Lore for Baldur's Gate 3 covers the basic aspects of the world of D&D that are touched in the game. Keep in mind that whilst BG3 is a sequel to BG 1 and BG2, not all concepts are visited and the world of D&D is incredibly complex.
Is BG3 a sequel of Baldur's Gate 1 and 2?
Yes. The story takes place 100 years after the events in Baldur’s Gate 2 and shortly after the events of Descent into Avernus. We don’t want to spoil anything about the story but it will be connected to the previous games in meaningful ways.
How is the BG3 storyline linked to D&D?
Baldur’s Gate 3 takes place right after the events of Descent into Avernus. The holy city of Elturel disappeared from the Forgotten Realms and descended into Avernus, the first layer of the Nine Hells. In our canon, it was saved by a party of heroes. The game is based on the 5th edition ruleset of D&D and was created closely together with Wizards of the Coast.
Baldur's Gate 3 Lore
Understanding the Opening Cinematic
When you first begin Baldur's Gate 3, you will be treated to an intense cinematic depicting a Mindflayer and its ship, and their assault on the city. You will then see a group of Dragon Riders teleport into this space to attack the ship, which triggers a chase scene across realms. Those new to D&D lore will be confused by the events, so this is an "executive summary" of the key points you must understand:
1) Mindflayers "reproduce" by infecting other races with "tadpoles" - after a certain time the creature will take control of the host and convert it into a Mindflayer. They are also known for their great psionic power that allows them to control and enslave other creatures - whose brains they consume.
2) The "Dragon Riders" that appear are the Githyanki, a tribe within a race that used to be enslaved by the Mindflayers. After successfully emancipating themselves from the Mindflayer mind control, they set up in the "Astral Plane" and created a pact with deity Tiamat that a small group of Red Dragons would be their mounts. The Githyanki despise and wish to annihilate all Mind Flayers.
Lore Concepts of BG3
A Vampire Spawn is a Medium undead, neutral evil monster in DnD 5th edition.
Vampire spawn appeared as they did in life, though their features were hardened and appeared predatory. They lived their lives in darkness and believe they were better than other living or undead creatures. Even though they did not possess all of the standard vampire powers, they still had the affections of all their traditional weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
When it came to a life of adventuring, vampire spawn would seek vengeance on their creators, or penance for their new damnation. If these monsters could overcome their ravenous emotions, they might seek out knowledge, glory, or power. Pride was the true driver of the vampire spawn, since they believed themselves better than others.
Shar, the Mistress of the Night, was the goddess of darkness and the caverns of Faerûn, as well as a neutral evil greater deity. Counterpart to her twin Selûne, she presided over caverns, darkness, dungeons, forgetfulness, loss, night, secrets, and the Underdark. Among her array of twisted powers was the ability to see everything that lay or happened in the dark. Shar's symbol was a black disk with a deep purple border. Shar was also the creator of the Shadow Weave, which was a counterpart and attack upon the Weave, controlled by Mystryl and her successors, before both of the Weaves fell into ruin during the Spellplague.
According to one of the most ancient myths of the creation of the world and the heavens, after the universe and its crystal sphere were created by Lord Ao, there was naught but the primordial essence, the protoplasmic raw stuff of existence. Described as chaos and timeless nothingness, the sphere was filled with no more than dim misty shadows, neither light nor dark, for such things had not yet separated. (All that moved here were the Shadevari, the thirteen lords of shadow, whose origin, whether from elsewhere or from the shadow itself, is unknown.)
In time, Shar coalesced from the primordial essence, alongside her twin sister, Selûne. The goddesses were beautiful, identical but polar opposites, raven-haired and silver-haired, one representing the dark, the other the light in the manner of yin and yang. Yet they were so close they saw themselves as one being, known later as the Two-Faced Goddess or the Sisters-Who-Were-One. They complimented each other and brought order out of the chaos.
