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The Box That Broke Baldur's Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3, like Dungeons & Dragons, is a game meant to evoke player freedom. But somewhere early in its making, a small decision was made that collided with that basic principle, and sent its development into a cascading spiral of problems.

At the heart of an unforgettable Dungeons & Dragons campaign is a great dungeon master. It's their responsibility to guide the player on an adventure and make sure the world reacts to their actions in a way that feels natural and unplanned.

For developer Larian Studios, to capture that D&D essence in Baldur's Gate 3, it has to evoke that same sense of freedom and role playing. It's collaborative storytelling between the player and the story. Every choice, action, reaction, and consequence has to feel like it really matters, no matter how big or small.

But somewhere early in the making of Baldur's Gate 3, the game's dungeon master, Swen Vincke, made a small decision that sent its development into a cascading spiral of problems that has been a big challenge to solve. And all it involved was getting the player to acquire one very specific item: the Mysterious Artefact and it belongs to a character named Shadowheart. In an effort to get the player to receive this item as elegantly and naturally as possible, as though it was their own decision, has resulted in creating 100s of possibilities that plagued the game's development.

This is the story of how the Mysterious Artefact broke Baldur's Gate 3.