I am quite literally banging my head against the floor, because this Baldur's Gate 3 puzzle keeps throwing me down flights of stairs every time I get it wrong. Yet for all the frustration it's caused me, I can already see how conundrums just like this are key to what I hope Baldur's Gate 3 DLC might look like.
This article contains some minor spoilers for Baldur's Gate 3.
In the first act of Baldur's Gate 3, look hard enough and you'll find a hideout inhabited by Zhentarim, a group that lies somewhere between merchant and mercenary. Among them is someone who doesn't quite fit that bill, though – Oskar, a high-falutin artist from Baldur's Gate itself, who's been kidnapped and forced to paint for his captives.
Free Oskar and he'll head back to his patron and lover in the city, the delightful Lady Jannath. Once you arrive in Baldur's Gate, however, you'll find that their marital bliss has been somewhat disrupted. Lady Jannath's house is super haunted, and it's up to you to decide whether you want to help.
Trouble is, whatever it is that's haunting the house has very clearly taken the Poltergeist route, and is throwing furniture around. No matter how well-armored your Barbarian is, getting hit by a flying wardrobe is likely to do some damage, so you'll need to subdue the ghost before you can proceed. It soon becomes pretty clear that the source of the haunting is Oskar himself, and his painting studio on the top floor should hold the answers you're looking for.
Stairway to heaven
Unfortunately, getting there is easier said than done, thanks to a bunch of cursed skulls perched above every landing in the house, that cast Thunderwave on anyone who gets too close. Thanks to the spiraling design of the staircases in Jannath Manor, get caught by one wave and you'll probably hit all of them, pinballing down the stairs until you hit the basement.
For all the ways that I died in Baldur's Gate 3 – pushed into a chasm, crushed by an industrial hammer, cut to ribbons by assassins, burned or blistered by elemental damage – this was easily the most embarrassing. I'm a hero! I'm clad in a whole suit of custom armor that lets me tank up a hit from a towering ogre. I shouldn't be reduced to a whimpering pile of Death Saving Throws by falling down the stairs. And that certainly shouldn't happen multiple times as I attempt to find new ways around my stair-dwelling skeletal foes. I can only imagine what Lady Jannath thinks as she watches her would-be saviors pick themselves up off her basement floor for the umpteenth time.
But as mortifying as my many deaths prove to be, Lady Jannath's house is the perfect example of what Baldur's Gate 3 DLC should look like. Larian has made it clear that it doesn't want to let players go past the current Baldur's Gate 3 level cap. That goes some way towards ruling out massive, combat-filled gauntlets (though I can see a gladiatorial arena in the style of the Pokemon series' Battle Frontier being a fun end-game activity). But what it does leave room for are more of the D&D-style side-quests that Baldur's Gate 3 thrives in, which are a key part of what makes the game such a faithful adaptation of its source material.
In my Baldur's Gate 3 review, I gushed about the huge variety of new experiences that the game continued to push at me, even after I'd played dozens of hours, saying: "It's those moments that make this game feel like a truly authentic D&D experience. They're the invisible hand of the Dungeon Master, where Larian gently pushes you away from the keyboard and reminds you that this is someone else's story too."
Lady Jannath's house is one of those moments. So is the disagreement with a zombie that eventually branches out from her quest. Or the mystery of the priest murdered by one of his parishioners. Or the search for the body parts of a dismembered clown. Or the argument you need to have with a journalist to stop them from defaming you in the local paper. Even the Gauntlet of Shar, a plot-centric moment, fits a similar bill, forcing you to use all of your skills – not just your combat prowess – to succeed. Baldur's Gate itself is filled with these combat-lite 'filler episodes' that make an actual D&D campaign so much fun, and there's so much room for more.
A new region of Baldur's Gate would open up new places to explore, but there's no reason we couldn't go to a new part of Faerun. What about a trip to Gale's tower in Waterdeep? A clean-up operation in a redeemed Elturel, the city that the Tieflings have fled in the game's first act? An homage to another classic D&D CRPG in Neverwinter? Candlekeep even has an official collection of one-shot adventures that could make it the perfect setting for an entirely new Baldur's Gate 3 expansion.
Admittedly, several of those locations would stretch the idea of this being a Baldur's Gate expansion, but the point stands. This world, and D&D in general, is shaped by grand narrative arcs that are beset from all sides by smaller moments, little pieces of puzzle solving and exploration that add depth to their worlds. Baldur's Gate 3 already leans into that at every turn, laying excellent groundwork for the expansions I hope are on their way.
Since you asked, here's everything One D&D can learn from Baldur's Gate 3