Following a brief cutscene and some moderate body horror, Baldur’s Gate throws you right into the character creator and, as with every tabletop version of Dungeons and Dragons, the process of creating a character can be daunting for first-time players.
In this article, I’ll walk you through character creation step by step and explain what things mean, how they work, and generally how to make an informed decision at any given point.
Depending on your choices when creating your character, you may need to make some additional choices at first level. A human fighter will require very few choices, while a high elf sorcerer will require several
Character optimization concerns will largely be left for other articles.
Table of Contents
- Select Your Difficulty
Select Your Difficulty
The game presents three difficulty options which really only affect combat.
- Explorer: Combat will be relatively easy unless you’re really struggling or build your characters very poorly.
- Balanced: The standard rules.
- Tactical: Enemies have more hit points and a +2 bonus to stuff. You’ll want to build decently optimized characters to succeed. If you’re accustomed to reading our work here on RPGBOT, I encourage you to play this difficulty. Be warned: this is like playing with a DM that is actively trying to kill you as often as possible.
Not to be confused with “custom origin” from the TTRPG rules, your Origin determines which character you will play.
With the exception of Custom Origin and The Dark Urge, your origin will determine the rest of your character. Essentially, you’re choosing between a fully customizable character, a partially customizable character, or playing a pre-built character. None of these options are strictly better or worse; it’s mostly personal preference.
Fully customize your own character.
The Dark Urge
A character with a dark past and penchant for violence who has lost their memories. The Dark Urge has exclusive access to the Haunted One background, and will have several unique dialog options throughout the game, maybe of which are excessively violent.
By default, The Dark Urge is a white dragonborn sorcerer, but you can change these options.
The remaining characters are companions, meaning that you will encounter them in the game and you will be able to recruit them. While adventuring, you can only have 4 party members selected, so losing one character from your total party by playing a Companion isn’t a significant penalty.
If you aren’t ready to build your own character (sometimes that’s scary, and I totally understand that), choosing a companion is a quick way to jump into the game.
Your character’s choice of race indicates their ancestry, chosen from among a set of fantasy races which appear in the Forgotten Realms setting.
Each race grants you a set of features. Some of these benefits will appear in the panel on the left side of the screen, while others, such as the Dragonborn’s breath weapon, will appear in the panel on the right side of the screen. Yes, this is confusing.
Your choice of race is unchangeable.
Some races also allow you to choose a “subrace”, which is a subcategory within that race. Like your choice of race, your choice of subrace also grants some benefits. If your race has subraces, you must choose a subrace. You gain benefits from both your race and your subrace.
Your class describes your character’s training, which provides the majority of your character’s capabilities. Your class will give you proficiency in armor, weapons, saving throws, two skills, and your starting equipment.
You will get some features from your class at first level, and you will gain more as you gain levels. Shortly into the game you’ll also gain the ability to multiclass, allowing you to choose levels in other classes when you gain a level. When you gain a level, you can choose to multiclass by clicking a button in the upper right corner of the left panel which lists features you would gain if you took another level in your existing class. It’s very easy to miss this button.
You will (if you fully explore the correct area early in the game) also encounter an NPC not long into the game who will allow you to pay to re-select your class, your ability scores, and any other decisions made when selecting your class and when gaining a level. They are also capable of resurrecting party members for a relatively cheap gold cost which scales with character level.
Every class also has a “subclass”, a specialization within the class which provides additional features. Different classes make this decision at different levels ranging from 1 to 3. For example: sorcerers choose their subclass at level 1, wizard choose their subclass at level 2, and rogues choose their subclass at level 3.
If your choice of class allows you to choose your subclass at level 1, you’ll make that choice now. Otherwise, you’ll choose later in the game once you’ve gained a level or two.
Your choice of background is unchangeable.
Your character’s Abilities are the mathematical basis for your stats. These represent your character’s raw strengths and weaknesses reduce to a numerical value. Your Ability is then converted to an “Ability Modifier”, which is what you actually add to dice rolls.
When selecting your character’s abilities, each ability starts at the minimum value of 8, and you can increase it by spending Ability Points. Each +1 increase to an Ability costs points on a sliding scale, so going from 8 to 9 is less expensive than going from 13 to 14. You can spend points to raise abilities to 15 at most during this step.
In addition, you can assign a flat +2 bonus to one Ability and a +1 bonus to a second Ability.
Increasing an Ability to a new even number will increase your modifier by 1, so it’s common for experienced players to leave most of their ability scores at even values (8, 10, 12, 14, 16) at character creation.
Your class’s most important Ability is marked with a star between the matching icon and the name of the ability. It is strongly recommended that you start with a 16 or 17 in that Ability. I always recommend at least 14 in Constitution, too.
As your character gains levels, you will be able to further improve your Abilities when you get a Feat (typically at level 4, 8, and 12). You can increase abilities to a maximum of 20.
You are free to customize your character’s appearance as you see fit. There doesn’t appear to be a mechanical impact to you doing so.
Check the panel on the right side of the screen to verify that you are happy with all of your selections. Once you’re happy, click the blue “Proceed” button at the bottom middle of the screen.