“You kicked the squirrel, you abandoned the dog, you killed the gnome. Something is not right,” Sean Astin told fellow actor and friend Elijah Wood over a pair of controllers. “What happened to you in your life?”
The pair sat with Larian Studios CEO Swen Vincke and play a very particular section of Baldur’s Gate 3 that allows Wood, known for portraying reluctant hero Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, to exercise some of his more sadistic tendencies. The video was published to the studio’s YouTube channel on Christmas Eve, December 24th, so you will be forgiven for missing it. But the hijinks and incredulous remarks from Astin make it worth the watch.
Wood and Astin roll up a pair of characters in the ultra-successful video game, published in coordination with Dungeons & Dragons maker Wizards of the Coast and using the tabletop RPG’s 5th Edition ruleset. Wood, appropriately, chooses a Halfling with a malicious voice in his head, while Astin tries his best to play the angel on his shoulder. Familiar roles for both, paralleling Baggins and Samwise Gamgee’s moral positions in J.R.R. Tolkien’s timeless fantasy novels.
What happens next won’t surprise those players who have followed the callous whispers of The Dark Urge, an alternate path through Larian’s sprawling narrative video game that, well… it’s best to watch it play out and not spoil anything. All I’ll say is that their 8-minute adventure involves a wizard, a dark and evil artefact, some spiders and a fairly cathartic shove from one of the two actors.
The promotional video aired just after Baldur’s Gate 3 effectively cleaned house at 2023’s The Game Awards and at The Golden Joystick awards, where their social media bonanza and massive sales numbers translated into so many trophies that Svenke struggled to carry all at once. While Larian’s previous games, the Divinity series, were hits in their own right, Baldur’s Gate 3 has carried the Belgian developer to new heights - and hoisted D&D up alongside.
Wood appeared in a cheeky advertisement for Magic: The Gathering’s Tales of Middle-earth earlier this year, attempting to whisk the serialised 1-of-1 The One Ring card off set in his cardigan pocket. The collectible sparked a brief bidding craze on booster pack boxes, and was eventually found and professionally graded by a lucky player who wished to remain anonymous.