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Once upon a time Baldur's Gate 3 let you recruit JK Simmons to your side, before Larian snipped it along with a visit to the series' origins

 Ketheric Thorm, a boss in Baldur's Gate 3, stares defiantly off the screen while an invisible bear lurks in the background, poised to strike.
Ketheric Thorm, a boss in Baldur's Gate 3, stares defiantly off the screen while an invisible bear lurks in the background, poised to strike.

In Baldur's Gate 3, the real game is the friends you make along the way. I mean, there is the whole brainworms thing, but really you're just there to spend more time with its merry band of charming wackadoos. Apparently, that cast list was once even longer, as Swen Vincke revealed at this year's GDC that Ketheric Thorm—BG3's Act Two big bad—was once going to be a potential party member. Spoilers ahead for BG3's second act onwards.

Chatting to IGN, Vincke said that there was "an entire roster of companions that didn't make the cut" during BG3's long development, and his favourite was Thorm. In earlier builds of the game, you'd have been able to persuade Thorm over to your side after defeating him towards the second act's end.

"There's a moment where you can convince [Thorm] and you can see that moment where he breaks," said Vincke, "that moment led to recruitment normally." From that point, it sounds like Thorm would have hung out at your camp dispensing wisdom about the game's remaining villains in that gravelly JK Simmons voice of his, and might even have opened up the potential for yet another alternative ending: "You could then be convinced by him to go to his side," said Vincke.

All of which sounds great, but it ended up nixed when Larian "rescoped" the project as "part of the fixing of Act Two when we were stuck on it," said Vincke. And so we ended up with the version we got: Your party putting paid to Ketheric in his boney Avatar of Myrkul form (as opposed to his Thorm-form) before heading off to Baldur's Gate alone. No Simmons-voiced party member for you.

Vincke calls that pruned story branch one of many "darlings" Larian sacrificed in BG3's development, but it wasn't the only one. Plenty of additional areas were snipped from the final version of the game, including (this one makes me wince) Candlekeep, where Baldur's Gate 1 kicked off all those years ago.

I'd have loved to nose around Candlekeep and discover its inevitable trove of original BG references, but I suppose Larian had to draw the line somewhere. And who knows—even with the studio leaving Baldur's Gate behind, I suspect there's nevertheless more of the series in our future from one studio or another. I don't envy anyone the task of stepping into Larian's shoes, but if a new studio wants to win me over, letting me experience Winthrop in blistering 4K is a good way to start.