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Astarion actor says DnD can heal “a fractured world”

Baldur’s Gate 3 star Neil Newbon is known for playing a vampire, but he thinks Dungeons and Dragons can teach us a lot about being human.

Baldur's Gate 3 Astarion, with a photo of the D&D Player's Handbook behind him

Before he voiced Astarion in Baldur’s Gate 3, actor Neil Newbon was also a lifelong Dungeons and Dragons fan. Given his affinity for all things Faerûn, we asked him why D&D has become so gosh-darned popular these days. His answer? Human connection – wise words from a man known for playing a vampire.

“I think this world is very fractured right now, with so many terrible things going on at the moment”, Newbon tells Wargamer. “And there’s something about sitting around and telling a story that’s incredibly ancient and human.”

“There’s definitely a need for people to connect right now”, he adds. Tabletop RPGs like D&D can, according to Newbon, allow players to escape from the real world for a while. “They can have a few hours away from life to take stock, and then they go back with the courage to face the challenges of life.”

Newbon speaks from personal experience here. Before he set his heart on acting in his early teens, he was a young child playing games like Dragon Warriors and D&D with friends. “For me, D&D was an escape and a release”, he tells Wargamer.

Baldur's Gate 3 companions art

“[D&D] was very much a gateway for all the things that were innate in me – adventure and imagination. [Roleplaying] wasn’t about competition; it was about who could make the group laugh hardest, or who could tell the most compelling story.”

“It also helped me build strong, lifelong friendships”, he continues. “I was bullied at school for quite a long time, primarily (I believe) because I was different, a bit of an oddity. But I found my closest group of friends through Dungeons and Dragons.” “I still have my childhood friends who I started playing D&D with, even if they’re scattered all over the world”, Newbon tells Wargamer.

According to Newbon, these connections are at the heart of storytelling – and have an immense amount of power. “All our stories as actors, whether you’re playing an alien, a rock monster, or an elf, are all about humanity”, he explains. “They’re about our hopes and dreams and fears, our sorrows and joys, and how we see ourselves.”

Baldur's Gate 3 Astarion and a Dwarf holding hands

“Stories can entertain, but they can also be political and teach people to cut through all the political bullshit”, Newbon tells Wargamer. “Art is the quickest way to change people’s minds or educate them. That’s why it’s the first thing destroyed by those terrible people that try to undermine democracy and freedom.”

Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of the best CRPGs in modern memory (just check out our 10/10 Baldur’s Gate 3 review, if you don’t believe us). It also makes Dungeons and Dragons accessible to a whole new audience. Newbon tells Wargamer he thinks the game “came at the right time”, and it succeeds for a lot of the same reasons as the tabletop RPG. Once again, it’s all about humanity.

“A lot of people found connection through this game, and they didn’t feel so alone”, he says. “That’s one of the most beautiful experiences of my career – to have been a small part in a game that allowed so many to find strength and solace.”

For more of Newbon’s wisdoms, check out his high praise for the sex stories in Baldur’s Gate 3. We’ll be releasing the full Neil Newbon interview soon, but until then you can follow us on Google News for more TTRPG updates.