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Baldur's Gate 3's "hidden" mind flayer skill tree sounds equally cool and gross

Larian Studios explain how the parasites tie into the RPG goodness

A brain menu screen showing illithid powers and skills in Baldur's Gate 3
Image credit: Larian Studios

Four years ago, Baldur's Gate 3 was announced with a trailer that showed how a human could succumb to the small illithid tadpole stuck inside his noggin, thus becoming a mind flayer. The process begins with excruciating headaches, escalates to fingers twisting by themselves, and culminates with an octopus head spouting out of the body. That gross transformation is what you’re (maybe) trying to avoid at the start of Baldur’s Gate 3, but developer Larian Studios have now explained how the parasites "tie into" its RPG systems. Yep, you can choose to either embrace or resist the tempting corruption, with the former giving you some pretty cool party tricks, while the latter means you won’t be subjected to David Cronenberg-esque body horror. Tough decision, I think.

In a new Steam blog, Larian explain how these decisions will work in-game. Embracing the illithid powers unlocks a hidden skill tree “used to enhance your command over your newfound illithid capabilities.” Those capabilities include 25 mind-flayer-inspired abilities that are split into five categories: psionic (letting you turn foes into ragdolls), manipulation (mind control), health restoration (self-explanatory), and abilities that can either damage or debuff enemies. “You can even become a displacer beast,” the big tentacled felines often seen in the Dungeons & Dragons bestiary.

To progress through the skill tree nodes, you’ll need to find more mind maggots inside random jars or within previously infected skulls. Oh, and your wrinkly brain represents the illithid skill tree, so you’ll need to attach the writhing worms into each node yourself. Maybe not a character build for squeamish folks, then.

Larian notes that some companions can eat the parasites to gain cool powers, but some others will refuse and their perception of you can “undergo a significant shift.” The team warns that “things can also get a bit more… complicated. But we won’t spoil it.”

We’ll find out what those complications are when Baldur’s Gate 3 leaves early access on August 3rd on Steam and GOG. For now, check out the game's exact release times in your region.

Disclosure: Former RPS deputy editor Adam Smith (RPS in peace) now works at Larian and is the lead writer for Baldur's Gate 3. Former contributor Emily Gera also works on it.

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