Together, they created from the cosmic ether Abeir-Toril and the other heavenly bodies and infused these worlds with life. In the process, they formed the goddess Chauntea (at that time, the embodiment of all matter in Realmspace, later only of the world of Abeir-Toril), whom they worked with to bless the worlds with life. This universe was darkened by the hair and welcoming embrace of Shar and illuminated by the cool radiant face of Selûne. However, there was no fire or heat on any of these bodies. Desiring to nurture life on the worlds that formed her body and limbs, Chauntea asked the Two-Faced Goddess for warmth. Then, for the first time, Shar and Selûne were divided, being of two minds on whether they should let there be more life on the worlds or not.
The two goddesses then fought over the fate of their creations. From the residues of these struggles emerged the original deities of magic, war, disease, murder, death, and others. Seizing an advantage, Selûne reached out of the universe altogether and into a plane of fire and, though it burned her painfully, brought forth a fragment of ever-living flame. She ignited a heavenly body—the Sun—in order to give warmth to Chauntea.
This greatly enraged Shar; she renewed her assault on her injured sister and began to blot out all light and warmth in the universe, or the lights of Selûne, gravely weakening her. To protect the early life, Selûne tore out some of her own divine essence, though it nearly killed her, and hurled it at her sister. Selûne's essence tore through Shar, bonding with some of Shar's essence and pulling it loose. This magical energy combined to form the goddess Mystryl, the original goddess of magic. Although Mystryl was composed of both light and dark magic, she initially sided with Selûne, her first mother, giving her the upper hand. Mystryl balanced the conflict and mediated an uneasy truce. Shar was cast into her darkness for centuries, enabling light and warmth to bathe Abeir-Toril and the other worlds.
The battle left Selûne deeply wounded, and thereafter her power would wax and wane with the ages, though she would gain strength from alliances with her daughters and sons, as well as interloper deities from other planes. Meanwhile, Shar, who'd retained much of her might, once again grew strong, and was aided by the shadevari. Consumed with bitterness and loneliness, she vowed revenge and lurked in the darkness until her time to strike. The war between the sisters would go on forever more, but life struggled and flourished on the worlds, watched over by Chauntea.
Netheril was an ancient, magocratic human empire of Faerûn, whose influence was felt across the Realms for thousands of years. The Netherese people lived in a strict hierarchy for hundreds of years, split into the nobles of High Netheril, living in flying enclaves miles above Toril, and the commoners of Low Netheril settled in demesnes on the coast of the Narrow Sea. During its glory years before Dale Reckoning, the Empire of Magic would spread across a great stretch of Faerûn.
The empire was the pinnacle of human civilization during the first half of the Age of Humanity. Although they had humble roots as mere fishermen and farmers, the Netherese were introduced to the Art by the elves of Eaerlann, and came to harness this arcane power in ways that would shape Toril for generations. Over the next thousand years they discovered the long lost Nether Scrolls, developed the creation and use of mythallars and created the first of their flying cities, Xinlenal. The arrogance of Netheril grew to the point where they attempted to attain the divinity of magic, and wound up destroying the Weave. In the resulting maelstrom, the Faerûnian pantheon was altered and most of the flying cities of Netheril came crashing to the earth.
Avernus was the first layer of the Nine Hells of Baator. The most likely beachhead for any attack by demon-kind, it was the primary battleground of the Blood War: legions of devils marched across its plains in continual readiness to repel the hordes of demon invaders that sailed the River Styx into the layer.
The layer was a charred wasteland of vast ashen plains covered in rubble and the occasional line of foothills and basalt mountains heaped with broken rocks of obsidian and quartz. The ubiquitous presence of rocks and boulders, some of which seemed to resemble tormented faces and shapes of creatures, rendered the terrain extremely treacherous and difficult to cross at any pace quicker than a fast walk.
Mind flayers, also known as illithids (meaning "mind flayers" or "mind rulers" in Undercommon), and sometimes referred to as ghaik by the githyanki, were evil and sadistic aberrations, feared by sentient creatures on many worlds across the multiverse due to their powerful innate psionic abilities. Dwellers of deep Underdark areas, these alien humanoid-looking beings sought to expand their dominion over all other creatures, controlling their minds to use them as hopeless slaves and devouring their brains for sustenance.
