Romancing the Gays

There’s a serious sapphic theme in Baldur’s Gate 3’s favored romance options

Before winning Game of the Year at the recent Game Awards, Baldur’s Gate 3 had already been crowned in the hearts of queer gamers. Released just a few short months ago, the massive DnD-inspired roleplaying game has already been completed by a staggering 1.3 million players. With such a substantial player base, developer Larian Studios has released an update on player statistics, including the most popular characters to romance.

Half-elf Shadowheart, or “God’s favorite princess,” was ranked as the most popular character to romance. Infernal tiefling warrior Karlach took second, followed by githyanki Lae’zel. While the results reflect no shortage of straight male players, queer players are celebrating the femme ménage.

Baldur’s Gate 3 not only provides a host of queer romance options but many queer options in the character creator menu (where players average 15% of their playtime). Players can choose to be male, female or nonbinary/other, can customize their genitals, and unlike recent big-budget titles, can choose voice styles that are not tied to pronoun selection. In addition to allowing players to create their own queer characters, there are also characters who are canonically queer, like pansexual vampire Astarion—who is now officially players’ second favorite Origin character.

Last month, Astarion voice actor Neil Newbon spoke about the impact of the game in an interview with The Gamer. “The big thing for me identifying with Astarion is that he’s pansexual… he’s attracted to anybody he’s attracted to, and he loves anybody who he will love,” Newbon said.

“I think that’s a beautiful message, especially these days when we’ve seen great strides in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s important to keep pushing the message forward that you should love who you want to love, and that shouldn’t be an issue, and nobody should judge you for it.”

Baldur’s Gate 3 is so joyously queer that it has also triggered trolls. Recently, a Nexus Mod user uploaded a “No Alphabets” mod pack, erasing the many references to LGBTQ+ people in the game. Nexus Mods swiftly removed it and banned the account, citing community guidelines.

On the other side, the thriving LGBTQ+ community supporting the game have taken the queer-friendly aspects even further. Nexus Mods users Aetherpoint and ElisdrielNightlock introduced a mod that remakes principle characters as transgender.

“The mods were created to serve as a source for representation,” they wrote. “For us transgender people to be able to download a mod that makes a character visibly transgender, without needing to rely on fetishistic mods created by people that sexualize transgender folks.”

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