Siege of Dragonspear is a stopgap RPG campaign designed to bridge the two genre-defining Baldur’s Gates we already have. It proved an excellent excuse to have our annual chat with BioWare co-founder and Neverwinter Nights director Trent Oster, who has led work on the enhanced Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale.
Dragonspear marks the first time Oster’s Beamdog have embarked on something wholly their own - and late in its development, they asked a friend to take a look at it. Chris Avellone gave them a couple of pages of feedback on the story - and here offers his thoughts on the campaign, as one of its very first playtesters.
“When I heard they were gonna do a brand new one, I just got excited about it, like, ‘There’s gonna be a new story in Baldur’s Gate? Alright, I’m there’,” Avellone told YouTuber Matt Barton. “I got a chance to see it before everyone else - that appealed to my selfish nature.”
Avellone spent 25 or 30 hours playing an unfinished version of the Siege campaign through.
“That was the first thing that surprised me - it’s actually bigger than either of the other Baldur’s Gate expansions,” he said. “I think it’s actually bigger than both of those expansions combined.”
After that, he gave Beamdog writers Amber Scott and Andrew Foley - who come from the worlds of D&D and comics respectively - his thoughts on the plot.
“I told them all the parts that I thought were really, really strong,” said Avellone. “And there are a lot of points that I was actually pretty jealous about.
“Both of them did a really good job of matching the tones of the original Baldur’s Gate characters. And they also did a great job of introducing new characters who I also liked a lot.”
Avellone was particularly fond of a goblin shaman companion - whose frequent interjections, delivered in goblin-speak, were oddly wise. And the campaign’s warrior antagonist, the Shining Lady, who reportedly does a better job of being the hero than the player.
“I thought they did a really good job with it, and I told them so,” he said.
What’s more, Avellone was impressed by the ways Dragonspear harked back to the older Infinity Engine games - incorporating the incredibly tough opt-in combat encounters which he considers to be a hallmark of the Icewind Dale series.
“My party got their asses kicked quite a few times,” he said.
The entire interview is well worth a watch, conducted as it is in front of Matt's bookcase - a kind of shrine to '90s role-playing.
Given the precedent set by Beamdog’s Enhanced Editions, I’d go ahead and be very excited indeed for Dragonspear - which is expected later this year.
Right, down to business: Minsc or Edwin?