Baldur's Gate 3 Has A Huge, Orpheus-Shaped Plot Hole You Probably Never Realized (2024)

Summary

  • Baldur's Gate 3 features a plot hole in Act 3 involving Prince Orpheus.
  • Orpheus' transformation doesn't make sense due to his existing powers and the established steps of ceremorphosis.
  • Alternative endings for Orpheus could have made more sense and provided a clearer "good" ending for the game.

Baldur's Gate 3 is a wonderfully crafted RPG filled with awesome characters and a Dungeons & Dragons lore-rich story. But that doesn't mean that everything is perfect, as there is one, quite large plot hole in Act 3 that has many scratching their heads. As the epic game comes to a close and the battle with the Absolute looms, Prince Orpheus is the focus of a critical decision with some puzzling consequences.

[Warning: Spoilers for Baldur's Gate 3.]

Prince Orpheus is the only child of Mother Gith, who rose up to free her people from the tyranny of the Illithid Empire, and possesses the same mind block power as his mother. After he learned that Vlaakith had betrayed his mother, Orpheus rose up to fight her but lost and ended up trapped in the Astral Prism. This is where the party find Orpheus during Baldur's Gate 3 in a twist that is part of Lae'zel's personal story about the potential liberation of the githyanki people.

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His Powers Have Worked Thus Far

Baldur's Gate 3 Has A Huge, Orpheus-Shaped Plot Hole You Probably Never Realized (2)

Orpheus is revealed to be inside the Astral Prism at the very beginning of Act 3 and becomes a pivotal plot point surrounding Raphael, his desire for the Crown of Karsus, and the Emperor. The choice just before the final battle eventually becomes whether to side with the Emperor or free Orpheus in order to take on the Netherbrain. However, when it comes time to free Orpheus, a strange thing can occur which makes no sense: once the Emperor leaves and if the player doesn't want to become a full illithid, then Orpheus will quickly transform into one.

Why Did Orpheus Need To Become A Mind Flayer?

Surely There Must Have Been A More Interesting Alternative

Immediately after he is freed from his chains, Orpheus will begrudgingly confirm that the Emperor was correct. The party's previous attempt to subdue and control the Absolute failed because the Elder Brain had been changed by the Crown into a Netherbrain, and only an illithid can take it down. With the Emperor gone, the choice now falls to the party to either give up one of their own to fully transform or for the newly released githyanki princeto become his own worst nightmare.

The choice itself is not necessarily the plot hole, although it does fall into the category of being obvious plot logic designed to throw one final choice at the player. And perhaps an illithid mind is truly needed to out-think the Netherbrain and ensure victory. But it does seem more than a little odd that despite Orpheus clearly being able to hold off the Absolute's influence even when not fully conscious, he suddenly can't defeat it now without transforming.

In the final choice, the player character can choose to become a full illithid, or if Karlach is in the party, she will volunteer as her infernal engine will give out soon.

Orpheus' presence is hinted at as early in BG3 as Act 1 with githyanki slates telling stories of the Prince of the Comet and graffiti seen within Crèche Y'llek on Vlaakith's portrait. Orpheus and his power are shown repeatedly throughout BG3, saving the party from the influence and orders of the Absolute all while kept asleep by the Emperor. His powers to intercept illithid psychic commands are still strong enough to keep the party shielded from the much more powerful Netherbrain during Act 3, so did he really need to become a mind flayer?

If subduing and controlling the Absolute was a battle of wills, then surely Orpheus already had everything he needed to beat it. This is a githyanki so powerful that Vlaakith had to seal him away because she knew he could overthrow her. At this point, all that was needed was to escort whoever was using the netherstones to the Crown itself and buy them enough time to focus. But why Orpheus needed to transform is only the beginning of the plot hole.

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How To Free Orpheus In Baldur's Gate 3

Near the end of Baldur's Gate 3, you have several chances to free Orpheus, prince of the Githyanki, depending on the choices made along your journey.

