Months after Baldur’s Gate 3’s launch, I proceed to be haunted by one man. His face reveals up on all of my feeds, he’s been the middle of some fan furors, and he feels just like the pure evolution of a few of my most beloved BioWare companions. I stay fascinated by Astarion, who has greater than earned his place within the corridor of fame of RPG allies, and I’m not alone.
It’s fascinating that Astarion is on the middle of a lot discourse, as a result of he’s not the most popular romance option in the game. He’s not even within the prime three, trailing behind Shadowheart, Lae’zel, and Karlach. However the conversations round him are a selected taste of intense, as followers thirst over him, join together with his heartfelt story arc, and focus on the nuances of his character. Even months after Baldur’s Gate 3 was launched, new updates and mods that relate to Astarion inspire controversy. Followers pore over the dev notes, examine different variations of cutscenes, and sometimes activate one another to fervently debate in protection of their favourite vampire beau.
Astarion has an instantly apparent enchantment: He’s a horny vampire. Popular culture is suffering from variations on this archetype; everybody remembers a number of years the place Twilight’s Edward Cullen was plastered in all places, and he’s predated by equally attractive icons from literary canon. However past his fast enchantment, Astarion proved himself an entertaining companion. He’s hilarious, occasionally passive-aggressive, and deeply petty. As such, it’s no shock that he nonetheless continues to encourage memes and jokes.
I’ve seen a surplus of foolish memes giving Astarion a gun or bedecking him in clown make-up, and primarily based alone expertise, he evokes these tributes at the next charges than the opposite Baldur’s Gate 3 companions. That is largely as a result of efficiency of latest Sport Award winner Neil Newbon, who does an outstanding job portraying every side of Astarion’s character. A lesser efficiency may need tempted gamers to stake the thirsty vampire early on, however Newbon elevates even easy eventualities with a superbly dramatic supply.
This does an infinite quantity of heavy lifting with Astarion’s earlier appearances, however Newbon deftly handles the portrayal at the same time as the sport will get far more severe. The nearer a participant will get to Astarion, the extra they uncover about his tragic previous. Astarion is a vampire spawn, turned by Cazador Szarr. Cazador is a merciless sire, inflicting torture upon Astarion in an effort to inflict obedience. That is a part of why Astarion is far much less freaked out concerning the tadpole in his head than the remainder of the social gathering; the affliction grants him freedom to stroll beneath the solar, free from the oppressive management of his grasp.
Astarion’s relationship with Cazador shapes his character. He’s manipulative, keen to commerce on his bodily charms, and supremely self-interested. In the end, his story is among the cycle of abuse. The participant finds that Cazador was abused by his personal grasp, and when he assumed energy, he inflicted that very same ache on Astarion. Every part culminates in a remaining selection for Astarion: He can Ascend, breaking the bonds of each Cazador and the tadpole and turning into a robust vampire lord himself, or he can flip down the ability, settle for his weaknesses, and dwell as a vampire spawn within the darkness.
It’s a compelling story, and one that may be skilled in some ways. The participant can be Astarion by means of an Origins run, and in the event that they’re enjoying Tav or the Darkish Urge, they will befriend, romance, or betray Astarion. It’s generally accepted that Ascended Astarion is the “worse” ending for him, one which opens him as much as proceed the cycle of abuse. However that’s not a universally believed principle; some gamers, because of the selections they make and bonds they type, assume that they will belief Astarion with that energy. Others are extra skeptical.
That battle is additional sophisticated by the truth that Astarion himself works to control the participant. After I first discovered concerning the Ascendancy ritual on my Tav run, I expressed my considerations to Astarion… who then gave me the largest puppy-dog eyes and mentioned it might thrill him to Ascend. “Don’t you need me to be completely satisfied?”
It’s masterful writing on Larian’s half — it takes extra than simply romancing Astarion to redeem him. As an alternative, it takes real friendship, sincerity, and vulnerability by each events. Regardless of all of the saucy Rule 34 artwork followers have drawn of Astarion, the second the place I felt most related to him was in Act 2, once we simply held fingers and made eye contact. If I had made different selections, issues might have turned out very otherwise. Protagonist Tav can manipulate Astarion in return, and break the vampire’s coronary heart within the course of.
Astarion’s plot is stuffed with nuanced, messy, painful writing, and that’s what’s impressed such a long-lasting, brightly-burning fandom for the character on social media. There are the foolish, surface-level memes about giving Astarion a gun — however there’s additionally a ton of gamers who related together with his internal wrestle and see themselves mirrored in his scars. That depth of characterization is what has impressed such a fervent fandom, and I’m positive I’ll see Astarion arguments on my feed for months, and sure years, to return.