In my second bard run, I've turned Baldur's Gate 3 into a full-blown musical

Baldur's Gate 3
(Image credit: Larian Studios)

The heart of the goblin camp in Baldur's Gate 3 is a hive of activity. Armored goblins roast suspicious-looking meat on a crudely-built campfire, while others make merry by necking back tankards of booze. Despite their celebratory mood, most are decked out with jagged swords or spiky bows; serving as a constant reminder that this is a perilous place for me to be. I'm all too aware that one wrong move will turn the revelry into violence. So, what do I do in the face of danger? Well, I take out my trusty violin, of course! 

You see, I'm playing as a bard for the second time after falling in love with the class in my very first run of the game. But since I didn't really know what I was doing when I initially stepped into Larian's RPG, I wasn't clued in on everything you can actually do. So, now that I've got some bard training under my belt, I'm determined to make the most of my artistic talents both in and out of combat. In fact, I've taken to looking out for absolutely any opportunity to play a tune. Essentially, I'm trying to transform the Sword Coast into a stage for a musical of my very own making. 

Busking ballads  

And what better time to put on a musical number than an important area in the first Act that's full of risk, intrigue, subterfuge, and action? So, once I center myself in the middle of the camp, I begin to play the song "Old Time Battles". Before long, my musically-inclined Tiefling is surrounded by an audience in a pleasing circle as I pass a performance check. Better still, I notice that on either side of me, two goblin NPCs have actually started acting as my accompaniment; the slightly drunk Warrior Sul brings some percussion to the mix by tapping away on a drum, while Tracker Tak harmonizes with my violin on a flute.

I've always loved how people spontaneously burst out into song, or play a perfect tune without any sort of perceived prompt or practice in the world of the movie musicals, and this moment just smacks of it. To have not one but two goblins know the song I'm playing and have instruments to hand to join in? Well, I couldn't have hoped for anything more to help me bring my musical playthrough to life. 

At this point, I've practically beguiled the whole encampment, which leaves my other party members to get up to some hijinks of their own. As I've come to properly discover this time around, part of the beauty of being a bard is putting on one hell of a show to distract large crowds. It's the oldest trick in the swindler's hand-book (or so I would imagine). No one's going to notice that Astarion's pinching some potions, after all, if I'm playing the perfect ditty to draw their attention away. I've taken to using this tactic several times over in the first act of the game so far, but performing to crowds also serves another purpose that fits in perfectly with the musical theme. 

One of the achievements in Baldur's Gate 3 is earning 100 gold coins through playing music. So, anytime I encounter a group of NPCs, I now see the opportunity to earn money. From busking at the Emerald Grove, to laying down some notes in the Underdark, and putting my bow strings to use at the Last Light Inn in act 2, I can hardly wait to make my way to the city towards the tail end of the adventure. I'm honestly kicking myself that I didn't play more often when I was actually in Baldur's Gate for the first time. The amount of coins that could have been tossed my way doesn't bear thinking about. I feel like everything I'm doing now is making up for the poor excuse for a bard I was before; even if I was trying to learn the ropes of just about everything in the game. 

Musical mischief  

Baldur's Gate 3

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

Of course, my violin also factors into combat. As any good battling bard knows, inspiration is the name of the game, with some very useful buffs that you can give your fellow party members with your instrument of choice. I also love how performance is baked into just about everything you do, with my Tiefling Tav playing the violin anytime I use a spell. Naturally it also factors into dialogue, with my silver tongue getting me out of plenty of boss fights in my initial playthrough with the class. But in the spirit of bringing to life a musical, I also make sure to end every turn my bard takes in battle by playing any one of the songs in my repertoire. It just gives my fighting style that final little flourish that lets me frame every conflict with music. 

Baldur's Gate 3

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

I've even started performing songs to add some humor or suspense to a particular moment. Take the quest you can stumble upon to save the gnome Barcus Wroot from a group of goblins early on, for example. The poor fellow, who is tied to a spinning windmill, is naturally desperate to be freed. But what kind of bard would I be if I didn't play a melodious number on my violin to celebrate my own silver tongue? After all, I'd just managed to convince the goblins to take off without unsheathing any weapons. "What are you waiting for?", he bellows as the delicate notes float above me. "Come on, untie me!". I did let him down eventually, but I just had to take the opportunity to have a true captive audience. 

Being a bard is such a good time. Choosing witty responses thanks to my poetic nature never gets old, and I'm enjoying playing tunes to accompany just about every instance in the game to make it as close to a musical as possible. I feel like I've been going on tour in the Sword Coast, and I wouldn't have it any other way. And judging by my performances so far, I'm sure I'll earn that achievement in no time. 

Interviewing animals in Baldur's Gate 3 is my new favorite RPG pastime.

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.