How Orpheus Transforms Presents A New, Bigger Plot Hole

From Zero To A Full Illithid After One Conversation

Even if an illithid was needed to defeat the Netherbrain by staying two steps ahead, that still doesn't explain the larger Orpheus plot hole: his immediate transformation. The choices of the Emperor, Tav, or Karlach make sense, as one is already a mind flayer while the other two have a tadpole each, or multiple if illithid powers have been used. However, there is no indication that Orpheus had been infected, making his metamorphosis a little confusing.

After muttering that the Netherbrain would be eager to claim him, Orpheus will kneel on the ground and just change. It's a strange and jarring scene that seems to completely disregard all the established rules for ceremorphosis. A single line with him requesting an Astral Tadpole from the party or mentioning a prior infection would have solved this, but instead the party are left to watch as Orpheus apparently wills himself into a mind flayer.

Although the transformation itself is perplexing, as is Orpheus' apparent willingness to do it, especially given githyanki attitudes towards ghaik. He clearly doesn't want to and given other options, such as Tav or Karlach, he will happily accept, but it is strange that there is no persuasion roll to convince him. Instead, Tav can simply say no, and Orpheus accepts that and becomes a mind flayer.

Having Tav or any other party member be turned into a mind flayer against their will would have been terrible, so having Orpheus be the "failsafe illithid" was needed for BG3's plot. But that then circles back to the question of why did Orpheus need to be a mind flayer? The whole plot point ends up feeling like an excuse for the player to have full control over the situation, or otherwise gain access to the full suite of illithid powers at least once before the game ends.

Possible Alternatives For Orpheus' Finale In Baldur's Gate 3

Different Ideas For The Final Battle

Baldur's Gate 3 Has A Huge, Orpheus-Shaped Plot Hole You Probably Never Realized (5)

It would have been far more interesting, as well as make more sense, to have Orpheus act as the true alternative to the Emperor. This way, he could have provided the same role in the final battle but just not as an illithid. If Orpheus isn't transformed, then his Way of the Four Elements monk abilities are on offer to the party as they travel to the Netherbrain, which, given the mental fortitude of monks, would still have made sense for him to dominate the Netherbrain.

Having Orpheus not transform without the need to sacrifice a party member could have offered a clearer "good" Baldur's Gate 3 ending, but also have fit with the characters of the Emperor and Orpheus better. If Orpheus is sided with, then the Emperor leaves to join the Netherbrain, which is a bizarre choice given how much effort he's put into remaining free and maintaining control of his own mind. The Emperor's betrayal feels oddly reminiscent of Dragon Age 2's controversial second final boss, where even if the mages were sided with, First Enchanter Orsino would still give into blood magic.

There it made the final decision between factions feel irrelevant, while in BG3, having a mind flayer needing to be present during the final battle evokes the same feelings. In a game full of meaningful choices, it feels strange to end with a railroaded false choice and Orpheus' odd tadpoleless transformation. With no DLCs for Baldur's Gate 3, the last hope for closing plot holes like this lies with a Definitive Edition, but there has currently been no news on this front.

Baldur's Gate 3 Has A Huge, Orpheus-Shaped Plot Hole You Probably Never Realized (6)
Baldur's Gate 3

Developed and published by Larian Studios, Baldur's Gate 3 is an upcoming role-playing game set to release in August of 2023. Players will create a character to embark on a large-scale journey and can do so solo or cooperatively with a friend. Combat is a turn-based style this time around.

Franchise
Baldur's Gate

Released
August 3, 2023

Developer(s)
Larian Studios

Publisher(s)
Larian Studios
Genre(s)
RPG

ESRB
M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Violence
Platform(s)
PC , macOS , PS5 , Xbox Series X

Split Screen Orientation
Vertical Only

Number of Players
1-4

Local Co-Op Support
1-2 Players
Baldur's Gate 3 Has A Huge, Orpheus-Shaped Plot Hole You Probably Never Realized (2024)
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