Recent Magic: The Gathering sets have really leaned on lore references to enhance players’ enjoyment of the cards’ flavor. Starting with 2018’s Dominaria, Magic sets over the past four years have given us an astounding amount of flavor-oriented “lenticular design” in their cards, and this June’s Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate is no exception. That is, the cards are functional and fun for new players who may be unfamiliar with the lore of the game world, but reference something deeper or more obscure to give older players who are “in the know” an added bit of fun. 

Today’s article is a summary of the Baldur’s Gate storyline, told in first person alongside these new cards. This narrative aims to explain the lore behind these cards for folks who didn’t play the original Baldur’s Gate, and to refresh the memories of familiar players for whom Baldur’s Gate is now a distant, if pleasant, memory. 

Prologue: The Ward of Gorion

I don’t know precisely how I ended up in the care of Gorion, only that he was a close friend of my mother’s. He brought me to Candlekeep as an infant and raised me here, among the monks and books. My mother was from Silverymoon, I’m told. As for my father? Well… let’s come back to that.

As I said, I was raised in the narrow halls of Candlekeep, and kept myself busy assisting the blacksmiths and listening to tales of valor at Gorion’s feet. When I was about ten years old, Imoen came to Candlekeep, an orphan as well. Old Winthrop looked after her then.

When I reached  twenty years old, Gorion discovered he could not hide me any longer. I remained unaware of the  circumstances of my heritage, but there were those who knew what had been kept from me. Thus, one night, Gorion and I set out of Candlekeep to escape my phantom pursuers, hoping to find refuge and support with some of his old friends.

We didn’t get far. In the middle of the night, we were ambushed by the deathbringer, Sarevok. Gorion told me to flee, but not even he could stand before Sarevok’s might.

I fled through the woods, and in the morning found Imoen waiting for me on the road. She knew far more than I about events, and insisted on accompanying me as I continued toward our rendezvous at the Friendly Arm Inn.

Chapter One: Finding Friends at the Friendly Arm Inn

As we set out north, up the Coast Way, we found ourselves approached by an old man, whom we later realized was the legendary Elminster. Had we known who he was, we may have been alarmed: it is not every day a Chosen of Mystra takes an interest in your life. He directed us north along the road to the Friendly Arm Inn, and wandered off, still playing the part of an addled old man.

Bandits and assassins prowled the roads, but we managed to evade death and make it to the welcoming walls of the famed house of hospitality.

Just as Gorion had said, friends waited in the hall of the inn. They introduced themselves as Khalid and Jaheira, members of the organization known as the Harpers. The pair were in the area to investigate trouble at the mines of Nashkel, to the south, and invited Imoen and I to join them. We agreed, and set out the next day to travel down the Coast Way to the beleaguered mining town.

Chapter Two: The Mines of Nashkel

Nashkel was a city in tension.The Dukes of Baldur’s Gate had been wondering if the rapidly decreasing quality and quantity of Nashkel’s iron exports might be a sign pointing to imminent Amnian aggression. Thus, Flaming Fist soldiers out of Baldur’s Gate mustered just beyond Amn’s borders, suspicious of goings on in the Nashkel mines. Apprehensive about the increasing military presence along the northern road, Nashkel’s mayor was grateful for our arrival and our efforts to get to the bottom of the iron crisis.

Our expedition into the mines revealed it to have been overrun by kobolds under the command of Mulahey, priest of Cyric. Mulahey and the kobolds had been attacking the miners and “poisoning” the iron, rendering it brittle and worthless for use in weapons, armor, and tools. Mulahey’s journals and letters indicated that he was taking orders from a bandit lord named Tazok, who had made camp on the northwestern fringe of the Wood of Sharp Teeth.

Upon returning to town with this news, we headed to the tavern for any further rumors of the goings on, and made the acquaintance of one Volothamp Geddarm, who regaled us with tales of the Sword Coast and its denizens.

While there we also made the acquaintance of the warrior Minsc, and a small pet rodent named Boo, that he called a “miniature giant space hamster.”

Minsc was on a quest when his charge, a young wizard named Dynaheir, was captured by a Gnoll War Band and taken to a fortress to the west. We agreed to help him free her, and became friends and comrades-in-arms as we journeyed together up the coast toward Baldur’s Gate.

Chapter 3: Bandits in the Wood of Sharp Teeth

Making our way up the coast toward the Wood of Sharp Teeth, we encountered a young treasure-hunter named Safana. She claimed to be the daughter of a Calishite noble, and a pirate. How much of her tale was true, we could not guess. We agreed to help Safana go looking for hidden treasure—and found it, in a cave up the coast—but she absconded in the night as we neared the Friendly Arm Inn.

We rested at the Friendly Arm again before pushing on to the Wood of Sharp Teeth. That night, I was tormented by nightmares, but as I awoke, I found myself more resilient, able to heal minor wounds in myself and others merely by thinking of doing so. Though troubled, I did not tell the others of my dreams. We pressed on toward the camps we had read about in Mulahey’s papers.

