As an aging millennial hermit who's never actually played Dungeons & Dragons, I don't know a lot about rizz or Charisma, but I do know my Paladin in Baldur's Gate 3 has a lot of both. I decided early on that they would be more suave than strong, especially since Charisma somehow improves their spellcasting. Maybe the thaumaturgic forces in the air just get extra excited when they speak, I don't know. The point is, my Drow is sitting at 18 Charisma and 16 Strength. We're not going to talk about her Constitution. It's fine; she tanks just fine. I've got other party members to deal damage, I figured, and I'm the one doing all the talking, so I'd best lay on the charm. This has served me well so far and it paid off big time in Act 2, when my Paladin rizzed two beefy side bosses so hard that they exploded, in one of the best moments in my RPG career.
Boss spoilers for Act 2 of Baldur's Gate 3 ahead.
Quaff as I do
I still can't believe this happened twice, and in the span of like 20 minutes, some 54 hours into the game. Shortly after killing Act 2's iconic undead surgeon the old-fashioned way – pummeling him with Divine Smite while Astarion takes potshots from the safety of a balcony – I stumble into what looks like a bar for the undead. Being a Paladin, I'm always excited to see undead because, like a water Pokemon trouncing fire types, I know I have a tremendous advantage against them. But curiously, none of the rapidly rotting patrons attack me, so I peacefully amble into the bar, my hand hovering eagerly over the Divine Smite button. Spoilers: that's every button when you're a Paladin.
A big lad in the back, who reminds of the Abomination card art from Hearthstone, catches my eye with the frankly gravitational pull of his massive gut, so I sidle over for a chat hoping to pick up some local trivia. For example: what the fuck happened to you, my bloated friend? Thisobald Thorm's his name, and serving neon blue grog is his game. Our encounter starts with Big T offering a big drink – well, big for me, but smaller than the barrel that Thizzy uses as a mug – and requesting a story. I get the impression that things might get violent if I disappoint him in some way, and I've been trying to shake the habit of killing everything on sight that so many games have ingrained in me, so my Paladin knocks back the disconcerting drink with gusto and regales Thisobald with a tale of adventure.
Let me explain something to the people who chose an inferior class. At level six, Paladins get a permanent passive skill that turns your Charisma modifier into a universal saving throw bonus for you and nearby allies. So on top of points in Persuasion and naturally high Charisma, my Paladin also has a massive +4 to every saving throw, including the one presented by this tankard full of Mystra-knows-what. Not a D4, but a guaranteed +4. This is the main reason my Paladin survives a glass of what appears to be a glow stick smoothie.
As I down the rave juice, Baldur's Gate 3's narrator helpfully informs me that the seam on Thisobald's massive belly appears close to bursting. My Paladin may have eight Intelligence, but I'm still smart enough to pick up what the game's putting down. The gears start turning. I'm gonna test the limits of Larians's sandbox. I'm gonna drink this guy under the table.
The ensuing drinking game is one for the ages. I don't know what this booze is, but apparently it goes down like kerosene. Even with enormously favored stats, I still have to rely on potions of blessing and my trusty friend Guidance to clear the steep dice rolls of Thisobald's concoction, which are only getting steeper with each reluctant glug. I even have to spend a point of inspiration to redo a failed roll, but I just barely manage to scrape by three sip-and-speaks.
Just as I'm starting to run out of stories and my Paladin's stomach understandably threatens to revolt against this inhumane treatment, Thisobald finally pauses. I don't know if it was my line of questioning – which seems to have brushed up against some off-limits taboo in his warped memory – or the gallons of Nickelodeon slime he's guzzled, but something's done a number on him. His pallid, ghoulish form quivers like a balloon animal filled with bees. He clutches his gut and lets out a pained moan, and as a hot sauce enjoyer whose spice tolerance ain't what it used to be, I do sympathize. The conversation ends and the camera pans back to the open-world perspective as Big T becomes Big TNT and busts open like a burlap sack filled with one too many potatoes.