Their natural psionic abilities also made mind flayers respected in the eyes of the drow, beholders, duergar, and other dominant races of the Underdark.
The Blood War was an ancient conflict that raged between the fiends of the Lower planes. The two main sides of the war were the demons, inhabitants of the evil plane of chaos of the Abyss, and devils, representing the equally evil but lawful realm of the Nine Hells. Neutral evil yugoloths played both sides against one another. The Blood War had raged on since the Age Before Ages, a dark time when the Prime Material Plane had not fully developed. The conflict was massive, spanning entire planes of reality, and hosting an almost infinite number of fiends.
Devils were a lawful evil race of fiends who hailed from the Nine Hells of Baator. They were vicious creatures who were capable of attacking and killing others for essentially no reason. However, they hated being the target of misery themselves. This led to another trait of devils, their extreme vindictiveness combined with a lack of ability to accept their mistakes. Devils had an instinct to look for others to blame when they suffered setbacks and had the drive to exact vengeance against whomever they held responsible, even when they were demoted to a weaker station. For example, the grandson or granddaughter of a dead being who was indirectly involved in the demotion of devil was an eligible target for the demoted devil, even after it managed to be re-promoted.
Demons were the most widespread type of fiends. They were usually chaotic evil by nature, and were native to the Abyss. Demons had no true rulers, though powerful demon lords and deities were able to gain enough power and influence to gain control over sizable armies of demonic creatures. They were also the sworn enemies of the devils, though their ageless Blood War came to a cool upon Asmodeus' ascendance to godhood.
The githyanki are a race of psionic humanoids formerly dominated by the mind flayers. They escaped their bondage and now reside in fortresses in the Astral Plane.
The origin of the gith race before their enslavement was largely unknown. Not even the original name of the race was remembered, but it was referred to by some as "the forerunners". Some sources claimed that they were originally humans from a world called Pharagos. In all accounts, the forerunners had at some point become slaves of the illithids, a race devoted to mentally dominating sentient humanoids to work as the backbone of their vast empire, and were transformed through selective breeding and genetic experiments for several millennia.
After eventually developing mental resistance to their masters' mind control, the slaves revolted. Led by Gith, the several rebellious factions united, thus causing the fall of the illithid empire.
Not satisfied with regaining their freedom and splintering the illithids' empire, Gith advocated for a campaign of total annihilation of the mind flayers and the subsequent destruction of any race that could potentially enslave them again. However, a faction within the society fostered peace, arguing that the race should focus on rebuilding their society in seclusion instead of persisting in a tyrannical conflict. Led by Zerthimon, the splinter faction started undermining the githyanki's war efforts. After a long civil war, Zerthimon was killed and the githyanki moved to the Astral Plane. The defeated faction, who called themselves githzerai, retreated to Limbo. A third faction chose to relocate to wildspace to hunt down spacefaring mind flayers. They were known as the pirates of Gith.
In the aftermath of the civil war, the once-slave race had been splintered into the githyanki and the githzerai, the latter of whom were hated by the githyanki because their betrayal allowed the surviving illithids to retreat to isolated subterranean strongholds. The two races then began pursuing their separate agendas, but they grew a deep hatred of each other and were at war ever since.
Years after their exile in the Astral Plane, during the continuing war with the illithids, Gith's advisor, Vlaakith I, suggested that she search for allies in the Outer Planes, in particular from Tiamat. Gith agreed to visit the Nine Hells for an audience, but never returned. Instead, the red dragon envoy Ephelomon returned with a pledge from Tiamat that all red dragons would be allies to the githyanki and that a small contingent of red dragons would serve them as steeds. The envoy also decreed that Vlaakith I and her descendants would rule the githyanki in Gith's stead. Vlaakith I also played a crucial role in securing the githyanki's position in the Astral Plane. Ephelomon remained Vlaakith's consort ever since.