As we neared the camp, we heard yelling, and saw a Flaming Fist officer attacking a young woman. We intervened, and were surprised to see that the young woman was a drow elf, exiled from her underground home. She thanked us and went on her way, warning us about the bandits to the east.

We managed to infiltrate their camp, and learn that the plot to poison the iron of Nashkel was a widespread conspiracy to sow discord at the behest of an organization known as the Iron Throne. Though Tazok escaped, we were able to uncover letters that pointed toward the operation of another Iron Throne base hidden deep within the Cloakwood.

Chapter 4: The Druids of Cloakwood

The activities of the Throne there had earned the ire of the Shadow Druids, including one by the name of Faldorn. With their help, we were able to flood the ancient dwarven mine that the Throne was using, disrupting their hold on the region’s supply of iron.

Chapter 5: Through Baldur’s Gate

Before he breathed his last, the head of the Iron Throne’s Cloakwood operation, a mage named Davaeorn, gave up the identity of the mastermind behind the organization’s plans: Sarevok. The mission of my Harper companions and the mystery of my past coincided. This could hardly be a coincidence, so we made preparations, and headed north toward the city.

At Wyrm’s Crossing, we were approached by the guards, who had now become aware of the Iron Throne’s machinations.

They were working with the city’s dukes to attempt to circumvent a power grab by the organization.

After dispatching a number of doppelgangers seeking to infiltrate rival merchant guilds, we earned the trust of Duke Eltan, leader of the Flaming Fist, who told us that the Throne leadership had gone to Candlekeep.

Providing us with the necessary offering to gain entrance—a rare book of incredible value and importance—he sent us south to confront Sarevok and the other leaders of the Iron Throne.

Chapter Six: The Scion of Bhaal

Growing up, I had always heard the prophecies of Alaundo chanted by the monks in the inner keep. It was only now, back in these halls, that I realized they pertained to me.

The Lord of Murder shall perish, but in his doom he shall spawn a score of mortal progeny. Chaos will be sewn from their passage. So sayeth the wise Alaundo.

Once back into Candlekeep, I was able to look over my foster father’s journals. The haunting figures of my nightmares were more than just phantasms brought on by the weeks of death that we’d encountered; they were communications. I was one of many mortal offspring that the Lord of Murder had sired in a bid to preserve himself from his fate during the Time of Troubles. This explained my steadily growing mystical power, and why Sarevok had taken an interest in me. He, also, was a child of Bhaal. My half-brother.

While investigating Candlekeep, we encountered the Iron Throne leadership, as well as a disguised Sarevok, but were arrested by the Candlekeep Watchers and thrown into the dungeons. With us out of the way, Sarevok killed the leaders of the Throne, and pinned the blame on me. It was only through the kindness of Tethtoril, a friend of Gorion’s, and other prisoners, that we were able to escape through the catacombs. We tailed Sarevok back to Baldur’s Gate, where he intended to become its appointed general to lead armies in a death march south, reaping souls in an effort to become the new Lord of Murder.

Chapter Seven: Venture into the Undercity.

By the time we reached Baldur’s Gate, word had spread of the demise of the Iron Throne leaders and our alleged part in their slaughter. We couldn’t walk openly in the city, and so instead crept through sewer tunnels and back alleys, looking for a way to thwart Sarevok.

From his own diary, we learned that Sarevok had remained loyal to the Iron Throne leaders until their meeting in Candlekeep threatened his plans, which led Sarevok to eliminate them and take over the outfit, transferring their stores of iron to the Baldur’s Gate in order to be seen as its savior. To prevent their interference and clear the way for his ascension to power, he also assassinated one of the four Grand Dukes and poisoned our ally, Duke Eltan.

At Baldur’s Gate, we were able to gain entry to the Ducal Palace just prior to the coronation of Sarevok as a Grand Duke of Baldur’s Gate. We offered our evidence of Sarevok’s schemes, and pursued him as he fled into the Undercity. Finally, in a temple of Bhaal deep within the maze-like streets of the ancient underground ruins, we confronted my half-brother.

The battle was tremendous, but Sarevok and his allies were outmatched. As my sword finally found a narrow purchase between his helm and breastplate, the essence of the Lord of Murder within him was released, descending even further into the deep reaches of Toril.

The Sword Coast was spared a war between Baldur’s Gate and Amn, but I suspect my adventures are far from over…

Onto the Next Adventure

References to old lore in Magic: The Gathering are nothing new, but over a dozen game-specific references and over two dozen relevant locations and creatures from Forgotten Realms’s Sword Coast make for a robust, lore-filled environment in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. Fans who remember Bioware’s 1998 game or its 2012 re-release in the Enhanced Edition will find lots to trigger their nostalgia, and remind them of one of the most influential and memorable CRPGs of all time. 

Are you a fan of the original Baldur’s Gate? Are you looking forward to Magic’s homage to the classic game? Let me know on Twitter!

Jacob Torbeck is a researcher and instructor of theology and ethics. He hails from Chicago, IL, and loves playing Commander and pre-modern cubes.

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