  • Baldur’s Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal (2001 expansion)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (2001 spin-off)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 (2004 spin-off)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition (2012)
  • Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition (2013)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear (2016 expansion)
  • Baldur’s Gate 3 (2023)

What is Baldur’s Gate?

To understand Baldur’s Gate, you have to know a little bit about the fantasy world of Faerûn. Part of the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting – which plays home to more D&D modules and fantasy novels than we can count – Faerûn is a continent on the dangerous and adventure-ridden planet of Toril, and Baldur’s Gate is a large city on that continent. The original game mostly takes place in and to the south of the city, along what’s known as The Sword Coast. Subsequent games and expansions add more areas in and around the city or shift locales to nearby settlements, such as the country of Amn that lies to the south of Baldur’s Gate on the other side of The Cloud Peaks.

These high fantasy locales feature a wide array of biomes, from dense forests and high mountains, to the subterranean Underdark that Dwarves and Dark Elves call home. In short, it’s a massively popular fantasy setting for D&D, novels, and video games.

Baldur’s Gate 3 returns the series to The Sword Coast, though you do not visit the fabled city in the first act of the game. This part of the game takes place just to the east of Baldur’s Gate, so look forward to visiting it during later acts.

Baldur's Gate 3 lore: a misty field houses several bare trees and lush greenery

When does Baldur’s Gate 3 take place?

According to the developers themselves, Baldur’s Gate 3 takes place 100 years after the events of Baldur’s Gate 2 and shortly after the tabletop D&D module called Descent into Avernus from 2019.

The D&D campaign saw the nearby city of Elturel disappear into the first layer of the Nine Hells, called Avernus. Furthermore, the Grand Duke of Baldur’s Gate, Ulder Ravengard, went missing. It’s canon that Elturel and the Grand Duke eventually return at the end of the module, but specifics of what happens next remain to be discovered in Baldur’s Gate 3.

It is very clearly a tumultuous time for the fabled city and the surrounding lands. Baldur’s Gate 3 begins with you abducted aboard a nautiloid, a ship used by the Cthulu-like mind flayers. Mind flayers travel between dimensions and have begun an invasion into Faerûn. They insert a gruesome little tadpole into your eye that infects you and will eventually turn you into another mind flayer. This is where the game begins.

Do you need to have played pervious Baldur’s Gate games?

You do not have to play the other games to understand what is happening in Baldur’s Gate 3. However, Larian Studios has stated that Baldur’s Gate 3 will relate to past games in meaningful ways; there are references to old characters and the events of, at the very least, the first two games and their expansions, and a familiar face or two even make actual appearances. That said, the overarching plot appears to tell a completely new story.

To recap the history leading up to Baldur’s Gate 3 in detail would take several thousand more words, so dense are these games, but with this information in hand you shouldn’t have a problem sinking hours into this Larian Studios adventure. For more information on this renowned RPG series and its D&D 5e subsystems check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 traits guide, which varies dramatically per race, and our Baldur’s Gate 3 skills list, which dictates how you’ll interact with the myriad denizens of Faerûn.