Baldur’s Gate 3 stars a protagonist with what’s essentially an alien worm stuck inside of them. The mind flayers, a well-known race in the Dungeons & Dragons world, implant you with a parasite, but you escape before they can completely transform you into their own kind. It’s then up to you to find a way to remove the Illithid bug alongside the new friends you make in the Forgotten Realms.
It’s a premise that gives you the impression that the point of the story is to resist the mind flayer’s powers and get rid of it as soon as possible. However, Larian Studios confirms that there’s a whole other path that you could take–one that embraces the mind flayer inside instead of rejecting it. It’s a hidden skill tree outside of the typical Illithian Powers.
On Steam, Larian goes into detail about how the hidden skill tree works. You already have one parasite inside you, but you need to consume even more to strengthen your Illithid Powers. These critters can be found throughout the Forgotten Realms inside of jars, pools of brine, and skulls of other mind flayer-infected folk. Each parasite can unlock a new node in the hidden skill tree.
The 25 “mind-flayer-inspired” abilities in the hidden Illithian Powers skill tree fall into five categories. According to Larian, the categories include “manipulation, health restoration, psionics, and abilities that can inflict immense damage and torment enemies to gradually weaken them over time.” It doesn’t dig into detail about the different powers–just a few hints throughout its recent blog.
“Some abilities can be used to control those around you, pushing them to say things in dialogue they would otherwise not. Others endow you with the power to push and pull enemies like ragdolls during battle.”
The cons to consuming parasites mostly have to do with how your companions react to it. Sure, some of them will have their own parasite wriggling around in their brain, but not all of them will feel comfortable strengthening the Illithid’s power over them or your support of it. Devs warn that your companions’ perception of you can “undergo a significant shift based on how you approach this opportunity.”
The situation apparently gets more “complicated” than that, but that’s something for players to discover after the game’s official launch.
“If your desire for power outweighs your concern for the well-being of anyone else, or if you simply think psionic levitation would be a really neat party trick, then Illithid Powers may be for you,” Larian says.
Baldur’s Gate 3 will officially launch for PC on August 3, 2023, followed by its PlayStation 5 launch on September 6, 2023.