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Damn it Baldur’s Gate 3, let me play as a Goblin

In Dungeons and Dragons, a Goblin can be more than a one-dimensional combat encounter – but you wouldn’t know that from playing Baldur’s Gate 3.

Baldur's Gate 3 playable goblin - BG3 still of a goblin priestess

Baldur’s Gate 3 is an RPG that offers near-limitless possibilities. You can play a character of any alignment, romance characters of any gender or background, and cheese your way through combat in endless ways. But you can’t play as a Goblin. As a D&D player, I see that as a real flaw.

You meet Goblins early on in Baldur’s Gate 3 as they assault the defenses of Halsin’s Druid Grove. They’re presented as a threat to the human Druids and Tiefling refugees, as well as willing allies to your party’s enemy, the Absolute. It’s made pretty clear that siding with a Goblin in any way is the path of evil.

As you’d expect, there’s a lot of anti-Goblin sentiment in BG3. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a game that doesn’t shy away from the built-in bigotry of its source material. Humans discriminate against non-human Baldur’s Gate 3 races, and those humanoids discriminate against other non-humans.

BG3 hero about to kick a Baldur's Gate 3 goblin

You’ll see a lot of species-based hatred thrown around, but DnD Goblins are on the bottom rung here. They’re essentially cannon fodder in Act One, a community of people you can largely kill without remorse – and one certain Baldur’s Gate 3 companions will like you more for abusing.

While others like the Drow and the Duergar get similar treatment from most citizens of the Forgotten Realms, they still get a better deal. You can play as basically every other DnD race that experiences discrimination in Baldur’s Gate 3. Seeing the world through the eyes of a Drow, Half-Orc, or DnD Tiefling adds a new perspective to the stories being told. If you want to play a noble hero, Goblins remain an enemy in the way of your heroism.

Granted, this portrayal of Goblins is largely around because BG3 is going for the feel of a classic D&D game. In recent years, tabletop RPG fans have increasingly questioned the archaic portrayal of races (soon to be re-named species) in Dungeons and Dragons. The idea of some races having biological advantages over others, sticking to certain alignments, or standing in for real-life marginalized races has been criticized, and publisher Wizards of the Coast has made many promises of change.

In some ways, Baldur’s Gate 3 reflects this. Larian chose to divorce ability scores from race in the game’s final version, something the tabletop RPG has been gradually moving towards. But the lore of old is upheld, and it’s made more one-dimensional by the videogame-player’s habitual need to kill, loot, and explore everything in a way tabletop RPG players don’t. Playable races become less stereotypical, but Goblins remain monsters.

Baldur's Gate 3 goblins playable - Wizards of the Coast art of a group of DnD goblins

A lot of this could be solved by offering players the chance to become a Goblin themselves. It’s not like Baldur’s Gate 3 hasn’t already dipped into some of the rarer playable races already. Githyanki like Lae’zel are a long-standing part of D&D history, but they’ve never been a core race in the Player’s Handbook. Similarly, you can only play a Duergar in fifth edition if you’ve picked up some supplementary DnD books.

In Dungeons and Dragons, Goblins are much more than meat for the combat machine. They’ve been a playable race since 1979, and the RPG’s latest edition has made significant efforts to present them in a more rounded way.

Thanks to this, Goblins often become well-loved NPCs or party members. Many D&D players will have their own ‘Boblin the Goblin’ story where, even if the Goblin isn’t a significant character, they’re still treated with affection.

Like every humanoid in Baldur’s Gate 3, Goblins deserve agency – the opportunity to be good as well as evil, loveable as well as loathe-able. Plus, I really want to try a Boblin the Goblin Baldur’s Gate 3 build.

Our Baldur’s Gate 3 review is still in progress, but we’ve got plenty of recommendations to make already. If you need help with Baldur’s Gate 3 romances or choosing the perfect Baldur’s Gate 3 classes, you’re in the right place.