I did it! Without a single Divine Smite, with nothing but my stats and wits (and potions, and auxiliary perks, and do-overs, and assistance from my goth girlfriend Shadowheart, but shut up and let me have my moment), I out-drank the drunkard in a fabulous stroke of non-violent problem-solving. Heaps of XP and loot all around. I realize plenty of other people have done this in very similar ways and with different characters, but I don't care. This encounter validated my Paladin's build path and hammered home the value of talking things out. In almost any other RPG, Thisobald would've pulled out a big hammer and turned into a typical boss fight. That might well have been fun in its own way, but this drawn-out interaction was immensely satisfying in a rare way.
Show me the money
Brimming with confidence, and whatever that swamp kombucha was, I stagger out of the bar and seek out my next adventure. Before I killed the surgeon, I snuck past another massive undead boss who looked like the great aunt of Smough from Dark Souls. I'm hoping to find Uncle Ornstein soon. I didn't want to fight it because it had like 800 health and I wasn't sure how difficult this area was at the time. But if I can kill Thisobald without even drawing my sword, I think to myself, surely I can tackle this giant zombie, too. Maybe there's another clever workaround to actual combat.
I don't know it yet, but I'm about to rizz yet another undead into smithereens, and if anything this time it's even funnier. And yes, I know what rizz actually means, but it's derived from charisma, so it seems perfectly valid here.
My next victim is Gerringothe Thorm, the gilded toll collector of Act 2. Once again, I'm delighted to see a conversational option for this hulking undead. At least, I assume the being in the armor is undead; they're a Thorm, everyone else in this town is undead, and they're surrounded by talking skulls. I don't need nine Intelligence to put this together. What I do need is all the Charisma in the universe, because once again I find myself scraping by with dice rolls that I'm supposed to be good at.
Instead of a swig and a story, Gerringothe – to the surprise of no one, given the literal moneybags lashed to her belt like hunting trophies – asks me for some gold. Ever the philanthropist, I pull out my enormous pile of several thousand gold and fling her one singular coin like she's a street urchin and I'm Ebenezer Scrooge on a good day. There ya go, buy yourself something nice.
Entreated but not appeased, Gerry asks for another coin. And another. And another. I've got a lot of coins, Gerry; we're gonna be here all day. The very obvious 'you know what, time to die' dialogue option starts to look more appealing with every tossed gold. Thankfully, a new choice presents itself before the hammer of justice hits the Divine Smite button – which, if you've been paying attention, is my entire keyboard.
I ask why she's confined herself to this middle-of-nowhere hut when she's clearly got loads of money, including some of my money. She explains that the gold is not hers, but the toll's. I wonder who said so, just barely clearing a hefty Persuasion check of twenty-honest-to-goodness-one, meaning you can only pass it with bonuses of some kind and a high base roll on the D20. Like a rogue AI confronted with a paradox, Gerry shorts out, muttering about gold a few times before exploding – and I mean well and truly detonating – in a shower of gold dust and coins.
I only added three gold to Gerry's collection and she dropped like 600, with a nearby and easily opened safe yielding a whole lot more. That, my friends, is what we call return on investment. This whole episode has been one of my favorite moments, not just in Baldur's Gate 3, but in any RPG I've ever played. It was funny, offbeat, and it felt unique to my Paladin. I was able to overcome otherwise dangerous scenarios totally unscathed by creatively applying the non-combat skills and stats I've invested into.
You know, I've often felt that it's patently ridiculous how quickly your party members jump your bones – and apparently that was partly due to a bug, which makes sense. I've seen dumpster-tier romance anime at my friend group's bad anime night that have more restraint. But maybe it's justified in my Paladin's case. They're simply that charismatic, I guess. Now, if I can just get my sterling silver tongue to finally clear the 'I can fix her' arc with Shadowheart...
Editor's note: We informed Austin that he also could've rizzed the surgeon, and his response was: "No fucking shot."